GECF Strengthens in Central America

GE Consumer Finance has acquired 49.99% of Panama City-based BAC International Bank, a privately held retail bank and credit card issuer based in Panama City, Panama. BAC’s Credomatic subsidiary is a major debit and credit card issuer in Central American according to this week’s issue of CardFlash International. BAC has 178 branches in countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. BAC has about $1.7 billion in consumer credit card loans. GE Consumer Finance has more than $151 billion in assets. Credit Suisse First Boston advised BAC in the deal.

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Info Touch Deploys E-Wiz in North Carolina

Info Touch Technologies has installed “E-Wiz” kiosks at Exxon-branded On the Run convenience stores in Charlotte, North Carolina, bringing its total number of “E-Wiz” kiosks for non-banked U.S. consumers to 87. E-Wiz terminals provide customers with convenient access to a wide variety of services, such as bill payment, money transfer, pre-paid products and phone services. Info Touch Technologies, a strategic investment of Hewlett Packard, is building the “TIO Network” – a multi-retailer network of financial services kiosks for the non-banked consumer marketplace in North America.

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Convenience Use Rises Unexpectedly Higher

The number of Americans paying off credit card balances in full each month jumped higher than expected in 2004 to 44.7%, compared to 38.3% in 2003 and 39.1% in 2002. Cardholders who avoid paying credit card interest charges, peaked in 2000 at 44.4%, according to CardData. Throughout the 1990s, the number of convenience users steadily increased, rising from 28.6% in 1990. The decline in the early 2000s is attributed to both the sluggish general economy and historically low interest rates. Some consumers switched back to revolving credit as personal income dropped, while others find 0% APRs and other super low interest rates provide little incentive to pay off in full each month. Overall, Americans pay back an average of 17% to 18% of their credit card balances each month, historical highs.

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Target’s Card Profits Soar 28% in Q1

Target reported that its pre-tax credit card profits for the quarter ending April 30th increased 28% over the year ago quarter and 6% sequentially. Excluding the disposition of its Mervyn’s and Marshall Field’s card portfolios, Target’s credit card receivables increased 12% compared to 1Q/04. Target’s first quarter credit card profits were $142 million, compared to $134 million in the prior quarter, and $111 million one-year ago. Target reported that its total credit card receivables, which include its VISA and “Guest” cards, were $5.25 billion as of April 30th, compared to $4.69 billion one-year ago. Delinquency (90 days+) for 1Q/05 was 3.0%, compared to 3.5% in the fourth quarter, and 3.9% one-year ago. Charge-offs were 7.4% for 1Q/05 compared to 7.6% in the prior quarter, and 9.5% one-year ago. Target’s credit card unit had revenues of $279 million in 1Q/05, an 11.1% increase over 1Q/04. For complete details on Target’s latest performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

TARGET CARD LOAN HISTORICAL
(Excludes Mervyn’s & Marshall Field’s)
1Q/04: $4.688 billion
2Q/04: $4.716 billion
3Q/04: $4.914 billion
4Q/04: $5.456 billion
1Q/05: $5.251 billion
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Flash Foods Installs NCR RealPOS Terminals

Flash Foods, a convenience store chain in Georgia and North Florida, has rolled-out NCR “RealPOS 70” POS terminals and NCR “RealPOS” thermal printers in its 180-plus stores. Flash Foods managed the installation of the new POS solution and services its store-automation technology. NCR Corporation is a global technology provider of ATMs, retail systems, Teradata(R) data warehouses and IT services.

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TNS Buys a C-Store/Gas Station Specialist

Virginia-based Transaction Network Services has acquired the assets of FusionPoint Technology Solutions from TechLAN, a specialist in convenience store and service station markets, including customer and vendor contracts, inventory and equipment, certain intellectual property rights and four employees. FusionPoint designs and installs turn-key solutions that integrate legacy devices found in today’s convenience stores and service stations onto an IP network, providing a single point of communication. TNS designs and implements multiple data networks, each designed specifically for the transport of transaction-oriented data.

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Pay By Touch Signs Partners & Expands

San Francisco-based Pay By Touch has inked a major marketing deal with VeriFone, a development partnership with Cogent Systems, and a storewide expansion by Piggly Wiggly Carolina. Under the VeriFone agreement, both companies will work together to enhance the security, encryption and compatibility of each other’s solutions as well as offer an integrated solution. Under the Cogent Systems deal, the companies will focus on joint development to reduce the cost and simplicity of the installation of biometric payment solutions. Piggly Wiggly has decided, after a successful six-month pilot program, to deploy a storewide expansion of the Pay By Touch consumer biometric payment service in its grocery stores throughout South Carolina and Georgia. By the beginning of June, Piggly Wiggly shoppers across the two states will be able to pay for groceries with the touch of a finger.

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Fiserv Expands Loyalty Program Capabilities

Wisconsin-based Fiserv Credit Processing Services has expanded its loyalty program capabilities with the introduction of the “PLUS One Rewards Program” from ESC Loyalty. Branded credit cards will automatically earn points for every dollar spent. Those points then go into a PLUS One Rewards account that can be used to redeem a wide selection of rewards. Cardholders can start redeeming for rewards with as little as 1,500 points. ESC Loyalty is a provider of technology-based loyalty marketing solutions, specializing in applications for the credit- and debit-card industry. Fiserv reported $3.4 billion in processing and services revenues for 2004

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HIMC and Azure Ink a Processing Deal

Washington-based HIMC Corporation has signed a new client merchant services agreement with Azure Standard to provide its complete suite of “PayByCheck” services and credit card processing services. Azure Standard is a distributor of naturally grown foods and ships to western and mid-western states. HIMC Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITI Internet Services Inc. is a leading provider of payment services to over 25,000 customers.

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TRM’s 1Q/05 Revenues More Than Double

Portland, OR-based TRM reported that first quarter net sales rose 127% to $58.8 million, driven by its ATM business, which quadrupled in gross sales to $48.1 million. The increase in net sales reflects the addition of approximately 15,700 ATM’s from the acquisition of the eFunds ATM network. TRM now has 21,672 ATMs compared to 3,597 in 1Q/04. The average fee per withdrawal was $2.33 for the first quarter, compared to $2.80 one-year ago. However, the average sales per ATM decreased 34% in Q1 to $713. The number of withdrawals per ATM also declined, from 388 in 1Q/04 to 306 in 1Q/05. TRM says the decreases in average monthly withdrawals per unit, average sales per withdrawal and average monthly sales per unit are an expected result of the higher percentage of merchant owned ATMs, which are at lower transaction and surcharge levels leading to lower sales per unit. For complete details on TRM’s first quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Infineon Opens its Asia Pacific Headquarters

Germany’s Infineon Technologies opens its Asia Pacific headquarters building at Kallang Sector today. The two 10-story towers house Infineon’s regional headquarters functions in the Asia Pacific, including production, logistics, sales and marketing and R&D. Besides having an Integrated Circuits Design center, Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific is also the global testing hub for its logic IC products. Infineon in Singapore has a total staff strength of approximately 2,350 in Singapore.

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