MAESTRO CARDS

MasterCard reported that usage of European “Maestro” debit cards for cross-border payments at retailers rose by 24% last year. In 2007, 42% of European “Maestro” debit card transactions were at merchant POS terminals, up from 37% in 2005. ATM cash withdrawals accounted for 58% of the transactions in 2007, down from 63% in 2005. Historically cardholders have tended to use their debit cards when on holiday in southern Europe. While “Maestro” debit card transactions by foreign cardholders in these traditional holiday countries has continued to increase in absolute terms, the overall share of transactions decreased relative to those conducted in both local border as well as global destinations.

Well-Being Index Indicates U.S. Recession

More than 40% of American workers believe the U.S. economy is in a recession. The latest “Principal Financial Well-Being Index” also found that another 46% of workers believe the economy is headed for a recession. The index also revealed that more than two-thirds of workers are very concerned about their long-term financial future. Sixty percent of workers expressed concern about their ability to save for retirement, while nearly half expressed concern about even being able to cover monthly expenses and reduce credit card debt or pay off short-term debt.

Satisfaction & CU Card Portfolio Sales

A recent survey of credit unions by Dallas-based TNB Card Services indicate a 72% satisfaction rate in selling their card portfolio. Among those credit unions who had sold their portfolio to TNB more than a year earlier and would sell it again if they had it to do over, 86% said they would definitely sell to TNB. Also among those on the program for more than a year, 72% indicated they would recommend TNB to their credit union peers. This is in sharp contrast to recent industry surveys suggesting that just 42% of credit unions that have sold their portfolios would recommend to their peers the companies that bought those portfolios.

Payment Fraud Continues to Grow

According to a new survey from the Association for Financial Professionals, the incidence of payment fraud increased between 2006 and 2007 with nearly 71% of respondent organizations having indicated either attempted or successful acts of fraud throughout the year. Moreover, findings showed that large organizations were more likely to have been targets of payments fraud than were smaller organizations, with 81% of organizations of over $1 billion in annual revenue were victims while only 58% of organizations with annual revenues under $1 billion were victims, 94% of respondents indicated attempted or actual check fraud and of the establishments surveyed, the median financial loss to payment fraud was $13,900. In response to this, preventative efforts being taken include Segregating responsibilities among different employees, using multi-factor authentication tools, deleting online user IDs and assigning dual system administrators for online cash management services.

MoneyGram’s Partial Buyout Deal Changes

MoneyGram has amended its merger with Thomas Lee Partners and Goldman Sachs. Under the revised terms investors will be able to purchase about 79% of MoneyGram for $760 million. The transaction will also be conditioned to acceptable terms and closing conditions of all parties by March 14. MoneyGram provides global payment services through remittance and payment processing solutions for financial institutions and retail customers, had a 2006 annual revenue of $1.16 billion and approximately 143,000 global money transfer agent locations in 170 countries.

Discover Introduces EDGE for Cardholders

Discover has launched an online resource dedicated to helping consumers become more savvy when it comes to managing their time and money. “Discover EDGE” is written by an independent team of experts, led by nationally-syndicated columnist and best-selling author Ilyce Glink. Consumers will find helpful articles covering a variety of topics, including shopping, travel, finance, home, technology, book reviews and more. They also will find regular features such as Ask Ilyce – an insightful Q&A in which consumers receive answers to questions they submit regarding their own personal finances. “Discover EDGE” content is updated twice a month and can be found on the company’s newly redesigned website.

Asset Acceptance Changes Credit Agreement

Debt collector Asset Acceptance Capital has entered into an amendment for its $100 million revolving credit facility and $150 million term loan facility following its temporary waiver of noncompliance in February. The amendment to its credit agreement resets two financial covenants and increases the rate of interest the Company pays on borrowings under the credit facility by 25 basis points (0.25%). The two financial covenants reset by the amendment are the ratio of consolidated total liabilities to tangible net worth, and the leverage ratio. The amendment also permanently waives the earlier default on the consolidated total liabilities to tangible net worth covenant.

Mobile Banking Emerges as a Top Priority

A new report suggests that mobile banking is already a strategic business and technology priority for the top U.S. banks. New research from TowerGroup finds that core banking technology vendors have a big role to play in helping mid-tier and small institutions take advantage of this emerging channel that will soon be a cost of doing business. TowerGroup says that within a few years the mobile device will be the primary access point for consumer banking, with 40 million U.S. consumers using mobile banking by 2012. Core banking vendors will be important contributors to the widespread proliferation of integrated mobile banking services and will fundamentally reshape the vendor ecosystem for mobile banking solutions. As the focus shifts from ‘technovation’ to return on investments, the core banking vendors are ideally positioned to enable proper business economics in support of mobile banking.

POLI SERVICE DISTRIBUTION

NETELLER and Centricom Ltd have signed agreements to jointly establish
“Centricom Europe” for the distribution of “POLi payment services”. “POLi
affords users a secure online payment method without being required to
disclose personal credit card information, extends online service/retail
access
to the under-banked and reduces the risk of fraud to both merchants and
customers. The “POLi” service solution accounts for 23% of total online
payment transactions across Australia and is operated by Centricom Europe
while NETELLER operates in 160 countries, providing an online payment
service that transfers billions of dollars per annum.

Bankruptcy Filings Rise Sharply in Feb 08

Consumer bankruptcy filings in February rose to 76,000 compared to 66,000 in the prior month. Chapter 13 filings made up about 46% of all consumer cases, down slightly from last month. According to data provided by the National Bankruptcy Research Center and Lindquist Consulting, consumer bankruptcies hit 66,400 in December compared to 69,000 in September and 61,000 in March. Cumulatively, the 2007 bankruptcy filings totaled 802,000, a 40.5% increase from 2006.

CONSUMER FILINGS
Feb 07: 55,000
Mar 07: 61,000
Apr 07: 62,000
May 07: 70,000
Jun 07: 69,000
Jul 07: 64,000
Aug 07: 75,000
Sep 07: 69,000
Oct 07: 72,000
Nov 07: 77,000
Dec 07: 74,000
Jan 08: 66,000
Feb 08: 77,000
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center/Lindquist Consulting

CITI VODAFONE ONE VISA

Renewing their partnership agreements, Citi and Vodafone have teamed
to launch the “Citi Vodafone One VISA”. With this new card, the
partnership organizations are offering a free-of-charge option to
accumulate 1 “Vodafone One” point for each EUR20 spent, 100
points awarded immediately upon activation, insurance coverages
including “Theft and Loss” and “Security Purchases”, and the “Citi
Alerting Service,” affording the user 24-hour account updates. Citi
provides financial products and services through its nearly 200 million
customer accounts across more than 100 countries.

WORLD FINANCIAL NETWORK

The Alliance Data’s credit card subsidiary, “World Financial Network
National Bank,” has established financing for $600 million in credit-card-
asset-backed-bonds with the help of Barclays Financing. These afore-
mentioned bonds are set to mature in the spring of 2008, which will be
88% funded by the new facility and 12% by the combination of cash, CDs
and investors, and will be accommodated for by the company’s liquidity.
Alliance Data manages over 120 million consumer relationships
across North America and employs over 9,000 individuals at 60 locations
worldwide.