Mortgage Bailout Draws Wide Criticism

Providing financial relief to over 500,000 American homeowners, the Senate has passed its housing package legislation. In response, 15 various civil rights, consumer and housing groups have released a joint statement reflecting disappointment due to the measures enacted not addressing the most effective solution allowing courts to modify unaffordable mortgages. The law would help stabilize communities preventing up to 600,000 additional foreclosures across the country, which are being foreclosed on at an average rate of nearly 20,000 per week. Although these organizations are disappointed with these developments, they are still advocating action be taken by the Senate and the House to prevent many more foreclosures.

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ADS Completes Renewal of its Financing Goal

Alliance Data Systems’ private label credit card banking subsidiary, World Financial Network National Bank, has completed the renewal of its $400 million conduit facility. The facility, which will fund existing and new private label credit card programs, currently holds approximately $265 million in card assets. The facility was renewed by the Company’s current group of conduit providers including Barclays Capital and JPMorgan. This $400 million conduit facility renewal completes the Company’s final portion of its $2.7 billion financing goal.

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nTelagent Offers the Self-Pay Management System

TN-based healthcare payment solution provider nTelagent announced that it “Self-Pay Management System” protects patient’s identity through the use of only publicly available information for credit risk calculations. Healthcare providers are facing challenges in collecting payments directly from the individual patients, instead of private insurance companies and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid as more and more patients entering healthcare facilities and emergency rooms as self-pay patients. In order to address this shift in collections structure, many healthcare facilities are concentrating on front-end collections to ensure timely and accurate payment from self-pay patients. As a result, demographic and financial information from patients is required upfront to establish financial responsibility, patient ability to pay, discounting, payment plans, charity care, assistance program eligibility and other assessments. Using available demographic information, combined with a provider’s unique business policies, the “Self Pay Management System” provides registrars and financial counselors with online scripting, instructing them on the exact steps to be taken with each patient.

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Credit Card Solicitations Drop 19% Since Oct

The estimated number of mailings sent by credit card issuers has dropped another 3% from December. The number of credit card-related mailings sent to consumers topped 900 million during October, but totals have dropped 19% since then. According to Mintel Comperemedia credit card direct mail volume has fallen steadily since October. From December to January, credit card issuers reduced the number of mailings sent to current cardholders by 30%. Meanwhile, they increased direct mail offers to non-customers by 7%. Of 2007’s top 10 mailers, six increased their direct mailings to non-customers after the holidays. But four cut back on non-customer mail as well as customer mail in January, remaining hesitant about the unsteady, unsure market.

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AmEx Business Travel Unit Lands 73% More Deals

American Express Business Travel has seen a 73% increase from 2007 in new wins and renewals of contracts and has restructured its senior leadership team. Contributing to the strong sales growth through new contracts or extended agreements are well-known household name companies and various public sector organizations. Priyan Fernando, Chief Operating Officer also becomes President overseeing the Customer Group, in addition to retaining his current responsibility for leading Global Operations, Andy McGraw was appointed to the newly created position of SVP/GM, Worldwide Sales. Lisa Durocher was promoted to SVP/ Marketing and Innovation. She will continue to lead all Marketing, Innovation, Product Management and Online strategy. Andrew Winterton retains his role as SVP/GM, Global Supplier Relations, Partner Network and Latin America and the Caribbean.

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ATA Airline Card Shuts Down & Files Bankruptcy

ATA Airlines has shut down following bankruptcy filings and cancelled its frequent flyer program. ATA received abrupt and unexpected notification from FedEx Corporation that ATA would no longer be a member of the FedEx Teaming Arrangement. This arrangement gave ATA a significant share of the airlift contracts under the International Program of the Department of Defense Air Mobility Command, which facilitates transportation for military personnel and their families to and from overseas destinations. This arrangement accounted for most of ATA’s charter business. Customers who purchased tickets from ATA using a credit card need to contact their credit card provider directly for more information about how to obtain a refund for unused tickets.

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BofA Offers Patented Corporate Card Controls

Bank of America has been granted a patent for a new technology that enables its clients to manage the available funds on corporate purchasing cards dynamically and in real time. BofA’s “Active Card Control” is an extension of its commercial card product suite. Using the technology, the client can reset the available funds on each card as frequently as necessary through a web-based tool. When initially issued, cards will have $0 in available funds until the client is ready to pay the supplier. At that time, the client submits a purchase request through the “BofA Works” application which uses the “Active Card Control” technology to fund individual cards with the exact amount of the invoices to be paid. When those purchases are billed to the card, the available funds go to zero. Key benefits of “ACC” for the client include improved administrative efficiency and lower costs from not having to raise and lower credit limits or change single transaction limits; increased control over purchasing due to a mandatory approval process; reduced paperwork; and ease of implementation as purchase requests can be used with any card program that uses the Works platform.

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JetBlue Airways to Offer the PayPal Option

JetBlue Airways has signed agreements to provide its Internet-booking customers with the option to conduct transactions through PayPal. Resulting from these agreements, PayPal can provide JetBlue travelers with more options, flexibility, security and convenience as does the organization currently provides for its existing 57 million active customer accounts. Moreover, the payment solution allows consumers to establish accounts for payment with debit cards, bank accounts, stored balance or credit cards without sharing personal information. JetBlue serves 53 cities with 550 daily flights while PayPal allows anyone to pay without sharing financial information in 190 markets and 17 currencies around the world.

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OPTEVA CHINA

The Agriculture Bank of China has deployed 1,400 of Diebold’s “Opteva”
ATMs to provide customers with greater accessibility. This greater
accessibility will allow ATM users in remote rural areas to make deposits
and transfer funds without a bank card over an advanced-functionality,
self-service solution. The Agricultural Bank of China has over 31,000
branches and banking offices across China and had 2005 total assets of
$605 billion while Diebold Incorporated provides self-service delivery and
security systems, employs over 17,000 in nearly 90 countries and reported
a 2006 revenue of $2.9 billion.

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Discover Card Spending Index Hits a New Low

Americans grew even more concerned about the economy and their personal finances in the face of rising monthly expenses. The latest “Discover U.S. Spending Monitor” reached a new low in March hitting 85.1, down more than a full point from the previous month and lower by 11 points than just six months ago. Survey results also showed that consumers sharply underestimated their spending intentions for March. In February, 29% said they expected to spend more in March. When asked about their actual March spending however, 46% reported they were spending more. The 17-point increase appears driven by sharp increases in household expenses such as gasoline, food and mortgages. In turn, consumers plan to actively cut back their discretionary spending and even savings to help make ends meet.

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CASH STORE & INSTA-RENT

Rentcash Inc has announced the introduction of its “Insta-Rent” solution.
In conjunction with this development, Rentcash has changed its name to
Cash Store Financial. The name of the Organization was changed to reflect
its primary focus of providing payday advances while “Insta-Rent” was
designed to establish clarity with its payday advance and rental
businesses through 60 stores across Canada. The new establishment will
rent brand-name furniture, appliances, electronics and computers, with or
without an option to buy and employs over 250 associates. The Cash Store
Financial has 370 branches across Canada facilitating payday advance
services to income-earning consumers, issuing “The Cash Store Cash Card”
and “InstaWorld Debit Card” debit cards, and employs over 1,500
associates.

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MONERIS GIFT CARD

Home Hardware Stores has partnered with Moneris’ Ernex to launch its gift
card solution. With this, Moneris will provide the Ernex gift card through
over 1,000 of Home Hardware Store locations across Canada, replacing the
services of a former gift card provider with a reloadable option that has
no expiry dates. Moreover, this rationalizes Home Hardware’s card offering
given all of its card products, including debit, credit, loyalty and now
gift cards, are provided through Moneris. Home Hardware Stores Limited
provides building materials to consumers and had 2007 annual retail sales
of $4.8 billion while Ernex, a division of the Moneris Solutions
Corporation, provides marketing solutions with gift cards, reward and
loyalty services.

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