Asta Funding 3Q/06 Profits Rise by 50%+

NJ-based consumer receivable asset management and liquidation specialist, Asta Funding, reported that net income for the quarter ended September 30th rose 50.7% to a record $13.6 million, compared to one-year ago. Finance income for the quarter was $29.8 million, a 49.5% year-on-year increase. Over the past twelve months Asta has acquired approximately $5.2 billion in face value receivables, the highest level in the Company’s history, at a purchase price of $200.2 million. Fiscal 2006 included $159.4 million in net cash collections from collection of consumer receivables acquired for liquidation, up 53.0% from $104.2 million in the year ago period. For complete details on Asta’s latest performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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NFC-Enabled PayPass Phones to be Tested in NYC

A three to six month pilot of “Near Field Communication”-enabled mobile phones with “PayPass” is getting underway in New York City. Citigroup, MasterCard, Cingular Wireless and Nokia have teamed for the project. Pre-selected “Citi MasterCard” cardholders with Cingular Wireless accounts are participating in the trial and will receive Nokia NFC-enabled mobile phones with MasterCard “PayPass” payment functionality. NXP Semiconductors developed the NFC technology and chips for the NFC-enabled mobile phones in the New York City trial to facilitate secure, contactless communication between two devices. Giesecke & Devrient developed the “Over the Air” personalization software that allows for the process of initializing the mobile phone with the information it needs to conduct secure transactions. ViVOtech provided NFC software and services to enable the trial working in concert with the partners. Trial participants can also take part in the New York City Subway contactless transit fare payment trial sponsored by Citigroup, MasterCard Worldwide, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and MTA New York City Transit.

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MasterCard Receives Top ITUG Award for 3rd Year

MasterCard has been awarded the “2006 International Tandem Users’ Group NonStop Availability Award” for overall system availability and processing excellence. The ITUG NonStop Availability Award is presented annually to information technology companies that use HP NonStop servers to maintain the highest overall system availability and exercise sound quality assurance practices. Award entries from around the world are evaluated on network availability, business continuity management practices and service delivery to end-user customers. Finalists for the 2006 award included Bank-Verlag GmbH, Belgacom and VISA. MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide.

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TRM Unloads Most of its Canadian ATM Assets

OR-based TRM has signed an agreement to sell substantially all of the assets of its Canadian ATM business to EZEE ATM for an estimated purchase price of CDN$14.75 million. Closing is expected to occur in January. While the sale will dispose of almost all of TRM’s Canada-based ATM operations, TRM has retained an ATM relationship relating to approximately 400 sites and also retains its existing Canada-based photocopy business, for which it continues to evaluate alternatives. Earlier this week, TRM signed an agreement to sell its U.S. photocopier business to TRM Copy Centers for $9.2 million. Proceeds from the sales will be used to pay down debt obligations.(CF Library 12/14/06)

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Canada’s Project Protect Lowers Card Fraud

Canada’s Interac Association reported that debit card fraud at gas stations across Canada has declined by more than 60% over the past year. The deep decline, representing about $15 million in avoided fraud losses, was largely the result of “Project Protect,” a joint education initiative spearheaded by Interac Association and law enforcement with support from Payment Card Partners and other industry partners. The program, which launched in November 2005, educates gas retail owners, managers and employees about payment card fraud.

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Online Word of Mouth Affects Purchase Decisions

NY-based DoubleClick this week released a survey which found that online advertising is an effective means to influence word of mouth. The DoubleClick Touchpoints IV survey results revealed that influencers consider online advertising a key factor of their shopping process, second only to websites, as a source of further learning about purchase decisions. Nineteen percent of influencers cited web advertising as a source of information when they were researching a purchase, compared to 8 percent among the remainder of the sample. Both segments cited websites as their top source of research when they are shopping, but influencers clearly rely more on the web than non-influencers, with 40 percent of influencers citing websites for this purpose versus 31 percent of non-influencers. DoubleClick provides technology and services that empower marketers, agencies and web publishers to work together successfully and profit from their digital marketing investments.

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FDC Forms Merchant Solutions Pte Ltd. for Asia

First Data has signed an agreement with Hong Kong-based Standard Chartered to jointly establish a new merchant acquiring company for Asian merchants. The new company, “Merchant Solutions Pte Ltd.” will be 56% owned by First Data and 44% owned by Standard Chartered. The firm will be based in Singapore. Merchant Solutions will provide sales support with First Data supplying front-end and back-end switching services. Merchant Solutions also aims to deliver enhanced payments capabilities to Standard Chartered merchant clients from seven initial markets in Asia including Bangladesh, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Macau, Singapore and Sri Lanka by converting to First Data’s global merchant processing platform, OmniPay, in approximately 9-12 months. China and Malaysia are also priority markets. Standard Chartered and First Data intend to roll-out the alliance to other Asian and Middle East markets. The new company is expected to begin its operations by the end of 2007.

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CONTACTLESS MARKET

A new study projects that spending on contactless payments hardware and software will reach $870 million by 2011, at a
compound annual growth rate of 27%. ABI Research says that transportation ticketing represents the majority of contactless payment adoption around the world, but that position will be overtaken by adoption of open systems payments within the next few years. ABI says contactless technology in Japan and South Korea is making the greatest headway. In North America, open system payments are driving the contactless adoption. In Europe contactless ticketing systems are also spurring interest in contactless payments. ABI notes that while mobile handsets will develop to enable contactless payments, ongoing debate over how payment applications will be deployed and managed on wireless handsets has delayed the roll-out of mobile handset contactless payments in the US and Europe.

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MasterCard Board Declares a Cash Dividend

MasterCard’s Board has declared a quarterly cash dividend to holders of shares of its Class A common stock and Class B common stock at nine cents per share. The cash dividend of nine cents per share will be paid on February 9, 2007 to holders of record of its Class A common stock and Class B common stock as of January 12, 2007. MasterCard Incorporated is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs.

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Intuit Inks a Deal to Acquire ECHO for $142MM

Intuit has agreed to buy Electronic Clearing House Inc. for about $142 million. Intuit says the deal will enable the firm to offer payment solutions to merchants through a single portal. In addition, the acquisition will expand Intuit?s sales and distribution channels and provide relationships with thousands of customers, including larger enterprise customers, such as retail and hotel chains. ECHO last reported second quarter revenue of $19.9 million. Bankcard and transaction processing revenue grew 43% to $15.1 million, while bankcard processing volume increased 57.5% to $472.1 million. ECHO will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intuit. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

ECHO REVENUE HISTORICAL
2Q/05: $14.3 million
3Q/05: $15.2 million
4Q/05: $16.9 million
1Q/06: $19.2 million
2Q/06: $19.9 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Cyveillance Identity Theft Protection Released

VA-based Cyveillance launched its “Cyveillance Identity Theft Protection” as a Web service. Cyveillance Identity Theft Protection helps organizations substantially reduce fraud claims by proactively monitoring the Internet for compromised credit and debit card numbers, as well as sensitive personal information. To date, Cyveillance has identified more than 10 million compromised credentials targeted for fraudulent use. The Cyveillance Identity Theft Protection Web service provides real-time access to the same intelligence used by many of the top credit card issuing banks and credit unions. Cyveillance provides online risk monitoring and management solutions to Global 2000 organizations.

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Wells Fargo Gift Card Sales Top 1MM

Wells Fargo reports it has sold more than one million “VISA Gift Cards” since the company began offering the product through the company’s banking stores in October 2005. More than 3,100 Wells Fargo banking stores sell Wells Fargo “VISA Gift Cards.” Customers who have a Wells Fargo checking or savings account can purchase gift cards at Wells Fargo stores or online. Customers can buy the cards individually and in bulk. Wells Fargo also recently enhanced its online gift card site to accommodate bulk orders.

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