GE Earnings Sink 40% in the First Quarter of 09

GE announced first-quarter 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $2.8 billion, down 40% from first quarter 2008. First-quarter 2009 revenues from continuing operations were $38.4 billion, down 9% year-over-year. Capital Finance earned $1.1 billion in the quarter and remains on track to be profitable for the full year.
On March 19, GE conducted a ‘deep dive’ into GE Capital that
demonstrated the strength of its team and its commitment to
transparency. Estimated stress-test results showed that it does not need
to raise additional capital even in the Fed’s adverse-case
scenario.

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FEB DEBT

Growth in credit card debt picked up in February, adding A$800 million.
Credit card volume also picked up but remains 2.3% lower than one-year
ago. Year-on-year credit card debt growth has slowed to 4.8%, compared
to 5% in the prior month and 10% one-year ago. According to the Reserve
Bank of Australia credit card balances hit A$45.4 billion in February
versus A$43.3 billion one-year ago. Credit limits now stand at A$124.2
billion, compared to A$116.1 billion in February 2008. According to the
Reserve Bank of Australia there are currently 14.4 million credit card
and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 14.0 million one-year
ago.

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AmEx OPEN Survey Finds Good in the Recession

Results from the “American Express OPEN Small
Business Monitor” semi-annual survey indicate that four in ten
entrepreneurs feel the current economic environment
creates opportunities for their business. Small business owners are not
taking this recession lying down. Many are
finding new resources to tap and new ways to manage costs beyond the
traditional steps of laying off staff or cutting back on staff hours
with 45% of business owners open to bartering for new
products or services with customers or suppliers and 23% report their
barter activities have increased due to the economic
environment. Additional steps taken include: 48% that have instituted
hiring freezes; 30% are no longer taking a salary; 27% have a family
member working pro bono;
25% are renegotiating leases and supply contracts; 16% have cut benefits
and 18% work a second job.

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MOBILE PAYPASS

MasterCard Canada and partners Citi Cards Canada and Bell Mobility have
completed the first NFC trial of “Mobile PayPass” in Canada, the first
trial that used Bell Mobility’s wireless network, allowing
participants to make purchases using their mobile device at MasterCard
PayPass acceptance locations across Canada. The trial took place at Bell
Mobility’s Creekbank office in Ontario and approximately 75 employees
from Bell, Citi Cards and MasterCard participated. The average
transaction amount during the trial was just under $20. The four-month
closed trial was a major step towards bringing mobile payments to
Canadian mobile phone users.

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VISA & TOURISM

Last year, international visitors to Canada spent more than $9 billion
on their Visa-branded payment cards, contributing to Canada’s tourism
economy, which represents approximately two percent of Canada’s overall
GDP. Visa card spending by international visitors in Canada increased
from US$8.7 billion in 2007, with U.S. cardholders contributing more
than half of the total. Visitors from Western Europe, Asia and Australia
accounted for an additional 23% of Visa card spending. Visitors from
the United States continue to be the largest contributors
to tourism revenues. According to the Visa tourism survey, 60% of
U.S. respondents have visited Canada at least once, compared to 19% of
all respondents. In 2008, U.S. visitors spent $5.47 billion
on Visa cards while visiting Canada. Other top contributors to Canada
inbound tourism spending in 2008 include: United Kingdom ($603 million);
France ($351 million); Australia ($223 million); and Japan ($204
million). General retail purchases, such as clothing and food,
represented 41% of Visa transactions by international travelers visiting
Canada
in 2008, totaling more than $3.7 billion, an increase of more than 7%
from the previous year. Other major segments include lodging
($1.1 billion), airlines ($628 million) and restaurants ($467 million).

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Chase Q1 Credit Card Charge-Offs Near 8%

Chase’s Card Services unit posted a net loss of $547 million in the
first quarter, compared to $371 million in the prior quarter and down
$1.2 billion from 1Q/08. The managed net charge-off rate for the first
quarter hit 7.72%, up from 4.37% in the prior year and 5.56% in the
prior quarter. The 30-day managed delinquency rate was 6.16%, up from
3.66% in the prior year and 4.97% in the prior quarter. Managed credit
card loans dropped 7% sequentially and 17% from the prior year to $176.1
billion. Chase says the managed provision for credit losses was $4.7
billion, an increase of $3.0 billion, or 179%, from the prior year. The
provision reflected a higher level of charge-offs and an increase of
$1.2 billion in the allowance for loan losses, due to a weakening credit
environment. Charge volume was $76.0 billion, a decrease of 11% from the
prior year. Merchant processing volume was $94.4 billion on 4.1 billion
in total transactions processed. For complete details on Chase’s first
quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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ELECTRASWITCH & FTB

E-payment provider ElectraCard Services has launched “electraSWITCH” for
Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), Cambodia. “electraSWITCH” will drive biometric
ATMs in Cambodia,the first of its kind in the country. The bank has
deployed ATMs with fingerprint recognition technology,
voice instruction and simple screen graphics to help customers get the
most out of a new way of banking. The system also saves them the trouble
of remembering their ATM PIN as they can use their fingerprint to
withdraw money through ATMs. FTB is Cambodia’s first bank, a joint
private/Government venture
and has been providing customers with safe and reliable banking services
for more than 29 years. The Bank was created under the former regime of
the State of Cambodia. In 2000, the Bank was separated from the direct
management of the National Bank of Cambodia (the Central Bank) in order
to transform its permanent identity into a State-owned commercial bank
with the features of a Public Economic Enterprise and an aim to conduct
autonomous business operations.

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Fiserv Promotes the PayItGreen Initiative

More than 25 financial institutions across the country will encourage their account holders to make the switch to online bill payment by planting a tree in a national forest for each bill paid online during April and May. This is the third year in a row that Fiserv has partnered with financial institutions and the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees. According to the PayItGreen Alliance, a coalition of financial services companies that includes Fiserv as a founding member, each U.S. household that switches to electronic bills, statements and payments could save 6.6 pounds of paper and conserve 4.5 gallons of gasoline used to transport these documents each year. If every household chose paperless bills and statements it could save an estimated 18.5 million trees and eliminate the production of 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gases. The Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization of nearly one million members with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.

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PLANET PAYMENT

Cardwork’s affiliate Integrated Card Exchange (ICE)and Peoples Trust,
will launch a comprehensive processing solution powered by payment
processor Planet Payment. The turnkey solution will provide Canadian
merchants with a
comprehensive suite of business-building tools designed to improve
merchant efficiency and profitability. The solution includes full
domestic processing support for Visa and MasterCard including chip
and pin, American Express, JCB, and Interac debit card
transactions. Additionally, merchants will have access to Planet
Payment’s Pay in Your Currency(TM) and Multi-Currency Pricing services,
driving additional sales opportunities and improving profitability by
enabling customers to view pricing and pay in their home currencies.
ICE will offer the solution directly to Canadian
merchants and Independent Sales Organizations as well as through
US-based ISOs that are interested in processing solutions for merchants
located in Canada.

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Card Issuers to Make DMPs More Affordable

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says the nation’s top 10 credit card issuers have agreed to provide additional relief to consumers struggling to repay their debts. The NFCC says fewer consumers have sufficient income to be eligible for, or the ability to maintain, a traditional “debt management plan”, often leaving bankruptcy as the only
option. The NFCC issued its “Call to Action” last fall, calling on more
creditors to take additional steps to make DMPs more affordable. As of March 31, the top 10 credit card issuers have agreed to implement the changes necessary to provide both a more affordable “Standard” DMP and a “Hardship” DMP. The key elements of these two new DMPs will allow consumers to maintain a reasonable monthly budget, establish a savings account for economic emergencies, make fixed monthly payments more affordable, and be out of debt within 60 months. Those creditors supporting the “Call to Action” are American Express, Bank of
America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, GE Money, HSBC Card Services, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

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