PAYMENTS PARTNERSHIP

La Banque Postale and Societe Generale have signed a memorandum of
understanding for the collaboration of electronic-payment investment,
maintenance and operational costs. With this agreement, the 2 organizations
will establish headquarters in Paris and will initiate operations on April
1st, 2008 to reduce cost and corroborate expertise. In doing so, the banks
will share ATMs, IT processing management of transaction systems and retail
operations. La Banque Postale and Societe Generale have a combined volume
of 10 million cards issued, over 100,000 retailer contracts and 10,000
ATMs.
Societe Generale financial service group retail networks and financial
services
account for 27.6 million private customers around the world, has asset
management & investor services of EUR 2,585 billion and has a leading
corporate & investment banking segment while La Banque Postale has over
29 million clients, 11.2 million post office accounts and employs 5,270
financial
advisers.

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BANK OF EAST ASIA

The Bank of East Asia has been approved to issue debit cards
throughout China with plans to establish a domestic data center in
the near future. The bank was first incorporated in April of 2007
and this, along with additional developments, is part of its effort to
address wealth management and private banking operations.
Furthermore, the Bank of East Asia is among 5 foreign banks
recently approved by the China Banking Regulatory Commission
to operate a bank card businesses.

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VeriFone Announces the MX800 and MX860

VeriFone has introduced a new payment product that positions itself in the line between the payment optimized “MX850” systems and the multi-media optimized “MX870.” The new “MX860” combines widescreen, video-game quality resolution and impact with tactile keys for disability compliance requirements. VeriFone also introduced the “MX800 Series” price checker. The “MX800” not only provides multimedia promotions, it can also double as a gift card registry or loyalty program enrollment kiosk, or enable a variety of other customer-facing applications. The new “MX800 Series” modules include a printer, a scanner, a printer/scanner combination and Wi-Fi; also new is a Power over Ethernet option. All of the modules are field upgradeable and may be retrofit on existing deployed “MX800 Series” products. The “MX800 Series” products now also support an embedded browser for application development and user interface.

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OCTOBER DEBIT

Debit card EFT/POS volume picked-up in October at a per annum growth rate of 15%, compared to 10% in September. During October, Australian consumers used debit cards for a record A$9.0 billion in transactions. Over the past five years debit card volume has grown 53%. During October, Australians used debit cards for A$7.2 billion in purchases with 113.1 million transactions. Total EFT/POS transactions were 131.7 million for October according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. There were 27.4 million debit card accounts in the country at the end of October, compared to 26.2 million one-year ago.

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Regulation Hampers Branded Prepaid Growth

A new report has found that regulatory pressures represent the most significant challenge to branded prepaid card issuers. A majority of respondents also view finding an effective way to market prepaid cards a serious impediment to their success. Nevertheless, Boston-based Aite Group found that only a quarter of respondents were dissatisfied by their current performance in the prepaid card market. More than three-quarters of issuers focus on selling prepaid cards directly to consumers through their own channels and marketing efforts. About 44% focuses on issuing prepaid cards to employers and government agencies. While another sizeable group utilizes retailers’ stores as a distribution channel, 56% currently stay away from selling through that channel. AITE concluded that most branded prepaid card issuers lack an integrated distribution platform.

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CREDIT CARD VOLUMES

According to Lafferty Research, credit card use among Turkish
consumers has surged 523% since 2002 with a total volume of
$17.9 billion for 2007 and is showing no signs of slowing growth.
Additional findings show that total debt on credit cards account
for only 20% of consumer spending, affecting 36 million consumers
in 2007, up from 15 million in 2002. Given these findings, the
research group concludes that Turkey is now among the top ten
most profitable global card markets with profits of $1.8 billion in
2007. Lafferty Group’s Turkey research examines trends in the
Turkish consumer finance and the payment cards market.

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Pacifica Powers First Hawaiian Rewards

Pacifica Group has agreed to partner with First Hawaiian Bank to expand its “Priority Rewards Program.” All First Hawaiian Bank customers that have a Priority Rewards debit or credit card will earn bonus points when they shop at hundreds of local retailers and restaurants. Currently cardholders earn 1 point per dollar when using First Hawaiian’s Priority Reward credit card and 1 point per two dollars when using the bank’s Priority Rewards debit card. Points can be redeemed for air travel with no blackout dates, gift cards from local and national merchants as well as cash awards. First Hawaiian Bank holds assets of $12.5 billion.

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ReadySTATION to Deliver CheckFreePay

Fiserv’s CheckFreePay has signed a deal for its walk-in bill payment service to be deployed at all “ReadySTATION” kiosks in the USA. The kiosks utilize the NCR “EasyPoint Xpress” kiosk platform, which enables easy integration of additional services. All integration of the “CheckFreePay Link” software is being handled securely without service interruption. The ReadySTATION allows consumers to purchase a fully functional “ReadyCARD Prepaid MasterCard”. With the integration of the CheckFreePay walk-in bill payment service, which securely transmits payment information directly to billing companies, consumers will also be able to pay bills with cash at any ReadySTATION. Bill payments made at a ReadySTATION can be processed the next business day for $2.50, or through standard three-business-day processing for $1.50. Stores already featuring ReadySTATION kiosks include Dollar Tree in Atlanta and Houston, Save-A-Lot in Milwaukee, selected stores in the SUPERVALU network, and convenience stores in Minneapolis/St. Paul and El Paso, Texas. Consumers can locate a ReadySTATION by visiting www.readycreditcorp.com.

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AIB MERCHANT SERVICES

The joint venture between Allied Irish Banks and First Data for payment card services has been cleared by the European Commission. In November AIB and FDC signed agreements to launch a joint venture to provide merchant acquiring and payment card processing in Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. The new firm will be called AIB Merchant Services. This will provide for enhanced functionality for AIB’s 30,000 merchant customers and offer merchant services to enable expansion of the bank’s card acquiring. AIB’s card acquiring businesses is projected to conduct 140 million and 13 million transactions, respectively, before the beginning of 2008. Both companies will participate in daily operations of the venture and have a presence on the board of directors.

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CARD SECURITY

According to a report recently released by Financial Insight, the number
of innovations in microfinance technology are rapidly growing. Examples
of this can be seen with technologies such as biometrics and smart cards
deployment growing among the under-served customer segments, no longer
perceived by organizations as unprofitable business ventures. Traditionally
inhibiting financial institutions from serving the under-banked were fears
of high administration costs and high default rates, given the lack of
consumer credit histories. An increasing trend, however, shows microfinance
programs have an increasing potential to generate high returns with low
levels
of loan default. Bank Rakyat Indonesia, for example, granted 60% of its 2007
loans to consumers to whom this demographic applies and projects an
additional 40 million clients in 2008. Financial Insights research and
consulting
addresses issues in banking, insurance and asset management sectors and
is headquartered in Massachusetts, U.S.A.

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PUNJAB SMARTCARDS

Punjab Bank has announced plans to deploy biometric smartcards
as a means of providing the illiterate population with banking
products and services. For the establishment of a biometric account,
the bank requires a thumb impression of the account holder for
identity verification and account access. Instead of the customer going
to a traditional banking facility, however, the bank sends a
representative to the customer’s residence to allow them to conduct
traditional bank transactions. Also appealing to the illiterate population,
the bank has established a new Financial Literacy and Credit Counseling
Center, among several it has opened across India.

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