LogRhythm Joins the PCI Security Council

CO-based LogRhythm has joined the PCI Security Standards Council as a Participating Organization. LogRhythm will now have access to the
latest payment card security standards from the Council, be able to
provide feedback on the standards, and become part of a growing
community that now includes more than 500 organizations and will work with
the Council to evolve the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) and other
payment card data protection standards. The Council is an open global
forum for the ongoing development, enhancement, storage, dissemination
and implementation of security standards for account data protection.
LogRhythm provides enterprise-class log management, log analysis and
event management in an integrated solution that empowers organizations
to comply with regulations, secure their networks, and optimize IT
operations.

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Card Activation and Sears Settle Lawsuit

Chicago-based POS technology provider Card Activation Technologies has settled its lawsuit against Sears Holdings.
The terms of the settlement are confidential. Card Activation Technologies are the owners of a patented point-of-sale
technology for the activation and processing of transactions related to
debit styled cards, which include gift cards, phone cards and other
stored value cards. The
company is actively seeking to license its technology to the thousands
of current users and believes that many retailers, gas stations, phone
companies and others that utilize those stored value cards, such as gift
and debit, infringe its patent. As a result, the company is aggressively
pursuing litigation against these infringements.

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Grace Junkins Targets Home-Based Businesses

ISO Grace Junkins has signed on with AZ-based Paramount Card Services to
offer card fulfillment to small businesses.
Junkins’ site www.gracejunkins.pcvip.com will now exceed all needs of
independent
representatives when searching for a home-based merchant account
service. “gracejunkins.pcsvip.com” is ready
to operate in small business mode with its new clients. Junkins will assist
troubled small business owners with their A/R and A/P needs through
such interactions as collections, receivables and pay outs to vendors
and suppliers. It will be a complementary site to Paramount Card Services.
Merchant account services such as Paramount Card Services expand the
ability for customers’ payment options, as well as simplifying their
business operations, and will also increase revenue with merchant card
processing. PCS’ card processing solutions enable a business to accept
credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks, gift cards, and other
payment options.

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Genesis Completes a Quick Card Conversion

OR-based distressed consumer receivables manager Genesis Financial
Solutions has converted over 70,000 credit card accounts in 45 days. The
on-time conversion involved a change of issuing banks, product and
branding, processing system, and account servicing, Genesis Financial
Solutions is known throughout the industry for
managing distressed unsecured consumer receivables, and structuring and
executing complicated transactions. Over the past several years, Genesis
has completed several similar transactions, including acquisition of a
$250MM pool of distressed credit card accounts from a top five issuer.
Partners are attracted to Genesis because of its flexibility, speed of
execution, focus on compliance, and operational excellence.

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Credit Managers See a Dismal Outlook for 2009

The “Credit Manager’s Index” hit its fourth consecutive record low in December. Six of the ten components in the “Index” hit record lows while all the components fell into economic contraction territory.
The National Association of Credit Management reports the seasonally adjusted “Index” fell 2.1 in December to 40.1. The NACM found that credit managers delineated in nauseating detail the business conditions they are experiencing, notably deteriorating sales and payment patterns straining cash flows. The feedback reveals that many customers who have paid very well in the past are dropping in the 60- to 90-day column. The NACM “Index” says the manufacturing index fell 1.4 to 41.0 and the
service sector index fell 2.8 to a record low 39.2. For both indexes, the sales component dropped the most: 23.3 for services, and a huge, record 35.1 for manufacturing. If sales have deteriorated that much while payment problems are on the rise, cash flow will be severely strained—a very dangerous condition which threatens businesses’ survival.

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Housing Stability Requires Banking Stability

The government’s $700 billion bailout plan, which has thus far proved
to be little more than a band aid on a ruptured artery caused by the
failure of Lehman Brothers, continues to ignore the core issue of
housing stability. A new report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting
underscores the need for stability in the banking system to produce
stability in the housing market. The report calls for continuing to
insure deposits up to $250,000 and unlimited amounts in payroll accounts
and to close all poorly managed and under-capitalized banks ASAP. Burns
suggests temporarily providing a down payment match to all home buyers
at a cost of approximately $40 billion and temporarily doubling the
mortgage interest rate deductions for all homeowners at a cost of $188
billion per year. Also, allow companies to utilize their current losses
to recapture taxes paid over the last 4 years so they can keep enough
cash in the bank to meet payroll and create government-backed
initiatives to help banks make good loans to employers.

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Clickbooth Addresses Auto-Deduct Chargebacks

A new service has been introduced that addresses the challenges of auto-shipped products that are auto-charged to payment cards. Sarasota, FL-based IntegraClick’s Clickbooth.com says it has developed a new standard to protect consumers from overcharges and advertisers from chargebacks. The standard was developed drawing on its consumer advocate and its online experience with several advertisers. Details of the regulations cover payments terms, refund/cancellation policies, standards regarding potentially false or unsubstantiated claims to promote product, and pre-authorized electronic fund transfers, in accordance with the EFTA. The Company notes that affiliate networks are not currently forced to employ such guidelines by any national or government entity. But, credit card auto-deduction are vital for the cash flow of some online marketing companies. Clickbooth says advertisers face increased interest rates or cancellation of their merchant services of the number of chargebacks increase.

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NOV DEBT

Credit card outstandings continued to rise in November by GBP 396 billion. Year-on-year credit card outstandings (not seasonally adjusted) were up about 8.6%. According to the The Bank of England, net credit card lending rose to GBP 52.9 billion in November from GBP 52.5 billion in the prior month and compared to GBP 48.7 million one-year ago.
The increase in total net lending to individuals in November (GBP 1.5 billion) was higher than the October increase, but below the previous six-month average. The twelve-month growth rate slowed further, to 4.1%, and the three-month annualized growth rate ticked up by 10 basis points to 1.3%. The increase in net consumer credit in November (GBP 0.8 billion) was in line with the October increase, but below the previous six-month average. Net credit card lending and net other loans and advances each rose by about GBP 0.4 billion, both in line with their October increase. The annual growth rate of consumer credit continued to slow, to 5.2%; the three-month annualised growth rate slowed by 0.4 percentage points, to 3.2%.

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

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Small Biz Owners See a Slight Dec Uptick

Despite all the gloom and doom news, economic confidence among small business owners rose slightly in December. The “Discover Small Business Watch” found that 21% of small business owners believe that economic conditions for their businesses are getting better, up from 15% in November, which was the all-time low in the 29-month history of the “Watch.” Fifty-one percent feel the conditions are getting worse, which is down from 54% last month. The “Discover Small Business Watch” rose to 72.8 in December, up 5.3 points from November. Cash flow issues decreased slightly in December as 42% of owners say they held off paying some bills in the past 90 days. Forty-four percent said the same in November. Small business owners remain cautious about the amount of time it will take the economy to crawl out of its slump. Forty-two percent of owners anticipate that economic recovery will take between 12 and 24 months, while 27% believe that it will take longer than 24 months. Twenty-three percent think that the recovery will take less than 12 months.

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Wells Fargo and Wachovia Merger Wraps

Wells Fargo and Wachovia have completed their merger,
creating North America’s most extensive distribution
system for financial services with 11,000 stores, 12,260 ATMs,
wellsfargo.com and “Wells Fargo PhoneBank”. Wells Fargo for the first
time has a Community Banking
presence in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas,
Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C with
community banks in 39 states and is #1 in deposit market share in 18 of
those states plus
the District of Columbia. It also is #1 in the U.S. in community
banking presence (6,650 stores), small business lending, middle market
commercial banking, agriculture lending, commercial real estate lending,
commercial real estate brokerage, and bank-owned insurance brokerage. It
is #2 in banking deposits in the U.S., home mortgage originations and
servicing, retail brokerage (number of financial advisors), and debit
card. Wells Fargo serves 48 million banking households and is one of
America’s largest private employers with 276,000 team members.
At closing, Wells Fargo acquired all outstanding shares of common stock
of Wachovia in a stock-for-stock transaction. Wachovia shareholders
received 0.1991 shares of Wells Fargo common stock in exchange for each
share of Wachovia common stock they owned. Shares of each outstanding
series of Wachovia preferred stock were converted into shares (or
fractional shares) of a corresponding series Wells Fargo preferred stock
having substantially the same rights and preferences. As a result of the
transaction, Wells Fargo acquired all of Wachovia Corporation and its
businesses and obligations, including all of its banking deposits.

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