ADVANTEX 1Q/03

Toronto-based Advantex Marketing International reported an 11% increase in revenues to $21.5 million, and a net loss of $825,000 for the first three months of this year. Last month, Advantex launched its expansion of the “CIBC Aerogold ADVANTEX Benefit” program to include retailers, and, this month, will introduce an embedded “Advantex Benefit” into several selected premium CIBC VISA credit cards, providing bonus rewards specific to the loyalty currencies offered on each of these cards. Next month, Advantex will begin earning income from its new “US Airways Dividend Miles Rewards” program. The Company signed multi-year agreements with US Airways and Bank of America to replicate the “Advantex Benefit” business model in the USA. Advantex recently signed an agreement with UAL Loyalty Services for a “United Mileage Plus Shopping” program for more than 40 million “Mileage Plus” members. The combined credit cardholder base of these two U.S. airline frequent flyer programs more than triples the Company’s current credit cardholder customer base.

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Custom Cards

London-based Serverside Graphics has developed the ultimate in card personalization, enabling cardholders to fully design the front of their payment cards. Under the unique system, images are uploaded to a Web site and then manipulated with overlays to create a highly personalized card. The cardholder’s image is then resized, flipped, and rotated and then overlaid with branded frames. The company says the system will promote card usage through personal affinity as well as give issuers a brand opportunity. The software runs in an Internet browser through an issuer’s Web site and typically will run in-line with current production processes. The privately-held company U.K. company was founded by Tom & Adam Elgar, both technologists.

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Exchange Rates

Nearly 45% of consumers believe that credit cards offer the best exchange rate when making purchases in another country. Three out of ten consumers disagree, and one fourth of consumers simply don’t know. The results come from an informal online poll conducted by CardWeb.com earlier this month of 1,000 consumers. Last month, a California Superior Court judge ordered VISA and MasterCard to refund more than $800 million in foreign currency conversion fees to cardholders. The court also ordered the card associations to amend their operating rules to require their issuing members to make effective disclosure of the currency conversion fees charged to consumers. VISA and MasterCard have since appealed the decision. (CF Library 4/9/03)

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NC POS Bill

The North Carolina state Senate has unanimously approved a bill that prohibits merchants from printing a customer’s complete credit card number or its expiration date on a receipt. If passed by the House, the law would require all cash registers and payment terminals installed after March 1, 2004 to be compliant. Existing registers and terminals will have to be complaint by July 1, 2005. In March, VISA unveiled a new account truncation program that requires U.S. merchants to eliminate all the digits of a cardholder’s account, except the last four, as well as the card’s expiration from store receipts. The policy will go into effect July 1st, and in its first phase, affect all new payment card terminals. MasterCard has already adopted a truncation policy which goes into effect in two years. (CF Library 3/7/03)

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COF Risk Officer

Capital One has named Laura Olle, currently SVP of Corporate Control and Governance, as Chief Enterprise Risk Officer for Capital One. Olle’s new position will centralize on executive management oversight of the company’s enterprise risk management activities, and will be responsible for independently monitoring, analyzing and reporting on key corporate risk areas to include strategic, operations, legal and compliance and managing regulatory relationships.

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Plan 529 Card

Boston-based State Street Corporation and its Schoolhouse Capital division have launched “The Education Plan 529 Advantage” credit card. While “The Education Plan 529 Advantage Rewards” program itself is new, the technology and infrastructure behind it are not. The program is offered by Vesdia Corporation, creators of the “BabyMint” retail network, in partnership with MBNA. In addition to earning up to 20% in “529 Advantage Rewards” through purchases made with participating retailers, participants will earn rebates at the rate of 1%, based on all new retail purchases made with “The Education Plan 529 Advantage” credit card.

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SARS IMPACT

American Express is launching an ad campaign and special incentives to encourage Singaporeans to get out of their homes and start spending again following the SARS epidemic. Meanwhile, HSBC Bank Malaysia reported this week that its credit card volume plunged 20% since the outbreak in mid-March. Most credit card issuers serving the Singapore market have reported a 25% decline in credit card volume during April, however, there are indications that volume rebounded by about half in May, to bring the year-over-year decline to about 15%. American Express announced earlier this week it will launch a $15 million “Step Out and Spend” advertising campaign, to be spread out over the summer months. AmEx also announced a dining promotion to award triple points between June 2nd and September 30th on top of previously announced dining discounts. A few weeks ago AmEx began offering discounts of up to 50% off at many restaurants in Singapore. The Singapore Tourism Board also is launching a major advertising campaign as well as special discounts to visitors. There are currently four million VISA and MasterCard payment cardholders and 400,000 American Express cardholders in Singapore.

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Parlay and PayCircle

Two consortia working in the fields of network-independent applications and of payment applications, Parlay and PayCircle, announced their collaboration and – as a first result – a co-branded specification called Parlay X Web Services APIs. This specification combines the efforts of Parlay in allowing third party applications to get integrated into 3rd generation mobile networks as well as into many other types of networks using an open payment interface.

Therefore, Parlay X Web Services APIs support the mobile industry and web service providers in delivering value added services to their subscribers. These services are seen as the basis of commercial success of 3rd generation mobile networks. For the mobile market the co-operation of PayCircle and Parlay is an important sign of de-fragmentation since several industry consortia are working in the field of m-commerce. The specification is available for download at: [www.parlay.org/specs/index.asp][1].

The Parlay Group was formed to encourage the development of open application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable the use of applications that operate across multiple networking platforms. Through this collaboration with the Parlay Group, parts of the PayCircle mobile payment APIs have been integrated into the Parlay specification.

“We are delighted with the success of this collaboration effort between PayCircle and the Parlay Group,” said Zygmunt A. Lozinski, Parlay Group President and Telecom Solution Executive, IBM. “Working together over the past year, our organizations have created a specification that enables whole new types of applications for service providers. We are looking forward to this work continuing with PayCircle.”

“PayCircle is pleased to be working together with the Parlay Group to harmonise standardisation and implement additional functionality in this important payment area. In this regard PayCircle believes that Parlay / OSA is an important partner in driving open standards and interoperable web services across the world,” says Hans Wolf, PayCircle President & VP Siemens IC mobile.

PayCircle believes that open and interoperable “payment APIs” are the key to market growth for mobile Web Services. PayCircle has developed and published a PayCircle Payment Web Service Specification and a Reference Implementation for this specification. The specification contains WSDL sources and XML schema definitions to meet the requirements of today’s mobile application developers. With this Reference Implementation PayCircle proved that mobile payment has become a reality for various business scenarios. The PayCircle scenarios outline actual mobile payment applications and services for electronic goods like MP3 files, video clips, subscription based online magazines, streaming video/radio channels or on-demand gaming, as well as for interaction with point of sale terminals or vending/ticketing machines. The PayCircle specification also supports implementation of these applications on any Java enabled infrastructure utilised by the providers.

PayCircle and Parlay expect that their common specification will meet the requirements of general standardization. Therefore, it is aimed to submit the specification to other standardization bodies.

About PayCircle

PayCircle is a non-profit organisation including companies like CSG Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle Corporation, Siemens and Sun Microsystems as PayCircle Board Members. PayCircle membership is open to anyone who is active in the mobile payment market such as application developers, payment service providers, merchants, content providers, manufacturers of payment systems, suppliers for mobile infrastructure and mobile devices, network operators, banks, credit card companies, and others. The PayCircle consortium was formed January 2002 to define standard APIs for mobile payments, regardless of the payment systems used by application or service providers. This open approach guarantees that the necessary interfaces can be developed in a co-operative manner.

Additional information about PayCircle is available at [www.paycircle.org][2].

About the Parlay Group

The Parlay Group is a multi-vendor consortium formed to develop open, technology-independent application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable the development of applications that operate across multiple, networking-platform environments. Parlay integrates intelligent network (IN) services with IT applications via a secure, measured, and billable interface. By releasing developers from underlying code, networks, and environments, Parlay open APIs allow for innovation within the enterprise. These new, portable, network-independent applications are connecting the IT and telecom worlds, generating new revenue streams for network operators, application service providers (ASPs), and independent software vendors (ISVs).

[1]: http://www.parlay.org/specs/index.asp
[2]: http://www.paycircle.org

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