FDC Brings Peace Software to Utilities

First Data has signed an agreement to acquire Peace Software, a “Customer Information System” product company that develops advanced software for managing utility billing and customer care. “Peace” software has been installed and is operating at major utilities in 35 regulated markets around the world. First Data anticipates closing the transaction in the third quarter. Last month, First Data executed two major deals including a major supermarket chain and the nation’s sixth-largest credit union. FDC recently began processing credit and debit card transactions for the 407 locations of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. FDC also renewed its agreement with Golden 1 Credit Union to provide “STAR Network” access and PIN-debit processing for its more than 280,000 cardholders and its 271 ATMs. (CF Library 6/21/06)

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Interchange Hearing Set for Next Week

The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on “Credit Card Interchange Rates: Antitrust Concerns?” has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 19th. The hearing was first scheduled for June 28th. More than 50 private lawsuits have been filed in federal court claiming that interchange practices violate federal antitrust law. Yesterday, the The Electronic Payments Coalition said it welcomed the hearing and said that Government intervention would lead to higher fees for cardholders, fewer rewards programs, and less choice. The EPC is a group of 36 community banks, trade associations, financial services institutions and payment card networks.

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Aeroplan Launches a New Suite of Rewards Cards

Aeroplan expanded the reward choices of its members by making thousands of new rewards available through a series of new reward cards. This Canadian loyalty industry first enables members to use their “Aeroplan Miles” towards an array of new rewards across Canada and the U.S. in five categories: Dining, Spa, Sports, Entertainment and Getaways. These prepaid, stored value cards may be easily ordered by any Aeroplan member online and are accepted where the American Express Card is welcome. Using their “Aeroplan Miles,” members can redeem for cards in two denominations: 14,000 “Aeroplan Miles” for a card worth $100 and 33,500 “Aeroplan Miles” for a card worth $250. Aeroplan has a network of more than 60 partners, representing more than 100 brands.

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Small Businesses Shop Heavily Online

Nearly eight out of ten online small businesses conduct business-related online shopping regularly, making it almost as prevalent as the use of email among online small businesses. The study by JupiterResearch also found that travel currently leads the small-business shopping categories with a 71% penetration, followed by computer hardware and software and office supplies. Jupiter says categories such as advertising/marketing services, financial services, credit cards, vehicles and furniture will benefit most from growing Internet expertise of the small business customer and an effort from the suppliers to make these online transactions easier.

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Prism Holdings to Distribute VeriFone’s Vx 610

Prism Holdings, VeriFone’s international partner in South Africa, is powering EMV-enabled systems for FNB’s large retailer customer base. The EMV-enabled systems, based on VeriFone’s portable “Wi-Fi Vx 610” and “Prism’s “FlexiLANE” multi-lane payment aggregation solution, will be available to FNB to license and market to major retailers, petroleum retailers, restaurateurs and hotels. The VeriFone and “FlexiLANE” solution enables multi-lane merchants to differentiate their service offering by bringing point-of-payment to the consumer. It provides integration into point-of-sale systems through the use of VeriFone’s “SC 5000 PINpad.”

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PayPal Opens Shop in AZ and Hires Hundreds

PayPal is opening a new technology development center in Scottsdale, Arizona and plans to hire hundreds of local technical professionals over the next twelve months. PayPal Vice President of Site Operations and Infrastructure Jim McGuire said the company is now accepting resumes from experienced applicants, who can apply for positions at https://www.paypal.com/jobs. The PayPal technology center has openings for technical professionals with expertise in product development, operations and infrastructure design, engineering and support. PayPal, an eBay company, enables any individual or business with an email address to send and receive payments online securely and easily using a bank account, credit card or stored balance.

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PaySquare Powers CUP Card Acceptance

PaySquare and China UnionPay have signed an exclusive partnership wherein PaySquare becomes the exclusive provider for acceptance of the “CUP” credit card brand in the Netherlands.
Clients from Belgium, Luxembourg and other parts of Europe can also contact PaySquare if they are interested in accepting credit cards from China UnionPay as a means of payment. In 2005, the number of outbound
Chinese travelers amounted to 31 million exits. Over 150,000 Chinese
visited Holland last year with total expenditures of US$40 million.
PaySquare is one of the largest players in the Benelux for the
acceptance of international means of payment.

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Fastcase Deploys Peppercoin’s Solutions

Washington, DC-based Fastcase has deployed Peppercoin’s “Small Payment Suite” to enable users to access legal research for as little as $4.99 for each case. Traditionally, high prices for legal research sources have discouraged students, nonprofit groups and concerned citizens from searching case law and statutes. Legal research, which can cost $100 per search or $500 per hour, remained largely the domain of law firms and other businesses. Peppercoin is a small payments technology company transforming routine card transactions into new revenue opportunities.

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Bankruptcy Filings Hit an 8th MO High

Bankruptcy filings are slowly but surely rising above the 10,000 per week level. However, the figures remain well below the 35,000 per week level experienced one-year ago, prior to the full implementation of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.” During June filings topped 46,000, the highest level since October when the reforms went into effect. The number of filings in the first quarter is the lowest number of quarterly filings in the last 20 years. According to CA-based Lundquist Consulting 1Q/06 Chapter 7 consumer filings were 80% lower 1Q/05. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, consumer and business bankruptcy filings hit a record 667,431 petitions in the fourth quarter, but, dropped to a record low of 116,771 petitions in the first quarter of this year. (CF Library 3/27/06; 6/2/06)

MONTHLY FILINGS
Nov 05: 21,457
Dec 05: 32,480
Jan 06: 34.411
Feb 06: 39,636
Mar 06: 42,724
Apr 06: 44,989
May 06: 43,780
Jun 06: 46,118
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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BofA Renews Three Major Affinity Cards

Bank of America this morning confirmed long-term extensions of three of the longest and most successful affinity marketing agreements in the USA. The National Education Association, Ducks Unlimited and the American Automobile Association all agreed to renew their former MBNA agreements with BofA. BofA acquired MBNA at the start of 2006. The NEA and Ducks Unlimited partnerships were first signed more than 20 years ago. The endorsing agreement with Ducks Unlimited has yielded more than $60 million dollars in contributions for wetland and associated habitat conservation. More than 150,000 Ducks Unlimited members in North America presently hold “Ducks Unlimited” VISA, MasterCard or American Express cards. The AAA agreement covers more than 40 million U.S. members. The NEA represents 2.8 million educators.

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PAYPASS MOMENTUM

MasterCard Worldwide reports it has seen a 55% increase in the issuance of its payment card and other payment devices, such as the “PayPass 3-D Soccer Ball Key Chain” and the “PayPass Watch” during the
first five months of 2006 in the Asia-Pacific region. To-date more than 7 million “PayPass” cards and devices have been issued worldwide. As of the end May, MasterCard has introduced eight significant “PayPass” pilots, programs and collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region. In April, MasterCard launched its first “PayPass” pilot program in Australia with Commonwealth Bank; while in Korea, MasterCard collaborated with Samsung Card and three mobile phone companies, SK Telecom, LG TeleCom and KTF to pilot the use of mobile phones as contactless payment devices. Additionally, in Japan, MasterCard announced its first full scale roll-out of “PayPass” in collaboration with Orient Corporation and IKSPIARI, and celebrated the launch of a pilot program with Pocket Card and ITOCHU Enex in Japan. In February, MasterCard collaborated with Fransabank in Lebanon to pilot a smart credit card enhanced with “PayPass.” In June, MasterCard in conjunction with Chinatrust Commercial Bank announced the launch of the world’s first watch equipped with MasterCard “PayPass.”

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PayPass Heads Underground For a Pilot

A six-month contactless payment trial got underway this week in select New York City subway stations utilizing the MasterCard “PayPass” technology. Chosen participants in the test will be able to pay for their fare using a contactless Citi credit card, Citibank MasterCard debit card or payment tag on a specially equipped reader built into the subway turnstile. The trial will take place at select Lexington Avenue Line 4, 5, 6 stations, between the 138th Street stations in the Bronx, two stations in Queens, and Borough Hall Station in Brooklyn. Trial participants can “pre-pay” or “pay as you go.” During the first four months of the trial, all participants in the trial will receive three free rides compliments of Citibank and MasterCard. Participants who pre-pay on the website will receive an additional three free rides, for a total of six free rides. The pilot leverages technology from On Track Innovations, design from Ziba, fare collection solutions from ACS and contactless terminals from Lipamn’s Dione.

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