CLIMATE FRIENDLY BANKS

The Ceres Investor coalition has recently released its report on the most
climate-friendly consumer programs among the world’s 40 largest banks.
Ranking 16 U.S., 15 European, 5 Asian, 3 Canadian and 1 Brazilian bank,
Ceres used a point scale from 1- to 100, with “100” being the highest,
based on each institution’s ability to meet requisite criteria. This
criteria,
combined with how well banks were judged, were used to determine how
well response was to climate change, such as internal greenhouse gas
reduction targets and funding for clean energy projects. With this, the
coalition found a median bank score of 42 points, European-based HSBC
Holdings to have the best rank with 70 points and ABN AMRO in a close
second having scored 66 points. Among 16 US Banks, Citigroup and Bank
of America posted the highest scores of 59 and 56, respectively. On the
opposite end of the spectrum, Franklin Resources scored only 1, followed by
Bear Stearns which came in last with 0. Additional results of the research
found that, among these banks, over 50 research reports on climate change
have been conducted in 2007, 28 of the banks have disclosed their
GHG emissions from operations, only 6 are formally calculating carbon
risks
in their loan portfolios and not one bank has formally initiated a
carbon-intensive
avoidance policy. Overall, Ceres concludes that collectively these
banks must
do more to promote a safe and healthy earth. Ceres organization coalition
works with companies to address sustainability challenges, is composed
of 60
institutional investors and has collective assets of over $4 trillion while
RiskMetrics Group provides risk management products and services to
financial market participants.

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MC & AA Launch a DealFinder Sweepstakes

American Airlines and MasterCard have teamed to launch the “DealFinder Travel the World Sweepstakes.” Through March 7th, customers who register online for the sweepstakes are automatically entered for a chance to win a Grand Prize of air travel for two around the world and a $25,000 MasterCard gift card. In addition, American will award two First Prize winners a $10,000 MasterCard gift card. AA’s “DealFinder” alerts customers when fares matching their pre-selected preferences are available. AA says its Web site attracts 1.5 million visits each day and is its largest distribution channel. Last summer American Airlines and MasterCard ran the “Sum It Up Sweepstakes” with Universal Studio’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” movie. The Grand Prize was one million AAdvantage bonus miles and a $6,000 MasterCard gift card. (CF Library 6/27/07)

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OKI IC AUTHENTICATION

For its “IC” cash cards, Oki Electric Industry has developed an IC
authentication server with Japanese Bankers Association (JBA)
Specifications that allows for online verification. The IC cash card
is more difficult to forge than traditional magnetic cards and allows
banks to authenticate cash cards both on and off the Internet.
Additionally, the online IC authentication server allows institutions to
verify cards through ATMs, limit host costs and allow migration with
the online authentication method for processing capability
enhancements. Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. is a Japanese
telecommunications manufacturer providing technologies and solutions
to its clients.

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Apex Merchant Solutions Launches eChecks

NY-based Apex Merchant Solutions has introduced eChecks for its merchant clients, charging a 1.5% to 2.0% per transaction fee. Other features of eChecks include user authentication, age verification a reduced liability window for charge backs, and 60 days for checks, compared to 180 days for credit cards. In addition to saving as much as 50% per transaction, eChecks also provides access to an estimated 10 million online households without a credit card, thus providing an additional revenue flow for the merchant. Apex creates payment processing solutions for retail, e-commerce, restaurant, professional and mobile businesses.

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Fortress Financial Acquires Moneyworx

FL-based Fortress Financial Group, a shell corporation, has acquired Moneyworx, a reseller of U.S. domestic and international MasterCard debit cards. The Company plans on launching its own “Fortress” branded International Debit Card this year and will focus its energies on cardholder acquisition through an extensive marketing campaign and the use of Internet Marketing technologies. The Company’s Management has spent extensive time in ensuring that the new web site contains exhaustive information and it is expected the site will go live very shortly.

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NCR Xpress Gift Card Kiosk Coming

Next week NCR will unveil a new self-service kiosk for gift cards called: “NCR Xpress Gift Card”. NCR Xpress Gift Card can work with any NCR “EasyPoint” kiosk and can be integrated with any point-of-sale system. NCR’s Professional Services and Human Factors Engineering groups work with each retailer to customize a gift card program tailored to fit its specific business needs. In an NCR survey, two-thirds of consumers said they expected to purchase at least one gift card during the holiday season. Those whom purchase at least one gift card will buy, on average, more than seven gift cards per year.

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Retailers Report Dismal Sales in December

While Wal-Mart posted a 5.6% gain in retail sales for December and Macy’s was up 1.1% and Saks 0.8%, other retailers posted dismal results. Nordstrom reported a 3.8% decline and Limited Brands was down 8.0% in December sales, compared to one-year ago. Chico’s was off 13.7% while Ann Taylor declined 13.1% and Gottschalks dropped 13.8% in December. The National Retail Federation projected $474.5 billion in holiday retail sales, a 4% increase over 2006. Holiday sales in 2006 rose 5%. Over the last ten years, the average percentage increase in sales for the holiday season is 4.8%. Most of the retailers reporting today expect to post lower fourth quarter earnings than expected. Yesterday, the British Retail Consortium reported that retail sales rose 30 basis points in December compared with a year ago. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers same-store sales for December are expected to be up about 1%, indicating total sales for the holiday season rose only 2.25% in the U.S. (CF Library 9/21/07)

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Gift Cards Projected to Top $52B by 2012

A new report suggests that gift card sales will rise nearly $14 billion over the next five years. MD-based Packaged Facts predicts the gift card market will grow 5%, topping $52 billion by 2012. The research firm notes that gift cards, which lead the closed-loop segment of the $81 billion prepaid card market, have been gaining credit since 2002, accounting for more than 4% of the market since 2005. Nearly 35% of consumers who purchased gift cards in the last 12 months anticipate spending more on gift cards during the next 12 months, with 9.1% expecting to spend “significantly more.” Fifty-three percent of gift card redeemers often or always spend more than the card value, and most likely over two store visits rather than one.

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Chockstone Gift Card 07 Volume Up 169%

OR-based Chockstone reported that it processed $1.1 billion of volume across its gift card programs, its integrated gift and loyalty programs, and its credit card gateway services, which represents a growth rate of 169% over 2006. The Company also released figures for the number of loyalty and reward points that consumers earned and redeemed at its clients’ locations in 2007. The 680 million points processed on behalf of nearly 20 million consumer accounts in 2007 represents a 221% increase over 2006’s tally of 212 million points. Additionally, Chockstone more than doubled the number of merchant locations for which it processes transactions, increasing its footprint from 22,000 locations in 2006 to more than 46,000 locations in 2007.

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FIRST HAWAIIAN PAYPASS

First Hawaiian bank is issuing its “Priority Rewards MasterCard PayPass”
debit cards provided by Giesecke & Devrient (G&D). Furthermore, these
new cards are powered by INSIDE Contactless’ MicroPass hardware,
which allows users to conduct transactions by tapping the card against the
terminal, providing speed and convenience. The German-based G&D has
supplied over 10 million contactless payment cards to U.S. banks and
employs nearly 8,300 with an annual revenue of EUR1.3 billion while
INSIDE Contactless provides NFC, contactless payments, and access
control services around the world with its 55 granted patents and 35
million
MicroPass payment platforms delivered between 2005-2007. Hawaiian
Bank has $12.5 billion in assets, 58 branches in Hawaii, three on Guam and
two on Saipan while the MasterCard PayPass is accepted by more than
73,000 merchants around the world.

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SPARTANICS 580

Spartanics has introduced its “580 ID Card Punching System”, providing
sensor controls to decrease material waste costs. Furthermore, the new
punching system minimizes overlaminate, provides automatic database
correlation controls by detecting tracking numbers in real time and
minimizes downtime with laminator fault conditions. Spartanics is
headquartered in Chicago and provides screen printing, card punching,
plastic card inspection and automated counting technology.

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