Argencard to be Acquired by First Data

First Data International has signed an agreement for the
acquisition of Argencard. Buenos Aires-based Argencard is a provider of
card issuing and merchant acquiring processing services supporting more
than 70 banks with nine million cardholders and over 150,000 active
merchants. The company is an acquirer of MasterCard, Maestro and JCB in Argentina and Uruguay, and also delivers, through its subsidiary POSNET, point of sale services for more than 60,000 merchants and 75 credit card issuers of private label cards. The deal is expected to close by year end.

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Bankruptcy Filings Pass 60K Per Month

Bankruptcy filings have now risen to about 14,000 filings per week compared to approximately 8,000 filings per week six-months ago. One-year ago filings averaged 35,000 per week level, prior to the full implementation of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.” During July filings neared 63,000, the highest level since October when the reforms went into effect. The number of filings in the first quarter is the lowest number of quarterly filings in the last 20 years.

MONTHLY FILINGS
Nov 05: 21,457
Dec 05: 32,480
Jan 06: 34,411
Feb 06: 39,636
Mar 06: 42,724
Apr 06: 44,989
May 06: 43,780
Jun 06: 54,937
Jul 06: 62,986
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Most Americans Pay Minuscule Bank Fees

A new survey shows that 57% of consumers spend $3 or less in monthly fees for banking services. The poll by the American Bankers Association also found that within that group, 43% said they pay no monthly fees at all. The research found that 12% pay between $3 and $6; 6% between $6 and $8; 8% between $8 and $10; and 15% said they pay more than $10 per month. The survey of 1,000 consumers was conducted for ABA by Ipsos-Reid on July 10th to 12th.

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JetBlue & AmEx Extend Life of Miles

While the frequent flyer programs run by discount airlines pale in comparison to the programs run by American, United and Delta, NY-based JetBlue is enabling cardholders of its American Express co-brand to extend the life of their “TrueBlue” points. Users of the “JetBlue Card from American Express” can automatically extend the life of their points by 12 months each time they purchase as little as $200 on their “JetBlue Card” or by using the “JetBlue Card” to purchase JetBlue travel, before current points expire. AmEx also announced it will automatically extend the expiration date of every single JetBlue cardholders’ “TrueBlue” points through August 16 2007. The “JetBlue Card from American Express” was launched in July last year. The card offer “Award Dollars” that can be automatically transferred to a Cardholder’s “TrueBlue” account and then redeemed for award flights on JetBlue. Other discount carriers, like Airtran, typically have a 12-month expiration on loyalty miles.

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First Data Acquires Argencard

First Data International has signed an agreement for the acquisition of Argencard. Buenos Aires-based Argencard is a provider of card issuing and merchant acquiring processing services supporting more than 70 banks with nine million cardholders and over 150,000 active merchants. The company is an acquirer of MasterCard, Maestro and JCB in Argentina and Uruguay, and also delivers, through its subsidiary POSNET, point of sale services for more than 60,000 merchants and 75 credit card issuers of private label cards. The deal is expected to close by year end.

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Credit Slows but Opportunities Abound

A new research report has found that the credit card industry is rapidly changing. The study says credit card issuers need to be cognizant of the influences as they set their strategies, as they fight a marketing battle on multiple fronts. However, Mercator Advisory says there remains a wide array of opportunities for credit card issuers wishing to take on the market’s challenges. The report identifies eleven market-related conditions that contribute to slowing credit card growth, including product, consumer behavior, and macroeconomic influences. Some changes can be viewed as primarily evolutionary in nature and moving primarily in one direction, while others may be cyclical and tied to the broader economic environment. In addition to reviewing market factors driving today’s credit card marketplace, the report reviews a number of strategic tools that may be used by credit card issuers to revitalize their growth in originating new accounts and building volume with existing accounts.

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U.K. Credit Card Lending Downshifts

The British Bankers’ Association says credit card lending fell in July by an underlying $600 million compared with a fall of $504 million in June and an average monthly fall of $216 million over the previous six months. However, net mortgage lending rose by an underlying $10.7 billion. This was slightly above the $10.5 billion rise in June and exceeded the monthly average of $10 billion over the previous six months.

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CWDirect is CISP and PABP Compliant

MA-based CommercialWare announced that “CWDirect v10.0” has been validated as compliant with VISA “CISP” and “PABP”. This validation allows retailers, from the emerging merchant to the multi-channel, multi-million dollar organization, leveraging CommercialWare’s CWDirect application to accelerate the obtainment of PCI compliance, a requirement for all merchants and service providers who store, process, or transmit Visa cardholder data. In a CISP-compliant environment, secure payment applications minimize the potential for security breaches. CommercialWare, a wholly owned subsidiary of MICROS Systems, Inc. and division of Datavantage, develops cross-channel commerce infrastructure solutions that allow retailers and direct marketers to optimize transactions from all customer touch points.

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JUNE DEBT

Credit card debt soared to a new record of A$36.6 billion in June. After setting a new monthly high in May credit card volume, however, dropped sharply to A$15.7 billion during June. During the past twelve months, credit card debt has increased 17% in Australia. For June, credit card balances increased $700 million from the previous month. One-year ago credit card debt stood at A$31.4 billion. Gross dollar volume on credit card and charge cards was A$14.2 billion one-year ago. Year-on-year credit card volume has increased 11% in Australia. In May GDV on credit cards was $16.5 billion. Card credit limits reached A$98.0 billion at the end of June, compared to A$86.4 billion for June 2005. There are currently 13.0 million credit card and charge card accounts in Australia, compared to 12.1 million one-year ago.

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