Banque Misr Expands JCB Card Acceptance

JCB has announced that Banque Misr will begin expanding JCB card
acceptance to all its affiliated merchants in stages over the next few
years. Banque Misr has 11,000 merchants covering 60%
of international brand card accepting merchants in Egypt, including
hotels, restaurants and other locations frequently visited by tourists.
Banque Misr is currently holding equities in 135 projects in various
fields, aimed at serving the national economy and has also established
two of the largest investment funds in Egypt. JCB is an international
credit card brand and the largest card issuer and acquirer in Japan. Its
merchant network includes 12.4 million merchants and spans 190 countries
and territories.

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Gift Card Spending to Rise 11% in Q4

Americans expect to spend an average of $248 on gift cards during the upcoming holiday season, an increase from $223 in 2004 and $183 in 2003. A new survey shows that 70% have either purchased or received a gift card and of the 30% who have not, one-quarter say they are likely to make a first purchase this holiday season. The annual survey, conducted by Stored Value Systems, also found that on average, the number of cards purchased in the past year has increased from 4.5 to 6.5. The average value of gift cards purchased in the past year is $40, a fairly steady level for the past three years. Additionally, among those who have received gift cards, almost three-quarters use their cards up completely. More than 80% discard it when its value is depleted. One-third of gift card recipients redeem the entire value of the card within one month of receipt. All but about 6% have redeemed it after one year. Louisville-based Stored Value Systems introduced the first-ever magnetic-striped retail gift card in 1995.

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Navy FCU Loans & Volume Up 18%+ in Q3

The nation’s largest credit union bank credit card issuer is fast approaching the $2 billion milestone in outstandings, posting $1.94 billion in the third quarter. VA-based Navy FCU, ranked #21 among all U.S. issuers, also reported that 3Q/05 volume rose more than 19% to $1.19 billion. As of September 30th, Navy FCU had 1,072,024 accounts, compared to 1,038,601 in the prior quarter, and 951,036 accounts one-year ago. (Navy FCU passed the one million account mark in the first quarter of this year.) The number of active accounts also increased sequentially and year-over-year to 562,140. The number of cardholders remained above 1.1 million for the quarter. The credit union issues “Classic,” “Gold,” and “Platinum” VISA and MasterCards, as well as the “nRewards” VISA and MasterCard, “TravelValue” VISA, “Student” VISA card, and a “Secured” VISA and MasterCard. For complete details on Navy FCU’s third quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

NAVY ACCOUNT HISTORICAL
2001: 769,181
2002: 761,180
2003: 836,642
2004: 951,036
2005: 1,072,024
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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EFMARK Expands its ATM Services Network

EFMARK Premium Armored has expanded its geographic footprint, adding 11 new branches to its network, bringing the company-wide total to 57 full-service branches serving 42 states. The independent ATM services company provides service to more than 50,000 ATMs for approximately 1,600 customers. Last week, EFMARK Premium Armored launched its “ATM Image Guard” service, which adds exterior maintenance and refurbishment to its ATM capabilities. The Company surpassed the 50,000 ATM milestone in May.(CF Library 6/1/05; 10/7/05)

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First Data Supports the 4×1 Program

First Data Corporation has joined a pioneering initiative, the “4×1
Program”, to help fund development projects in Mexican communities that
experience high levels of migration and poverty. As the first
private-sector company to participate, First Data will contribute $1.25
million to the program. The “4×1 Program” builds on the
success of Mexico’s current “3×1 program,” in which each government
jurisdiction (local, state and federal) matches remittances made by
U.S.-based Mexican hometown associations to communities in
Mexico. With FDC’s contribution, the “4×1 Program” has the
potential to leverage $5 million in funding for development projects in
Mexico. The “4×1 Program” evolved from remittances made by HTAs of Mexicans living in the U.S. to their families and communities in Mexico. Today there are roughly 500 HTAs located in 31 states in the USA, most organized as non-profit 501(c)3 organizations under IRS tax code.

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GreenZap Builds a Real-Time Gateway

San Diego-based GreenZap says it is building a proprietary payment gateway with the objective of performing real-time authorization for a variety of transaction types to best PayPal. GreenZap contracted with DataBlox Transaction Services to build a multi-faceted switch and expects completion by first quarter 2006. GreenZap enables any business or consumer with an email address to send and receive monetary payments securely and cost-effectively online.

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VisaNet Gets $31 Million in Upgrades

VISA has upgraded its “VisaNet” to enable issuers to manage their consumer credit card portfolios at the individual account level. VISA has also introduced the ability to provide real-time substantiation of qualified, over-the-counter medical expense purchases made with a VISA employee benefit debit card. More than 1.5 million lines of code were involved in the change at VISA’s five global data centers. For the latest round of updates, VISA has invested more than $31 million related to 32 discrete projects, involving nearly 280,000 hours of work by programmers, testers, analysts, designers and managers who spent the last 12 months preparing for the release. The recent upgrade also involved the global implementation of “Visa Resolve Online,” which streamlines the process of handling disputed transactions.

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Euronet Acquires Piraeus’ Instreamline

Euronet EFT Services Hellas EPE has acquired Instreamline, a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Piraeus Bank, the third largest private bank
in Greece. Instreamline provides credit card and point-of-sale
outsourcing services in addition to debit card and transaction
gateway switching services to Piraeus Bank Group. As part of the
agreement, Instreamline has signed an exclusive eight-year agreement
with Piraeus Bank to provide credit card and POS outsourcing and other
value-added services to the Bank in Greece and its affiliates. Euronet
also acquired Instreamline’s shared POS network in Greece and its
related host-to-host connections to five prominent banks in that
country.

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Phishing Sites Set a New Record in Aug

The Anti-Phishing Working Group’s August 2005 phishing report shows that for the second month in a row, the number of phishing reports received of new campaigns declined – while at the same time, the number of new phishing sites reached an all-time high of 5,259, a substantial increase over the 4,564 reported in July. The August report shows indications that defenses organized by victimized brandholders may be working to the extent that phishers are forced to employ greater resources to mount the same number of attacks. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) was formed in 2003 to fight identity theft and email spoofing on the Internet with around 2,000 members from more than 1300 financial services firms, ISPs, security vendors, law enforcement agencies, law courts, regulatory agencies and consumer groups from around the world.

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China UnionPay Awards AT&T IP VPN Contract

China UnionPay has awarded AT&T a contract to provide an Internet
Protocol Virtual Private Network, integrating CUP Hong
Kong with offices in major cities in Europe, North America and across
the Asia Pacific region. In preparation for intense competition from
well-known global credit card providers after China opens its bankcard
sectors to foreign players in 2007, CUP has embarked on aggressive
expansion plans to develop a worldwide acceptance network by the end of
2006. The contract between CUP and AT&T will provide CUP cardholders
with safe and secure payment services when they are abroad.
Since its launch in 2002, CUP has issued more than 800 million
cards that are already accepted in Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Korea
and Thailand. As the only national card brand serving China’s population
of more than 1.3 billion, and fast growing economy, CUP anticipates
exponential growth in demand for its card services both at home and abroad.

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Egg Finds Brits Oblivious to Card Spending

Research by Egg Money, the UK’s first ever dedicated spending account,
shows that British consumers are unaware of how much they spend each
month on plastic, believing they spend over GBP 350 a month less than they
actually do. This lack of understanding means Britons spend over GBP 200
billion a year on their cards of which they are unaware. One in two claim to
be unsure how much they spend on cards, believing they spend just GBP 418 a
month. Actual industry figures show average amount much higher at GBP 775
a month or about GBP 17 billion more. Consumers believe they spend GBP 236
billion a year on plastic when real amount is actually GBP 437 billion
The lack of awareness appears to be due to the fact there are
so many different ways that consumers can now pay for goods and
services. As a result many consumers are oblivious to the frequency and
cost of the different forms of card spending which leave their accounts
at different times through the month.

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Gift Certificates Lead Reward Redemptions

Most Americans redeem their credit card reward points for gift cards or certificates to use at electronics stores. A recent analysis also showed that nearly two-thirds of those redeeming for in-kind rewards opt for cash-back instead of a lower APR or statement credit. The study by St. Louis-based Maritz Loyalty Marketing revealed that 57% of loyalty reward card customers redeem for gift certificates, while 37% redeem for in-kind rewards (of in-kind redemptions, 62% preferred cash-back). Other findings: 2.7% redeem for travel and 2.6% redeem for merchandise. Electronics received approximately 40% of the overall redemptions in the merchandise category. Furthermore, redemptions for Best Buy gift certificates moved ahead of Home Depot in popularity among loyalty rewards card customers as compared to the previous year’s redemptions. Maritz runs credit card consumer loyalty programs for nine of the top 10 U.S. banks.

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