HOLT RENFREW & AMEX

The world’s “best dressed credit card” is under construction and will ready for prime time in September. Designer clothing retailer Holt Renfrew and American Express have teamed to develop a suite of co-branded “Holt Renfrew Cards from American Express,” which will replace Holt Renfrew’s store credit card. The first card offered will be designed by Roberto Cavalli. The new card will also feature the new “Holt Renfrew Rewards” program that allows customers to collect points at Holt Renfrew and everywhere else AmEx is welcomed.
Cardholders receive one “Holt Renfrew Rewards” point for virtually every dollar they spend. And when the card is used at any Holt Renfrew location, they receive 40% more points for every dollar charged to the card. Points can be redeemed for “Holt Renfrew E-Gift Cards,” that never expire. Cardholders also receive 10% off their first Holt Renfrew purchase using the card, if they are a non-converted customer. Cardholders will also receive complimentary delivery for every Holt Renfrew purchase over $100 and priority complimentary service on basic hem and cuff alterations and complimentary access to a Holt Renfrew personal shopper.

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Options MasterCard Outstandings Up 29%

Canadian Tire Corporation yesterday reported that its Financial Services unit significantly expanded its “Options MasterCard” portfolio during the second quarter, with net credit charge receivables up 29.3% to $2.02 billion compared to $1.56 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2002. During the quarter, Financial Services converted more than 25,000 retail card accounts to MasterCard accounts, bringing the year-to-date total to more than 46,000. Almost 2 million retail accounts have been converted to “Options MasterCard” accounts since the program’s launch. More than 192,000 new accounts were generated during the second quarter through the in-store card acquisition program. Also during the quarter, CTC Financial Services’ application for a bank charter was approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and, as a result, Canadian Tire Bank began operations on July 1, 2003. For complete details on Canadian Tire’s 2Q/03 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Paymentech Process USA Petroleum via DSL

Dallas-based Paymentech will process credit and debit card transactions, via DSL connections, for USA Petroleum’s 160 convenience stores and gas stations, with an interface to Fleet One, USA Petroleum’s fleet processing partner, which, along with the DSL, originate from VeriFone’s “Ruby SuperSystem”. This move’s intention is to speed up payment processing and reduce lines at both the pump and the counter for the Agoura Hills, California-based petroleum marketer. Installing high-speed connections at all of USA Petroleum’s stores is going to considerably cut down on customer wait time, and potentially allow them to capture more sales, said Tom Nipper, Paymentech’s Petroleum Sales Director. And by having DSL connections, they’re really breaking new ground for independent petroleum marketers.

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Americans Cut $1.3 Billion Off June Revolving Debt

Americans chopped-off $1.3 billion in total revolving debt during June, partially driven by record home refinancings, which shifted unsecured credit card debt to home mortgages. By contrast, one year ago, U.S. consumers added $3.4 billion to revolving debt during the month of June. The decline in June 2003, from $726.8 billion to $725.5 billion, is the first such decline this year. According to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve, American consumers were $1.761 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages during June. Bank credit card debt (excluding store and gas credit cards) at the end of the first quarter was $645.6 billion, or roughly 90% of total revolving credit, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL ($billions)
Jun03 May 03 Apr 03 Mar 03 Feb 03 Jan 03 Dec 02
GRWTH: -2.2% 6.7 3.4 4.1 5.9 5.2 -6.7
$OWED: $725.5 726.8 722.8 720.7 718.6 715.5 712.4

Nov 02 Oct 02 Sep 02 Aug 02 Jul 02 Jun 02 May 02
GRWTH: -1.4% 1.6 3.0 6.2 6.0 4.1 8.0
$OWED: $716.8 717.9 721.3 719.5 715.6 712.1 708.7
Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 08/07/03;
For complete historical data visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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

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WINPAY24 Now Runs on Stratus ftServer 6500

Omaha-based ACI Worldwide this week announced that its “WINPAY24” payment processing application for retailers is now available on the “Stratus ftServer 6500” fault-tolerant server. ACI and Stratus Technologies have signed an alliance partnership agreement to jointly market and promote their solutions in sales opportunities where high availability is a key selection criterion. ACI’s WINPAY24 is a feature-rich electronic funds transfer (EFT) processing application used by over 30 customers in the United States and Mexico to authorize and route credit, debit, gift, phone and loyalty card transactions; refunds; checks; and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions.

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VISA Mini Cards Exceed 15 Million Since October

More than 15 million “VISA Mini Cards” have been produced and issued by IL-based Versatile Card Technology since the launch of the card in October. Bank of America’s “Mini VISA” is about half the size of a regular credit or debit card that can be attached to a key chain. The card can only be used with swipe terminals, not ATMs. BofA has exclusive rights to issuing the mini card for a one-year period. Following the first year, under a license from Bank of America, VISA member banks will be permitted to issue VISA-branded mini cards, for which Bank of America will receive royalty payments. The “Mini VISA” is a response to the successful launch in March 2002 of the Discover “2GO Card,” a small, oval shaped credit card, in a protective case, that attaches to a key chain, belt, or money clip. Discover has not released data on the number of “2GO Cards” issued. Versatile Card Technology is a certified manufacturer of VISA cards with facilities located in Turkey, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, South America and India. (CF Library 3/21/02; 10/2/03)

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2Q/03 Charge Volume Up 5.7% Among Major Issuers

Charge volume among the nation’s top bank credit card issuers is now growing at the rate of 5.7% annually. Based on second quarter data reported thus far, MBNA leads the top 10 issuers with a 15.8% increase in volume, while Citibank is the only major issuer to report a decline in volume. Citibank posted $59.7 billion in 2Q/03 volume, compared to $61.9 billion one year ago, a 3.6% drop. American Express posted a healthy 10% boost in volume, as Wells Fargo and First National Bank of Nebraska posted significantly higher volume levels than last year. Capital One, Bank of America, Providian, and Sears National Bank, all top 10 issuers, have not reported second quarter volume. For complete details on the top U.S. issuers for the second quarter visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TOP U.S. ISSUERS 2Q/03 VOLUME
(ranked on EOP 2Q/03 outstandings)

2Q/03 2Q/02 Y/Y CHG
1. Citigroup*: $ 59.7b $ 61.9b – 3.6%
2. MBNA: $ 45.4b $ 39.2b +15.8%
3. Bank One: $ 40.5b $ 38.4b + 5.5%
4. Chase: $ 22.2b $ 20.9b + 3.0%
5. Discover: $ 24.0b $ 23.5b + 6.2%
6. AmEx: $ 64.6b $ 58.7b +10.1%
7. Household: $ 9.3b $ 9.1b + 2.2%
8. Fleet: $ 5.7b $ 5.6b + 1.8%
9.Wells Fargo: $ 3.9b $ 3.4b +14.7%
10.Frst Nebraska:$ 1.8b $ 1.4b +27.1%
TOTAL: $277.1b $262.1b + 5.7%

The following top 10 issuers have not reported 2Q/03 volume figures as of 8/8/03: Capital One; Bank of America; Providian; and Sears National Bank.* Citigroup includes Canada; SOURCE: CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) SOURCE: CardData ([www.carddata.com][3])

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

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VISA Launches Plus No Surcharge Alliance

Visa USA announced this week the creation of an optional service that will help financial institutions expand no surcharge ATM access for their cardholders. Under the new “Plus No Surcharge Alliance” specially designed decals will be added to participating ATMs, and cardholders will be notified by their financial institution if it is a participant. In addition, the Visa/Plus ATM locator service on Visa.com and a toll-free hotline will assist cardholders in identifying participating ATMs. The program is geared towards small and mid-sized credit unions and banks. VISA is charging participants a $200 setup fee, a $50 monthly fee, and 5 cents per transaction to join the “Plus No Surcharge Alliance.” VISA’s “Plus” also offers “Plus Shared Deposits,” which allows consumers to make deposits at ATMs not operated by their own financial institutions. The “Plus” network has more than 800,000 ATMs in 144 countries with over 364,000 in the USA. In May, MasterCard announced it will now permit a waiver of ATM surcharges on its 350,000 ATM “Cirrus” network in the USA. (CF Library 5/29/03; 4/3/03)

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Older Men Carry Average Unsecured Debt of $19,000

A new study by MD-based Amerix has found that men 50 and older are shouldering more unsecured debt than women, $19,000 versus $15,500. The Amerix Quarterly Index examines trends and statistics compiled from the aggregate data of more than 300,000 individuals enrolled in debt management plans supported by Amerix technology. Amerix is the nation’s leading provider of technology and processing support to nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

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GTA VOLUME

Moneris Solutions reported that debit and credit card transaction for the week ending August 2nd, showed that overall retail transaction volumes in the Greater Toronto Area increased by 5.1% and that travel and entertainment volume jumped by 20.6%. The week included the SARS benefit concert and the start of Caribana celebrations. Extrapolating from its market share, Moneris Solutions estimates that the total revenue changes in the July 27 to August 2 period were: across all industries, spending in the GTA increased by
$75.2 million; the travel and entertainment industry was up $25 million; within this industry, spending at restaurants increased by $20.9 million and hotels were up by $1.9 million; and, that the retail industry increased by $39.6 million.

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Drexler Technology Posts Loss and Lower Revenues

Multi-biometric ID card maker Drexler Technology reported a net loss of $1.5 million for the second quarter compared to net income of $659,000 in 2Q/02. Revenues for the quarter were $2.5 million compared with $6.6 million for the same year-ago quarter. “LaserCard” optical memory card sales during the quarter included shipments of the Canadian government’s “Permanent Resident Card.” Follow-on production of the U.S. “Laser Visa Border Crossing Cards” and “Permanent Resident Cards” for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was delayed while new artwork for the cards was being designed by DHS. The artwork change for “Laser Visa BCCs” was completed in July. The DHS has not yet approved new artwork for the “Green Cards.” Drexler also announced last month that the Company received an optical memory card order valued at approximately $2 million for “Laser Visa BCCs,” under a five-year U.S. government subcontract awarded to the Company in June 2000. The new order called for card production to start immediately and to be completed within four months. Drexler has manufactured and sold over 20 million multi-biometric ID cards for U.S. government digital governance programs. For complete details on Drexler’s 2Q/03 performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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HDFC & NIC TEAM

HDFC Bank and the National Insurance Company have teamed to launch the co-branded “HDFC Bank Health Plus MasterCard Credit Card.” The card is being launched in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. The card offers a free and cashless “Mediclaim” of Rs. 50,000 and a critical illness cover of Rs. 1.5 lakh. Critical illnesses covered include: open heart & bypass surgeries, cancer & bone marrow transplants, renal failures & kidney transplants and cerebral & vascular strokes. HDFC Bank is also extending the Mediclaim offer to supplementary cardholders. Furthermore, cardholders have the option of purchasing additional Mediclaim covers at highly discounted rates. The card is priced at Rs 950 per annum. HDFC expects to issue between 15,000-20,000 cards in the first year of the alliance. With this launch, HDFC Bank has expanded its credit card offering which already comprises the HDFC Bank International Silver Credit Card (launched in December 2001), the HDFC Bank International Gold Credit Card (launched in July 2002), and the HDFC Bank ­ eSeva International Credit Card (a credit card designed to help citizens fulfill civic obligations, launched in January 2003).

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