Juniper and Spirit Airlines Cobrand

Barclays’ Juniper Bank has launched a cobranded MasterCard with Fort Lauderdale-based Spirit Airlines. The airline launched its first frequent flyer program yesterday. The “Free Spirit MasterCard” offers one mile for every $1 in purchases. All purchases count towards “Free Spirit” account status plus cardholders receive 5,000 bonus miles for signing up. Miles do not expire as long as there is at least one purchase per month on the card. Domestic awards start at 15,000 miles and Caribbean awards start at 20,000 miles. Cardholders are also upgraded automatically to “Elite” member status if at least one purchase per month is made on the card. Spirit Airlines is a low fare carrier to the Caribbean with hubs in Detroit and in Fort Lauderdale and service to 29 cities in the U.S., Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

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Net.Finance 2006 Slated for April

More than 200 marketing executives will gather in Phoenix in mid-April to learn and share marketing and e-commerce best practices specific to the financial services industry. The “Net.Finance 2006” three-day event will discuss synchronizing the multi-channel experience, security and authentication, effective e-commerce strategies and optimizing the online marketing mix. The Net.Finance 2006 agenda also includes the “Customer Acquisition” and “Cross-Selling Summit, dedicated solely to strategies for acquiring qualified leads and increasing the share of wallet, featuring case studies from Wells Fargo, Progressive Direct, Citi Cards, Countrywide Financial, Allstate and Sharebuilder. Lead program sponsors include eStara, Google, Leadfusion, MSN, Passmark Security, TeaLeaf and Yahoo! Search Marketing.

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U.K. Card Charge-Offs Hit a New High

Charge-offs among credit card-backed bonds in the U.K. continued to deteriorate during the fourth quarter, hitting a record 5.8%, compared to 4.5% one-year ago and 5.3% for the prior quarter. Delinquencies remained at 3.4% for the fourth quarter. According to FitchRatings, several trusts experienced an unusually large spike in charge-offs in December, higher than any normal seasonal trend. The rating firm also noted that delinquencies on a monthly basis posted a slight recovery in October followed by a deterioration in November and to a lesser extent in December. Meanwhile, the monthly payment rate on credit card ABS fell significantly in the fourth quarter to 15.9%, compared to 16.9% for the third quarter. This is the lowest level since December 2004. FitchRatings says the MPR appears to have been affected by much reduced balance transfer activity. The Fitch yield index stood at 19.3% at the end of December, down from 19.6% at the end of September.

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Wyoming Bankers Endorse Fifth Third

The Wyoming Bankers Association has signed a five-year marketing agreement endorsing Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions for EFT services including ATM and debit card processing, terminal driving, network gateway transaction processing and card production to its association members. Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions processes over 17 billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 1,480 financial institutions and over 127,000 retail locations worldwide.

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Systech Dial-to-IP Converters Certified

San Diego-based Systech’s “IPG/7000” family of dial-to-IP converters has been certified with Verifone “Ruby” POS systems on the First Data Atlanta (Buypass) payment processing host. The Systech/Verifone/First Data combination provides petroleum retailers with a fast, flexible and secure IP processing platform for electronic payment transactions. Customers requesting Internet SSL connections can be connected through a third-party Secure Payments Gateway (SPG) hosted by EchoSat Communications. Systech Corporation provides design and manufacture of internet payment gateways for electronic transaction markets.

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NACM’s February CMI Snaps-Back

The “Credit Manager’s Index” for February showed a strong snap back from January’s weakness, led by sharp gains in sales, new credit applications, and amount of credit extended. The February 2006 CMI is down 30 points from one year ago; a drop reflected in the overall favorable and unfavorable factors. From a sector standpoint, more variation is displayed among the favorable factors: for example, the favorable factors for the February 2006 service sector showed increases in 75 percent of the factors while a decrease in 75 percent of the favorable factors was true for the manufacturing sector. The CMI, a monthly survey of the business economy from the standpoint of commercial credit and collections, was launched in January 2003 to provide financial analysts with another strong economic indicator.

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Betfair Adds the PayPal Option

European customers of Betfair, a person-to-person betting
exchange, will now be able to
make payments using PayPal. The arrangement will enable Betfair users
living in the UK and the other European
Union countries to use PayPal to make secure and simple payments to each
other. The PayPal service will be fully integrated with the account
management section of the Betfair site so its customers will be able to
pay in and withdraw funds from their Betfair account in real time.
Betfair customers can use a variety of funding sources including credit
and debit cards, their existing PayPal balance and, in the UK and Germany,
transfers from their bank accounts. Betfair customers will also be able to
withdraw winnings directly into their PayPal accounts. Betfair matches up
to 12,000 bets a minute and records 5 million transactions a day.

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Cox Oil Opts for TNS FusionPoint

Tennessee-based Cox Oil is implementing TNS'”FusionPoint” to provide network connectivity and data communications services for credit and debit card authorizations, ATM authorizations, tank monitoring, VOIP capabilities, DVR and back office enterprise applications. FusionPoint is a data communications solution that enables all technical applications in a convenience store to flow through one broadband pipe, simplifying the connectivity and delivering significant savings in time and maintenance costs.

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PayPoint Orders 400 NCR EasyPoint ATMs

NCR will supply PayPoint Plc with 400 “EasyPoint” ATMs. The order
includes 200 “EasyPoint 53” and 200 Tidel “EasyPoint
3300” ATMs. The deal also includes ATM installation services and a
multimillion dollar second-line maintenance contract. This will maximize
PayPoint’s ATM availability and “future-proof” its ATM channel to meet
emerging standards and technology changes. The deal is the first major win
for NCR EasyPoint LLC, an NCR subsidiary formed by its recent acquisition
of the ATM assets of Tidel Technologies, Inc. PayPoint is a cash payment
collection network with 2,000 ATMs throughout the United Kingdom.

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Merrill VISA Teams w/Exclusive Resorts

Merrill Lynch is offering “MERRILL+” and “Merrill Lynch VISA Signature” cardholders double points as well as special pricing on membership fees under a partnership with Exclusive Resorts. As a member of Exclusive Resorts, clients who use their MERRILL+ or Merrill Lynch Visa Signature card to pay for annual dues will receive double Merrill points as well as special pricing on membership fees. In addition, clients will receive an exclusive welcome package, courtesy of Exclusive Resorts. This package includes two ground transfers to their destination of choice, a welcome dinner prepared by a personal chef in their private residence’s kitchen and a complimentary resort activity. Merrill Lynch offers wealth management, capital markets and advisory companies, with offices in 36 countries and territories and total client assets of approximately $1.8 trillion.

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Operating Expense Rises in 4Q/05

Operating expense among VISA and MasterCard issuers rose sharply during the fourth quarter presumably due to the fall bankruptcy tidal wave. Compared to one-year ago the expense associated with credit processing, call center servicing, billing, collections, fraud management, and card issuance has increased 100 basis points. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), operating expense, as percentage of average managed card outstandings, rose to 5.99% in December as compared to 5.09% in June and compared to 4.99% for December 2004. Over the past five years operating expense has hovered around 5.00%, dipping to 4.20% in early 2002.

OPERATING EXPENSE HISTORICAL
Dec 04: 4.99%
Mar 05: 5.00%
Jun 05: 5.09%
Dec 05: 5.99%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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