Australian Card Debt Sets a New Record

Credit card debt climbed again in December setting a new record of A$42.7 billion in Australia. Credit card volume also set a new high of A$19.2 billion after hitting a record in October. Year-on-year credit card debt has increased 9.5%, compared to December 2006. Card volume is up 12.3% compared to one-year ago. Credit card limits also reached a new high at A$114.4 billion, marking the 16th consecutive month of A$100+ billion. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia there are currently 13.9 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 13.2 million one-year ago.

CREDIT CARD HISTORICAL
(A$ billions)
MONTH BALANCES VOLUME
Dec 06: 39.0 17.1
Jan 07: 37.3 15.3
Feb 07: 39.5 15.3
Mar 07: 39.5 16.6
Apr 07: 39.6 15.3
May 07: 40.2 17.4
Jun 07: 40.8 16.5
Jul 07: 41.0 17.5
Aug 07: 41.1 18.1
Sep 07: 41.2 16.2
Oct 07: 41.3 18.8
Nov 07: 41.9 18.3
Dec 07: 42.7 19.2
Source: Reserve Bank of Australia

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Brookstone Offers Sharper Image Card Promo

Specialty retailer Brookstone is now accepting bankrupt Sharper Image gift cards to offer a 25% discount on purchases. Brookstone is not honoring the value of the Sharper Image gift card but instead is providing the 25% Brookstone Store discount in exchange for receiving the Sharper Image gift card from the customer. Customers holding a valid Sharper Image gift card can visit any Brookstone Store and relinquish the card to a Brookstone Store Associate. Customers, in exchange for turning over the Sharper Image gift card to Brookstone, receive a one-time, 25 % discount off their entire Brookstone Store purchase. The customer must make the Brookstone purchase at the time of relinquishing the Sharper Image gift card.

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WaMu Passes 5 Years of Free FICO Scores

WaMu, the first, and currently the only, credit card issuer that provides its cardholders with free online access to their “FICO” credit score, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the service this year. WaMu first partnered with credit bureau TransUnion and credit scoring pioneer Fair Isaac in 2003 to introduce the free consumer service. WaMu credit card customers simply have to set up online access to their account — also free. Not only can they then track their card usage and pay their bill, they also receive monthly updates of their TransUnion-derived “FICO” score along with the top reasons why they have that score. Normally, consumers would have to pay at least a one-time fee of $15.95 to purchase their “FICO” score, and close to $100 annually for ongoing monthly monitoring.

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S1 Corporation Names Jackson as VP

S1 Corporation has named Mike Jackson, formerly with Regions Financial, as VP/Product Strategy, Hosting and Managed Services. Jackson will have responsibility for corporate product strategy as well as the company’s data center hosting and managed services operations. Jackson served in a number of roles for Regions Financial Corporation, most recently as the President of Alternative Delivery. His extensive leadership experience in e- commerce and information systems includes responsibility for personal and small business Internet banking, ATMs, debit cards, credit cards, merchant services, and products and services delivered via the Internet.

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NET1 UEPS TECHNOLOGIES

International Smart Card LLC, Iraqi government and bank consortium,
has signed contracts with Net1 UEPS Technologies for the
implementation of its customized banking and payment system. In doing
so, the organization will assist International Smart Card in overcoming
challenges encountered with the payment and distribution of cash
disbursements for Iraqi citizens through an interoperability platform of
ATMs, POS devices and bank branches in other countries, in addition to
offline and online transaction processing. These disbursements include the
payment of social grants to war victims, employee salary/wage payments,
banking products and financial services. In turn, this will afford Net1
ongoing transaction and licensing fees resulting from the provision of
its outsourcing services.

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PC Lender Agrees to Settle FTC Charges

The FTC will collect up to $5 million in fines from BlueHippo Funding and Blue Hippo Capital for violating federal laws extending credit to consumers with poor or no credit. According to the FTC’s complaint, Blue Hippo offered to extend credit to consumers to finance purchases of personal computers and other consumer electronics with down payments of $99 to $124 and a year of weekly or bi-weekly payments ranging from $36 to $88. The defendants required consumers to agree to a series of automatic, periodic debits from their bank accounts to purchase their products, promising that they would deliver the product once the consumer made 13 weekly, or seven bi-weekly, payments. In many instances, the defendants debited consumers’ accounts without first disclosing that consumers could not get a refund even if they cancelled before delivery of the product, and regardless of the reason for cancellation. Many consumers did not receive the merchandise they ordered or refunds.

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Experian Rolls-Out Attribute Toolbox

Experian has introduced a data intelligence application that puts enhanced data access and attribute management capabilities directly into the hands of clients. Experian’s “Attribute Toolbox” allows institutions not only to connect to multiple data sources, but also to effectively build, fine tune and manage the attributes that are required to make informed decisions throughout the customer life cycle. “Attribute Toolbox” provides a service-based, platform-independent application that makes it easy to integrate with existing systems and allows a client to manage attributes with common tools across the enterprise. It also provides access to Experian’s industry leading library of more than 400 standard aggregated “STAGG” attributes.

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Shift4 Backpedals Over PCI DSS Claims

Last week Shift4 issued a press release incorrectly titled: “PCI DSS Does Not Apply to Merchants using Shift4’s 4Go Technology.” The Company says that while the body of the release was accurate, the headline was incorrect because PCI DSS does apply to Shift4 customers. Merchants concerned about PCI DSS compliance have an option that enables them to avoid many of its arduous requirements. Shift4’s “4Go SecureSuite” product offering is designed to streamline PCI DSS compliance for merchants while ensuring ongoing security. “4Go SecureSuite” from Shift4 uses “Card Information Replacement Technology” to provide an alternative approach to PCI DSS Version 1.1.

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HYPERCOM PRESIDENT

Hypercom has hired former MasterCard executive Heidi Goff as President and Managing Director, the Americas. Goff will join Hypercom next week to drive the Company’s sales, service and support throughout North America, South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Goff served for 11 years with MasterCard International in leadership roles including SVP/Global Merchant Services and SVP and General Manager, Merchant Services. She was a founding executive and EVP of Global Payment Systems, EVP and GM of Transaction Network Services? North America division, and President and COO of U.S. Wireless Data. Hypercom recently purchased Thales’ e-Transactions business. (CF Library 2/14/08)

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Asset Acceptance Capital Q4 Revenue Inches Up

MI-based Asset Acceptance Capital reported that total revenues increased 1.1% to $62.2 million for the fourth quarter. The Company reported net income in the fourth quarter of $4.0 million, compared to net income of $9.8 million in the fourth quarter 2006. During the fourth quarter, the Company invested a record $62.8 million to purchase charged-off consumer debt portfolios with a face value of $1.5 billion, representing a blended rate of 4.10% of face value. This compares to the prior-year fourth quarter, when the Company invested $61.7 million to purchase consumer debt portfolios with a face value of $2.5 billion, representing a blended rate of 2.47% of face value. Legal collections in the fourth quarter were $37.6 million, an increase of 17.0% from the same period in 2006. For complete details on AACC’s latest performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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FDC and Wells Fargo Extend Debit Deal

First Data has signed a multi-year contract extension with Wells Fargo Bank to provide debit processing services for Wells Fargo’s 19.6 million debit cards and provide Wells Fargo with consumer credit and small business card processing services, statement production and mailing, plastic card personalization and fraud detection services. First Data Corp. is a provider of electronic commerce and payment solutions for businesses worldwide.

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