TRAVEL MONEY MC

The “Travel Money MasterCard”, by RHB Bank Bhd, was introduced
and offers rewards such as gifts from points accumulated from
shopping, free flights and travel packages. Also, with “Visit Malaysia
Year 2007”, cardholders earn travel air miles faster under its
“2X TM Air Miles” rewards program. With the introduction
of the “Travel Card”, a partnership agreement with The Flying
Emporium has been developed, making it the latest merchant partner
of RHB Bank. This will enable holders of the bank’s many credit
cards to redeem their reward points “On-The-Spot” for
“Smart Gifts” at the emporium. RHB has more than 300 partner
merchants where cardholders can earn free air miles. These new
rewards are meant to encourage travel. Reflecting a 7.8% year-
on-year growth, 21.7 million people are expected to travel
outbound for the first six months of 2007. Ranked fourth among
local banks, RHB Bank has issued more than 700,000 credit cards.

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Biodegradable Cards Get Renewed Attention

IL-based Versatile Card Technology says its biodegradable plastic card is grabbing international attention. The Company’s “Green Earth Card” is made of corn starch and can be printed on using VCT’s waterless-ink “KBA Genius 52” printing press. VCT developed the card ten years ago in response to calls for protecting the environment. The “Green Earth Card’s” plastic core and overlay material are completely biodegradable, reducing hundreds of tons of poly vinyl chloride waste. Meanwhile, Australia’s Westpac has launched the “Easy Being Green” initiative for its “Altitude” cardholders, according to CardFlash International. Cardholders can redeem points for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions of auto and plane travel and purchase environment-friendly products for their home.

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Precidia Technologies Releases NetVu 2.3

Precidia has announced the introduction of “NetVu 2.3”. The management
server offers important new features such as managing PCI compliance
requirements, automatically updating the POSLynx220 as new threats are
recognized, strict password rules and audit logs of operator activity.
“NetVu 2.3” also offers the ability to remotely download configurations
to a field device, what many of the server users consider to be
critical. These features collectively offer security insurance to
merchants and ensure PCI compliance. Precidia has customers in over 80
countries and migrate stand-alone dial and serial equipment onto more
sophisticated IP networks.

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Affinion Acquires ID Fraud Expert CardCops

CT-based Affinion Group has acquired CA-based CardCops, a specialist in ID theft protection, data monitoring and analysis technology solutions. Founded in 1999, CardCops monitors the Internet for fraudulent activity involving consumers’ personal information such as credit card account, debit card account, PIN numbers, social security numbers, mother’s maiden name and many other types of personal information. CardCops collects compromised personal information from foreign underground chat rooms where full sets of personal information are bought and sold by identity thieves for $10 to $30. CardCops’ exclusive technology will alert members instantly if their personal information has become compromised and assist them with keeping their identity safe. Affinion and CardCops partnered last year to launch a sophisticated new tool called “ID Secure” that uses public records, SSN and credit card monitoring technology to fight ID theft. Affinion Group currently offers its programs and services worldwide through more than 5,200 affinity partners. Terms of the CardCops deal were not disclosed.

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StanChart Looks to Batman for Cardholders

Standard Chartered Bank Bhd (Stanchart)
expects its credit card customer base to register
double-digit growth this year. The decision to expand the base was made
in part by the expected growth in the economy of 6%. A new credit
card, “Batman”, has been issued to meet the competitive changes and
demands of the Malaysia consumer. There are approximately 450,000
Stanchart cardholders in Malaysia.

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AmEx Women Entrepreneur Program Heads to WI

American Express is planning its first state-based “Make Mine a $Million Business” program for Wisconsin women business owners on May 21st. Fifteen in-state entrepreneurs will compete for awards packages that include mentoring, money, marketing and technology assistance designed to help them reach $1 million in annual revenues within two years. Attendees of the event will hear keynote addresses from Nell Merlino, founder and president of Count-Me-In and founder of “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”, and Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton. The attending audience will also have access to experts in financing, marketing, technology and legal matters, as well as networking opportunities. The Make Mine a $Million Business program was launched by Count-Me-In for Women’s Economic Independence and founding partner OPEN from American Express in 2005 to help post-start-up, women-owned businesses achieve $1 million in revenues, a benchmark that only 3% have reached to date.

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CPI Card Group Certified to Produce PIV Cards

CO-based CPI Card Group announced the successful completion of “FIPS 201” independent testing of their card stock for certified PIV cards. The cards are composite based, which gives them a lifespan of more than 5 years. They are compatible with laser engraving and personalization with hot temperature equipment. CPI has been producing ID cards for different institutions in several countries for over ten years. During the last two years CPI has intensively invested in the setup of a US based solution for the manufacturing of the high value PIV cards that are requested within the HSPD 12 environment. CPI Card Group is a manufacturer of plastic cards.

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Payment Card Fees Top C-Store Profits in 06

NACS, the association for convenience and petroleum retailing, said that escalating credit card fees had an enormous impact on the drop in C-store industry profits. NACS says credit card fees surged 22%, rising $1.2 billion to reach $6.6 billion in 2006 and for the first time ever top overall industry profits. Credit card fees now are the industry’s second largest expense, accounting for 8.3% of industry gross margin dollars, second only to total labor expenses (33.5%). Despite sales topping the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time in history, industry profits in 2006 decreased 23.5%, falling to $4.8 billion. NACS also reports that motor fuels gross margins fell 1.7 cents to 14.7 cents per gallon. On a percentage basis, motor fuels gross margins dropped to 5.7%, the lowest level since 1983. Factoring in credit card fees that averaged 4.2 cents per gallon across all transactions, motor fuels margins dipped to 10.5 cents per gallon before including all other operating expenses.

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SunTrust Banks Joins NACHA

SunTrust Banks, the nation’s sixth largest originating depository financial institution and the eighth largest receiving depository financial institution of ACH payments, has joined NACHA. SunTrust involvement with NACHA has included participation on the NACHA board as well as the Payments Institution Board of Regents. Currently, SunTrust is also represented on the NACHA Risk Management Advisory Group. NACHA now has 44 direct members, consisting of 25 financial institutions, and 19 regional payment associations representing more than 11,000 depository financial institutions across the U.S. SunTrust had total assets of $182.2 billion and total deposits of $124.0 billion as of December 31, 2006.

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mPoria Launches its GoMobile! Service

Seattle-based mPoria has launched its “GoMobile!” m-commerce service enabling retailers to sell physical products via mobile channel. Retailers are able to build their own company-branded mobile shopping site without the need for an in-house development team; merchants simply use a wizard to establish a site and within 30 minutes of set-up, mPoria launches the site to millions of U.S. consumers with mobile devices. Industry research firm Telephia reports in 2006 alone sales from m-commerce jumped more than 40%, increasing from $1.8 billion to $2.6 billion. mPoria is a provider of mobile commerce solutions in North America.

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BillMatrix Powers Westar Energy Payments

Westar Energy has announced it is now accepting credit cards for electric bill payments through BillMatrix. Credit card and ATM/debit card payments can be made three ways: online at www.WestarEnergy.com, by contacting a Westar Energy Customer Service Representative or via the third party’s automated phone system. The authorized agent will charge a convenience fee of $2.95 per transaction, with each transaction limited to $600. Westar Energy is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 669,000 customers in the state.

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26K Citigroup Employees Brace for Pink Slips

Citigroup this morning confirmed plans to cut 17,000 jobs and transfer about 9,500 to less expensive locations worldwide, affecting about 8% of its total workforce. Citi says it wants to eliminate organizational, technology and administrative costs that do not contribute to our ability to efficiently deliver products and services to our clients. The action is expected to generate total expense savings of approximately $2.1 billion in 2007, $3.7 billion in 2008, and $4.6 billion in 2009. Citi says it will record a charge of $1.38 billion pre-tax, $871 million after-tax, in the first quarter of 2007 and additional charges totaling approximately $200 million pre-tax over the subsequent quarters of 2007. Citi says that it will consolidate some back-office, middle-office and corporate functions to eliminate duplication.

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