Oberthur Buys a South African Card Firm

Oberthur Card Systems has acquired South Africa’s card manufacturer Africard for approximately $3 million. The Johannesburg company will be renamed Oberthur Card Systems South Africa. Africard has been in business for 15 years and has a production capacity of 30 million cards per year. South Africa has more than 20 million banking cards in circulation. Oberthur is the number one supplier of Visa and MasterCard payment cards worldwide.

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Oberthur Card Systems Acquires Africard

Oberthur Card Systems has acquired South Africa’s card manufacturer Africard for approximately $3 million. The Johannesburg company will be renamed Oberthur Card Systems South Africa. Africard has been in business for 15 years and has a production capacity of 30 million cards per year. South Africa has more than 20 million banking cards in circulation. Oberthur is the number one supplier of VISA and MasterCard payment cards worldwide.

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TransFirst Hires an ePayment Sales Exec

Dallas-based TransFirst has hired Michael Phelan, formerly with First National Bank of Omaha, as VP/Sales for ePayment Services division. Phelan, who has 18 years of experience in the financial and related payment services industries, will be responsible for generating and leading sales strategies, increasing market share and expanding the overall presence of TransFirst’s ePayment Services division. This division specializes in payment processing solutions for merchants that primarily focus on card-not-present transactions such as, direct marketing, e-commerce, catalog orders and non-profit organizations. TransFirst is a provider of transaction processing services and payment enabling technologies.

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Bankruptcy Filings Enter the Final Wave

Personal bankruptcy petitions in August soared by nearly 24% from last year and were up about 15% from the prior month. It is expected that filings for September will exceed 175,000, a new monthly record. New bankruptcy laws will take full effect on October 17th. The August year-over-year increase was more than 30,000 filings. About 156,000 filings were made during August, compared to 125,783 for August 2004 and 136,074 in the prior month. In the first eight months of this year, there have been 1,119,522 personal bankruptcy filings.

Monthly Filings Historical
Aug 04: 125,783
Sep 04: 127,664
Oct 04: 133,404
Nov 04: 116,952
Dec 04: 113,957
Jan 05: 99,705
Feb 05: 103,457
Mar 05: 165,459
Apr 05: 170,130
May 05: 142,915
Jun 05: 145,946
Jul 05: 136,074
Aug 05: 155,836
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Bankruptcy Law May Benefit Some Filers

A Dallas-based law firm says its analysis of the new bankruptcy law shows that many people will benefit by waiting to file after the new law goes into effect on October 17th. The Armstrong law firm says people with very low or no payments on their houses or cars and people who are making 401(k) contributions or 401(k) loan repayments may benefit dramatically by waiting to file. The firm says the new law requires that the debtor’s actual expenses are compared to a schedule of standard expenses published by the IRS. For certain expenses, the debtor can claim the higher of his actual expenses or the IRS’ allowed amount. For other expenses, he must claim the lower of the two amounts. Under existing law, debtors must generally use only their actual expenses, as long as they are reasonable and necessary. Armstrong says it’s the variation between actual expenses and the IRS allowed expenses that may benefit some debtors.

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LEGIC Opens Sales Office in Paris

LEGIC Indentsystems has opened a sales office in Paris to meet the needs
of the French contactless smart card technology market. LEGIC offers
“all-in-one” card technology with the capability of handling 127
different applications. In addition to access control systems, contact
less payments, tracking time and attendance, vending machines, quick
service restaurants high security applications using biometrics can be
implemented onto the card. LEGIC’s products include the LEGIC RF
Standard, ISO 15693 and ISO 14443 compliant read/write chip sets,
security modules and transponder chips.

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e-Port Enables Automated Food Service

Pennsylvania-based USA Technologies reports that California-based KRh Thermal System has purchased “e-Port” systems to network and credit card enable 500 “HOT Choice Connect Systems” automated food service locations nationwide. KRh Thermal will offer the e-Port services as a component of their HOT Choice Connect Systems. This feature will provide operators of the HOT Choice Diner the ability to track all aspects of diner performance via a web-based communication platform. USA Technologies provides networking of wireless non-cash transactions, associated financial/network services and energy management. KRh Thermal Systems is a technology and product development company in the foodservice sector.

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Monthly Payment Rates Hover at 18%+

The amount Americans are paying each month on their credit card bills continues to hover at record levels. For the past three months the average monthly payment rate is 18.38% of the outstanding balance. For August the figure was 18.39% or eight basis points below July. One-year ago the monthly payment rate was 17.33%. Approximately 42% of consumers pay-off credit card balances in-full each month, while 33% pay more than the minimum, according to a recent American Bankers Association survey. As a result of the steep rise in payments, the bank credit card industry has experienced sluggish growth in card loans. Most large issuers are posting growth around 3% to 4% per year in total credit card balances. The increase in the monthly payment rate has largely been attributed to debt consolidation via home equity loans. However, a significant portion is driven by cardholder behavioral changes due to penalty interest rates, universal default policies, rising fees and credit score gaming.

MONTHLY PAYMENT RATES
(Prime Credit Card-Backed Securities)
Aug 04: 17.33%
Jan 05: 17.70%
Feb 05: 17.64%
Mar 05: 16.32%
Apr 05: 18.52%
May 05: 17.18%
Jun 05: 18.29%
Jul 05: 18.47%
Aug 05: 18.39%
Source: FitchRatings

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Experian Acquires Expert Credit Bureau from UCS

Experian has signed an agreement to acquire Expert
Credit Bureau (ExCB) from UCS Romania. ExCB serves clients from the
banking and non-banking industries in Romania. ExCB currently holds
mostly negative data but plans to move into both positive and negative
data processing shortly. Experian has implemented a global strategy
of acquiring complementary businesses that provide new products, new
data or entry into new vertical or regional markets, while leveraging
the core assets of the company. Experian provides information,
analytics, decision-making solutions and processing services. UCS Group
is a group of companies in Romania, providing services for
communications and the financial services industry.

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Katrina Impacts Small Biz Cash Flow

About one-fourth of business owners say they are more likely to delay purchases since Hurrican Katrina, compared to 16% before the hurricane. Post-Katrina, 26% will use personal or private funds to manage cash flow than before Katrina (33% this year versus 28% in 2004). The percentage planning to use a charge or credit card to manage cash flow remains steady at 13% before and after the hurricane (versus 15% a year ago), according to the OPEN from American Express “2005 Semi-Annual Small Business Monitor.” Overall, despite Hurricane Katrina, the percentage of small businesses expecting business growth over the next six months remains steady at 50%.

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