Bankruptcy Reform Gets its Best Chance Ever

As expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12 to 5 to approve the “S.256” bankruptcy reform legislation yesterday. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the bill’s sponsor, predicted a final vote of 80 to 20 in the full Senate. Debate by the full Senate will begin in 10 days. Three of eight Democrats on the committee voted yesterday to approve the legislation. Last week was the 11th Senate hearing since 1998 on the bill and the Senate Judiciary Committee has taken no action on it since 2001. Sen. Grassley first held a hearing in the Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee in April 1997. Grassley said yesterday that it’s important to keep poison pill amendments off the bill or reopening issues or disrupting bipartisan compromises that have been reached with the House.

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Interac to Migrate to Chip for Shared Services

Interac has decided to migrate to chip technology for the delivery of “Interac Direct Payment,” the country’s national debit card
service and “Interac Shared Cash Dispensing Service” for cash withdrawals at ATMs. Plans call for the first chip transaction to take
place in early 2007. Interac Association has been implementing a chip readiness strategy, focusing on the business and technical requirements necessary for chip migration, for the past three years. The complete migration to chip is expected to take several years. The Interac Association is a not-for-profit organization composed of 95 members.

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First Data Lands a Natl Restaurant Assn Deal

First Data has inked a deal with the National Restaurant Association to launch the “TakeCharge” payment program, offering exclusive rates for credit card processing to small and mid-size merchants in addition to national chains. TakeCharge reflects the results of a comprehensive development and thorough selection process by the National Restaurant Association, with recommendations and reviews by two committees of the Association’s Board of Directors, and an organization representing all the state restaurant associations. The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 900,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 12.2 million employees – making it the cornerstone of the economy, career opportunities and community involvement. First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC), with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy.

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NBAD Deploys CardTech’s PRIME Card

National Bank of Abu Dhabi has signed a contract to migrate to Card Tech Limited’s “PRIME 3.0” card and merchant management system.
NBAD chose “PRIME 3.0” as its platform for future growth. The suite of systems now runs on the “Oracle 9i” database. National Bank of Abu Dhabi and CTL share a long history together, dating back to 1993. CTL implemented NBAD’s “VISA’s Smart Debit/Credit” program, as the first bank in the Gulf to be “VSDC Issuer” and “VSDC Acquirer” compliant.
More than 170 banking clients from 70 countries use CTL systems. National Bank of Abu Dhabi has the largest ATM network in the UAE.

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Credit Card Purchase Volume Rises 9% in Q4

Purchase transaction dollar volume on VISA and MasterCard credit cards increased 9.3% in the fourth quarter, versus a 17.9% gain for VISA and MasterCard debit cards. During 4Q/04, Americans charged purchases of $283.8 billion on VISA and MasterCard credit cards, and $125.8 billion on VISA and MasterCard signature debit cards. Overall, gross dollar credit card volume for the quarter, which includes cash advances, increased 8.3% to $342.1 billion. The number of credit card transactions rose 9.0% to 3.45 billion. At the end of 2004, there were 433.1 credit card accounts, versus 420.1 million one-year ago. The number of credit cards-in-force rose a mere 1.9% to 566.8 million. MasterCard continues to hold the lead in total credit card accounts with 217.6 million versus VISA’s 215.5 million, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

VISA & MASTERCARD CREDIT CARD STATS
4Q/04 4Q/03 CHANGE
Gross Volume: $342.1b $315.8b +8.3%
Purchase Volume: $283.8b $259.6b +9.3%
Transactions: 3449mm 3165mm +9.0%
Accounts: 433.1mm 420.1mm +3.1%
Cards: 566.8mm 556.3mm +1.9%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Shenzhen Government Approves Asia Pay License

Asia Payment Systems announced that the Shenzhen Municipal Government has approved a Representative Office License for Asia
Payment Systems. Shenzhen is one of the most prosperous and modern cities in China and became the country’s first “Special Economic Zone” in 1980. Asia Pay is a credit card processing services company that provides growing network of credit card clearing services to merchants and financial institutions in China and other markets.

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Gemplus Launches Smart Identity Management Systems

Gemplus International has launched “SafesITe Enterprise” and “SafesITe Corporate,” two new smart identity management systems for large enterprises and growing corporations based in North America.
The two systems are based-on Gemplus’s global smart card-based identity
management solution suite, “SafesITe,” and combine network and building access control on a single, smart badge for enablement of two-factor authentication and the consolidation of security infrastructures.
Beyond building and network access, “SafesITe Enterprise” also
manages applications for parking, vending, medical, and cafeteria payments.

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Global Axcess to Manage NM ATM Program

NM-based Valley National Bank has signed agreements with Global Axcess for the outsourced management of their in-branch ATMs and to acquire exclusive marketing rights to eight Global ATMs. In addition, Valley National Bank will have exclusive marketing rights on eight Global Axcess ATMs throughout their market area under Global Axcess’ Branded Cash Program, providing more convenient services and surcharge-free ATM transactions for their bank customers. Global Axcess Corp. was founded in 2001 with a mission to emerge as one of the nation’s leading network-based electronic commerce and transaction processing companies.

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Card Balances Top $30B as Dec Volume Tops $16B

Total credit card balances exceeded A$30 billion for first time during December. Also, gross dollar volume for purchases on credit card and charge cards in December soared by more than 17% from the prior month. Over the past twelve months, credit card balances have increased more than 14%. Based on historical data from the Reserve Bank of Australia, revolving balances topped $A20 billion for the first time during December. The latest data show that revolving balances increased to A$20,224,000,000 during December, up 12% from one-year ago. During December, Australians charged A$15.1 billion in purchases on credit/charge cards compared to A$13.7 billion one-year ago. At the end of December, consumers owed A$30.2 billion on credit cards versus A$26.5 billion for December 2003. Card credit limits reached A$78.0 billion at the end of December, compared to A$69.4 billion for December 2003. There are 11.6 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 10.9 million one-year ago.

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MasterCard Jazzes-Up its World MasterCard

MasterCard has added more flexibility and customization options to its “World MasterCard” card program. Currently, there are more than 10 major issuers offering World MasterCard to cardholders in the U.S., giving them the opportunity to use their World MasterCard card at more than 24 million locations around the world. MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. Juniper, a member of the Barclays Group, is a leading U.S. credit card issuer.

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Small Ticket Volume Soars Nearly 50% in 04

While many merchants shun payment card transactions of $10 or less, small ticket credit/debit card purchases have grown by a factor of more than six times this decade. Last year, Americans racked up more than $35 billion in small ticket purchases, led by quick service restaurant credit/debit card purchases. Between 2003 and 2004, small ticket sales increased nearly 50% from $23.7 billion. Fast food sales in 2004 hit $22.5 billion, wherein the average ticket hovers around $11 per transaction. Credit/debit card sales of transactions that $5 or less, grew from $10.8 billion to $13.5 billion last year.

<$10 Card Transactions Historical 2000: $ 5.7 billion 2001: $ 9.7 billion 2002: $14.0 billion 2003: $23.7 billion 2004: $35.5 billion Source: CardData Diamond (www.carddata.com)

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