Bling Nation Names a New Head of Sales

Payment network Bling Nation has hired Shannon Goldman, previously with
Harland Clarke, as its new head of sales. Goldman
will spearhead market expansion efforts for the company’s Community
Payments Service. Goldman spent more than a decade in multiple roles at
San Antonio-based
Harland Clarke, a provider of a broad range of marketing, integrated
payment and technology solutions. As group vice president of Sales,
Goldman represented the Liberty Sales Organization during its 2005
acquisition by John H. Harland Company. During the integration, Goldman
was named vice president of Sales and worked with a staff of 75 sales
personnel who successfully exceeded client retention, revenue and
profitability goals. She represented her organization again upon
Harland’s subsequent acquisition by Clarke American in 2007. Goldman has
a bachelor of science degree in Marketing from Pennsylvania State
University.

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CO-OP Launches Portfolio Optimization

CA-based CO-OP Financial Services has launched the “Usage Analytics
Plus” portfolio optimization product. “Usage Analytics Plus” further
leverages the breadth of member data by laying cardholder demographics over
transaction data. Credit unions can analyze usage patterns based on
this information combined with specific parameters, such as identifying
heavy PIN users at certain merchants or determining recent cards issued
that haven’t been activated. CO-OP is adding the product to
Revelation’s first
module, developed by Saylent Technologies, a payment intelligence
software provider that created the “Card360” card portfolio optimization
solution used in the CO-OP Revelation platform. Clients using the new
module find it beneficial to have data combined,
particularly for analyzing potential fraud impacts.

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TRANSCASH VISA

U.S.-based TSYS and TransCash have teamed to offer a prepaid international money transfer card. The first cards will be issued in
France through Midi France Telecom this summer. The initial target
markets include Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The Visa-branded card will
be distributed in dual card packs through supermarkets, initially with
the Auchan supermarket chain. The first card is loaded with value while
the second card can be sent to relatives abroad. The TSYS platform will
also be used for launching similar products across Europe and beyond. To
coincide with the agreement, TSYS has opened a new office in Paris to
support the company’s expansion into France. Midi France Telecom
provides telephone call charge cards through retailers such as Auchan,
Casino, Leclerc, Carrefour, Boulanger and several department Stores.
Charles Cohen is the CEO of TransCash.

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Q1 VOLUME

The number of purchases with credit cards and debit cards rose 4% in the first quarter, compared to the year ago quarter. Debit cards continue to dominate the U.K. payment system capturing nearly 75% of all plastic card purchases during the first three months of 2009, compared to 73% for 1Q/08. According to the APACS quarterly report, there were 1.9 billion plastic card purchases made in the U.K. totaling GBP 94.2 billion compared to 1.8 billion purchases totaling GBP 91.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Gross credit card lending to individuals during the first quarter of 2009 amounted to GBP 30.3 billion and repayments were GBP 29.6 billion. Gross lending was 9% lower and repayments were 8% lower than during 1Q/08 when the figures were GBP 33.2 billion and GBP 32.2 billion, respectively. For both 1Q/08 and 1Q/09 the repayment ratio averaged 97%. Bacs volumes and values grew by 1% and 5% respectively during the first quarter. Over the same period, CHAPS sterling volumes fell by 5% whilst values rose by 1.8%. The UK “Faster Payments Service” was launched in May 2008 and by the end of March had processed 142.9 million payments for a value of GBP 53.5 billion. Cheque and credit clearing volumes declined by 11%, total values declined by 9%.

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Vast Majority of Card ABS is Holding Up

A recent review has found that the vast majority of credit card ABS classes remain well insulated from loss. The robust credit card structures combined with bank efforts to actively manage risk and in some cases increase transaction level credit enhancement have resulted in Fitch affirming 467, or 98% of its credit card ABS ratings including all ‘AAAs’. However, Fitch has revised 76 ratings to Rating Outlook Negative and 10 ratings were placed on “Rating Watch Negative.” Fitch Ratings also placed all 29 classes of U.S. credit card ABS transactions issued by 1st Financial Bank ‘Under Analysis’. Last month, 206 classes of Fitch rated U.S. credit card ABS transactions had ‘Under Analysis’ status, which Fitch has since reviewed. In the most recent review, Fitch applied a custom charge-off forecast for each trust. This forecast was derived by applying delinquency roll rates observed over the last six months to current delinquencies and incorporating the effect of Fitch’s unemployment forecast of 10% by early 2010.

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ID EXEC

NXP Semiconductors announced Ruediger Stroh will join NXP as
General Manager of the identification business. Stroh takes over running the identification business from Christophe Duverne, whose next assignment has not been announced. Stroh began his career at Siemens AG where he held multiple management positions. He then became SVP and GM at Infineon Technologies, responsible for the Network and Computer Storage, Data Communications, and Consumer divisions. He also led multiple start-ups in Wireless, Storage Networking and advanced nano materials companies before joining the Agere Systems Leadership Team as EVP of the Storage Business Unit. After the Agere/LSI merger, Stroh’s expanded responsibilities at LSI Corporation included Hard Disk Drive SOCs, Preamps, Motor Controllers as well as SSD controllers.

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MARCH LEI

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index declined 1.1% and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI) decreased 0.4% in March.
Two of the seven components in The Conference Board
LEI for Germany increased in March. The positive contributors are the yield
spread and inventory change series. Negative contributors are stock prices, new orders in investment
goods industries, new residential construction orders, consumer confidence and gross enterprises and properties income. Between
September 2008 and March 2009, the coincident economic index decreased
by 3.9% (about a -7.6% annual rate), after remaining
unchanged during the previous six months. Additionally, the weaknesses
among the coincident indicators have become very widespread, with all
four components decreasing during the past six months. At the same time,
real GDP declined at an average annual rate of 11.5% during the
fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 (including a 14.4%
annual rate of contraction during the first quarter), its
largest two-quarter contraction since 1960. The Conference Board LEI for
Germany now stands at 86.6 (2004=100).

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AmEx to Make Another $800MM in Cutbacks

American Express is gearing up for another round of cutbacks that includes the elimination of 4,000 jobs or about 6% of the company’s current worldwide workforce. This second round of reductions will produce an estimated $800 million in savings. It follows the first round of cutbacks announced in October that were aimed at saving $1.8 billion. The latest round of staff is expected to save about $175 million. AmEx expects to save about $500 million in reduced investment spending on marketing and business development. A further reduction in operating costs by cutting expenses for consulting and other professional services, travel, and general overhead is expected to save $125 million.
In October AmEx announced is planned to cut 7,000 jobs or about 10% of its workforce. The Company also cut $125 million in consulting and other professional services, travel and entertainment and general overhead. AmEx also was looking to save $1.0 billion by scaling-back investment spending on technology, marketing and business development and streamlining costs associated with some rewards programs. (CF Library 10/31/08)

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Cred-Ex and CardinalCommerce Partner

NJ-based alternative payment provider Cred-Ex and CardinalCommerce have
teamed to launch the “Merchant Advantage Program”. The program assists
merchants in assessing credit-worthy customers at the checkout page. With
Cred-Ex’s four keystrokes and two clicks only application process, an
instantaneous online full credit evaluation is provided. Using Cred-Ex’s
underwriting engine, merchants can
make immediate credit decisions to issue their customers in-house credit
to complete their purchases based on their own underwriting criteria.
The program is designed to allow the customers the
flexibility to pay for their purchases in
installments, with or without interest. This process dramatically
increases volume and loyalty by attracting and converting new customers,
and by retaining existing clients. Cred-Ex’s technology also helps
combat identity theft
through its patented process.

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Biz Owners Rely on Cards but Frustrated

A new study has found that 59% of small business owners are currently
using credit cards to finance their business, up from 49% in December.
At the same time 75% report that their credit-card terms have worsened
over the past six months, compared to 69% in December. The research by
the National Small Business Association also reveals that
86% of small business owners use their consumer or business credit cards
primarily or exclusively for business purposes. When asked what
percentage of their overall debt/financing is comprised of credit card
debt, 34% said it was 25% or more. About 20% said the interest rate they
were paying for the primary credit card was more than 20%. When it comes
to credit lines, 31% said the combined credit lines on all their cards
was between $20,000 and $49,000, while 23% said it was $100,000 or more.
About 63% report that their interest rate has been increased in the last
year and 41% report their credit line has been reduced. The survey was
conducted between April 27th and May 5th.

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Amtrak to Deploy ExaDigm Mobile Terminals

CA-based wireless payment solution provider ExaDigm has been tapped by
Amtrak to provide mobile payment terminals. ExaDigm’s “XD2500 Mobile
Wireless Payment Terminal” will be deployed
nationwide for use by 1,600+ conductors and assistant conductors on all
passenger routes. Amtrak’s deployment of the XD2500 for onboard ticket
sales is centered on an initiative which will result in the
implementation of a faster, easier payment process for customers;
reduction of credit card losses; full PCI-DSS compliance in the onboard
sales environment; and a reduction in the risk of credit card fraud.
Amtrak will commence a nationwide rollout of the “XD2500” this summer.
It is anticipated that a full deployment will be completed early next year.

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GRADIAN & CIDWAY

Gradian
has partnered with Swiss technology group Cidway to help UK
businesses and consumers tackle identity theft and fraud. Gradian will
provide Cidway’s ground-breaking technologies for mobile
phones that make transactions like online banking, remote access or
mobile payment much more secure by using unique PINs and one time
passwords, enabled over mobile phone
based applications. Cidway protects customers from rising security risks
and attacks such as phishing (fake emails and websites designed to gain
customers’ account details) or man-in-the-middle (fraud in which the
attacker makes independent connections with the victims and relays
messages between them to change transaction details). Cidway products
are already being deployed by banks, governments and enterprises right
across Europe, Middle East and Asia.

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