VISA Predicts 2007 PCE Growth of 5%

VISA USA says that macroeconomic data that it compiled and analyzed provides a mixed outlook. Although gross domestic product was robust last year, VISA expects to see lower consumer spending growth, or personal consumption expenditures, in the coming year. PCE growth is forecast to grow at 4.9% in 2007, down from 6% in 2006. VISA says the trend of lower PCE growth is driven by weaknesses in the housing market, which is pushing down mortgage equity withdrawals. However, VISA says that opportunities still exist for small businesses to grow with the optimism attributed to relatively low interest rates and a strong job market.

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Chase Launches the Zappos Rewards VISA

Shoe and apparel retailer, Zappos.com has teamed with Chase to launch a VISA card. The new “Zappos Rewards VISA” offers cardholders two points on Zappos purchases and one point on other eligible card purchases. Cardholders who earn 2,500 points will automatically receive a $25 Zappos.com gift certificate. Additionally, cardholders will receive a $25 statement credit upon their first use of the card plus they enjoy a 0% APR introductory offer for up to six months and no annual fee. Zappos.com stocks approximately 2 million shoes, handbags, apparel items and accessories from over 1000 brands.

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Stolen Cards w/CVV Sell Online for $1-$6

Symantec reported it has begun tracking the trade of stolen confidential information and captured data frequently sold on underground economy servers and has discovered a vibrant market for credit card details. The anti-virus software giant found that U.S.-based credit cards with a card verification number were available for between $1 and $6 while an identity, including a U.S. bank account, credit card, date of birth and government issued identification number, was available for between $14 and $18 each. Symantec also reported more than 6 million distinct bot-infected computers worldwide during the second half of 2006, representing a 29% increase from the previous period. The Company also noted that its detected a total of 166,248 unique phishing messages during the second half of 2006, an average of 904 per day, marking a 6% increase over the first six months of 2006.

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Boy Scouts Try Out the PaySimple Solution

Denver-based PaySimple has partnered with Boy Scouts of America Troop 970 to collect payments for fundraising activities. BSA’s customers can now go to the troop’s website to make purchases and pay via an online form using either a credit/debit card or an ACH direct debit from a checking account. The system calculates costs, collects payment information and submits directly into the PaySimple system for payment processing. PaySimple simplifies billing and collection processes by enabling customers to invoice, collect and deposit all of their payments automatically.

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Citibank Launches Reward-Friendly Campaign

Citibank has decided to make it easier for its customers to access their
reward points. The company’s campaign, “Everyone’s A Winner”, began
earlier this month and will run to the end of May and requires the
customer to charge a minimum of RM50 on a single point of purchase,
eight times a month. Upon meeting this requirement, the cardholder is
offered guaranteed rewards encouraging use of their Citi card. Citi’s
previous contest, “Guaranteed to Win”, had comparable stipulations and
yielded an increase in card use of eight to twelve times.

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OTI’s Contactless EasyFuel Expands

NJ-based On Track Innovations’ “EasyFuel” pay-at-the-pump contactless payment solution has entered North America. The Company says it has received orders from an energy company in North America for that calls for a roll-out at 130 gas stations. The solution supports “MasterCard PayPass” including “EMV M/Chip,”VISA Contactless,” “ExpressPay” from American Express and “Discover Zip,” as well as loyalty programs and third party applications. Initial installations are expected in the second half of this year. “EasyFuel” has installations worldwide including Europe and Africa.

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PBZ to Deploy nCipher payShield for MasterCard CAP

NCipher’s payShield hardware security module has been deployed in
Croatia by Privredna Banka Zagreb. PBZ has launched the MasterCard
Chip Authentication Program service to provide stronger
authentication for online or telephone transactions. When accessing
their bank account, users will be prompted to verify their identity by
placing the EMV chip card into a portable reader provided by the bank
and entering their personal identification number. PBZ expects to
have over 40,000 customers using CAP authentication by the end of 2007.
nCipher’s payShield solution is built on its nShield(TM) HSM platform and
is designed for use with MasterCard CAP by supporting the appropriate
EMV standards. The company delivers solutions in identity management and
data protection enabling businesses to identify who can access data. PBZ
and the PBZ Group offer core banking services, credit card services,
leasing, real estate and fund management.

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Credit Card Rewards Become a Commodity

A new report has calculated that rewards payment cards accounted for 77% of credit card volume in 2005, compared to just 40% in 2001. The research found that credit card spend on rewards card is growing at a CAGR of 31%, compared to 12% for non-reward cards. The white paper by FischerJordan says that basic rewards offerings are becoming a market necessity; no longer a competitive advantage, but instead a commodity. The form says it is clear that program cost containment coupled with commoditization will spur a change in program substance and management. Reengineering will give way to a revision of traditional program economics, including a change in program structure and management. Coalition programs, white labeling, and association rewards will provide the models of industry externalization. The external result of these changes will be that the largest loyalty programs will emerge bigger, permeating multiple industries; while internally, program value will be unlocked, turning a cost center into a profit generating activity.

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Ingenico Terminals Receive CB5.2 Approval

Ingenico has received CB5.2 approval from Groupement des Cartes Bancaires for its “GPRS i7910” and “i8550” terminals. These terminals adhere to needs of personnel working in the field, such as delivery people and traveling sales people who need to process card payments on site, thus improving productivity. The “i7910” terminal is ideal for hospitality and mobile applications. The “i8550 GPRS” terminal is designed for professionals looking to integrate data management and secure payment services for their mobile environments.

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Utah CUs to Promote CO-OP’s ATM Network

CA-based CO-OP Financial has entered into a Business Partner Agreement with The Utah League of Credit Unions. This agreement will market and promote CO-OP’s ATM network (CO-OP Network) and services to 112 Utah credit unions. The Utah League of Credit Unions is a membership organization serving the credit unions of Utah. CO-OP Financial Services has nearly 2,000 credit union members, more than 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs and 24 million cardholders.

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VeriFone & Hypercom – The Gloves Come Off

Competition in the payment systems business turned nasty yesterday as VeriFone confirmed it has been badmouthing Hypercom’s financial situation and product portfolio. Hypercom, which has come under pressure from some investors to sell or merge, says it’s all a bunch of bunk. In a press release VeriFone says it’s committing a multi-million dollar software investment to fund a free conversion through July of all current Hypercom customer applications and network interfaces to VeriFone platforms. VeriFone claims it has been contacted by many Hypercom customers who are concerned about the company’s future. VeriFone also claims Hypercom’s existing products are not PCI-compliant and its newer products that are PCI-compliant remain largely unproven. Hypercom says VeriFone’s offer is one of desperation as it continues to lose market share and cuts jobs. Hypercom says there is no evidence that its customers relationships are anything but strong and that most of its product line is PCI-compliant with at least six new global PCI-complaint countertop products coming this summer. Hypercom also says VeriFone does not have its source code for conversion, which to rebuild would take a long time, putting VeriFone into a bigger financial hole. Hypercom says it is confused about VeriFone’s position as it appears they are trying to create a monopoly position and eliminate choice in the marketplace.

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Arriva Card Now Offered by 75 Casinos

GCA’s “Arriva Card” is now offering instant credit at 75 US casinos. The program makes it simple for casinos to extend immediate credit Casinos simply input an instant credit application for the customer through Arriva’s online proprietary scoring engine and within minutes an approved customer gets an “Arriva Card” with up to $10,000 of credit, with no risk to the casino and the customer has immediate access to their credit line. Since it was first introduced in July 2006, Arriva has extended more than $40 million of credit to responsible gaming patrons. Global Cash Access is a provider of cash access products and related services to gaming properties

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