Card Bond Issuance Could Top $73 Billion

Credit card asset-backed security issuance could reach a record $73 billion this year, a 7% increase over the total issuance of $68 billion in 2003. According to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services’ recent survey of top U.S. credit card ABS issuers, the growth will be driven by $57 billion of expected refinancing opportunities associated with maturing transactions, and the possibility of incremental securitization from some of the major third-party processors. S&P says it is encouraged by how well these deals are performing, especially those in the prime segment. Prime credit card ABS transactions improved during the second half of 2003, performing as expected with no rating actions. In fact, the average loss rate for the Standard & Poor’s “Credit Card Quality Index” for the three-month period ending in November was 6.9%. This is 60 basis points below the 7.5% loss rate experienced from March to May in 2003, which represented the highest three-month average that year. The trend in the CCQI loss and delinquency rates appeared to peak during early 2003, averaging 7.4% and 5.3%, respectively, for the first six months, compared with 7.0% and 5.2% for the last five months reported.

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UAL Unwraps the Ameniti Card for the Public

United Airlines officially launched its new “Ameniti” card yesterday and announced a major partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts offering cardmembers complimentary room upgrades and automatic “Gold Status” in Starwood Hotels’ “Preferred Guest” loyalty program. To enjoy all of the benefits Ameniti has to offer, members pay an introductory charter membership fee of $295 per year. United and United Express operate more than 3,400 flights a day on a route network that spans the globe. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 740 properties in more than 80 countries and 105,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.

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Insta-Check and BankServ Check Services Merge

Insta-Check and BankServ Check Services have formed a new combined company. EnCircle will offer a full suite of programs, including electronic check conversion, verification, guarantee, collections, RCK, consolidated returns, check imaging, and administrative returns handling. Additionally, EnCircle will offer “ARC” and “TEL” to “VISA POS Check” customers. The Company will leverage over 25 years of experience, technology and operating infrastructure. EnCircle’s top management team represents over 100 years of combined experience in national check acceptance services.

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Spantel Communications Enters $300 Million Pre-Paid Calling Card Market

Fuengirola-based Spantel Communications is moving into the pre-paid calling card market. The Company will introduce its first card product on February 2nd.
The pre-paid calling card market in Spain is estimated to be in range of US$300 million. The Company says it recently installed the equipment to route the calls for this division and have made the necessary adjustments so it would be compatible with Spantel’s proprietary billing system.

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IP-Version Omni 3750 is Class A Certified

VeriFone announced that its “Omni 3750” with IP capabilities has won its first “Class A” certification from Paymentech. The Omni 3750 features a powerful 32-bit processor to meet the security and networking demands of broadband communications. With its built-in Ethernet connectivity and industry standard SSL encryption, it has the power to securely send transactions over public or private networks. aymentech, L.P. processes more payment transactions than any other company in North America – and more than half of all Internet transactions – for retailers accepting U.S. and international payments via traditional point of sale, Internet, catalog and recurring payments. VeriFone, Inc., (www.verifone.com) recognized worldwide as the trusted leader in secure electronic payment technologies, provides expertise, solutions and services for today with a smart migration strategy for tomorrow.

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Financial Insights Hires 30-Year Veteran of Financial Services Technology

IDC’s Financial Insights has named Robert Giffords to Director of Research and Consulting for the EMEA Region. Under Giffords’ direction, the Company will launch the “European Retail Financial Advisory Service” which looks at the consumer banking sector in Europe and provides decision-makers with comprehensive information on business model analysis, competitive positioning, IT trends and market forecasts. Financial Insights provides independent research services to users and providers of financial industry technology. The company was formed in November 2002 by combining Meridien Research and the IDC Financial Services Advisory group. The Retail Financial Services practice offers four areas of focus: Payments, Channels, Wealth Management, and Consumer Banking and Credit Financial Advisory.

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STMicroelectronics Smart Card Revenues Up 14% in 4Q/03

Geneva-based STMicroelectronics reported net revenues for the fourth quarter of $2.1 billion, an 18.3% gain over one-year ago. Gross profit was $760 million, 15.0% above last year’s fourth quarter gross profit of $661 million. Each of the Company’s key targeted market segments performed well in the fourth quarter. On a sequential basis, Telecom was up about 26%; Consumer increased nearly 18%; Computer rose over 11%; Automotive was up around 8% and Industrial and Others, which includes Smart Cards, increased nearly 14%.

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VISA International Partners with a Global Philanthropic Exchange

VISA International and GlobalGiving launched a partnership that will innovate international aid by enhancing the efficiency of funding entrepreneurial
social and economic development projects. Under terms of the deal, VISA will become the preferred payment brand for GlobalGiving, provide resources and co-promotion of the partnership, help optimize the collection of donations and refine best practices for security and privacy of donor financial information. GlobalGiving grew out of a World Bank initiative to boost the effectiveness of international aid.

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Symtec Solutions is Acquired by BankServ

London-based Symtec Solutions LTD has been acquired by San Francisco-based BankServ in an all cash transaction. This is privately-held BankServ’s second overseas acquisition in six months. Symtec Solutions provides international money transfer and “SWIFT” financial messaging software. BankServ says that key personnel from Symtec Solutions will be retained and a new subsidiary will be created in London to house international operations using the existing Symtec facility as its subsidiary headquarters. Banks use BankServ to wire transfer money over Fed wire on behalf of their clients. Businesses and government agencies use BankServ to collect bill payments from consumers using electronic checks through the ACH. With the acquisition
BankServ will have a network with twenty-one international distributors and coverage in all continents.

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Keycorp Canada to Offer VendTek’s e-Fresh Software

Keycorp Canada has certified and will offer VendTek’s “e-Fresh” client software on their “K23 Series” of POS terminals. VendTek develops, markets, and sells a
suite of software applications used to electronically distribute prepaid telecommunication products and financial services. Keycorp’s electronic payment terminals include smart card-capable online and offline terminals capable of processing credit, charge, debit and stored value transactions.

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Terra Payments 4Q/03 Net Earnings Hit $1.5 Million

Terra Payments reported net earnings of $1.5 million for the fourth quarter, compared to $1.4 million in the previous quarter, and a $600,000 loss in the year-ago quarter. The Company processed $356 million in payment volume during the quarter compared to $335 million in the quarter ended September 30th, and $255 million in the same quarter of the previous year. The sequential growth in payment volume of $21 million or 6% was primarily as a result of an increase in electronic cheque volume of 22%. Earlier this month, Terra Payments announced a merger with Optimal Robotics Corp.

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