General Purpose Cards Top 900 MM in Q1

The number of credit and debit cards-in-force in the USA grew by 64.6 million over the past twelve months, surpassing the 900 million card mark in the first quarter. MasterCard lead the four U.S. networks posting a nearly 10% increase in its card base compared to 1Q/04. MasterCard had 346.9 million credit and off-line debit cards-in-force at the end of March, compared to 316.4 million one-year ago. American Express added 3.3 million cardholders in the USA since 1Q/04, for a 9% increase. VISA ended the first quarter with 463.4 million credit and offline debit cards-in-force, for a 7% gain. Discover was flat at 50.7 million. At the end of 1Q/05, there were 901.3 million credit and debit cards in use in the USA, compared to 836.7 million one-year ago. For complete details on network performance in the first quarter, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS-IN-FORCE (millions)
NETWORK 4Q/04 1Q/05 Y/Y CHNG
VISA 458.0 463.4 +7.0%
MasterCard 337.8 346.9 +9.6%
American Express 39.9 40.3 +8.9%
Discover 50.8 50.7 +0.4%
TOTAL 886.5 901.3 +7.7%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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CO-OP Supports Children’s Miracle Network

The CO-OP Network has signed to become the national presenting sponsor for “Champions Across America,” a Children’s Miracle Network program that honors youngsters who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. CO-OP Network will be seeking at least one credit union/partner from every state to support a “champion” child who will serve as ambassadors for the 17 million kids treated each year at Children’s Miracle Network children’s hospitals. Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. The CO-OP Network is wholly-owned by its credit union shareholders with more than 1,770 credit union members, 19,500 surcharge-free ATMs, 80 million plus monthly transactions and 20 million cardholders.

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APR 05

Credit card outstandings took an unexpected dip in April dropping GBP 40 million compared to a GBP 400 million increase for April 2004. Over the past year, credit card outstandings have been flat at approximately GBP 54 billion. The British Bankers Association, which compiles statistics on major British banking groups, says there was a small net repayment of credit card borrowing in April and the six month average has declined steadily from GBP 500 million in August 2004 to GBP 200 million in April. The BBA data also show that credit card lending grew a modest GBP 50 million in February, GBP 134 million in March, and GBP 40 million in April. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England decided May 9th to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 4.75%.

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FTC Shuts Down a Credit Card Scam

The FTC has shut down Frankly Speaking, Inc. and Plasticash, Inc. for posing as a nonprofit organization that billed tens of thousands of consumers’ credit cards without their consent. Both companies telemarketed to consumers offering “free” goods and services. The defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule by billing consumers without their consent after making telemarketing calls; failing to inform consumers that their accounts would be charged; and violating the provisions of the National Do Not Call Registry.

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UK Card Outstandings Hits the Brakes

The British Bankers Association, which compiles statistics on major British banking groups, says there was a small net repayment of credit card borrowing in April and that the six month average has declined steadily from GBP 500 million in August 2004 to GBP 200 million in April. The BBA data also show that credit card lending grew a modest GBP 50 million in February, GBP 134 million in March and GBP 40 million in April. The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England decided May 9th to maintain its benchmark interest rate at 4.75%, according to CardFlash International.

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Citibank Introduces the Mercury Drug VISA

Citibank and Mercury Drug have launched a co-branded credit card that offers a range of health-related benefits to cardholders. The new “Mercury Drug-Citibank VISA” card is the first card in the country to offer a 2% rebate for Mercury Drug transactions and 0.5% rebate for all other purchases. Principal card holders can also receive a free annual physical examination at Healthway Medical Clinics. Cardholders can also enjoy discounts from partner merchants.

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UK ATM Deployments Grow by 17% Last Year

The number of ATMs has increased by nearly 8,000 last year in the U.K. to a total of 54,412. The number of withdrawals from cash machines reached 2.53 billion in 2004, with an average value of GBP64 from bank-owned ATMs and GBP45 for withdrawals at independently-owned machines. Since 1997, the number of ATMs in the country has doubled from 23,200 according to last week’s issue of CardFlash International. The report also reveals that more people than ever are now regularly using cash machines – with 32.9 million using them to withdraw cash, check balances and even to top up mobile phones. Users now account for more than 75% of all plastic cardholders in the UK.

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Wells Fargo Expands InterCuenta Express

Wells Fargo has signed deals with three Latin American banks to expand its “InterCuenta Express” remittance service to El Salvador and Guatemala. The new remittance services through Banco Agricola, Banco De Desarrollo Rural and Banco Industrial allow U.S. customers to send up to US$3,000 a day from their accounts to accounts in El Salvador and Guatemala for $8.00 per transaction. Banco Agricola has the largest network in El Salvador with 60 branches, 300 ATMs and one million customers. Banrural — Banco De Desarrollo Rural S.A. has 315 branches and access to more than 800 ATMs. Banco Industrial, S.A., with assets of US$ 2.7 billion, is Guatemala’s largest bank with 285 branches and 882 ATMs. Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $436 billion in assets serving 23 million customers.

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Merchants Coalition Adds Another Member

The Merchants Payments Coalition added another supporter last week as the National Restaurant Association joined the industry group. The Merchants Payments Coalition was recently formed by 12 merchant groups to fight rising interchange fees. The group says that interchange collected from its members accounts for about one-quarter of that total, and coalition members account for about 40% of all credit and debit card transactions. The National Restaurant Association is comprised of 900,000 restaurant and food service outlets.

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GECF Celebrates GE Money’s First Anniversary

Celebrating its one-year birthday, the GE Money brand has been
unveiled in 25 countries around the world. GE Money products include private label credit cards, personal loans, bank cards, auto loans and leases, mortgages, corporate travel and purchasing cards, debt consolidation, home equity loans and credit insurance. Yoshiaki Fujimori is the President and CEO of GE Consumer Finance Asia while GE Money Australia operates in Australia and New Zealand and is headed by President and CEO Tom Gentile. Beginning in 2004, the GE Money brand was introduced in Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany. Throughout 2005, the GE Money brand has been launched in Europe, as well as Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

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BSP Rewards Network to be an ISO

Florida-based MediaNet Group Technologies has inked six new companies in its “BSP Rewards Network” and has finalized its agreement with MasterCard to become an authorized ISO for the company’s store value rewards cards. Companies in the network are able to offer their customers up to 15 percent in rewards, which they can spend like cash at any participating BSP Rewards Network merchant. MediaNet Group’s BSP Rewards Network is a private label rewards and loyalty marketing program for merchants and service providers.

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