AmEx Rewards Add Flight & Room Finders

American Express’ “Membership Rewards” program has added “Flight Finder” and “Room Finder” as online booking tools. The new tools enable members to search award inventory, transfer points directly into a frequent flyer or frequent guest account, and book flights or hotel stays in a single online transaction. Some of the featured partners currently include: InterContinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Hotel Indigo, AirTran Airways, Hilton, Conrad Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, and Waldorf Astoria. The Membership Rewards program from American Express has more than 140 redemption partners.

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Trump Casino to Pilot QuikCash Mobile

Las Vegas-based Global Cash Access has partnered with Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City to serve as the pilot site for GCA’s QuikCash Mobile service. QuikCash Mobile is an easy-to-use, handheld device that serves as a mini-ATM, which enables casinos to offer credit and debit card cash advance capabilities directly to patrons on the floor, at the point of sale. Global Cash Access is a leading provider of cash access products and related services to approximately 960 gaming properties and other clients.

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Benny Card Lands Another Benefits Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent to CT-based Evolution Benefits for “Methods and Systems for Processing Transactions Involving Accounts for Reimbursing Medical Expenses or Patient Responsible Balances with Multiple Transactions Substantiation Modes” Cardholders can use their “Benny Prepaid Benefits” to debit their FSA or HRA and achieve the highest level of substantiation available. In February, EB was awarded the “Most Innovative Consumer Directed Health Care (CDHC) Product or Solution” in the payment card arena at the CDHC Expo in Las Vegas. Evolution Benefits provides payment services for consumer-directed benefits.

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ASK PAPER PAYPASS

ASK and MasterCard have inked a development agreement to create paper-based contactless payment solutions utilizing “PayPass” for deployment in transit and other payment environments. More than 50 million ASK contactless paper tickets are already being used globally in mass transit automatic fare collection systems. MasterCard is currently participating in a contactless trial in the New York City subway system and on the Ohio Turnpike, while “PayPass” is now accepted in many Philadelphia and NYC taxi cabs and Utah buses. MasterCard is also leading the effort to develop new “PayPass”-enabled devices, such as key fobs, mobile phones, wristwatches and wristbands. There are nearly 13 million MasterCard “PayPass” cards in use at more than 46,000 merchant locations worldwide. ASK provides contactless cards, tickets, RFID tags, e-passport inlays and readers addressing the mass transit, access control, banking, e-identity and supply chain markets.

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26% of Teens Know How Credit Cards Work

A new survey has found that 41% of teens consider themselves knowledgeable about how to budget money, 34% know how to pay bills, 26% know how credit card interest and fees work, 24% know whether a check cashing service is good to use and 14% know how income taxes work or what a 401(k) plan. More than half believe that “it is easier to buy things with a credit card than cash” and, given the choice, 29% would actually prefer using a credit card, a 61% increase in this stated preference over last year. The research by Charles Schwab also found that American teens confidently predict a future in which, based on the career that interests them most, they will be earning an average annual salary of $145,500 (boys expect $173,000 vs. girls, $114,200). The reality: Only five percent of the U.S. population currently earns a six-figure income, and the average national wage stands at approximately $40,000.

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Akbank Implements Fair Isaac’s Falcon ID

To protect customers from identification fraud, Akbank of Turkey has
implemented Fair Isaac’s “Falcon ID Solution”, the first European lender
to do so. Using predictive analytics, “Falcon” uses an authentication
process and multiple sources of data for validating identities,
including the use of an ID Clearinghouse which accesses external data to
detect when an identity is compromised. Furthermore, the solution allows
the lender to apply predictive data in order to determine whether an
application for credit is genuine or fraudulent, resulting in faster and
more precise origination decisions.

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VeriFone Vx 670 Receives SAMA Certification

Upon the completion of Douglas G. Bergeron’s four-day tour of the Middle
East that consisted of meetings with VIPs of the region, the Saudi
Arabia Monetary Agency has announced that it has certified Verifone’s
GPRS and WiFi-enabled “Vx 670” for use in restaurants, hotels and
retailers. Companies in these industries have already begun
implementation of pay-at-table transactions using the compact
device. Verifone is expanding in the region because of growing demand
for payment and value-added services, such as electronic cellular
top-up and will address the regional demands and needs. This also
represents the company’s further commitment to this growing market and
reflects their focus on the needs of customers.

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ISO SmartCard Includes GlobalPlatform Technology

GlobalPlatform technology has been included in the ISO Smartcard, which
is intended to support implementations in a multi-application
environment. GlobalPlatform has already started work towards
incorporating the new “ISO/IEC 7816-13” international standard into the
“GlobalPlatform Card Specification v2.2” and will be the first standards
body to be fully compliant to “ISO/IEC 7816-13” by the end of 2007. With
the migration to the ISO standard, GlobalPlatform Specifications will be an
authority on smart card standardization specifications. Since 2004,
GlobalPlatform has been intrinsically involved in the creation of the
international standard for multi-application smart card infrastructures.

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EU Ministers Agrees on a SEPA Directive

The Payment Services Directive necessary for the creation of SEPA and
SEPA products will be agreed upon by the 27 EU Finance Ministers in
April. Following approval by European Parliament, the Directive will
create security to providers of payment services and create equal legal
conditions for payments in the European Union. With this, every
cross-border payment can be treated as a domestic payment providing
customer benefits. The Directive creates equal legal conditions for
payments in the European Union.

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APEX Analytix Offers Vendor Risk Tools

APEX Analytix has introduced “FirstStrike Fraud Detect” software and “Vendor Risk Analysis” services. The software was developed to identify payments to fictitious companies, conflict of interest vendors, kickback vendors, prohibited vendors associated with the U.S. Patriot Act, and other potentially fraudulent vendors and transactions. APEX Analytix’s new systems work by monitoring data that is already in company financial systems. In addition, the company’s accounts payable system may be continuously monitored or reviewed on a regular basis to detect new cases of high-risk activity. Some of the attributes for vendor flagging include use of initials in vendor name, private mail service address, appearance on a Government Watch List, benfords (mathematical distribution), even dollar amounts and consecutive invoice numbering. APEX Analytix provides a software solution for the identification and prevention of A/P errors.

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Economic Growth Likely to Outperform the USA

TD Economics has projected that the Canadian economy will grow 2.4% in
2007. This is a rate only slightly slower than 2006, unlike that of the
U.S. economy which will see significantly less growth than the previous
year. Slow American growth is mostly because of a sluggish real estate
market and low consumer confidence. Mortgage lenders whom did not
diversify their portfolio when real estate was booming are now feeling
the pressure because of the present slow down. In Canada, however,
housing will slow only in the West, but will average high activity
across the entire country. The Canadian economy is slowing at an average
pace and the only significantly vulnerable areas are those with exposure
to external demand. An improvement in U.S. demand in late-2007 and 2008
is expected to generate productivity in Canadian manufacturing.

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