Economic Confidence Wanes Among Small Business

Economic confidence among small business owners paused in September after three consecutive months of gains. Nearly half of small business owners are expecting Q4 to be worse than their 2008 fourth quarter, with 21% expecting year-over-year improvement, and 30% expecting the same results. The latest “Discover Small Business Watch” index fell to 87.7 in September, down 2.1 points from August. When asked whether they agree or disagree that the recession is over for their businesses, 69% of small business owners disagreed, only 13% agreed and another 18% couldn’t be sure. Discover found that 50% of small business owners say they plan to decrease spending on business development activities such as advertising, inventory and capital expenditures, a jump from 43% in August. Similarly, those who plan to increase spending fell to 25% from 27% in August, and 22% are planning no changes.

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AUGUST LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the Euro Area
increased 1.8% while The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index
(CEI) decreased 0.1% in August. With the 1.8% increase in AUGUST, the
Conference Board LEI for France now stands at 99.1(2004=100), which
increased 1.3% in July and increased 1.3% in June. Throughout the 8
months in 2009 up to August, the LEI increased 8.0%. Meanwhile, the CEI
decreased by 0.2% in both July and June and has been trending downward
since its peak in February 2008. LEI results for the month were
attributed to positive gains in 6 of the 8 components.

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Elavon Acquires Diners Western European Merchants

U.S. Bancorp’s Elavon acquired Citibank’s “Diners Club Card” merchant-location portfolio in Western Europe, representing more than 75,000 merchants. One year ago, Discover has completed the acquisition of Diners Club International from Citi. Discover acquired the Diners Club International network for $165 million in a deal that brought more than $30 billion per year in spend volume outside of North America; the Diners Club brand and trademarks; its employees; and agreements with 44 network licensees who issue Diners Club cards and maintain an acceptance network in 185 countries and territories worldwide. Under terms of the 2008 deal Citi became a significant long-term issuer on the Diners Club network as part of the transaction. Discover agreed not issue cards or extend consumer credit in international markets as a result of this acquisition. (CF Library 4/7/08; 7/1/08)

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Shell $aver Card Launches Fall Promo

Shell has brought back their popular 5 cents per gallon discount for all Shell gasoline and diesel purchases with the Shell Saver Card through December 31 for all new and existing cardholders. Through Telecheck and the use of personal PIN numbers, the Shell Saver Card offers safety mechanisms that enhance consumer security. Also, since the Shell Saver Card directly links to a checking account, there’s no impact to consumer credit scores, nor are there any application or annual fees. Additionally, it makes organizing personal budgets easier by making all gasoline purchases on one card that also offers earnings every time it is used to buy fuel, allowing consumers to get the most out of every drop of Shell gasoline.

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1WORLD CARD

One World Ventures’ “1World Card” prepaid debit card solutions has
announced it is in final negotiations with a Mexico City-based partner
for the launch of its consumer card portfolio. With strong market
penetration in Mexico City and the bordering provinces, the partner
company is to provide “1World Card” access to 54 U.S. locations to issue
cards and facilitate remittances. Targeting the 37 million Hispanics
residing in the U.S., the 1World Card will be 90% cheaper than current
products in the market and is expected to drive significant sales,
profits and residual income for 1World Card. This population segment is
the fastest growing in the U.S., approximately 50% of whom are unbanked
and sent nearly $29 billion from the U.S. to Mexico, Central & South
America in 2008.

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TRINTECH EXEC

Trintech Group integrated financial governance, risk management and
compliance software solutions has added Chethan Gorur as Director of
Interactive Data Services. Bringing to the role more than five years’
experience as a member of the XBRL leadership team at Microsoft, Chethan
will be implementing thought leadership, strategy, and product
development efforts for the Trintech “Unity Xtensible Financial
Reporting” (XFR) solution. This includes embedded support for the report
tagging and output of financial statements with XBRL. He was also
instrumental in crafting and executing on the XBRL product strategy
there, was a key contributor to Microsoft Investor Central and led the
product team responsible for incubating the new SaaS-based XBRL product
line. Chethan also brings to the role experience gained in product
leadership positions at i2 technologies, IBM, and One Network.

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JSC SITRONICS

JSC SITRONICS, a subsidiary and provider of telecommunications,
information technology and microelectronic solutions of SITRONICS Smart
Technologies (SST), has won a tender to deliver Visa and MasterCard chip
bank cards. With a growing presence in EEMEA emerging markets, the
contract extends over a three year period for Sberbank of Russia, the
largest bank in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
SITRONICS telecommunication solutions include software, equipment and
systems integration, IT solutions and microelectronic solutions in
Russia and the CIS across Central and Eastern Europe. With a growing
presence in the Middle East and Africa, SITRONICS serves over 3,500
clients, maintains offices in 32 countries and exports its products and
services to more than 60 countries. SITRONICS has around 10,000
employees of whom approximately 4,500 are involved in research and
development.

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BOLTON MULTI-PURSE

The eMoney payments network, including Greater Manchester Passenger
Transport Executive (GMPTE), Bolton Council, Arriva buses, Parkeon, ACT
and sQuid, has launched the first multi-purse smart card with an ITSO.
The smart card enables card holders to access Council services, use an
eMoney retail purse and ITSO enabled pay-as-you-go bus travel purse.
Adapted by sQuid to work on any ITSO smart card, the card allows
cardholders to pay for bus travel on over 30 Arriva bus routes across
Bolton in addition to accessing Council services and shopping at local
participating stores. Children can pay for their bus journey to school,
entrance to a leisure centre, pay for a snack, take a book out at the
library and then get the bus home without ever needing to carry cash.

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Card Charge-Offs in Canada Reach a New High in Q2

The 2Q/09 Canadian credit card debt performance continued to deteriorate with charge-off rates reaching a new record level of 4.8%. This is in conjunction with projections placing unemployment at a peak of 9.6% in 2Q/10, when charge-offs are also expected to peak. Blaming a surge in the number of personal bankruptcies and an unemployment rate of 8.7% in August, Moody’s Investors Service disclose this underscores the
persistent weakness in the economy and rising unemployment rate. These
findings, according to Moody’s latest Credit Card Indices for Canada,
also found a rise to 4.8% in charge-offs for 2Q/09, which is up nearly
60% from the year-ago mark of 3.07%, and the proportion of account
balances for which monthly payment is more than 30 days past due was
2.82% in the second quarter, up from 2.29% a year earlier.

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U.S. Visa CCE Index Edges Up 5% in 2008

The annual “Commercial Consumption Expenditure” index rose 5% for the USA to $20.3 trillion last year, compared to 11% globally with $90 trillion in 2008. Worldwide, the strongest growth rates were found in the CEMEA and LAC regions. Visa’s annual “CCE” survey found that Asia Pacific’s spending share surpassed the U.S. for the first time. The region’s $23.4 trillion rose 13.5%. In the U.S. business segment the “CCE” for small business rose 4.3% to $4.8 trillion, while median business was up 5.4% to $3.9 trillion. The large business segment “CCE” rose 5.2% to $10.2 trillion. The “CCE” index captures B2B purchases to acquire goods and services used in production, wholesale and retail purchases of final goods, business capital expenditures and government spending on goods and services. Europe held the largest share of global CCE spend, followed by Asia Pacific; the United States; Central/Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa; Latin America/Caribbean and Canada.

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Elavon to Help Expand Discover Global Acceptance

U.S. Bancorp announced the signing of a merchant acquiring agreement with Discover’s Diners Club International. Under the terms of the deal, U.S. Bank’s Elavon will add Diners Club card acceptance to its portfolio of payment processing services and will expand acceptance opportunities for Diners Club and Discover cardmembers, who eventually will be able to use their cards at Elavon merchants in the U.K. and western Europe. Elavon is the sixth largest acquirer in Europe. Elavon will provide consolidated pricing, underwriting, risk management, processing, settlement, support and reporting to its merchants, simplifying payments processing by second quarter 2010. Last month, Venture Infotek and the Discover/Diners Club business unit signed a long-term merchant acquiring agreement. Diners Club and Discover cardholders will be able to use their cards at Venture Infotek’s 165,000 merchants in India. Venture Infotek will provide single source electronic payment services for the acceptance of Diners Club and Discover cards across key merchant categories like restaurants, hotels, airlines, travel agents and major retail outlets in India. (CF Library 8/21/09)

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Quicken’s Health Bill Pay Accelerates Payments

Intuit is helping healthcare providers get paid by their patients an
average of 18 days faster with its new Quicken “Health Bill Pay” online
service. Regardless of insurance carrier or coverage, “Health Bill Pay”
allows patients to view their medical bill in easy-to-understand
language and discloses the amount due calculated after insurance
payments are posted for fast electronic payment directly from the
product. Reducing time between doctor visit and billing, the new
solution alerts patients immediately after the insurance payment is
posted and the balance becomes their responsibility. Half of what is
owed to medical professionals is considered bad debt and research shows
that 40 percent of patients don’t pay their medical bills simply because
they don’t understand the bill or didn’t think they were responsible for
the amount due. The Quicken “Health Bill Pay” allows providers to
improve accuracy and reduce the time billing managers spend taking
payments over the phone or keying in payment information sent through
the mail with the convenience of electronic payments to medical bills,
letting patients send payments anytime, from any computer, using a debit
and credit card, as well as Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings
Accounts.

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