63% of Finance Execs to Expand Card Usage

A new survey shows that 63% of the financial executives and cash managers surveyed plan to increase their use of corporate payment cards. The VISA USA survey also shows that 44% said they utilize cards for receiving commercial payments, up from 27% last year. About 53% of respondents report using corporate payment cards to make payments, up from 41% in 2005. VISA noted that 92% of respondents said reduction of back office payment processing costs is influential in encouraging their company to make greater use of corporate payment cards. Other findings include: 93% have integrated corporate payment cards with their e-procurement and ERP processes, with 71% using cards for at least 25% of their total transactions. The top three reasons for integrating corporate payment cards with e-procurement and ERP processes were: process streamlining leading to cost reduction; automating expense reconciliation processes; and availability of transaction data for spend analysis.

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TransFirst Promotes Palmquist to ISS

Dallas-based TransFirst has promoted Dan Palmquist to western region vice president of business development for its Independent Sales Services division. Prior to joining the ISS Division of TransFirst, Palmquist successfully led the company’s Government Services Division (GSD) of TransFirst. In 2004, Palmquist joined the company as a direct sales account executive for GSD, where he built a successful direct sales portfolio. TransFirst offers a first-rate suite of products and services and customized processing programs uniquely tailored for the special business needs of financial institutions, independent sales organizations and agents and its referral and reseller partners.

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Online Bill Payments Share to Double by 2010

A new report predicts that the share of payments made online at banks’ or billers’ Web sites will rise from 14% in 2006 to 28% by 2010. The research suggests that banks should embrace alternative channels such as e-mail and mobile phones instead of letting billers lead the charge. The Aite Group report also says that the largest growth opportunities for online bill payment processors that are beyond their core consumer bill payment service, including walk-in bill payment, expedited bill payment, small-business bill payment, and bill presentment.

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GE Drops Retail from its Sales Finance Division

GE Consumer Finance’s Retail Sales Finance unit is changing its name to GE Money – Sales Finance. The division covers extended financing, installment lending, revolving credit, private label credit cards, bank card programs and other financing solutions to independent and regional retailers, dealers, manufacturers, service providers, health care professionals and consumers. The business unit has achieved double-digit growth over the last four years and has doubled its assets in just the past two, reaching $16 billion. GE says its has evolved beyond the retail space. For example, in June GE Money launched the “Luxury Card, the first private label credit card issued under the GE Money brand in the USA. The card carries credit limits up to $100,000, has significant merchant benefits such as 100% funding within approximately 48 hours, no set-up fee, free in-store promotional materials and low transaction fees. Sales Finance plans to launch a GE Money-branded finance program for sporting goods later this month.

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Cash Systems Pilots cashclub in Delaware

Las Vegas-based Cash Systems has started beta testing of its “cashclub” product at Dover Downs and Delaware Park in Delaware. Through the use of cashclub(TM), casinos will continue to see a decrease in the cost of handling cash. They will also see reduced lines at the cage and customers returning to the gaming floor with cash more quickly and easily. Cash Systems, Inc., located in Las Vegas, with additional offices in San Diego and Minneapolis, is a provider of cash-access and related services to the retail and gaming industries.

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TNS Smart Network to Top 10K ATMs by Year-End

Canada’s largest privately owned processor is set to hit 10,000 ATMs by the end of this year. Toronto-based TNS Smart Network has grown, on average, by 1,000 ATMs per year since 1997. At the end of October the Company had 9,000 ATMs deployed, compared to about 7,500 two years ago. Currently, TNS represents close to 20% of the Canadian ATM marketplace and maintains a volume of ATMs equivalent to 50% of all the ATMs deployed by Financial Institutions in Canada combined. TNS says most of its growth has come from partnering with “white label” ATM companies.

TNS ATM HISTORICAL
2000: 3,000
2001: 3,700
2002: 4,800
2003: 6,000
2004: 7,500
2005: 8,800
2006: 10,000
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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First Command Launches a Platinum Biz Card

TX-based First Command Financial Planning this week is introducing its first “Platinum” business credit card at the American Dental Association’s Exhibition in Las Vegas. The new business Platinum credit card is the latest charge card offering from First Command Bank, an affiliate of First Command Financial Planning, which already markets Platinum and Classic Visa cards for personal use. The card is part of a rollout of new business banking products, including a business checking account and business online banking services with ACH processing and remote merchant capture. First Command Financial Services, Inc. is the parent company of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC) and First Command Bank.

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SHAZAM Deploys Falcon Fraud Manager

Fair Isaac announced that EFT network, SHAZAM, will deploy the latest release of “Falcon Fraud Manager” in its payment processing data centers. Fair Isaac’s Falcon Fraud Manager uses a combination of sophisticated neural network models, patented account profiling technologies, case management and flexible, user-definable intelligent rules to analyze payment card transactions for the most subtle signs of fraud. The solution will enable SHAZAM to quickly and accurately identify and prevent fraud in its signature and PIN-based debit transactions through a single system. The SHAZAM network was founded in 1976 and is one of the last member-owned and -controlled EFT networks and processors in the industry. Fair Isaac Corporation (NYSE:FIC) makes decisions smarter. The company’s solutions and technologies for Enterprise Decision Management give businesses the power to automate more processes, and apply more intelligence to every customer interaction.

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UPIC Volume Soars by 700% This Year

The Electronic Payments Network reported that the number of “UPIC” payments increased tenfold to 47,700 through the first three quarters of 2006, compared to one-year ago. The dollar value of those payments grew to $2.9 billion through the first nine months of the year, compared to $367.4 million for the same period in 2005. One hundred new “UPICs” were added during the same period, compared to 24 a year ago. Thirteen banks are now offering “UPICs,” and a total of 215 “UPICS” have been issued to-date. A “UPIC” is a unique account identifier issued by financial institutions that allows organizations to receive electronic payments without divulging confidential banking information. Institutions issuing “UPICs” include Citibank, Commerce Bank, HSBC Bank, JPMorgan Chase, M&T Bank, Mellon, PNC, State Bank of Long Island, Sterling National Bank, Union Bank of California, USBank and Wachovia Bank.

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Bankruptcy Filings Set a New Post-Reform High

Bankruptcy filings rose for the fourth consecutive month in September, now averaging about 14,000 per week compared to approximately 8,000 filings per week in the fourth quarter of last year. One-year ago filings averaged 35,000 per week, prior to the full implementation of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.” During September filings topped to 56,000, the highest level since October 2005 when the reforms went into effect. The number of filings in the first quarter of 2006 is the lowest number of quarterly filings in the last 20 years. Through the first nine months of 2006 bankruptcy filings have exceeded 400,000 and will likely hit 600,000 by year’s end.

MONTHLY FILINGS
Nov 05: 21,457
Dec 05: 32,480
Jan 06: 34,411
Feb 06: 39,636
Mar 06: 42,724
Apr 06: 44,989
May 06: 43,780
Jun 06: 46,620
Jul 06: 48,849
Aug 06: 54,937
Sep 06: 56,412
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Equifax Acquires Austin-Tetra

Atlanta-based Equifax has closed an acquisition of Austin-Tetra, a privately-held company that is a provider of business-to-business data management solutions. Austin-Tetra leverages a proprietary database of more than 30 million global businesses, with information aggregated from more than 300 information sources. Leading companies spanning a number of industries rely on its data management solutions to enhance their decision-making processes, enabling them to drive increased value from customer and supplier relationships. Equifax Inc. is a global leader in information technology that enables and secures global commerce with consumers and businesses.

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Bankruptcy Counseling More Costly Than Expected

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported that its members delivered 563,494 bankruptcy counseling and education sessions and issued 630,422 certificates since the new bankruptcy law took effect about one-year ago. A recent analysis by the NFCC also found that the time required to complete pre-discharge education sessions averaged more than two and a half hours across all channels of delivery, which was 25% greater than originally anticipated. The cost of providing services exceeded the fee income collected by NFCC agencies. Based on current estimates of 600,000 bankruptcy filings in 2006 and assuming the same delivery mix, an annual funding shortfall of $7.52 million appears likely for pre-filing counseling services delivered by NFCC agencies. The NFCC noted that its agencies waived the fee for services provided for all consumers unable to pay for them. This represented 16& of pre-filing sessions and 13% of consumers attending pre-discharge education classes.

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