Bankruptcy Filings Pick Up Momentum in May

The number of U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings continues to hover around 125,000 monthly. In May the number of filings was flat sequentially, but up 37% from one-year ago. The increase is running ahead of the widely held projections of a 35% gain for 2009. According to the American Bankruptcy Institute and the National Bankruptcy Research, consumer filings totaled 124,838 in May, compared to 125,618 in April and 91,214 in May 2008. Chapter 13 filings constituted 27% of all consumer cases in May, one percentage point above April. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts total bankruptcy filings jumped 33% in the fourth quarter to 301,317 compared to the year ago period. According to CardData (www.carddata.com) there were 308,000 consumer filings in the fourth quarter. In a late 2008 American Bankruptcy Institute poll, 65% of respondents predicted that bankruptcies in 2009 would increase by at least 35% over the nearly 1.1 million cases filed in 2008. Fifty-three percent of respondents predicted that filings would increase by 35% or more while 12% thought that filings would increase by about 35%. (CF Library 1/08/09; 1/30/09)

BANKRUPTCY FILINGS
May 08: 91,214
Jun 08: 82,770
Jul 08: 94,124
Aug 08: 96,413
Sep 08: 88,663
Oct 08: 106,266
Nov 08: 99,925
Dec 08: 84,926
Jan 09: 88,773
Feb 09: 98,344
Mar 09: 121,413
Apr 09: 125,618
May 09: 124,838
Source: ABI/NBKRC; CardData.com

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Consumer Economic Confidence Up for 3rd Month

Economic confidence picked up again in May for the third consecutive
month as more Americans believe the economy is getting better. However,
consumers are still reluctant to increase their spending intentions,
especially on discretionary purchases. The Discover “U.S. Spending
Monitor” increased by 2.0 points in May to 86.2, the highest since
September. The number of consumers saying the economy is getting better
rose 5 points to 27%, a new high. The number of consumers saying their
personal finances are getting better rose to 20%, also the highest since
September. However, since January, the spending component of the “Index”
has improved less than a point, compared to the index’s economic
component, which has jumped 18 points. The number of consumers expecting
to spend more in the month ahead rose to 20%. For May, 30% of consumers
expected to spend more on household expenses, a 5-point increase from
April as gas prices reached their highest levels of the year. But
anticipated discretionary purchases remained largely flat, increasing
less than a point to 10% in May. Nearly half, 49%, still plan on cutting
back on these expenses. Discover notes that for the first time in the
“Monitor”’s history less than half of consumers reported that both
economic conditions and their finances are getting worse.

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NFC Forum Officially Unveils the N-Mark

The NFC Forum non-profit industry association has introduced its
trademark “N-Mark” to offer customers easy product recognition.
Recognition of the “N” is to inform NFC users their device is accepted
at the indicated, NFC-enabled location. The ‘mark’ detects and transmits
stored information on the device to such receiver mediums as posters,
bus stop signs, parking permits, street signs, medicines, magazine pages
and food packaging in such industries as public transit, retail and
healthcare. Near Field Communication short-range wireless connectivity
technology allows for simple, secure, two-way interactions between
electronic devices, which the NFC Forum non-profit association and its
150 global member companies have been seeking to advance since 2004.

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U.S. Bank Launches Healthcare Payment Tools

U.S. Bank has launched the “Healthcare Payment Management Essentials” payment tool.
“HPM Essentials” is based on U.S. Bank’s
“Healthcare Payment Management” program, but it is tailored to the unique
needs of the private practitioner. Users can accept and track payments
via credit card, debit card, check or cash and select additional
functionality to meet the specific requirements of the facility, such as
real-time insurance eligibility verification, out-of-pocket payment
estimation, and payment plans. “Healthcare Payment Management” is currently used by more than 8,200
healthcare professionals at 1,300 outlets nationwide and was recently
peer reviewed by the Healthcare Financial Management Association and can
be seen at the HFMA’s annual conference, ANI, in June.

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NCR to Move its Headquarters to GA in July

NCR is moving its headquarters from Ohio to Georgia to establish a single innovation hub and the expansion of manufacturing facilities.
Approximately 1,250 additional jobs will be created at NCR’s existing
facility in Duluth, GA and 870 jobs will be created at a new Columbus, GA site. The Duluth facility will centralize business strategy, technology development and support functions into a single U.S. campus from several offices, including NCR’s current OH worldwide headquarters.
NCR’s operations in Dayton, OH will continue to include its data center and support for local customers. The new Columbus site will be used to manufacture advanced ATMs. NCR is to begin recruiting immediately for its manufacturing plant. The City of Columbus will use stimulus funding, provided by the Economic Development Authority, to purchase the building for the plant, which will be leased back by NCR. The headquarters centralization will begin in July.

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More Credit Card ABS Goes Under the Microscope

Moody’s has placed on review for possible downgrade 36 classes of asset-backed securities of the “Discover Card Execution Note Trust,” “DiscoverSeries” and the “Discover Card Master Trust.” The review of the asset-backed ratings is driven by deterioration in some of the Trust’s key collateral performance metrics as well as June 1, 2009
downgrade of Discover, the seller/servicer of the Trust. The
annualized gross charge-off rate reached a record-high 9.11% in April
2009 and the delinquency rate was 5.55%, much higher than 4.10% a year ago. The Trust’s average principal payment rate has fallen to about 16.5% from 18.8% a year ago. Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings has downgraded the ratings on the senior notes and has also placed the subordinate notes and cash collateral accounts issued by “1st Financial Credit Card Master Note Trust,” “1st Financial Credit Card Master Note Trust II” and “1st Financial Credit Card Master Note Trust III” on “Rating Watch Negative.”
The rating actions are a result of weaker than expected actual charge-off and delinquency rates reported on all three trusts since the beginning of the year.

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CU24 and Acculynk Introduce PaySecure I-PIN

Credit Union 24 ATM/POS network and Acculynk Technology have inked agreements to launch the “PaySecure” Internet PIN debit service. The service will be made available to its member credit unions in response to a Javelin Strategy & Research study concluding 78% of those surveyed agreed PIN entry on the PaySecure PIN-pad is as simple as PIN entry at the ATM/POS terminal while 48% would conduct more internet purchases if conducted through “PaySecure”. The internet PIN Debit service offers software-only service for PIN debit payments on the Internet through a graphical PIN-pad at internet merchant checkouts using no hardware devices, passwords, enrollment or website redirection. Solely devoted to credit unions, Credit Union 24 is credit union-owned providing customers locations across the country while Acculynk technology provider specializes in software-only services to promote secure online transactions.

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Plastic Jungle Boosts Gift Card Buy Rates

Plastic Jungle gift card exchange has restructured its rate plan to
increase reimbursement by 5% for unused gift cards. The new structure
ensures consumers exchanging gift cards with at least a $25 balance at
Plastic Jungle receive up to 85% of the card value. The list of accepted
gift cards and corresponding rates can be seen at
http://www.plasticjungle.com/pub/quickcash. Plastic Jungle gift card
exchange was established to save consumers money by selling unwanted
gift cards for cash or exchange and guarantees all transactions with
gift card replacement protection.

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Mercator Advisory Adds Managing Director

Mercator Advisory Group has appointed Ian Rubin, previously with Financial Research Corporation,
to VP/managing director of the custom research and consulting group. Rubin brings over a decade of global financial services consulting and
market research experience to Mercator Advisory Group. As senior vice president of Financial Research Corporation’s asset
management research and consulting business, he was responsible for
overseeing research programs, bringing new services to market, and
developing and managing long-term client relationships. Prior to his position with Financial Research Corporation, Rubin was a
founding member of Financial Insights, a subsidiary of technology market
research firm IDC, where he led its consulting practice. Prior to
joining Financial Insights, Ian was the founding director of IDC’s
online financial services research group. Rubin earned a master of business administration from Columbia Business
School and a bachelor of arts in economics from Brandeis University.

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WEBCOLLECT

China-based DHgate.com online wholesale buying & trading platform and
GlobalCollect e-payment service provider have teamed to offer preferred
payment options around the world. With this development, DHgate.com will
provide its customers access to GlobalCollect’s “WebCollect” interface
to complete bank transfers in real-time, conduct cash bill payments
through Western Union and utilize eWallet transactions to and fro
anywhere in the world. On the macro level, the partnership has potential
to boost conversion rates given the increased access to China’s
low-priced wholesalers. DHgate.com connects 1.4 million worldwide buyers
with more than 300,000 wholesalers/manufacturers in China with over 20
million product listings at any one time to generate annual transaction
volumes of over USD$200 million. Meanwhile, the GlobalCollect PSP
“WebCollect” can process transactions in 28 languages in over 200
countries.

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CELLTRUST AUSTRALIA

CellTrust has commenced operations with Sydney-based CellTrust Australia
to provide SMS and mobile marketing across Australia and New Zealand.
With the CellTrust “SecureSMS” Gateway, local businesses can exchange
information with customers using mobile devices for advanced delivery,
reading, and receipt confirmation and are guaranteed end-to-end privacy.
Additional features include indication when sent items are received and
opened by the recipient, increased character limit to 5000, remote wipe
functionality if device is ever lost, 2D barcodes, mobile banking and
mobile payments. CellTrust secure mobile messaging and applications are
available in 218 countries through over 700 different carriers.

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