MASTERCARD 4Q/07

MasterCard posted fourth quarter net income of $304 million. Net revenues for the quarter were more than $1 billion, a 28% increase over 4Q/06. MasterCard’s gross dollar volume, which increased 15%, on a local currency basis, rose to $634 billion; also, a 17% increase was posted in the number of transactions processed to 5.2 billion; and, an increase in cross-border volumes ramped-up to 28%. Total operating expenses increased 13.5%, to $901 million, during the fourth quarter compared to the same period in 2006. Currency fluctuations contributed 3.3% of the increase in expenses for the fourth quarter. During the quarter, the company made a $10 million cash contribution to the MasterCard Foundation, completing MasterCard’s previously disclosed intention to contribute up to $40 million in cash to the Foundation within four years following MasterCard’s May 2006 initial public offering. For complete details on MasterCard’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Lawsuit Filed Over Westfield Gift Cards

San Diego-based Finkelstein & Krinsk have filed a class action lawsuit against Westfield America. The lawsuit alleges that Los Angeles-based Westfield wrongfully imposes a monthly charge against the outstanding account balance of its “Westfield Gift Cards” sold both online and at its Westfield shopping centers starting one year after the date of issuance. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages on behalf of all California residents who purchased or received a Westfield America Gift Card on or after January 11, 2004.

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Bankrate Revenues Up 22%; Acquires 2 More

Bankrate reported that total revenue for the fourth quarter increased by 22% to $25.2 million. Net income increased by 5% to $4.1 million. Online revenue for the quarter increased by 33% to $22.8 million while graphic advertising revenue increased 29% to $12.5 million in the fourth quarter. Hyperlink revenue increased 39% to $10.3 million and print publishing and licensing revenue for the fourth quarter was $2.5 million, a decrease of $1.1 million, or 32%, compared to 4Q/06. During the quarter, Bankrate acquired TN-based Nationwide Card Services for $27.4 million and NY-based Savingforcollege.com for $2.3 million. Additionally, Bankrate announced it acquired the assets of CO-based InsureMe and CA-based Lower Fees, Inc, which operates feedisclosure.com. The purchase price for the assets of InsureMe was $65 million and Fee Disclosure were acquired for $2.85 million. For complete details on Bankrate’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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PCI Council Simplifies its Merchant SAQ

The PCI Security Standards Council unveiled a new process for eligible merchants to self certify their PCI compliance. As a direct result of feedback from the payments community, the Council has simplified the “self assessment questionnaire” for merchants by separating it into four distinct scenarios that map to merchants IT arrangements. This new questionnaire is aimed at saving merchants time and money with their PCI compliance program. Instead of grappling with an 11 page document that contains many questions that may not be applicable to various sets of merchants, the new streamlined process allows merchants to select in advance a questionnaire that best fits their business. The updated SAQ’s (there are now several different versions) represent a major initiative by the Council to help merchants secure their credit card transactions.

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Bank Freedom Prepaid Card Lands Funding

Las Vegas-based Berman Marketing Group has received private funding for its “Bank Freedom Prepaid Debit Card.” The Bank Freedom Prepaid Debit Cards work much like a checking account or a prepaid credit card only you don’t need a bank account to use or get one. The cardholder deposits cash onto the prepaid debit card at one of 40,000 retail locations or have a paycheck directly deposited onto the prepaid debit card. There are an estimated 60 million Americans that dont qualify for bank accounts and or credit cards, known as America’s underbanked. The Berman Marketing Group is a multi-channel direct market firm.

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Wright Express Q4 Revenues Rise 28%

Fuel card specialist Wright Express posted fourth quarter revenues of $90.7 million, up 28% from 4Q/06. Total MasterCard purchase volume grew 45% to $484.3 million, from $332.9 million for the comparable period in 2006. Fuel transactions processed increased 7% from 4Q/06 to 63.1 million. Payment processing transactions increased 18% to 53.4 million, and transaction processing transactions decreased 31% to 9.7 million. Average expenditure per payment processing transaction increased 29% to $62.69 from $48.69 for the same period last year. The Company noted that the new private label relationship it established with Citi in the fourth quarter was a significant milestone. Wright Express also announced it has entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement to acquire certain assets of privately held Pacific Pride Services, Inc. for approximately $32 million in cash. For complete details on Wright Express’ current and past performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1])

WRIGHT EXPRESS HISTORICAL
4Q/06: $71 million
1Q/07: $72 million
2Q/07: $86 million
3Q/07: $88 million
4Q/07: $91 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Zwinky Gift Cards Launched for Avatars

NY-based IAC CAP’s Zwinky has teamed with GMG Entertainment to launch gift cards nationwide, starting with Target. The new “Zwinky Gift Cards” are available in $10, $15, and $25 increments and are redeemed at Zwinky.com for virtual items sold in Zwinky, including brand-name shoes, a virtual dorm room, and a huge selection of fun furniture. The $15 and $25 “Zwinky Gift Cards” also include a bonus — access to an exclusive “super power” for purchasers’ Zwinky avatar. Super powers provide the ability for an avatar to travel within the Zwinky virtual world using a jetpack, magic carpet, carnival balloons or super propeller. For each additional gift card purchased, another super power is unlocked.

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Mercury Payment Teams with Plug’n Pay

CO-based Mercury Payment Systems and Plug’n Pay e-commerce gateway provider have released an e-commerce technology solution that facilitates online gift card transactions for retailers. The solution combines Mercury’s payment processing platform with Plug’n Pay’s e-commerce technology to deliver a complete “brick-and-click” solution. A point-and-click set-up creates the secure processing gateway where all transactions are sent directly to Mercury. Retailers get all of Mercury’s free value-added services with their web store transactions, including free MercuryGift card transactions.

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AIRCHARGE Offers RIM Bluetooth Card Swipe

MA-based Pipeline Data’s AIRCHARGE subsidiary has released its first “Bluetooth” card swipe and printer solution for Research In Motion’s “BlackBerry” smartphones. The AIRCHARGE payment processing software can be loaded onto the customer’s BlackBerry smartphone over-the-air (OTA) and is compatible with virtually any merchant processing account. AIRCHARGE credit card payment solutions are used by merchants to accept payments in many types of mobile environments or any situation where access to standard phone lines is limited, expensive, not convenient or unavailable.

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Memento Hires Two Card Industry Veterans

MA-based Memento has hired Shirley Inscoe of Wachovia and Mike Mulholand of Metavante for new senior positions. Inscoe held a series of increasingly responsible positions in risk management, regulatory compliance, and loss reduction initiatives while at Wachovia and recently served as Chair of the BITS Fraud Reduction Steering Committee. At Metavante, Mulholand worked on a variety of fraud solutions including deposit, check, internal fraud, and anti-money laundering. Prior to Metavante, Mulholand worked at National City Corporation. He is a member of the BITS ACH Risk Workgroup, the Sante Fe Group Vendor Council, Infragard, the FSTC Better Collaboration Tools and Near Real-time Sharing of Information project. Mulholand has also co-authored a number of industry whitepapers on internal and ACH fraud and has been a keynote speaker on these topics at major industry events.

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