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Paymark Gears Up For Busy Retail Season

Press release

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Paymark Gears Up For Busy Retail Season

With one of the busiest times of the retail year on our doorsteps, New Zealand's largest electronic payment systems provider has preparations underway to ensure smooth sailing for retailers and shoppers during the Christmas season.

"Operation Santa" is Paymark's annual project coordinating all key activities to ensure optimum EFTPOS switch availability and customer satisfaction leading up to, during, and after the crucial Christmas sales period. At its peak, the system will be processing over 100 transactions per second.

The Paymark system processes three quarters of all electronic transactions in store and we will be tracking spending throughout December and providing regular updates to stakeholders. Nearly 90% of Kiwis have a debit card and that puts us ahead of any other country in the world in terms of EFTPOS use.

Data shows that during November 2007 New Zealanders carried out over 65 million electronic transactions in store, worth around $3.5 billion. This is up more than 10 percent year-on-year, amounting to $324 million more than 2006 spending for the same month, a slightly higher than normal increase.

Simon Tong, Chief Executive Officer, Paymark, says the early spending increase points to a busy start to the festive season.

"After a reasonably static winter spending has picked up in recent weeks, particularly in the dairy-led regions. These figures suggest an earlier than usual start to the Christmas retail season and could also be due to the early start to summer, with people out and about making the most of their lunchtimes and weekends.

Over the month $595 million was spent in the automotive industry, the bulk of this at service stations. Over $783 million went to supermarket and food retailers, while entertainment and hospitality retailers benefited to the tune of $399 million.

The spending acceleration was more noticeable in regions such as Taranaki/Taupo, West Coast, Palmerston North, South Canterbury, Wanganui, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

This year Christmas falls on Tuesday, meaning the usually mad Christmas Eve midday rush is expected to spread across Saturday and Sunday. Even though Paymark will be processing over 100 transactions per second over the busiest 15 minutes, this will use no more than one third of the system's capacity.

Throughout December it is expected that food and retail sectors will see a huge spike in spending leading up to December 25 as people prepare for Christmas day. Spending on entertainment and hospitality is also picked to increase as the Christmas party season hits full swing in mid-December.

ENDS

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