WaMu Names Vuoto to Succeed Saunders

Washington Mutual has named Anthony F. Vuoto president of its credit card business. He was also appointed to WaMu’s Executive Committee. Vuoto previously served as senior vice president and chief financial officer for WaMu Card Services. Vuoto joined WaMu in October 2005 through its acquisition of Providian Financial. He had served as vice chairman and chief financial officer at Providian since April 2002. Prior to joining Providian, he was president and chief operating officer of First USA Bank, a credit card subsidiary of Bank One Corporation. Vuoto also served as president of Bank One’s Consumer Lending division. Vuoto holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University. WaMu has more than $23.5 billion in managed receivables as of Dec. 31, 2006 and serves almost 11 million credit card customer accounts.

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Consumer Confidence Soars in February

The “RBC CASH Index” rose by nearly eight points this month to 103.0, compared to 95.3 in January and 96.1 one-year ago. RBC says consumers appear to be buoyed by the strong jobs market, gasoline prices that have reached a 14-month low and equity holdings that have reached a high since the dot.com era. The “Expectations Index” stands at 69.2 this month, compared to 83.8 in January. The “Current Conditions Index” for February stands at 114.0, compared to 94.3 for the prior month. The “Investment Index” for February stands at 102.4, up nearly 20 points from last month. The “Jobs Index” for February stands at 131.9, compared to 126.3 in January.

RBC INDEX HISTORICAL
Jan 06: 85.5
Feb 06: 96.1
Mar 06: 86.2
Apr 06: 89.4
May 06: 67.1
Jun 06: 84.1
Jul 06: 80.1
Aug 06: 74.8
Sep 06: 93.7
Oct 06: 83.1
Nov 06: 92.4
Dec 06: 86.9
Jan 07: 95.3
Feb 07: 103.0
Source: RBC Financial Group

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MasterCard U.S. Q4 GDV Rises 14.5%

MasterCard reported that the gross dollar volume for its debit programs in the U.S. rose nearly 45% in the fourth quarter to $85 billion. However, U.S. credit and charge card GDV inched up by only 3% to $159 billion. Globally, MasterCard’s credit and charge card programs are up about 8% in 4Q/06. Purchase dollar volume for U.S. credit/charge cards rose 6% while debit programs soared by 53%. At the end of 2006, MasterCard had 211 million accounts and 260 million cards for its U.S. credit and charge card products. At the end of 2005, MasterCard has 208 million accounts and 254 million cards for its U.S. credit and charge card products. As of December 31st, MasterCard had 100 million accounts and 106 million cards for its U.S. debit programs, compared to 72 million accounts and 77 million cards at the end of 2005.

U.S. Gross Dollar Volume
4Q/05: $213 billion
1Q/06: $196 billion
2Q/06: $232 billion
3Q/06: $238 billion
4Q/06: $244 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Saunders to Lead VISA, Inc. Transition

VISA’s decision to become a global public company is taking shape as it names a transition leader. Industry veteran Joseph Saunders will become Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Visa Inc. later this year after Visa Canada, Visa USA and Visa International complete their mergers. Initially, Saunders will serve as a designated appointee of Visa Inc. wherein he will help recruit a CEO and board members for the new Visa Inc. Saunders will report directly to Visa Inc.’s “Transition Governance Committee,” which has authority over the restructuring process and is comprised of representatives from all of the Visa regions, Inovant and Visa International. As a result of his appointment to this position, Saunders relinquished his role as member of the boards of directors for Visa USA and Visa International. Saunders has served as the top card executive at Household, Fleet, Providian, and Washington Mutual. In October, VISA confirmed its IPO plans and said it would take between 12 to 18 months to complete. Under the new structure the public will own a majority of the new company and the majority of the directors will be independent. Visa Europe will remain a membership association owned and governed by its 4,500 European banks. It will become a licensee of VISA Inc. (CF Library 10/11/06)

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More Options for Chase Freedom Cardholders

Chase and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to offer Chase cardmembers the opportunity to support the American Cancer Society by redeeming rewards points to make a contribution over the phone or online Chase Freedom customers now have the option to redeem 2,500 points for a $25 contribution to the American Cancer Society. Chase also encourages cardmembers to contribute through existing American Cancer Society channels. Chase will contribute a minimum of $75,000 to the Society in connection with the Chase Freedom promotion.

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Asta Q4 Profits Up 22%; Signs a Big Deal

NJ-based debt buyer Asta Funding reported that net income for 4Q/06 rose 22% to $11.3 million. Revenues for the period were $25.6 million, a 27% increase over the prior year’s quarter. Asta purchased $1.3 billion of face value of charged-off consumer receivables during the quarter for a cost of $62.3 million. Net cash collections from consumer receivables acquired for liquidation were $58.9 million for the quarter, up 27.5% year-on-year. The Company also announced today it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase a portfolio of approximately $6.9 billion in face value for a purchase price of $300 million. The portfolio is made up of predominantly credit card accounts and includes accounts in collection litigation and accounts as to which the sellers have been awarded judgments and other traditional charge-offs. The seller is Great Seneca Financial and related entities. For complete details on Asta Funding’s latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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DDS and PAI Empower Merchant Clients

Data Delivery Services and Payment Alliance International have entered into a multi-year agreement for DDS to provide web-reporting and technology services to PAI’s management, partners and merchants. The new agreement would provide PAI merchants with a single access point to their processing statements, transaction history, and other pertinent acquiring information via the DDS secure web-reporting platform. Payment Alliance International provides credit card and check processing services. Data Delivery Services provides third party technology to the payments industry.

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Natalie Gulbis Gift MasterCard Launched

TX-based Payment Data Systems has entered into an agreement with LPGA star Natalie Gulbis to develop, market, and distribute the Natalie Gulbis Gift MasterCard. Pursuant to a license by Mastercard International, the Gift Mastercard will be issued by MetaBank. Gulbis is in the top five of Advertising Age’s most marketable young athletes, pens a popular online diary on her personal website, has started the second season of her Golf Channel reality television show, recently released her second swimsuit calendar, and is a featured character in a Tiger Woods video game. Payment Data Systems is an integrated payment solutions provider to merchants and billers.

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MoneyPass Signs a Marin County Bank

Tamalpais Bank customers now have access to the more than 23,000 surcharge-free ATMs in the MoneyPass nationwide network. Customers can locate the most convenient branch while they are traveling by accessing www.moneypass.com and entering the city name or zip code of their location. The current Tamalpais Bank ATMs will continue to be accessible to customers. Epic Bancorp is the holding company of Tamalpais Bank and Epic Wealth Management with $504 million in assets and $370 million in deposits as of December 31, 2006.

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SFR Joins Credit Mutuel’s Contactless Pilot

Mobile network operator SFR has been scheduled to join a contactless
payment pilot launched by Credit Mutuel-CIC. The pilot is being tested
at approximately 60 merchants in the town of Strasbourg, France and
allows participants to make purchases by tapping their cell phones
against a certain type of reader. For the pilot application, 500
compatible phones have been manufactured . The application complies with
MasterCard Worldwide’s PayPass specifications and stores the subscriber
identity module card in the cell phone.

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Coinstar 4Q/06 Revenues Up 10%

WA-based Coinstar posted net income of $5.0 million for 4Q/06 compared to $5.5 million one-year ago. Revenues for the period were $138.0 million, compared to $125.6 million for the prior year’s quarter. Management estimates that revenue for the quarter ending March 31st will range from $125 million to $135 million. During the quarter, Coinstar launched “Direct Coin Deposit,” a new service that enables bank and credit union customers to electronically transfer coins into personal accounts. Last year, the Company signed a deal to purchase London-based Travelex Money Transfer for approximately $27 million in cash. Coinstar, known for its green consumer coin counting machines in supermarkets, has its products and services in more than 60,000 retail locations. For complete details on Coinstar’s latest results, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). (CF Library 5/5/06; 10/26/06)

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

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MasterCard Sees Major European Growth

In Europe, cash transactions are steadily being replaced with card
purchases. MasterCard reported gross dollar volume (GDV) of $520 billion
for Europe, a year-on-year increase of 13.9 per cent, along with
purchase volume growth of 14.1 per cent to $384 billion for the year
ending 2006. MasterCard’s customer banks had issued 152 million
MasterCard-branded cards in Europe, a growth of 17.4 per cent, with 7.7
million locations accepting the cards. Among MasterCard’s family of
brands, Maestro and Cirrus cards rose to 287 million in Europe, an
increase of 5.7 per cent in 2005, with acceptance levels at 6.9 million
European locations. With headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium, MasterCard
Europe works with 51 European countries. MasterCard develops and markets
payment solutions, processes approximately 14 billion transactions each
year and serves consumers and businesses in 210 countries and territories.

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