BannerDirect Hires a Strategic Planner

New York City-based BannerDirect has hired Laura Stolzenthaler, formerly with Chase and American Express, as VP/Account Management & Strategic Planning. Stolzenthaler will be responsible for spearheading strategic management and client services and head up sales and marketing. She received a M.A. degree in Business Education at Cornell University and a B.A. in Economics from SUNY Stony Brook. BannerDirect is a full-service direct marketing agency.

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AmEx Opens an Online Broadway Gateway

American Express this morning opens a new Web site, hosted by Yahoo!, that will provide a comprehensive but streamlined resource for the Broadway theater scene. The site will be promoted across the Yahoo! network, including the Yahoo! front page, Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Entertainment and will also be marketed offline. Cardmember benefits will include pre-sale of tickets for top shows not yet available to the general public and rewards for theater merchandise. To date, American Express has supported over 200 Broadway shows and touring companies.

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Cards Mow Down Checks/Cash in Lawn Care

A new survey shows that 44% of American adults who have a lawn and take care of it themselves use credit or debit cards to purchase lawn care products and services, compared with 33% who use cash and only 20% who pay by check, according to a Harris Interactive survey released in conjunction with a joint MasterCard and Home Depot consumer promotion. The promotion currently running is the “Backyard Makeover Sweepstakes,” which ends next week. MasterCard users making a purchase at Home Depot with their card are entered for a chance to win a $100,000 backyard makeover.

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Gen X Sets Debt Elimination as a Goal

A new research report reveals that eliminating debt is a high priority among various generations. Of the “Generation X” adults surveyed, 72% identified reducing debt as a financial goal, compared to 63 percent in 2002. About 65% of “Older Baby Boomers” consider eliminating debt a part of their financial plan, compared to 53% in 2002 The survey by MD-based Vertis, also showed that 19% of adults with a household income of $75,000+ reported they have a credit card and primary checking account in the same bank.

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Allegiance Leasing to Finance Abanco 9301

Chicago-based Abanco International has selected Allegiance Leasing to provide private label sales financing for its “Abanco 9301” wireless terminal that enables airline and other transportation personnel with the ability to accept credit cards in flight for items such as drinks and movies. The mobile data technology devices increase revenue per each passenger mile as well as track inventory, sales and provide logistical support. Allegiance Leasing Company finances venture capital and private equity funds portfolio companies. Abanco International, LLC is a provider of payment processing solutions.

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U.S. Bank Adds More ATMs at SeaWorld

U.S. Bank has expanded its relationship with SeaWorld San Diego by expanding ATM services, adding promotional campaigns and a sponsorship of the park’s shark attraction. U.S. Bank will operate 6 ATMs at the park. SeaWorld marks the 6th exclusive ATM agreement that U.S. Bank has with Anheuser-Busch parks. U.S. Bancorp is the 6th largest financial holding company in the United States with $198 billion in assets. The company operates 2,377 banking offices and 4,654 ATMs in 24 states.

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AmBank Group Launches the RealRewards MasterCard

The AmBank Group has launched a rewards credit card that earns points in two ways. The “AmBank-RealRewards MasterCard” rewards cardholders with “AmBonus” points from the issuer on all purchases and “Real” points from specific merchant purchases. There are 2,000 merchants participating in the “RealRewards” loyalty program. Points may be accumulated over a five-year period. To support the launch AmBank is running a sweepstakes that offers a grand prize of 10 million “Real” points. Cardholders need to charge at least RM50 to be entered into the contest. AmGroup issues the VISA and MasterCard, including the “Al-Taslif Credit Card-i.’ and recently introduced the “RedHall Gallery Credit MasterCard.”

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WFFRS to Issue Furniture First Card

Wells Fargo Financial Retail Services has inked a deal to issue a credit card for Pennsylvania-based Furniture First and its more than 250 stores in 41 states. Wells Fargo will provide account management and sales support, sales training, client support, integrated technology, and customized marketing solutions. Furniture First has 116 members and sales of more than $1 billion. Wells Fargo Financial, a unit of Wells Fargo & Company, is a $38 billion company providing consumer credit cards, lending and financing.

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Q1 Debit Tops Q4 for the First Time

For the first time, signature debit card purchase volume for the slower first quarter exceeded the busy fourth quarter. While VISA dipped slightly below its Q4 purchase volume of $100.2 billion in Q1, MasterCard posted a 2.7% gain from Q4 to Q1 with $26.3 billion, pushing the overall first quarter purchase volume to $126 billion, or $400 million higher than 4Q/04. Year-over-year, MasterCard’s signature debit card purchase volume is growing 24.1%, compared to VISA’s 19.5%. VISA posted $99.7 billion in first quarter signature debit card purchase volume, with $93.2 billion coming from consumer debit cards. For complete current and historical statistics on the U.S. signature debit card market, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

U.S. SIGNATURE DEBIT SNAPSHOT
(Purchase Volume Only)
1Q/04 1Q/05 Y/Y CHANGE
VISA $83.4b $99.7b +19.5%
MasterCard $21.2b $26.3b +24.1%
TOTAL $104.2b $126.0b +20.9%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Experian Profits Up 16%; Spin-Off Soon

GUS reports that Experian’s annual sales through March 31st were up 18% while net income rose 16%, however, GUS says it intends to spin-off Experian at the appropriate time. GUS is a UK-based retail and business services group. Its activities comprise general merchandise retailing through Argos Retail Group, information and customer relationship management services through Experian and luxury goods through a majority shareholding in Burberry Group plc.

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CUP & DISCOVER

China UnionPay has sealed a deal with US-based Discover Financial Services to facilitate acceptance of CUP cards in the USA. In return Discover cards will be accepted in China. Under terms of the deal, Discover cards will eventually be accepted at 80,000 China UnionPay ATMs and 365,000 merchants in China while China UnionPay cards, mostly PIN debit cards, will be accepted on Discover’s “PULSE” network in the USA. Both companies have agreed to pursue ways to enable acceptance of CUP cards on Discover’s POS network in the USA. There are more than 800 million CUP cards issued in China and more than 50 million Discover cards issued in the USA. Discover, with more than four million merchant acceptance locations, is primarily a domestic U.S. card with some acceptance in the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada.

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SkyPoints Credit Card Takes Off

American Express and Delta have introduced a new rewards card that provides discounts on Delta, Delta Connection, Delta Shuttle, and Song. The new “SkyPoints Credit Card” enables cardholders to earn points that can be redeemed toward discounts, in the form of a statement credit from American Express, on Delta airline tickets. The redemptions range from 3,000 “SkyPoints” for a 10% discount, to 20,000 “SkyPoints” for a 75% discount. The discounts are limited to the first $500 of the ticket price. Cardholders can also convert “SkyPoints” to their “SkyMiles” account to earn miles toward free Delta travel. Cardholders earn one point for all purchases and double “SkyPoints” on everyday purchases. Cardholders also receive a 2,500 “SkyPoints” welcome bonus with their first purchase and another 2,500 upon first year renewal. The “SkyPoints Credit Card” carries a $49 annual fee after the first year.

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