MOBILE BANKING

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “Latin American Mobile Banking
Market”, finds that mobile banking is a
budding service in Latin America and is expected to catch on in
countries such as Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, where the economic and
political condition is relatively stable. Currently the main
channel of connection is SMS and is likely to remain so since mobile
banking through messaging will be less expensive for the user and will
not require a sophisticated handset. But, even though the most important
connection channel with the highest rates of adoption is messaging,
accessing mobile banking with a special WAP application will represent a
considerable increase in mobile data use, and carriers will be most
interested in working together with financial institutions to promote
this value added service. Success in the mobile banking
market will help mobile operators shore up their average revenue per
user (ARPU) even when the mobile voice traffic slows down.

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FEB LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index for the Euro Area decreased 0.3% in February to
92.9 (2004 = 100), following a 0.9% increase in January and a 1.7% drop
in December. Falling stock prices, as well as declines by
the Economic Sentiment Index and The Purchasing Managers’ Index
(manufacturing), more than offset the widening interest rate spread.
After falling for the fifth time in the last six months in February, The
LEI remains on a general downtrend
since June 2007, falling by more than 14.0% since then. A
previous decline of this magnitude preceded the region’s 1992-93
recession. Meanwhile, The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index for
the Euro Area decreased by 0.1% in February to 103.6 (2004 = 100),
according to
preliminary estimates, after falling 0.2% in January and 0.5% in
December. The Conference Board CEI for the Euro Area has been
trending downward since February 2008.

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Advent Intl Takes a Major Stake in 5/3 Processing

Fifth Third Bancorp and Advent International have established a joint venture for Advent to
acquire a 51% interest in Fifth Third’s processing business. Advent will pay Fifth Third $561 million
in cash for a 51% ownership interest in the equity of the LLC and
for certain put rights. Additionally, Fifth Third will receive warrants
in the new company exercisable in certain circumstances. Fifth Third
estimates the valuation adjustments related to these warrants, the put
rights, and minority interest discounts may reduce its implied valuation
of the business by an estimated $50 million. The agreement is subject to
certain potential purchase price adjustments.

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POSTA ROMANA

Posta Romana and Advance Payment Solution have launched the “Romanian
Post cashplus prepaid MasterCard” that will help
bridge the gap between payments and the cash card, lagging in good measure
due to the fact that a significant number of the population has no bank
account or credit card. The “Romanian Post” cashplus prepaid
MasterCard is equipped with features of Chip and PIN that provides
additional protection against fraud, and can be used like any other
credit card or debit in making payments. In the
second quarter of 2009, cards will be offered to customers and staff of
Posta Romana, through six subunits in Bucharest.

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JAN LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic
Index declined 0.6% and The Conference
Board Coincident Economic Index increased 0.6% in January. Three of
the seven components in The Conference
Board LEI for Australia increased in January. The positive contributors
to the index are real money supply, the sales to inventories ratio, and
rural goods exports. Building approvals, share prices, gross operating
surplus*, and the yield spread declined. Based on revised data, this
index declined 1.1% in December and declined 1.3% in
November. During the six-month period through January, the leading
economic index decreased 3.8 percent, and four of the seven components
increased (diffusion index, six-month span equals 57.1%). With the 0.6%
decrease in January, The LEI for
Australia now stands at 111.2 (2004=100).

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CREDIT CARD CONTROLS

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Environics Research
Group reveal that 82% of Canadians want tighter rules imposed on the
credit card industry. Of those, 51% of respondents said they
strongly support tighter rules for the credit card companies in terms of
how they treat both card-holders and merchants and 31% are somewhat
supportive while 6% are strongly opposed and 8%
somewhat opposed to the idea.

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Video Display Corp Rolls-Out New Monitors

GA-based Video Display Corporation has introduced the “Display Concepts” drop-in replacement monitor for NCR and Diebold ATMs.
The Display Concept LCD technology offers brighter, sharper images than
CRTs and will not degrade over time due to screen burn. Its
“standard-brightness” V084S1 LCD display is ideal for both indoor and
outdoor ATMs. Video Display Corporation designs, develops and manufactures unique
solutions for display requirements for military, medical and industrial
use with emphasis on high end training and simulation applications.

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PayPal Set to Offer BlackbaudNow Tool

PayPal has teamed with software provider Blackbaud to offer the
“BlackbaudNow” nonprofit fundraising tool.
“BlackbaudNow” offers nonprofits a point-and-click website builder with
secure donation processing and the
ability to send emails and record donors’ giving histories with features
such as “WebNow” to create online presence and enable online fundraising,
with point-and-click site design, and donations securely processed with
PayPal; “DonorNow” to track donor giving history and communications and
“EmailNow” to support email messages, e-newsletters and appeals
In celebration of the launch, Blackbaud and PayPal are inviting
nonprofits to participate in the “BlackbaudNow Donation Sweepstakes”. From
March 30 to June 30, 2009, nonprofits that sign up for “BlackbaudNow” will
be automatically entered in the sweepstakes. The first place contest
winner will receive a matching donation of up to $2,500 and 20
additional nonprofits will receive matching donations of up to $500.

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FEB DEBT

Credit card outstandings leveled off in February. However, year-on-year growth for credit card outstandings has been slowing, from an 8.6% rate in November to 7.8% for December to 7.5% for January and 7.0% for February. According to the The Bank of England, net credit card was GBP 53.0 billion in February. he increase in total net lending to individuals in February (GBP 1.3 billion) was higher than the January increase, but below the previous six-month average. The twelve-month growth rate continued to fall, by 0.5 percentage points to 2.6%, and the three-month annualized growth rate was unchanged at 1.3%. Consumer credit declined by a net GBP 0.2 billion, weaker than the GBP 0.2 billion net increase in January and below the previous six-month average. Net credit card lending increased by GBP 0.2 billion and net other loans and advances fell by GBP 0.4 billion. The annual growth rate of consumer credit continued to fall, to 3.4%; the three-month annualised growth rate fell by 1.5 percentage points, to 0.1%.

NOTE: Chart does not include about GBP10 billion from specialist lenders, retailers, and insurance companies. SOURCE: Bank of England

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Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass Sticker Arrives

MasterCard and Blaze Mobile unveiled the “Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass” mobile payment sticker. The sticker was designed to complement the “Blaze Mobile Wallet,” a mobile commerce application that enables mobile phone users to purchase movie and event tickets, manage bank accounts at more than 8,000 supported financial institutions, view electronic receipts, and create expense reports, all from the palm of their hand. The new “Blaze Mobile MasterCard PayPass” sticker can be affixed to any mobile device, enabling it to be used for “Tap & Go” purchases at any of the over 141,000 merchant locations that accept “PayPass.” The mobile payment sticker is tied to a prepaid account and is issued by MetaBank.

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Fair Isaac Unveils New FICO for Card Issuers

Fair Isaac officially announced the release of its newest “FICO” scores
targeted specifically to the automobile lending and bankcard industries.
Credit reporting agency TransUnion is making the scores available to
lenders and issuers under the names “FICO Risk Score,” “Classic Auto 08”
and “FICO Risk Score” and “Classic Bankcard 08.” The new “FICO” scoring
model for bankcards is designed to give card issuers greater predictive
capabilities in their origination and account management decisions.
Product validation testing found that the new scores could potentially
increase issuers’ delinquency prediction rates by 6% to 12% compared to
the previous “FICO” bankcard score. In addition, the new score includes
refinements to address non-prime consumers and those with thin credit
histories.

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Small Biz Owners Show More Economic Confidence

Economic confidence is finally showing indications of a rebound. A monthly survey of small business owners saw its largest jump in confidence in nine months as fewer owners see the economy getting worse and more believe conditions are improving for their own operations, according to the latest Discover “Small Business Watch.” The monthly index increased more than six points, rising to 78.2 in March from 71.9 in February. The number of small business owners who say the economy is getting worse dropped to 60%, down from 69% the previous month and significantly below the all-time high of 79% reached in June 2008. Those who see the economy getting better rose from 12% to 16%. Interestingly, 77% of small business owners say that the tax preparation and documentation process is very or somewhat time consuming, an increase from 75% a year ago. Likewise, 46% of owners say that finding and organizing the documents they need to prepare their taxes is very or somewhat difficult, an increase from 41% a year ago and 39% in March 2007.

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