More Americans to Shed Pounds than Debt

According to a new national survey 37% of Americans are focused on weight loss for 2007 as opposed to 22% who are concerned with eliminating outstanding debt. This is a significant change from a 2003 poll which showed 37% of consumers planning to pay down debt and only 29% concentrating on shedding some pounds. The latest poll from TransUnion and Roper also found that nearly half of Americans say losing ten pounds would be very or somewhat difficult for them in 2007, while 31% say paying off all their credit card debt would be difficult.The same survey also found correlations between age and attitudes about resolutions including: Americans 50 years of age or older are more than twice as likely to view losing ten pounds as difficult than paying off all their credit debt; 33% of those age 25-34 say paying down debt is their number one resolution; and respondents age 35-49 are equally concerned with eating healthy and paying down debt, with 31% naming each as their top resolution. Two years ago a survey by Roper/Bankrate found that 36% of Americans polled were focused on weight loss for 2005 as opposed to 31% who are concerned with cutting debt.

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Discover Unveils a Reloadable Prepaid Card

Discover has launched its first reloadable prepaid card. The new card is being offered through Green Dot’s national retail network. Los Angeles-based Green Dot’s network spans major retailers in all 50 states including Rite Aid, CVS pharmacy, Walgreens, and Radio Shack. The new “Green Dot Discover Network Prepaid Card” can be reloaded via the Green Dot Financial Network. The card is issued by GA-based Columbus Bank and Trust Company. The Discover Network has more than 4 million merchant acceptance locations. Earlier this year, Discover launched the “Discover Network Signature Debit Card.”

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TRX Lands an Information Technology Exec

Atlanta-based TRX, an independent provider of transaction processing and data integration solutions to the global travel industry, has hired Brian Beard as VP/Information Technology. Prior to joining TRX, Beard served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Recall Corporation where he introduced key IT performance metrics and modernized business systems that delivered significant improvements on project delivery, decreased operating costs, and increased revenue opportunities. TRX is a leading, independent provider of transaction processing and data integration services to the global travel industry.

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Trycera Tops $1M in Prepaid for December

CA-based prepaid card specialist, Trycera Financial, reports it broke the $1 million gross dollar volume level in December. GDV is a key indicator of cardholder adoption and recurring use of the Company’s debit card offerings and is an important growth metric for tracking the Company’s operational performance. This monthly GDV metric equates to an annualized GDV metric of approximately $12.5M exiting calendar year 2006. Trycera Financial, Inc. is a financial services company specializing in the delivery of prepaid card programs, prepaid card program management and private label catalog shopping cards.

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ORCC Launches Mobile Banking And Bill Pay

VA-based Online Resources announced the launch of its mobile banking and bill payment service, a hosted application that enables financial institutions to provide their consumers with a full range of online services via mobile phones and other wireless devices. The service provides immediate access to approximately 70 percent of today’s mobile phone devices, with near-ubiquitous access expected in the next several years as consumer mobile devices are upgraded. The service is fully integrated with Online Resources payments and security technology, providing consumers the ability to view their accounts, pay bills, transfer funds and receive messages from their financial institutions. Online Resources powers web-based financial services for 2600 financial institutions, billers and credit service providers. Access Softek, Inc. is a global software development company that for the past twenty years has earned a solid reputation for satisfying the most demanding technical needs of companies in America, Europe, and Asia.

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Advanta Extends AAYTE Sponsorship

Advanta has extended its sponsorship of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, serving as the organization’s principal sponsor for the fifth consecutive year. Alter and his wife, Gisela, were the largest private donors to the campaign leading to the creation of the new $12.5 million Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center at Ridge Ave. and School House Lane in the East Falls section of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. AYTE, founded in 1952, is a national model for imaginative, public youth tennis and educational enrichment programs. Advanta focuses on the small business market and related community, providing funding and support to the nation’s small businesses and business professionals through innovative product offerings and services.

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INTERAC’s Holiday Debit Card Volume Set a Record

For the first time the busiest shopping day of the year for Canadians came on December 22nd instead of December 23rd. Toronto-based INTERAC Direct Payment, the country’s national debit card service, also reported that the combination of the two shopping days produced the largest two-day total in its history, hitting 31.2 million transactions. The two busiest days in 2005 totaled 30.0 million. Last year, INTERAC posted 15.5 million transactions for December 23rd. The figure for the same day in 2004 was 13.1 million and for 2003 is was 12.5 million. There are more than 35 million debit cards in circulation in Canada, accounting for more than three billion IDP transactions in 2005.

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Gift Cards Create Vulnerabilities for All

A new study calls for tighter regulation for gift cards due to the money laundering risk associated with the anonymous nature of the product and lack of control. The TowerGroup research also concludes that gift card holders are now subject to serious exposure, not only for dormancy and expiration fees, but faulty process controls which can distort value. The report titled, “Gift Cards: How to Ensure they Don’t become Drift Cards,” says consumers and financial issuers are particularly vulnerable relative to gift cards, because their product design assumes that the buyer will not usually be the end user. Also, the issuers of unbranded closed loop cards are not under the scrutiny of the OCC. The study segments the consumer vulnerabilities into three groups: consumer, merchant and fraud.

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CO-OP & CU Anytime Form a Joint Venture

CA-based CO-OP Network is teaming with NM-based CU Anytime to create CO-OP ATM Services LLC. The new entity is expected to start on April 1st. It will develop a complete package of ATM management services for credit unions ranging from owning an ATM, to managing armored carriers, maintenance capabilities and the processing of image deposits. CU Anytime is a CUSO serving 29 credit unions and 168 ATMs throughout New Mexico and portions of Texas and California. CO-OP Financial Services operates the country’s largest surcharge-free network of credit union ATMs. CO-OP also reported today a single-day processing record on December 23rd with 5.0 million, compared to 4.5 million transactions on Christmas Eve 2005.

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Third Batch of Debit Card Payments Sent

NY-based Constantine Cannon, the lead counsel for the debit card litigation, which resulted in a $3 billion settlement with VISA and MasterCard, reports it mailed out 128,000 checks last week to merchants. Of those, about 29,400 checks were $1,000 or more; 1,790 checks were $10,000 or more; 308 checks were $100,000 or more; and 40 checks were $1 million or more. This is the third round of distribution, the first having occurred in December 2005 and the second in June 2006, involving more than $650 million in claim payments. Constantine Cannon expects that the remaining claim forms involving payments for signature debit and credit card overcharges will be approved and ready for payment before the end of 2007. Also payments for online PIN debit overcharges will be made to all or most qualifying “Class Members” this year.

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CompuCredit Funds 26 Charities

Atlanta-based CompuCredit has contributed $15 million to benefit 26 organizations through its shareholder-directed philanthropic effort, the “2006 CompuCredit Corporation Charitable Designation Program”. Under the Charitable Designation Program, CompuCredit shareholders designate up to three pre-selected charitable organizations to receive a prorated share of CompuCredit’s $15 million 2006 year-end charitable contribution, based on shareholders’ holdings of CompuCredit stock. CompuCredit is a specialty finance company and marketer of branded credit cards and related financial services.

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