American Express and Air Canada Deal Gets Finalized, Finally

Air Canada and Amex Bank of Canada finally signed their agreements for a co-branded charge card and “Membership Rewards.” The finalization of the deal came after receiving approval on December 10th from the court overseeing Air Canada’s restructuring proceedings. Under terms of the deal, Aeroplan will become a partner in American Express’ “Membership Rewards” points programs and AmEx will issue co-branded consumer and corporate charge cards early next year. In return, AmEX will provide Air Canada with an $80 million cash advance, repaid as “Aeroplan Miles” are purchased. In addition, AmEx is committed to provide on-going marketing support throughout the term of the contract.

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Canadian Holiday Card Volume Up 4.6%

Retail sales on credit and debit cards in Canada were up 4.6%, or CN$507 million, during the first two weeks of December. Moneris Solutions says its data show that card spending in stationery stores is up 12%, while grocery store spending is up 10% and card spending in furniture stores is up 9%. The travel and entertainment sector is up 8%, or $161 million. Other retail segments: book stores +8%; travel and entertainment +8%; and, music stores +7%. Restaurants across Canada experienced an approximate 2.5% increase in dollar volume spending. A recent survey of over 2,100 Canadians conducted for Moneris by Ipsos-Reid revealed that four in ten Canadians say they are “last-minute” shoppers and almost three quarters of the survey’s respondents selected debit or credit card as the payment form they will use most often when shopping this season.

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Email Money Transfer Service Re-Branded INTERAC

The Interac Association Board of Directors have agreed to a trademark license for Acxsys Corporation to use the “INTERAC” brand in association with CertaPay services. “CertaPay Email Money Transfer Service” will now be known as the “INTERAC Email Money Transfer Service.” Now that CertaPay has been amalgamated with Acxsys, ownership includes BMO Bank of Montreal, CIBC, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust, as well as the National Bank of Canada, La Federation des caisses Desjardins du Quebec, and Credit Union Central of Canada.

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Prepaid Works Signs 100+ Clients

Houston-based Prepaid Works reports it has signed more than 100 merchant partners in the last four months for its “Prepaid Works Advantage Program” which utilize TeleCheck “Eclipse” payment terminals. The Prepaid Works Advantage Program provides merchants the capability tosell prepaid wireless, long distance, and mobile entertainment products suchas ring tones through the TeleCheck Eclipse(R) Payment Terminal. The merchantshave access to perpetual inventory on demand.

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Standard Chartered Bank and ICICI Bank Launch VISA Mini Cards

Standard Chartered Bank and ICICI Bank have introduced the first miniature credit cards in the country. The roll-out of the “VISA Mini Card” follows recent introductions of the cards in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The miniature VISA was first launched in the USA in October 2002. To-date there have been approximately 10 million “VISA Mini Cards” issued. Standard Chartered Bank says it is aiming the card at its 100,000 “Gen Y” cardholders. It will initially target about 30,000 young cardholders in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahemdabad. The issuer has more than 1.4 million total credit cardholders. Standard Chartered Bank is charging a fee of Rs.349 to issue the card to existing cardholders. ICICI Bank is issuing the miniature VISA card in conjunction with its “Sterling VISA Gold” card program.

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AmEx and Air Canada Finalize Partnership

Air Canada and Amex Bank of Canada finally signed their agreements for a co-branded charge card and “Membership Rewards.” The finalization of the deal came after receiving approval on December 10th from the court overseeing Air Canada’s restructuring proceedings. Under terms of the deal, Aeroplan will become a partner in American Express’s “Membership Rewards” points programs and AmEx will issue co-branded consumer and corporate charge cards early next year. In return, AmEX will provide Air Canada with an $80 million cash advance, repaid as “Aeroplan Miles” are purchased. In addition, AmEx is committed to provide on-going marketing support throughout the term of the contract.

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FreeStar Technology Takes ePayPad and eWallet to China

Helsinki-based FreeStar Technology has signed a “Joint Financial Services Agreement” with China’s Xinhua Financial Network. Under the agreement, Xinhua will market and distribute FreeStar’s Internet credit card payment processing products, such as its “ePayPad” e-commerce engine, and Internet payment gateway, together with its new “e-Wallet,” to banks, financial institutions and Internet merchants throughout Asia, excluding Japan. Xinhua also agreed to open offices for FreeStar in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong to develop a market presence in those areas.

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Universal Cash Express and Blackstone Partner

NY-based Universal Cash Express has signed deal with Miami-based Blackstone to distribute each other’s products, including the “Universal Express Platinum Prepaid MasterCard/DebitCard” program. Universal Cash Express products will be offered through thousands of points of presence that Blackstone has in place with retail merchants worldwide. Additionally, Universal Express will introduce co-branded Blackstone terminals to thousands of private postal stores within the Universal Express WorldPost network of merchants. Blackstone offers a complete array of services to design, integrate and maintain high-impact, strategic business solutions via our global network of alliances and resources.

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RETAIL SALES

Retail sales on credit and debit cards were up 4.6%, or $507 million, during the first two weeks of December. Moneris Solutions says its data show that card spending in stationery stores is up 12%, while grocery store spending is up 10% and card spending in furniture stores is up 9%. The travel and entertainment sector is up 8%, or $161 million. Other retail segments: book stores +8%; travel and entertainment +8%; and, music stores +7%. Restaurants across Canada experienced an approximate 2.5% increase in dollar volume spending. A recent survey of over 2,100 Canadians conducted for Moneris by Ipsos-Reid revealed that four in ten Canadians say they are “last-minute” shoppers and almost three quarters of the survey’s respondents selected debit or credit card as the payment form they will use most often when shopping this season.

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U.S. Bank Offers VISA Buxx in Branches

U.S. Bank, the first bank to issue “VISA Buxx” in 2000, is now making the teen payment card available at all its branches. Visa Buxx is designed for parents and teens. Parents use the Visa Buxx Card to teach teens age 13 or older money management skills and financial responsibility. Since Visa Buxx is a prepaid card, there is no risk of credit card debt. The company operates 2,201 banking offices and 4,506 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank and is on the web at usbank.com.

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Tupperware Representatives to have Mobile Card Services via CreditPipe

MTN, one of the largest cellular network providers in Africa, has signed agreements with Tupperware in South Africa to provide mobile credit card processing and check guarantee facilities for the group’s 15,000 field sales representatives through CreditPipe. MTN is the marketing and delivery partner of CreditPipe. The first implementation is scheduled to go live in Ghana by the second quarter. CreditPipe is the wholly owned subsidiary of Celtron International’s Orbtech Holdings Limited subsidiary.

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VISA and MasterCard Put the Lawsuit Behind

In response to the final order in the Wal-Mart debit card litigation, MasterCard said it was glad that Judge John Gleeson upheld as fair the agreement settling all claims in the class-action antitrust lawsuit. MasterCard was also pleased that he affirmed the broad release of MasterCard and its members from claims that should or could have been included in the merchants’ lawsuit against MasterCard, including pending cases with the potential for significant financial exposure. MasterCard says that with the lawsuit over, and Judge Gleeson’s affirmation of the broad release from copycat and related suits that tried to ride on the coat-tails of the merchant lawsuit, it can return to focusing all of its attention on being the best business partner for its customers and the best choice for consumers. VISA says that while the settlement order is an important milestone in resolving the retailers’ litigation, it continues its focus on capturing more of the $4.8 trillion that is still spent using cash or checks. VISA says its steadfast focus on growing the debit category is succeeding, as debit usage continues to increase. VISA says that between May and August of this year, VISA’s debit volume was up a robust 24%.

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