B-Teller is SEPA Ready

Bank Teller has announced that “B-Teller” aims to capitalize on the
ramifications of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and the heavily
forecast consolidation of Europe’s 15 Automated Clearing Houses,
in what has been called the world’s largest ever shake-up of
cross-border payments market infrastructure. “B-Teller” is a managed
electronic payments transfer service that facilitates payments and
transfers of funds between counter-parties in Europe using a combination
of secure payment networks.

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365 Connect and PropertyBridge Team

365 Connect has partnered with PropertyBridge to integrate a fully automated online rent payment platform with 365 Connect’s “Resident Services Portal.” PropertyBridge’s Payments Platform will enable residents in communities that utilize 365 Connect’s Resident Services Portal to pay rent using any of six payment types including payment cards (credit and debit), ACH, and e-checks. Payment transaction reports will be available in the 365 Admin Dashboard. Integration with leading accounting and management systems is also available.

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First Data Takes Over the German Market

First Data has become the market leading processor of card-based payment transactions in Germany following the closure of its acquisition this week of GZS Gesellschaft fur Zahlungssysteme. The deal comes on the heels of GZS’ first quarter report which shows a consolidated profit of around 2.5 million euros before taxes, an increase of around 50% over the same period last year. Last year, GZS posted a full-year profit of 11.4 million euros after losing 20.2 million euros in 2004 and 26.9 million euros in 2003. GZS is Germany’s top processor of cashless, card-based payment transactions. GZS processes nearly one billion transactions per year and provides processing services for more than 8.5 million German and Swiss credit cards that have been outsourced by the banks. The shares of GZS that were previously held by the savings banks organization, private banks and the co-operative banking sector have been fully transferred to First Data.

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Credit Union Margins Get Squeezed

A top credit union expert projects that credit unions may be looking at an average reduction in their 2005 ROA of 46 basis points and suggests that credit unions boost their fee income. Houston-based Jared Cahill said at the “Annual Convention & Exposition of the Florida Credit Union League” that as credit union bottom line gets squeezed they need to reshape their asset/liability portfolios, boost non-interest revenue and to invest in developing a sales and service culture that better markets and cross-sells products and services to their members and potential members. NH-based Brookwood Capital recently said that credit union credit card portfolios are nearly always profitable, but many smaller issuers are trying to find ways to issue a stronger product set while lowering their institutional credit risk and fraud exposure while increasing the bottom line. Brookwood Capital reported that total credit union balances sold during the first quarter were approximately $97 million. (CF Library 5/30/06)

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Recargaexpress Joins the SIRE Network

Morgan Beaumont has signed an agreement with Recargaexpress S.L. As
part of the agreement, Recargaexpress’ Spanish network of 7500
direct retail locations will become part of the SIRE Network with an
additional 40,000 indirect retail locations that will have the
opportunity to opt-in. Additionally, Morgan Beaumont will be working
with Recargaexpress to develop an international stored value product
that will offer a number of value added services designed for the
international consumer, including local and long distance calling,
mobile “top-up,” bill payment, utility payments and access to funds.
Recargaexpress S.L., is a prepaid electronic transaction and
telecommunications company.

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HSBC Acquires Musician’s Friend Portfolio

HSBC Retail Services has acquired the credit receivables and is managing the ongoing credit program of Musician’s Friend.Under the new HSBC credit program, Musician’s Friend, Musician.com, and Giardinelli cardholders will benefit from a convenient form of payment, receive sneak previews of the newest product offerings, and enjoy exclusive special financing offers. Musician’s Friend is one of the world’s largest direct marketers of instruments and music gear, selling more than 36,000 products from its Web site and mail order catalog. Musician.com sells instruments and gear for professional musicians, while Giardinelli carries a full line of band and orchestra instruments for students and professionals.

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American Military Society Card Launched

U.S. Bank is issuing the “American Military Society VISA Platinum” credit card in two designs, the “Patriot” card and the “Chevrons” card. Every new card activation and subsequent purchases will generate donations to the AMS. The new Visa card comes in two designs, the Patriot card and the Chevrons card, both of which feature the official logo of the AMS. Members will have access to three credit card products from U.S. Bank including a card that earns reward points that can be redeemed for gift certificates, merchandise and travel rewards, a card designed for young adults, and another that provides cash back on purchases. The AMS is a non-profit veteran’s organization representing the professional and personal interests of active duty and retired men and women of America’s Uniformed Services, National Guard and Reserve.

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Stored Value 06 Conference is Scheduled

New Jersey-based The PELORUS Group will host its sixth stored value conference on June 28/29 in Boston. This year’s event will focus on why stored value’s appeal has become so entrenched so quickly, and what banks, retailers, issuers and other vested concerns should be doing to prepare for and capitalize on the phenomenon. Topics to be discussed include: what are the business applications of stored value as of 2006, and how are they likely to change; which segments are realizing the most significant implementations; what are the cost savings and promotional and customer loyalty opportunities empowered by stored value; what impact will stored value have on the overall credit card industry and what are the long-term ramifications of stored value to retailers, prepaid telecom vendors, the financial industry, and companies that currently serve the unbanked and credit challenged?

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AmEx Commits to Historic Preservation

American Express has committed $10 million to historic preservation via its “Partners in Preservation” program. The American Express Partners in Preservation program builds upon the Company’s decade-long relationship with the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and establishes a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The program is dedicated to preserving sites both in the U.S. and around the world. American Express continues to extend its decade-long relationship with the WMF through a renewed commitment to preservation. Last year, the Company assisted WMF and the National Trust with a $200,000 grant for their joint efforts to help save the devastated Gulf Coast in the wake of the 2005 hurricanes.

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ABS Portfolio Yield Begins to Erode

Despite rising interest rates the yield for credit card-backed securities remains above last year’s level. However, on a sequential basis, yield decreased by 120 basis points during April. According to Standard & Poor’s latest “U.S. Credit Card Quality Index” more than three-fourths of the trusts that compose the “Index” saw decreases in yield in April, while more than one-third of the trusts continue to report yields that are greater than 20%. On a comparative basis, April’s yield of 18.2% was 20 bps lower than the 2005 average yield of 18.4% and 60 bps higher than the 2004 average yield of 17.6%. Yield is primarily cardholder finance charges. Standard & Poor’s believes that as market interest rates continue to move upward, a subsequent increase in card yield and APRs, although lagged, will follow.

ABS YIELD
Apr 04: 17.2%
Apr 05: 17.9%
Apr 06: 18.2%
Source: S&P CCQI

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