STANDARD CHARTERED & AMEX

Standard Chartered has officially launched its first American Express card after signing a partnership last August. The new “Standard Chartered American Express Card” offers two reward options, cash-back or points. The “Bonus Points” program offers quadruple points on all purchases. The “Cash Rewards” program offers 1% cash-back on all purchases and up to 8% cash-back for purchases at major supermarkets and department stores in Hong Kong. While there is no card fee there is a HK$250 annual fee for the rewards program. Cardholders applying by April 30th will receive a first waiver on the fee. Standard Chartered has a global network of over 1,200 branches. American Express has now established nearly 100 card-issuing partnership arrangements in
close to 110 countries.

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Hybrid Check Authorization Service Debuts

TeleCheck Services has introduced a new check authorization service that offers real-time information and sophisticated risk management systems. The new “TeleCheck Live Verify” service is designed for high-volume national merchants. The new service provides merchants with real-time negative database information for all transactions, while offering advanced adaptive decisioning tools for the higher risk transactions. It is the first hybrid service of its kind available for larger merchants. TeleCheck noted that distributed databases with data that is a day old doesn’t reduce fraud enough.

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Discover Leads in Online Experience

A new study reveals that Discover, American Express and Chase are providing the best online experience for prospective card customers. The report also determined that HSBC and Providian provide the most reliable online service levels. The report from Keynote Systems found that 30% of prospective customers visiting the Chase, Citi and AmEx sites indicated they were very likely or extremely likely to sign up for a credit card account with those companies. Comparably, the bottom ranked sites registered only 16% of the prospects visiting their site as being interested in a card. Discover was considered the easiest credit card to apply for online – and the easiest company to deal with, with 71% of online consumers expressing this sentiment. The “Keynote Rankings for Credit Card Prospects” study was based on an examination of the online experience of 2,000 prospective credit card customers and the measurement of 250 metrics.

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Project Higgins Enhances Online Security

Three companies have agreed to support the first open source initiative to create user-centric identity management software. Called “Project Higgins,” the software will enable individuals to actively manage and control their online personal information, such as bank account, telephone and credit card numbers or medical and employment records. “Higgins” breaks up a person’s identity into pieces and lets computer users dictate who can access what parts of their identity information, within applicable privacy guidelines and laws. IBM, Novell and Parity Communications are contributing code to the initiative. “Higgins” will support any computer running Linux, Windows or any operating system, and will support any identity management system. The project is named after the Tasmanian long-tailed Higgins mouse.

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CU Promotion Draws Record Balance Transfers

Thirty-one credit unions added more than $5 million in balances due to a pre-holiday balance transfer promotion. The credit unions are clients of Dallas-based TNB Card Services. The promotion yielded a record average balance transfer of more than $3,500 per account, up 15% over 2004. More than 65,000 qualified account holders received a promotional letter, customized for each participating credit union, with a detachable check that the member could use for the balance transfer. Jersey Shore FCU says it achieved an 11.68% response rate. Houston-based Smart Financial CU reported a 3.51% response rate and an average balance transfer of $4,207. TNB serves more than 450 financial institutions.

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iPayment’s Revenue Soar 80% in 4Q/05

Nashville-based iPayment reported fourth quarter revenues of $183 million, an 80% jump over 4Q/04. Net income was $10.7 million for the quarter, up 40% for the fourth quarter of 2004. The Company’s revenue growth for the quarter reflected an increase in charge volume to $6.5 billion from $3.5 billion for 4Q/04. iPayment provides credit and debit card-based payment processing services to approximately 140,000 small U.S. merchants. For complete details on iPayment’s latest results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

Historical iPayment Revenues
4Q/04: $101.4 million
1Q/05: $163.4 million
2Q/05: $181.1 million
3Q/05: $175.2 million
4Q/05: $183.0 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Sheetz Upgrades ATMs and Drops Surcharges

Innovative convenience store chain, Sheetz, announced it will drop the extra surcharge fee charged for using the M&T ATMs deployed in many of its stores, effective March 1st. While Sheetz customers will not have to pay a surcharge fee from M&T, they may still be charged a fee by their own bank for using M&T Bank’s ATM. Sheetz and M&T are also in the process of replacing ATM machines with new advanced feature NCR ATMs. The new touch-screen machines will dispense $10 and $20 bills, along with U.S. Postage Stamps and offer transactions in English and Spanish. The ATMs also will be voice-enabled for the visually impaired. M&T expects to have new machines installed in all Sheetz stores by Fall 2006.

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AmEx Nears 100 Card-Issuing Partnerships

Standard Chartered has officially launched its first American Express card after signing a partnership last August. The new “Standard Chartered American Express Card” offers two reward options, cash-back or points. The “Bonus Points” program offers quadruple points on all purchases. The “Cash Rewards” program offers 1% cash-back on all purchases and up to 8% cash-back for purchases at major supermarkets and department stores in Hong Kong. While there is no card fee there is a $32 annual fee for the rewards program. Cardholders applying by April 30th will receive a first waiver on the fee. Standard Chartered has a global network of over 1,200 branches. American Express has now established nearly 100 card-issuing partnership arrangements in close to 110 countries.

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USA ePay Certifies ExaDigm XD2000 Terminal

ExaDigm’s “XD2000” point-of-sale terminal has received certification from the USA ePay payment gateway. As a retail certified gateway, USA ePay will enable merchants using the XD2000 to process IP transactions through the First Data Nashville, Paymentech and Vital platforms; with USA ePay is currently working on certification on the Global East platform. These merchants will now have access to the most advanced point-of-sale terminal on the market today, as well as to USA ePay’s wide range of value added services, including online reporting, order processing, terminal provisioning and customer management. ExaDigm is a provider of IP wireless, wired and modular point-of-sale (POS) terminal solutions.

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DEC 05 DEBT

Credit card debt passed the A$34 billion milestone in December while
charge volume took off again as energy prices settled down. During the
past twelve months, credit card debt has increased 14% while credit card
volume has been flat. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$30.2
billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards in December
was A$16.2 billion the same as December 2004. Card credit limits reached
A$91.6 billion at the end of December, compared to A$81.6 billion for
December 2004. There are currently 12.5 million credit card and charge
card accounts in Australia, compared to 11.6 million one-year ago.

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Active Account Growth Slows in 2005

The number of active accounts remained sluggish last year. The top three issuers posted a lackluster 2% gain in the number of accounts with posted activity in the fourth quarter. The top three issuers reported nearly 145 million active accounts among a total database of 290 million active accounts according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

2005 ACTIVE ACCOUNTS
BofA: 42 million
Chase: 44 million
Citi: 59 million
TOTAL: 145 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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