Spartanics Issues Laser Cutting Guide

IL-based Spartanics, which manufactures laser cutters for plastic card
manufacturers, has released “Laser Cutting Technical Guide: How to Match
Today’s Laser Cutting Technology to Application Requirements – Parts I
and II”. Spartanics, which manufactures both lower-cost systems and
high-end laser cutters, created this laser cutting technical guide to
help plastic card manufacturers select the types of components and
features they need in laser cutting technology, without encumbering
either excess cost or inadequate performance capabilities. The Laser
Cutting Technical Guide chapters include “Choosing Between Laser Cutting
vs. Tool-based Die Cutting Systems”; “Quality and the Soft Marking
Standard”; “Cutting Speed vs. Web Speed; “Fallacy of the Double Scan
Head Advantage”; “Systems Integration, User-Friendliness and Production
Output”; “Selecting System Components”; and “Suggested Method for
Sourcing Laser Cutting Technology”.

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MasterCard to Acquire Orbiscom for $100MM

MasterCard has inked a deal to acquire Ireland-based Orbiscom for about $100 million which includes earn-outs. The software provider offers enhanced B2C, B2B and P2P payment solutions primarily based on its patented “Controlled Payment Number” technology. Orbiscom’s products cover “Consumer Card” solutions, “Commercial Card” solutions and “Alternative Payment” solutions. MasterCard says the acquisition will build on its existing Orbiscom partnership that created “MasterCard inControl,” a platform featuring an array of advanced authorization, transaction routing and alert controls designed to assist financial institutions in creating new and enhanced payment offerings. Last year, Royal Bank of Scotland became the first financial institution to implement “MasterCard inControl” for its commercial card customers.

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RBS WorldPay Confirms Breach of STV Cards

RBS WorldPay (formerly RBS Lynk), the U.S. payment processing arm of
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, confirm over the holiday period that
its computer system had been improperly accessed by an unauthorized
party. The breach affected U.S. pre-paid cards include payroll cards and
open-loop gift cards. Personal information associated with certain
payroll cards may have been improperly accessed. PINs for all
PIN-enabled cards have been or are being reset. Affected individuals are
being notified and information has been posted on the RBS WorldPay Web
site. Actual fraud has been committed on approximately 100 cards.
Certain personal information of approximately 1.5 million cardholders
and other individuals may have been affected and, of this group, Social
Security numbers of 1.1 million people may have been accessed. RBS says
the breach was identified on November 10th and law enforcement agencies
and federal regulators were notified by RBS WorldPay shortly thereafter.

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Direct Mail Shifts to Changes from Offers

New tracking research shows that credit card issuers are using direct
mail more for communicating big changes in account terms, conditions and
fees to their cardholders than soliciting for new accounts. Mintel
Comperemedia saw both Chase and Capital One Bank, for example, send
letters to cardholders about increased fees and new fee-calculation
methods. Other issuers, including Bank of America, Discover, Wells Fargo
and GE Money Bank, have used direct marketing to alert customers to
changes in their cards’ interest rates. The Chicago-based direct
marketing intelligence service also noted that some credit card issuers
use direct marketing to inform cardholders that their accounts have been
closed due to inactivity or the credit line is being decreased. Mintel
Comperemedia previously reported that the number of credit card direct mail
offers during the third quarter dropped 28% year-on-year and 13%
sequentially. Through the third quarter, direct mail credit card
solicitations are averaging about 1.5 billion per quarter, compared to
slightly more than 2.0 billion per quarter in 2007. (CF Library 12/05/08).

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2008 Portfolio Sales Up as Premiums Fall

The second largest volume of credit card assets trading hands in one
year took place in 2008 as more than $55 billion in deals were done.
However, average sale premium prices for “prime” and “super prime” card
portfolios dropped to 16.57% for 2008, compared with a 21.40% average
card portfolio premium sale price in 2007. The range of estimated gross
premiums for 2008 was 13.0% to 22.7%, compared to 8.5% to 34.5% for 2007
and 3.0% to 23.9% ten years ago. According to card industry broker
expert R.K. Hammer, the number of significant portfolio sales, excluding
about 70 small credit union portfolio deals, was 35 for 2008 compared to
51 in the prior year. Hammer notes that the banking credit crunch,
liquidity crisis, economic downturn, and rising consumer bankruptcy and
loan losses all contributed toward less capital chasing new card deals.
It had more to do with what was going on within buyers’ organizations,
rather than within portfolio sellers. However, Hammer says that the
better loan quality, larger size card deals (“prime” and “super prime”)
are still going for higher premiums, in the more traditional 20.5% to
23.0%+ range. R.K. Hammer, a global card advisory firm, has 17 of the
top 20 U.S. issuers as clients, plus bank card issuers in 50 countries.

Card Deals Historical
1999: $19.40 billion
2000: $19.70 billion
2001: $12.00 billion
2002: $21.80 billion
2003: $40.50 billion
2004: $30.57 billion
2005: $44.30 billion
2006: $90.26 billion
2007: $ 9.40 billion
2008: $55.30 billion
Source: R.K. Hammer

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Shell Direct Debit Card is Launched

Shell has launched the “Shell Saver Card” which provides an electronic
check payment option for customers.” The new card is a non-credit payment product issued to consumers
directly from Shell, has no application or annual fees and offers a
promotional savings of 5 cents per gallon on Shell gasoline or diesel
purchases until June 1, 2009 and 2 cents per gallon thereafter. The payment option provides consumers with a convenient way to
pay for purchases with a direct link to a checking account and savings
on each gallon of fuel pumped at Shell stations. All Shell Saver Card transactions will be routed through the Shell
network and payment processor First Data using First Data’s “TeleCheck”
check verification services. Because
the card is linked to a checking account, it offers the added advantage
of no impact on consumer credit scores, especially important to
consumers who wish to avoid using credit but customers who apply for the
Shell Saver Card must have an active checking account in good standing
to qualify.

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Dollar General nFinanSe Discover Card

Prepaid card provider nFinanSe announced that its
“nFinanSe Discover Network Reloadable Prepaid Card” is now available at
discount retailer Dollar General. Consumers can purchase the
Card for only $5.95 and conveniently load funds at Dollar General
locations. No credit check or bank account is required. The nFinanSe cards are “instant issue” and
cardholders have the ability to receive emails or text messages on their
cell phones with transaction and balance information after each use.

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EVERYDAY CHARGES

Using payment cards for everyday purchases, particularly for transactions under GBP 20, are gaining popularity among Brits. New research from Sainsbury’s reveals that there are some 7.55 million card card users who spend a total of GBP 3.64 billion on their cards every month. The average monthly spend figure for a typical “everyday” credit card user is GBP 483, but some 1.41 million “everyday” card users regularly put GBP 750 or more of their overall monthly expenditure on their credit card. With as many as 12 million (48%) of all credit card holders not earning any rewards from expenditure on their cards(2), the bank estimates that there could be as much as GBP 1.76 billion worth of spend by everyday credit card users that is going unrewarded each month.

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RBS WORLDPAY BREACH

RBS WorldPay (formerly RBS Lynk), the U.S. payment processing arm of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, confirms that its computer system had been improperly accessed by an unauthorized party. The breach
affected U.S. pre-paid cards include payroll cards and open-loop gift cards. Personal information associated with certain payroll cards may have been improperly accessed. PINs for all PIN-enabled cards have been or are being reset. Affected individuals are being notified and information has been posted on the RBS WorldPay Web site. Actual fraud has been committed on approximately 100 cards. Certain personal information of approximately 1.5 million cardholders and other individuals may have been affected and, of this group, Social Security numbers of 1.1 million people may have been accessed. RBS says the breach was identified on November 10th and law enforcement agencies and
federal regulators were notified by RBS WorldPay shortly thereafter.

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BOXING DAY

A new survey has found that 34% of online Canadian shoppers are taking their “Boxing Day” shopping online. The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid on behalf of PayPal Canada, also reveals that “Boxing Day” shopping is anything but hassle-free. Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians indicate that crowds and long lines are their top two pet peeves, followed by finding the item that they want is not carried or sold
out (11%), finding a parking spot (5%), and rude or unhelpful sales staff (3%). Only one in 12 (8%) Canadians don’t dislike anything about “Boxing Day” shopping. Only one in ten Canadians doesn’t look for deals when shopping for holiday gifts and 38% typically shop on “Boxing Day” to take advantage of special deals and promotions.

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BUSIEST DAY

New data show Canadians used their debit cards for 15.9 million transactions on December 23rd. According to INTERAC, that represents an increase over the 15.6 million transactions reported on December 21st, 2007, last season’s busiest holiday shopping day of the year. INTERAC statistics show that Canadians also power-shopped during the final 2008 pre-holiday period, swiping their cards nearly 40 million times between December 21st and December 23rd. INTERAC also reports that Canadians spent $219 million fare at grocery stores on December 23rd; $180.6 million in specialty clothing stores; $121.5 million in department stores; $64 million at gas stations; $30.8 million for restaurants/bars/fast food purchases; and $64.9 million for beer/liquor/wine purchases.

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OCT INDEX

The Conference Board announced that the leading index for Australia
declined 0.5% in October. Four of the seven components in the leading index
increased in October. The positive contributors to the index are rural goods
exports, money supply, gross operating surplus, and the sales to
inventories ratio. Share prices, building approvals, and yield spread
declined. Index levels were revised moderately lower from May to September
as new data for the sales-to-inventories ratio and gross operating
surplus for the third quarter of 2008 became available. The six-month
change in the leading index has continued to fall, dipping to 0.2% in
the period through October, down
from 1.6% between October 2007 and April 2008. In addition, the
strengths among the leading indicators have
been roughly balanced with the weaknesses over the past six months The
leading index now stands
at 188.3 (1990=100).

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