U.S. Holiday Gift Spending to be Down Nearly 7% in 2009

A highly regarded survey has found that U.S. households will spend an average of $390 on Christmas gifts this holiday season, down from last year’s estimate of $418. The Conference Board also found that
only 26% of all households intend to spend $500 or more on Christmas gifts, down slightly from 27% last year. Among other households, 35% plan to spend $200-$500, down from 37% last year and 39% are planning to spend less than $200, up from 35% in 2008. The top spenders will be New England households (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) who intend to spend an average of $534. Lowest Christmas spending will be in the Mountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) where consumers intend to spend $332 on Christmas gifts. The survey of Christmas gift spending intentions covers a nationally representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households in November.

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VISA PRESIDENT

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) is
encouraging the announcement for a code of conduct for payment card
companies. Having been advocating greater oversight of payment card
systems in Canada to ensure fees charged to merchants are reasonable,
predictable, transparent, linked to costs and exclude expenses of
cardholder enrichments, the CRFA is commending the government for
recognizing the imbalance in negotiating power between credit card
companies and merchants. The new code is a first step toward ensuring
increased transparency and disclosure by credit card companies while
allowing merchants choice of the cards they accept and payment options
they provide.

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Aite Group Recognizes Fiserv Online Banking

Fiserv has been recognized as a top online bill payment processor by the Aite Group. In the Aite report, “Online Banking Bill Payments: A Vendor Performance Update”, Aite Group highlighted the performance of leading online bill payment processors from 2006 through the first half of 2009. Aite evaluated each provider against 21 key criteria, including number of end-users, transaction market share, bill presentment capabilities and processing speed. Fiserv was recognized as one of the best overall performers in the assessment. According to Aite, Fiserv processes more transactions than all of the other providers in the report combined and supports the largest number of bill pay end-users in the industry. The company also leads the small business bill pay market in customers and transactions. Fiserv has the greatest share of electronic bills (e-bills) delivered within the online banking channel, with an estimated 93% of e-bills as of 2008 with 80% of Fiserv payments are processed same-day or next-day, a leading figure among the providers evaluated in the report. Fiserv leads all other providers listed in the report in the number of small business customers and number of small business transactions, providing financial institutions with payments flexibility across multiple lines of business.

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NEXIDIA & SEMAFONE

Nexidia audio search and speech analytics has forged a partnership with
Semafone contact center payments security with the objective to address
fraud and identity theft in the contact center environment, which are
increasingly at risk as an easy target for fraud. Protecting the massive
volumes of credit card details recorded and stored daily in contact
centers, the partnership will ensure that past and future credit card
details are inaccessible by contact center staff using Semafone’s
technical solution, implementing secure voice transactions during the
live call and ensures no new credit card details are stored. Meanwhile,
Nexidia Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI) quickly searches historical
voice recordings of credit card numbers within stores of recorded data
and redacted. Nexidia ESI platform-independent OnDemand speech analytics
service can be implemented without complex infrastructure changes,
costly upgrades or additional investment in hardware or software.

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ICMA Awards Advanced Card Education to Six

The International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA) global non-profit association for card manufacturers, personalizers, issuers and suppliers has awarded six new recipients the Advanced Card Education (ACE-M) accreditation. Recognizing the knowledge, experience and dedication of leading professionals throughout the card manufacturing industry for having demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of card manufacturing, ACE-M designation has been granted to; Arun P.K., Quality Assurance Manager with Cupola Plastic Cards out of the United Arab Emirates; Julie Davison, Project Manager with Travel Tags out of the United States; Joel Germain, Customer Service Manager with Travel Tags out of the United States; Manoj Mathew, VP Operations with Versatile Card Technology out of India; Lynne McDevitt, Quality Manager with ABnote North America out of the United States; and Dean Warner, Plant Manager with L-1 Identity Solutions out of the United States. These individuals scored a minimum proficiency in knowledge of Substrates, Inks, Adhesives, Printing, Collation, Lamination, Die-cutting and Standards/Testing.

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RAPIDSHARE

RapidShare is now offering prepaid cards through store retailers invited
to join online platforms for distribution of its premium accounts. The
services target the millions of RapidShare users worldwide who prefer to
make cash rather than credit card payment on the internet using an
account valid for 30, 60, 180 or 365 days. The access information is
located on the back of the card, protected by a scratch-off coating,
along with instructions and support contact information. The cards can
be ordered directly from RapidShare in batches of 100 or alternatively
from selected retailers. RapidShare was founded in 2006 and is
headquartered in Switzerland.

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Hosted Concepts to Offer ProPay CartLite

UT-based e-payment services provider ProPay has established a partnership with Hosted Concepts to offer the “ProPay CartLite” shopping cart to their list of merchant services. “ProPay CartLite” works with any Web site, so there is no need to hire a programmer. The data is encrypted, secure and safe, “ProPay CartLite” is integrated with ProPay’s “ProtectPay”, a secure data repository for storing sensitive payment information with no hidden fees, no monthly minimums, access to detailed sales reports and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Adding “ProPay CartLite” to their Web site will enable greater opportunities for merchants to extend their reach to additional customers 24/7 and will provide a safe and easy way for merchants to increase sales and strengthen their presence on the Internet.

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POSTE ITALIANE & MONEYGRAM

MoneyGram International global money transfer services has signed
agreements to allow Poste Italiane customers to initiate mobile money
and internet transfers to countries around the globe. Without the need
to go to a post office or retail location, and cash available for
recipients in about 10 minutes, Poste Italiane customers need only a
Poste Mobile SIM card associated with their BancoPosta account or
PostePay debit card to transfer money via mobile phone. The new offering
targets the 93% of the nearly 4 million immigrants in Italy with a
mobile phone, who can now send to the 186,000 MoneyGram agent locations
around the world. MonetGram has been operating in Italy since 1996.

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AmEx Gift Cards Ramp Up Competition in Canada

Offering a chance to give a universal gift card that keeps its value, American Express is launching a no-expiration gift card in Canada. Fee-free after purchase, there are no fees for checking a balance, no fees for monthly servicing and no fees for card replacement. Available for purchase at more than 1000 Shoppers Drug Mart stores across the country, the American Express Gift Card lets the recipient choose from millions of products and experiences in Canada, is available in $50, $100 and $200 denominations (with an upfront purchase charge ranging from $4.95 to $6.95), is replaceable for free if lost or stolen and can be used at locations across Canada where American Express is accepted.

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GEMALTO & XIRING

Gemalto digital security has begun negotiations to acquire banking
activity from XIRING smart card based authentication solutions for
e-banking and e-commerce. For currently undisclosed terms, the proposed
transaction concerns all of the XIRING banking business activities and
associated products, IP and technologies, as dedicated to EMV based
strong authentication solutions for e-banking and e-commerce. This
acquisition, expected for completion next month, would position Gemalto
as a leader in EMV based strong authentication solutions for e-banking
and e-commerce. However, XIRING would continue to operate in its
non-banking activities independently from Gemalto.

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Gemalto Set to Acquire XIRING Banking Division

Gemalto digital security has begun negotiations to acquire banking activity from XIRING smart card based authentication solutions for e-banking and e-commerce. For currently undisclosed terms, the proposed transaction concerns all of the XIRING banking business activities and associated products, IP and technologies, as dedicated to EMV based strong authentication solutions for e-banking and e-commerce. This acquisition, expected for completion next month, would position Gemalto as a leader in EMV based strong authentication solutions for e-banking and e-commerce. However, XIRING would continue to operate in its non-banking activities independently from Gemalto.

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Equifax Credit India Names a New Chief

After having received in-principle approval for a license to operate a credit information company under The Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, Equifax information solutions has appointed Samir Bhatia Managing Director and CEO designate of its Indian affiliate Equifax Credit Information Services Private Limited. Bhatia will join Equifax’s Mumbai operations and assume leadership of the company upon formation and requisite approvals. Samir is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is recognized as a leading banker with over 24 years’ experience in the Banking and Financial Services. He has worked with leading, successful banks such as Citibank, HDFC Bank and Barclays Bank for exposure to all facets of retail and commercial banking.

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