Cambridge Trust Company Launches Photo Debit Card

Cambridge Trust Company of Massachusetts has introduced a new photo “MasterMoney Debit Card” with the customer’s photo on the front of the card. The ‘PhotoCard’ is available free of charge to new and existing Cambridge Trust Company personal checking account customers. “Since the photograph will be digitized and embossed as part of the plastic, it is one of the most advanced and secure cards in the marketplace and will act as a deterrent to identity theft,” added Roller. Cambridge Bancorp and its subsidiary, Cambridge Trust Company, are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the heart of Harvard Square. Cambridge Trust Company is a 113-year-old Massachusetts chartered commercial bank with nine Massachusetts locations in Cambridge, Concord, Lincoln, Weston, and Beacon Hill.

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Mexico’s Banamex Launches First MasterCard SideCard

Banamex has become the first MasterCard financial institution worldwide to offer the new “MasterCard SideCard” as the “Banamex Twin Card.” Banamex, a/k/a Citibank Mexico, is also offering cardholders the ability to set a monthly usage limit per additional card. Issued as a companion card to a full-sized MasterCard card, the new “MasterCard SideCard” is the first companion card capable of incorporating contactless chip technology. This allows issuers the ability to add the MasterCard “PayPass” feature, which provides cardholders with a way to pay in quick payment environments such as fast food restaurants. The “SideCard” has a case which can be attached to a key ring or lanyard while protecting the magnetic stripe. At the point of interaction, the cardholder simply flips the card out of its case and swipes the card through the terminal. Banamex says it has issued the new card to thousands of cardholders since its launch last month.

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Coalition on Online Identity Theft is Formed

A group of top financial services, information technology, and electronic commerce firms announced they are forming an industry coalition to fight online identity theft. The Information Technology Association of America led the effort which includes the backing of VISA, Microsoft, Amazon.com, eBay, RSA Security, among others. The “Coalition on Online Identity Theft” has set four primary goals: 1.) Expand public education campaigns against online identity theft to protect consumers; 2.) Help promote technology and self-help approaches for preventing and dealing with online identity theft; 3.) Document and share non-personal information about emerging online fraudulent activity to stay ahead of criminals and new forms of online fraud; and, 4.) Work with government to cultivate an environment that protects consumers and businesses, and ensures effective enforcement and criminal penalties against cyber thieves.

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UK’s Marks and Spencer Launches MasterCard

UK retailer Marks and Spencer is currently upgrading its 2.6 million charge card customers to a new credit card offering a loyalty program. The new “Marks & Spencer Money &more MasterCard” will then be offered to the general public in October. The new card was tested in South Wales for the past eleven months. The “&more MasterCard” offers 1 point per £1 spent in Marks & Spencer UK stores, catalogue and Internet. The card also awards 1 point per £2 spent outside Marks & Spencer. Points are converted into vouchers to spend exclusively at Marks & Spencer UK stores. The new card will offer a standard retail APR of 14.9% versus the 18.9% currently assessed on the “Marks & Spencer Chargecard.” M&S is the second largest store card issuer in the UK. The company also announced that Marks & Spencer Financial Services is being re-branded as “Marks & Spencer Money.”

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Gene Lockhart Joins Qsent Board

Gene Lockhart, former president at MasterCard, BankAmerica Global Bank and AT&T Consumer Services, has been named to the Board of Directors for Qsent, a provider of contact accuracy services. Mr. Lockhart has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard International, President of BankAmerica Corporation’s Global Retail Bank, and President of AT&T Consumer Services. Lockhart currently serves on the Board of Directors for IMS Health, Inc. and Radio Shack. Qsent is the leading provider of contact accuracy services, supplying definitive contact information solutions for use in core business processes.

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Fair Isaac Release Decision Optimizer 5.0

Fair Isaac has released “Decision Optimizer 5.0,” offering financial services clients the ability to maximize the value of their comprehensive decision models by testing additional assumptions and comparing the results of multiple simulations. Decision Optimizer is the primary software tool used in delivering Fair Isaac Strategy Science, a methodology that companies can call upon to solve their unique business challenges. Version 5.0 gives Strategy Science customers the ability to maximize the value of their comprehensive decision models by testing additional assumptions and comparing the results of multiple simulations. Decision Optimizer feeds data and possible actions through a network of action-effect models that anticipate the consequences and key outcomes of decisions. Fair Isaac Corporation is the preeminent provider of creative analytics that unlock value for people, businesses and industries.

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First Horizon Merchant Services to Offer Centinel

First Tennessee’s First Horizon Merchant Services has inked a deal to offer CardinalCommerce’s “Centinel” payment authentication software. CardinalCommerce is the leading provider of online merchant payment authentication for securing online transactions. Cardinal Centinel is designed for acquiring banks, merchant service providers and their merchants. First Horizon Merchant Services is a member of the First Tennessee National Corp. (NYSE: FTN) family of companies and is one of the most successful processors of credit card payments for the travel industry. CardinalCommerce Corporation is a leading provider of a technology-neutral authentication platform for securing electronic and wireless commerce, thus ensuring that individuals, businesses and government agencies can process electronic transactions and access confidential information safely, securely and privately.

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DNC Registry v1.0 Contains 48 Million Phone Numbers

In the 72 hours before the Do Not Call Registry lists became available to telemarketers, more than six million consumers added their telephone numbers to the list. In contrast to earlier DNC registrations that were completed primarily through internet registration (80%), the Labor Day weekend registrations were evenly divided with fifty percent internet registrations and fifty percent telephone registrations. Consumers who registered via the internet are reminded to click on the verifying email from the DNC registry in order to complete the registration process.

The telemarketer Web site for Do Not Call is www.telemarketing.donotcall.gov. For telemarketers seeking specifics about accessing telephone numbers and downloading files from the national registry, information is available at .

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FDC Sets Record Date for Concord Merger Vote

First Data announced last week it has established a record date for a special shareholder meeting to consider and vote upon the proposed merger with Concord EFS. FDC shareholders of record at the close of business on September 8th, will be eligible to vote on the proposal and to attend the special meetings of shareholders. First Data says it remains committed to working cooperatively with the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice to provide materials following the DoJ’s request for additional information. First Data currently expects to certify as to substantial compliance with the DoJ’s request for additional information no later than early September. The company expects the transaction to close in the second half of 2003.

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First InSight Report Shows Students Drive Social Spending

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College released a report that shows first-year college
and university students are a powerful and highly influential group to be reckoned with. On average, today’s college- and university-bound students have at least one credit card, and 40% report carrying debt on these cards. These students spend about $500 per month on fast food and clothes, and they drive household spending. Dubbed the “double cohort” generation, the majority of these students were born in 1984 or 1985 and they make up part of the 1.7 million students (5% of the nation’s population) who are enrolled in courses leading to degrees, diplomas or certificates at public colleges and universities throughout Canada.

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Charge-Offs Dip for Third Straight Month

Charge-offs among credit card-backed securities declined for the third consecutive month to 6.60%. However, there is concern that consumer credit quality might resume its worsening trends in late summer and into the fourth quarter. According to the Fitch Credit Card Index, charge-offs fell 19 bps in July to 6.6%. But, chargeoffs remains 43 bps above year-ago levels. As consumers remain under pressure due to the economic landscape, performance is expected to remain challenged over the near term and worsen later in the second half of 2003. Bankruptcy filings reported for the month of July totaled 138,400, an increase of 6.3% from June. Year-to-date bankruptcy filings for 2003 registered up 9.7% from year-ago levels. Fitch expects bankruptcies to increase by roughly 8.0% in 2003 to a level of 1.65 million. Excess spread which measures the profitability of credit card securitizations, edged up 3 bps to 5.89%, yet remains 28bps below year-ago levels. The softness in excess spread can be attributed to the low interest rate environment which has cause many issuers to re-price cards downward coupled with higher charge-offs.

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Credit Manager’s Index Shows Modest Improvement

The National Association of Credit Management this morning released its “Credit Manager’s Index” for August. The CMI shows modest improvement this month relative to last month’s reading, gaining 40 bps. The manufacturing sector, which realized a 140 bps increase (2.6%), has driven the overall gain. This manufacturing improvement is the first up-tick in its sector index since April 2003. On the other hand, the service sector, after showing seven consecutive months of improvement, lost 90 bps. The service reading, however, is still quite strong. The CMI survey asks credit managers to rate favorable and unfavorable factors in their monthly business cycle. Favorable factors include sales, new credit applications, dollar collections and amount of credit extended. Unfavorable factors include rejections of credit applications, accounts placed for collections, dollar amounts of receivables beyond terms and filings for bankruptcies.

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