AIMETIS SYMPHONY

Intelligent video surveillance software provider Aimetis
announced that its
surveillance platform, “Aimetis Symphony” played an instrumental role in
thwarting a card skimming scam. A false
keyboard and card reader had been mounted on top of the regular keyboard
at one of the checkout registers at an ICA Maxi Superstore in Partille,
Sweden. The card reader was connected to a wireless transmitter that
would send the swiped credit card information over a network for use by
the criminals. “Aimetis Symphony” smart search capability allowed store personnel to
search through the entire night of video footage in seconds, returning
results of potentially suspicious activity. The video clearly captured
three men entering the store shortly before closing on Sunday night, but
only two of them leaving. The video also returned extremely high quality
video images of the third man installing the high-tech skimming device
and then leaving the store just after opening on Monday morning.

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Consumer Reports Kicks-Offs a Card Campaign

Consumer Reports has released the third installment of its credit
education campaign to provide guidance for holiday spending. A recent
survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center found
that 12 million Americans are still in debt from last year’s holiday
season with 38% of Americans who plan to use credit cards this
holiday season compared to 35% who used credit last year. Consumer
Reports will run a series of
online ads across highly trafficked or influential personal finance and
consumer blogs including Consumerist.com, Yahoo Shopping, and
Bargainist.com. The online ads will highlight the Consumer Reports
“Tightwad Tod” blog.

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Credit Karma Offers Free TransUnion Reports

CA-based consumer credit advisor Credit Karma has partnered with
TrueCredit.com to offer free TransUnion credit reports to
provide consumers with the tools and information to better understand
how lenders are evaluating them. A recent Federal Reserve Board survey
showed tightening lending
standards across every major loan category, including mortgage and
credit card interest rates.
Moreover, financial experts suggest that to qualify for the best
mortgage rates in today’s market, consumers need a much higher credit
score; some suggest it will
need to be as high as 750 to qualify for the most favorable rates.

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M&T Bank Renews its Visa Card Partnership

M&T Bank and Visa have renewed their brand
partnership agreement that provides M&T customers with branded
consumer and small business debit, commercial credit, and prepaid cards.
M&T Bank is one of the top 20 largest U.S. commercial
bank holding companies, with approximately $66 billion in assets and
operates more than 680 offices and 1600 ATMs in New York,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey
and the District of Columbia.

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OTI ASEC

Contactless provider On Track Innovations’ subsidiary, ASEC S.A. was awarded
a contract to become an e-ticketing operator of Warsaw City Card for the Transport
Department of the City of Warsaw to provide a sales network system, infrastructure,
distribution service and maintenance for loading of transportation
electronic cards around the city.Under the agreement ASEC will install in the city 100 automated vending
machines and 300 terminals for loading of Warsaw City Card which will be located
at subway, and train stations, buses and tramway transfer hubs and at areas
frequently visited by tourists. Direct revenues will be generated from
transaction fees and are expected to aggregate more than $10 million over the next 5 years.

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Aite Analyzes Small Business Mobile Banking

A new report from Aite focuses on the growth of mobile banking for small
businesses. More than 60% of small
businesses currently bank online, and are showing a greater demand for
multichannel banking, including mobile banking services, and
approximately one-third of those interviewed expressed a likelihood that
they will use mobile banking; nearly 10 times the likelihood expressed
by credit and debit cardholders in a similar Aite Group survey. Unlike
retail banking customers that have
been universally provided with free mobile banking, small businesses can
and do pay for a number of banking services. Mobile banking for small
businesses could be a revenue generator for banks.

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Visa Launches a Processing Joint Venture in Asia

Visa has teamed with India’s Yalamanchili Software Exports to create a
joint venture to extend Visa’s processing capabilities outside the USA
and Europe. Singapore-based Visa Processing Service Pte. Ltd. began
operations this week. Visa says VPS complements Visa’s “Debit Processing
Service.” Initially, the JV will focus on providing financial
institutions, processors and other payment companies with prepaid and
debit processing solutions. Like Visa, VPS will also have capabilities
to provide credit, ATM, money transfer and private label processing, as
well as a range of payments services, including risk and fraud
management, mobile applications, loyalty and cardholder support.
Yalamanchili will provide its suite of “NARADA” software products – a
multi-currency, multi-language platform for debit, prepaid and credit
payment transactions; gateway services for international and domestic
networks; and acquiring applications, including ATM terminal driving.

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Reduced Credit Lines – Another Nail in the Coffin

Some industry analysts project that U.S. credit card issuers will trim overall credit limits by nearly one-third by mid-year 2010. With more than $5.5 trillion in currently available payment card credit lines, the impact on U.S. consumer spending could be a significant factor in driving the economy further into the ground. Over the weekend an Oppenheimer & Co. analyst suggested U.S. credit card issuers could pull as much as $2 trillion in credit card credit lines over the next 18 months. Indeed U.S. credit card issuers are facing a perfect storm as funding has dried up, losses are building and the good credits are hiding. New credit card-backed securities have ground to a halt since October. Interest rate spreads on AAA-rated tranches of ABS soared to levels well outside the range of historical experience, producing unusually high risk premiums. Last week, the Federal Reserve Board announced the creation of the “Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility,” a facility that will support the issuance of ABS collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, and loans guaranteed by the SBA. Credit card charge-offs have climbed to 6.27% in October, compared to 6.19% in the prior month and 4.89% one-year ago, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). Some ratings firms predict that charge-offs may exceed the 8% ratio in 2009. Last month Capital One reported that charge-offs for its U.S. Card business jumped for the third consecutive month in October, rising 20 basis points from the prior month. According to Chicago-based Mintel Comperemedia total estimated volume for credit card acquisition offers dipped to 1.34 billion in 3Q/08, compared to 1.54 billion in the prior quarter and 1.86 billion during 3Q/07. There is a consensus that credit card approval rates have tightened by as much as one-third during the third quarter.

U.S. CREDIT CARD CREDIT LIMITS
(includes general purpose and proprietary cards)
1999: $2.6 trillion
2000: $3.0 trillion
2001: $3.3 trillion
2002: $3.5 trillion
2003: $3.7 trillion
2004: $4.0 trillion
2005: $4.5 trillion
2006: $5.0 trillion
2007: $5.3 trillion
2008: $5.6 trillion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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NEOVIA & IDT

NEOVIA Financial Plc will acquire IDT Corporation’s European
Prepaid Payment Services Division for total cash consideration of US$ 15.05 million to be paid to IDT
Corporation on completion – this includes US$ 10 million of banking regulatory capital.
The agreement includes the purchase the entire issued share capital of IDT
Financial Services Holdings Limited and certain other assets which together provide prepaid MasterCard® products
in the UK market under the IDT “Prime Card” brand. Also included is the key strategic acquisition for
NEOVIA, adding new product lines and distribution based on the IDT Prime Card, accelerating the development
of NEOVIA’s prepaid Net+ card business and rapidly increasing the Company’s active
NETELLER e-wallet customer base. In combination with NEOVIA’s Net+ card services, the acquisition creates one of
Europe’s largest independent prepaid debit card businesses.

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New Do Not Call Amendments Take Effect

Under “Do Not Call” amendments adopted in August, effective this week, any permitted prerecorded message must provide the called consumer with an interactive means to opt out of receiving future calls from the seller or fundraiser using the prerecorded message. Moreover, the consumer must be able to opt out at any time while the message is playing by pressing a particular number or speaking a particular word. Once the consumer has opted out, his or her phone number must be automatically added to the in-house “Do Not Call” list of the calling seller or fundraiser. Then the call immediately must be disconnected so that the consumer’s line is cleared. The automated opt-out requirement is the first of two measures provided by the recent TSR amendment to protect consumers’ privacy at home. The second measure prohibits telemarketing calls that deliver prerecorded messages to anyone who has not agreed in advance to receive such calls. But until September 1, 2009, sellers may continue to use prerecorded messages in calling consumers with whom they have an established business relationship. After that date, sellers may use prerecorded messages only in calls to consumers who have expressly agreed in advance to receive them.

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VPS

Visa has teamed with India’s Yalamanchili Software Exports to create a joint venture to extend Visa’s processing capabilities outside the USA and Europe. Singapore-based Visa Processing Service Pte. Ltd. began operations this week. Visa says VPS complements Visa’s “Debit Processing Service.” Initially, the JV will focus on providing financial institutions, processors and other payment companies with prepaid and debit processing solutions. Like Visa, VPS will also have capabilities to provide credit, ATM, money transfer and private label processing, as well as a range of payments services, including risk and fraud management, mobile applications, loyalty and cardholder support. Yalamanchili will provide its suite of “NARADA” software products -a multi-currency, multi-language platform for debit, prepaid and credit payment transactions; gateway services for international and domestic networks; and acquiring applications, including ATM terminal driving.

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CREDIT CRUNCH

The slashing of credit card credit limits in the United States will inevitably lead to a curtailment in available credit in other countries. Over the past five years credit card credit limits in Australia have soared by more than 50% and in the United Kingdom by 15%. In the U.K. debit cards account for about 74% of all purchases on payment cards, according to APACS. British cardholders owe about US$50 billion on credit cards but have access to about US$237 billion in credit limits as of third quarter 2008. In Australia, credit cardholders owe about US$30 billion but have access to US$78 billion in credit card credit limits. In Australia credit cards account for more than 53% of all purchases on payment cards, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. While the U.K. is debit driven, the reduction of credit limits could emerge as a major factor in the faltering Australian economy once repricing peters out. Research conducted for Australia’s The Daily Telegraph revealed at least five card providers increased their interest rates in the past three months, even though the RBA has slashed the cash rate by 2% since September. Not a single credit card provider passed on the entire two percentage points of official cash-rate cuts announced since September.

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