NC-based Bank of America has announced it will be exercising its option
to purchase further China Construction Bank (CCB) common shares under
the existing agreement with Huijin first signed in June of 2005. With
this, Bank of America intends to purchase 6 billion H-shares for
approximately HK$2.42 per share, bringing its holding in CCB to 10.75%,
a total of 25.1 billion H-shares, up from an 8.2% holding. Additional
terms of the agreement stipulate the shares can not be sold prior to
August 29, 2011 without prior consent of CCB while Bank of America has
the option to purchase additional shares. Bank of America provides over
59 million account holders service through its more than 6,100 retail
banking offices in more than 150 countries, nearly 18,500 ATMs and
online banking service with nearly 25 million active users.

Vigilan Adds PaySimple for a Payment Option

Assisted living provider Vigilan has added PaySimple to streamline billing services for its assisted living, long-term care, and dementia care communities. PaySimple 2.0 enables communities to create and customize recurring payment and disbursement schedules, resident invoices and invoice schedules, one-time transactions, and multiple customer profiles all at once-saving time and effort in one month as well as proceeding months. PaySimple securely stores credit card or bank account information so residents or their families can manually authorize payments personally each month or approve a payment schedule-including setting automatic payments to coincide with Social Security payments.


Transaction Network Services (TNS) has introduced its “FusionPoint Lite”
broadband transaction delivery solution to the UK and Irish markets. In
doing so, the TNS solution allows merchants, operators and deployers to
migrate legacy terminals to broadband for high speed transaction
delivery using its “ConverterPoint” converter device. The TNS
“ConverterPoint” bridges the technology gap between legacy equipment and
broadband service without having to replace existing devices,
subsequently extending the life of the terminals and ATMs. Additional
benefits provided include an automatic dial back-up to protect users
from broadband service interruption, reduced communication costs by
eliminating the need for dedicated POS dial lines, standard SSL
encryption and mutual authentication protection.

Citi Cards Introduces a Gift Card Discount

Citi has introduced a new benefit to cardholders of its “Platinum Select,” “Diamond Preferred” and “AT&T Universal Platinum” cards. The new “Extra Cash” perk enables customers to earn 10% of the eligible purchases made with their card towards a gift card purchase from major merchants. Plus, every customer will receive 100 bonus dollars in “Extra Cash” upon enrollment. Citi has more than 70 gift card participants, 8,000+ hotel locations and a wide range of merchandise items to choose from.

Web Merchants to Increase E-Commerce Investments

Art Technology Group has released the results of a survey focusing on e-commerce that indicates that 96% of respondents plan to either maintain or increase their level of investment in e-commerce strategies or tools to strengthen the online experience for customers. The survey collected data from representatives of more than 50 global brands in industries ranging from retail, media and entertainment, financial services and insurance, telecommunications, consumer product manufacturing ,healthcare, and technology consulting. While all respondents reported annual Web sales of at least $10 million, 58% reported annual Web sales of $100 million or more. Within the majority, 26% reported annual Web sales of $1 billion or more. Despite the reported decline in consumer spending, a majority of survey respondents believed that the slowing U.S. economy would either not significantly impact their e-commerce business overall, or it might even have a positive impact resulting in e-commerce growth.

Discover Card Writes-Down a Mortgage Bond

Discover Financial Services expects to partially write down in the next reporting quarter a previously disclosed investment in the asset-backed commercial paper notes of Golden Key U.S., which had invested in U.S. mortgage-backed securities. The estimated charge will range from $18 million to $31 million pretax, or $11 million to $19 million after tax. Discover currently has no other investments of this type. The company’s original investment in the notes was $120.1 million and it recorded an $11.4 million write down of the investment in the quarter ended November 30th.

allEtronic Powers Up Paperless Card Receipts

allEtronic is offering digital paperless receipts to reduce the energy used to manufacture paper. Cardholders swipe a credit card in the normal fashion and the receipt automatically and instantly appears in a secure and private allEtronic account or by giving a cashier a phone number or email address to receive the receipts electronically. Customers still retain the option of getting paper receipts by just asking for them at checkout. Consumers can link as many credit or debit cards to their allEtronic account as they wish. The allEtronic system only requires the first 6 and last 4 digits of the card number in order to electronically transmit a receipt into the consumers allEtronic account. At no time will allEtronic ever ask for or require the consumer-™s entire card number.

United Airlines Faces More Card Holdbacks

United Airlines debt ratings are sinking as the airlines grapples with higher fuel costs. Fitch Ratings yesterday revised its “Rating Outlook” for UAL to “Negative” from “Stable.” Ratings for UAL reflect the airline’s highly levered balance sheet, volatile cash flow generation capacity, and ongoing susceptibility to intense fuel and revenue shocks in an industry that remains particularly vulnerable to macroeconomic risk. United’s two primary credit card processing agreements provide for the holdback of cash by processors in certain circumstances. As of March 31, United reported $319 million in credit card holdbacks, classified as restricted cash on the balance sheet. United’s largest processor agreement provides for additional holdbacks, but covenants are linked to those in the credit facility at a reduced threshold. There is no fixed charge coverage test for the next four quarters. For the second processing agreement, there are currently no holdbacks. However, the processing institution could require the posting of cash collateral if certain material adverse changes occur.

Wells’ Small Biz Index Sinks to a 5-YR Low

According to the latest Wells Fargo Gallup survey, small business owner optimism is at a five-year low with the “Small Business Index” having dropped 35 points since January to reach its lowest level since August 2003. The 35-point drop is the Index’s largest quarterly decrease to date, which has been on a steady 5-quarter decline and is currently at 48, a 66-point drop from the Index’s highest score of 114 in December 2006. Satisfaction among the small business owners, however, was down only 4 points from January to 86% while 94% feel successful in their role as a small business owner.

Nielsen Consumer Survey Shows a Recession

A recent Nielsen survey indicates that 85% of consumers think the U.S. is experiencing a recession and consumer confidence has dropped 17 points. The survey reveals that 35% of U.S. consumers consider the economy their biggest concern over the next six months. Debt comes in a distant second place at 15%, followed by work/life balance at 8%. International affairs, such as war and terrorism, rank near the bottom of the list (2% and 3%, respectively). Americans-™ view of the economy is bleak with 66% of U.S. respondents have a pessimistic view of their local job prospects over the next 12 months, with 50% saying it-™s not so good, and 16% calling it downright bad. However, 51% say the state of their personal finances remains excellent or good, while just over 36% rank their situation as not so good.

UATP Teams with Stored Value Solutions

Universal Air Travel Plan has teamed with Stored Value Solutions to focus on supplying gift cards to the global commercial airline community. The airlines will be able to brand the gift cards, making the solution a part of overall strategic objectives for growth by capitalizing on SVS’ solutions to the buying public and using the power of stored value to build brands, generate incremental sales, capture new sales opportunities and forge stronger customer relationships. Stored Value Solutions provides custom gift card solutions for prepaid cards, loyalty and B2B applications for a diverse set of clients including retailers, airlines, casinos and e-tailers and annually processes 625 million transactions for 600 clients and their 580 million cardholders. UATP accounts are accepted as a form of payment for corporate business travel by airlines and travel agencies worldwide.