As The Credit Card Industry Suffers Revenue Losses, Consumers In Need Of a New Line of Credit Option

Overall, the credit card industry earned almost 6% less revenue in 2011 than during the previous year, in large part due to a decrease in the use of credit cards by shoppers and, as a result, less revolving credit that can be subjected to interest charges and fees. While come consumers have made a conscious effort to wean themselves off of spending on credit cards in an attempt to get a handle on their personal debt, others were forced into a credit card-free lifestyle during and after the Great Recession when many card issuers terminated the accounts of risky borrowers. Recent years have seen many lenders competing fiercely amongst themselves in order to pursue only the most creditworthy individuals.

Now with the nation’s economic situation slowly but steadily improving, credit card issuers are feeling more comfortable about relaxing their underwriting standards. This, combined with their acute need to acquire new cardholders in order to shore up some of their revenue losses of late, means that many lenders will looking beyond those with good and excellent credit scores in 2012. This opens up a whole slew of opportunities for people with less-than-perfect credit histories as they can reasonably expect lenders to increase their offering of credit cards for fair credit.

Consumers should beware of rising interest rates on borrowing as credit card issuers flounder to recoup some of their loss of earnings. In fact, experts have reported that going in to the New Year, the average interest rate on consumer credit cards is 15.14%, higher than the 14.75% APR that was the national average just six months ago. One option for consumers to find temporary reprieve from high interest rates is to look into 0 balance transfer credit cards which, when used wisely, can be an invaluable tool when it comes to handling debt.

Credit card companies are going to have to come up with some hard and fast ways to up their revenue over the coming year, whether they resort to raising interest rates, laying off employees, making more unsecured credit cards for bad credit available, some combination of the above or employing another technique altogether.

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Payday Express sets up contact centre support team to improve customer service

Payday Express, UK provider of cash advance loans, has restructured its workforce with the aim of dedicating further resources to customer care and support services.

This week, the payday loan company set up a new contact centre support department to take on administration duties previously performed by the customer services team, with a view to freeing up valuable time for advisers to be on hand to answer customer calls with increased efficiency.

Administrator positions within the newly formed team were offered internally and five experienced contact centre agents moved into the new department, with one external recruit completing the new team. Experienced contact centre team leader, Alison Eller, moved across to become a support team leader.

“I’m looking forward to heading up the support team. They are people with very strong administration skills, who will help make the various contact centre functions more efficient,” said Alison.

The contact centre support team will be focusing on answering customer emails as quickly as possible, as well as carrying out all administration functions within the contact centre department. Agents in the contact centre can now focus on their core competencies and offer the best possible service in response to information and queries on payday loans.

“Payday Express is continually focused on having the right people in the right roles to optimise the service offered to our customers,” said contact centre manager Carl Mountain.

“Setting up a new administration department enables employees whose strengths lie in this area to specialise in this, and for us to bring in new talent, while also building up the contact centre teams with employees that have strong customer service skills,” he added.

The latest re-organisation of the business follows the decision made in October 2011 to create a business development department to improve the customer journey through the applications process.

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UC Group moves online security to a new level with acquisition of information security specialists, Cognosec GmbH

UC Group has acquired Cognosec GmbH in a bid to extend its global information security services for the online business community. UC Group and Cognosec GmbH will jointly focus on assisting businesses to trade more securely, by providing integrated security, risk management and payment services, in response to the growing number and sophistication of cybercrimes.

Cognosec GmbH will become part of UC Group’s payment business, reporting to the SecureTrading Group. SecureTrading and Cognosec GmbH together will help merchants to secure the whole payment processing value chain – data, devices and networks – as cybercrime threats become more complex and harder to manage using existing safeguards. Critically, the two companies will also help online retailers and operators to meet their PCI DSS obligations as compliance becomes increasingly complex and expensive.

UC Group is a trusted advisor to US, UK, Asia Pacific and EU lawmakers and regulators and has extensively led the call for improved consumer and business protection to identify and minimise the growing risks to online businesses. In Europe alone, cyber-attacks are growing by 60 per cent a year, while 85 per cent of credit card record thefts are stolen by means of organised crime. The US currently accounts for 47 per cent of the global credit and debit card fraud, while generating only 27 per cent of the global total volume of purchases and cash, according to a recent Nilson Report.

The Cognosec GmbH acquisition enables UC Group to combat payment processing value chain and information security risks through the assessment and application of appropriate security for businesses in any part of the globe.

Oliver Eckel, CEO at Cognosec GmbH, says, “There are strong mutual benefits to both UC Group and Cognosec GmbH; through our specialisms in assurance, governance, enterprise risk and information security management, coupled with UC Group’s understanding of the online market and selected exclusive worldwide partnerships, we will be able to further extend our global reach. As more and more business goes online, the volume and type of threats to security are growing; we have the skills and track record to ensure that key business assets are safeguarded, whilst ensuring that businesses can trade uninterrupted. And with the advent of mobile business, our clients will be looking for even greater support, which we are better placed to offer as part of UC Group.”

Kobus Paulsen, CEO of UC Group, says, “UC Group leads the way in improving the quality and efficiency of internet business for online product and service providers. Recently UC Group has spearheaded the drive to regulate online gaming in Spain and the US to apply appropriate controls and safeguards for improved consumer protection. The acquisition of Cognosec GmbH strengthens our core proposition: to offer our clients safe and secure e-solutions for global trading.”

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Still safe as houses

Leading property investment company reveals why investors should remain confident about putting their money into property.

Grim predictions for the UK economy in 2012 have left many people wondering where to turn to get the best possible return on their money.

But according to Greater Manchester-based property and investment specialists Assetz plc, high demand for rental property across the country’s major cities shows that there are still exciting opportunities to secure strong returns from property investment for buy-to-let.

Assetz CEO Stuart Law says that leading banks’ continuing tightening of their mortgage lending criteria for first-time buyers, and an unwillingness by homeowners to sell in a fragile market, point to a solid outlook for buy-to-let investors who can get the right financing package in place to take advantage of the right houses for sale UK.

“The shortage of apartments in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool is resulting in significant competition between tenants, and driving up rental values,” Law said.

“Banks refuse to fund much-needed development which is worsening the undersupply situation, and with no measurable levels of new-build properties completing in the foreseeable future, tenants are going to find themselves increasingly squeezed out of core areas.”

That view is echoed by Matthew Smith from Manchester estate agent Thornley Groves, who said: “There is an overwhelming demand for rental properties in Manchester city centre, which has driven rents up by as much as 20 per cent over the last year.”

He added that, last autumn, as many as 20 tenants had been chasing every available property in the city. “This has resulted in competition becoming extremely fierce,” he said, “with tenants often reserving properties without viewing to avoid missing out.”

Student investment properties always make solid investments in major cities, Stuart Law added, and because so few other properties are currently being built, those which become available are expected to remain in high demand for many years to come.

Find out how easy it can be for you to put in place a solid foundation for your own future by investing in in-demand UK properties by contacting Assetz today, at, or by calling 0845 400 9000.

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Lefroy Hudson Forms Team for Institutional Client Services and Sales

Lefroy Hudson today announced the formation of a team dedicated to institutional client services and sales. Lefroy Hudson has recruited this team for the initial part of the expansion: Michael Huff, most recently the Executive Director and Analyst in charge of the Research sector of Lefroy Hudson; Violet Yao Chia, currently the Executive Director of Sales at Lefroy Hudson; Colin Johnston who was most recently a Management Director with one of Singapore most successful advisory; and Karl Erikson who joined Lefroy Hudson 16 months ago to consolidate the company’s presence in the market landscape. He is responsible for rounding out the team as well.

“Michael Huff has established himself as one of the market’s top analysts, and Lefroy Hudson is committed to affording him an environment to oversee his sector independently, objectively, and without conflict,” said Robert Milberg, Lefroy Hudson’s co-founder and CEO. “Violet and Colin have extensive experience of markets from both ends of the spectrum, and bring to us a degree of excitement, the proposition of them joining Lferoy Hudson to apply their skill sets and trade acumen to generate doable, feasible ideas, identify movers and shakers and provide top-notch service to their customers. Michael is already integrated in Lefroy Hudson’s culture of peerless customer service, and dedication to excellence.”

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Lefroy Hudson Forecast Crude Oil Price 2012

Lefroy Hudson revised higher its forecast for U.S. crude oil prices by $3 to $104 a barrel, citing the possibility of strong demand in the northern hemisphere winter, and left its Brent crude forecast unchanged at $116 a barrel.

“Global fundamentals and further monetary easing suggest upward pressure on oil prices. Given tightness in the distillate complex ahead of winter, gasoil-led rallies in crude are equally possible in the event of colder-than-average temperatures,” Lefroy Hudson’s analyst said in a note to their clients.

Brent crude oil prices are forecast to stay well above $100 a barrel, despite widespread expectations of an economic slowdown, a company poll said in late October.

U.S. crude was expected to average $92 a barrel next year and Brent was set to average $106.80 a barrel, the poll showed.

Brent crude was up $1.52 at $109.74 a barrel by 12:42 GMT on Friday after closing down $3.66 in the previous session.

Lefroy Hudson’s forecasts for 2012 implied the WTI-Brent spread would be $12 a barrel, slightly higher than the current level of around $9-$10.

“We believe that the extent of the Brent/WTI spread correction is overdone,” the Lefroy Hudson note said, citing the bullish impact for Brent of limited supplies of light, sweet oil.

lefroy Hudson’s analysts said it expects U.S. crude at around $105 a barrel in the first quarter of next year and $119 a barrel for Brent.

A modest start to the forecast period before oil prices regain strength.

We expect a somewhat weaker oil price trend in the first quarter of 2012. The Euro-area debt turmoil will continue to dampen risk appetite, while an improvement is expected in the supply/demand balance. Libyan oil will gradually return to the market, so other OPEC countries will have to scale back production to balance the market. This will improve OPEC’s reserve capacity.

From the second quarter of 2012 the balance in the oil market is likely to tighten again. Activity in the large oil-consuming countries will again accelerate. Growth in oil demand will again outstrip capacity expansion on the supply side. This will reduce OPEC’s capacity buffer. Tighter market conditions will lift oil prices and this trend is expected to strengthen towards the end of the forecast period. We have cut our oil price forecast to USD 130/barrel in 2012 from USD 135/barrel, but kept our forecast for 2013 unchanged at USD 140/barrel.

The risk of a sharp drop or abrupt upswing in oil prices has increased The risk is still high that we may experience a major downturn in the world economy or we see a new wave political unrest in vital oil producing countries. In our low price scenario we assume that a liquidity crisis and economic turmoil in Europe pushes the world into a new recession. In turn a sharp decline in economic activity will cut global oil demand significantly. Internal conflicts within OPEC hinder the cartel from imposing a coordinated cut in oil production and thereby trigger a drop in oil prices. In our high oil price scenario we assume that the political uprising spreads to Saudi Arabia and a significant share of the country’s oil production is locked in for a long period.

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Lefroy Hudson Announces Timothy Daniels Election to the Company’s Board of Directors

Mr. Daniels served as President and CEO of Beijing Asset Management (BAM) for seven years and is serving as its Chair through this term. In his three decades of service at BAM, he has held numerous offices including Finance Head, Vice President, and President of Market Research. He lived in Europe, Asia and Australia during his extensive career. He has seen memberships with key government councils, most notably in areas of economic stimulus and planning.

Simon Lee Ngieu, President and CEO of Lefroy Hudson, said, “Timothy is a noteworthy and excellent addition to the Board as our pursuit of excellence in all our lines of business within a sustainable landscape continues. His management, planning acumen and economic expertise will be beneficial to the entire Lefroy Hudson family and clients.”

Julian Chaperon, Chairperson of the Board’s Committee on Nominations, said that they are “enchanted to welcome Mr. Daniels to the Board,” and that they “look forward to his contribution to the focus of keeping Lefroy Hudson on the forefront of continued success.”

Mr. Daniels, in his keynote speech, welcomes the opportunity to work with Lefroy Hudson, adding that “he is glad to be part of the winning team,” and that he hopes that his expertise would “be productive and harmonic with the tradition of leadership and excellence Lefroy Hudson.” Furthermore, he said that it is his aim to “keep Lefroy Hudson relevant in the larger business picture in the coming years,” and will “be hard at work to see that goal through fruition.”

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Monthly donations from Payday Express support Build Africa projects

Monthly donations from payday loan company Payday Express to development charity Build Africa have helped to set up two Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) groups and will help set up six more over the next 12 months.

The partnership began in September 2011, with Payday Express committing to support the charity in the regular set up of new VSLAs.

Build Africa describes VSLAs as self-managed groups that do not receive external capital and provide people with a safe place to save their money, access small loans and contribute to a welfare fund that members can draw on in emergencies.

VSLAs are currently being set up across Uganda and Kenya , with the help of volunteers from Build Africa as well as funds from Payday Express, as part of an ongoing project to give families the opportunity to save and invest their way out of poverty.

The Umoja B Savings Group and Upendo Savings Groups have already been formed with financial help from the emergency payday loans provider and each already has more than 30 active members. Both savings groups meet once a week to discuss the savings accumulated and to agree on how the money can be most wisely invested. For example, a business that is selling soft drinks in a local village can be extremely lucrative when the nearest town or trading centre is more than 3km away, and such a business can be supported and grown with help from a VSLA.

Sarah Carroll, operations manager at no fax payday loan lenders Payday Express, said: “The donations the company regularly provides to Build Africa are helping communities in Africa transform their futures.

“We look forward to receiving regular updates from Build Africa about the savings and loans groups that have been set up as a result of Payday Express donations. It feels really good to work for a company that is determined to help those less fortunate to save and borrow money to improve their lives.”

The Build Africa VSLA projects have already helped more than 30,000 people in more than 1,000 VSLA groups.

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Payday Express launches daily industry news portal

Payday loan company Payday Express has launched an industry news portal to give customers the latest daily news on everything from general credit and savings stories, to energy prices and consumer behaviour, spending and saving.

Each day experienced in-house journalists will write and publish interesting and pertinent articles to the Payday Express website, covering topics the company believes are relevant and interesting to customers.

News stories already featured on the Payday Express feed include: “Families urged to place children’s cash gifts into junior ISAs” and “Boost for overseas travellers as banks axe currency fees”.

Of the daily news feed, Liam Hills, an account manager at Payday Express, said: “I really enjoy reading the daily news articles and am sure that customers will find them informative too.”

Payday Express is hoping the daily news will inform customers and provide them with a one-stop-shop for all finance and consumer behaviour news and views, complementing the general information already available on the website.

Sarah Carroll, operations manager at the no fax payday loan lenders said: “We are always aiming to make improvements to the overall service we offer our customers, from the website through to our contact centre.

“This news service gives customers visiting our site the chance to keep up to date with current and pertinent news.”

The emergency payday loans provider is also planning to launch a blog in the New Year, with a view to offering quick and easy money-saving tips and more.

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