IHG & CHINAPAY

InterContinental Hotels Group has become the only international
hotel group in China to accept locally-issued bank cards for online
hotel reservations. IHG recently signed a two-year agreement with ChinaPay, an online payment subsidiary of China Union Pay, giving Chinese guests who do not carry foreign bank cards access to real-time hotel confirmations and online payments. Previously, only international credit cards were accepted by hotel websites for online bookings and all payment transactions were made during check-out. The deal allows IHG to reach out to the nearly 1.5 billion holders of locally-issued bank cards across China. IHG was also the first international hotel company to establish a reservation call centre in Guangzhou, and the first to have a fully integrated Chinese language reservation website that facilitates online reservation without a credit card guarantee in China. IHG’s “Priority Card Rewards” is the first hotel loyalty program to partner with a Chinese domestic bank to launch a co-branded Chinese credit card – the “Priority Club Rewards-Shanghai Pudong Development Bank” credit card. IHG is the largest international hotel group in Greater China, with a portfolio of 86 hotels and more than 100 hotels under development.

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FDC Continues to Eyeball Credit Card Practices

The recent summit held by the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland, “Protecting Consumers in the Credit Marketplace”, focused on the role of consumer credit, developing credit markets and the necessity for access to credit information. As discussed in the summit, credit provides an important outlet for the savings of consumers through the financial intermediation process and that the source of funds for consumers who borrow is other consumers who have savings they hold in deposit accounts, life insurance and pension reserves, or portfolios of securities that include bonds, stocks, and mutual fund shares. A key challenge is to find ways to improve consumers’ ability to identify products that are suitable to their needs without diminishing the benefits market innovations can provide and without reducing future access to credit. One important way this challenge can be met is by improving the information available to consumers. Accurate and complete information about credit terms and prices is essential for households to make sound judgments about the use of credit. Disclosures must give consumers information about credit pricing and important terms at a time when it is relevant, and in language consumers can easily understand. Effective disclosures give consumers information they notice, understand, and can use.

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Advance Services to Offer nFinanSe Payroll Cards

FL-based prepaid solution provider nFinanSe has announced that NE-based staffing company Advance Services has signed an agreement to provide “Discover Network Pay Card” to Advance Services’ associates nationwide. Advance Services will reduce administrative costs currently incurred by issuing and distributing paper paychecks throughout their regional offices and Advance Services associates will have access to an exclusive suite of features and benefits which are not typically offered by traditional pay card programs. After making a purchase or transaction with their nFinanSe Pay Card, associates will receive a message to their cell phone and/or e-mail address alerting them of both the amount of the transaction and the remaining balance on their pay card. Additionally, associates can go to any nFinanSe Network location nationwide, including MoneyGram and Western Union locations, and load the funds from a second paycheck from another job or cash from other activities to their Pay Card.

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THE FUTURE OF PAYMENTS

Research & Markets has released the “The Future of Payments: Prepaid
Cards, Contactless and Mobile Payments” report, published by Business
Insights to examine the pros and cons of an increasingly cashless
society, the current market for payment technologies, the associated
drivers/risks and the future of payments in markets around the world.
“The Future of Payments: Prepaid Cards, Contactless and Mobile Payments”
concludes the European retail banking market will become increasingly
consolidated beyond the 2010 SEPA deadline, prepaid cards can be used
for all transactions, speed drives the contactless payment proposition,
marketing aimed at teenagers is advised to be subtle and empathetic and
a there are many potential applications for digital content and
mPayments. The report also addresses how the Internet will change the
payments landscape, where the opportunities for co-branded cards lie,
how to appeal to the youth market and the risks associated with
contactless payments, among others.

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First Data Renews the Webster Bank Agreement

First Data and CT-based Webster Bank have extended their merchant services agreement for seven more years. First Data will continue to provide merchant processing services to Webster’s customers at its 181 banking offices with $17.2 billion in assets throughout the northeastern United States, allowing Webster to offer a full suite of merchant services and products including credit, debit, checks and gift cards.

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Proteus Offers Via SMS Messaging Tool in U.S.

UK-based 2ergo Group subsidiary mobile marketer Proteus has launched “Via”, a self-service messaging tool that allows clients to quickly create and track SMS messaging campaigns. The “Via” messaging modules allow clients to create, schedule and execute campaigns in minutes that connect with customers, drive brand awareness and increase conversion. “Via” supports a wide variety of user experiences and message types — from fun to functional — allowing marketers and customer relations departments to be as innovative as they can be. Example uses include distributing coupons, sending TV show reminders, driving in-store traffic, offering new customer welcome tips and gathering consumer feedback.

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IHG/ChinaPay Team to Accept China-Issued Cards

InterContinental Hotels Group has become the only international hotel group in China to accept locally-issued bank cards for online hotel reservations, according to this week’s CardFlash International. IHG recently signed a two-year agreement with ChinaPay, an online payment subsidiary of China Union Pay, giving Chinese guests who do not carry foreign bank cards access to real-time hotel confirmations and online payments. Previously, only international credit cards were accepted by hotel websites for online bookings and all payment transactions were made during check-out. The deal allows IHG to reach out to the nearly 1.5 billion holders of locally-issued bank cards across China. IHG was also the first international hotel company to establish a reservation call centre in Guangzhou, and the first to have a fully integrated Chinese language reservation website that facilitates online reservation without a credit card guarantee in China. IHG’s “Priority Card Rewards” is the first hotel loyalty program to partner with a Chinese domestic bank to launch a co-branded Chinese credit card – the “Priority Club Rewards-Shanghai Pudong Development Bank” credit card. IHG is the largest international hotel group in Greater China, with a portfolio of 86 hotels and more than 100 hotels under development.

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CB KOREA INDEX

The Conference Board of Korea has released business cycle indicators for
April 2008 with the leading index having increased 0.1% and the
coincident index having increased 0.3% for the month. Additional
findings show the leading index fell -2.2% between October 2007 to April
2008, down from a growth of 5.1% for the same period the year prior, the
coincident index rose 1.1% between October 2007 and April 2008, down
from 1.9% growth from the same period one year prior, and the leading
index continues on a downward trend that began in October 2007 with
acceleration seen in recent months. Founded in 1916, The Conference
Board is a business membership and research network to help executives
build professional relationships, expand business knowledge and find
solutions to business challenges.

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Card Procure-to-Pay Practices Reap Big Savings

Visa has issued an updated and expanded commercial payment card best practices study by Deloitte Consulting that reveals procure-to-pay automation is saving large companies lots of money. Visa Commercial Solutions found that “P2P” best practices can lead to significant efficiency-driven cost savings. For example: a $30+ billion global media and entertainment company achieved more than $100 million in annual cost savings by strategically sourcing direct and indirect spend categories; an $800 million global manufacturing company was able to reduce its supplier base by 70% while consolidating 80% of its overall spending with a select group of suppliers; a $2.5 billion global technology company was able to significantly reduce its reliance on costly and outdated paper-based payment processes by shifting 85% of its payments to more efficient and cost-effective electronic payment methods; and a $7.5 billion global manufacturing company realized over $350,000 in process savings by moving non-purchase order transactions under $1,500 to the purchasing card. Study participants had a range of commercial card programs in place, including purchasing card, corporate card and commercial “one” card programs with each of the top three card providers: Visa, MasterCard and/or American Express.

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CAP ONE & COAST TO COAST

As a means of raising money to support families fighting childhood
cancer, Capital One is sponsoring Canadian bands who will be performing
for Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation’s free concert. The Cancer
Foundation’s concert is to take place at the Eaton Centre/Trinity Square
in downtown Toronto from 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. on June 13. As part of
the Sears “National Kids Cancer Ride,” the charity event is projected to
raise $1.5 million in support of children with cancer and their
families. Capital One Canada has provided consumers a range of
competitive MasterCard credit cards since 1996, initially with its
“Platinum” MasterCard.

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M….MASTERCARD

GE Money Bank and Switzerland’s Migros Photo Card ad campaigns are now
focused around the European football tournament, “Euro 2008,” and an
online card design competition to promote the organization’s
“M…MasterCard ‘MyDesign'” customized photo cards, which are powered by
the Serverside Group. Originally launched in November 2007, the
“M-€¦MasterCard” card is now available in the original, distinctive
“M-Budget MasterCard”, the “M-€¦MasterCard Standard card” in black and
white and the “M-€¦MasterCard MyDesign card” photo card- available for a
one time fee of EUR12. The “MyDesign” ad campaign will run a spot during
the ‘KickOff’ TV show time slot and will promote a card design
competition powered by Serverside, which will award such prizes as a
trip to Vienna. Serverside provides more than 74 issuers in 21 countries
with its card customization technology for over 350 card programs while
GE serves customers in over 100 countries and employs more than 300,000
people worldwide, 1300 of whom reside in Switzerland.

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