Authorize.Net is Lynk Certified

Lightbridge’s Authorize.Net has certified its IP payment gateway on Lynk’s processing platform. Authorize.Net will now be available to Lynk’s merchant customers including financial institutions and Independent Sales Organizations. Authorize.Net is a provider of secure and reliable Internet Protocol based payment gateway solutions that allow merchants to authorize, settle, and manage electronic transactions anytime, anywhere. Lightbridge Inc. is an analytics, decisioning, and e-commerce company trusted by businesses to manage their customer transactions. Lynk provides electronic payment processing services such as credit, debit, EBT, gift cards, customer loyalty cards, checks, and more.

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Sig Debit GDV Up 17% but Growth Slows Y/Y

While there is strong growth in purchase dollar volume for off-line or signature debit cards year-on-year, it ramped down a bit to 16% in the third quarter, compared to 20% in the second quarter, and 22% in the first quarter. VISA and MasterCard off-line debit cards racked up gross dollar volume of $174.3 billion in the third quarter, a 17% gain over 3Q/03. The number of signature debit accounts and cards maintained an annual growth rate of 11%. During the third quarter, VISA and MasterCard processed $115.0 billion in purchase volume, compared to $99.4 billion one-year ago. Gross transactions for the third quarter increased 16% to 3.6 billion. At the end of the third quarter, there were 214.8 million VISA- and MasterCard- branded signature debit cards in circulation in the USA, linked to 169.2 million accounts, according to CardData. Based on gross dollar volume, VISA’s share of the off-line debit card market is a solid 79%. For complete current and historical statistics on the U.S. debit card market visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

U.S. SIGNATURE DEBIT SNAPSHOT
3Q/03 3Q/04 Y/Y CHANGE
Gross Volume $148.9b $174.3b +17%
Purchase Volume $ 99.4b $115.0b +16%
Gross Transactions 3.11b 3.60b +16%
Total Accounts 152.7mm 169.2mm +11%
Total Cards 193.6mm 214.8mm +11%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Merrick Bank to Issue Morgan Beaumont Cards

FL-based Morgan Beaumont has signed a service agreement with Merrick Bank to issue stored value and debit cards. The agreement will enable Merrick Bank to offer financial programs in a retail environment and will enable Morgan Beaumont to obtain a Third Party Processor license with MasterCard. Morgan Beaumont is a chief provider of Stored Value and Debit Card Solutions designed for the sub-prime financial markets in the U.S. Merrick Bank offers credit programs that help consumers establish or rebuild their credit rating. The bank serves more than 550,000 cardholders and has roughly $500 million in assets.

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CO-OP Network Adds a New Board Member

The CO-OP Network has added Douglas Allman, president and CEO of NASA FCU to its Board. Mr. Allman served as president and CEO of NASA FCU for 13 years. He helped it become the fifth largest credit union in Maryland with nearly 70,000 members and over $700 million in assets. Allman is currently Chairman of the Board for the Credit Union Mortgage Association as well as on the Supervisory Committee of EasCorp. He also holds board positions with the Goddard Alliance and CU Realty of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. He formerly served as board director of the STAR ATM network and as a member of numerous National Association of Federal Credit Union committees. CO-OP Network is the top credit union EFT network in the U.S. financial services industry with over 1,700 credit union members, 19,000 surcharge-free ATMs, 80 million monthly transactions, and 19 million cardholders.

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Cendant Plans to Take Wright Express Public

Cendant’s Wright Express has filed for a March IPO to sell 100% of Cendant’s ownership interest in a planned initial public offering. Wright Express will not obtain any of the proceeds from the offering unless the over-allotment option by the underwriters is exercised. Joint book-running managers of the offering include JPMorgan, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Merrill Lynch & Co. The offering is scheduled for March 2005. Wright Express provides payment processing and information management services to the U.S. commercial and government vehicle fleet industry.

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Delta’s SkyMiles Joins Points International

Toronto-based Points International has signed an agreement with Delta Air Lines’ “SkyMiles” program. Points.com Business Solutions technology now powers the online transfer of miles between “SkyMiles” program member accounts. Delta has participated in the Points.com program since December 2001. Points.com has attracted over 40 major reward programs, including eBay (Anything Points), American Airlines (the AAdvantage program), InterContinental Hotels (Priority Club Rewards), and Starbucks.

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Laura Secord Launches an Ernex Gift Card

Vancouver-based Ernex has assisted specialty retailer Laura
Secord in launching a gift card program. Laura Secord has 160 locations in Canada where the gift cards will be available for purchase. The Company selected Ernex as its gift card program vendor in August because of Ernex’s ability to launch the program in time for the holiday season.
Ernex is a division of Moneris Solutions Corporation.

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ATM Fraud to Drive Smart Card Migration

A new white paper suggests that growing ATM fraud could accelerate the U.S. conversion to the smart card. London-based Level Four says the actual cost of ATM fraud, including administrative costs, in the U.S. is approaching $200 million a year and is rapidly increasing. Level Four argues that fraud migration will quickly become apparent as North America’s more immediate neighbors, such as Latin America and Canada, migrate to the EMV standard. EMV becomes standard from January 2005 in Western Europe and some countries in Asia Pacific, and from January 2006 for the rest of Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Canada.

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SEP 04 DEBT

Credit card outstandings rose a mere GBP 134 million during September
to bring total outstandings to GBP 56.8 billion, the second smallest
increase over the past year. In the prior month, credit card
outstandings increased GDP 600 million. Total net lending to consumers
for September hit GBP 133.7 billion, an increase of GBP 1.4 billion over
August. Overall, consumer credit grew by GBP 1.6 billion or 0.9% in
September, seasonally adjusted, GBP 0.3 billion weaker than the
increase in August. The three-month (annualized) growth rate fell to
12.4% from 14.0% in August while the twelve-month growth rate fell to
11.9% from 12.0% in August. Gross advances were GBP 18.6 billion,
slightly above the average of GBP 18.5 billion three months to August.
The Bank of England has maintained its benchmark interest rate at 4.75%.

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Rahaxi Processing Oy and SEB Kort Partner

Helsinki-based FreeStar Technology announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Rahaxi Processing Oy and SEB Kort AB has signed an agreement that allows Rahaxi to expand its merchant acquiring capabilities. Through “Euroline,” Rahaxi will now be able to offer new and existing merchants with businesses in more than one country, one agreement whereby they can acquire transactions from all the countries in which they operate. Rahaxi, by entering into this new agreement, enhances its ability to increment the number of transactions by expanding the territory in which it can acquire merchants. FreeStar currently processes approximately 1,000,000 card payments per month for an established client base that comprises companies such as Finnair, Ikea and Stockman.

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2004 Payment Card Retail Sales Volume to Climb 6%+

Retail sales volume on payment cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day should approach $108 billion, approximately 6.2% more than 2003. During the 29-day shopping period, Americans are expected to charge $70.5 billion on general-purpose credit/charge cards, $21.3 billion on signature debit cards, and $15.9 billion on limited-purpose store credit cards. The figures exclude groceries, gasoline, and travel related charges. The “Black Friday” weekend (Nov 26-28) should bring the most activity as retailers are expected to tally up retail sales of $11.9 billion on VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit cards, $2.8 billion on VISA and MasterCard debit cards, and $2.7 billion on store credit cards. The busiest full week is expected to be December 13-19 when Americans should charge more than $27 billion of retail sales on payment cards, or roughly one-fourth of the total sales anticipated during the holiday season. The NRF expects total retail sales for November and December to hit $220 billion, up 4.5% from the prior year.

2004 Holiday Retail Sales on Payment Cards
Shopping Period CARD TYPE TOTAL
($ billions) Credit Debit Store
Nov 26-28: $11.9 $2.8 $2.7 $17.4
Nov 29-Dec 5: $14.5 $4.1 $3.2 $21.8
Dec 6-12: $16.2 $5.3 $3.7 $25.2
Dec 13-19: $17.3 $6.0 $3.9 $27.2
Dec 20-24: $10.6 $3.1 $2.4 $16.1
TOTAL: $70.5 $21.3 $15.9 $107.7
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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VISA Holds its First Vietnam Acquirer Forum

VISA International held its first ever “Acquirer Forum” in Ho Chi Minh
City attended by more than 50 delegates from 29 banks in the country.
Vietnam accounts for a mere 2% of the 500,000 VISA merchants in
Southeast Asia. There is an acceptance network of 10,000 merchants
compared to other emerging economies in Asia, such as India (154,000
merchants), Thailand (143,000) and Indonesia (74,000). Official
statistics estimate that total tourism income for Vietnam in
2003 was around VND 20,000 billion. Visa delivered around 15 percent of
the total tourism income, with international Visa cardholders spending
2,927billion VND (US$186 million).

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