AmEx Funds Endangered Historic Sites

The World Monuments Fund and American Express Company announced that seven endangered historic sites will receive funding through the new “American Express Partners in Preservation program.” The sites will receive a total of $700,000. The program was launched in June of this year. Over the past 10 years, American Express has contributed more than $10 million to help preserve 119 historic sites in 59 countries placed on the Watch list.

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TransUnion Acquires Qsent

TransUnion has signed a deal to acquire OR-based Qsent, a provider of contact and identity management services. With more than 60 percent of individual contact information changing each year and more than 25 million households moving annually, the need to have up-to-date, real-time contact information is vital for businesses that deal with high volumes of customer information. Qsent receives up to one million updates and more than 250,000 material changes to contact information per day, making it one of the industry’s most current, real-time data sources. TransUnion is a leading global information solutions company that customers trust as a business intelligence partner and commerce facilitator.

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RBS Expands Free ATMs to Poor Communities

RBS announced plans to install an initial 300 new
free to use cash machines in the poorest communities in the UK.
Cash machine usage has shot-up over the last three years with a 28%
increase in withdrawals and a 37% increase in balance inquiries.
As part of the new initiative, RBS has already installed three free to
use machines, two in Scotland and one in England. RBS currently has 6,300 free cash machines in the UK.

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Experian/Baker Hill Gets a New President

Experian has promoted Joe Kuntz as Baker Hill’s new president replacing Mark Hill, who is stepping down to pursue philanthropic and business development interests. Kuntz joined Baker Hill in 1993 as a sales executive, spending several years selling to the nation’s top 100 banks before being named vice president of sales in 2001. As a member of the company’s executive management team, he spearheaded the growth initiatives that resulted in the company tripling its annual revenue in the last five years. Baker Hill has been focused on the banking industry, delivering solutions that address business process needs and working as a trusted adviser to its banking clients. Baker Hill understands banking processes, knows how to implement technology to enable those processes and has a long history of client success from which to mine best practices.

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ATM Crime Prevention Campaign Launched

The Home Office has launched a second series of ads targeted at specific hotspots where it wants to encourage prevention of ATM crime. Cash machines in selected London boroughs and 10 cities, including
Liverpool, Coventry, Sheffield and Wolverhampton will display ads with
the message: “Keep it Safe, Keep it Hidden.” The campaign, which was planned and bought by Posterscope, is expected to deliver 1,140,000 one-to-ones, 4,560,000 impacts and generate approximately 285,000 cash machine receipts, which will also feature the campaign message.

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Encore Capital’s Q2 Collections Up 12%

San Diego-based debt management specialist, Encore Capital Group, reported that gross collections rose 12% to $79.2 million. Revenues from the debt purchasing business were $59.7 million, an 11% increase over 2Q/05. However, net income declined 7% to $7.5 million. During the second quarter, the Company purchased $594 million in face value debt for $21 million. ECG noted that more than 50% of its purchases during the quarter were non-credit card purchases. The Company also noted that pricing remains elevated for new portfolios. Encore generated $6.3 million in fee-based revenue during the second quarter, primarily through the Ascension Capital bankruptcy services business which it acquired in August. The Company recently retained Deutsche Bank Securities to assist in its effort to explore strategic alternatives. For complete details on Encore Capital’s second quarter results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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MASTERCARD 2Q/06

MasterCard posted a 9.7% year-on-year increase in revenue for the second quarter to $846.5 million, driven by a 16.4% jump in gross dollar volume. However, due to its $400 million charitable contribution to the MasterCard Foundation following its recent IPO, the Company posted a net loss of more than $310 million for the quarter. Excluding the special items, MasterCard would have posted net income of $101 million for the quarter, compared to $120 million for 2Q/05. MasterCard’s gross dollar volume hit $485 billion and worldwide purchase volume rose 17.5% to $351 billion. Advertising and market development expenses jumped 32% versus the same time period in 2005 primarily due to the sponsorship of the “2006 FIFA World Cup.” General and administrative expenses rose 14% in 2Q/06, compared to one-year ago. As of June 30th, MasterCard’s customer banks issued 796 million MasterCard cards. For complete details on MasterCard’s second quarter performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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No Borders Cards Get Access to Convenia

No Borders has signed an agreement with Western Financial, owner of the “Convenia-Load” bank based load network to provide its stored value card customers with access to over 20,000 bank branch locations. Any No Borders customer will be able to load funds onto his or her noboCARD(TM) at any of the Convenia-Load participating bank branch locations simply by handing the desired amount of funds along with a special deposit slip to a bank teller. Booklets containing 25 of these special deposit slips are made available for a nominal fee by calling No Borders’ call centers. No Borders, Inc. is in the business of providing financial services and products that include a debit and stored value card platform through which a variety of financial and commercial services and products can be offered to residents of developing countries and to immigrants from those countries who reside in the United States and send money back home on a regular basis. Western Financial, LLC and its affiliate, Western ATM, Inc., have been providing financial services to consumers and businesses nationwide.

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Londoners Struggle with Credit Confidence

Credit confidence among Londoners has declined from 100 to 88 in the second quarter, despite overall credit confidence nationally increasing by six points to 106. The change is attributed to house price increases causing further affordability issues for those trying to get a foot on the property ladder and fears of possible future interest rate increases among households with large mortgages. The “Personal Credit Index” by CreditExpert, the online credit monitoring service from Experian, also found that 20% of adults in London say they are not confident of meeting all their household bills, including mortgages, in contrast to all other regions, where the rates of people who are not confident of paying their bills range from 6% in the West Midlands to 12% in the South East.

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MasterCard and Yahoo Launch a Promotion

MasterCard and Yahoo! Music have launched a summer promotion wherein U.S. MasterCard cardholders who use their cards from now through October 4th to purchase a one year subscription of Yahoo! Music Unlimited, will automatically receive an additional year for free. With Yahoo! Music Unlimited, users can play music from a catalog of more than 2 million songs and enjoy the unique ability to share and discover music with other subscribers through Yahoo! Messenger. Yahoo! Music offers user the most comprehensive music-related content, features and information available online. MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link between financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide.

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Portfolio Recovery Associates Up 22% in Q2

VA-based debt management firm, Portfolio Recovery Associates, reported net income of $11.1 million a 22% year-on-year increase. Total revenue increased 29% to $46.2 million in the second quarter. The Company purchased $1.66 billion of face-value debt during the second quarter for $27.9 million. Cash collections rose 22% to $59.4 million. PRAA says productivity, as measured by cash collections per hour paid, stands at $148.74 for the first six months of 2006, up from $133.39 for all of 2005. For complete details on Portfolio Recovery Associates’ second quarter results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Charge-Offs & Delinquencies Hold Steady

Credit card charge-offs, among “prime” asset-backed securities, remained flat during June, as the 60+ day delinquency ratio also decreased. The good news comes even though the pace of monthly personal bankruptcy filings is on the rise. According to Fitchratings, “prime” charge-offs for June were 3.58%, the same for May and 6.41% one-year ago. The “prime” 60-plus day delinquency index for June was 2.28%, compared to 2.41% in May, and 2.61% one-year ago. Total year-to-date bankruptcy filings as of July 15th stood at 269,540, down 70% from the same period in 2005 according to Lundquist Consulting. Fitch says it expects overall consumer charge-offs to increase in the second half of the year towards historically observed levels of 5.5%-6.0%, with the percentage due to contractual charge-offs increasing to the extent bankruptcies remain depressed.

ABS PRIME CHARGE-OFFS HISTORICAL
Jun 05: 6.41%
May 06: 3.58%
Jun 06: 3.58%
Source: FitchRatings

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