Smart Data Offers Real-Time Account Manager

MasterCard has introduced “Smart Data Real-Time Account Manager, offering businesses the ability to manage their accounts in real-time. The new product complements MasterCard’s proprietary Web-based reporting and expense management solutions, “Smart Data Online” and “Smart Data Express.” “Smart Data Real-Time Account Manager” enables administrators and supervisors to view current cardholder account information; modify account credit, velocity and per-transaction limits; look-up and update credit, velocity and dollar limits related to a specific “Merchant Category Code Group”; review and update cardholder demographic information; and check account status and cancel, suspend or reactivate.

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Axalto Introduces Protiva Authentication Product

Axalto has launched a two-factor authentication product suite
for protecting network identities and information. The “Protiva” suite
consists of a range of security devices offering multiple authentication
methods with various form factors. Organizations deploying Protiva can
choose between full-sized smart cards or small cardlets, which are
advanced small microprocessor cards about the size of a postage stamp.
“Protiva”‘s card enablers can be used in either stand-alone or connected
modes. When used in stand-alone mode, the user simply presses a button
on the thumb-sized “Protiva” authentication SCE. The built-in display then shows an eight digit one-time password, which the user enters directly into the remote network application via keyboard, or via a PDA or telephone keypad. When the “Protiva” device is directly connected,
typically via USB, the user network identification credential is sent to
the authenticating server automatically without manual input. In the
connected mode, the “Protiva” solution provides protection against
phishing by detecting fraudulent sites. Axalto is a provider of
microprocessor cards and point-of-sale terminals, with worldwide sales
reaching over 3 billion smart cards to date.

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Americans Use Credit for Extra Fuel Costs

The “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index” has found that 31% of Americans say they are using more credit to pay the higher prices for energy and other consumer goods resulting from Hurricane Katrina. The overall Cambridge Consumer Credit Index fell by three points in October to 62. Use of credit rose slightly in the past month but consumers expect to use less credit in the coming month and six months. The “Reality Gap,” which is the difference between the amount of debt consumers say they will pay off in the next month versus the amount of debt they actually paid off a month later, fell by two points from September to 21 percentage points. A month ago, 80% of Americans planned to pay off debt, while a month later only 59% actually did so. The Cambridge Consumer Credit Index is a forward looking economic indicator gauging consumer spending and debt. It is released on the fifth business day of every month to coincide with the Federal Reserve Board’s G19 release of consumer credit outstanding data.

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BANQUE MISR & JCB

Banque Misr is expanding JCB card acceptance to all its affiliated merchants in stages over the next few years. Banque Misr will be expanding JCB acceptance to Luxor and to Aswan. 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. In 1994, JCB signed a merchant acquiring contract with Arab African International Bank in Cairo. JCB’s merchant network spans 190 countries and territories.

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Cash Bail by Credit Card Works in Illinois

The Cook County (Illinois) Board of Commissioners reports that its “Cash Bail by Credit Card” program has generated 582 credit card transactions and more than $1.1 million in the first 101 days of the program. The program will help alleviate the problem of jail overcrowding; leading to significant cost savings for the county. Detainees or their friends or family will be able to use credit cards to pay bail by calling Government Payment Service toll-free, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. All major credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted. Multiple cards may be used to make a payment if an entire fee cannot be placed on one card. Government Payment Service has more than 900 accounts across the country.

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Optimal Earnings to Top $10.6MM in Q3

Optimal Group announced that it is increasing its financial
guidance for the third quarter. Its underlying earnings before
income taxes and non-controlling interest will be in excess of $10.6
million for the quarter. Optimal’s original guidance for this period was
for underlying earnings before income taxes and non-controlling interest
to be approximately $9.8 million. The revised guidance does not reflect any financial impact from Optimal’s recently announced acquisition of a portfolio of U.S. merchant processing contracts and associated sales channel contracts from Moneris Solutions.

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Corp Card Usage Poised for Robust Growth

Half of corporate cash management professionals plan to increase their use of corporate payment cards this year, compared to 40% one-year ago. According to VISA USA’s annual cash management survey, 56% plan to reduce use of checks, compared to 51% last year. VISA also found that satisfaction with card-based payments has increased to 77% from 70% last year, and preference for ACH payments appears to be declining. Respondents reporting use of ACH for commercial payments has significantly dropped 20 percentage points to 35% in 2005. The “VISA Cash Management Survey” was conducted by Survey.com over 10 days in August and September and included responses of 410 financial executives and cash managers from across more than 20 industries.

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MLA and AHA and ARA Endorse Heartland

The Massachusetts Lodging Association has selected Heartland Payment Systems as their preferred provider to process members’ credit/debit cards, and the Alabama Hospitality Association and Alabama Restaurant Association have selected HPS as their preferred provider to process their credit/debit cards. The Heartland partnerships offers members local, statewide representation from an established company that focuses on credit/debit card and payroll processing services, including special association pricing to help streamline their operations. Additionally, HPS offers gift card programs to help merchants increase sales and generate repeat traffic and offers a simple pricing plan to association members called Association Simplified Pricing (ASP). Heartland Payment Systems Inc. provides credit/debit card processing, payroll solutions, gift and loyalty card programs, paper check authorization, and sells and rents point-of-sale devices and supplies to more than 100,000 small to medium-sized merchants throughout the United States.

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Kountz Heads to the Evans/Schmalensee Group

Massachusetts-based Market Platform Dynamics has hired Ed Kountz, former senior member of TowerGroup’s Bank Cards Group, as a Principal. Kountz’s has demonstrated expertise in the areas of credit and debit products, bank card processing and technology assessment, and new electronic payment technologies and instruments, including contactless radio frequency (RF) technologies, the Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) standard, chip-based products, and prepaid payments and is a recognized authority on the industry’s technologies, architectures, and business models. Market Platform Dynamics (MPD) is a management consulting firm with payment industry experience. Core competencies include entry and growth strategies, demand studies, customer segmentation/analysis, and pricing and product design.

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BofA Rounds Up Debit Tx for Savings

Bank of American has rolled-out a unique program that rounds up debit card transactions and funnels the difference to a savings account. The new Bank of America “Keep the Change” option will automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest whole dollar and transfer the money from the customer’s checking account into their savings account at the end of the day. In addition, BofA will match 100% of the “Keep the Change” transfers for the first three months. After that the bank will contribute five percent a year. The maximum match is $250 annually. The bank pays the rewards annually.

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IRN Offers Free Hypercom T7Plus Terminals

New York-based IRN Payment Systems has become the first organization to adopt a Hypercom product for a free terminal program and named Hypercom as its preferred terminal vendor. Hypercom’s T7Plus is a compact countertop POS terminal that accepts all magnetic stripe cards, authorizes online transactions and provides “One-Touch” shortcut keys. The T7Plus units will be configured to support credit, debit, EBT, gift card and loyalty card transactions as well as IRN’s proprietary Paid On Signing 9-second real-time check debit processing solution. IRN expects to purchase the terminals over the next 12 months for free placement in merchant locations by its ISO partners. IRN Payment Systems provides electronic payment processing solutions to businesses. Hypercom provides card payment terminals, network access devices, server and transaction networking solutions.

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Groupe Caisse d’Epargne to Offer GemLucence Cards

Gemplus International announced that it has delivered limited
edition “GemLucence” cards to the French bank Groupe Caisse d’Epargne.
The volume roll-out of the translucent payments cards, which began in
September, is a first for the French market as well as for Gemplus.
The “GemLucence” card has a mandarin tinted transparent card body and is
been specifically designed to appeal to the youth market. It has a
limited production of 100,000 units. Gemplus International is a
global provider to the smart card industry in both revenue and total
shipments, selling over 5 billion smart cards. Gemplus’ revenue in 2004
was 865 million Euros.

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