ARM Industry Off to a Strong Start

A new report shows that 8 transactions totaling roughly $128 million were completed in the first quarter in the Accounts Receivable Management industry. Kaulkin Ginsberg Company says 1Q/05 generated 12 transactions totaling approximately $110 million in deal value. KGC says the market characteristics that drove last year’s deal activity are still in place, the economy is strong, lenders are providing debt with attractive terms, corporations and investment funds have large amounts of capital to put to work and the appetite for outsourcing debt collection activities is growing. KGC anticipates that deal volume will increase in 2006, but the average transaction size may decline as more deals involve larger companies buying smaller ones that strategically expand their presence in the ARM market.

Details

BofA’s Keep the Change Prog Hits $60MM

Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program, which rounds up “VISA Check Card” transactions to the nearest whole dollar, has produced $60 million in automatic savings for two million cardholders. Bank of America matches 100% of the Keep the Change transfers for the first three months of enrollment and matches five percent thereafter, up to $250 paid annually. Bank of America’s Keep the Change program, which has been cited for its creative design and innovation, is an automatic savings program that was created after consumers asked for help saving money.

Details

Capital One Leads in Brand Strength

A market research study that tracks brand strength based on card usage, brand awareness, quality and brand characteristics has ranked Capital One as #1. However, competition remains fierce among the top five issuers with only 50 basis points separating issuers #2 from #5. The “Issuer Brand Index,” published in “Cardbeat” and produced by Auriemma Consulting Group, found that Citibank (#2) and American Express (#4) had the highest quality and brand characteristics scores. Discover’s (#3) brand awareness score was significantly higher than its direct competitors, due to its dual role as issuer and association. Chase’s (#5) had a high card usage score.

Brand Score
1. Capital One 59.10
2. Citibank 56.55
3. Discover 56.26
4. American Express 56.06
5. Chase 56.00
6. Bank of America 53.23
7. Sears 49.88
8. MBNA 48.86
9. Wells Fargo 47.79
10.U.S. Bank 43.61
Source: Auriemma Consulting Group

Details

HSBC Bank USA ATMs Enter NJ Walgreens

Houston-based Cardtronics and HSBC Bank USA have closed a deal for HSBC to brand up to 59 ATMs in Walgreens locations in Northern New Jersey. Installations are expected to be completed by early June of this year. In addition, all HSBC-branded ATMs in Walgreens stores will be surcharge-free to the bank’s customers. HSBC Bank serves more than 3 million individual and business customers with a full range of financial products and services. Cardtronics, the world’s largest owner/operator of ATMs, has a nationwide U.S. network of more than 26,000 locations.

Details

Job Optimism Drives RBC Cash Index Up

The “RBC CASH Index” rebounded in April driven by optimism regarding job security and stands at 89.4, compared to 86.2 in March. However, with the recent rise in interest rates, Americans are more cautious regarding purchases. Nearly half (46 per cent) of consumers report they are less confident in making a major purchase such as a home or car, and only four in ten (38 per cent) state they are more comfortable making other household purchases (compared to 45 per cent who were more comfortable making other household purchases in March 2006. The RBC CASH Index is a monthly national survey of consumer attitudes on the current and future state of local economies, personal financial situations, savings, and confidence to make large investments.

Details

GA Community Bankers Endorse TransFirst

Dallas-based TransFirst has been selected by The Community Bankers Association of Georgia to offer merchant processing services and stored value cards to its 300 community bank members. Through this relationship, CBA of Georgia’s more than 300 community bank members can take advantage of TransFirst’s suite of merchant processing services and fee-income generating products and TransLink, TransFirst’s comprehensive online reporting system that offers 24/7 access to a variety of merchant and portfolio reports.

Details

Underbanked Card Marketer Raises $12MM

AccountNow, a marketer of MasterCard stored value cards, has raised $12 million in a second round of venture financing, led by INVESCO Private Capital. Proceeds of the funding will be used to support continued growth and expansion of the firm’s customer base. AccountNow is a provider of financial solutions for the 40 million US consumers who do not have established credit or traditional banking relationships.

Details

New AmEx Cards Lead Card Mail in Q1

An analysis of first quarter direct mail credit card campaigns shows Citibank sent out an estimated 3 million pieces for its new “PremierPass American Express” card. In total, about 1.7 billion direct mail pieces for the credit card industry have been distributed in the U.S. during the first part of the year. Mintel Comperemedia says American Express has distributed an estimated 207 million mail pieces this year across all product lines. In the fourth quarter, AmEx surpassed Chase as the leading mailer during the quarter after increasing mail campaigns by 19 million estimated pieces. Mintel says 15% of American Express’ offers for the quarter promoted new card product offerings, including the new “IN:LA” and “IN:CHICAGO” cards.

Details

Consumers Think NFC is Cool to Use

A usability study of “Near Field Communication” technology revealed that consumers like the “coolness” of making transactions with their mobile phones, besides the convenience and ease of use. The report released by Royal Philips Electronics and VISA found that learning curves for users were very short, with consumers finding it intuitive to initiate a transaction by holding up the phone to the terminal as an alternative to presenting a payment card. Other findings showed that users generally looked to find a mark to indicate exactly where an NFC transaction could take place. The most intuitive place for a mark was directly over the communication point. Users did not want to guess where and how to orient their mobile phones to complete a transaction.

Details

Cognometric Authentication Patented

A MD-based firm has received the first patent issued for a cognometric authentication solution. Passfaces Corporation says cognometrics goes beyond “something you know”, “something you have” or “something you are”. In effect, cognometrics creates what can be called a mind print, as the user carries the required information for authentication in their brain. The patent covers an authentication method based on users recognizing and picking out familiar complex images, such as human faces, from among a number of other similar images. “Passfaces” requires no additional hardware or software. The core cognometrics patent was granted in the U.S. and in all important markets worldwide in 1999. The latest patent covers the use of “Passfaces” as a means for authentication in distributed network environments.

Details