SparkBase Becomes Class A-Certified

OH-based gift and loyalty program provider SparkBase has “Class A”-certified its processing application on Hypercom’s “Optimum M4230” mobile payment terminals. The certification enables gift, loyalty, and community rewards
transactions on the “Optimum M4230” to be conducted from virtually
anywhere on the SparkBase Network. SparkBase processes millions of transactions annually for merchants
in five countries. SparkBase uniquely offers its clients the ability to
private label stored-value programs on a state of the art network,
without involving a middleman.

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Circle K is Accepting MasterCard PayPass

C-store chain Circle K is now accepting MasterCard PayPass. The number of MasterCard PayPass cards and devices in market
has grown from nearly 13 million as of Q4 2006, to more than 23 million
as of Q4 2007, to more than 50 million as of Q4 2008. There are
more than 2,100 Circle K stores across the USA and over 4,000
international locations. Circle K is part of the Alimentation
Couche-Tard Inc. group of companies which is the leader in the Canadian
convenience store industry which
currently has a network of 5,444 convenience stores.

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GE Earnings Sink 40% in the First Quarter of 09

GE announced first-quarter 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $2.8 billion, down 40% from first quarter 2008. First-quarter 2009 revenues from continuing operations were $38.4 billion, down 9% year-over-year. Capital Finance earned $1.1 billion in the quarter and remains on track to be profitable for the full year.
On March 19, GE conducted a ‘deep dive’ into GE Capital that
demonstrated the strength of its team and its commitment to
transparency. Estimated stress-test results showed that it does not need
to raise additional capital even in the Fed’s adverse-case
scenario.

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FEB DEBT

Growth in credit card debt picked up in February, adding A$800 million.
Credit card volume also picked up but remains 2.3% lower than one-year
ago. Year-on-year credit card debt growth has slowed to 4.8%, compared
to 5% in the prior month and 10% one-year ago. According to the Reserve
Bank of Australia credit card balances hit A$45.4 billion in February
versus A$43.3 billion one-year ago. Credit limits now stand at A$124.2
billion, compared to A$116.1 billion in February 2008. According to the
Reserve Bank of Australia there are currently 14.4 million credit card
and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 14.0 million one-year
ago.

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AmEx OPEN Survey Finds Good in the Recession

Results from the “American Express OPEN Small
Business Monitor” semi-annual survey indicate that four in ten
entrepreneurs feel the current economic environment
creates opportunities for their business. Small business owners are not
taking this recession lying down. Many are
finding new resources to tap and new ways to manage costs beyond the
traditional steps of laying off staff or cutting back on staff hours
with 45% of business owners open to bartering for new
products or services with customers or suppliers and 23% report their
barter activities have increased due to the economic
environment. Additional steps taken include: 48% that have instituted
hiring freezes; 30% are no longer taking a salary; 27% have a family
member working pro bono;
25% are renegotiating leases and supply contracts; 16% have cut benefits
and 18% work a second job.

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MOBILE PAYPASS

MasterCard Canada and partners Citi Cards Canada and Bell Mobility have
completed the first NFC trial of “Mobile PayPass” in Canada, the first
trial that used Bell Mobility’s wireless network, allowing
participants to make purchases using their mobile device at MasterCard
PayPass acceptance locations across Canada. The trial took place at Bell
Mobility’s Creekbank office in Ontario and approximately 75 employees
from Bell, Citi Cards and MasterCard participated. The average
transaction amount during the trial was just under $20. The four-month
closed trial was a major step towards bringing mobile payments to
Canadian mobile phone users.

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VISA & TOURISM

Last year, international visitors to Canada spent more than $9 billion
on their Visa-branded payment cards, contributing to Canada’s tourism
economy, which represents approximately two percent of Canada’s overall
GDP. Visa card spending by international visitors in Canada increased
from US$8.7 billion in 2007, with U.S. cardholders contributing more
than half of the total. Visitors from Western Europe, Asia and Australia
accounted for an additional 23% of Visa card spending. Visitors from
the United States continue to be the largest contributors
to tourism revenues. According to the Visa tourism survey, 60% of
U.S. respondents have visited Canada at least once, compared to 19% of
all respondents. In 2008, U.S. visitors spent $5.47 billion
on Visa cards while visiting Canada. Other top contributors to Canada
inbound tourism spending in 2008 include: United Kingdom ($603 million);
France ($351 million); Australia ($223 million); and Japan ($204
million). General retail purchases, such as clothing and food,
represented 41% of Visa transactions by international travelers visiting
Canada
in 2008, totaling more than $3.7 billion, an increase of more than 7%
from the previous year. Other major segments include lodging
($1.1 billion), airlines ($628 million) and restaurants ($467 million).

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Chase Q1 Credit Card Charge-Offs Near 8%

Chase’s Card Services unit posted a net loss of $547 million in the
first quarter, compared to $371 million in the prior quarter and down
$1.2 billion from 1Q/08. The managed net charge-off rate for the first
quarter hit 7.72%, up from 4.37% in the prior year and 5.56% in the
prior quarter. The 30-day managed delinquency rate was 6.16%, up from
3.66% in the prior year and 4.97% in the prior quarter. Managed credit
card loans dropped 7% sequentially and 17% from the prior year to $176.1
billion. Chase says the managed provision for credit losses was $4.7
billion, an increase of $3.0 billion, or 179%, from the prior year. The
provision reflected a higher level of charge-offs and an increase of
$1.2 billion in the allowance for loan losses, due to a weakening credit
environment. Charge volume was $76.0 billion, a decrease of 11% from the
prior year. Merchant processing volume was $94.4 billion on 4.1 billion
in total transactions processed. For complete details on Chase’s first
quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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ELECTRASWITCH & FTB

E-payment provider ElectraCard Services has launched “electraSWITCH” for
Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), Cambodia. “electraSWITCH” will drive biometric
ATMs in Cambodia,the first of its kind in the country. The bank has
deployed ATMs with fingerprint recognition technology,
voice instruction and simple screen graphics to help customers get the
most out of a new way of banking. The system also saves them the trouble
of remembering their ATM PIN as they can use their fingerprint to
withdraw money through ATMs. FTB is Cambodia’s first bank, a joint
private/Government venture
and has been providing customers with safe and reliable banking services
for more than 29 years. The Bank was created under the former regime of
the State of Cambodia. In 2000, the Bank was separated from the direct
management of the National Bank of Cambodia (the Central Bank) in order
to transform its permanent identity into a State-owned commercial bank
with the features of a Public Economic Enterprise and an aim to conduct
autonomous business operations.

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