City Furniture Renews GE Money Card Deal

GE Money and FL-based City Furniture have extended their consumer financing agreement. The City Furniture Card program is managed by GE Money’s Sales Finance unit and provides instant credit at the point of sale, a simplified application process, same day delivery and account maintenance via the Web. City Furniture has 14 showroom locations in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.

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Senate Panel to Explore Card Practices Today

A congressional panel will explore a variety of credit card business practices this morning. The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations indicated it will focus on the “universal default” practice among the nation’s leading issuers, even though some of the top issuers rescinded the practice this year. Representatives from Bank of America, Capital One and Discover are expected to testify today. Citi and Chase refused to participate. In March, the same Senate subcommittee, headed by Democratic Senator Carl Levin, held a hearing on “Credit Card Practices: Fees, Interest Rates, and Grace Periods.” In May Senators Carl Levin and Claire McCaskill introduced “The Stop Unfair Practices in Credit Cards Act.” Democrat Barack Obama is also seeking a “credit card bill of rights” to stop alleged credit card abuses by issuers. Ahead of today’s hearing the American Bankers Association released a report titled: “Myths vs. Facts: Credit Cards.” (CF Library 3/7/07; 5/16/07)

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ESAVE PREPAID CARD

The eGroup and PrePay Technologies have partnered to launch the “eSave”
prepaid card. To be managed using PrePaid Technologies’ “360money
platform”, the prepaid card is available through the organization’s
website and
will provide customers with the convenience of a credit card to allow
retail
purchases at over 9 million merchants around the world who display the
MAESTRO logo. The “eSave” card is re-loadable at 34,000 Post Office
locations across the country through either credit/debit cards or bank
transfers.

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Discover Takes a Goldfish Impairment Charge

Discover Financial Services says it will take a $422 million impairment charge related to its “Goldfish MasterCard” and “Goldfish VISA” credit card business in the U.K. for the quarter ending November 30th. The charge involves substantially all of the goodwill and other intangible assets of the “Goldfish” business. Discover says it concluded that continued disruption in the U.K. financial markets, higher interest rates and its decision to reduce loan exposure to the U.K. market have negatively affected the book value of its “Goldfish” business. However, the Company is refocusing the business and will continue implementation of significant actions to improve the performance of the “Goldfish” business. Two years ago Morgan Stanley/Discover agreed to purchase Lloyds TSB “Goldfish” credit card program for $1.76 billion for a 22% premium. The deal included 800,000 credit card accounts. Discover also announced today that its Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program, authorizing the company to purchase up to $1 billion of its common stock through 2010. (CF Library 12/20/05)

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CUP & MEPS

China Unionpay(CUP) and Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS)
have partnered to launch an ATM cash withdrawal service in Malaysia. This
partnership will provide Chinese visitors to the country with access to
funds
when using the CUP card and is made possible with the 3 member banks
participating in the agreement, including Hong Leong Bank, Maybank and
Public Bank. With this solution, MEPS & CUP aim to extend coverage
with all 15 member banks to 6,000+ ATMs before 2009 and hopes to
refine the offering with 2 new initiatives soon thereafter.

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JR EAST & ANA

East Japan Railway and All Nippon Airways (ANA) are
considering a joint credit card venture for deployment in the
summer of 2008. The companies are currently devising a strategy
for the joint venture to integrate Japan Railway’s “Suica Card” and
ANA’s credit card. The “Suica Card” is embedded with a circuit
chip for use as a railway fair payment while the ANA card offers
credit functions and mileage services.

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CLEAR2PAY

Clear2Pay has recently opened regional headquarters facilities in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to provide consumers in the region with
a more dedicated regional base for project delivery. Formerly, the
organization’s closest facilities were located in Singapore. However,
citing an increase in the concentration of payment transactions coupled
with Clear2Pay’s policy of implementing projects and solutions in
co-operation with its clients, opening a local office was necessary to
the organization’s development. Moreover, payment transactions
in the Asia Pacific region are projected to grow by approximately
20% between the years of 2004 and 2009.

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Barometers Point to a 2008 U.S. Recession

Another economic barometer is pointing towards an early 2008 recession in the wake of high gasoline prices, low housing prices, a crumbling dollar, plummeting consumer confidence, mixed holiday sales, reduced credit availability, rising bankruptcies, surging foreclosures and weak employment. The “Credit Manager?s Index” fell for the third consecutive month in November as all four components of the “Index” declined for the first time in five years, indicating a contraction. The seasonally adjusted, composite “CMI” declined to 53.1 in November, compared to 53.8 in the prior month and 55.2 for November 2006. The National Association of Credit Management says the Fed will likely cut rates again this month and will continue to cut the Fed Funds rate well into 2008, perhaps as low as 3.5%. Last week, the “Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index” dropped to 87.3 in November from 95.2 in October. The latest “Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey” of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that optimism about the economy among executive CPAs plunged in the fourth quarter to its lowest level in three years. U.S. consumer confidence hit its lowest level in more than two years. The “RBC CASH Index” hit its lowest level in more than two years during November, down more than 16 points from October’s 80.6 level. The “Discover Small Business Watch” index found that economic confidence among small business owners declined in November for the fourth consecutive month, falling to its lowest point this year. (CF Library 11/13/07; 11/19/07; 11/27/07; 11/28/07)

Credit Manager’s Index
Nov 06: 55.2
Dec 06: 54.7
Jan 07: 56.4
Feb 07: 55.5
Mar 07: 54.5
Apr 07: 55.4
May 07: 56.1
Jun 07: 56.4
Jul 07: 55.0
Aug 07: 55.1
Sep 07: 54.8
Oct 07: 53.8
Nov 07: 53.1
Source: National Association of Credit Management

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PROFILE VISA

Bank of Beirut has launched the “Profile” series of VISA cards.
The four new cards are targeted to professionals and join the Bank’s
customized cards such as “Wafa,” the card targeted to military forces,
the “LAU Community” affinity card and the Lebanese Red Cross cards. The vertically aligned cards include the “Profile Banker VISA” credit card, a lifetime free-of-charge card that offers a low interest rate along with free lotto grids and loyalty points redeemable into cash; the “Profile Doctor VISA” credit card that includes free lotto grids and loyalty points redeemable for cash and prizes; the “Profile Engineer VISA” credit card that offers 1% cash back on all transactions financed by the card; and the “Profile Teacher VISA” credit card offering a 1% cash back program. The Bank of Beirut has 43 branches in Lebanon and operates in six countries.

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JETPRIVILEGE

Jet Airways has partnered with Barclays Bank and Deutsche Bank to
provide Indian consumers with its “JetPrivilege” credit card frequent flyer
program. The frequent flyer program, “JPMiles”, allows Barclaycard
“BarclaycardPoints” holders and Deutsche Bank credit card
holders to convert rewards collected to JPMiles points. Deutsche Bank
card holders are required to convert at least 250 “Deutsche Bank
reward points” while Barclays Bank customers need a minimum of 500.
These conversion programs will afford credit card holders of both banks
more options when redeeming air-miles.

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CITIREWARDS

Citibank has deployed its “CitiRewards” portal in six new countries to
provide customers with enhanced points-redemption capabilities. The
program provides customers with a wider selection of 3,000 different
rewards options to be chosen by the card holder him/herself in response
to the typical rewards options that allot all customers identical
offerings.
The 6 markets that have been recently introduced to this program include
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia
and are among the additional markets Citi is targeting in the Asia-Pacific
region over the coming months. Currently, Citi has over 13 million cards
across Asia-Pacific and has partnered with over 500 establishments
around the world to provide “CitiRewards”. Additionally, Citi serves
nearly 200 million customers across more than 100 countries.

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Coinstar Runs a JCPenney eCertificate Promo

Coinstar consumers will have no coin-counting fee to convert their loose change to a JCPenney eCertificate. Consumers can use the JCPenney eCertificate towards purchases at the more than 1,000 JCPenney department stores in the United States, online at jcp.com or via catalog. According to a November 2007 Coinstar National Currency Poll, more than 25% of Americans cash in their coin jars for extra spending money to stretch their budgets during the holiday season. There are more than 8,600 Coinstar Centers located in supermarkets and other retail locations across the United States.

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