CHOICE & CONSUMER ACTION LAW

Consumer Action Law Center has demanded of the Australian Bankers
Association (ABA) and Abacus’ Australian Mutuals a stop to the
imposition of fees from financial institutions. This development is in
response to general perceptions of unfair and excessive penalty fees,
for late payments or overdrawing among Australian consumers.
Experts say that the financial industry has become very reliant on revenue
from these fees and penalties, which have been increasingly common
since 2004 with little done to prevent the growth. The Consumer Action
Law Canter and CHOICE’s recommendations include putting an end
to bounced check fees, providing real-time account information, ending
credit card over-limit fees, and limiting penalty fees to be in
proportion to the cost to the institution.

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TSYS Earns A 2007 International Award

Athena has introduced the “ASEDrive IIIe USB Bio KB” combining
the “UPEK TouchChip TCS2” fingerprint sensor and password-free
logon for PC keyboards. Using a smartcard keyboard, the solution
eliminates the need for password through fingerprint detection with
the “UPEK TCS2” Area Sensor. “ASEDrive IIIe USB Bio KB” also
uses Bio API and Precise Biometrics’ Match-on-Card technology for
multi-factor authentication and is compatible with PC/SC standards,
Windows 2000, XP and Vista, Linux and MAC. Athena Smartcard
Solutions provides smart cards, tokens, smart card readers, combined
keyboards and smart card management systems.

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MV MIGRATION

In response to the growing card fraud, members of Canada’s
payments industry will be implementing a migration to chip-
and-pin technology. Payment companies leading the initiative
include the Interac Association, MasterCard Canada Inc. and VISA Canada
Association, among others. Mercator’s International Payments Advisory
Service has released a report on the state of the payment card market
in Canada,
revealing that card fraud has been growing steadily since 2002 and costs
businesses hundreds of million of dollars. The report also analyzes
Canada’s EMV migration project, card fraud trends in the market and
offered an estimated time-line.

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Jordan Ahli Bank Now Offers VISA Gold & Classic

JACCS, Mitsubishi, and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (BTMU) have
signed agreements to introduce a credit card processing and acquiring
business alliance. The companies will have 35 million issued cards and
projected billings of JPY 8 trillion and are planning alliances in
Mitsubishi
UFJ NICOS non-contact IC card technology, BTMU’s Internet strategy,
and biometrics. Matters are to be further discussed regarding the
specifics of increasing operational efficiency in these areas. JACCS has
nine million cards issued and gross billings of JPY 900 billion. Mitsubishi
UFJ NICOS credit card company has a total of 26 million cards
outstanding and gross billings of JPY 7,100 billion. BTMU is expected
to take a stake of approximately 20% in JACCS.

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Canadian Tire Outlets To Accept MasterCard Chip & PIN

Transunion has hired Satish Pillai as vice president of Solutions
Development to be responsible for analytics and decisioning technologies
for the marketplace for Credit Information Bureau India Limited (CIBIL).
This development is relative to the introduction of CIBIL’s credit scoring
model, a first in India. Pillai was previously a director of collection
strategy
and a manager in the small business risk management area for American
Express. Prior to that, he was beginning his career with Banco Popular
North America, then with Wachovia Bankcard Services. His education
includes a master’s in economics from the University of Florida. CIBIL
currently has more than 77 million credit-active Indian consumers.

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Sub-Primers Pay Card Debt Before Mortgages

New research shows that consumers with credit scores of 620 or lower are more likely to pay credit card debt before mortgage debt. This represents a significant departure from conventional behavior. Consumers with higher scores still tend to follow the historical payment pattern. The latest Experian study found that the mortgage delinquency rate for sub-prime consumers has grown at 13.2% over the past four years. Also, between 2005 and 2006, outstanding mortgage balances for sub-prime consumers increased 8.8%, while total outstanding mortgage balances grew only by 3.3%. Over the past four years, bankcard lending to sub-prime consumers has risen by 137%, and mortgage lending to sub-prime consumers grew by 58% during the same time period.

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AmEx Tiers Rewards Program; Offers Advances

American Express has overhauled its “Membership Rewards” program, breaking it up into three levels linked to the type of card product used. The card network also introduced an innovative service that enables cardholders to advance points against future points earned at the time they redeem. Under the revised program, cardholders with AmEx credit cards, including “Blue,” will be moved to the “Membership Rewards Express” program. AmEx “Green” and “Gold” charge cardholders will have the “Membership Rewards” program. “Platinum” and “Centurion” cardholders will be enrolled in the “Membership Rewards First” program. Among new features: “Express” participants will have access to the new “Express Rewards Hotel Card” that allows cardholders to redeem points for a prepaid card to be used Marriott and Radisson; “Membership Rewards” will have access to AmEx’s new “Flight Finder and Room Finder”; and “First” participants receive concierge service and access to an assortment of luxury partners through “First Collection.” The “Points Advance” service enables cardholders to receive an advance based on their program level — 5,000 points for “Membership Rewards Express,” 15,000 points for “Membership Rewards,” and 60,000 points for “Membership Rewards First.”

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Banks Fail to Secure Consumer Trust

Unisys research has revealed that 71% of consumers do not trust their
banks. ­ Further research conducted by the Ponemon Group demonstrates
that 82% of respondents felt that respect from a bank is fundamental. Such
respect from banks is most perceived in customer satisfaction,
profitability,
asset protection, fiscal management, quality of service and community
investment. However, attributing most to the perceptions of lack of trust
include disrespectful attitudes, poor privacy, and weak IT. “Weak IT”
refers to websites, poor corporate governance and a lack of investment
in the local community. This research suggests lack of empathy on the
part of the banks and contribute to recent banking concerns including
account fees, fraud, security of information and perceived excessive
profits.

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FreeStar To Be Listed On The AIM Market

FreeStar has announced that it will be listed on the AIM Market for
smaller growing companies on the London Stock Exchange by the end
of this year. This development will allow FreeStar greater exposure in
the European market. Over 2,500 companies have joined the AIM
Market raising more than GBP 34 billion since its conception in 1995.
FreeStar has capital of over $40 million with a recent increase in revenue
of 128% to over $1.1 million.

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SmartCard Marketing Systems Inks a Deal

SmartCard Marketing Systems has signed a supply contract with Hest Technologies to sell its prepaid network branded debit cards in connection with the client’s newest product, a stand-alone card loading station. The Station is a self-serve way for merchants to allow cardholders to add value to their stored value card. The unit has a bill acceptor that allows a cardholder to load their card without going through a clerk, improving security and reducing employee theft and fraud. A merchant can also use the Station to distribute loyalty rewards and premiums to cardholders. Hest Technologies operates gaming software and terminals.

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