Guardian Life Offers the Benny MasterCard

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America has introduced a debit card and web tools as part of its “FlexPlan” Flexible Spending Account program. Clients can pay for eligible healthcare expenses with the Benny Pre-paid MasterCard card. Guardian’s FlexPlan offers employees point of service access to money they set aside in their FSA, minimizing steps of substantiating claims with receipts and waiting for FSA reimbursements via mail. Clients can pay for co- payments, deductibles, prescriptions, eyeglasses and other eligible healthcare expenses. According to a report issued by Celent, LLC, debit cards linked to flexible-spending accounts (FSAs) are a hot growth market in the benefits administration marketplace with 6 million cards in circulation in 2006, up 50% from the previous year and that FSA debit cards increase the average deposit employees place in their account by as much as 30%. Evolution Benefits is the provider of the Benny Prepaid Benefits Card, a special-purpose MasterCard or VISA card that provides an easy, automatic way to pay for qualified health care expenses. The Benny Prepaid Benefits Card allows for electronic access of pre-tax amounts set aside in employee benefits accounts such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and Qualified Transportation Accounts (QTA) The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America is one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in the United States with $39.5 billion in assets.

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RapidAdvance Hires a Former Delta Card Exec

MD-based RapidAdvance has hired Laurie LeBoeuf, previously SVP of Risk and Operations for Delta Card Services as the company’s Vice-President of Operations. While at Delta Card Services, a major ISO/service provider, LeBoeuf led a department of 125 employees in dramatically improving the performance of the company’s high-risk card portfolio. Previously, as AVP of Merchant Business for Intrust Bank in Wichita, Kansas, she was instrumental in establishing an MSP/ISO relationship for the bank. LeBoeuf has taken an active role with various associations and committees throughout the payments ecosystem. She has worked hands-on with both VISA and MasterCard to pilot and implement rules and regulations industry-wide. Laurie has held the position of National Director of the Merchant Acquirers committee and has recently accepted the role of chairing the Risk and Fraud Committee for the Electronic Transactions Association. RapidAdvance provides working capital to small and medium-sized merchants.

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Discover Spins-Off June 30th; Names Board

The Morgan Stanley Board has set June 30th as the date for the Discover Financial Services spin-off. After the distribution, which involves stockholders of record as of the close of business on June 18th, Discover will be an independent, public company trading on the NYSE under the symbol “DFS.” Morgan Stanley also announced Discover’s board of directors. Dennis Dammerman, who retired in 2005 as Vice Chairman of the Board and Executive Officer of General Electric Company and Director, Chairman and CEO of GE Capital Services, will serve as Non-Executive Chairman of the Discover Board. David Nelms, who has led Discover Financial Services since 1998, also will serve on the Board of Directors. Other Board members include: Jeffrey Aronin, President and CEO of Ovation Pharmaceuticals; Mary Bush, President of Bush International; Robert Devlin, Chairman of Curragh Capital Partners; David Komansky, Chairman Emeritus of Merrill Lynch; Philip Laskawy, former Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young; Michael Rankowitz, senior advisor to Morgan Stanley; Lawrence Weinbach, Partner at Yankee Hill Capital Management.

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PDS May Volume Soars 20% Sequentially

Payment Data Systems has announced the company’s credit card transaction processing performance for May 2007. increased 20% in May over the previous month and was 108% over May 2006. The associated transaction volume was 12% higher than April’s numbers and 65% higher than May 2006. Payment Data Systems, Inc. is an integrated payment solutions provider to merchants and billers and the owner of the electronic bill payment portal, http://www.billx.com, which has the ability to transmit payments to thousands of national billers.

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ePage Merchants Offer SAF-T-PAY

SAF-T-PAY Inc. has entered into a new partnership with e-commerce provider ePages. SAF-T-Pay will now be available to all of the 30,000-plus ePage merchants, providing their online shoppers with SAF-T-PAY as a viable and secure payment alternative. SAF-T-PAY’s unique model allows e-banking customers and online shoppers to make e-commerce purchases worldwide directly through their local bank. Utilizing their banking and merchant partners, SAF-T-PAY enables international online-commerce transactions to be cleared through the customer’s existing bank, offering them, for the first time, a completely secure and convenient way to shop globally, but pay locally. SAF-T-PAY – The Safe Internet Payment System – is a secure e-payment system that allows all online bank customers to make online purchases worldwide directly through their local bank. ePages is a provider of e-Commerce solutions for medium sized companies and hosting providers.

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U.S. Credit Card Cash Advances Fall in Q1

Cash advance dollar volume on VISA and MasterCard debit cards grew 19.6% in the first quarter while cash advances on credit cards fell for the first time in the industry’s history. According to CardData, credit card cash advances fell 0.7% in the first quarter, compared to 1Q/06. VISA and MasterCard cash advances on debit cards in the first quarter hit $84.1 billion, compared to $80.3 billion in the prior quarter and $70.3 billion one-year ago. Meanwhile, cash advances on VISA and MasterCard credit cards fell to $58.6 billion in the first quarter, compared to $63.2 billion in the fourth quarter and $59.0 billion for 1Q/06. Most VISA and MasterCard issuers charge cash advance fees of 3% plus a higher interest rate of more than 19%.

U.S. CASH ADVANCE HISTORICAL
Credit Debit
1Q/06: $59.0 billion $70.3 billion
2Q/06: $60.7 billion $77.8 billion
3Q/06: $63.1 billion $80.6 billion
4Q/06: $63.2 billion $80.3 billion
1Q/07: $58.6 billion $84.1 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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AmEx Launches New Ad for The Members Project

American Express has launched a new ad campaign this past weekend with the tag line: “You don’t have to be famous to make a difference — just a Cardmember.” The new campaign highlights the “The Members Project” wherein AmEx cardholders come together as a community to submit project ideas for making a positive impact in the world, rate and discuss their ideas and ultimately vote and choose one idea that American Express will help bring to life with up to $5 million. The new spot brings together tennis great Andre Agassi, singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Alicia Keys, and professional snowboarder and skateboarder Shaun White as they share their ideas on how to make a positive impact in the world. The spot is directed by Martin Scorsese who also comes from behind the camera for a cameo appearance.

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Borders Introduces Harry Potter Cards

Borders has unveiled three limited edition gift cards designed especially for Harry Potter fans. The gift cards are holographic 3D images featuring the book’s cover art with Harry and Voldemort, the words “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and Severus Snape switching between “friend” and “foe” as the viewing angle changes. The Snape image is a Borders’ exclusive based on the company’s “Great Snape Debate” campaign and publication of the book, “The Great Snape Debate.” The gift cards come in denominations ranging from $5 to $500 and can be used to purchase anything in the store. Borders is a $4 billion retailer of books, music, movies and stationery items.

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50% of Americans Have Card Debt Concerns

A new consumer survey has discovered that 48% of Americans are uncomfortable with the total amount of household debt they have. The poll by LendingTree also found that 54% do not have a financial plan. Not including mortgage debt, the survey revealed that 74% of Americans envision themselves being completely debt free at some point in their lives. The survey further uncovered that 50% of Americans confess they are concerned or extremely concerned about the amount of credit card debt they have and surprisingly, 10% chose to declare bankruptcy as the only way to solve their debt problems. Young Families, ages 19-34 with children, had the most shocking results of the survey participants. This life stage has the highest debt-to-income ratio (59% spend half or more of their gross income on total debt expense); is admittedly the most uncomfortable with their total household debt (68% are uncomfortable with their debt); and is the least financially prepared should an emergency occur (59% do not have savings available for an emergency).

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Paper Tyger Offers Contactless Shield

Paper Tyger has introduced a unique “easily printable” new product for protecting personal information on contactless smart cards. The new patent-pending RFID Shield contains a new security barrier to assure that sensitive information contained on the card’s RFID chip remains protected when not in use. When fabricated into envelopes or sleeves this revolutionary new lightweight product provides water resistance, durability, and printing and converting benefits of the traditional Paper Tyger line of products.

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Incomm Markets the Best Western Card

Best Western International and InComm is continuing to expand the distribution of the hotel chain’s gift card by introducing it at CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide. The $50 Best Western Travel Card is now being sold at approximately 6,200 CVS outlets in 43 states. The chain joins U.S. discount giant Wal-Mart and The Kroger Co. in carrying the card. Since last fall, it has also been available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores throughout Canada. U.S.-based Walgreens was the first retail outlet to offer the Best Western Travel Card beginning in November 2005. The Best Western Travel Card is used by guests to pay for both accommodations and related incidentals, such as room service, at 4,200 Best Western hotels worldwide. InComm is a marketer, distributor and technology innovator of stored-value gift and prepaid products with more than $5 billion in retail sales transactions processed in 2006.

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Marquis Jet Voted Best of the Best

Marquis Jet was recognized as the “Best of the Best” by Robb Report in its 19th annual “Best of the Best” issue. The Marquis Jet Card program was named “Best Flight-Card Program: Fractional,” based on combining the simplicity and low financial risk of a jet card with many of the advantages of NetJets fractional ownership program and additional attractive benefits provided by Marquis Jet’s alliance partners. In this year’s “Best of the Best” issue, Robb Report cites a number of exciting and exclusive Marquis Jet Card Owner benefits, including access to nine jet types from the industry-leading NetJets fleet; combination cards that provide flight time in two different NetJets Aircraft; and special access to top Sotheby’s events and a $3,000 certificate towards the purchase of Judith Ripka jewelry.

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