MasterCard Ad Makes Mr. Bill Priceless

MasterCard is unleashing a new “Priceless” TV ad today resurrecting the famous “Mr. Bill” clay character of the TV show, “Saturday Night Live.” The new ad will show numerous daily mishaps for “Mr. Bill” including getting burned by a cup of coffee and falling off a treadmill. The tag line is: “Making it Through the Day: Priceless.” “Mr Bill” was in several short films shown on “Saturday Night Live” 30 years ago. In January MasterCard launched a new round of “Priceless” TV ads that feature both credit cards and debit cards at the end of each spot. This is the first time in 10-year history of the “Priceless” campaign that credit and debit cards were featured together. Creative for the “Mr. Bill” campaign was handled by McCann Erickson/New York.

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HSBC MALTA CHIP & PIN

For its “Premier” and “Classic” cardholders, HSBC Bank Malta has
introduced chip-and-PIN cards across the respective island nation. Chip
and PIN requires cardholders to enter a PIN number to authorize any
transactions, rather than having to sign a receipt, providing a greater
level of security. Following testing by MasterCard and Visa, and a local
pilot program, HSBC can now provide Malta consumers with the secure
payment card solution and EPOS terminals certified by all card schemes
to accept chip/PIN cards.

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FTC to Host Debt Relief Services Meeting

The Federal Trade Commission is hosting a free workshop September 25 focusing on for-profit debt relief services. Consumer advocates, industry representatives, and state and federal regulators will discuss a range of issues, including the history and expansion of the industry, the advertising and marketing of debt relief services, the role of third-party lead generators and other service providers, legal developments in the regulation of the industry, and ways to address consumer protection issues and education needs.

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Diebold to Offer VALID Systems

Diebold has entered an agreement with TX-based check cashing service VALID Systems to facilitate check cashing for the underbanked sector. VALID’s Internet-based identity verification system allows tellers to quickly enroll non-customers for check-cashing services, which can then be performed at the teller or through the convenience of a deposit- capable automated teller machine.The addition of the VALID check-cashing solution to the Diebold portfolio of managed services provides financial institutions with a low-risk, low-cost-of-entry solution for broadening check-cashing services in their communities and improves current lobby management issues when cashing checks for non-customers.

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MANHATTAN PLATINUM CARD

Standard Chartered has launched its “Manhattan Platinum Card” to provide
cardholders with cash back and reward options. Providing users with 5%
cash back on all departmental/grocery purchases and 5 reward points per
Rs 100 for all other transactions, the “Manhattan Platinum Card” charges
an annual fee of Rs 2,000. “Stanchart” has 90 branches in 33 cities and
a combined customer-base of 21 lakh in the retail banking.

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Accertify and Merchant e-Solutions Team

Fraud prevention provider Accertify has selected Merchant e-Solutions’ “MeS Payment Gateway to bundle with the Interceptas fraud solution. Merchant e-Solutions (MeS) currently processes more than $14 billion dollars in payments for more than 60,000 merchants and specializes in services for e-commerce and card not present merchants. Accertify also announced that RealScoop.com, which uses voice analysis technology to analyze public statements, will be the first customer for the integrated fraud and payments processing solution. Accertify provides online retailers with access to all the services they need to process Internet transactions and reduce their total cost of e-commerce fraud — available via a single connection.

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Revolving Credit Growth Grinds Down in Apr

Consumer revolving credit hit the wall in April as Americans tacked on a mere $300 million after adding nearly $6.0 billion in net new debt, mostly credit card debt, in the prior month. In February consumers added nearly $4 billion. Revolving consumer credit has now reached a record $956.9 billion and is growing by 0.4% per annum. Based on revised figures, revolving debt rose 7.4% in March and 5.3% in February. According to data released by the Federal Reserve, total revolving credit has expanded by $70 billion over the past twelve months. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was about $815 billion or roughly 85% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). Store and gas credit cards had about $109 billion in outstandings at year-end 2007. At the end of April, Americans were $2565 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Apr 08 Mar 08 Feb 08 Jan 08 Dec 07 Nov 07
GRWTH: 0.4% 7.4 5.3 7.1 2.8 12.8
$OWED: $956.9 956.6 950.7 947.0 941.4 939.6
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 6/6/08;
For complete historical data, visit CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Los Angeles Slips as a Major Commerce Center

An annual survey shows that London remains the global economy’s most influential city. However, Shanghai had the largest jump in overall rank — moving eight spots from 2007 to 2008 — bringing it into the top 25 of this year’s MasterCard’s “Centers of Commerce Index.” Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney, Hong Kong, Osaka, Taipei and Shanghai ranked among the top 25 “Centers of Commerce.” The only two North American cities in the top 10 globally were New York and Chicago. The fall of Los Angeles to #17 in 2008, compared to #10 in 2007, is in part due to factors around its role in the global financial services network, as well as the rise of European cities in the area of knowledge creation. However, the city ranks #4 in the North American region behind New York, Chicago and Toronto. The MasterCard “Centers of Commerce Index” is compiled from research by a panel of eight independent economic, urban development and social-science experts.

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Employee Confidence Heads Upward in May

A new survey shows that employee confidence is rising for the first time in nine months. The “Spherion Employee Confidence Index” rose 0.7 points to 46.9 in May. More workers, however, expressed concern about their personal job security. Seventy-five percent say it is unlikely they will lose their job in the next 12 months, a decline of three percentage points from the prior month. Two other key indicators also declined slightly. Sixty-four percent said they are confident in the future of their current employer, while 51% expressed confidence in their ability to find a new job. The “Index” measures workers’ confidence in their personal employment situation and optimism in the macroeconomic environment.

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Uno Spices-Up Gift Cards for Dads

Boston-based Uno Chicago Grill is promoting gift cards for Dads and grads for every $25 gift card. The purchaser will also receive a $5 bonus voucher. The Uno Restaurant Holdings Corporation includes more than 200 company-owned and franchised full-service units located in 29 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Honduras, and Saudi Arabia. The company also operates a consumer foods division which supplies airlines, movie theaters, hotel restaurants and supermarkets with both frozen and refrigerated private-label foods and branded Uno products.

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APRIL CB INDEX

The Japan leading index decreased 0.2% and the coincident index
increased 0.3% for the month of April 2008 according to the Conference
Board. The leading index remained unchanged over the past two months
and, since October 2007, fell at about a -1.1% rate. Meanwhile, the
coincident index increased in April with large downward revisions to
current economic conditions from October, having since fell at about a
-0.7% rate thanks to declining manufacturing sales. Overall, the leading
index has declined for eight of the last twelve months and now stands
5.2% below its December 2006 level while real GDP growth picked up to a
3.3% annual rate in the 1Q08, up from the 1.9% average annual rate in 2H/07.

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Supreme Court Knocks Down Perfect 10 Lawsuit

The Supreme Court this week announced it will stand on its decision regarding the credit card Web case filed by Perfect 10, a men’s magazine, against Visa, First Data and MasterCard for alleged third-party liability for enabling consumers to buy infringing images online. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2 to 1 against Perfect 10 last July and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court in December, citing the magazine’s failure to prove its argument that the credit card companies made copyright infringement profitable and therefore more widespread than it would have been as a result of the payment system.

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