AmEx Hands-Out Financial Education Grants

The American Express Foundation awarded $503,773 in grants from its “Economic Independence Fund” to 19 community organizations involved in teaching money management skills, with each grant ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. A diverse range of people from throughout the country will benefit from these financial programs, including refugees learning how to use banking services for the first time, low-income woman building skills to better utilize their household income, teens with English as their second language gaining basic financial skills, and disabled adults establishing a checking or savings account. Since the Economic Independence Fund was established in 2000, American Express has awarded grants to 65 community organizations totaling more than $1.6 million.



Canadians are staying closer to home this year, heading for campgrounds and amusement parks, but shying away from air travel and eating out. Based on debit and credit dollar spending volumes from the last week of school (on average across Canada), June 21-27, against dollar volume spending from the first week of summer vacation, June 28 to July 4, it appears that more Canadians are heading outdoors this year. Spending at trailer parks and campsites jumped 59% while boat rentals were up 6%. The data also showed that amusement parks were up 48%; aquariums were up 46%; tourist attractions were up 13% and golf courses were up 9%. Based on the data gathered by Moneris Solutions Corporation, the categories that have not yet benefited from the start of summer vacation include restaurants (flat), transportation (down 3%), travel (down 9%) and apparel (down 9%).


Card Mail Down in 1Q/03 But Response Rates Soar

The latest estimate on credit card direct mail solicitations shows that total volume for the first quarter was down 2% over last year. According to Synovate, 1.19 billion credit card offers were probably mailed in the first three months of this year, compared to about 1.21 billion one year ago. Other tracking firms estimate that only 1.06 billion offers were mailed last year in the first quarter, and that this year was most likely about the same or slightly less. Synovate also estimates that response rate climbed to an incredible rate of 0.9%, compared to 0.5% in the first quarter of last year. Presumably, the increased response was driven by the proliferation of 0% APR offers.



CGI Group Inc. has certified Keycorp Canada’s Interac compliant debit and credit software application residing on Keycorp’s latest “K23” fixed line terminal. The “K23” terminal is the second Keycorp product that CGI has added to its portfolio of supported POS devices. The “K23” terminal is smart card-enabled and meets the latest security standards including certification with Interac and is EMV level one and two certified. The application includes cash-back, surcharging, and tipping functionality allowing the merchant to turn their existing payment terminal from an expense into a revenue source.


Scotiabank Picks Up Dominican Republic’s Baninter Portfolio

Scotiabank has signed a deal to acquire a portion of the dissolved Banco Intercontinental’s credit card portfolio. Scotibank is also acquiring up to 35 branches and hiring up to 460 employees of the Dominican Republic’s Baninter. With the completion of this agreement, Scotiabank will be the 5th largest private bank in the Dominican Republic in terms of branches. Full details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the transaction is to include the purchase of real estate of approximately US$25 million plus an option to purchase financial assets.


GE Card Profits Improve, but Off 2% Over Last Year

GE Card Services reported a 2% decline in profits for the second quarter to $172 million, compared to $175 million one year ago. The decline was significantly better than the 13% drop in first quarter profits and helped in part by GE’s recent acquisition of Conseco’s private label credit card portfolio. Year-to-date, GE’s card profits are off 8%, $353 million compared to $384 million for the first half of 2002. However, GE’s global consumer finance business more than offset the decline in the credit card business. GE’s Consumer Finance division had total revenues of $3.0 billion and profits of $514 million for the second quarter. Revenues were up 24% and profits increased 10% over last year. During the second quarter GE added $2.4 billion in receivables from Conseco’s retail sales finance business. The company also added $8.2 billion in U.K. assets by completing the acquisition of First National, and agreed to acquire the personal loan and auto loan businesses of Allbank from Bankgesellschaft Berlin AG, which will add over $2 billion in assets in Germany. GE also renewed an agreement to service the Lowe’s private-label credit card program in the U.S. through 2009, and signed card agreements with Carrefour in Mexico and Indonesia. GE said this morning it expects third quarter revenues for its Consumer Finance division to be up 20-25% and third quarter profits to be up around 20%. For complete details on GE’s second quarter performance visit CardData ([][1]).



Trans Union Launches New CRM Products

TransUnion this week introduced “Rapid Notify Account Acquisition” and “Rapid Notify Cross Sell” services. Rapid Notify Account Acquisition is suited for securing new customers and offers additional benefits not currently available in the marketplace. Rapid Notify Cross Sell is fully customizable, providing clients key information quickly, ideal for building customer loyalty and maximizing current customer relationships.


Brokerage Deposits via STAR and NYCE Available

PNC’s PFPC, the nation’s largest full-service mutual fund transfer agent and second largest provider of mutual fund accounting and administrative services, is now offering customers the ability to deposit funds into brokerage accounts via ATMs that accept deposits within the “STAR” and “NYCE” networks. This service allows cardholders to deposit funds in the form of a check at any one of the participating ATMs. By using electronic records, firms can speed the processing period for deposits.


Agilis 91x Live with First U.S. Commercial Bank

Diebold announced that Long Island Commercial Bank is the first U.S. financial institution to have Diebold’s “Agilis 91x” software running live on NYCE’s EFT processing platform. Agilis 91x is a prepackaged application for use in ATMs that communicate to networks using the Diebold 911/912 message format. Agilis features a unique design that minimizes integration costs because it’s fully backward compatible with the existing host download. Founded in 1990, Long Island Commercial Bank is an independent New York State chartered bank.


TNB Acquires Three Texas CU Portfolios

Dallas-based TNB Card Services announced this morning it is buying the credit card portfolios from three Texas based credit unions. Members Choice of Central Texas Credit Union is selling its $1.6 million card portfolio to TNB. The other two credit unions include Irving-based General Technologies Federal Credit Union with $139 million in assets, and Reed Credit Union in Houston with $17 million in assets and 2,100 members. The three CUs have entered into an agent relationship with TNB. TNB Card Services is owned and directed by credit unions, and provides full-service credit and debit card processing.


2Q/03 Outstandings Up 11.2% Among Mid-Sized Players

Early returns in the “2Q/03 Portfolio Survey” has found significant growth in credit card outstandings among mid-sized players. MI-based National City reported a 10.9% jump in outstandings, while BB&T cranked out an 11.3% gain for the second quarter. FL-based SunTrust posted a whopping 31% gain to hit $128 million in card loans. However, smaller players continued to post weak growth. TX-based Farm Bureau Bank reported a 4% decline in card loans for 2Q/03. For complete details on the latest 2Q/03 portfolio reports visit CardData ([][1]).

2Q/03 Early Bank Credit Card Early Snapshot
Issuer 2Q/03 OUT 2Q/02 OUT CHANGE
National City (MI) $2,417,290,407 $2,179,717,152 +10.9%
BB&T (NC) $ 890,340,000 $ 799,924,000 +11.3%
SunTrust (FL) $ 128,449,808 $ 97,801,360 +31.4%
Farm Bureau Bank (TX) $ 93,608,002 $ 97,499,807 – 4.0%
TOTAL $3,529,688,217 $3,174,942,319 +11.2%

Source: CardData ([][2])



InstaPay Systems Signs First Merchant for payENKRYPT

InstaPay Systems announced that LAROSE.COM has contracted to be the first merchant to utilize its “payENKRYPT” service which offers Internet merchants the ability to accept ATM card payments. payENKRYPT will enable customers to swipe their ATM card and then enter their PIN on a device about the size of a computer mouse that conveniently connects to their computer, then the payment data is encrypted and transmitted from the consumer’s PC directly to the Instapay/Kryptosima payment gateway, thereby protecting the consumer’s payment data from risk of theft. The payment gateway then obtains real-time authorization of the transaction via its connections to ATM networks.