NACM’s February CMI Snaps-Back

The “Credit Manager’s Index” for February showed a strong snap back from January’s weakness, led by sharp gains in sales, new credit applications, and amount of credit extended. The February 2006 CMI is down 30 points from one year ago; a drop reflected in the overall favorable and unfavorable factors. From a sector standpoint, more variation is displayed among the favorable factors: for example, the favorable factors for the February 2006 service sector showed increases in 75 percent of the factors while a decrease in 75 percent of the favorable factors was true for the manufacturing sector. The CMI, a monthly survey of the business economy from the standpoint of commercial credit and collections, was launched in January 2003 to provide financial analysts with another strong economic indicator.

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Betfair Adds the PayPal Option

European customers of Betfair, a person-to-person betting
exchange, will now be able to
make payments using PayPal. The arrangement will enable Betfair users
living in the UK and the other European
Union countries to use PayPal to make secure and simple payments to each
other. The PayPal service will be fully integrated with the account
management section of the Betfair site so its customers will be able to
pay in and withdraw funds from their Betfair account in real time.
Betfair customers can use a variety of funding sources including credit
and debit cards, their existing PayPal balance and, in the UK and Germany,
transfers from their bank accounts. Betfair customers will also be able to
withdraw winnings directly into their PayPal accounts. Betfair matches up
to 12,000 bets a minute and records 5 million transactions a day.

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Cox Oil Opts for TNS FusionPoint

Tennessee-based Cox Oil is implementing TNS'”FusionPoint” to provide network connectivity and data communications services for credit and debit card authorizations, ATM authorizations, tank monitoring, VOIP capabilities, DVR and back office enterprise applications. FusionPoint is a data communications solution that enables all technical applications in a convenience store to flow through one broadband pipe, simplifying the connectivity and delivering significant savings in time and maintenance costs.

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PayPoint Orders 400 NCR EasyPoint ATMs

NCR will supply PayPoint Plc with 400 “EasyPoint” ATMs. The order
includes 200 “EasyPoint 53” and 200 Tidel “EasyPoint
3300” ATMs. The deal also includes ATM installation services and a
multimillion dollar second-line maintenance contract. This will maximize
PayPoint’s ATM availability and “future-proof” its ATM channel to meet
emerging standards and technology changes. The deal is the first major win
for NCR EasyPoint LLC, an NCR subsidiary formed by its recent acquisition
of the ATM assets of Tidel Technologies, Inc. PayPoint is a cash payment
collection network with 2,000 ATMs throughout the United Kingdom.

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Merrill VISA Teams w/Exclusive Resorts

Merrill Lynch is offering “MERRILL+” and “Merrill Lynch VISA Signature” cardholders double points as well as special pricing on membership fees under a partnership with Exclusive Resorts. As a member of Exclusive Resorts, clients who use their MERRILL+ or Merrill Lynch Visa Signature card to pay for annual dues will receive double Merrill points as well as special pricing on membership fees. In addition, clients will receive an exclusive welcome package, courtesy of Exclusive Resorts. This package includes two ground transfers to their destination of choice, a welcome dinner prepared by a personal chef in their private residence’s kitchen and a complimentary resort activity. Merrill Lynch offers wealth management, capital markets and advisory companies, with offices in 36 countries and territories and total client assets of approximately $1.8 trillion.

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Operating Expense Rises in 4Q/05

Operating expense among VISA and MasterCard issuers rose sharply during the fourth quarter presumably due to the fall bankruptcy tidal wave. Compared to one-year ago the expense associated with credit processing, call center servicing, billing, collections, fraud management, and card issuance has increased 100 basis points. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), operating expense, as percentage of average managed card outstandings, rose to 5.99% in December as compared to 5.09% in June and compared to 4.99% for December 2004. Over the past five years operating expense has hovered around 5.00%, dipping to 4.20% in early 2002.

OPERATING EXPENSE HISTORICAL
Dec 04: 4.99%
Mar 05: 5.00%
Jun 05: 5.09%
Dec 05: 5.99%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Western Union Develops a Remittance Calculator

Western Union Financial Services has partnered with the Mexican government
to develop a new online tool to help consumers understand their options as
they send money across the U.S./Mexico border. The “Remittance Calculator”
will allow U.S. consumers to understand and compare a variety of factors
when transferring money from the United States to Mexico. The online
Calculator will allow a person sending money from the United States to
Mexico to compare and contrast different remittance providers based on
such important attributes as cost, speed, security and the convenience of
locations for both senders and recipients. Participation in the
“Remittance Calculator” is available to any financial services company
legally authorized to provide service from the USA to Mexico.

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Cash Systems Acquires IGS for $12MM

Las Vegas-based Cash Systems has acquired San Diego-based Indian Gaming Services from Borrego Springs Bank for $12 million. Indian Gaming Services provides ATM, check cashing and credit and debit services to 11 casino facilities. The acquisition comes on the heels of a two-year-long effort by IGS to advance its infrastructure and services to the forefront of the cash-access industry. Borrego Springs Bank is a Native-American-owned, federally chartered, financial institution. Cash Systems is a provider of cash-access and related services to the retail and gaming industries.

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COMMERCIAL SPENDING

Global business and government spending is expected to approach US$65 trillion this year, a 6.6% increase over 2005. Europe is the largest spending region with a projected US$22.1 trillion. According to VISA International’s “Commercial Consumption Expenditure,” the CEMEA region will expand by 13.5% this year. Global “CCE” is estimated using four key data elements: the amount of business-to-business purchases to acquire goods and services used in production; wholesale and retail purchases of final goods; some business capital expenditures; and government spending on goods and services. VISA first introduced the
standardized metric to track business and government spending in the USA in 2004. One-year ago VISA expanded the index to track global business and government spending. (CFI Library 1/26/05)

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Gemplus Shareholders Approve Axalto Merger

Gemplus International confirms that its General Meeting of Shareholders
was held on February 28 in order to deliberate on matters related to the
proposed combination with Axalto Holding N.V. announced on December 7,
2005. A majority of the shareholders adopted the proposed resolutions,
with votes in favor ranging between 97.8% and 99.9%. The shareholders
approved a distribution of available reserves of an amount of EUR 0.26 per
share, subject to the satisfaction of conditions precedent. The
distribution would represent an amount of approximately EUR 164 million
based on current Gemplus shares outstanding. Gemplus shareholders also
approved the proposed conditional recomposition of its Board of Directors.

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