Centrica plc’s Direct Energy unit has signed a multi-year agreement to
participate as a “Sponsor” in the Canadian “AIR MILES Reward Program”
offering households in Ontario and Manitoba the opportunity to earn reward
miles for their natural gas usage. The “AIR MILES” program was created and
is operated by The Loyalty Group, an Alliance Data Systems subsidiary. More
than 12.5 million Canadians actively collect “AIR MILES” at more than 100
brand-name sponsors representing over 12,000 retail and service locations
across Canada.


Canadian Tire Financial Services has signed a seven-year renewal agreement
with processor TSYS. Under terms of the contract, TSYS will process
Canadian Tire’s retail, MasterCard and gift card portfolios. Canadian
Tire has worked with TSYS since 1998, when Canadian Tire Financial Services
converted its private-label and MasterCard accounts from an in-house system
to the “TS2” processing system by TSYS. Canadian Tire has more than 1,000
stores and gas bars across the country. More than half of Canadians shop at
Canadian Tire on a monthly basis, and nearly 80% have been in a Canadian
Tire store in the past six months. TSYS has processed card accounts in
Canada since 1989 and is currently capturing 33% of the Canadian market.


Europe’s largest smart payment card co-branding project has contracted
SchlumbergerSema to supply smart cards as well as the associated
personalization and deployment services. To-date, SchlumbergerSema has
delivered nearly two million cards for GarantiBank’s “BonusCard,” which is
a combined debit/credit and loyalty program. The “BonusCard” scheme was
initiated in early 2000, and today 100 retail partners have joined in the
project. GarantiBank’s customers earn loyalty points when they use their
credit/debit cards in participating retail outlets, which include white
goods stores and sports shops, as well as petrol stations and
supermarkets. These points are stored securely on the cards, for the
consumers to spend at any of those outlets, whenever they choose.


The labor strike at JCC Payment Systems has been settled, putting an end
to the three-day freeze on credit and debit card transactions in Cyprus.
Transactions on all payment cards resumed normally this week. Reportedly,
intense pressure from Cypriot merchants forced the labor action to end. The
stoppage on card transactions was prompted by a decision last week by
Cypriot banks to prevent card transactions being processed via JCC Payment
Systems Ltd. Cyprus banks said last week JCC was unable to guarantee a 100%
efficient service as normally expected by the banking community.

Sandia & Corillian

NM-based Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, with 50,000 members, says it will migrate its on-premise deployment of the “Corillian Voyager” Internet banking platform to Corillian’s hosted data center. The Corillian Voyager platform is housed on a server platform solely dedicated to each institution. Within Corillian Hosting Services, SLFCU will have certified professionals performing daily monitoring and maintenance of the Corillian Voyager platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Texans Check Card

Dallas-based Texans Credit Union said it has realized a significant increase in the number of members who use the “Texans Check Card” following the September introduction of the “RewardsNow” program offering members one point for each $1 in signature purchases. Members who choose to redeem their points for merchandise have a wide variety of items to choose from including luggage, televisions, camcorders and more. Texans has a catalog with pictures of the merchandise on its website ([][1]) members can see which items are available at various point levels.


Metris Downgrade

Even though Metris Companies moved closer to a breakeven point in the third quarter, following a significant second quarter loss, the firm had its senior debt rating cut yesterday. Metris stock dropped more than 9% and is trading around $2.00 per share. Metris hit its 52-week low in October when it touched $1.44 per share. Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services yesterday lowered its long-term counterparty credit rating and senior debt rating on Metris to ‘B’ from ‘B+’. S&P also lowered the company’s subordinated debt rating to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B-‘. S&P says the downgrade reflects concerns that Metris’ funding alternatives are under increasing pressure, as management continues to shrink deposits in its bank subsidiary and the ratings of many of its ABS have been downgraded. However, Metris has maintained strong reserves against its retained interests in its securitizations, as well as a strong capital position. Metris’ Board of Directors fired its chairman and CEO, Ronald Zebeck, this past weekend. For the third quarter, Metris reported a net loss of $1.3 million, following a second quarter loss of $36.4 million, according to CardData ([][1]). (CF Library 12/16/02).


Bauer Buys Card Debt

NY-based Bauer Debt Purchasing Corp has acquired a $30 million bank and credit card debt portfolio from Zurich-based EH & P Investments for $2 million which is comprised of 19,000 US-based debtors. Industry leaders estimate that the face value of debt purchased grew from $50 billion in 1999 to $60 billion in 2000-an increase of 20 percent. Based on the assumption that an equal amount of debt is purchased in the primary, secondary and tertiary markets, Kaulkin Ginsberg, a leading Debt Broker, estimates the value of purchase debt at $2.4 billion.

R2S & CoreCard

NC-based R2S Financial Group, a provider of private-label card management to small and medium businesses, has selected CoreCard Software’s “CoreISSUE” real-time, card management and payment processing system to power its “R2S Retail Solution.” R2S will be leveraging CoreISSUE’s next-generation capabilities such as unlimited hierarchies, real-time transaction processing, real-time reporting, flexible billing cycles and 100 percent Web-based user-interface to provide its merchants with an unlimited number of highly differentiated and unique card schemes that build customer loyalty and increase sales.

Kmart STV Card

The first card-based, magnetic-striped gift card offered by a national mass merchandise retailer has extended its card contract on a long-term basis. TN-based Comdata’s Stored Value Systems subsidiary confirmed yesterday that Kmart, which first issued the card in 1995, has renewed its contract with SVS for the Kmart cash card. Kmart offers the card through its 1,800 domestic U.S. stores as well as online at Kmart’s Web site. This past summer, SVS launched the “Sears PayCard,” a card-based payroll product linked to MasterCard’s network. (CF Library 7/17/02)

Skewed Scores

A new consumer study of the three major credit bureaus found that 29% of Americans have credit scores with a range of at least 50 points, while 4% of the consumers have score ranges of at least 100 points. The analysis of the scores in 502,623 merged credit files found the average range of the three scores was 41 points, and the median range was 35 points. The research conducted by the Consumer Federation of America and the National Credit Reporting Association,also discovered that in 43% of the files, reports on the same accounts conflicted in regard to how often consumers had been late by 30 days. In 29% of the files, there was conflicting information about how many times the consumer had been 60 days late. And in 24% of the files, conflicts existed about 90-day delinquencies. Seventy eight percent of files were missing a revolving account in good standing while one-third of the files were missing a mortgage account that had never been late.

Conseco Bankruptcy

As long expected, Conseco Finance filed for a Chapter 11 reorganization and also announced it had reached an agreement in principle to sell its assets to CFN Investment Holdings. Green Tree Retail Services Bank was not included in the bankruptcy filing. CFC also reached an agreement in principle with an affiliate of the buyer and one of CFC’s existing lenders to provide up to $125 million of DIP financing. The company says it expects to continue without interruption pending the completion of the sale process.