Survey Finds Retailer Gift Cards with Fees

A new study shows that fees vary widely on major gift cards. Bankrate says consumers spent $24.9 billion on gift cards last year.
The survey found that three issuers charged a $2.50 monthly
maintenance fee after 12 months of inactivity on their gift cards.
All store gift cards don’t charge a fee for purchasing their card in-store (Starbucks charges a $1.50 handling fee for cards purchased online), however all credit issuer gift cards charge a $3.95 fee upon purchase. While most retailers do allow online purchasing, major
retailers such as CVS, T.J. Maxx, and Marshall’s do not allow their gift cards to be used online. A recent survey by Accenture found 59% of Americans want a gift card, compared to 56% for apparel and 44% for toys. Three-quarters of consumers will spend the same for a gift card as they would a gift for someone. Seven out of ten gift card recipients plan to spend their gift card within three months or less. Four out of five respondents say will be buying gift cards this holiday season.

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Capital Payments Acquires Two Firms

NY-based payment solution provider Capital Payments has acquired both
Chicago-based e-payment service Applied Merchant Systems and PayQuake.
AMS is an electronic payments services company specializing in credit
card and check processing, and other payment related services for
small and medium-sized businesses, corporate merchants, ecommerce
merchants, and trade associations. The acquisition of AMS supports
Capital Payments’ core strategy to grow
through both strategic acquisition and strong organic growth. AMS
services over 12,000 merchants throughout the United States and will
extend Capital Payments’ platform as the leading national provider of
payment solutions to the Trusted Advisor community and their small
business clients who rely on their advisory services.

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Average Credit Scores Continue to Slide Down

The Midwest and Northeast regions showed the highest increases in credit card debt with 16% and 17% respectively, during October. Credit scores continued to slide during this year, dropping to 671 in October, compared to 676 in January. Nevertheless, credit scores are on the rise for many consumers with 40% of consumers increasing their credit scores in October. San Francisco-based Credit Karma says the South region had the highest percentage of increasing credit scores. In October, 41% of consumers in the South increased their credit scores, while 28% of consumers’ credit scores decreased and 31% of consumers’ credit scores stayed the same. In October, the average consumer with an open account had: $7,573 in credit card debt; $194,372 in home mortgage loans; $54,039 in home equity; $14,729 in auto loans; and $26,417 in student loans.

CREDIT SCORES
May 09: 675
Jun 09: 674
Jul 09: 674
Aug 09: 673
Sep 09: 672
Oct 09: 671
Source: Credit Karma

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NXP & ABI

ABI Research has placed NXP Semiconductor number one on its “Vendor
Matrix” evaluation of worldwide contactless transaction IC vendors,
followed by INSIDE Contactless and Infineon Technologies. The “Vendor
Matrix” analytical tool was developed by ABI Research to provide a clear
understanding of vendors’ positions in specific markets, assessed on
“innovation” and “implementation” across several criteria unique. The
ABI Research conclusions were based on examined the vendors’ product
portfolios; products’ physical specifications; applicability to a range
of applications or devices; experience; relevance to the global market;
and focus on and capabilities in new application development. ABI
Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of
trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies, advising
thousands of decision makers through 27 research and advisory services.

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TODOS EBANKING

Todos has delivered its 20 millionth eBanking security product,
continuing to strengthen the bonds of trust between banks and their
customers. Allowing for a safer online experience, Todos invests in
security products such as the Todos “C400” and “C200” advanced smart
card readers, 6million of which have already been shipped. Eliminating
the danger of man-in-the-middle and man-in-the-browser attacks, the
smartcard readers provide enhanced transaction authentication without
having to connect to the user’s PC using the Todos “Dynamic Signatures”.
“Dynamic Signatures” allows banks to adjust the level of security in
proportion to the level of risk involved in each transaction while
“Secure Domain Separation” prevents cross-channel attacks by keeping
eCommerce, eBanking authentication, logon and transactions separate.

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SELFSERVE PLANT

The NCR Corporation has opened its new manufacturing plant in Manaus,
Brazil, supporting the market demand for self-service ATMs in Brazil,
the Caribbean and Latin America with the production of the “SelfServe”
machine. The company celebrated the opening at its plant 90 days after
having announced plans to do so and will create about 250 new jobs in
the city. Testing and certification at the 2.5-acre plant was conducted
and completed by NCR’s global quality organization, as well as the
Canadian Standards Association (CSA International) and the Underwriters
Laboratories (UL). NCR’s decision to bring ATM manufacturing in-house
was driven by the belief as self-service ATM technology becomes more
innovative and strategic to financial institutions, the ability to
control manufacturing in key markets becomes a core and competitive
advantage to a growth strategy.

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SEPT LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for Spain increased
for the fifth time in six months by 0.3% while The Conference Board
Coincident Economic Index (CEI) decreased 0.1% in September. With the
0.3% increase, the Conference Board LEI for Spain now stands at 109.5
(2004=100), which increased 1.9% in August and increased 0.9% in July.
Meanwhile, the CEI decrease for the month was preceded by a 0.1%
decrease in August and 0.1% decrease in July to now stand at 101.0
(2004=100). LEI results for the month were attributed to positive gains
in 4 of the 6 components, including order books survey, the capital
equipment component of industrial production, the Spanish equity price
index and job placings while negative contribution came from the Spanish
contribution to Euro M2 and the (inverted) long-term government bond yield.

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CLX.SENTINEL

Giesecke & Devrient, CREALOGIX and EISST have brought to market
the G&D “CLX.Sentinel”. Based on the G&D Mobility Token, the
“CLX.Sentinel” reduces the risks involved in online banking thanks to
the integration of the Mobility Token with the security application,
which provides effective protection against all known cyber attacks.
Authentication requires users to plug it in, enter their pin number and
conduct secure online banking for e-banking applications. “CLX.Sentinel”
has been specifically optimized to safeguard sensitive web-based
applications as a plug-and-play solution with a zero-footprint security
solution, ensuring no trace on the computer left for potential cyber
attackers. Numerous Swiss banks already having decided to use the new
product include St. Galler Kantonalbank, Luzerner Kantonalbank,
Thurgauer Kantonalbank, Basler Kantonalbank and the Raiffeisen Group.

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NATIONWIDE & ACI

Nationwide Building Society has been awarded the Banking Technology
Magazine Award for the Best Use of IT in Retail Banking for its use of
ACI Worldwide electronic payments software and solutions. Specifically,
Nationwide Building Society implemented the ACI “Proactive Risk Manager”
to manage transactions from the ACI “BASE24” for fraud prevention and
detection, reducing fraud levels and ensuring its customers were
protected from fraud. The “Proactive Risk Manager” is a comprehensive
fraud detection solution to help card issuers, merchants, acquirers,
payment processors and financial institutions combat fraud schemes and
accurately identify fraud attempts in real time for timely application
of defense tactics to prevent fraud loss.

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SEPT LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for Japan increased
for the seventh consecutive month by 2.4% while The Conference Board
Coincident Economic Index (CEI) increased 0.2% in September. With the
2.4% increase, the Conference Board LEI for Japan now stands at 86.1
(2004=100), which increased 2.9% in August and increased 3.5% in July.
Meanwhile, the CEI increase for the month was preceded by a 0.4%
increase in August and 0.4% increased in July to now stand at 94.8
(2004=100). LEI results for the month were attributed to positive gains
in 8 of 10 components, including a six month growth rate of labor
productivity, the new orders for machinery and construction component,
the index of overtime worked, the (inverted) business failures, real
operating profits, the Tankan business conditions survey, the interest
rate spread, and real money supply while negative contribution came from
stock prices and dwelling units started.

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DeviceFidelity Releases In2Pay

DeviceFidelity has made available its “In2Pay” microSD-based technology.
Making any mobile phone with a memory card slot (60% of US mobile
phones) into an interactive contactless transaction device, “In2Pay” is
compatible with NFC technology for trials with banks, wireless carriers
and payment networks. Its “plug-and-play” technology provides a simple
and effective alternative for installing NFC contactless transaction
functionality on the millions of mobile phones now in use. Issuers and
carriers can deploy In2Pay as an integrated services platform, with the
option of additional memory, to deliver their entire portfolio of mobile
applications through their customers’ mobile phones. In2Pay uses an
industry standard dual interface contactless smart card chip to supports
all major contactless payment networks with options for transit,
identification and access control applications. DeviceFidelity has
signed evaluation agreements with some of the largest card issuers in
the U.S. and will be demonstrating “In2Pay” at Cartes 2009. Volume
production for commercial deployments will be set for 2010.

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PAYMENT CARD TRENDS

The value of electronic card transactions in core retail fell 0.4% in
October 2009 from the month prior while the value of transactions in the
retail industries was down just 0.2% for the month. The main
contribution to both falls came from the consumables industry while the
industries with the largest increases were seen in automotive fuel
retailing, non-retail and durables. Statistics New Zealand also showed
trends for the value of transactions in the total, retail, and core
retail series have all been increasing since January 2009 and since has
been rising at an average monthly rate of 0.4% while core retail has
risen at an average of 0.3%.

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