Citi Completes Acquisition of GFU

Citi has announced the acquisition of Grupo Financiero Uno. This
will expand the company’s Latin America presence through incorporation
of 75 branches, and more than 100 kiosks and points of sale. Citi has
also named Edgardo del Rincon Gutierrez as CEO of Grupo Financiero Uno
in Central America. He was promoted from the GFU integration team
director and was previously the General Director of Credito Familiar for
Banamex. Citi is present in 24 countries of Latin America and Mexico and
operates more than 2,100 branches that offer financial services.
Throughout this market, services are provided to 13,000 corporate
customers, 17 million consumer banking customers and nine million
cardholders. On a global scale, Citi has some 200 million customer
accounts and does business in more than 100 countries.

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eca$hier Lands a Mexican Kiosk Deal

TX-based eca$hier Systems announced its agreement with Consejo Empresarial Gasolinero Valle De Mexico, A.C. to deploy 2500 self-service multi-function financial kiosks in Mexico. The initial services provided by the kiosks are point-to-point money transfer services from the U.S. to Mexico, CEGA sponsored dispensing and reloading of a prepaid gasoline card, a Mexican Bank Branded prepaid debit card and ATM cash dispensing. Other functionalities soon to be added to the “eca$hier Financial Services Kiosk” are bill payments and collection, prepaid services, including long distance calling cards and cellular calling minutes, and other CEGA approved services.

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Fraud Prevention Month is Launched

It is estimated that retail organized crime costs Canadians $5 billion a
year. Credit card fraud in Canada resulted in losses of $201 million
to major credit cards companies, $70.4 million in debit card fraud, and 422,447
counterfeit bank notes were passed and seized in 2005. Furthermore,
container theft has been pegged at $20 billion worldwide. In response,
The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will join Fraud Prevention Month.
Fraud Prevention Month has been created as a means of preventing
consumers across Canada from becoming victims of fraud by educating them
on the statistics and means of prevention. Throughout the month of March
the RCC will be educating consumers on these issues. The Council is a
not-for-profit organization representing more than 40,000 stores
of all retail formats.

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TSAI Settles Lawsuit & Reviews Stock Options

Omaha-based Transactions Systems Architects last week settled a class action lawsuit for $24.5 million in the wake of disclosures that the Omaha software maker had improperly booked sales. The Plaintiffs alleged that the company and several executives and directors had prematurely booked the revenue incorrectly to make the company look healthier than it was or had ignored accounting errors. TSAI also last week disclosed it may have made errors on stock option grants issued between 1995 and 2002, and that it will need to restate previous results. In January, TSAI was notified by NASDAQ that its shares are subject to delisting because its annual report was late and in February the company received a second notice for noncompliance for not filing its quarterly report for the fourth quarter. The Company says it expects to file its Annual 10-K by the end of March and its 10-K and 10-Q for the fourth quarter about four weeks thereafter.

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Big 3 Market Share Jumps from 48% to 58%

The nation’s three largest bank credit card issuers now represent 58% of the U.S. market, based on outstandings, compared to 40% five years ago. At the end of 2006 the nation’s three largest issuers, BofA, Chase and Citi held more than $100 billion each in card loans. According to the Federal Reserve, total revolving credit stands at approximately $876 billion. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the fourth quarter was about $750 billion or roughly 86% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

Top 10 U.S. Card Issuers
(End of 2006)
ISSUER OUTSTANDINGS
1. BofA $168.4 billion
2. Chase $152.8 billion
3. Citi $111.6 billion
4. AmEx $ 63.5 billion
5. Cap One $ 53.6 billion
6. Discover $ 50.3 billion
7. HSBC $ 28.2 billion
8. WaMu $ 23.5 billion
9. Wells $ 12.8 billion
10. US Bank $ 11.3 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Chase Wants Clear & Simple for Cardholders

Chase Card Services has announced a new initiative to help its cardholders to better understand and manage their accounts. The “Clear and Simple Initiative” includes: tools to empower customers; financial literacy and education; and clearer disclosure of terms and conditions. The tools include automatic payments, free alerts, paperless statements, and payment calculators. Chase says it will offer a cash incentive for signing up for some of the tools. Chase says it also launching more education initiatives that will be distributed online, through podcasts, chat rooms and in print. Last week, Chase announced a $3.9 million grant program for local credit counseling organizations. Over the last few months, Chase says it has provided easy-to-understand supplemental information to all customers to help them better understand how to manage their account to avoid fees and preserve their best interest rate. By the end of the second quarter, Chase will have mailed this information to more than 30 million customers.

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Asta Funding Closes on its Monster ARM Deal

NJ-based Asta Funding has closed on a portfolio acquisition of approximately $6.9 billion in face value receivables, mostly credit card accounts. The purchase price was $300 million plus 20% of net payments after Asta recovers 150% of the purchase price plus its cost of funds. The portfolio includes accounts in collection litigation and accounts as to which the sellers have been awarded judgments and other traditional charge-offs. The portfolio is being purchased from several sellers under common ownership with whom Asta enjoys a 20 plus year relationship. The seller is Great Seneca Financial and its related entities. Kaulkin-Ginsburg acted as advisors to the sellers in the marketing of this portfolio. The deal nearly doubles the size of Asta’s assets acquired for liquidation on its balance sheet. (CF Library 2/12/07)

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CBA Selects Gemplus for its PayPass Pilot

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has selected Gemplus International for its first MasterCard “PayPass” pilot. The six-month trial will be rolled-out in New South Wales, with the first phase involving 33,000 CBA cardholders who will be able to use their
MasterCard “PayPass” cards at more than 150 participating merchants.
Gemplus provided the “GemInstant” cards for the pilot. Gemplus has been present in the Australian market for many years, which was reinforced in 2000 by setting up a local joint venture, LM Gemplus Pty Ltd.

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Hypercom Supports 1MM Devices Worldwide

Hypercom reports it now supports more than 1 million terminal devices with deployment, help desk, field or onsite repairs and similar services. These services are provided by Hypercom’s NETSET operations in Brazil, Chile and Mexico, as well as the company’s service center in the United Kingdom. Hypercom also recently announced the acquisitions of ACG Group and TPI Software, and the company’s new partnership with The Warranty Group for enhanced product warranties, all of which expand its footprint in the services and software business sector. Hypercom says the number of terminals under service by NETSET in Brazil rose more than 60% last year, now topping 700,000.

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MasterCard Voted the Top Corporate Card

Global Finance magazine has named MasterCard the “Best Corporate Cards and Expense Services Provider” in 2007. The publication’s editors selected MasterCard based on input from industry analysts, corporate executives and technology experts. Factors considered in selecting the winners included profitability, market share and reach, customer service, competitive pricing, product innovation, and the extent to which treasury and financial institutions have successfully differentiated themselves from their competitors around core treasury and cash management service provision.

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Calif City Gets WiFi-based Parking Meters

Digital Payment Technologies has been selected by Redwood City, California to supply forty WiFi-based parking pay stations for the city’s downtown core. The “LUKE” pay station by Digital Payment was chosen in order to provide city parkers with a greater range of payment options and convenience. The pay stations will be connected to Digital Payment’s Enterprise Management Server (EMS) via a WiFi “MetroMesh Network” using equipment manufactured by CA-based Tropos Networks. The WiFi connectivity will enable the city to offer new capabilities such as real-time credit card authorization, pay-by-cell integration and the ability to add time at any pay station. Digital Payment provides the design, manufacture and distribution of revenue-management hardware, software and wireless solutions for the multi-billion-dollar parking industry. Tropos Networks provides metro-scale Wi-Fi mesh network systems.

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