Well-Being Index Indicates U.S. Recession

More than 40% of American workers believe the U.S. economy is in a recession. The latest “Principal Financial Well-Being Index” also found that another 46% of workers believe the economy is headed for a recession. The index also revealed that more than two-thirds of workers are very concerned about their long-term financial future. Sixty percent of workers expressed concern about their ability to save for retirement, while nearly half expressed concern about even being able to cover monthly expenses and reduce credit card debt or pay off short-term debt.

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Satisfaction & CU Card Portfolio Sales

A recent survey of credit unions by Dallas-based TNB Card Services indicate a 72% satisfaction rate in selling their card portfolio. Among those credit unions who had sold their portfolio to TNB more than a year earlier and would sell it again if they had it to do over, 86% said they would definitely sell to TNB. Also among those on the program for more than a year, 72% indicated they would recommend TNB to their credit union peers. This is in sharp contrast to recent industry surveys suggesting that just 42% of credit unions that have sold their portfolios would recommend to their peers the companies that bought those portfolios.

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Payment Fraud Continues to Grow

According to a new survey from the Association for Financial Professionals, the incidence of payment fraud increased between 2006 and 2007 with nearly 71% of respondent organizations having indicated either attempted or successful acts of fraud throughout the year. Moreover, findings showed that large organizations were more likely to have been targets of payments fraud than were smaller organizations, with 81% of organizations of over $1 billion in annual revenue were victims while only 58% of organizations with annual revenues under $1 billion were victims, 94% of respondents indicated attempted or actual check fraud and of the establishments surveyed, the median financial loss to payment fraud was $13,900. In response to this, preventative efforts being taken include Segregating responsibilities among different employees, using multi-factor authentication tools, deleting online user IDs and assigning dual system administrators for online cash management services.

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MoneyGram’s Partial Buyout Deal Changes

MoneyGram has amended its merger with Thomas Lee Partners and Goldman Sachs. Under the revised terms investors will be able to purchase about 79% of MoneyGram for $760 million. The transaction will also be conditioned to acceptable terms and closing conditions of all parties by March 14. MoneyGram provides global payment services through remittance and payment processing solutions for financial institutions and retail customers, had a 2006 annual revenue of $1.16 billion and approximately 143,000 global money transfer agent locations in 170 countries.

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Discover Introduces EDGE for Cardholders

Discover has launched an online resource dedicated to helping consumers become more savvy when it comes to managing their time and money. “Discover EDGE” is written by an independent team of experts, led by nationally-syndicated columnist and best-selling author Ilyce Glink. Consumers will find helpful articles covering a variety of topics, including shopping, travel, finance, home, technology, book reviews and more. They also will find regular features such as Ask Ilyce – an insightful Q&A in which consumers receive answers to questions they submit regarding their own personal finances. “Discover EDGE” content is updated twice a month and can be found on the company’s newly redesigned website.

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Asset Acceptance Changes Credit Agreement

Debt collector Asset Acceptance Capital has entered into an amendment for its $100 million revolving credit facility and $150 million term loan facility following its temporary waiver of noncompliance in February. The amendment to its credit agreement resets two financial covenants and increases the rate of interest the Company pays on borrowings under the credit facility by 25 basis points (0.25%). The two financial covenants reset by the amendment are the ratio of consolidated total liabilities to tangible net worth, and the leverage ratio. The amendment also permanently waives the earlier default on the consolidated total liabilities to tangible net worth covenant.

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Mobile Banking Emerges as a Top Priority

A new report suggests that mobile banking is already a strategic business and technology priority for the top U.S. banks. New research from TowerGroup finds that core banking technology vendors have a big role to play in helping mid-tier and small institutions take advantage of this emerging channel that will soon be a cost of doing business. TowerGroup says that within a few years the mobile device will be the primary access point for consumer banking, with 40 million U.S. consumers using mobile banking by 2012. Core banking vendors will be important contributors to the widespread proliferation of integrated mobile banking services and will fundamentally reshape the vendor ecosystem for mobile banking solutions. As the focus shifts from ‘technovation’ to return on investments, the core banking vendors are ideally positioned to enable proper business economics in support of mobile banking.

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CITI VODAFONE ONE VISA

Renewing their partnership agreements, Citi and Vodafone have teamed
to launch the “Citi Vodafone One VISA”. With this new card, the
partnership organizations are offering a free-of-charge option to
accumulate 1 “Vodafone One” point for each EUR20 spent, 100
points awarded immediately upon activation, insurance coverages
including “Theft and Loss” and “Security Purchases”, and the “Citi
Alerting Service,” affording the user 24-hour account updates. Citi
provides financial products and services through its nearly 200 million
customer accounts across more than 100 countries.

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AmEx Travel Reports a Cruise Boost

American Express Travel Cruise Specialists have noted a growth in customers booking cruises, especially for trips to the Middle East and Vietnam Among the growing number of first-time cruisers, Cruise Specialists report an increase especially among multi- generational families, young couples/newlyweds, young families with children, and people looking to “test-drive” or sample destinations via a cruise before planning an entirely land-based vacation there. Cruise Specialists report that interest in luxury cruising is similarly on an upswing, helped no doubt by the lavish onboard amenities and opportunities for private and customized experiences available on the luxury cruise lines. The top 5 luxury amenities requested are suite upgrades, private butler service, gourmet chefs, expert lecturers and private pools and balconies.

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KRISFLYER AWARDS

Standard Chartered has launched its ‘Gold Business Credit Card’,
co-branded with Singapore Airlines, to provide cardholders with a
flexible rewards program. The program, known as “KrisFlyer”, is
provided by Singapore Airlines and converts Business Rewards
to “KrisFlyer” reward miles, offers preferential rates and discounts
on various products and services. This partnership allows card
members to benefit from such perks as a discount membership to
Best Western Hotels, which has over 4100 hotels across the World,
20% discounts with DHL, a 20% discounts with Emirates Trading
Establishment, 15% Xerox discounts, 12% discount with CADD
Emirates and up to 40% discounts with Thrifty Car Rental.

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MICROPASS 4000

INSIDE Contactless has introduced the “MicroPass 4000” contactless microprocessor platform for the U.S. market. The new product has been built upon the “MicroPass L4-1G” and “L4-2G” products,
which have been utilized by more than 25 issuers to deploy more than 35
million cards in 2006 and 2007. The “MicroPass 4000” intelligent payment
platform was designed to optimally meet the high-volume, multi-payment
brand and multi-application requirements of the U.S., Canadian and other
contactless payment markets. The “MicroPass 4002” supports the “Discover
Zip” contactless payment application, while the dual-brand “MicroPass 4003” supports both MasterCard and VISA contactless payment applications. INSIDE also offers the “MicroPass SDK” to card manufacturers, terminal manufacturers, personalization bureaus, systems integrators, and issuers with in-house application development staff. The “MicroPass SDK” helps developers create retailer loyalty, transit, access, and simple ID applications, and incorporate those applications onto a MicroPass-enabled contactless payment card.

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