ASIC & VIRTUAL MONEY

The ASIC has put an end to the sales of the “Virtual Money” ATM card
citing its customer distribution without an Australian financial
services license
(AFSL). The ATM cards are designed to provide cardholders with a
debit card solution that allows typical card functionality and because
this
offering is considered to be a non-cash payment Australian consumers, it
must hold an AFSL under ASIC regulation. In response to this
investigation, Virtual Money has complied and has instructed agents not
to sell any more cards.

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PAYPASS MILESTONE

MasterCard’s “PayPass” contactless technology has passed the 20 million milestone for its “PayPass” cards and devices issued globally, and is now accepted at more than 80,000 merchant locations. A recent “Global Cash Usage Survey” found that 56% of consumers believe that one day the world will be a cashless society. The study, by KRC Research and commissioned by MasterCard, also found that 49% are likely to use a contactless card if provided by their financial institution and 47% of those likely to use a contactless card cite convenience as the greatest benefit of the new technology. MasterCard reports it has “PayPass” roll-outs and trials in the Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the U.S.

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United Way Seeks Pennies from Card Transactions

United Way of America has launched a national program to automatically donate one penny for each credit or debit card transaction. The new “Pennies for Change” initiative has been implemented by NY-based Westchester Federal Credit Union, the first financial institution to offer the program. The launch was enabled by the card processor Covera Card Solutions. Twelve additional banks and credit unions have joined the “Pennies for Change” program as “Charter Members” and currently considering future deployment. “Charter Members” include: FORUM CU; First Federal Bank; Mutual Federal Savings Bank; Northeast CU; Western Reserve Bank; Superior FCU; The Milford National Bank and Trust Company; CTCE FCU; Maryland Bank & Trust Company; Flagship Community Bank; Southwest Community FCU; and North Texas Bank. The United Way says donations generated by the new program will be directed to United Way programs in local communities.

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HSBC ATMS

HSBC has decided not to implement its minimum ATM withdrawal
requirement of consumers throughout Hong Kong. The proposed policy
would have required a minimum cash withdrawal of $38.48 (HK$300)
from its ATMs, from its previous requirement of $12.83 (HK$100), and
proved to be unpopular among consumers. This was also met with
opposition from the Liberal Party and the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance,
who collected 1,000 signatures of consumers whom did not support this
movement and held protests at the HSBC headquarters, respectively.

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Green Monday Points to a Robust Cyber Week

Monday, December 10th did not pan out to be the peak the online holiday shopping day for 2007, however this week could turn out to be the best “Cyber Week” of the year. The latest Chase Paymentech “Pulse Index,” which tracks ten top e-merchants, shows $113.3 million in sales for December 10th, compared to $154.1 million set on Wednesday December 5th. Shopping activity slowed for eRetailers this past weekend, with net sales going from $126.4 million on Friday December 7th to $97.9 million on Saturday December 8th, a 22.5% drop. Sunday December 9th sales were even lower at $86.3 million. However, the weekend totals were still higher than the year-over-year “Pulse Index” performance from the comparable weekend in 2006, although Saturday’s sales numbers came close to matching last year’s tally. The 2006 holiday season saw a “Pulse Index” total of $3.262 billion in net sales tracked, with a single-day high of $118.8 million set on December 15th, 2006.

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GIFT CARD PROJECTION

Growth in the popularity of gift cards in the United States is expected
to soon duplicate around the world. The emerging gift card markets
around the world, along with the maturing North American market, is due
to a number of factors. Among these factors are the range of different
businesses that benefit from card production, including printers,
plastics decorators and card manufacturers. Additional advantages to
companies introducing gift card programs include a low capital
investment needed and improving capability of meeting market demand for
flexibility. For the 2005 holiday season, 76% of adults had purchased an
average of 4.7 gift cards valued at US$38+, reflecting the
aforementioned popularity across North America. Furthermore, for every
US$1.00 gift card value, retailers see an average upsale of between
US$1.20 – $3.00. With modest investment in additional equipment,
retailers around the world are now realizing these advantages and are
seizing the conditions in their respective markets.

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MasterCard to Sponsor 08 PBS Soundstage Series

Mastercard is a new sponsor of the public television series “Soundstage” for the 2008 season. The season kicks off with a two-part Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 30th Anniversary Concert airing Jan. 10 and Jan. 17. Other upcoming concerts for the 2008 season include Lifehouse, Daughtry, John Fogerty and Matchbox Twenty. “Soundstage” is distributed nationally by PBS to more than 250 public television stations.

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AGILYSYS & PLANET PAYMENT

Agilysys and Planet Payment have introduced their solution for the
integration of payment systems designed for merchants in the retail and
service industries. Agilysys property management systems, such as “The
Lodging Management System”(LMS), automate many operations for this
type of management, including reservations, card processing and
accounting. Planet Payment’s expanding operations for integrated
payment solutions to the Asia Pacific region served as an opportunity for
the fruition of this partnership. Planet Payment’s intention with its
expansion
to this region is to provide point-of-sale technology providers with
card transaction switching to simplify the delivery of integrated support.
With the organization’s Agilysys partnership, this allows card transactions
received from various terminals routing to a single system using “LMS”.

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Electronic Merchant Systems Hires a New CEO

Merchant processor Electronic Merchant Systems has named Dan Neistadt, previously with KeyBank, as CEO/President. Neistadt comes to EMS with over 25 years in the payment industry including serving as Executive Vice President and Manager of the Business Management Group within Key Electronic Services at KeyBank USA. In addition to his experience with KeyBank, Neistadt has served on MasterCard’s National and International Debit Access Committee. He has also been active and served several terms as a board member of the Electronic Transaction Association including a term as the President of the ETA. Electronic Merchant Systems offers an array of merchant processing services including credit/debit card processing, eCommerce, gift and loyalty cards.

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OBERTHUR SMARTCARDS

Oberthur Card Systems is predicting that, for 2008, the popularity of
smart cards in the United States will be explosive. First implemented in
France during the early-1980’s, then throughout the rest of Europe
by the end of the 20th century, experts have been predicting that
acquirers in the United States would be soon to follow. Based on current
figures, projections include nearly 75 million American customers will be
using smart card solutions before 2009 and 128 million by 2010. Oberthur
Card provides card-based solutions, software and smart card applications,
had sales of EUR524 million in 2006, with payments & services accounting
for 47% of revenues and mobile communications accounting for 37% of the
revenue.

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Dimon to Chair The Clearing House Board

Payment systems provider The Clearing House announced that Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has been appointed to Chairman of the Board of Directors and Richard Davis, Chairman, President and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, has also been appointed to the Board. Dimon has served on The Clearing House’s Board for four years, initially as CEO of Bank One Corporation and more recently as Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase for four years. As Chairman of The Clearing House Board, he will assume a leadership role in a payments organization that continues to play a central role in the progress of the banking industry. The Clearing House Payments Company is a private-sector, global payment systems infrastructure that clears and settles 40 million payments for more than $2.4 trillion per day.

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