Consumer Confidence Index Takes a Hit

The Conference Board “Consumer Confidence Index,” which had increased moderately in July, posted a sharp decline in August. The Index now stands at 99.6, down from 107.0 in July. The “Present Situation Index” also decreased to 123.4 from 134.2. Additionally, “Expectations Index” declined to 83.8 from 88.9 last month. Less favorable business conditions coupled with a less favorable job scenario have resulted in the largest one month decline in confidence since Hurricane Katrina last year.

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GE Money Acquires a Stake in Bank of Ayudhya

Bank of Ayudhya has agreed to give GE Money a 25% interest for US$600 million. BAY and GE Money have been joint venture partners since 2001, managing the growth of the Krungsriayudhya Card Company, by offering credit cards and personal loans to 700,000 Thai consumers. The
venture held total assets of $339 million in 2005, generating $61 million in revenues. GE launched the GE Money Retail Bank in
January. Under the Bank of Thailand’s single presence rule, GE
Money’s investment in the Bank of Ayudhya requires that it return its GE
Money Retail Bank license.

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Distra Inks a Deal with the U.K.’s Voca

Abacus International has signed a deal with MasterCard to provide access to Abacus’ data derived from credit card information
used as payment for air tickets. As a result, MasterCard will be able to seamlessly transfer the data via its enhanced airline data
program to its issuing customer financial institutions in Asia/Pacific
and its corporate customers. Empowered with additional expense-related data, corporations will be able to access to their employee’s airline transaction and travel data, without the need to manually record travel related information. With the data in hand, corporations will be able to now, simplify reconciliation and procurement processes, and schedule reports, as well as, download transaction data into their accounting system.

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U.K. Card Lending Slips for the 3rd Month

New borrowing on credit cards contracted for the third straight month in the U.K., dipping by more than GBP 300 million in July. For the first half of this year the average monthly contraction is running about GBP 100 million. During May new credit card lending decreased by GBP 251 million and in June is fell GBP 245 million. The British Bankers Association reported last week that total new borrowing on credit cards hit GBP 7.083 billion in July, the lowest July figure since 2002. With repayments exceeding spending and after seasonal adjustment, net lending contracted by GBP 348 million, continuing the recent subdued picture of demand.

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Argos and Barclays Bank Form a Card Joint Venture

Argos Limited and Barclays Bank have signed a
“Shareholders’ Agreement” in relation to a equal joint venture company.
The joint venture will develop an Argos credit card proposition and new
personal loan products for Argos and Homebase. ARG’s existing Argos and
Homebase store card operations are not impacted by this arrangement.
ARG is the U.K.’s leading home and general merchandise retailer with annual sales of over GBP 5.5 billion. Barclaycard has 11.2 million U.K. customers and 5.3 million international cards in issue.

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GE Money Expands Thailand Card Venture

Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya has agreed to give GE Money a 25% interest for $600 million. BAY and GE Money have been joint venture partners since 2001, managing the growth of the Krungsriayudhya Card Company, by offering credit cards and personal loans to 700,000 Thai consumers. The venture held total assets of $339 million in 2005, generating $61 million in revenues. GE launched the GE Money Retail Bank in January. Under the Bank of Thailand’s single presence rule, GE Money’s investment in the Bank of Ayudhya requires that it return its GE Money Retail Bank license.

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MC to Access Abacus Data Derived from Credit Card Info

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation will utilize Fair Isaac’s software technologies, analytic models and development processes for “Enterprise Decision Management.” Using Fair Isaac’s “Strategy Science Framework” and software platform for model development and strategy deployment, HSBC plans to accelerate its deployment of optimization projects to drive immediate bottom-line benefits across Asia. For the long term, HSBC will use the solution to enhance its in-house optimization capabilities and ultimately develop and deploy optimized strategies across six products and 20 countries and
territories in Asia for more than 10 decision areas across the customer
lifecycle.

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Home Depot Intros Cobranded Credit Cards

The world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer has teamed with Citibank to launch its first pair of co-branded general purpose credit cards. Home Depot has introduced the “Home Depot Rewards MasterCard” and the “Home Depot Business Rewards MasterCard.” Under both programs cardholders earn 2,500 bonus points with their first purchase (enough for a $25 gift card), two points on every dollar spent at Home Depot and EXPO Design Center, and one point for every dollar spent on purchases elsewhere. The new consumer card carries risk-based pricing with “Tier 1 Pricing” for purchases and balance transfers at prime plus 7.99%. The “Tier 2 Pricing” for purchases and balance transfers is prime plus 10.99%. The “Tier 3 Pricing” for purchases and balance transfers is prime plus 13.99%. Default rates are prime plus up 23.99%. Home Depot has 2,082 retail stores in the U.S.

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