Countrywide Renews Co-Brand & Boosts Rewards

Chase’s agent banking division First USA has teamed with Countrywide Financial to re-launch their co-branded VISA card. With the signing of a multi-year credit card renewal agreement, the companies have introduced the “Countrywide Rewards Platinum VISA” with a double reward option. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases and interest with no point cap. Cardholders may redeem the equivalent of one percent back in cash or a retail gift card; or they may double their rewards when redeeming accrued points to pay down their Countrywide mortgage principal balance. Once cardholders earn 2,500 points, they can redeem them for a $50 payment applicable to an outstanding Countrywide mortgage principal balance or choose a $25 gift card merchants or $25 in cash. Countrywide Financial has a workforce of more than 50,000 with over 900 offices.

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Finsec Banks to Stop Pushing Debt Products

Figures provided by the Ministry of Economic Development have shown that
2006 has seen a 22% increase in bankruptcies. The bank workers union,
Finsec, credits this to banks pressuring the sales of credit card debt
to customers and wants it stopped. Finsec urges banks, such as BNZ and
Westpac, to ease employees’ sales quotas and the immense pressure to
sell debt products. Furthermore, the union wants banks to adjust the pay
scale to reward employees for good customer service, not for selling debt.

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AmBank to Issue a Business Platinum MasterCard

AmBank has introduced the “AmBank Business Platinum Mastercard”
specifically designed for business customers who spend on traveling and
entertainment. Benefits include travel insurance of up to RM 1
million, overdraft protection, home financing of up to RM500,000, an
option of up to 50% of the limit as an overdraft, a pre-qualified hire
purchase facility of up to RM200,000, double points on all overseas
transactions, flexible payment, share trading and 24-hour customer
service. The bank hopes to obtain 20,000 “AmBank Business Platinum
Mastercard” cardholders in the first year. The card’s partner airlines
include Emirates, Gulf Air and Thai Airways International, while global
hotel partners include Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Great Hotels of the
World, and Mandarin Oriental.

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NCR to Manage HSBC’s Off-Site ATMs

NCR has announced it will manage HSBC’s fleet of off-site ATMs in
southern and western India, providing caretaking and maintenance
services. With this agreement, the bank expects increased channel
efficiency and availability, maintaining increasingly higher customer
satisfaction and no longer having to spend in-house resources on routine
ATM maintenance. HSBC has 9,500 offices in 76 countries and territories.
NCR employs approximately 28,900 people worldwide.

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RZB to Deploy Norkom Technologies Software

To comply with the financial industry’s’ crime strategy, Raiffeisen
Zentralbank Osterreich will use software from Norkom Technologies for
all of its’ 17 banking operations. The software will monitor and analyze
every RZB transaction and interaction using matching techniques from
watch lists to protect the bank from conducting business with criminals
and terrorists. Not only will this development protect against such
activities as money laundering and fraud, it will reduce compliance
costs by a minimum of 15%.

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MasterCard Launches UEFA EURO 2008 Marketing Platform

Mastercard Europe has introduced a new campaign to compliment the
company’s sponsorship of the “UEFA EURO 2008” football championships and
will be an integral part of MasterCard’s SEPA marketing strategy.
Currently, only 9% of consumers and 16% of merchants have heard of SEPA
only 10 months before its introduction. Furthermore, the sponsorship
property will be available to Maestro issuers allowing them to deploy
marketing tools, offering an unrivaled opportunity, including ticket
competitions, online and television branding opportunities, official
mascots “Trix and Flix” and “EURO 2008” designations and marks. More than 1 million fans are expected to attend the event and many more will be watching from around the world.

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Tax Payments on Cards Running 63% Higher

PAY1040.com, which is powered by Metavante’s LINK2GOV, reports a 63% year-over-year increase in dollars processed for federal tax payments during tax season 2007. This news follows a recent IRS report that showed significant growth in cardbased tax payments during 2006. LINK2GOV processes payments immediately and provides a confirmation number as proof of payment. LINK2GOV also facilitates the collection of state income taxes, real estate taxes, utility bills, vehicle registrations, driver’s license renewals, parking tickets, traffic citations, tuition payments, court fees and fines, hunting and fishing licenses, as well as various business licenses. Metavante Payment Solutions delivers electronic money movement through an integrated payments network, including an ATM/PIN debit network in NYCE, online bill payment, a complete suite of payment cards and automated clearing house (ACH) processing.

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Entitlements for Prepaid Cards Introduced

CA-based i2c has introduced a new program that can unleash the massive potential of prepaid cards. “Entitlements” allow card program managers to define promotions, create collections of SKU’s and assign specific SKU’s or collection of SKU’s to cards, in addition to dollars and cents. Cardholders can load and redeem the “Entitlements” or check the balance or transaction history using the cardholder Web site or i2c’s proprietary IVR. i2c says the new program opens up tremendous new opportunities for targeted promotions, smart packaging, piggybacking new or weaker products on the strength and positive associations of faster moving products and unlimited inter-company cross selling opportunities.

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Gemalto Johannesburg Card Plant is Certified

Gemalto’s Johannesburg-based banking facility for the personalization of
magnetic-stripe and EMV has been certified for American Express,
MasterCard and VISA. The personalization plant will led the charge with
the roll-out of EMV banking cards in the third quarter. Gemalto has
already secured an exclusive contract with a major South African bank
for EMV personalization. The facility has been personalizing SIM cards
for seven years, with a current capacity of 10 million units per year.

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Best Buy Expands its HSBC Co-Branded MC

HSBC Retail Services has rolled-out the “Best Buy Reward Zone MasterCard” to all of Best Buy’s 825 stores nationwide. Launched as a pilot program in September, the co-branded card enables consumers to accelerate the rate at which rewards are earned. Cardholders earn rewards valued at 4% of purchases made at Best Buy stores and up to 2% on purchases made anywhere else MasterCard is accepted. In November 2001, Household, which was acquired by HSBC in 2003, signed a seven-year, exclusive private-label credit card agreement with Best Buy. Household managed part of Best Buy’s branded retail credit card program for nearly eight years prior to the deal. Household also launched a program in 2001 that allows customers to apply for the Best Buy card and a Household Bank MasterCard simultaneously. Best Buy has more than 1,100 retail stores across the U.S., Canada and in China. (CF Library 11/19/01; 9/28/06)

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ETHICAL CARDS

The ten most ethical credit cards, based on donations
made and to charities involved, have been recognized by an online price
comparison service and marketer. Eight per cent of the 185 million
credit cards circulating in the UK today include credit cards that
apportion a percentage of their profits to a charity with over 300
affinity card programs in-place. BeatThatQuote.com says that last year
GBP 67.8 million was donated on plastic in the summer, while the ethical
goods industry was reportedly worth 29.3 billion GBP in 2005. Experts
say that the young and highly-educated are most likely to use these
affinity cards, investigate greener suppliers and lead a more ethical
lifestyle. Credit cards are becoming a tool to reconcile spending by
making a difference. The ten cards ranked as “Most Ethical” include:
UNICEF; Oxfam Advantage Platinum; American Express RED; British Heart
Foundation; WWF; RSPCA; Childline; The National Trust; Nationwide Comic
Relief; and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

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