White Visa Card Aims for National Elegance

The ultimate Visa card is launching the “National Tour d’ Elegance.” Los Angeles-based Stratus Media Group says the tour will begin on “Father’s Day” in Beverly Hills. The “Stratus Rewards Visa White Card” is an invitation-only credit card that supports and enhances a premium lifestyle. “Stratus Rewards” offers private access to lifestyle entertainment such as VIP event access, luxury trips, private jet travel, luxury automobiles, high-end merchandise. Each city in the “Tour d’ Elegance” will feature at least three events: the Concours d’Italiano, honoring the design and engineering of Italian automobiles; the “American Classics Auto Show” and the “Concours d’ Elegance,” a judged event on the final day that features hundreds of the most prized collector automobiles in the world competing for the coveted “Best of Show” award. Additional festivities will include car club corrals, fashion shows, motorcycle exhibits, live entertainment, and an evening cocktail gala and social function benefiting a select charity.

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AB Recycled FinancialCard is Unveiled

Boston-based Arthur Blank has introduced the “AB Recycled FinancialCard” into its “GreenLine” suite of environmentally oriented products. The new card is made from a 100% pre-consumer recycled plastic core (88% recycled with an overlaminate) and is specifically designed for financial institutions for use in credit and debit card applications. The material is specially formulated to have a bright white finish – even whiter than the “AB RecycledCard” Arthur Blank currently offers for commercial customers. The material also meets or exceeds all ISO and ANSI specifications for CR80 payment cards. All “AB Recycled FinancialCards” for financial institutions will be processed at Arthur Blank’s secure Mt. Pleasant, TN facility. Arthur Blank’s “GreenLine” suite also includes the “CornCard USA”, “AB RecycledCard,” “AB BiodegradableCard,” and the “AB HybridCard.”

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PowerPay Powers iPhone Card Payments

E-commerce provider PowerPay is now processing card transactions for
merchants using iPhones.
The “iPhone Virtual Terminal” by WA-based Inner Fence eliminates the need
for dedicated or fixed processing equipment, the “iPhone Virtual Terminal”
gives independent contractors, small business merchants and
entrepreneurial start-ups mobile access to PowerPay’s secure payment
solutions. When using the “iPhone Virtual Terminal”, credit and debit card
transactions are processed as “card-not-present” payments. No paper is
involved – receipts are emailed instead of printed – making it not only
a simpler and more efficient option, but a greener one as well.
The “iPhone Virtual Terminal” is a bundled solution, available to all
merchants with a PowerPay or e-onlinedata account and operates through
Authorize.net’s payment gateway. Security and data encryption are
included in the package.

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Open Systems Unveils StreamLend Velocity

Open Systems’ subsidiary IA Systems has launched its business lending module as part of “StreamLend Velocity.”
The flagship loan origination system, “StreamLend Velocity
2.0”. “StreamLend Velocity” is a paperless, Web-based loan
origination system that speeds credit and loan decisioning, integrates
sales channels and manages risk for financial institutions.
IA Systems launched this initiative to address a need within the
market for a fully-integrated, Web-based business and consumer lending
solution. The various loan types supported by our Business Lending module include
business lines of credit and credit cards (secured and unsecured),
business term loans (non-vehicle), business real estate loans and
overdraft protection. Open Solutions is a leading provider of integrated,
enterprise-wide data processing technologies for banks and credit unions
throughout the United States, Canada and other international markets.

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Infinity Capital Targets Cash Advances

CA-based Infinity Capital Funding is providing business loan
alternatives through its merchant cash advance program.
Infinity Capital Funding provided audio/visual integrator
GlobalPresenter.com with a
merchant cash advance, an alternative to a traditional business loan.
Unlike a loan, any business that accepts credit cards can sell their
future credit card sales for a discount. The business then pays it back
with a small daily percentage of their daily credit card sales.

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Jan Leading Economic Index Improves Slightly

The Conference Board “Leading Economic Index” for the U.S. increased 40 basis points in January, following a 20 basis points increase in December and a 70 basis points decline in November. The CB says that the second half of 2009 may see a period of anemic growth. In fact, a return to robust growth may not occur until well into 2010, even if the long climb starts a few months from now. The “LEI” increased for the second consecutive month in January, but November and December values were revised down as new data for manufacturers’ new orders became available. Between July 2008 and January 2009, the LEI decreased 1.9% (a -3.7% annual rate), faster than the decline of 1.1% (a -2.1% annual rate) during the previous six months. In addition, the weaknesses among the leading indicators have remained widespread in recent months.

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Trustwave Acquires Mirage Networks

Data security provider Trustwave has acquired Mirage Networks, a developer of NAC technology.
A common use for network access control technology is to prevent devices
from entering a network that could introduce viruses and malware. Mirage
Networks’ NAC technology controls access to a network through the use of
policies, including pre-admission endpoint security policy checks and
post-admission controls that govern where users and devices can travel
on a network and the functions they are able to perform. Mirage
Networks’ NAC technology can quickly detect and isolate an unauthorized
device or policy violation, including zero-day attacks, without
disrupting the network and its other end-points and provide
self-remediation capabilities. It requires no agent software, deploys
virtually inline and works in any network environment. Mirage Networks’ NAC technology will be part of Trustwave’s managed
security services, which include UTM, IDS/IPS, secure e-mail, network
security monitoring, vulnerability scanning and log monitoring.
Trustwave is a provider of on-demand and subscription-based information security and payment card industry compliance management
solutions to businesses and government entities throughout the world.

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iovation and ADBillSOFT Ink a Deal

Fraud prevention provider iovation and ADBillSOFT have teamed to reduce
financial fraud in Korea’s online gaming industry.
Under the agreement, ADBillSOFT will offer iovation’s
“ReputationManager” fraud management service, which uses device
reputation technology to proactively identify fraudulent computers and
stop scams such as credit card abuse, chargebacks, and other forms of
financial fraud that impact online gaming providers’ business profits
and growth. iovation’s “ReputationManager” device reputation technology allows online
gaming sites to determine in milliseconds whether a transaction is
coming from a computer that has been associated with fraudulent or
abusive behavior in the past. ADBillSOFT products include “BillFlex”, a wired/wireless
contents and billing solution, “BillQuest”, a mediation solution; “BillSafer”, a
billing verification solution; and “Bill Planner”, a provisioning solution
for digital broadcasting services.

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Retailers May Miss a PCI-Related Gold Mine

A new study from RSR Research presents case studies from three successful tier-1 U.S. retailers dealing with securing sensitive customer data. Miami-based RSR Research says that many retailers have focused on how to make their legacy systems compliant with narrowly defined payment standards so that they can successfully pass an audit, they often think of the effort involved as an IT project rather than as a strategic imperative. Retailers can have unprecedented insight into what consumers like, what they don’t like, their lifestyle, where their money is, and possibly even their health state. But for those retailers who are behind the curve, the implicit brand promise that ‘consumer data is private and secured’ is more aspirational than real.

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ADS Discloses its Succession Strategy

Loyalty marketer Alliance Data Systems has named J.Michael Parks as
Chairman and Edward J. Heffernan as President and CEO
Parks, currently chairman and chief executive officer, will retain the
role of chairman, while Heffernan, currently
executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been appointed
president and chief executive officer, effective March 1.
Parks joined Alliance Data on March 1st, 1997 as chairman and chief
executive officer – a role he has filled for twelve years. Prior to
Alliance Data, he was president of First Data Resources, the credit card
processing arm of First Data Corporation. Prior to that, Parks served in
a number of roles at First Data during his expansive career spanning 18
years of service. He holds a B.A. from University of Kansas. Heffernan
joined Alliance Data in 1998 and spent two years focusing on
mergers and acquisitions and Alliance Data’s IPO. He was then named
chief financial officer in 2000, a position he has held for the past
eight years. Prior to Alliance Data, Heffernan worked primarily in
merger and acquisition roles at First Data Corporation and Citicorp as
well as in finance at Credit Suisse First Boston. He was a director and
served as chair of the audit committee of VALOR Communications Group
until its merger into Windstream Corporation in 2006. He holds a B.A.
from Wesleyan and an M.B.A. from Columbia.

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British Cardholders Close Wallets in December

While payment card volume soared in December the average transaction ticket fell in the U.K., and elsewhere. APACS reports that overall credit card volume fell nearly 5% in December to GBP 10.8 billion, but debit card volume edged-up by more than 3% to GBP 21.6 billion. Although spending in December was comparatively flat when compared to December 2007, spending on debit cards is currently growing at an annual rate of 9.5%, having increased from GBP 224.0 billion in 2007 to GBP 245.4 billion in 2008. Annual spending on credit cards is currently growing at 1.9%, having increased from GBP 123.9 billion in 2007 to GBP 126.3 billion in 2008. APACS says the fall in credit card spending follows the trend we’ve seen over the last four years with customers continually preferring to put most of their card spending on debit card.

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Underbanked U.S. Population Tops 24 Million

A new study has found that the underbanked population has hit 24 million U.S. consumers. The Center for Financial Services Innovation research was co-sponsored by four companies, including Citi, H&R Block, and MasterCard. CFSI says the following strategies for reaching the “Next Wave”: use transaction services to “up sell” into prepaid cards; offer links to small business services, financial advice and credit-building services; invest long-term, as this group has big plans for the future; and lenders trying to reach this group should provide small dollar, revolving credit and need to calibrate underwriting to new/infrequent borrowers. The findings are a result of a survey of 2,799 underbanked respondents.

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