Sears Pulls $35MM from Debit Card Fund

Sears last week reported a $36 million pre-tax gain from proceeds received during the second quarter related to the settlement of VISA/MasterCard debit card antitrust litigation. For the quarter, domestic comparable stores sales declined 3.8% in the aggregate, with Sears Domestic comparable store sales declining 6.3% and Kmart comparable store sales declining 0.6%. The comparable store sales declines at both Kmart and Sears Domestic reflect the impact of increased competition and lower transaction volumes. Sears Holdings Corporation is the nation’s third largest broadline retailer, with approximately $55 billion in annual revenues, and with approximately 3,800 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance.

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Nordstrom Lands $6MM from Debit Card Fund

Nordstrom reported a one-time payment of $5.6 million related to the VISA/MasterCard settlement. Year-to-date net earnings increased 22.3 percent to $310.0 million for the period ended July 29, 2006, compared to net earnings of $253.5 million for the same period last year. Earnings per diluted share for the same periods were $1.15 and $0.91, respectively. Nordstrom, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading fashion specialty retailers, with 156 US stores located in 27 states.

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Bradesco Partners with AirPlus

AirPlus International has teamed with Brazil’s largest private bank issuer to provide international companies in Brazil with a complete corporate payment solution. Through the partnership with Bradesco, AirPlus will further extend its partner network and merchant base in the Latin American region, strengthening its position in the business travel payment market worldwide. The core product of the partnership is the” BRADESCO Cartao Passagem Bradesco”. This lodged product offers companies a central billing solution to easily pay for air tickets from all major international airlines. The detailed accounting information provided by the CPB enables companies to enjoy the benefit of unparalleled transparency of costs. Over 30,000 corporate customers worldwide rely on AirPlus for their business travel management needs and benefit from AirPlus’ presence in all the leading business travel markets worldwide.

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WaMu Inks a CardTronics’ Walgreens Deal

Washington Mutual has inked a deal with Cardtronics to brand 160 cash dispensing ATMs in select Walgreens locations. Through the relationship, all WaMu-branded ATMs in Walgreens stores will be free to WaMu customers for cash withdrawals, just like ATMs owned and operated by Washington Mutual. Initial roll-out is scheduled to be complete in the third quarter of 2006. Cardtronics has a nationwide U.S. network of more than 26,000 locations operating in every major market and in all 50 states as well as 1,000 locations throughout the UK.

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LINK Network Deploys ATM TrueTest Solution

LINK Interchange Network has extended its relationship with Level Four Software. This will enable LINK to enhance customers’ experience throughout a network of over 20,000 outsourced ATMs serviced and managed by its outsourcing division Avantra in the UK. Avantra is now rolling out this solution throughout its development and
test teams at its Harrogate headquarters. The LINK ATM Scheme brings together 105 million card holders and over 58,000 ATMs in the UK.

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Mortgaged Consumers Have Higher Scores

A nationwide study shows that consumers with mortgages have an average credit score that is 55 points higher than consumers without a mortgage. The report from Experian Consumer Direct also shows the percentage of consumers with open second mortgages has increased 63% from 2001. The research showed that the average debt for consumers without a mortgage averaged $4,565 compared to consumers with a mortgage of $24,565. Average debt among consumers with a second mortgage averaged $42,511. Experian’s study was compiled using the “PLUS Score” and “National Score Index,” which is based on a nationwide sampling of 3 million consumer credit profiles.

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PayByCash Joins Google Checkout

VA-based PayByCash has become one of the first major alternate payment options providers to roll out gateway services for Google Checkout. Google Checkout is a safe way to pay via credit card. It’s increasingly common for consumers to feel wary about giving their credit card information to online merchants. The addition of Google Checkout to PayByCash’s suite of more than 40 non-credit-card payment options provides Web merchants with a powerful way to extend a credit-card payment alternative to hesitant customers. Neither PayByCash nor the merchant ever see the customer’s credit card number. PayByCash bridges the gulf between merchants seeking to take advantage of the Internet’s global reach and consumers who want or need to pay without a credit card.

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PING Insurance Plans to Offer Credit Cards in 2007

PING Insurance Group is planning to become the first insurer in the country to enter the consumer lending business. Ping recently won a bid to buy 89% of Shenzhen Commercial Bank for $613 million gaining 46 branches in the southern Chinese city in Guangdong Province. It also picked up a credit-card license. Chinese insurers were formerly prohibited from venturing into other business areas, but have received unprecedented government support since last year to diversify into other sectors.

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FTC Clears NCO Group for its Merger

PA-based NCO Group has received notice from the FTC that early termination of the waiting period under the “Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976” has been granted. Under the terms of the merger agreement, NCO shareholders will receive $27.50 in cash for each share of NCO common stock they hold as of the effective date of the merger. This proposed merger remains subject to the receipt of shareholder approval (including the approval of the non-management participants, voting as a separate class), closing of the debt financing and other regulatory approvals, as well as the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. NCO Group, Inc. is a global provider of business process outsourcing services, primarily focused on accounts receivable management and customer relationship management.

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Virgin Says its South African MC is a Smash

Virgin Money South Africa says it has signed up more than 50,000 cardholders in the first seven weeks. The card issuer says it received 12,000 phone inquiries in the first two days. In June Virgin Money formed a joint venture with Absa to issue the “Virgin Money” credit card in South Africa. The new MasterCard is the first in the country to offer a combination of no fees and an interest rate of 0% for the first three months with an ongoing APR of 15.75% thereafter. Virgin Money also issues credit cards in the UK and Australia. The Company currently has about two million cardholders worldwide.

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Fair Isaac Hires a New Managing Director

Fair has named J.Y. Pook as vice president and managing director, Asia-Pacific. Mr. Pook will support the expansion of the company’s Enterprise Decision Management applications and technologies.
He also will be responsible for establishing and growing
successful relationships with the company’s local clients and strategic
partners, as well as leading all aspects of the company’s operations and
staff based in the region.

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