TJX Offers a Settlement to VISA Issuers

MA-based TJX Companies has reached a “Settlement Agreement” with VISA in regard to its security breach disclosed earlier this year. Under terms of the deal, an alternative recovery offer will be made to VISA’s U.S. issuers that issued payment cards potentially affected by TJX’s security breach and VISA will recommend the offer. TJX will fund up to a maximum of $40.9 million pre-tax in alternative recovery payments. The settlement is contingent on the acceptance of the offer by December 19th by the issuers of at least 80% of the eligible VISA payment card accounts. Once the settlement is final, accepting issuers will be paid by December 27th. The agreement contains a number of other provisions including VISA’s suspension and rescission of specified fines; TJX’s agreement to serve as a spokesperson in support of the goals of the PCI/DSS and the security of payment card information; and VISA’s agreement to provide TJX the opportunity to pilot any new payment card security technology. Additionally, the agreement provides for certain releases by TJX, Fifth Third and VISA.

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SMART PARKING METERS

Parcxmart Technologies and J.J. MacKay Parking Meters have signed
collaborative agreements to integrate parking meters with a smart-card
payment solution. Namely, MacKay’s Guardian XL and XLE Series
Parking Meter Mechanisms, Guardian Multi and MacKay’s Black Box
are to be integrated with the Parcxmart electronic smartcard payment
system providing convenience for parking customers. Additionally, the
platform generates, collects and processes revenue collected from the
meters. Parcxmart smart cards are loadable up to $500 through POS
terminals over a network of local merchants. Parcxmart Technologies
provides smart card payment programs over its payment network
while J.J. MacKay Canada Limited/MacKay Meters manufactures
electronic parking meter mechanisms and management software.

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eBillme Signs-Up Six More Websites

Online payment provider eBillme has signed on GiftCards.com, LuggagePoint.com, PCUniverse.com, ShoppersChoice.com, WirelessEmporium.com, and CellsWholesale.com to enable customers to pay with cash online. When shoppers choose eBillme at checkout, their order is confirmed with a bill sent to their e-mail address. Consumers simply pay the bill through their online checking or savings account. The transaction occurs securely, bank to bank, with no personal or financial information required, or transmitted over the Internet. New buyer protection features offered by eBillme retailers at no cost to the consumer provide enhanced security and assurance services typically associated with premium credit cards. Features include return guarantee and price, in-transit and fraud protection. Customers can shop with complete confidence knowing that every eBillme transaction is guaranteed and protected. eBillme can increase a retailer’s margins, because transaction fees are lower than those assessed by credit and debit card processors.

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PIF HAPTERS

The Prepaid International Forum (PIF) Australia/New Zealand will be
holding its inaugural meeting with the founding members in February of
2008. These founding members include the Australia Post, BP, FIS
Australasia, Deacons, e-pay and Cuscal to discuss issues concerning the
prepaid industry with information gathered through study groups. With
this forum, the industry representatives intend on alleviating the
challenges
that confront organizations when launching and managing prepaid program.
To overcome these challenges, the forum members will be given access
to a member helpdesk, a website and regular informative meetings. PIF
not-for-profit forum is designed to help all companies who have an interest
in the prepaid economy, providing research and thought leadership.

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ADS Says Blackstone is Not Renegotiating

Alliance Data Systems Corporation, a leading provider of loyalty and marketing solutions derived from transaction-rich data, is issuing a statement in response to rumors regarding acquiring agreements with “Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P. The definitive agreement stipulates that the company will be acquired by Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P., an affiliate of The Blackstone Group, in a transaction valued at approximately $7.8 billion, including the assumption of certain debt. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Blackstone will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Alliance Data for $81.75 per share in cash.

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BIOMETRIC ATMS

Punjab has announced its initial biometric ATM deployment allowing
both literate and semi-literate customers access to banking. With this
deployment, these customers can verify identity with the use of their
fingerprints and voice guidance to withdraw money and make balance inquiries. By 2010, Punjab Bank hopes to have ATMs such as these available in nearly 30,000 villages to 15 million households and 75 million people.

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TCF & IL University Launch New I-Cards

The University of Illinois has rolled out its new “i-card” designs, linked to TCF Bank for use as an ATM or debit card. While each campus adopts the new i-card design, current i-cards will still be in circulation and will continue to be accepted as valid for University services. Only new Urbana and Chicago student i-cards may function as ATM and debit cards with TCF Bank checking accounts. The “i-card” Programs Office coordinates card programs on all three University of Illinois campuses supporting identity verification and card production at the campus ID Centers and Campus Recreation visitor card stations. “i-card” Programs also serves the University community by providing applications, services, badges, and data to qualifying University units.

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BHARTI AIRTEL & WESTERN UNION

Bharti Airtel & Western Union have signed collaborative agreements to
launch a “Mobile Money Transfer” service for Indian consumers. This
agreement was made possible with the recent agreement between WU
and the association for who Bharti Airtel chairs its Mobile Money
Transfer program committee, the GSM Association (GSMA). Statistics
show that consumers in India are global leaders in remittance volume
received and with this development can now receive funds with the use
of mobile handsets over 35 different networks. Western Union and
affiliates have over 320,000 agent locations in 200 countries, 45,000 of
which are in India across 5,000 towns and cities. GSMA represents over
700 GSM mobile phone operators while Bharti Airtel Limited has 50.9
million mobile customers.

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BMO & INTERAC

The BMO Bank of Montreal has added INTERAC Online payment
services, allowing consumers to make Internet purchases using direct
debt from his/her account(s). This new solution allows consumers to
make purchases with their accounts sans the need to share card
numbers nor other personal information over the Internet. Furthermore,
using this solution affords customers any applicable debit card rewards
program points for the purchases, namely the bank’s AIR MILES
rewards program, which represents nearly 9 million accounts. The
INTERAC solution has been implemented as part of the bank’s
objective to attract new customers. BMO Bank of Montreal has over
1,000 stand-alone and in-store branches with nearly 2,000 ATMs.

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Payment Rates Hold Steady Despite Economy

Monthly payment rates continued to remain healthy despite a challenged economy. MPR, or the amount that cardholders pay on their credit card debt each month, rose to 19.21% in October, the second highest level this year. However, one-year ago the ratio stood at 20.01%. The higher payment rates are largely driven by new minimum payment standards that require higher APR accounts to make higher minimum payments. According to CardData, the MPR bottomed to 18.30% in July, compared to 19.88% for January. Among asset-backed credit card securities the MPR increased 10 basis points in September to 20.99% compared to 20.46% in July and 20.88% in August. FitchRatings says the MPR trended upward throughout the third quarter and is currently 64 bps above last year’s level.

MONTHLY PAYMENT RATES
Nov 06: 20.01%
Dec 06: 19.70%
Jan 07: 19.88%
Feb 07: 18.79%
Mar 07: 18.21%
Apr 07: 18.04%
May 07: 19.01%
Jun 07: 18.40%
Jul 07: 18.30%
Aug 07: 18.99%
Sep 07: 18.86%
Oct 07: 19.21%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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RAHAXI ACQUISITION

FreeStar card processor is prospecting for a third party acquisition
of its processing subsidiary, Rahaxi Processing Oy. FreeStar has
met with third parties to establish potential transaction terms for full
or partial sale of assets and potential funding transactions. Whichever
transaction proposal considered will be brought before the Board of
Directors for review, consideration and provision of reactionary
definitive terms. These terms will be determined by total consideration,
whether it will be a cash or stock transaction and the financial strength
of the potential acquirers’ business plan. FreeStar Technology provides
financial solutions to merchants and acquirers in over 20 countries
around the world.

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NetConnect to Deploy Systech’s IPG-7501

San Diego-based Systech Computer reports that its “IPG-7501” payment gateway device will be used by Chase Paymentech’s “NetConnect” for “Retail Pro” customers. Transactions are now wrapped into an SSL format for enhanced security, converted from serial to IP, and sent through the customer’s high speed/broadband connection, saving time at the point of purchase for customers. Systech Computer Corporation is a provider in the design and manufacture of Serial-to-IP and Dial-to-IP network conversion devices for enabling IP communications.

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