U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Slowly Rebound

Bankruptcy filings have declined from about 35,000 per week in 2005 to approximately 10,000 per week this year. In the first five months of this year a little more than 200,000 filings have been made compared to nearly 700,000 for the same period one-year ago. The drop-off is due to the full implementation of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” which took effect on October 17th. Bankruptcy filings nose-dived in the first quarter, falling 73% compared to one-year ago and down six-fold sequentially. The number of filings in the first quarter is the lowest number of quarterly filings in the last 20 years. According to CA-based Lundquist Consulting 1Q/06 Chapter 7 consumer filings are 80% lower 1Q/05. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, consumer and business bankruptcy filings hit a record 667,431 petitions in the fourth quarter. (CF Library 3/27/06; 6/2/06)

MONTHLY FILINGS
May 05: 142,915
Jun 05: 145,946
Jul 05: 136,074
Aug 05: 155,836
Sep 05: 204,863
Oct 05: 613,486
Nov 05: 21,457
Dec 05: 32,488
Jan 06: 34,411
Feb 06: 39,636
Mar 06: 42,724
Apr 06: 44,989
May 06: 43,780
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Personix Offers Pre-Designed Indigo Cards

Houston-based Personix has unveiled a pre-designed line of custom ATM, debit, credit and gift litho cards. The new “Custom Card Collection” is produced using HP “Indigo” technology and offers a broad range of card design categories, including payroll, healthcare, regional, credit union and patriotic. Cards can be ordered in any quantity of 1,000 or more and produced in approximately four weeks from proof approval. The “Indigo s2000” applies lamination over the printing to increase durability. Personix is a business unit of Fiserv and has about 9,000 clients.

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EDS to Integrate MBNA into the BofA Network

TX-based EDS has signed a a six-year, $700 million deal to integrate the communications infrastructure for recently acquired MBNA into Bank of America’s voice and data network. In February 2003, EDS began transforming BofA’s nationwide voice and data communications infrastructure as part of a 10-year, $4.5 billion contract. Once completed, BofA’s voice and data network will connect more than 200,000 associates in 5,800 retail banking centers and 50 contact centers. The network will span 30 states, linking 16,700 ATMs while facilitating Internet and telephone banking services. BofA acquired MBNA at the end of 2005. (CF Library 4/20/06)

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BMW AMEX CARD

The first co-branded credit card in the automobile sector for the Middle East has been launched. BMW Group and American Express have introduced the chip-enabled “BMW Credit Card” which offers “Membership Rewards” points that can be redeemed for BMW vehicles and servicing as well as hotel, retail, and leisure rewards. Cardholders are also entitled to view new BMW cars before they are launched. Other benefits include reduced prices on BMW parts and servicing at AGMC and Abu Dhabi Motors and double “Membership Rewards” points for all purchases at BMW Importers in the UAE. Additionally, cardholders earn “Membership Rewards” bonus points when financing a BMW through BMW Financial Services co-operation partners in the UAE and Bahrain. BMW Group was the first premium vehicle manufacturer to establish its own financial services division in the Middle East in 2001. BMW and AmEx recently launched a credit card in the UK.

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Austrian Airlines Deploys STV Cards

The Austrian Airlines Group and Europay Austria have implemented the “Austrian Prepaid Card”, which replaces previous cash payments for passenger compensation in international aviation. Passengers can use the “Maestro”-based card 15 minutes after activation for payment or cash withdrawal worldwide. If a flight is overbooked or canceled, the cash payment is replaced by the prepaid card, a plastic chip card loaded with the respective amount. A February 2005 EU Directive for passenger rights requires airlines to hold a certain cash amount at their airport and sales offices to be able to refund tickets or make compensation payments in cash in case of flight irregularities or cancellations. The card can be loaded with amounts from EUR 10 to EUR 1,000 and is valid for 6 months after activation, according to this week’s issue of CardFlash International.

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Mattress Firm Credit Card Gets Honored

Wells Fargo Financial Retail Services has honored Mattress Firm with a “Client Award” for success in its consumer private-label credit card program. The award is based on program participation and credit card sales volume. The dual-line Visa credit card program features one card with two distinct revolving lines of credit. One line is dedicated for purchases at participating Mattress Firm locations, the other for Visa card purchases and cash advance transactions worldwide.

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U.S. GDV Growth Hits a Five-Year High

Gross dollar volume during the first quarter grew at its fastest pace in more than five years. The four major U.S. card networks handled nearly $684 billion in purchase and cash advance volume from their credit and signature debit cards during 1Q/06, a 13.6% increase over the prior year. Testament to the current robust economy is that one-year ago, U.S. GDV in the first three months of the year increased only 11.5%. Among the major networks, American Express logged the largest increase over 1Q/05, growing 16.7% year-on-year, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). VISA came in second with a 14.4% annual increase in the first quarter.

Q1 GROSS DOLLAR CHARGE VOLUME
(VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)
2002: $434.8 billion +10.3%
2003: $476.2 billion + 9.5%
2004: $539.8 billion +13.4%
2005: $602.1 billion +11.5%
2006: $683.8 billion +13.6%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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NetSpend & Domino’s Pizza Offer LA Cards

Domino’s Pizza and NetSpend have launched a Los Angeles promotion offering free “All-Access MasterCard” prepaid cards. Most of the winning game pieces will give customers an opportunity to collect a free soccer-themed All-Access MasterCard Prepaid Card, a reloadable prepaid card from NetSpend (retail value $9.99). Some lucky customers will win a prepaid card pre-loaded with up to $50. When winning customers call to activate their NetSpend All-Access MasterCard Prepaid Cards, they can enter a grand prize sweepstakes drawing for a chance to win one of three prepaid cards loaded with $10,000.

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GCA Signs 50+ Gaming Establishments

Global Cash Access has recently inked more than 50 gaming establishments for its “Casino Cash Plus 3-in-1” ATM, “QuikCash” cash advance terminals and “Central Credit” check warranty services. QuikCash cash advance terminals are customer-activated, touch screen terminals that provide casino patrons with POS debit card and credit card cash advance transaction options. Available in kiosk, countertop, wall-mount, free-standing and handheld models, QuikCash terminals can be installed virtually anywhere in a gaming establishment. Central Credit check warranty service is a service through which payment on certain types of patron checks is warranted, which allows casinos to eliminate the risk of nonpayment on such checks.

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