CEO SURVEY

Top business executives worldwide are pessimistic about prospects for 2009. An “Annual Global CEO Survey” found that confidence has plunged to its lowest level since 2003. Nearly 70% of CEOs said their companies will be affected by the credit crisis. Of those, nearly 80% said they faced higher financing costs, and nearly 70% said they would delay planned investments as a result. Only 15% of CEOs in North America and 15% in Western Europe expressed confidence about growth prospects for the next 12 months. This compared with 21% in the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe, 31% in Asia Pacific, and 21% in Latin America. The impact of the recession in the world’s major economies, cited by 85% of survey respondents worldwide, continued to dominate concerns of CEOs and was the only risk factor to increase among CEOs’ concerns. Other major risk factors included disruption in the capital markets, cited by 72%, over-regulation, 55%, energy costs, 50%, and availability of key talent, 46%.

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NOV INDEX

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for Australia declined
1.0% and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index (CEI)
increased 0.1% in November. The LEI declined sharply in November,
decreasing for the third consecutive month. Three of the seven
components in the Leading Economic Index increased in November. The
positive contributors to the index are money supply, gross operating
surplus, and the sales to inventories ratio. Building approvals,
share prices, the yield spread and rural goods exports declined.
contributed negatively to the index, more than
offsetting the continued strong expansion in real money supply. The
six-month change in the index
has continued to fall to -1.2% (a -2.4% annual rate) in
the period through November 2008, down sharply from the 1.8% rate of
growth (a 3.6% annual rate) from November 2007 to May 2008. In addition,
the strengths and weaknesses among the leading indicators have remained
nearly balanced in recent months. The Coincident Economic Index
continued to increase in November. Retail trade rose again this month,
while employment fell. The six-month change in the CEI has picked up to
1.1% (a 2.2% annual rate) through November 2008, up from
0.3% (a 0.5% annual rate) for the previous six months.
Meanwhile, real GDP growth dropped to a 0.3% annual rate for the third
quarter of 2008, down sharply from the 1.9 percent average annual rate
of growth in the first half of 2008. the Leading Economic Index
now stands at 114.1 (2004=100)

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TransCard Names a New President

Prepaid card provider TransCard has hired Jerry Uffner, previously with
nFinanSe, as president. Uffner was Sr. Vice President of Sales for
nFinanSe and previously served as Vice President of Financial Services
for InComm and held previous sales management positions at First Data,
Comdata and RBS Lynk. He has a BA in Economics and Political Science
from the University of Pittsburgh and attended MBA School at the
University of Dallas.

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09 Bankruptcy Filings Likely to Grow 35%

A consensus is building that bankruptcy filings for 2009 could approach
1.5 million, a 35% increase over last year. If the unemployment rate
exceeds 9% by year-end it is likely the monthly volume of bankruptcy
filings will average about 400,000. According to CardData
(www.carddata.com) there were 290,000 filings in the fourth quarter with
an unemployment rate of 7.2%. According to the American Bankruptcy
Institute and the National Bankruptcy Research Center, bankruptcy
filings in December hit 84,926, a 9% year-over-year gain, but down 15%
from November. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
bankruptcy filings jumped 34% in the third quarter compared to the year
ago period, and increased 5% sequentially. During the third quarter
total filings hit 292,291 compared to 276,510 for the second quarter and
218,909 one-year ago. In a recent 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)

Unemployment Bankruptcy
1Q/08: 5.1% 246,000
2Q/08: 5.6% 276,000
3Q/08: 6.2% 292,000
4Q/08: 7.2% 290,000
1Q/09: 7.9% 332,000
2Q/09: 8.5% 373,000
3Q/09: 9.1% 394,000
4Q/09: 9.3% 391,000
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Consumer Lawsuit Filed Over the HPS Breach

A class action lawsuit has been filed against NJ-based Heartland
Payment Systems in regard to a recent hacking of its
processing systems and its impact on consumers. PA-based Chimicles &
Tikellis filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District
of New Jersey. The complaint alleges that HPS does not appear to be
offering any credit monitoring services or other relief to consumers
affected by the breach, and further alleges that HPS has made
unreasonably belated and inaccurate statements concerning the breach.
The complaint raises a claim pursuant to the “New Jersey Consumer
Fraud Act.” Last week, Heartland confirmed it was the victim of a
security breach within its processing system last year. The intrusion
was discovered this month, but the processor believes it is contained.
No merchant data or cardholder SSNs, unencrypted PIN, addresses or
telephone numbers were involved in the breach. Nor were any of
Heartland’s check management systems; Canadian, payroll, campus
solutions or micropayments operations; “Give Something Back Network”; or
the recently acquired Network Services and Chockstone processing
platforms. This week HPS formed an internal department dedicated
exclusively to the development of end-to-end encryption to protect
merchant and consumer data used in financial transactions. The new
department will be headed by Steven Elefant, co-founder and former chief
executive officer of ICVerify and a member of the US Secret Service
Electronic Crimes Task Force and Infragard. (CF Library 1/21/09; 1/28/09)

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Branch Training Key to Agent Card Success

Even though the vast majority of all portfolio sale deals last year
included an agent credit card program going forward, the performance of
the agent relationship is dependent on how well trained and aggressive
the agents are in the bank branch. A new analysis by R.K. Hammer reveals
that “weak performers” that offer no card sales incentives for the
retail branch sales staff produce less than 76 accounts per year per
branch while “Best in Class” performers generate more than 127 accounts
per year per branch. Hammer also found that a branch turning in the
bottom tier of performance generally promoted other retail products over
credit cards. “Medium Performers” were characterized by 89 to 102 new
accounts per year per branch; some incentives for branch personnel, but
distribution is often discretionary by the branch manager; better reporting
down to the employee level, and continuous emphasis on card sales. The
“Best in Class” peer group offered a wide variety of cash, gift, and
trip incentives; excellent monthly reporting; continuous training and
retraining, not only on its own products, but competitors as well and had a
major focus on aggressive activation of new accounts. Hammer runs more
than 800 agent bank credit card programs.

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NCR Names a New Global Sales Executive

NCR has tapped Peter Leav, previous with Motorola, as SVP of Global
Sales. As corporate vice
president and general manager at Motorola, Leav had responsibility for
sales in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa
where he led his team to top line revenue
growth, successive market share gains and improved operating earnings.
Leav will be responsible for driving growth of NCR’s assisted and
self-service solutions across
the financial services, retail and hospitality, travel and gaming,
entertainment, healthcare and public sector, and software and technology
services industries in more than 100 countries. Leav is a graduate of
Lehigh University.

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GMPC & CODEONE

The Global M-Payment Consortium has rolled out a new global mobile
payment platform “CodeOne”. The “CodeOne Mobile Payment Platform” can be
configured to allow total compatibility with current acquirer’s POS
network and has highly secure, proven platform and PCI compliance ready
Client/Server architecture. “CodeOne” is a simple, secure, easy to use
tool both for clients and
merchants, and allows high mobility, speed, at a very low operational
cost; resulting in the conversion of new points of sale and market
segments. It is designed with portability and multi-functionality
transactions in mind, so
acquirers and issuers do not need to ask customers to download multiples
application in their cell phones. The “CodeOne Application Server” is
scalable in performance and pricing. It supports multiple technologies
concurrently, and is easy to deploy, operate and administer. “CodeOne”
is NFC ready since all necessary infra-structure and application
solutions are easily interfaced with NFC hardware and software
infra-structure using one API to interface CodeOne protocol when NFC
equipment is available in large scale in the market.

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Global ATM and Kiosks to Grow by 9% CAGR

A new survey, “Next Generation Financial Kiosk, from NextGen Research
forecasts global markets for financial kiosks and enhanced ATMs will
grow to more than 186,000 financial kiosks and more than 2.4 million
ATMs by 2013. The report provides details on the
market and its outlook, including: market drivers and inhibitors;
detailed descriptions of self-service financial services
applications and services; an examination of the regulatory and business
challenges within this market and profiles of leading- and cutting-edge
financial kiosk manufacturers and deployers. ATMs are the leading
self-service technology within the financial service kiosk sector.
Next-generation ATMs capable of accepting envelope-free cash and check
deposits will drive the market for the next five years and beyond. ABI
Research’s NextGen Research informs clients of the outlook
for applications currently in use and the opportunities presented by new
technologies, so they can make sound business decisions.

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AmEx Sponsors 6th Annual NYT Travel Show

American Express is the presenting sponsor of the 2009 New York Times
Travel Show. The sixth annual New York Times Travel Show will be held
Feb. 6 to 8 in the Main Hall of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in
New York City. The largest
consumer and trade travel event of its kind in the United States, the
Travel Show will feature nearly 500 exhibitors representing more than
100 countries and will focus on travel destinations, packages and
special offers, as well as tour operators, cruise lines and live
entertainment for the whole family. The event will showcase a variety
of travel and vacation opportunities for consumers of all types: those
traveling solo, as a couple or taking the whole family; those looking
for budget or luxury trips; and those looking for relaxation and
wellness trips or seeking adventure travel. The common thread will be
the opportunity for consumers to book any type of vacation during the
show, taking advantage of all the special on-site promotions that
provide the most value for their travel investment.
American Express entered the travel agency business in 1915 and today is
one of the largest travel agency networks.

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ICBC & AFFINA

ICBC has selected Aconite’s Affina Enterprise for the management of the
ICBC’s smart card portfolio. Aconite’s Affina Enterprise solution
enables financial institutions to
manage their portfolio of smart applications and devices down to the
individual customer level, which results in improved customer
satisfaction and profits for the card issuer. It is part of Aconite’s
award-winning portfolio of solutions and consultancy services that
enables banks to migrate to the EMV (Chip & PIN) standard and to
implement post-EMV solutions in the areas of risk and fraud management,
contactless and prepaid applications and mobile payments. Aconite, who
acquired the intellectual property rights to the Affina Enterprise
Platform together with support and development staff from Datacard in
July 2008, is responsible for supplying the software and downstream
development and support to existing and new customers in the banking,
national and corporate ID markets. ICBC is China’s largest bank,
offering corporate and personal banking
services to 2.72 million corporate customers and 170 million retail
customers internationally.

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