GECF’s First Quarter Revenues Soar by 31%

GE reported that profit for its Consumer Finance unit climbed 22% in the first quarter to $735 million. First quarter revenues hit a record $4.7 billion, a 31% increase over 1Q/04. GECF posted fourth quarter revenues of $4.3 billion. During the quarter, GECF brought the “Dual Card” to Thailand by teaming up with Central Retail Group to launch the “Central MasterCard” and launched an unsecured personal loan product in Singapore called “ezyCash” through a co-operation agreement with the Singapore Post Office, one of the first of its kind in Asia, which makes full use of the Post Office’s extensive network in Singapore. The Company also launched GE Money Care Credit in Australia to finance discretionary procedures such as dental care, laser eye surgery and veterinary care, a $6 billion segment not covered by government programs or insurance. In the USA, GECF launched the “Wal-Mart Dual Card,” which offers cash back, gasoline discounts and low rates to Wal-Mart shoppers and which is accepted at more than 4 million merchant and cash access locations on the Discover Network. Also, GECF signed a seven-year extension of its private-label credit card agreement with SAM’S CLUB and launched “SAM’S CLUB Dual Cards” for consumers and businesses, with the business card being the first such card ever offered on the Discover Network. For complete details on GE’s first quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

GE CONSUMER FINANCIAL TRACK RECORD
Income Revenues
1Q/04: $602 million $3589 million
2Q/04: $600 million $3830 million
3Q/04: $681 million $4011 million
4Q/04: $637 million $4304 million
1Q/05: $735 million $4689 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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iBill Settles With First Data Merchant Services

Interactive Brand Development, Inc.subsidiary, Internet Billing Company (iBill) will pay $41.6 million to all former and current clients for transactions processed up to February 28, 2005. The iBill Payout is a structured settlement and all participating merchants will receive full payment on funds owed through a combination of cash and term note payment. The cash portion will be paid immediately subject to clients entering into agreements verifying their balances. IBDI processes online credit card payments and manages consumer databases.

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Power Rewards Platinum VISA Re-Launched

Bank of America has launched no annual fee Power Rewards Platinum card. Small businesses and consumers earn one point for each dollar spent on the card with no limit to the number of points cardmembers can earn and redeem each year, and can be redeemed starting at 2,500 points. Bank of America serves 33 million consumer relationships with more than 5,800 retail banking offices, more than 16,500 ATMs and 11 million online users.

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uWink Ordering System Hits the Market

uWink has announced plans to market the uWink Ordering System, a touch-screen order entry system for restaurants that allows customers to place their orders and use ATM and credit cards via touch-screen terminals, providing a cashless ordering system. uWink, Inc. is a technology-based entertainment company focused on the emerging medium of interactive mass-market digital entertainment.

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CLEAR CARD

The Co-operative Bank has introduced the “Clear VISA Card”. The card carries a variable rate of 8.9% for both purchases and cash advances. Unlike many other cards, there is no fee for cash advances. There is also no annual fee and the minimum credit line is GBP 500. The card is available in two colors, black or white. Co-operative says the card does not offer a 0% teaser promotional rate because most consumers want a straightforward rate. They cite the “Lloyds TSB Classic” card, which has a standard rate of 17.9% and balance transfer rate 0% for six months, as a card with higher costs.

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Another Breach Surfaces at Polo Ralph Lauren

HSBC, f/k/a Household International, has informed more than 180,000 cardholders that made purchases at Polo Ralph Lauren that their card information may have been compromised. HSBC has more than six million General Motors MasterCards in circulation, the most popular co-branded general purpose credit card in the USA. VISA and MasterCard indicated they are aware of the issue and are working with authorities. The news comes on the heels of other recent security breaches at ChoicePoint, LexisNexis, DSW Shoe Warehouse, and PayMaxx. Yesterday, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras told the Senate Judiciary Committee that despite the fact that data brokers may provide a valuable service both to business and government entities, there are concerns about the aggregation of sensitive consumer information and whether this information is protected adequately from misuse and unauthorized disclosure.

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AmEx Sees T&E Expense Rising 17% This Year

A new survey shows that 42% of organizations surveyed expect their T&E expenses to increase in the coming year, with an average expected
increase of 17%. The first American Express China Business Travel Forum survey revealed that meals and entertainment remained the largest expense category, accounting for 39% of total T&E expenditure. The report found that the air travel expenditure breakdown is 65% economy, 25% business class, 10% first class. According to the surveyed companies, the finance, insurance, real estate and business services expenses are almost three times larger than wholesale, retail trade and distribution sectors. Additionally, AmEx found that 23% of organizations expected to be using interactive online booking tools within 12 months and that use of cash for payment of T&E expenses remains predominant.

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PPP and AmEx Settle their Clear Card Lawsuit

IL-based Perfect Plastic Printing and American Express have reached a settlement over a clear-card patent issue. As part of the settlement, PPP has assigned all of its domestic and international clear card-related patents to AmEx and has been granted a license under all of the AmEx and PPP patents, now American Express patents. PPP will continue to manufacture clear transaction cards that were the subject of the now settled litigation. AmEx issued the first clear, transparent card, “Blue from American Express,” in Australia on July 24, 2001 and then introduced the first transparent card product in the U.S in 2002 with “Blue.” American Express currently is using the technology for “Blue,” “Blue Cash from American Express” and several other card products. PPP filed its suit in the U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago om January 2004. (CF Library 1/7/04)

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AUSSIE MASTERCARD

Aussie Group and ANZ, a mortgage specialist, has launched a MasterCard with a low on-going interest rate. The new “Aussie MasterCard” carries a $49 annual fee and an interest rate of 9.99%. Additionally, the balance transfer rate is 3.99% for the first six months. By comparison, the Aussie Group says most consumers are paying on average a 16% interest rate, with some paying as high as 27%. The new card does not offer any rewards which Aussie Group says is a “pointless reward scheme.” Since its establishment in February 1992, Aussie has grown to become Australia’s leading non-bank lender, with operations spanning all mainland capital cities and major regional centers.
Aussie now has a loan book currently worth more than $17 billion and over 200,000 existing customers. The new MasterCard will be available after April 15th.

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Wright Express to Launch a Sinclair Oil Card

Wright Express will develop and manage a joint fleet card program with Sinclair Oil and will support a Sinclair branded online product. Sinclair Oil is an independent oil company with distribution throughout the Plains and Mountain States. Wright Express Corporation provides payment processing and information management services to over 280,000 commercial and government fleets containing more than 3.9 million vehicles in the US.

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MBNA Expands Into Home Finance Loan Processing

MBNA has inked a deal to acquire MO-based Nexstar Financial Corporation. Nexstar’s platform for originating and processing home finance products will enable MBNA to offer private label and co-branded home equity loans through its more than 5,000 affinity partners. Under the agreement, MBNA will acquire all of Nexstar’s assets and the management team and all existing employees will join MBNA. The business will operate as a MBNA subsidiary and will retain the Nexstar name. MBNA is currently downsizing its credit card operations and is looking to diversify its lending operations. The Company also unleashed its first advertising campaign this year.

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