Consumer Confidence Continues its Yo-Yo Ride in Nov

Consumer confidence, which took a downward move in October after steadily growing over the summer, slowly rebounded in November. The uptick is the result of a decrease in the percent of consumers expecting business and labor market conditions to worsen, as opposed to an increase in the percent of consumers expecting conditions to improve. Income expectations remain very pessimistic and consumers are entering the holiday season in a very frugal mood. The Conference Board “Consumer Confidence Index” now stands at 49.5, up from 48.7 in October. The “Present Situation Index” was virtually unchanged at 21.0 versus 21.1 last month. The “Expectations Index” increased to 68.5 from 67.0 in October. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” decreased to 45.7% from 46.7%, while those claiming conditions are “good” increased to 8.1% from 7.8%. The percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased slightly to 20.0% from 20.8%, but those expecting conditions to worsen decreased to 15.1% from 18.2%.

Consumer Confidence Index
Jan 09: 37.4
Feb 09: 25.3
Mar 09: 26.9
Apr 09: 40.8
May 09: 54.9
Jun 09: 49.3
Jul 09: 47.4
Aug 09: 54.5
Sep 09: 53.1
Oct 09: 48.7
Nov 09: 49.5
Source: The Conference Board

Details

AmEx Launches a Holiday Membership Rewards Promo

American Express is launching a major “Membership Rewards” promotion to
run from “Black Friday” (November 27th) through “Cyber Monday” (November
30th) for eligible “Charge Card” users to receive triple “Membership
Rewards” points. In addition, American Express is offering a
limited-time promotion that allows “Platinum Card” holders to earn six
times the “Membership Rewards” points and American Express “Gold” and
“Green” cardholders the opportunity to earn five times the points when
they shop at a selection of 25 popular online retailers. Through the
“Bonus Points Mall” site, “Platinum” cardholders can also
continue to earn four times the “Membership Rewards” points, while
AmEx “Gold” and “Green” cardholders can continue to earn three times the
points on all purchases made at more than 250 participating online
stores. “Charge Card” holders continue to have the opportunity to enroll
to earn double points on gas and grocery purchases nationwide, up to
$1,000 each month, through March 15th.

Details

ADEPTRA RESEARCH

While 10% of British consumers admitted never checking their bank
statements, 67% stated they only check their statements monthly, while
11% of American consumers check their balance daily and 53% check every
week. With Black Friday right around the corner, the volume of retail
transactions jump to millions of credit cards processed every hour with
a corresponding peak of fraudulent activities. The study, according to
an Adeptra survey of 400 American and British consumers, concludes
Americans are more concerned than the British about being victims of
financial fraud. Additional findings show 54% of Americans and 72% of
Brits would like correspondence through their mobile phone in the event
of fraud, 20% of Americans and 1% of British preferring email, and 6% of
Americans and 12% of British preferring SMS communication.

Details

PAYZONE, E.ON & NPOWER

Payzone, in conjunction with E.ON and npower, is offering their
customers the chance to share in a GBP10,000 free energy prize fund this
winter by paying for gas and / or electricity at 14,000 participating
Payzone outlets across the UK. Starting December 1 until February 8,
E.ON and npower customers who top up their gas and electricity
prepayment cards / keys, pay bills, or make budget payments at Payzone
outlets will be automatically entered into the free prize draw. For the
drawing, 100 lucky customers can win GBP10 that can be used towards the
cost of energy this winter, the equivalent of 400 hours watching an LCD
TV; heating 500 cups of tea; 800 slices of toast; 3125 hours of light
using a 20 watt energy saving bulb; and 100 baths or 200 showers.

Details

Javelin Strategy Analyzes Identity Fraud

Javelin Strategy & Research has released its “2009 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard”
ranking top banks and credit unions on 50
identity fraud prevention, detection and resolution capabilities and finds that
while banks made dramatic strides in prevention of
identity fraud, detection capabilities showing little improvement.
Javelin’s 2009 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard
uses website research and mystery-shopping methods to score the largest
banks and credit unions that represent half of all U.S. consumer
checking accounts. The 50 precise security measures are based on
exacting analysis of three areas: consumer behavioral research, review
of changing crime patterns, and new technologies available to banks and
consumers. Key Findings of 2009 Banking Identity Safety Scorecard include:
Banks excelled in prevention capabilities, scoring an average of
27 percentage points higher than last year. Bank of America, BB&T
and Fifth Third Bank had the highest prevention scores; financial institutions finally curtailed the use of full social
security numbers for routine authentication; nearly nine in 10 banks now equip their customers with third-party
security vendors for online safety; banks are strengthening education, with 100% of the top financial
institutions now offering anti-phishing email education online – doubling from the previous year;
highest identity fraud detection scores were posted by Regions Bank, Bank of America and Citibank.
Detection capabilities showed meager improvement overall. Javelin
calls for 18 alerts and notifications regarding changes to consumers’ accounts and personal information.
ING, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank and Wells Fargo earned perfect scores in 11 identity fraud resolution criteria.100% of top banks now offer zero-liability protection and next-day
replacement of lost or stolen debit cards for most routine purchases, tightening parity with credit cards. Identity Fraud carried
an average per-victim toll of $496 in out-of-pocket costs and 30 hours
of personal resolution hours in 2008.

Details

Americans 15% More Concerned About Card Fraud

While 10% of British consumers admitted never checking their bank
statements, 67% stated they only check their statements monthly, while
11% of American consumers check their balance daily and 53% check every
week. With Black Friday right around the corner, the volume of retail
transactions jump to millions of credit cards processed every hour with
a corresponding peak of fraudulent activities. The study, according to
an Adeptra survey of 400 American and British consumers, concludes
Americans are more concerned than the British about being victims of
financial fraud. Additional findings show 54% of Americans and 72% of
Brits would like correspondence through their mobile phone in the event
of fraud, 20% of Americans and 1% of British preferring email, and 6% of
Americans and 12% of British preferring SMS communication.

Details

MXIT & STANDARD BANK

Mobile banking is on track to three times as many users globally than
traditional banking by 2011, a market which MXit mobile social network
and instant messenger is poised to offer African banks a safe
transaction platform. In doing so, MXit will offer its “MXit Moola”
virtual currency on the platform while The Standard Bank “mimoney”
payment method makes available the m-banking solutions to individuals
without access to a credit card or a bank account. For example, 40% of
the South African population are considered unbanked. Together, MXit and
Standard Bank are targeting are teenagers, students, business, high net
worth individuals and the informal sector with the m-banking solutions.
MXit is the most popular mobile social network and instant messenger in
Africa with close to 17 million subscribers.

Details

NetSpend Natl Spending/Savings Index Released

Prepaid card provider NetSpend has released its “National Spending & Savings Index” that
tracks year-over-year spending trends of almost one million consumers in eight “lifestyle” categories.
For October, national spending trends saw the largest gains in the “Groceries” (+14.10%),
“Personal & Professional Services” (+6.14%) and “Travel & Entertainment”
(+5.44%) categories. The increase in the “Groceries” category may
demonstrate that consumers are continuing to eat at home rather than
going out to restaurants. The lifestyle category with the largest significant decline was
“Finance” (-6.57%). The decrease in the “Finance” category can likely be
attributed to a decline in ATM withdrawals, as the majority of all
dollars spent in the “Finance” category are attributed to ATM fees.
“The NetSpend National Spending & Savings Index” also surveys the average
balances in cardholders’ NetSpend Savings Accounts. Savings trends for
the low- to moderate-income consumer across the nation are indicating
that while the number of savings accounts significantly increased, the
average account balance decreased. The October data show that the number
of accounts across the nation is up by more than 20,000. However, the
average balance of NetSpend Savings Accounts dropped from $26.10 in
October 2008 to $24.40 in October 2009. Researchers say this may
demonstrate that although customers are showing more intention to save
money, they simply don’t have the funds yet.

Details

Citi Unloads its US/Canada Diners Club Card Portfolio

BMO Financial Group is acquiring the “Diners Club” North American
franchise from Citigroup for an undisclosed amount. The portfolio will
add net receivables of nearly $1 billion and annual transaction volume
of $7.8 billion, and will double BMO’s overall “Corporate Card”
business. The deal gives BMO exclusive rights to issue “Diners Club”
cards to corporate and professional clients in the U.S. and Canada. More
than 6,000 North American businesses and nearly 250,000 cardholders use
“Diners Club” to manage their “Travel and Entertainment” expenses. In
addition, more than 100,000 individuals in Canada and the U.S. carry the
“Diners Club Professional Card.” Under the agreement, Citigroup will
continue to provide support until the “Diners Club” business is fully
integrated within BMO. As part of the acquisition, BMO will retain key
resources responsible for product delivery, sales and customer service.
Included in the acquisition is the “Club Rewards” program. The deal is
expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

Details

Mobile Merchant Pro Products are Launched

1st National Processing has rolled out its
“Mobile Merchant Pro” line of credit card processing applications for the
iPhone and iPod Touch in addition to a Free BlackBerry mobile payment application.
“Mobile Merchant Pro” is a point of sale application that allows mobile
merchants to process credit cards real-time on their mobile phones. With
support for both “Authorize.Net” and “PayPal Web Payments Pro”, merchants
have a choice by using their existing payment gateways, or use one
provided by 1st National Processing. 1st National Processing created the “Mobile Merchant Pro” line to expand a
merchant’s ability to accept credit cards anywhere. These mobile
solutions were created to address the credit card processing needs for
consultants, contractors, photographers, plumbers, locksmiths, livery
drivers, insurance agents, tradeshows, and the Arts & Crafts vendor
communities. Mobile merchants who currently process credit cards using a
supported gateway can benefit immediately as nothing further is required.

Details

NCSI-UK

The National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI-UK) dropped for a second
straight quarter to 72.8 on a 100-point scale as a direct result of an
overall loss of customer satisfaction in the financial services sector.
Only 32% of individual companies have improved NCSI scores this year,
50% declined and 18% are unchanged while declining customer satisfaction
are increasingly unsatisfied with the retail banking and credit card
services sectors. The credit card industry slipped 1% to a score of 72,
thanks especially to RSB and Lloyds TSB, while HSBC leads by a
substantial margin with a score of 73 and Barclays is the only credit
card provider to improve (up 1% to 69). The highest customer
satisfaction levels were seen among customers of smaller credit card
issuers. Customer satisfaction with the retail banking industry fell
1.4% to a score of 70 with HSBC at #1 among big retail banks and RBS
Group posting the biggest decline of 3% to a score of 69.

Details