BankAtlantic Expands ATMs on Cruise Ships

FL-based BankAtlantic is deploying ATMS on the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas, bringing its total ATMs deployed on cruise ships to nearly 100. Identical to BankAtlantic’s land based ATMs; the offshore fleet of ATMs offers the convenience of cash withdrawals, transfer of funds, and instant access to account balances. Check Cards and/or ATM Cards are accepted from STAR, VISA, PLUS, AFFN, MasterCard, Maestro, CIRRUS, American Express, DISCOVER/NOVUS, and QUEST Networks. BankAtlantic, “Florida’s Most Convenient Bank”, is one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in Florida and provides a comprehensive offering of banking services and products via its broad network of community stores and its online banking division – BankAtlantic.com. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, with a combined total of 29 ships in service and six under construction.

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JUNE DEBT

Credit card outstandings declined by GBP 300 million in June after hitting a record level in May. Overall, the increase in consumer credit was lower than in May. The Bank of England says after considering revisions to its reporting, credit card lending was flat in June. The BOE says the increase in total net lending to individuals in June of GBP 9.8 billion was lower than the increase in May and the previous six month average. The twelve-month growth rate has been unchanged at 10.3% since March. The three month annualized growth rate was unchanged from May, at 10.4%.

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Fujitsu Transaction Hires a Sales Exec

TX-based Fujitsu Transaction Solutions hired Danny Westheimer, previously with NCR, as regional VP/Sales. Westheimer will be based in Atlanta, overseeing several new business initiatives. Prior to joining Fujitsu, Westheimer was previously area director, retail sales for the northeast region at NCR and also held a similar position for the Midwest region. Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702), collaborates with retailing companies to relentlessly reduce their costs and facilitate consumer interactions that improve their profitability.

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TNS Lands Robles for Latin America

VA-based Transaction Network Services has hired Edward Robles, a 20-year payment systems expert, as VP/GM for Latin America. Prior to joining TNS, Mr. Robles served for five years as an independent consultant in the financial services industry, where he worked with small-to-medium-sized organizations primarily in the areas of ATM, PoS, EFT and wire transfer solutions. He has a BS in business administration and a BA in management from the University of Phoenix and an MBA in international business from the American Intercontinental University. Transaction Network Services is one of the leading providers of business-critical, cost-effective data communications services for transaction-oriented applications.

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Triton Opens a New Memphis Facility

ATM manufacturer Triton, the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America, recently opened its new Memphis facility. The new facility and additional staff is part of Triton’s implementation of plans to provide back up capabilities as part of its disaster preparedness. It houses the company’s technical training department, along with additional staff for technical support, customer service, parts and repair operations. Triton is the largest provider of off-premise ATMs and ATM management software in North America and has more than 145,000 installations in over 23 countries worldwide.

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US Airway Offers Alternative Financing

US Airways is now offering the “Bill Me Later” service which offers alternative financing such as no payments for 90 days. The service, part of I4 Commerce’s “PayCapture” system, offers promotional financing, private label and integrated marketing programs. US Airways is offering the 90-day option on tickets booked through November 30th. US Airways and America West recent merged creating the fifth largest domestic airline. I4 Commerce says its service is available to more than 1.5 million consumers.

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2006 Average Monthly Payment Rates Top 20%

Monthly payment rates, the amount that cardholders pay on their credit card debt, resumed its upward climb during June. Year to date, the monthly payment rate has averaged 20.30%, running well over 250 basis points from one-year ago. Driven by higher minimum payments, payment rates hit 21.00% in June, an increase of 186 basis points from May and 271 basis points above year-ago levels. According to FitchRatings, the payment rate averaged 19.97% during the first quarter and averaged 18.60% for 2005. Five years ago the monthly payment rate hovered around 15%.

Monthly Payment Rate
Dec 05: 18.90%
Jan 06: 19.97%
Feb 06: 20.85%
Mar 06: 19.10%
Apr 06: 21.74%
May 06: 19.14%
Jun 06: 21.00%
Source: FitchRatings

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Loyalty Programs Clearly Drive Spending

A new study has found that loyalty program members are more likely to be female, young, living with children under the age of 18 in the household or from the Northeast. The research also found that 62% of women are more likely to belong to a store or membership loyalty program compared to 54% of men. St. Louis-based Maritz says it found that rewards program members are spending more but, the programs themselves might not directly cause shoppers to increase their purchases. Rather it could be that those who spend more join programs to obtain rewards for purchases they would have made even if they weren’t members. Maritz says the programs are a great tool for retailers because it allows them to mine the data collected from loyalty programs to identify and create a dialogue with profitable customers.

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United Offers an Interest-Free Card

Chase and United Airlines have introduced a private-label credit card program that offers promotional financing qualified United travel. The new “United Travel Card” offers 90-day same-as-cash financing. To qualify purchases must be at least $199. The card has no annual fee. “Mileage Plus” members can apply online for the card and receive instant credit. United is the world’s second largest airline and recently emerged from bankruptcy. Chase also issues several cobranded credit cards for United.

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45% of Consumers PIN Debit at the POS

A new study has found that the average total number of debit POS transactions made monthly has increased 2% in the last year, from 15 to 18 transactions per month. The annual “STAR Consumer Payments Usage Study” also found that consumers who use both PIN and signature debit at the POS conduct an average of nearly 23 transactions per month versus 14 for those who solely use signature and 10 for those using only PIN. Those who use both PIN and signature debit accounted for 75% of all debit POS transactions made. Although PIN and signature debit have demonstrated transaction growth, preference of PIN debit over signature debit was 45% to 33%. The First Data/STAR study reveals that consumers age 25-34 report the highest usage of PIN and signature debit at close to 16 total transactions per month overall.

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