Personal Bankruptcies to Top 1.7MM by 07

A new report projects that personal bankruptcy rates in the U.S. will rise by 11.3% between 2004 and 2007. The study, by Global Insight, says annual bankruptcy filings in the U.S. will increase to more than 1.74 million in 2007. The economic research firm cites rising interest rates and inflation combined with slower income growth and housing appreciation as the primary culprits behind this alarming rise in bankruptcies. Global Insight predicts Nevada, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Utah will experience the most significant increases in bankruptcy filings, driven by differences in regional economic growth and fluctuations in single-family home market values.

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VASCO Adds Six U.S. Resellers

VASCO Data Security has expanded its indirect sales network in the U.S. by signing up a number of new resellers. The reps include Vigilar, Big Sur, Extend Networks, Nine Yards Security, LCM and The Vantage Group. VASCO’s resellers will sell “VASCO Digipass Packs” to companies looking to secure their corporate network with Digipass strong authentication. A “Digipass Pack” is a bundling of VASCO’s “Digipass” tokens and “VACMAN Middleware” software combined with security vendor products. There are more than 13.5 million “Digipass” products already sold and delivered worldwide.

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Huntington Installs 99 ATMs in Walgreens

Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares will add 99 ATMs to Walgreens stores across Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, bringing Huntington’s total ATM coverage to over 800 machines. Huntington Bancshares Inc. is a $33 billion regional bank holding company with 300 regional offices in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. Walgreen Co. is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2004 sales of $37.5 billion and 4,738 stores.

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UniCredit Banca Buys Nearly 400 Opteva Units

UniCredit Banca has upgraded its network with 377 of Diebold’s “Opteva” ATMs. The sale includes the “Opteva” through-the-wall and
walk-up cash dispenser. Nearly 100 of those units will include
Diebold’s night drop depository. UniCredit Banca’s “Opteva” terminals are powered by Diebold’s “Agilis Power” software toolkit. Worldwide, UniCredit has a network of 4,536 branches, five overseas branches, and 10 representative offices. To date, more than 25,000 Diebold “Opteva” ATMs – now including seven different units – have been purchased
by some of the world’s leading financial institutions.

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TransFirst & SofTrek Target Fundraising

Dallas-based TransFirst and the SofTrek Corporation have created a partnership to help fundraising organizations achieve a streamlined and cost-efficient donation process, giving fundraising professionals the ability to accept charitable contributions through a full-service donor management and payment processing package. TransFirst is provider of transaction processing services and payment-enabling technologies and currently processes approximately $20 billion in annual sales volume. SofTrek Corporation is the creator of PledgeMaker fundraising software,a fully-integrated, turn-key system that helps charities with management functions.

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Givex and MyThum Interactive Launch Mx-Coupon

MyThum Interactive and Givex Corporation have teamed to
launch the “Mx-Coupon” program to enable the delivery of redeemable coupons to mobile phones through text messaging. The integrated solution allows MyThum to deliver text messages with a Givex coupon number to wireless cell phone users as a component of permission-based marketing campaigns and loyalty programs in Canada and the USA. The consumer then shows their message at the point of sale, where it can be redeemed by merchants currently using the Givex gift card processing platform.
MyThum Interactive is a provider of mobile messaging solutions and Givex Corporation is a card management company specializing in stored value transaction processing.

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eFunds is the First to Deploy Falcon 5.1

eFunds has become the first client to deploy Fair Isaac’s new version of “Falcon Fraud Manager” in its payment processing data centers. eFunds provides solutions for risk management, electronic payments, ATM and customer account management outsourcing for companies such as JP Morgan Chase, STAR and Bank One. The new “Falcon Fraud Manager 5.1” offers a new architecture and significant case and rules management technology enhancements. A key enhancement to “Falcon 5.1” is the addition of a new “Rules Editor” feature, based on Fair Isaac “Blaze Advisor,” which eliminates the limits on the number and length of rules. Rules can be easily tracked and modified to quickly react to changing market conditions and respond to new fraud trends. “Falcon,” an industry standard, uses a combination of sophisticated neural network models, patented account profiling technologies, case management and flexible, user-definable intelligent rules to analyze payment card transactions for the most subtle signs of fraud, enabling financial institutions to take immediate measures to stop fraudulent transactions.

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eFunds to Acquire India Switch Company for $17.5MM

HMA has agreed to sell India Switch Company to eFunds International India for $17.5 million. India Switch Company provides
ATM managed services through its TRIMS (Total Retail Infrastructure Management Services) operations. It is one of three companies in the country providing third party EFT processing through its “CashTree” and “BANCS” shared interchange networks. HMA is a privately-held group of companies with experience of providing end-to-end solutions for debit services to the Indian retail banking sector. Noshir Kathok, an EFT industry veteran with 30 years of experience, has returned to India to head eFunds’ business development activities.

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Discover’s Future Credit Ratings Unknown

Discover’s credit ratings will understandably be under review until the capital structure of the new autonomous company is known. Fitch yesterday said Discover’s ratings were dependent on and linked to the support provided by Morgan Stanley. Also, Fitch believes the credit services segment provides some diversification and revenue stability benefits to Morgan Stanley. For fiscal year-end 2004, Credit Services contributed approximately 15% of net revenues and 20% of pretax income to the results of Morgan Stanley. Fitch noted that revenues from consumer financial services are less volatile and more predictable than Morgan Stanley’s major sources of revenues, principal trading and investment banking. Fitch also noted that Discover’s growth from new alliances in the U.S. market will be limited due to the fact that these products are mature with overcapacity in the industry.

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RSB & AMEX

Russian Standard Bank has signed an agreement to exclusively issue and market American Express card products in Russia. RSB will issue the first Russian ruble-denominated AmEx cards and can also issue US dollar-denominated AmEx cards. RSB will be responsible for issuing the cards, managing the customer relationships, providing customer service, billing and credit management. RSB has more than seven million loan customers and more than 2.4 million credit cards issued.

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Discover’s Future – Spin-Off? or Sale?

While Morgan Stanley has disclosed it wants a tax-free spin-off of Discover Financial Services and not a sale, there is continued speculation that a sale could take place despite the tax consequences. Morgan Stanley estimates the spin-off to be worth about $9 billion, but Wall Street in general suggests an acquisition could be worth $5 billion to $6 billion more due to the rising value of its payment network. GE Consumer Finance is the name floated most often as a possible buyer due to its expansive relationships with retailers and deep pockets. Some analysts say such a combination could raise competition in the interchange battle to a new level. This year, GECF facilitated the launch of the first Discover card issued by an outside company via Wal-Mart. This month, GECF is launching Discover’s first business cards via its partnership with Wal-Mart’s SAM’S CLUB. As of February 28th, Discover had managed domestic credit card loans of $45.1 billion and international card loans of $2.6 billion, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). While the average portfolio premium is currently about 18.75%, jumbo portfolios can produce premiums in excess of 20%. Besides a credit card portfolio worth at least $9.0 billion, Discover now owns the “PULSE” EFT network which links more than 250,000 ATMs and 3.3 million POS terminals at retail locations to 4,100 banks and 90 million cardholders nationwide. Discover paid $311 million for PULSE in January. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in November that allowed Discover to work with other financial institutions, the value of its network could add significantly to the acquisition price. (CF Library 11/15/04; 1/13/05; 1/18/05; 2/22/05; 3/15/05; 3/17/05)

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

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