DC Group Launches a Conservative Check Card

Washington, DC-based Citizens Against Government Waste has introduced its “Conservative Check Card.” The wallet-sized cards, which are being distributed by the Republican Study Committee, contain six principles of sound government. They are targeted for use by members of Congress and their constituents to evaluate proposed legislation. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) successfully promoted a similar card when he was the Speaker of the House in Florida.


May Flowers as Consumers Tack on More Debt

After three consecutive months of decline, Americans reversed course in May, adding $1.6 billion in revolving credit. At an annualized rate, consumer credit jumped nearly 3% during May perhaps impacted by a slowdown in consolidation financing via home mortgages. The increase is still significantly lower than one-year ago when consumers added more than $5 billion to revolving credit. According to revised figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve, at the end of May 2004 Americans owed $742.8 billion in revolving credit, compared to $727.9 billion for May 2003. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was $658.9 billion, or roughly 88% of total revolving credit, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). At the end of May, Americans were $2031.2 billion in debt, excluding home mortgages.

May 04 Apr 04 Mar 04 Feb 04 Jan04 Dec03 Nov03
GRWTH: 2.6% -5.0 -2.1 -0.6 13.0 3.3 4.9
$OWED: $742.8 741.2 744.3 750.4 753.0 743.4 743.8

Oct 03 Sep03 Aug 03 Jul03 Jun03 May03 Apr03
GRWTH: 4.1% 6.8 3.4 1.4 2.7 7.7 3.4
$OWED: $740.5 737.3 729.1 726.8 729.7 727.9 722.8

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 7/08/04;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com)


GE Finance Profits Up 17% in the 2Q/04

GE reported that profit for its Consumer Finance unit declined slightly from the record set in the prior quarter, but remain up 17% from one-year ago. Second quarter revenues hit a record $3.8 billion, a 26% jump over 2Q/03. GE posted $600 million in second quarter profit, compared to $602 million in the first quarter, and $514 million for 2Q/03. During the quarter, GE launched a MasterCard payroll card and teamed with eBay and PayPal to offer new consumer and commercial credit programs. The Company also completed the acquisition of wholesale lender WMC Finance, and Latvian sales finance and auto loan provider RD Lizinga Grupa. GE also signed a five-year agreement with Drexel Heritage, a premier furniture manufacturer, to provide a new retail credit program for its U.S. customers. For complete details on GE’s second quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

Income Revenues
2Q/03: $514 million $3046 million
3Q/03: $595 million $3499 million
4Q/03: $506 million $3541 million
1Q/04: $602 million $3589 million
2Q/04: $600 million $3830 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)


Americans Avoid Card Debt for Vacations

A new study has found that only 19% of vacationing Americans are going to pay for the trip on their credit cards, down from 23% who did so last year. The research also found that 74% of vacationers plan to pay for the trip from checking or savings accounts, up 6 points from 2003. The “Cambridge Consumer Credit Index” also found that the difference between the amount of debt consumers say they will pay off in the next month versus the amount of debt they actually paid off a month later, increased by 5 percentage points from June to 13 points. A month ago, 81% of Americans planned to pay off debt, while a month later only 68% actually did so.


Best Western and Diners Club Launch a Promotion

Best Western and Diners Club have launched a summer promotion offering up to 400 bonus points with qualified stays paid for with a “Diners Club” card. At the same time, Best Western guests continue to receive the standard Gold Crown Club points earned for each qualified stay. To be eligible, guests must reside in North America and register for the offer prior to their first stay at http://www.goldcrownclub.com, or call 1-800-237-8483 and mention promotion code DC400. Best Western International is THE WORLD’S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN(R) with more than 4,100 hotels in 80 countries and territories.


Cobra Tecnologia to use Falcon Fraud Manager

Fair Isaac has signed a new, multi-year agreement with Cobra Tecnologia S.A. to integrate Fair Isaac’s “Falcon Fraud Manager” into one of the world’s largest electronic banking networks. Cobra is the
information technology services subsidiary of Banco do Brasil. Cobra Tecnologia’s network currently connects more than 9,000 terminals to state-owned banks, including Banco do Brasil. Cobra Tecnologia recently established a partnership with USA-based S2 Systems to develop in Brazil one of the largest e-banking networks in the world. In its agreement with S2 Systems, Cobra Tecnologia has adopted S2’s “OpeN/2” transaction management and payment system as its standard operation management platform. Known as the “Cobra Switch Project,” the new network will be capable of handling initially 100 million transactions per month and will be the first in Brazil to be present in more than 3,500 cities. Fair Isaac’s “Falcon Fraud Manager” will add significant value to the shared network by offering advanced fraud protection to participating financial institutions.


Providian to Close its San Antonio Center

Providian Financial announced it is closing its San Antonio customer service operations site at the end of the year, affecting 220 employees. All of the approximately 220 employees affected by today’s announcement will be given transition packages, including job placement services. Providian Financial (www.providian.com) is a leading provider of credit cards to mainstream American customers throughout the U.S.



New Delhi-based Hero Honda Motor Ltd., GE Capital India, and the State Bank of India have taken their co-branded VISA card nationwide after a year-long trial in four cities. The “Hero Honda SBI VISA Card” will now be marketed to 1.5 million members of Honda’s “Passport” in sixty cities. “Passport” members will receive an annual fee waiver for the first year. The card features a tiered interest rate based on the account balance, no transaction fees at IOC and IBP petrol pumps on fuel purchases of over Rs 250, and a one-year road accident insurance of Rs 100,000. Totally, Hero Honda, India’s largest two-wheeler maker, has more than seven million customers throughout the country. SBI Card is a joint venture of GE Capital and the State Bank of India. SBI Card currently has 350,000 classic VISA credit cards issued across 25 cities in India.


Gift Cards Poised to Dominate Corp Incentives

Prepaid gift cards are quickly emerging as the preferred way to motivate, retain and reward employees. The overwhelming majority of companies recently surveyed said gift cards are easy to order and distribute, offer good value relative to cost, and that recipients highly value such a card. Of the 460 corporate incentive program decision makers interviewed 70% of the respondents offered incentives for employee performance, 56% for employee length of service, and, 54% as a sales incentive. The incentive industry is estimated to be a $30 billion market. The recent study by the Harris Interactive Online Panel for Valuelink, found that 40% used gift cards and/or gift certificates as incentive items within the past year, with 14% stating that gift cards are the most used incentive items within their company. Thirty-five percent of current gift card incentive purchasers anticipate expanding the number of cards they distribute in the next year. Of those, 17% said they will increase purchases by up to nine percent and, 18% of respondents said they will increase gift card incentive purchases by more than 10%. Fifty-five percent of gift cards given out as incentives are for less than $50. Approximately one-third carry values of $25 – $49; and 20% are for $100 or more.


Dhanalakshmi Bank Outsources ATM Management to Euronet

Dhanalakshmi Bank Limited has signed an ATM outsourcing agreement with Euronet Worldwide. The deal involves 100 ATMs in South India. Euronet will also be providing VISA gateway services and help the Dhanalakshmi Bank launch its debit card program. The Dhanalakshmi Bank will also connect to Cashnet, which is a shared ATM network owned and operated by Euronet. Cashnet operates approximately 3,000 ATMs across 200 cities through its membership bank participation with IDBI Bank, UTI Bank, Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank.


MyVigo to Expand Synapse RFID

MyVigo Corporation has contracted to leverage the IBSS “Synapse” platform for the development of its RFID retail point of service information management system. MyVigo intends to provide merchants in the United States and Canada with a customized suite of services keyed to RFID preferred customer identification cards/key fobs. The cards/key fobs will carry customer profile data that MyVigo issuing merchants require to identify their preferred customers. MyVigo Corporation seeks to provide merchants with RFID and Internet tools to advance in real time the management, delivery, acceptance, approval, administration, notice of service or maintenance, and proof of purchase related to commercial transactions — all with the swipe of a card/key fob at the point of sale. IBSS is the creator of Synapse(TM), a groundbreaking software technology. Synapse(TM) is a complete framework and methodology used to create, implement and manage a wide variety of dynamic, distributed, networked, and real-time enterprise applications including RFID, quickly and efficiently.


BACS Approves New Bottomline Technologies WebSeries HSMs

Bottomline Technologies has released its “WebSeries” bureau functionality and “Hardware Security Modules.” Both modules have
been approved by BACS, the United Kingdom’s automated payment clearing
service. HSMs allow businesses to make transmissions to BACS without local smart card authorization, which is very important for high-volume payers and collectors. High-volume users of BACS include the financial services sector, utilities, and public sector organizations, which combined collect over 80% of the 2.4 billion direct debit payments made each year in the UK. Uniquely, Bottomline’s WebSeries product has been approved to support four different HSM manufacturers: nCipher, Chrysalis, Eracom and Thales. More than 60,000 companies use BACS to process payments, and will need to migrate to BACSTEL-IP by December 31, 2005.