Optimal Group’s Q Revenue Triples

Montreal-based Optimal Group announced that revenues for the first quarter were $37.4 million, compared to $10.3 million for 1Q/04.
Underlying earnings from continuing operations before income taxes for
the first quarter were $4.6 million, compared to a loss of $3.4 million in the first quarter of 2004. Compared to the quarter ended December 31, 2004, underlying earnings increased by 10% from $4.2 million. For the second quarter, Optimal anticipates underlying earnings from continuing operations before income taxes to be approximately $5.4 million. Optimal Payments processes credit card payments for Internet businesses, mail-order/telephone-order and retail point-of-sale merchants, as well as processing checks and direct debits online and by phone. For complete details on Optimal’s first quarter performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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Pay By Touch Board Adds 3 Entrepreneurs

Pay By Touch recently announced the addition of Jack Penrod, Arthur J. Petrie and Roy Speer to its board of directors. Penrod began his global investment career in 1983 with Penrod’s Beach Club in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Petrie brings more than 45 years of real estate development and investment experience. He is chairman of Petrie Development Company. Speer is the founder, chairman and CEO of Home Shopping Network. Pay By Touch is a biometric payment service free to consumers to quickly and securely pay for purchases or cash checks using a finger scan.

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MBNA Launches an AmEx Cruise Card

MBNA and American Express have teamed with Celebrity Cruises to launch a co-branded credit card. The new “Celebrity Rewards American Express Card” offers the MBNA “Worldpoints” program, not AmEx’s “Membership Rewards.” Cardholders can redeem points for stateroom upgrades, onboard credits, or a free cruise on Celebrity. Points can also be redeemed for airfare, hotels, cash, and merchandise. Under the program, MBNA is awarding double points for travel and dining purchases until 2006 and double points on all spending with Celebrity Cruises. Otherwise, cardholders earn one point per dollar for all other spending. MBNA, which issues VISA and MasterCards, began issuing AmEx cards in October.

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Payment Data Systems Nails a Big Card Order

Credit Payment Services has ordered 50,000 debit cards from Texas-based Payment Data Systems. Payment Data Systems, Inc., is an integrated payments solution provider to billers and retailers for the processing and management of electronic payments via the Internet, point of sale, or payments taken by Customer Service Representatives or an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and the owner of the electronic bill payment portal Bills.com.

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RBC and Esso Offer Reciprocal Points

Canada’s RBC Royal Bank and Esso have teamed to integrate their rewards programs. Under the agreement, members of both “RBC Rewards” and “Esso Extra” programs will have the ability to transfer blocks of points between each program. “Esso Extra” is the first loyalty program for which RBC Royal Bank developed a reciprocal points exchange process. Esso and RBC Royal Bank began their relationship in 2000 with the launch of the “RBC Esso VISA.”

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Webpay Click & Buy Enters the U.S. Market

Billing Concepts and Switzerland’s Webpay International have formed a joint venture to offer the Webpay “Click & Buy” service for online digital content in the USA. This will combine Billing Concept’s Enabill multi-channel payment system to Webpay’s Click&Buy software solutions for global Internet payments as well as access to its Click&Buy Alliance Network. Billing Concepts, Inc provides telecommunications and network billing services. Webpay International has five million consumers and thirty-five hundred online merchants using Click&Buy in fourteen countries worldwide.

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Americans Buy 10MM FICO Credit Scores

Fair Isaac reported that its myFICO consumer division and its partners have sold the 10 millionth FICO score to U.S. consumers. The myFICO program was introduced in March 2001. In 2002, [myFICO.com][1] introduced the “FICO Score Simulator” and a Web tool matching consumers’ FICO scores with current auto, home equity and mortgage loan rates in their states. In 2003, [myFICO.com][2] launched a three credit bureau score options and myFICO “Identity Theft Security.” Last year, myFICO and Equifax introduced “Score Watch,” the first product to continuously monitor subscribers’ FICO scores and credit files and alert them to changes that could qualify them for better interest rates.

[1]: http://myFICO.com
[2]: http://myFICO.com

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Experian to Acquire LowerMyBills.com

Experian is acquiring LowerMyBills.com for $330 million, plus up to a $50 million on performance-related earn-out over the next two years. LowerMyBills.com offers savings through relationships with more than 400 service providers across 17 service categories including home loans, credit cards, long-distance and wireless services, and auto and health insurance. Experian provides global information solutions to more than 50,000 clients. Annual sales exceed $2.5 billion.

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HSBC and Geant Launch a VISA

The UAE’s first co-branded hypermarket credit card has been launched by HSBC, Geant and VISA. The new “Geant La Carte” offers the “Stars Reward” program, a cash-back feature in the form of Geant shopping vouchers. HSBC Bank Middle East is the largest and most widely represented international bank in the Middle East with 29 branches throughout the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Autonomous Area including an offshore banking unit in Bahrain. Geant hypermarket is a part Groupe Casino, a French retailing giant with a turnover in excess of US$30 billion per annum.

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Diebold Introduces the Next Generation IDM

Diebold has introduced the fifth generation of its “Intelligent Depository Module,” representing a new standard in ATM check-imaging technology. Among the most important advancements are those that enhance security. The module includes a patent-pending, double-detect capability, which prevents the insertion of multiple checks and enhanced magnetic ink detection, reducing the risk of accepting photocopied checks. Diebold, Incorporated is a global leader in providing integrated self-service delivery systems, security and services. Diebold reported revenue of $2.4 billion in 2004.

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EASCIA Forms an Executive Board

The Egyptian Association for Smart Cards Industry & Applications
announced the formation of its executive board under the leadership of Moustafa Samaha. The board includes ten high level members representing the banking sector, industry entrepreneurs and active organizations in the field of smart cards manufacturing, development and promotion. The association will be working closely with banks to implement the worldwide payment card standard (EMV), in line with the Middle-East’s
compliance mandate of January 2006.

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CompuCredit Profits Triple in Q1

Atlanta-based CompuCredit reported that profits for the first quarter nearly tripled over the year-ago period to $49.2 million. The sub-prime specialist says improved credit quality and three newly acquired portfolios have set the firm up for a breakthrough year. Delinquency (60+ days) dropped sharply to 8.7%, compared to 10.4% in the prior quarter, and 10.5% for 1Q/04. Net charge-offs, based on average credit card loans, dropped to 9.2% from 12.0% in 4Q/04, and 15.7% in the first quarter of last year. Total managed receivables for the first quarter were $2,274,329,000, an 8.8% increase compared to one-year ago. As of March 31st, CompuCredit had 3,009,000 accounts, compared to 2,276,000 at the end of 2004. The net interest margin was 20.8% in the first quarter, as compared to 20.2% for the fourth quarter of 2004, and 19.9% one-year ago. In morning trading, CompuCredit’s stock was up 7%, trading near $31 per share. For complete details on CompuCredit’s first quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

COMPUCREDIT NET INCOME SNAPSHOT
1Q/04: $17.7 million
2Q/04: $13.8 million
3Q/04: $37.9 million
4Q/04: $27.0 million
1Q/05: $49.2 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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