ACE Cash Express Revenues Decline 1.5% for 2Q/03

Dallas-based ACE Cash Express reported second calendar quarter revenues of $53.8 million, a 1.5% decline over year-ago levels due to the loss of loan product offers in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama and its transition to a materially different lending process in Florida. Total revenue increased by $5.0 million, or 2 percent, to $234.3 million in fiscal 2003 from $229.3 million in fiscal 2002. Net income increased to $12.8 million in fiscal 2003 from $10.1 million in fiscal 2002, a 26 percent increase, resulting in fully diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2003 of $1.25, as previously forecast and announced on July 17, 2003.

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Three Quarters of Small Business Owners Optimistic

A new survey of small business owners has found that nearly one-third say they need help in obtaining a loan and 44% state that access to capital is a challenge. Of the nearly 2,500 owners of industrial small businesses surveyed nationwide, 50% said they started within the last 11 years and 78% used personal sources to obtain the capital needed to start or purchase their businesses. Only 16% relied on a bank loan. The findings come from the SBA, Thomas Regional and MasterCard, which also found that 78% of industrial small businesses are optimistic about growing over the next 12 months. More than half plan to increase staff, 51% say they will buy new/additional equipment and 26% will either move to a larger facility or open a new one.

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Wachovia Picks Interlink/NYCE Over STAR

VISA’s “Interlink” online POS debit card network and “DPS” off-line debit card service beat out Concord EFS and its “STAR” network for the Wachovia contract. Wachovia also announced Thursday it has awarded its ATM transactions business to NYCE. The “Plus” network will continue to serve as Wachovia’s international ATM network and a secondary network to NYCE in the USA. Wachovia has been mulling its contract with Concord EFS for the past year. Concord EFS confirmed yesterday it was notified by Wachovia of its desire to move its network access business prior to its current contract expiration date of December 31, 2004. Concord says it does not expect its earnings in 2003 or 2004 to be affected by this event due to the continuing payment obligations contained in Wachovia’s contract. Last year Concord hired former VISA senior executive Bond Isaacson to assist with the renewal of several expiring contracts. Isaacson is to receive a $500,000 bonus for each large financial institution which renews and an additional $2 million bonus if he renews a certain number of the financial institutions on Concord’s list. He was hired in September of last year as EVP, and was promoted in February to co-CEO and named a director. Isaacson formerly worked for BofA, VISA, and IBM. (CF Library 9/13/02; 2/13/03; 4/1/03).

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Connecticut Clearing House Joins NCE

The Connecticut Clearing House has joined the National Check Exchange bringing NCE’s daily check volume to $8.1 billion. NCE is involved in every aspect of the migration from paper checks to electronic transactions. It already settles $775 million in electronic transactions per day for its related electronic check presentment business, Electronic Clearing Services. In addition, NCE is working with ECS to develop a national check image exchange for banks of all sizes, scheduled for operation in the First Quarter 2004.

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TNB Signs Four More Credit Unions for Processing

Dallas-based TNB Card Services has signed four new credit union members for card processing services. Tempe Schools Credit Union and Mendo Lake Credit Union converted their current card portfolios to TNB. Nizari Progressive Federal Credit Union and Union Pacific California Employees Federal Credit Union chose TNB to begin offering new card products to their members. Tempe Schools Credit Union of Arizona has 22,000 members and converted 3,800 credit card accounts to TNB. Mendo Lake Credit Union in California with 9,000 members, converted 2,200 credit card accounts and 1,400 debit card accounts to TNB. Houston-based Nizari Progressive Federal Credit Union has 6,500 members and Union Pacific California Employees Federal Credit Union serves 2,500 members.

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Oki Electric’s New ATM will Use Kalignite

Tokyo-based Oki Electric Industry Co. has selected KAL’s software for its brand new ATM model, the “ATM21S,” which will be manufactured and distributed in the Chinese market. The new Oki ATM is powered by KAL’s “Kalignite” software suite, which makes the new ATM fully XFS-compliant and Web-enabled. The Oki/KAL deal follows the agreement between KAL and Oki in May of this year under which Oki adopted KAL’s “Kalignite” software suite. Oki is Japan’s number one ATM manufacturer, holding a 40% share of the installed base.

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Financial Services Emails Click-Through Rates Hit 5.8%

As telemarketing becomes crimped by the new “Do-Not-Call Registry,” and as Internet advertising regains strength, email continues to deliver strong results as a marketing tool. Click-through rates from email increased from 7.5% in 2Q/02 to 8.3% for the second quarter of this year, but the average revenue generated per email delivered in the second quarter was $0.28, versus $0.29 one year ago. The findings come from DoubleClick’s latest research which also shows that those who clicked on email links clicked an average of 1.6 times per email. The Financial Services emails had the highest category open rates at 48.1% while their click-through rates were the lowest among the categories measured (5.8%), which could reflect increased consumer interest in investments but the highly considered nature of financial services offerings. The second quarter data is based on over 2 billion permission-based emails from hundreds of clients.

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Active Card Balances Up 3% Year-Over-Year

Americans carried an average balance of $2,526 on each bank credit card account at the end of July, compared to $2,451 for July of last year, based on data for the top ten U.S. issuers. Year-to-date charge volume, among the top issuers, averages $2,611 per active account, compared to $2,469 for July 2002. Bank One continues to lead the top issuers with the highest average balance per active account of $3,793 and the highest year-to-date volume of $4,767 per active account. While Capital One, an issuer specializing in under $20,000 credit limits, has the lowest year-to-date volume per active account of $1,170.

TOP TEN ISSUER STATS – JULY 2003
(ranked by total outstandings as of 7/31/03)

ISSUER AAB AAV
1. Citibank $2506 $3022
2. MBNA $2447 $3054
3. Bank One $3793 $4767
4. Chase $3066 $2994
5. Discover $2350 $2696
6. Cap One $1637 $1170
7. BofA $3059 $3020
8. Providian $2351 $1351
9. Household $1440 $1802
10. Fleet $2607 $2232
AVG $2526 $2611
AAB- average balance per active account; AAV- average year-to-date volume per active account
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com) and RAM Research Group’s Bankcard Barometer

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TransLink Lawsuits Dismissed, ERG Wins

The battle over San Francisco’s smart card-based transit fare system has apparently ended as the California Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit by Cubic Transportation Services to block continuation of the “TransLink” project. The Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission has also granted final acceptance to ERG Transit Systems, a Cubic competitor, for “Phase 1” of the “TransLink” project. The move clears the way for an order for over 4,000 pieces of equipment needed to launch full system implementation. The “TransLink” system, the largest regional smart card based transit fare collection system in the USA, will provide a single payment system encompassing all major transit systems operating in the Bay Area, including buses, ferries, and light, medium and heavy rail systems. When fully operational, “TransLink” is expected to handle more than 25 million smart card transactions every month.

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Regal Entertainment Deploys Fujitsu Terminals

TN-based Regal Entertainment Group is planning to deploy 300 Fujitsu customer-activated terminals within its 562 cinema locations nationwide. Fujitsu and Regal developed the customer-activated terminal to print Regal’s movie tickets and provide other services on a real-time basis through an interface directly to Regal’s back office systems. By this fall even more services will be added. For example, the Express machines will become the primary movie ticket pick-up point for Fandango’s Print-at-Home service, where customers purchase their movie tickets on the popular Fandango.com Web site.

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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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