Double-Dip Recession?

The Conference Board said Wednesday that a so-called “double-dip recession” in the U.S. is practically impossible without some unexpected external shock to consumer prices or national security. In many ways a more comprehensive measure of economic activity than Gross Domestic Product, the CEI is made up of industrial production, employment, manufacturing and trade sales, and personal income.

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KMS & ICMA

Seoul-based Korea Multi System has become a principal card manufacturing member of the International Card Manufacturers Association. Now in its 12th year of operation, ICMA also announced nine other
new members. Principal Members (Card Manufacturers): Permalith Plastics (Pennsauken, NJ, USA); Thales Identification (Chatou Cedex, France); and, Versatile Cards (P) Ltd. (Branch Member) (Tamil Nadu, India).
Associate Members (Suppliers): 509 Technologies, Inc. (Greensboro, NC, USA); HP Indigo USA (Woburn, MA, USA); and, HP Indigo Division (Branch Member) (Rehovot, Israel). Contributing Members include:
Bluefish Technologies AG (Ruscombe, UK) and Fiala Inc. (Fairport, NY, USA). Manufacturer’s Representative include West Coast Plastic Sales / De La Rue (Mission Viejo, CA, USA). ICMA has more than 230 members globally.

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SKIMMING EXPANDS

Fraud losses on British credit cards used abroad by criminals are up by 34% costing £138m last year, with the biggest losses occurring in Europe £77million (up 36%). The losses are largely attributable to sophisticated criminal networks that are skimming customer cards, sending the details abroad via the Internet where counterfeit cards are created and used to buy goods in several different countries
simultaneously within hours. In mid-July police raided a sophisticated counterfeit plastic card factory in Tottenham, North London, arresting a Turkish male and a Romanian female. Among the equipment seized were card skimmers, printers, presses, card account numbers and computer software. The Association for Payment Clearing Services says tougher anti-fraud measures in the UK have driven criminals overseas. APACS also says the biggest defense against card counterfeiting lies in the introduction of smart cards. By 2005, every UK cardholder will be using one alongside a PIN to identify themselves instead of a signature. This new system is expected to more than halve predicted fraud losses in the UK.

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CreditInform

Equifax and Capital One have teamed to offer “CreditInform”, which provides consumers a customized Equifax credit profile that includes their credit score and personalized score analysis. The two firms said they are partnering to provide personal credit solutions that will enhance consumers’ credit awareness, and show ways to improve credit scores. Capital One will market the services to new and existing credit card customers. The “CreditInform” service includes access to a credit analyzer, quarterly updates to alert consumers to potential identify theft, and, consultations with credit education specialists at a toll free number. In May, Equifax and Fair, Isaac announced an interactive service to enable consumers to simulate their personal FICO score. (CF Library 3/19/01; 4/15/02; 5/21/02)

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Household Adjustments

Household this morning restated its net income since 1994 after certifying its most recent SEC filings. The company revised its net income, over the past eight years, downward by a total of $386 million Household said the restatement is due to changes in its accounting policies in conjunction with Mastercard/VISA co-branding and affinity credit card relationships, and a credit card marketing agreement with a third party. The revisions were made after a recent review by its new auditors, KPMG LLP. Household says the restatement is small relative to the results it reported over the period 1993 through 2001, as well as to the earnings growth trend that Household recorded. As restated, Household’s earnings over the affected period have grown by a compounded rate of 22%, the same as the growth rate originally reported. Household also announced that it was adopting the fair value method of accounting for stock options and employee stock purchase plans, commencing in 2002. For complete details on Household’s 2Q/02 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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CRYPTOLOGIC 2Q/02

Toronto-based Cryptologic reported second quarter revenue of $8.9 million compared to $10.8 million in the second quarter of 2001. Net income, before non-recurring items, in the quarter was $2.0 million compared to $4.8 million in the second quarter of 2001. The company says the decline in revenue and profits reflects the challenge being faced by the entire Internet gaming industry as a result of the decision by certain US-based banks to limit the use of their credit cards for Internet gaming transactions. In light of this situation, the Company says its priorities remain adding alternative non-credit-card-based payment methods and continuing to expand its customer base in markets that embrace online gaming. Cryptologic also says Littlewoods Leisure has received regulatory certification from the Isle of Man government to operate an online casino using Cryptologic e-gaming technology. With an 80-year history Littlewoods Leisure, a wholly-owned subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed Sportech plc, is one of the UK’s best-known gaming companies. The certification of CryptoLogic software to the Isle of Man’s Tier-one standards will provide a significant point of difference when dealing with top-tier customers looking for a licensed and regulated software solution.

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Debit Card Fees

A new study shows that 26% of financial institutions impose a transaction fee on all or part of their debit cardholders. Roughly half of these institutions impose a transaction fee on all debit cardholders when they make an online, or PIN-based, purchase. Debit card transaction fees range from 25 cents to one dollar, with the average being 50 cents. The study by Boston-based Dove Consulting and commissioned by PULSE EFT Association, also found that the imposition of a debit card charge effectively reduces transaction activity by 40%. The survey, which involved a representative group of large banks, community banks and credit unions that combined have issued more than 80 million debit cards, did not find any card issuers which imposed fees for offline, or signature-based, debit purchases. Dove says its research found that, among all cardholders (active and inactive), consumers perform an average of 2.2 online and 3.6 offline debit transactions per month. Online debit transactions grew by 25% last year while offline debit transactions rose by 22%. Dove noted that several issuers have recently discontinued the practice of imposing fees on PIN-based debit card trabsactions.

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Cubic Moves

Cubic Corp, which recently relocated to new Orlando, FL quarters, has transferred Richard Koon, VP/GM of Cubic Worldwide Technical Services division, from its San Diego office to the new Orlando office. Cubic has provided its advanced laser-based combat training systems to the U.S. Army Simulation, Training & Instrumentation Command (STRICOM), and has several contracts with the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) for instructional support, operation and maintenance of aviation, warship and submarine simulators.

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3Q/02 Outlook

The Federal Open Market Committee decided yesterday to keep its target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1.75%. However the Committee recognized that current conditions may generate economic weakness, this leaving the door open for possible future rate cut. Meanwhile MA-based Global Insight/DRI-WEFA says its forecast for the third quarter predicts economic growth will rebound to 3.4% after a sluggish 1.1% reported in the second quarter. The research group says the rebound in the third quarter will be fueled by a 4% growth in consumer spending. Growth in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year is predicted to remain in the 3.5% to 4% range as capital spending finally begins to recover.

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