MBNA SMART CARDS

MBNA Ireland is rolling-out a smart card, becoming the first chip card in Ireland. MBNA is issuing the card to new customers as well as card replacements for existing customers. MBNA’s international businesses in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada have more than 7.5 million Customers with $11 billion in loans. MBNA has a 13% market share of credit card loans in the U.K. and Ireland and a 7% market share in Canada.

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Smart Label USA

ASK S.A. has entered the contactless paper-based smart label products business. The first RFID product, “C.label,” is based on the high speed “ISO 14443” for contactless technology, it is the only smart label that permits the management of 100 items a second and anti-theft protection ranging as far as one meter. ASK says that since February, the city of Marseilles, France has used the ASK smart label solution in all of their 17 libraries for managing and tracking their entire inventory including CDs, books and cassettes.

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CARD PROTEST

The petroleum station members of the Figisc/Anisa, Faib/Aisa, and Fegica
unions will refuse to accept credit cards and debit cards between April
9-11and 16-22. The members are protesting a new 0.23 euro surcharge being
imposed by Cogeban on each ATM transaction payment. The gas station members
also say that credit card fees of 1.2% of the transaction plus a flat fee
of 0.775 euro is wiping out their profits. The group is threatening to
cancel their payment card merchant agreements if the fees are not reduced.

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STM & PROTON WORLD

STMicroelectronics has acquired Proton World International from ERG Ltd in a deal valued at US$66 million. Under terms of the deal, ERG Group will receive cash consideration of US$60 million, plus a business-related consideration for up to 10 years. Additionally, ST and ERG Group will enter into a long-term business relationship through a technology license agreement and will work together in the deployment of PWI’s technology in transit applications worldwide. Based in Belgium, PWI has approximately 90 employees and develops smart card system software (card OS, middleware and application software), especially for e-purse, EMV debit/credit cards, PKI security, and data management applications. The deal is expected to close by June 30th.

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Kaiser Permanente & GPN

Global Payments Inc., announced that Kaiser Permanente has expanded its relationship to include a complete suite of processing services including authorization and settlement for credit cards, debit cards and checks, as well as online reporting capabilities. Under this new agreement, Kaiser Permanente will use a variety of Global processing solutions through many of its business segments including optical, pharmacy and medical facilities.

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BIG BANK UPGRADES

Bank Millennium, formerly BIG Bank GDANSKI, is upgrading its information technology systems with the help of Fiserv.
The migration involves moving both one million retail and corporate customers to the Fiserv core banking and teller solution. As a result, Bank Millennium staff can access information on any customer from all of the bank’s 367 branches across the country. The bank is owned by Banco Comercial Portugues.

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Tidel Delisted

Tidel Technologies, Inc. announced it has been notified by the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel of its decision to delist the Company’s common stock from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market effective with the open of business on March 26, 2003. The Company believes it will continue to have a market for its stock, which would trade on the National Quotation Bureau’s Pink Sheets.

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Sears Card Sale

Sears confirmed late yesterday it is looking to unload its $30.8 billion credit card portfolio. The company says that even though its credit card business generated more than $1.5 billion of operating income last year and produced more than 60% of total profits, it wants to focus on its core retail business. Sears’ Retail-related businesses delivered $1.2 billion in operating income in 2002. Sears’ Credit-related business includes $18.4 billion in “Sears Card” receivables, as well as $12.4 billion in MasterCard receivables. The company has 25 million active accounts, according to CardData. The Sears credit business has been under pressure since October when it fired Kevin Keleghan, the former president of the credit division. Sears said its CEO lost confidence in Keleghan after the company uncovered serious problems in its credit card portfolio. Sears had to beef up reserves by more than $200 million to cover bad accounts. Sears also recently admitted that going outside its extensive customer base for credit card customers has not been profitable. The retailer said that 15% of the “Gold MasterCard” balances it acquired last year, through direct mail, have proven to be low quality with higher than average loss rates. Sears introduced the “Gold MasterCard” in 2000, converting 12 million of its 60 million retail cardholders to the “Sears Gold MasterCard” within the first twelve months. (CF Library 5/7/01; 10/7/02; 1/16/03; 1/29/03; 2/26/03).

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