Q1 Bankruptcy Filings Set a Record Low

Bankruptcy filings nose-dived in the first quarter, falling 73% compared to one-year ago and down six-fold sequentially. The number of filings in the first quarter is the lowest number of quarterly filings in the last 20 years. According to CA-based Lundquist Consulting 1Q/06 Chapter 7 consumer filings are 80% lower 1Q/05. Due to new bankruptcy laws the number of Chapter 13 filings in first quarter represented 45.7% of the total as opposed to historic rates of 29%. Lundquist notes that on an annualized basis, 1 in every 261 households filed bankruptcy in the first quarter of this year as opposed to 1 in every 73 households in the first quarter of last year. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, consumer and business bankruptcy filings hit a record 667,431 petitions in the fourth quarter. (CF Library 3/27/06)

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INSIDE Contactless Expands Management Team

INSIDE Contactless has appointed Charles Walton as
Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Philippe Martineau
as Vice President of the NFC Business Line. Walton will be focused upon
driving the international sales & marketing force within INSIDE
Contactless during this critical growth period for the company.
Martineau will work on developing the worldwide emerging NFC business
line on various market segments such as mobile telecommunication and the
consumer market. Walton has more than ten years experience in the
smart card sector, including several years operating a successful smart
card product & services company within the US market. He was mostly
recently EVP & COO for Diversinet, a Toronto headquartered mobile
security company. Martineau spent the past 17 years in the smart card
industry working for Gemplus, predominantly focused in the
Telecommunication industry. INSIDE Contactless is a fabless
semiconductor provider.

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80%+ of College Students Have Credit Cards

Champion Mortgage has released statistics showing that 83% of college students have at least one credit card, with an average balance of $2,300; receive 15 credit card solicitations per week; and that 65% of college students carry credit card debt with 50% charging their cards to the limit. Spend Smart, a national public awareness campaign with an emphasis on educating high school students on the fundamentals of responsible and sensible money management, is a new initiative designed to provide teens with the tools they need to become financially responsible adults.

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Multi Service Aviation Card Adds a Manager

Aviation card specialist Multi Service Aviation has named Brenda Vann to its team of regional managers. Vann comes to Multi Service Aviation with a decade of experience in the aviation industry. During her career in the industry, she held various positions at Denver jetCenter, including roles in customer relations and sales and marketing. The U.S. Bank The Multi Service Aviation Card is accepted worldwide by more than 7,000 aviation service providers in over 190 countries and h provides cardholders with customized billing, free online account maintenance, and savings on fuel, while giving merchants account flexibility, free business promotion, competitive bank card processing, and fast transaction authorization and settlement.

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HBC Closes its Financial Services Sale

Hudson’s Bay Company announced the completion of the sale of the Company’s
Financial Services operations to GE Money, the Canadian consumer lending
unit of General Electric Company for approximately $355 million. As part
of the agreement, Hbc and GE Money have entered into a 10-year alliance
under which GE Money will provide credit marketing and analytic
support, credit servicing and customer care for Hbc’s 3.1 million retail
cardholders. Hbc customers will be able to continue to use their Hbc
cards. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. served as
advisors to Hbc on the transaction.

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Restaurant Association Launches TakeCharge

First Data and the North Carolina Restaurant Association have launched the “TakeCharge” payment program, which provides increased payment choices and attractive rates for credit card processing to small and mid-size merchants. In addition, members will benefit from other advantages of the “TakeCharge” program, including: easy-to-understand billing; acceptance for all major credit cards provided through First Data’s alliances with various banks; PIN-secured and signature-based debit acceptance through leading networks like the STAR Network; merchandising programs, instant processing; the TeleCheck Electronic Check Acceptance service; and Dynamic Currency Conversion services that allow consumers to pay in the currency of their choice.

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Banco Galicia Teams with NCR for ATMs

Banco Galicia y Buenos Aires S.A.has partnered with NCR
Corporation to expand its automated teller machine channel
availability and functionality. The order includes 200 NCR
“Personas” ATMs, NCR’s “APTRA” multivendor software,
and complete installation and maintenance services. This is NCR’s
second recent order with Banco Galicia and one of the
largest single contracts for NCR in Argentina. Banco Galicia has 2.5
million accounts.

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Americans Want Secure M-Commerce Phones

A new survey has found that the majority of U.S. wireless users would replace their wallets and credit cards with their cell phones if there was expanded functionality. More than half said they would use cell phones to make vending machine purchases or to enter sporting events, trains or subways. The AuthenTec study conducted by Zoomerang also found that 43% would purchase items from a store and 40% would use cell phones to conduct wireless banking. Additionally, the study found that the vast majority of cell phone users want biometric fingerprint protection and that one-third were willing to pay extra for the feature. AuthenTec notes that nearly 5 million biometrically enabled m-commerce phones already are in use in Japan and Korea.

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First Tennessee Expands PULSE Contract

First Tennessee Bank has inked a seven-year participation agreement with Discover’s PULSE EFT unit and will now utilize the “PULSE” network exclusively for PIN debit transactions at the POS. First Tennessee has about 500,000 debit cards. First Tennessee also will utilize “PULSE” as its primary ATM network. Additionally, Mike Marzec, SVP of strategic planning and manager of electronic banking for First Tennessee Bank, has been named to the PULSE “Financial Institution Oversight Committee.” PULSE currently serving more than 4,200 banks, credit unions and savings institutions and links cardholders with nearly 250,000 ATMs and approximately 3.4 million POS terminals at retail locations nationwide.

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Axalto and Ghirlanda Deliver CartaSi EMV Cards

Axalto is working alongside Ghirlanda to supply high-end EMV (Europay
MasterCard Visa) cards to credit card issuer CartaSi. Under the
contract, Axalto supplies the modules and the related digital security
technology, while Ghirlanda is in charge of local card production and
personalization. Adopting the EMV standard puts CartaSi in a position
to provide cardholders with a secure and convenient means of payment.
Issuing EMV smart cards will help to eliminate fraudulent card usage and
open up multiple opportunities to provide their customers with
differentiated value-added services such as loyalty programs and
cardholder authentication for
e-commerce and on-line services, as well as smart ticketing. CartaSi
SpA has more than 7.5 million cards in circulation.

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M-Payments Critical Mass 5-10 Years Away

New research from Edgar, Dunn & Company reveals that payments professionals are optimistic about the future for mobile payments, but they expect it will take time for the industry to mature and develop. Significantly, more than eight out of 10 survey respondents believe that mobile payments will reach a critical mass of consumers and become as important as other types of payments, such as credit and debit cards. Most respondents view the achievement of critical mass as a long-term proposition, at least five and perhaps more than 10 years. Only a handful of optimists thought it could be achieved within the next two years. The “2006 Mobile Payments Survey” was released this week.

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