Americans with Debt Post Higher Credit Scores

A new study reveals that the average credit score for consumers with debt above the national average is higher than the average credit score for those with debt below the national average. The research by Experian found that U.S. consumers have an average debt of $11,224, about 12% higher than the previous year. Experian data show that 25% of U.S. consumers have debt that is above the national average and their average Experian “PLUS Score” is 695. The average “PLUS Score” for consumers with debt below the national average is 671. The monthly “Experian National Score Index” is based upon a nationwide sampling of three million consumer credit profiles.

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SmartPay Jieyin Names Greg Shen as CEO

SmartPay Jieyin has named Greg Shen as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. Shen previously led a buyout and restructuring of Intrinsic Technology, a telecom solutions provider in China, which SmartPay recently acquired. Shen will also join SmartPay’s Board of Directors. SmartPay works with over 15 Chinese banks and numerous merchants including 10 of China’s largest mobile telecom operators and is China’s clear leader in processing payments originating from
mobile phone subscribers.

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Commerce Bank’s Gift Card Scores Record Sales

Cherry Hill, NJ-based Commerce Bank reports that it issued more than 220,000 “VISA Gift Cards” since the launch of its program in November. The cards carried a total value of $14.5 million, making it one of the most successful general purpose gift card launches to-date. The Bank projected sales of 80,000 to 100,000 cards during the holidays. The new “Commerce Bank VISA Gift Card” is offered without conversion, expiration, reissue and other fees. The card was also delivered in upscale packaging during the holidays. Commerce Bank has 319 retail locations. It says an average of 30 gift cards were sold daily per store during December.

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32MM European Teenagers Ripe for Prepaid Cards

A new study has found that 8.4% of the European population are
teenagers representing a significant market for new products including
prepaid cards. The study by Research and Markets revealed that the teenage demographic represents a significant potential customer
base for prepaid cards since credit cards are not available to 10 to 17
year olds in most countries and debit cards in only a few. The report also examines the position of online in the banking distribution channel mix, the growth of ePurse markets and outlines new initiatives in
combating online fraud.

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Drexel University and U.S. Bank Partner

PA-based Drexel University has teamed with U.S. Bank to launch a suite of VISA affinity credit cards including a rewards card. Students, alumni and employees, who carry the Drexel card, will have access to a variety of credit cards offered through this U.S. Bank partnership, including one that earns reward points that can be redeemed for gift certificates, merchandise, cash and travel rewards. Drexel is widely recognized for its focus on technology and cooperative education. U.S. Bank is part of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB). With $195 billion in assets, U.S. Bancorp is the 6th largest financial services holding company in the United States.

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Clermont-Ferrand SMTC Contracts with ERG Group

The Clermont-Ferrand-based Syndicat Mixte des Transports en Commun has selected ERG Group, INEO and Parkeon to supply a smart card based automated fare collection system. The new smart card system will be the first large urban ticketing system in France to abandon the magnetic ticket technology currently used throughout France in favor of smart card technology. The project is valued at over EUR 4 million. It will begin rollout immediately and will be fully implemented in September 2006.

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Payment Data Systems & Central Bancard Team

TX-based Payment Data Systems has signed a multi-year agreement with Central Bancard to provide credit card authorization and settlement. With this new capability, PDS will be in a position to create and capture significant new revenue opportunities from an extremely diverse cross section of billers that have wanted to do business with PDS, but until now have had to seek out other providers. Payment Data Systems, Inc., is an Integrated Payments Solution Provider delivering comprehensive, cost-effective solutions to billers and retailers for the processing and management of electronic payments via the Internet, point of sale, or payments taken by Customer Service Representatives or an Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Central Bancard’s focus is on developing comprehensive programs to meet the needs of the agent and ISO communities.

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PayPal Adds the Australian Dollar and a Local Site

PayPal has launched a new PayPal site in Australia and
introduced the Australian Dollar as an additional currency to its service. Earlier this month, PayPal also added the Australian Dollar to the range of currencies offered on its global service, which includes U.S. Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling and Japanese Yen.
Australian users can now send and receive payments in Australian
Dollars. PayPal has more than 63 million accounts in 45 countries.

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Shoppers Charge Accounts Names a New COO

NJ-based Shoppers Charge Accounts has promoted Robert Noren to SVP/COO. In his new position as chief operations officer, Noren will continue to direct the company’s credit, customer service and collections areas, while also assuming responsibility for special projects and compliance. He continues to report to SCA president Tom Nelson. SCA, which services independent, regional and national retailers throughout the U.S., acquires retailers’ receivables or will develop private label credit programs for merchants who currently don’t offer a house charge.

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ONESMART PAYPASS

The Kaohsiung City Government has decided to employ MasterCard’s
dual interface smart card for its new transportation project. Cathay United Bank, E.Sun Bank and Bank of Kaohsiung will issue the “MasterCard OneSMART PayPass Chip Combi Card.” The card combines MasterCard credit, debit, and “Mondex” stored value functions, as well as provide access to the “Cirrus” global ATM network. The Transportation Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government, on behalf of seven cities in Southern Taiwan, is the official project owner. MasterCard, in collaboration with Mondex Taiwan, will provide a combined payment and e-purse solution for
issuers and acquirers. Acer will be the systems integrator, device provider and project manager, while China Engineering Consultants, Inc. will be in charge of programming the electronic transportation terminals

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Providian’s Profits Double; Receivables Up 9%

Thanks to $35 million tax benefit, Providian’s preliminary fourth quarter net income more than doubled over 4Q/03 to $138.1 million. Nevertheless, for the full year, Providian’s profits doubled from $196 million in 2003 to $419 million in 2004. Managed loans receivable at year end, increased to $18.5 billion, compared to $17.9 billion at the end of the prior quarter, and $16.9 billion one-year ago. Providian says the receivables growth is fueled by its two-pronged new accounts strategy which combines proprietary Providian marketing programs and endorsed marketing partnerships – to successfully recruit profitable new customers from the mainstream market. The partnership component contributed about 30% of Providian’s new account production by year end. For the full year, the issuer opened 2.1 million new accounts. However, attrition has kept overall account growth flat. During the fourth quarter, the issuer signed up about 470,000 new accounts but lost just as many, ending the quarter at approximately 10.3 million total accounts. The Company’s managed 30+ day delinquency rate at the end of the fourth quarter decreased to 6.16%, from 6.27% at the end of the third quarter, and down significantly from last year’s 9.29%. The managed net credit loss ratio for the fourth quarter was 9.98%, compared to 10.39% in the third quarter, and 14.33% for 4Q/03. The net interest margin on average managed loans in the fourth quarter was 13.36%, compared to 13.48% in 3Q/04. For complete details on Providian’s fourth quarter performance as well as prior quarters visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

Providian Net Income Track Record
4Q/03: $67.1 million
1Q/04: $101.7 million
2Q/04: $69.7 million
3Q/04: $109.1 million
4Q/04: $138.1 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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GECF to Issue a Wal-Mart Discover Card by March

Wal-Mart is teaming with GE Consumer Finance and Discover Financial Services to launch a new credit card on the Discover Network. This is Discover’s first credit card issuing partnership outside its network. The new “Wal-Mart Discover” cards will be available by March. Under the program the card will carry no annual fee and offer up to 1% back from GE on all purchases. GECF says the deal will expand its Wal-Mart relationship, enabling it to offer both a Wal-Mart store card and a general purpose “Wal-Mart Discover” card. GECF’s current private label card contract runs through 2009.

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