Closed Loop Prepaid Solutions Rises 14%

A new report shows that closed loop prepaid solutions increased 13.9% last year to $171.18 billion. The study also found that closed loop gift cards used for consumer incentives grew by 271% while campuses across the nation increased the load placed on campus cards by almost 8%. Boston-based Mercator Advisory Group says the in-store gift card market segment grew by $6.98 billion while the distributed gift card market segment, driven by the rise in prepaid malls, grew a total of more than 87%. Additionally, the use of closed loop prepaid products to support employee benefits jumped by 9%. Mercator also noted that the digital content category had a great 2006, growing overall by $1.49 billion. This represented a growth of 37% for digital media, 35% for net phones, and 45% for games and ring tones.

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DATACARD INVENTORS

Datacard Group has announced that its 47 employees being named
as inventors will be recognized with an awards ceremony at the company’s
facility in Orleans, France. The employees are being recognized on 12
different issued patents and 39 different patent applications addressing the
improvement of card printers, central issuance systems and passport
issuance
systems and supplies. Also included in this list of inventions is the
Datacard
Artista VHD Retransfer Color Printing Module. Datacard provides secure
ID, card personalization solutions, systems for high-volume card issuance,
card delivery, secure ID issuance, passport production, service and supplies
in more than 120 countries.

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VISA Survey Reveals U.S. Halloween Spending

VISA has released a survey showing that 73% of Americans celebrate “Halloween” and that the average consumer will spend $40 on candy and decorations. Parents with children under 18 will spend $54 on candy and decorations while those without children under 18 will spend $32. Of mention, younger people ($44) say they spend more than those 55 and over ($31). Those who live in rural areas ($49) spend $10 more on average than people living in urban areas ($39) and $13 more than suburbanites ($36).

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RESOLUTION FOUNDATION

In response to a poll commissioned from Yougov, The Resolution Foundation
is intent on improving standards and provide reassurance for consumers
about
the transparency of comparison sites. The Yougov poll of 2,010 adults
showed that 45% have used sites such as these to make financial decisions
since July of 2006. Although many of these sites were found to be user
friendly
by Opinion Leader, many were also found to be misrepresenting promotional
features as best value products to consumers. These sites also failed to
explain
technical terms and jargon, often requested excessive personal
information of
the consumer and, on occasion, provided irrelevant information. The
Resolution Foundation is moving that these sites provide transparency in
helping consumers make informed financial decisions, promote a healthy
comparison site market without the need for new regulation and support
Government policies to improve â˜financial capability’.

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Merchants Want a Choice in Storing Card Data

The “Real Security Summit,” sponsored by Shift4 Corporation, has revealed a consensus that the future of credit card payments depends on systems that remove usable card data stored anywhere at the merchant level. Citing concern over data breaches, the National Retail Federation has sent a letter to Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, requesting changes in how the credit card industry requires merchants to store credit card data. Credit card companies typically require retailers to store credit card numbers anywhere from one year to 18 months in order to satisfy card company retrieval requests. According to NRF, retailers should have a choice as to whether or not they want to store credit card numbers at all. The NRF says the bottom line is that it makes more sense for credit card companies to protect their data from thieves by keeping it in a relatively few secure locations than to expect millions of merchants scattered across the nation to lock up their data for them.

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WESTERN UNION & HERSING

Western Union (WU) will be acquiring 49% of the Western Union Global
Network, its Singapore agent and Hersing Corporation subsidiary.
This development is part of the WU strategy to strengthen its global agent
network and increase its equity stakes. With this, the company’s current
investment will be upgraded to ordinary shares, will now earn a pro rate
share
of profits from WUGN, will be given voting rights and is allowed to explore
additional agent relationships throughout the country. Western Union and
Hersing partnered in 2001 to provide WUGN with over 60 locations
throughout Singapore. Globally, Western Union network consists of over
312,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries.

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AmEx Introduces Customizable Gift Cards

American Express has launched a new line of customizable gift cards. The gift cards can be embossed on the front with a short message, up to 21 characters. The new custom gift card is available in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $200 and $500. The cards can be ordered online in quantities of 1 to 1,400 cards, up to $35,000, at the AmEx online site. The customizable gift card is the newest addition to the American Express “Gift Card” portfolio for business that includes corporate themed cards – the “Gift Card Especially For Dining,” and the “Thank You Gift Card” – as well as the “AmEx Gift Card.”

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PAREX BANKAS & AMEX

Parex Bankas has agreed to issue the first American Express branded cards in the country. The bank will offer an AmEx “Gold Card” and a “Platinum Card.” The new card will be denominated in Litas.
Parex Bankas will be responsible for signing merchants in Lithuania
to accept the AmEx cards as well. AB Parex Bankas has been pursuing active development in Lithuania: 15 new Parex Bankas customer service units were opened in the first half of this year. Since the beginning of this year the bank loan portfolio increased by 61% to LTL 874 million, compared to 2006. American Express GNS has entered into nearly more than 115 strategic alliances in more than 120 markets.

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POSitouch to Market VeriFone’s ON THE SPOT

RI-based POSitouch has inked a deal to offer VeriFone’s “ON THE SPOT” mobile electronic payment systems to restaurant operators in North America. The POSitouch system has been installed in more than 26,000 locations. VeriFone’s “ON THE SPOT” solutions feature the “Vx 670.” The technology also allows for PIN pad debit card transactions. Cara, the largest operator of full service restaurants in Canada, recently selected VeriFone’s “ON THE SPOT” system. (CF Library 9/7/07)

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BofA Launches a Small Business Website

Bank of America this week launched the free online “Small Business Online Community” to help small business owners connect and learn from their peers and experts in order to grow their business. Small business owners who want to share their challenges with peers and experts are able to access the “Forums” section, where SBOs can get fast responses to important questions and issues they’re facing. Registered users post questions that can be answered by anyone else within the community, enabling small business owners to get fast responses to their specific issues from peers and experts. The community also incorporates expert articles that correspond to topics relevant to small business and the community dialogue. These articles can be rated and commented on by community members. Robust member profiles are also available and easily searchable. As the community grows, it will also become a resource for small business owners to find new customers, business partners, suppliers and even investors.

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First Financial Bancorp Sells to Metavante

OH-based First Financial Bancorp has agreed to sell its merchant payment processing portfolio to Metavante and jointly market Metavante merchant processing to prospective clients. In exchange for 1,743 merchant accounts in the portfolio, First Financial expects a pre-tax gain of approximately $5.5 million net of expenses or approximately 9 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2007. First Financial Bancorp is a $3.3 billion publicly owned bank holding company with 83 banking centers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.

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GE Money Third Quarter Revenues Soar 23%

GE reported that revenues for its GE Money unit soared 23% in the third quarter to $6.2 billion. Profits grew by 13% to $942 million, compared to one-year ago, despite the impact in the quarter due to market volatility. During the quarter, GE Money signed San Diego State University for an alumni affinity credit card; signed a credit card renewal and expansion agreement with Gap Inc.; announced a multi-year agreement with Lord & Taylor to offer the “Lord & Taylor Credit Card” through the company’s 47 stores and on its Web site; renewed its consumer finance agreement with TN-based American Residential Services for the “ARS HomeCard”; and launched a new rewards MasterCard that contributes up to one percent of card purchases to buy greenhouse gas emissions offsets. Internationally during the quarter, GE Money and American Express teamed to offer a “Gold” and “Standard in Japan; signed an alliance agreement in Spain for the creation of a consumer finance organization to offer financial products such as loans and credit cards; signed a 7 year, NOK 160 million contract with EDB in Denmark; and introduced the “Ryanair Card” MasterCard” to be implemented across different European markets. For complete details on GE’s third quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

GE CONSUMER FINANCIAL TRACK RECORD
Income Revenues
3Q/06: $830 million $5064 million
4Q/06: $875 million $5811 million
1Q/07: $851 million $5807 million
2Q/07: $952 million $6145 million
3Q/07: $942 million $6207 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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