MASTERCARD GROWTH

During the fourth quarter of 2008, MasterCard cardholders in the Latin
America and Caribbean region used their MasterCard(R)-branded cards
for 635 million purchase and cash transactions, generating gross dollar
volume (GDV) of US $44 billion, up 11.4% on a local
currency basis, over the same period in 2007. Additionally, purchase
volume reached US $24 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, increasing
13.3% on a local currency basis, compared to the same period in 2007.
The number of MasterCard-branded cards increased 16.6% as of the end of
the fourth quarter of 2008, totaling 115 million cards, and MasterCard
cardholders could use their cards at 28.5 million acceptance locations
worldwide. MasterCard cardholders in the Latin America and Caribbean
region used their MasterCard-branded cards for 2.35
billion purchase and cash transactions, generating a gross dollar volume
(GDV) of US $184 billion, up 16.1% on a local currency basis as compared
to 2007. Additionally, purchase volume reached US $96 billion in 2008,
increasing 18.6% on a local currency basis as compared to 2007.

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Fifth Third Processing Signs Two

Fifth Third Processing Solutions has signed contracts with TN-based
restaurant chain O’Charley’s and Old Time Pottery for merchant
processing services. O’Charley’s is a multi-concept restaurant company
that operates or franchises a total of
371 restaurants in 28 states under three brands: O’Charley’s, Ninety
Nine Restaurant, and Stoney River Legendary Steaks. The Organization has
signed with Fifth Third for credit card processing. Old Time Pottery has
38 stores
throughout the Southeast and Midwest and has signed with Fifth Third for
debit, credit and gift card processing. Fifth Third Processing Solutions
processes over 28.4 billion ATM and POS
transactions per year for more than 2,900 financial institutions and
over 169,000 retail locations worldwide.

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MICROREAD

Digital security provider Gemalto and NFC platform specialist INSIDE
Contactless have introduced the new “Inside MicroRead NFC” chip
solution that complies with the latest ETSI
standards. The solution also meets the new GSM Association
“Pay-Buy-Mobile” mobile handset requirements based on the Single Wire
Protocol (SWP). The chip, combined with the
Gemalto latest “UpTeq” 300 m-NFC SIM card embarking a Common Criteria
EAL4+ security certified chip, gives handset makers and mobile operators
the first fully compliant, interoperable, full-speed SWP solution to
support proximity payments, transport and ticketing. To date, Gemalto
and Inside have participated in seven “Pay-Buy-Mobile”
pilot programs around the world.

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VCT Deploys Silk Screen Press

IL-based card manufacture Versatile Card Technology
has installed a new silk screen press in its South Plainfield, NJ
facility. Silk screen presses are vital printing machines for much of
the card printing industry. These presses support printing of metallic
inks as well as post-lamination custom features. VCT now supports two
silk screen lines in its NJ facility as well as two
silk screen lines in its Downers Grove, IL facility, with a third silk
screen line being added in Downers Grove later this quarter.
Versatile Card Technology is the largest US
manufacturer of plastic cards with globally facilities in Turkey,
Germany, Mexico, Singapore, South America and India.

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GLOBAL PLATFORM & CTIA

GlobalPlatform will host a seminar Implementing Mobile Contactless
Services with GlobalPlatform Specifications at CTIA WIRELESS to be held
in Las Vegas in March. The seminar is aimed at any party involved in
deploying mobile contactless services to end users, such as program and
project managers, system integrators and representatives from mobile
network operators. It will address how a mobile contactless ecosystem
can be deployed to support the various business models of different
stakeholders – such as mobile operators, financial institutions and
transit operators – in a flexible, secure and standardized framework.

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Americans Keeping a Closer Eye on Finances

A new survey shows that 71% of consumers said they are keeping a closer
eye on their finances than they did a year ago. Slightly more than
three-quarters of the consumers surveyed said they use online banking,
with non-users making up the remaining one-quarter. The study conducted
by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Fiserv also found that 60% of
consumers said they are spending less than they did a year ago, and 24%
reported paying for items with cash more often. To help tighten their
belts in response to the financial crisis, 66% of those surveyed
reported making a decision to drive less, 27% cancelled vacation plans,
and 18% delayed a new car purchase. More consumers also resorted to
credit cards and savings to help pay the bills. Thirty-six percent said
had tapped savings to help pay bills, and 34% had paid a bill with a
credit card in the past 12 months. Additionally, 29% of those surveyed
said they had decreased the amounts they had deposited into savings
accounts, and 19% said they were putting less money into their checking
accounts than a year ago.

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Aricent and Tradebridge Partner

Communications provider Aricent has entered into a joint partnership to
develop Tradebridge’s “Pocit”
mobile banking application. The “Pocit” application,
allows anyone with a credit card or bank account to make payments
directly from the mobile application via a cell phone without having to
know the recipient’s specific banking details. Once registered with
“Pocit”, a user can receive, send, request and store money. In December
2008 the company launched Pocit Money which is similar to a shopping
voucher; it allows money to be stored in the phone for multiple uses.
Pocit Elect is a world first for elections, based on the model used by
Barack Obama and his team, Pocit Elect takes the idea of cellphone
fundraising for political parties further by giving a single sms number
for donating to any one of multiple political parties.

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Prepaid Calling Card Firms Settle with FTC

Several prepaid calling card companies have agreed to pay $2.25 million
as part of a settlement to resolve FTC charges that they made false
claims to consumers about the number of minutes of talk time their
prepaid calling cards would provide. The companies targeted their
advertising at recent immigrants, who depend on the cards to stay in
touch with friends and family in other countries. The settlement
resolves charges brought by the FTC last May against Alternatel, Voice
Prepaid, G.F.G. Enterprises, also Mystic Prepaid, Voice Distributors,
and Telecom Express. The FTC’s testing showed that consumers received
only about half the advertised minutes. In addition, the FTC alleged
that the defendants’ cards carried hidden fees.

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SCA Releases Healthcare Report

A new report from the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council focuses on
the opportunities available in the smart card technology in the
reduction of costs and improving patient and physician satisfaction.
The white paper, “A Healthcare CFO’s Guide to Smart Card Technology and
Applications,” includes an overview of smart card use worldwide
and discussion about how smart cards can be used in healthcare to reduce
cost; improve patient identification and workflow; reduce claims denials
and increase revenue capture; provide authenticated and authorized
access to healthcare information;assist with HIPAA compliance, privacy
and security requirements; improve facility, network and HIPAA security;
provide immediate access to life-saving information; improve patient and
physician satisfaction and provide support for a national health
information network Healthcare Council members that contributed to the
white paper are
BearingPoint, Gemalto, IBM, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Oberthur
Technologies, OTI America, Privamed, Secure Services Corp., SMART
Association, Inc., and TrustBearer Labs.

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Encore Capital Q4 Collections Rise 10%

Encore Capital Group reported that gross collections were $94.4 million, a 10% increase over 4Q/07. Net income was $0.2 million, compared to net income of $4.8 million in 4Q/07. Investment in receivable portfolios was $63.8 million, to purchase $1.7 billion in face value of debt, compared to $74.6 million, to purchase $1.8 billion in face value of debt in the same period of the prior year. Revenue from receivable portfolios was $47.9 million, a 14% decrease from $55.8 million in the same period of the prior year. Revenue from bankruptcy servicing was $4.0 million, a 39% increase. For complete details on ECG’s latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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Portfolio Recovery Associates Profits Flat

Portfolio Recovery Associates reported net income of $10.6 million for
the fourth quarter, about a 1% decline. Total revenue in the fourth
quarter of 2008 increased 17% to $67.0 million. The Company purchased
$1.3 billion of face-value debt during the fourth quarter for $61.5
million. This debt was acquired in 77 portfolios from 20 different
sellers. For the full year, the Company acquired $4.59 billion of face
value debt for $280.3 million. Productivity, as measured by cash
collections per hour paid, the Company’s key measure of collector
performance, finished at $131.29 for the full year 2008, down 3% from
$135.77 for all of 2007. For complete details on PRAA’s latest results
visit CardData ([www.carddata.com](http://www.carddata.com)).

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Solutran Experiences High Growth

MN-based payment solution provider Solutran has seen a 63% growth
quarter-over-quarter in Back Office Conversion volume, with 20 million
transaction in Q4. Overall
industry volumes grew at a 49% rate to 39.4 million transactions.
Solutran’s BOC market share grew in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 51%.
Solutran recently developed its patent pending BOC solution “SPIN”:
Solutran’s POS and Imaging Network. “SPIN” offers clients an outsourced
approach to BOC. Check information is
captured from merchant POS authorization equipment and sent to Solutran
for settlement. The original checks are then forwarded separately to
Solutran’s centralized processing facilities for imaging, archiving, and
certified destruction. The “SPIN” process provides significant merchant
savings with little upfront investment. This solution was designed to
meet the needs of large retailers, often resulting in a reduction of
client banking fees by up to 70%.

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