Data Security Concerns Outweigh Terroris

A global survey of consumer attitudes shows that data security is the biggest concern among consumers today. The research, conducted by Harris Interactive for VISA International, revealed that data security issues surpassed environmental degradation, terrorism, job loss, disease or epidemics and natural disasters. About 47% of those polled believe the protection of personal and financial data to be an international issue. The research also found that 63% of consumers say they are more careful when disposing of financial statements; 50% look at the privacy policies of companies with which they do business; 62% of online shoppers are more discriminate about the sites at which they make purchases; and 24% report shopping less online and 26% less via the telephone.

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Global Links Card Services Goes Public

Las Vegas-based Global Links Card Services has now become a public entity d/b/a PTS Card Solutions. All of PTS Inc.’s operations in the marketing and distribution of stored value cards, currently conducted through its wholly owned subsidiary, Global Links Card Services Inc. (GLCS), will be transferred to this new entity, PTCD. PTS Card Solutions expects to raise funds for marketing, and sales of stored valued prepaid debit cards through the sale of its common stock. PTS Inc. will retain controlling interest in PTS Card Solutions Inc.

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ADS Renews Canada Safeway for AIR MILES

Canada Safeway has signed a multi-year renewal agreement as a “Sponsor” in Alliance Data’s Canadian “AIR MILES Reward Program”. The AIR MILES Reward Program is Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. More than 70 percent of Canadian households, representing more than 15.4 million Canadians, actively collect AIR MILES reward miles at more than 100 leading brand-name Sponsors representing more than 14,000 retail and service locations across Canada. AIR MILES reward miles can be redeemed for more than 800 different rewards, such as travel, movie passes, entertainment attractions, electronic merchandise and more. Alliance Data is a leading provider of transaction, credit and marketing services. Canada Safeway operates 219 stores and had annual sales of $35.8 billion in 2004.

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ID Theft Tops Fraud Complaints in 2005

The Federal Trade Commission reports it processed 255,000 complaints regarding identity theft last year. Identity theft complaints represented 37% of the 686,683 complaints filed in 2005. Credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud and employment fraud. The most frequently reported type of identity theft bank fraud was electronic funds transfers. Internet-related complaints accounted for 46% of all fraud complaints. The percent of Internet-related fraud complaints with wire transfer as the reported payment method more than tripled between 2003 and 2005.

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U.S. Consumers Repulsed at POS Fees

A new study has determined that 62% of American adults would abandon their purchase if charged a check out fee for using a debit or credit card. Eighty-two percent of those who reported being surcharged were charged check out fees in the past year. And, 62% percent of those who have been surcharged said getting hit with the fee gave them a negative impression of the retailer. The survey was conducted by the Americans for Consumer Education and Competition. ACEC says less than 20 states have laws that ban merchants from charging consumers check out fees when they pay with a credit or debit card.

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Russian Post to Offer Western Union Money Transfer

Western Union has entered into an agreement with Russian national postal
operator Federal State Unitary Enterprise, known as “Russian Post,” to
provide international money transfer services. The agreement offers
Western Union’s Russian customers a substantial
benefit and convenient access to Western Union’s Money Transfer
services, while Russian Post will increase its geography of
international money transfers from CIS and Baltic countries to the
entire Western Union worldwide network. Russian Post is the national
postal operator and leader in the Russian
intra money transfer market with more than 40,000 outlets. Through this
agreement, Western Union Money Transfer Services will be available in up
to 2,500 post office outlets across Russia serving both rural and urban
populations.

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GECF Forms Strategic Alliance with Cosmos Bank

GE Consumer Finance has agreed to make a strategic investment in Cosmos
Bank. Under the agreement, GE Consumer Finance will acquire a 10% stake
in Cosmos through a share subscription of 197 million common shares, at
an aggregate price of $86 million. GE Consumer Finance will retain
rights to increase its total stake in Cosmos to 24.9% at a later point
through a convertible bond structure. Cosmos Bank is a pioneer of the
cash card product in Taiwan and a leading provider of consumer finance
products. Cosmos Bank has assets of $8.7 billion. GE Consumer Finance
has more than $163 billion in assets.

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Americans Are Cash-Strapped Consumers

A new survey by ACNielsen has found that the United States and Portugal have the most cash-strapped consumers. About 22% of U.S. respondents said that once they have covered their essential living expenses, they have no money left over. While the U.S. may have the highest percentage of consumers with no spare cash, this number has dropped 6 percentage points since the last ACNielsen survey in May 2005. The improvement dovetails with other signs that U.S. consumers are trying to improve their financial situation. For example, of U.S. consumers who do have spare cash, their first priority for that money is debt repayment (42%). This number has increased nine percentage points since October 2004.

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Voyager Fleet Card Teams with QuikTrip

U.S. Bank Voyager Fleet Systems has entered into an arrangement with QuikTrip to provide customers with the ability to purchase fuel at all 461 QuikTrip locations in nine states. The service complements an existing partnership that QuikTrip has with U.S. Bank, in which U.S. Bank ATMs are available in St. Louis area QuikTrip locations. U.S. Bank Voyager Fleet Systems is a leading provider of the universal fleet fueling and maintenance card for over 1.6 million vehicles and is a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp with assets in excess of $209 billion.

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Samsung S1 Joins VISA’s Smart Card Program

Samsung S1 Corporation has joined VISA’s “Smart Breakthrough” (VSB) card
program, an initiative by VISA International designed to help chip
suppliers market their VISA-approved chip/OS packages to
Visa-approved card manufacturers. S1 aims to provide new opportunities
for VISA members in reducing costs, improving efficiencies and boosting
the adoption of chip technology. A key step that S1 has taken is the
development of a smart card priced at US 89 cents last year, the lowest
in the industry. The newly developed TiEx-8J is a Java-based chip card
that is EMV compliant, can store up to 10 bank accounts-worth of
information and includes the functionality of both
credit and debit cards. Samsung S1 Corporation offers total security
solutions, smart card and RFID products.

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AutoMart Signs MOU with Bank of China

Beijing Sino-US Jinche Yingang Auto Technological Services (“AutoMart”), the premier automobile after service company in Beijing,
China, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Beijing branch of the Bank of China. Under the MOU, AutoMart and the
Bank of China will jointly issue a bank
united name card, which is a combination club membership card/credit
card. The card serves two purposes: it allows holders to receive
preferential treatment at AutoMart repair centers, and it enables
customers to actually utilize credit. By making credit cards available
to its customers with the backing of Bank of China, AutoMart provides a
funding mechanism for the customers to more regularly inspect and repair
their cars. Lack of funds has historically been the reason that most
customers have resisted repairing their cars as often as they need to.

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