CREDIT USAGE

A new survey shows that 25% of Brits use their credit cards for household bills and other day-to-day expenses, and that slightly more than 50% said they owed more than £10,000. Also, credit cards volume stood at £8.8 billion in June, 2.8% lower than in May and just 0.8% up on June last year. This includes a rise of over 8% in credit card spending on services, largely offset by a six per cent fall in spending on the high street.
The Credit Card Research Group also reported that growth in debit card spending continues to outstrip credit card spending, with a year-on-year rise of 10% to £9.9 billion in June, despite a fall of over 3% on MayÕs figures. This reflects continued growth in the widespread use of debit cards, particularly in the service sector where spending has increased by nearly 27% in the year to June. Meanwhile, the recent survey by KPMG also found that nearly one in six people said that their escalating debts worried them so much that they could not get a good night’s sleep. The KPMG research also revealed that more than 80% of those surveyed said they hoped to pay off their debts within five years, with 22% saying they would work overtime, or try to get a new job or a promotion to pay them off. But 7% planned to take the drastic step of selling their home or remortgage it to clear their other borrowings.

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Wells Treats Cardholders to Reed Johnston IVR

Dallas-based Intervoice has completed deployment of speech recognition technology for Wells Fargo’s credit-card business. Using the “Omvia Voice Framework”, Wells cardholders are treated to a voice persona, known as “Reed Johnston.” An extensive pilot run during the first half of 2003. Wells Fargo Card Service, in conjunction with Intervoice and Nuance, decided to automate their voice systems from Intervoice housed within call centers in Hillsboro, Oregon, and Des Moines, Iowa, to create a more user friendly IVR. Intervoice has more than 22,000 systems deployed worldwide.

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FDC Names HR Chief

First Data has hired Michael D’Ambrose, formerly of Citigroup, as EVP/Human Resources. D’Ambrose brings almost 25 years of experience in the Human Resources field to First Data. First Data Corp. is a leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment.

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MBNA Licenses BabyMint Platform from Vesdia

MBNA has inked a multi-year deal with Atlanta-based Vesdia Corporation for a microinvesting platform and loyalty program. The Vesdia program currently powers the “BabyMint” and “NestEggz” credit card programs, both co-branded by MBNA. BabyMint acquired NestEggz in January for $4.5 million cash. MBNA teamed with BabyMint in May 2003 to launch the “BabyMint MasterCard.” MBNA is reportedly looking to expand the program to other affinity and co-branded partners. Vesdia’s microinvesting platform enables individual investors to receive up to a 20% rebate on every-day purchases made through the company’s network of more than 500 retailers and 127,000 grocery stores. According to Financial Research Corporation, merchant and credit card rebates, such as those facilitated by the Vesdia technology platform, have the potential to represent an incremental $1.1 billion per year in assets to banks and investment management firms. (CF Library 1/30/03; 3/21/03)

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UK Rail Industry Gets New Settlement System

Britain’s passenger train operators and SchlumbergerSema have completed development and implementation of the settlement system for the UK rail industry. Code named “LENNON” (Latest Earnings Networked Nationally Over Night), it is one of the world’s largest ever transport settlement systems capable of handling and allocating more than GBP 3.5 billion in annual passenger revenue to Britain’s passenger train operators.
“LENNON” also provides valuable marketing and customer-related data on 300 million annual ticket sales and usage patterns enabling train operating companies to better plan rail services to ensure that high levels of customer service are maintained at all times.

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Experian Picks Up Two More Bureaus

Experian has acquired Advantage Credit Bureau of Fargo, North Dakota and Credit Bureau of East. Experian’s network of affiliate credit bureaus provides clients in specific geographic areas with a variety of services utilizing the company’s consumer credit, business, automotive and marketing information. Experian acquired the consumer operations of Credit Bureau of East Tennessee, which provides services in Knoxville, and Morristown, Tenn.

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Life Insurance Corporation of India and Capital One May Team

The Life Insurance Corporation of India is reportedly in talks with Capital One to issue a debit card in the country. The insurance concern also fielded proposals from SBI Card and Corporation Bank, but preferred the Capital One proposal. LIC wants to issue a debit card linked up to its insurance policies. However, the firm wants a competitively priced card. According to the Business Standard, LIC has asked for a waiver of joining fees and annual fees for card holders, plus a reduced rate of interest for cash advances. LIC was asking for rates that were as low as 0.9% to 1.0% per month against the existing rates of 1.9% to 2.2% per month.

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Personal Advantage Debit VISA Launched

Los Angeles-based Direct Response Financial Services and Direct Card Services has signed a deal to distribute its VISA pin-based Debit/ATM card on 2,500 Web media outlet partners. The “Personal Advantage” product will be offered at $49.95. The product includes a VISA pin-based Debit/ATM card, with $10 cash on the card, together with a $50 airline credit. The Product will also feature the “Personal Advantage Global Money-Online” Web services.

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ProtectServer Orange and CommerSafe Integrated

CA-based Eracom Technologies and TX-based iBIZ Software have integrated Eracom’s “Hardware Security Module ProtectServer Orange” with iBIZ’s “CommerSafe Access Control Server,” a solution which supports “Verified by VISA” and “MasterCard SecureCode” payer authentication programs. iBIZ Software is now offering this fully integrated solution to the customers and prospects of their CommerSafe Access Control Server. Eracom Technologies is a leading developer and global supplier of cryptographic-based hardware and software products. iBIZ is a pioneer in online payment card security and offers robust authentication solutions for the entire e-payments industry.

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Deutsche Bank to Use Fair Isaac’s Blaze Decision System

Deutsche Bank has tapped Fair Isaac’s “Blaze Decision System” software to build an enterprise-wide credit decisioning and risk monitoring solution. Fair Isaac’s decision engine technology is being used to enable a high degree of automation, improved risk management and preparation for compliance with the “New Basel Accord” requirements. Firms like Deutsche Bank are actively preparing now for the “Accord’s” December 31, 2006 implementation deadline. The lender plans to implement the solution throughout its European branches and credit service centers.

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Unisys and S2 Systems Offer OpeN/2 Suite

Unisys and S2 Systems have teamed to offer the “OpeN/2” suite to provide the architectural basis for flexible online transaction processing on open industry platforms. The Unisys enterprise payments blueprint allows banks to optimize their technology investments to improve ROI by helping identify best practices to manage payment revenues, introduce new products and process transactions, and then apply these models across bank departments and delivery systems to reduce costs. According to a recent study conducted by Unisys, Global Concepts and Talson Associates, almost 50 percent of the top 20 U.S. banks are actively reviewing the overlap of transaction services, internal processes and future infrastructure requirements.

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