LINK Cash Withdrawals Up 7% in December

Over the holiday season, LINK, UK’s main ATM operation, disclosed record
ATM use over the 2006 holiday season. Despite dismal predictions regarding
consumer spending, over GBP 9,767,000,000 was withdrawn from LINK machines,
2,774,000,000 withdrawn during the week prior to Christmas, with
152,929,048
transactions. Compared with the 2005 holiday season, the number of
withdrawals
was up 7.3 % and averaged a GBP1 more per withdrawal (GBP 64). LINK network
connects
most of the UK’s 60,600 cash machines. During the past 5 years, the
network has
grown from 36,000 to over 60,600, of which 34,200 have no usage fee.
There are
over 130 million LINK cards in circulation from around 38 issuers.

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GULF BANK & AMEX

Gulf Bank and American Express have introduced a co-branded card. The
agreement enables Gulf Bank to market and distribute American Express
Cards through the Bank’s 37-branches across Kuwait. As part of the agreement, American Express will issue US dollar denominated cards from Bahrain and manage credit operations and customer service. Operating in 18 markets in the Middle East and North Africa, American Express Middle East issues dollar currency Credit and Charge Cards. Gulf Bank is Kuwait’s second largest and fastest growing commercial bank.

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Tower FCU to Deploy DCS’ CardWizard

Dynamic Card Solutions announced that MD-based Tower FCU has implemented DCS’ CardWizard to instantly issue debit cards to its more than 115,000 members. Following a successful pilot program, the credit union has instantly issued more than 9,500 debit cards. Tower has implemented CardWizard in all of its branches and trained 75 team members on the CardWizard system.Dynamic Card Solutions is a developer of instant issuance and PIN selection solutions for banks, credit unions and retailers. Tower FCU is the largest federal credit union in Maryland with over $1.5 billion in assets.

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National City Top 2 Million Accounts in Q4

OH-based National City crossed the two million account milestone during the fourth quarter as outstandings grew 7% and volume rose 13% year-on-year. According to CardData, the nation’s 19th largest bank credit card issuer had 1,181,752 active accounts in 4Q/06, or about 58% of total accounts. During the quarter National City also topped one million VISA gift cards since it introduced the prepaid product in 2002. Approximately 60% of gift cards were sold this year through National City branches and 38% were purchased in bulk by business customers, either online or by phone. Fourth quarter credit card outstandings were $2558 million and credit card volume for the quarter was $1852 million. The issuer’s cardbase grew 6.7% to 1,601,731 cards. For complete details on National City’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). (CF Library 10/20/06)

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

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Annual Rewards Spending to Hit $18B by 2010

Spending on credit card rewards programs by U.S. issuers is continuing to rise, growing at a CAGR of 27%. A new report predicts that rewards spending will rise to $18.4 billion in 2010 from $10.3 billion last year. The Aite Group study says that most of that growth will be driven primarily by the continuous, massive cannibalization of non-reward credit and debit cards by reward credit and debit cards. Other factors, such as the development of non-card-based reward programs or cost inflation in existing programs, will play a relatively modest role in driving up institutions’ spending. By 2010, Aite Group expects that institutions will spend $16.6 billion on general-purpose credit card rewards, up from $9.5 billion in 2006. Spending on debit card rewards will continue to grow to reach $900 million in 2010, up from $400 million last year. Spending on non-card reward programs will also grow from $400 million in 2006 to $900 million by 2010. By 2010, 95% of financial institutions’ spending on rewards will be driven by credit and debit card programs, down from 96% in 2006.

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Citibank Introduces the Citibest Account

With an attractive interest rate and flexible account management,
Citibank’s new Egyptian account, “Citibest,” offers up to an 8% interest rate, based on the tier, and is paid monthly. The new account also offers a free Citibank credit card, with no annual fee for the first year. With the no membership fee debit card, unless the balance falls below EGP 5,000, access to the account is allowed at more than 2,000 ATM’s throughout Egypt free of charge. “Citibest” is a tiered Egyptian Pound current account.

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More V/MC Issuers Drop the Two-Cycle Method

More VISA and MasterCard issuers are backing away from using the two-cycle method of calculating finance charges. Chase announced last week it will switch to the average daily balance method of calculating finance charges on all of its cards. Many card programs established by predecessor First USA employed the two-cycle method of calculating finance charges, which recaptures interest from the previous billing cycle if the current balance due is not paid-in-full by the due date. The controversial method can add up to four months of extra interest charges per year under the worst case scenario for a cardholder. HSBC recently dropped the two-cycle method of calculating finance charges on its popular General Motors co-branded credit card program, switching to the average daily balance method. Discover, which launched in 1986, pioneered the two-cycle method and continues to use the method on its 50 million cardholders today.

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Credit Card Solutions Launches More Cards

Credit Card Solutions has introduced three additional pre-paid
debit card programs. This development has made the company the largest program
manager of international debit card programs. CCS
is signed
to more than 400,000 debit cards in several major payment networks. CCS
cards
can be used at more than 1.2 million ATM’s worldwide and millions of
merchant
locations, as well as for bill payments and online purchases. CCS first launched its prepaid program in 2005.

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VantageScore Hires a Top Product Manager

CT-based VantageScore Solutions has announced the hiring of Sarah Davies as a SVP to oversee the company’s analytics and product management. Previously, she oversaw analytics at IntelliRisk Management Corporation, a customer care and accounts receivable outsourcing company and served as EVP of marketing services at Bank One’s card products. Davies earned a MS in operations research and statistics from Iowa State University. VantageScore Solutions is an independently managed joint venture of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, established to develop a universal, highly predictive and consistent credit scoring system for the consumer credit markets.

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GCA Inks Navegante Casinos for Cash Machines

Global Cash Access has signed an agreement with The Navegante Group to provide GCA’s full suite of products and services to Navegante’s seven gaming establishments. The Navegante Group will utilize GCA’s “QuikCash Plus Web” (QCP Web), “QuikCash” cash advance terminals, “3-in-1 Enabled QuickJack Plus” and “EDITH,” a kiosk placed at the end of a row of slot machines to enable casino patrons to purchase slot, or ticket-in ticket-out(TITO) vouchers with their debit card.

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NetSpend to Use NetEconomy Fraud Solution

Prepaid card issuer NetSpend has selected Netherlands-based NetEconomy’s “ERASE Compliance Manager” solution to detect and report potential money laundering and fraudulent activities. ERASE will monitor upwards of four million transactions monthly in order to detect and report suspicious debit-card activity. NetSpend processes over $4 billion in card payments annually. NetEconomy is a provider of financial crime management and compliance solutions with over 110 implementations across 48 countries.

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