SYNOVATE

London-based Aegis Research is changing its name to Synovate. By the end of this year all of the Aegis Research companies, in 43 countries, will be re-branded with the new name. In the Americas, Aegis Research companies also include BAIGlobal, Market Facts, Market Facts of Canada, Strategy Research Corporation, Tandem Research Associates, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Motoresearch, MarkTrend, Copernicus, and IMR Research. Its worldwide network consists of international research firms Asia Market Intelligence, Market Facts, Pegram Walters, MEMRB, Demoscopie, Market&More and Research Fact, among others. Designhouse developed the logo and other elements of the Synovate corporate identity. Aegis Group plc is the holding company for Carat, its media strategy, planning and buying business and Synovate.

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ATM Threats

The Electronic Funds Transfer Association has formed a senior-level task force to investigate potential threats to the integrity of the nation’s ATM systems with an initial focus on money laundering and ATM skimming. The task force will hold its inaugural meeting July 23 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC and will investigate ways to maintain the safety and security that consumers feel when they use ATM machines. The meeting, open to the public, will feature a presentation by Gregg James, U.S. Secret Service special agent. Also participating will be Noshir Kathok, an analyst and management consultant in the field of electronic payments.

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PAY-GATEWAY BILLER

British Columbia-based Paradata Systems has launched a new payment product that lets businesses use the Internet to automatically charge customer’s credit cards on a recurring basis. “PayGateway Biller” will streamline billing processes by allowing businesses to sign up without any payment integration required; automatically charge customer’s credit cards on a recurring basis; choose from multiple billing periods; maintain billing information through an easy to use web interface; automatically e-mail payment confirmation to customers; and receive daily email summaries of transaction results. Paradata is targeting associations, charitable organizations, insurance companies, publishers, health and fitness clubs, governments, municipalities, ISPs or web hosts for the new product.

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ASK RECOGNITION

ASK S.A. has been named to the Top 10 of European emerging private tech companies in the Tornado Insider 100 List. Since its founding in 1997, ASK has grown to become the leading company supplying contactless smart cards for Automated Fare Collection in public transit systems and highway toll applications. ASK has already supplied more than seven million contactless cards and paper contactless tickets for more than 35 cities in Europe, Asia and America. The company also provides OEM readers to ease the integration of contactless technology in existing terminals. Clients include SNCF and RATP in Paris, as well as transit operators in Manchester, Rome, Lisbon, Lyon, Venice, Naples, Taipei and Nice.

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Sub-Prime Casualty

SD-based sub-prime credit card specialist, The Credit Store, confirmed this morning it may be unable to meet its existing obligations maturing during July and would likely be unable to continue to fund its operations by the end of the month. The Company indicated it may file a petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy act. The Credit Store said it is currently engaged in discussions with its various institutional creditors and possible new sources of funding looking toward extensions of maturity dates or refinancing of its existing indebtedness. It is also in the process of negotiating receivable sales. The Company also announced it has settled litigation involving its Renaissance Trust I for $4.0 million plus interest over a four-year period. The settlement may result in a negative net worth for the Company. At the end of the quarter, The Credit Store had $121,293,445 in performing credit card receivables and 89,673 accounts. The Credit Store acquires portfolios of non-performing consumer receivables and offers a new credit card to those consumers who agree to pay all or a portion of the outstanding amount due on their debt. The new card is issued with an initial balance and credit line equal to the agreed repayment amount. After appropriate seasoning, the Company seeks to sell or securitize these credit card receivables.

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BAI-Global

London-based Aegis Research, owner of credit card marketing monitor BAIGlobal, announced yesterday it is changing its name to Synovate. By the end of this year all of the Aegis Research companies, in 43 countries, will be re-branded with the new name, including NY-based BAIGlobal. In the Americas, Aegis Research companies also include Market Facts, Market Facts of Canada, Strategy Research Corporation, Tandem Research Associates, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Motoresearch, MarkTrend, Copernicus, and IMR Research. Its worldwide network consists of international research firms Asia Market Intelligence, Market Facts, Pegram Walters, MEMRB, Demoscopie, Market&More and Research Fact, among others. UK-based branding consultancy Designhouse developed the logo and other elements of the Synovate corporate identity.

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TS3 CARDS

Toyota Motor and JCB reported it has signed up more than two million consumers for the Toyota TS Cubic smart card since the start of this year. At the end of 2001, the co-branded JCB card hit one million cardholders. The card, which offers J/Smart for credit/debit functions and loyalty functions for Toyota, was launched in April 2001. Toyota said this week that it projects five million cardholders by 2005. The company also indicated it is seeking a relationship with American Express.

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Ingenico Gets Vital Certification

Vital Processing Services has issued a Class B platform certification for Ingenico’s Elite 510 counter-top, Elite 712 “hand-over” counter-top, and the Elite 770 short-range wireless terminals. Vital certified the terminals with Certegy (Equifax) and Telecheck, including driver’s license and keyed MICR input support. Additionally, Vital simultaneously certified all three Elite terminals for debit and credit card acceptance in retail and restaurant establishments.

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SMART CARD DEALS

Sophia Antipolis-based, ASK S.A. has signed two new contracts for dual interface contactless smart cards, one from the “Centre” region of France and the city of Tours and a second from the city of Grenoble.
Under the first of the new contracts, ASK will supply 80,000 dual interface contacted/contactless smart cards to the “Centre” region of France and the city of Tours. The two cards supplied are the GTML and the CD97. The cards are for use in the Automated Fare Collection system on the 400 buses of the region as well as in the regional SNCF trains, and it will be fully operational in October 2002. In the second contract, ASK will provide the city of Grenoble with 90,000 dual interface GTML smart cards and 1,000 GEN310 contactless couplers, which are integrated into the fare readers and AFC system on the buses and trains. Deliveries will start in June 2002, and the system will be fully implemented in November 2002.

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Plastic Vacations

The Cambridge Consumer Credit Index, sponsored by The Debt Relief Clearinghouse and affiliated with credit counseling firms owned by John and Richard Puccio, said yesterday its latest survey showed that 23% of Americans will use credit cards to charge their vacations. However, older and higher-income Americans are using their credit cards far more to pay for their vacations. Of those age 65 or older, 40% are putting their holiday expenses on plastic, while 38% of those earning more than $75,000 are charging their getaways.

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