HOLIDAY PULSE

A new survey by Coinstar reveals that 44% of Canadians
stretch their budget during the holidays. When looking for ways to save,
the first thing Canadians are likely to put on the chopping block is the
social activities they enjoy, with 41% forgoing certain
luxuries like going out with friends and 54% of Canadians feeling down after the
festivities are over. Of those Canadians who feel down, returning to the daily
grind leaves 30% of them feeling the post-holiday blues
the most. with 20% of men feel a rush of post-holiday depression when it’s time to return to
work, compared to 12% of women. “The Downer of Debt” impacts 23% of those who
feel most depressed when they receive credit card and
bank account statements tallying their holiday purchases.

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Consumer Confidence Trying to Find a Bottom

The growing credit crunch, escalating job crisis and prolonged
housing debacle continues to drive consumer confidence into the ground.
About one-third of consumers view their current financial situations as weak this month, up from 29% in October. The “RBC CASH Index” now stands at 34.7, compared to 37.0 in October and 69.2 for September. The composite “Index” also found that 71% of consumers report they are less confident in making a major purchase such as a home or car, compared to 69% last month. The “RBC Expectations Index” rebounded this month, increasing 18.2 points to 23.3, compared to 5.1 in October. The “RBC Jobs Index” for November stands at 74.0, compared to 78.8 last month. The “RBC Current Conditions Index” dropped 12.4 points to a 25.6 reading, compared to 38.0 in October. After dropping 12.2 points this month, the “RBC Investment Index” stands at 34.8, compared to 47.0 in October.

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FCAC & MC

The Financial Consumer Agency of
Canada (FCAC) and MasterCard Canada today made public a new model credit
card application form designed to help Canadian consumers better
understand what they are applying for and the terminology used in the
form. The plain language model application form was tested with real
consumers. Participants preferred it to the typical credit card
application form, citing the use of plain language, its simple and
straightforward nature, and its visually appealing layout, which was
airy and uncluttered. Along with the application form, participants were
given an appendix
which explained, in plain language, the terms and conditions of the
model credit card application form. After reading the plain language
application most participants said that
they learned information that they previously did not know or fully
understand, even though many had used credit cards for years. Some
participants indicated willingness and in some cases, even an eagerness,
to seek out additional information. FCAC provides consumers with
accurate, objective information about
financial products and services, and informs Canadians of their rights
and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial
institutions.

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F-SECURE MOBILE SECURITY

Mobile device manager Mformation Technologies and security solution provide F-Secure will introduce
a complete application lifecycle management
solution for the “F-Secure Mobile Security” application.
Using OMA DM industry standards and Mformation’s enhanced mobile device
client, the solution provides the flexibility to
support individual needs through customer- or self-care capabilities as
well as to support market segments, departmental, or enterprise-wide
needs, through rules-based automation. As a result of remote management
and user experience testing the F-Secure application
can be downloaded and pre-configured silently on the device,
based on operator requirements, remains invisible until the service is activated remotely,
can be silently configured over the air after activation to
update security policies or preferences and be set up to support varying levels of end-user interaction
during over-the-air operations, including completely silent operation
with no user interaction, depending on operator or enterprise requirements.
Operators and enterprises can trigger the update of virus
definitions and scanning of devices depending on the severity of
security alerts.

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GiftCardLab Among Oprah’s December Favorites

Customized gift cards offered through GiftCardLab, a joint
partnership with Serverside Group and PAYjr, has been selected by Oprah
as one of her favorite things in the December edition of “O Magazine.” GiftCardLab.com was created by Card Lab Inc. in 2007 between Serverside Group, based out of London, UK and PAYjr Inc, based out of Dallas, TX. Card Lab Inc. also works closely with banks, credit unions and major youth brands to help create market differentiation with branded and co-branded GiftCardLab programs. For more information, visit www.GiftCardLab.com.

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TNB Lands U.S. New Mexico FCU for Processing

U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union has signed a multi-year agreement with TNB Card Services to process
and grow its $25 million credit card portfolio. TNB will take over the processing of U.S. New Mexico’s more than 12,000
credit cards, in a program that currently consists of nine different card
products. U.S. New Mexico will also roll out TNB’s “Rewards2U” loyalty program.
U.S. New Mexico FCU holds assets of $544 million, has five branches and 55,000 members.

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Global Retail Shrink Surpasses $100B in 07

A new study shows that global retail theft or retail shrink will top $104 billion this year amounting to a cost of nearly $230 per household in the 36 countries surveyed. The second annual “Global Retail Theft Barometer” from Checkpoint Systems also found that stolen merchandise accounted for 38% of internal fraud, while 24% of internal losses were in the form of stolen cash, coupons, vouchers or gift cards.
Employee theft is the largest source of shrinkage for retailers in North America and Latin America (46% and 42% respectively), while customer theft is the leader in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe (54% and 47% respectively). North America reported the highest average dollar amount stolen by customers, at $747 per incident. The high average in North America is thought to reflect the impact of organized retail crime.
Refund frauds and false markdowns rose substantially, comprising 20% of internal fraud, an increase of 34% since last year. Collusion represented 10% of losses. Large financial frauds, also on the rise, accounted for 8% of internal fraud.

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Starbucks Intros a Gold Card for Discounts

Starbucks has introduced the “Starbucks Gold” prepaid card that gives 10% off everyday purchases.
Since the program was introduced, sales of Starbucks Gold
memberships have exceeded initial projections by 20 percent.
Customers will also receive special members-only offers and invitations
once they register their Gold Card online that include
a complimentary beverage on one’s birthday and
friends and family days where members can share their discount, a
free drink when purchasing the Gold Card in-store
and “tender neutrality” with the Starbucks Gold Card one can pay with
cash, credit card, or a Starbucks Card and still receive the 10%
discount when showing the card at the time of purchase. The
card can be loaded with any amount from $5-$500.

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Consumer Card Management No. 2 in Web Usage

New online usage research reveals that 36% of adult online consumers have used the Web for credit card account management purposes over the past six months, ranking it as No. 2 among the U.S. online transaction categories. The No. 1 online transaction category was travel, with 38% of adult online consumers making at least one travel purchase on the Web in the previous six months. Nielsen Online also reported that eBay ranked as the top online retailer for October
while Google ranked as the top parent company and brand for October. Overall, the average sessions/visits per person during October was 59 and domains visited per person was 105. The average Web pages visited per person was 2,372 and the duration of a Web Page viewed was 55 seconds.

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FiCentive to Launch a SwipePay Mobile MC

Prepaid card provider FiCentive has signed an
agreement with SwipePay Mobile to offer the “SwipePay Mobile
MasterCard Prepaid” and “MasterCard Gift Card”. “SwipePay” works with
mobile
operators, mobile publishers and premium messaging aggregators so their
customers have the power to make secure mobile payments without
needing a physical banking presence or traditional Internet connection.
FiCentive is a turn-key prepaid card solutions provider that
quickly and securely delivers customized prepaid card programs for
corporations, financial institutions, affinity groups or any
organization that needs to deliver a financial incentive to their
customers, vendors, or employees.

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Gift Card Displays Must be Accommodating

A new gift card study has found that 82% of users said that a discount for the purchaser’s use when buying the gift card would make them somewhat or much more likely to purchase gift cards. Six out of ten say free specialized gift packaging for cards is a strong purchase motivator as well. The Chase Paymentech research also found that 37% of past year gift card purchasers have entered a store intending to buy a gift card and left without buying it because: they couldn’t find the gift card display (21%); they didn’t care for any of the designs (21%); they changed their mind and decided on another item (20%); and the cards were locked behind the counter (15%). Other Chase Paymentech findings:
55% plan to buy the same number of cards as they did last year, and 21% plan to buy more. Gift card buyers who purchased a gift card within the past 12 months bought 4.7 cards for others, in addition to two cards for
themselves.

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