Tag Archives: Financial Solutions

Financial Solutions

Think Money Welcomes Fall In Repossessions

Financial solutions company Think Money has welcomed news that repossessions fell sharply in 2010, compared with a year earlier, commenting that it suggests the financial circumstances of homeowners may have improved despite difficult economic conditions.

But the company warned that there are still difficult times ahead for many homeowners, especially when interest rates rise.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said there was a 24% drop in the number of repossessions in 2010, compared with 2009, down to 36,300. Meanwhile, the number of households with mortgage arrears amounting to more than 2.5% of the outstanding balance fell by 13%, down to 169,600.

An expert at Think Money commented:

“Any drop in repossessions and arrears is a good sign. Although the economy is still in a difficult position, it’s likely that a lot of homeowners have taken steps to improve their finances, whether that’s through keeping to a tight budget or entering into a debt solution such as a debt management plan before repossession becomes a possibility.

“Leniency from lenders may have also helped, but equally the troubles of the last couple of years will have prompted many homeowners to be more cautious with their money.

“However, it must be noted that there are a lot of people who are only coping with their mortgage repayments because of low interest rates. When interest rates rise – which could happen this year – we may well see many more homeowners in trouble.

“Anyone already struggling or worried about their ability to meet their payments when interest rates rise should not hesitate to get help from an expert. It’s not usually worth waiting for a change to happen – getting help early could greatly reduce the chances of facing repossession.”

Via EPR Network
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Debt Solutions Company Scottish Trust Deed Welcomes The Bank Of England’s Decision To Keep The Interest Rate On Hold

The company backed the Bank of England’s decision saying this will restore some faith to consumer doubts over the fragile state of the economy.

The company also said this is at least one positive that can be taken f r o m the downturn of the economy, and added that this indicates the central banks Monetary Policy Committee is more concerned about protecting the recovery of the economy than increasing fears of a double dipped recession.

Last month, for the first time since November, the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision was split.

This current base rate marks a point in history as being the seventeenth straight month in which the rate has remained at a low of 0.5%. In a move which may create more controversy, the Bank of England also decided to put a hold on its quantitative easing programme, which is designed to filter newly created money into the economy.

An expert at Debt Solutions company Scottish Trust Deed commented: “The banks decision to hold the interest rate will be welcome news to families on a low income as this is the sector that feels the brunt of the recession more than any of us”.

“The average family in the UK needs an annual income of around £29,000 just to afford life’s basics. Inflation has risen but salaries haven’t. An average person ten years ago with a basic wage, whose salary has increased with inflation cannot afford to live in today’s current financial climate”.

Via EPR Network
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Saxo Bank Acquires A 40% Stake In Initto

Saxo Bank, the online specialist in trading and investment, has announced the acquisition of a 40% stake in Initto, the Danish owned software and IT services provider. Initto has around 200 employees based mainly in India and Ukraine and the acquisition of Initto will enable Saxo Bank to continue to support and speed up the development of its trading systems.

Saxo Bank Acquires A 40% Stake In Initto

Designed to meet the varying needs and demands of financial investors and traders, Saxo Bank has developed four specialised and integrated trading platforms; the downloadable SaxoTrader, browser-based SaxoWebTrader, compact SaxoMiniTrader and phone-based SaxoMobileTrader.

Mikael Munck, CEO of Initto, commented: “Initto provides a wide range of customized IT services and software engineering solutions to clients. We have been very successful in offering and integrating our services into the organisation of our clients. We offer access to a wide range of international specialists that focus entirely on delivering high quality solutions to our clients’ allowing them to focus on core competencies, freeing up time for innovation and value creation. This is the secret of our success which we are certain Saxo Bank also will benefit from”.

Since its establishment in 2003, Initto has grown by an average of 50% per year and expects to enhance its service offerings with the support of Saxo Bank as a strong financial partner. Initto is headquartered in Ballerup near Copenhagen with a representative office in Oslo. Initto will continue to develop software and provide services to its existing client base.

In a joint statement, Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, Co-CEOs and co-founders of Saxo Bank, said: “We are thrilled to have acquired this stake in Initto, which has great synergies with Saxo Bank and fit perfectly with our business model. The acquisition is in line with our ambition to acquire fully developed businesses and utilize their expertise to develop and strengthen Saxo Bank’s products and services. Over the next few years, we will be working with Initto to further increase the value we offer our own clients. Initto’s current and future client base will also benefit from our commitment as client and shareholder. We want to remain a first class service provider and we believe Initto can help us achieve this goal.”

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Experian Teams with Citi to Provide SEPA Data Conversion Service

Experian, the global information services company, is partnering with Citi to provide an automated International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC) conversion and validation service for SEPA-compliant cross-border payments. While Experian’s Data Conversion Service will be delivered across all 31 countries in the SEPA region, the partnership also extends to Citi customers initiating payments to and from the SEPA area from anywhere in the world.

Use of SEPA Credit Transfer (SCT) and SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) schemes requires corporates to submit a valid BIC IBAN for all EU cross-border Credit Transfers and, from November 2009, for all direct debit payments. Additionally, several European countries have adopted the IBAN as part of their own domestic payment standard. In order to enable Citi’s customers to take advantage of the SCT and SDD schemes, the IBAN and BIC Conversion service will ensure customer databases are as accurate and complete as possible.

Experian will check, validate and convert existing domestic BBANs (Basic Bank Account Numbers) to the required IBAN and BIC standard in bulk, enabling customers to avoid rejection or failed payments, thereby reducing transaction costs and improving straight through processing of payment instructions. In addition, the bank’s customers will be able to identify invalid records that require further or correct information to be obtained or verified, including invalid account numbers and closed bank branches.

Ruth Wandhöfer, EMEA Head of Payment Strategy & Market Policy Global Transaction Services at Citi, commented: “Submitting invalid data when making a payment can be costly for corporates and their customers. However, by teaming up with Experian to ensure bank account details are converted into the right format, we will enable our customers to reduce the cost of correcting rejected payment information. In addition, the service enables us and our customer base to be ready for the introduction of SEPA Direct Debits in November 2009.”

Jonathan Williams, Director of Product Development and Strategy at Experian Payments, added: “Experian’s conversion service is already used by many of the world’s leading organisations to check their data, convert their data and then keep their data clean. By partnering with Citi, Experian is enabling a growing number of the world’s biggest businesses to make SEPA payments, while at the same time helping the bank to improve its operational efficiency.”

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Barclaycard Announces 100 EAT Stores Across The UK To Go Contactless

Barclaycard has announced that EAT, a leading sandwich, soup and coffee shop, will rollout contactless technology and payment across its entire network of 100 stores from mid November. The rollout of contactless follows a successful pilot project in 24 London based EAT stores over the past 18 months.

The rollout, which began in March 2008 and will be completed by mid November, will see contactless payment available in EAT stores in a range of towns and cities across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge. These stores join Barclaycard’s ever-expanding contactless payment network, with more than 9,000 outlets now accepting contactless payments across the UK.

Contactless allows customers to purchase items of £10 or under without the need to enter a PIN or sign, with customers requested to enter a PIN occasionally for added security.

Dan Salmons, Director of Payment Innovations at Barclaycard commented: “Contactless is the future of payments and we believe that contactless payment, via card or mobile phone, is one of the safest and most secure ways to pay. We welcome this rollout as it demonstrates how both consumers and retailers are benefiting from the convenience of quick, secure payments with contactless. Consumer feedback highlights the growing demand for contactless and we expect EAT to be amongst the first of many major retailers who will become contactless enabled over the coming months.”

Rene Batsford, Head of IT at EAT commented: “For the last 18 months we have accepted contactless payments in over 30 stores in London, and the success and feedback from our customers meant the decision to rollout contactless across our entire network, was an easy one to make. Customers across all our stores can now benefit from a fast, secure way to pay.”

Barclaycard and Barclays have issued over four million contactless enabled credit cards since Barclaycard OnePulse credit card launched in September 2007 and have the highest market share of contactless terminals in the UK. Other well-known brands such as Prêt a Manger, Coffee Republic, the National Trust, Books Etc and Yo Sushi also accept contactless payments.

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers Partner With NLA and SEF

National Lending Associates, Inc. (NLA) and Sterling Education Finance, LLC (SEF) announces their strategic partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers. Through this partnership, a new education financing solution called the Community Education Loan (CEL) will be provided to their member banks. “Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers is pleased to have the opportunity to recommend to our member banks a turnkey private education product which can be customized to meet the needs of our constituents” said Richard K. Arnold, Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer. “Today, students and their families are finding it more difficult to obtain financing for a college education due to the continued financial pressures on traditional lenders because of the instability of the financial markets. This is a great opportunity for the financial institution to offer an alternative loan program, as well as better serve their customer base.”

The Community Education Loan program allows community banks to develop their own student loan offering without additional staffing or resources. This program is completely managed by NLA and SEF including product development, application origination, credit decisioning, disbursement processing, and loan portfolio administration services, with loan servicing being performed by PHEAA/AES. PHEAA/AES is one of the largest and most respected student loan servicers in the country.

“We are delighted that Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers has chosen to promote the CEL program to their member banks,” said Nancy Chalker, Regional Vice President at Sterling Financial and the relationship manager for this program. “By combining the in-depth knowledge and strength of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers and the private loan expertise of both NLA and SEF, we are able to bring a quality private education loan solution to this marketplace.“

For more information on the Community Education Loan go to (www.sterlingeducationfinance.org), contact Pat Cook at (828) 335-1092 or Nancy Chalker at (570) 899-1595.

About National Lending Associates, Inc.
Based in San Diego, California, with offices in Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York, National Lending Associates, Inc., is a nationwide specialty service company focused on providing financing solutions, loan and portfolio administration services, and technology options for the education financing marketplace (www.nationallendingassociates.com).

About Sterling Education Finance, LLC
Sterling Education Finance, LLC is an innovative education financing company dedicated to the larger mission of ensuring access to education. Our product suite is designed to offer financing solutions for every private K-12, career and trade institution, college or university based on the institution’s unique needs as well as the needs of the student and families they serve. We have a select group of origination, funding and servicing partners and all of our products are fully supported by our team of industry veterans.

About Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency/American Education Services
Created in 1963 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA/AES) has evolved into one of the nation’s leading nonprofit student aid organizations. Today, PHEAA/AES is a national provider of student financial aid services, serving millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing systems and outreach programs. As a nonprofit organization belonging to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PHEAA/AES devotes its energy, resources and imagination to developing innovative ways to ease the financial burden of higher education for Pennsylvania’s students, families, schools and taxpayers.

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Recession Raises Fear Of Identity Theft

New research from Lloyds TSB has revealed 76% of adults are currently worried about identity theft and 39% feel more at risk now than they did six months ago, with the recession playing a major contributing factor. The research was conducted September 2009 by ICM for Lloyds TSB amongst 1,000 UK adults aged 18+ years.

Over half (52%) of those concerned about ID theft believe that the recession has increased the risk as rising unemployment drives more people towards criminal activity and ID theft. Coupled with this, is the fear expressed by 57% of people that social networking sites have made it easier to steal personal details – a 10% increase on those with the same worries last year.

The study shows that as many as 38% of Brits have experienced ID fraud, with almost half of those (18%) having been victims personally. However, 57% of those surveyed admit that they have not done enough to protect themselves and 25% don’t know how.

According to CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, it takes an estimated 48 man hours to repair the damage resulting from fraud, and the cost to victims is frequently as high as £8,000. Typically, it takes an average of 539 days for someone to discover that they’ve been a victim of ID theft and it is on the increase; latest CIFAS figures show that it increased by 15% in 2008.

To combat this growing trend, Lloyds TSB has launched its ID Aware prevention and advisory service to help protect customers and bring them peace of mind.

Lloyds TSB’s ID Aware product allows customers to stay on top of their credit status and safeguard their identity, providing credit monitoring services and an early warning system to alert the customer to any activity involving their account. In addition, customers benefit from access to their credit status and payment history in one easy-to-understand document showing all credit cardsmortgages and loans. Credit alerts to warn the customer in the event that someone has been checking their credit status or doing anything fraudulent that affects their credit score. And if the worst should happen, expert help is on-hand. ID Aware provides 24 hour access to an advisor who will take control and set everything back on track.

Jatin Patel, spokesperson for Lloyds TSB commented: “As technology improves, it gets easier and easier for criminals to steal our identities and during tough economic times the temptation becomes greater. Protecting ourselves by shredding documents and protecting passwords is a good start, but having someone else keep an eye on your ID offers extra peace of mind.”

Lloyds TSB is also offering help and guidance through the National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIFP) which Lloyds TSB has supported from its birth in 2005. The Group will be putting up posters and providing leaflets in branches detailing ways to spot potential fraud. The bank is also giving information on how customers can protect themselves by safeguarding documents and making it as difficult as possible for criminals to access personal information.

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Lloyds TSB is Hitwise UK Online Performance Award Winner

Lloyds TSB has been named the number one website in the Business and Finance – Banks and Financial Institutions category for January – June 2009 in the latest Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards program. The annual Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards recognise excellence in online performance through public popularity, awarding websites in more than 50 key industries online.

This year is the fifth Hitwise Annual Awards and Lloyds TSB has been awarded number one every year since the awards began.

In addition to the Internet Banking top spot, online.lloydstsb.co.uk was also awarded a Hitwise Top 10 Online Performance Award for January – June 2009, ranking number two based on market share of visits among all UK websites in the Hitwise Business and Finance – Banks and Financial Institutions industry.

Results of the Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards are based on the Internet usage of more than 8 million UK Internet users with winners receiving the greatest market share of UK visits throughout the first half of 2009 in their online industry.

Jason Bacon, head of Digital Marketing for Lloyds Banking Group which includes Lloyds TSB said: “The Internet has fast become one of the most popular ways for customers to get information about financial services and to do their banking. Over the years we made sure that our online services evolve to meet customers’ needs and as a result we’ve seen both our website and our internet banking service grow in popularity. This award is a fantastic recognition of that.”

Daniel King, General Manager of Hitwise UK said, “With the dynamics of online marketing continually evolving, the online success of LloydsTSB during 2009 is an incredible achievement. Receiving a Hitwise UK Online Performance Award acknowledges that Lloyds TSB is amongst the most popular websites visited by UK Internet users, signifying the strength of their online marketing”.

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

New Forex Strategy To Strengthen Portfolios And Reduce Volatility

Trading Floor has unveiled a new Forex Portfolio Model created by Saxo Bank’s strategy team. The Portfolio model offers a way to reduce total portfolio volatility in the wake of the stock market rally that saw many investors turn away from Forex trading.

“Many investors are staying out of the Forex market – either because they lost money and have given up, or because they simply don’t know where to put their money,” said David Karsbøl, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank and Trading Floor commentator. “The Saxo Bank Forex Portfolio Model is a way of re-activating this idle money by applying them in a low-cost and relatively low risk fashion.”

The portfolio model is based on the Saxo Bank Fundamental Indices that measure the underlying economic strength (contraction or expansion) of 10 currencies: NZD, AUD, CAD, JPY, EUR, GBP, USD, CHF, SEK, and NOK. This should give a theoretical 45 possible currency crosses, but the model subtracts the12 most illiquid and expensive to trade and looks at 33.

The allocation signals are generated by the spreads in the fundamental indices and the idea is to always allocate more capital to the currencies with a relatively strong economic activity (and positive rate outlook) and fund the positions by going short on the currencies with weak economic activity (weak rate outlook).

The model allocates capital after changes in the spreads between the fundamental indices. For example, if the Eurozone Fundamental Index suddenly drops relative to the US Fundamental Index, the model (everything else being equal) would reduce exposure to EURUSD. Additionally, positions are scaled up or down according to the volatility of the currency crosses in question so that the expected risk-adjusted return for positions in EURCHF is the same as for positions in EURCAD.

“The model is always well diversified and is always in the market,” said David Karsbøl. “It is therefore not exposed to timing issues.”

The model doesn’t use stops, since the overall volatility of returns tends to be low (especially on single leverage). One particularly interesting feature is that returns tend to be almost completely uncorrelated to returns in stock markets (correlation = 0.1) and other risky asset classes (correlation to the CRB Index is 0.11).

In back testing since 1991, the model has produced annual returns of 5.34% using single leverage, 10.58% using double leverage and 15.67% with triple leverage.

“Therefore, if the back-testing is indicative of future returns, it would make a lot of sense to use part of one’s portfolio to allocate to the FX Model and thereby decreasing overall portfolio volatility without lowering returns too much or at all, depending on the leverage used.”

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Saxo Banque Wins Banking Innovation Award 2009

Saxo Banque, the French division of the online trading and investment specialist Saxo Bank, has been awarded the “Prix de l’Innovation 2009” (Banking Innovation Award), by the Investment Forum for its TradeMaker service. The innovative and free-of-charge service enables the bank’s customers to translate an idea into an order, to be kept informed of opportunities, and to compare results from trading ideas proposed by analysts.

The Award ceremony took place on 10th October at the Palais des Congrès, in Paris. Each year, a panel composed of financial journalists and editors from publications including La Tribune, Le Revenu and Investir are convened by the Forum’s organizers to present the innovation award. In the category of ‘Informed Investors’, the panel awarded the 2009 prize to Saxo Bank’s new TradeMaker facility.

TradeMaker was developed in response to two of the obstacles facing both futures traders and more general investors. Firstly, TradeMaker addresses the feelings of confusion that often arise from an overwhelming abundance of information. Secondly, TradeMaker facilitates the application of this information, allowing the investor to employ the resultant data in their trading.

TradeMaker publishes the results of proposed trading ideas. Customers can subsequently choose the issuer with the best performance for a given product. TradeMaker then uses text and graphics to explain trading ideas before pre-completing order forms which include such considerations as Stops and Limits. Relevant trade data, which is not always easy to assimilate, is translated into an order by the issuer. The customer need simply choose the value of his or her investment before validating the order with a click of the mouse. Advice, Trading Assistance and Transparency are the three major advantages of the TradeMaker tool.

Pierre-Antoine Dusoulier, CEO of Saxo Banque, declared: “It is a real honour for Saxo Banque to win an award such as this. It is reward in particular for our engineers who work hard all year on the development of new services to grow the platform and deliver increasingly innovative solutions to our customers. Saxo Banque is an independent bank, we create our own products by way of a dedicated technology research unit.”

Via EPR Network
Financial press releases

Barclaycard Advises Customers To Use Mybarclaycard Following UK Postal Strike Fears

Barclaycard is advising its customers to manage their accounts online with its new online account management, mybarclaycard, following the announcement of a possible national postal strike in October.

The new mybarclaycard service offers Barclaycard customers a variety of secure online payment options, including one off payments and the setting up of regular direct debits so customers do not have to worry about missing a payment deadline.

mybarclaycard is simple to use and gives customers more control over their accounts as they can choose how to view their account information and spending online. Customers will also be able to view statements online, request a balance transfer, query or dispute a transaction and request a new credit limit quickly and securely.

To avoid the impact of prolonged postal problems Barclaycard customers can register online using a simple registration process which offers customers instant access to their account so there is no need to wait for login details to come through the post.

Amer Sajed, Chief Executive Barclaycard UK, said: “We want to make our customers’ lives as easy as possible and by managing their account online, customers can take control.

“Managing an account online with mybarclaycard will avoid the impact of issues such as postal strike action. If customers do not have access to internet facilities, they can make a payment over the phone.”

Via EPR Network
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Video Content From Saxo Bank’s Team Of Experts Added to Trading Floor Blog

Trading Floor, the forex, equity and commodities blog written and run by Saxo Bank’s strategy team, is now adding regular video comments throughout the European trading session.

The comments on macroeconomic indicators, financial issues and earnings releases will complement the Daily Trading Stance video released every morning and the weekly forex options and equity update released every Friday.

Videos are recorded in the studio on the Saxo Bank trading floor, minutes after the news is released. Saxo Bank’s chief economist, David Karsbol, said: “The advantage of video is that it fills in the gap between reporting the headlines and the more detailed research notes we publish.

He added: “We comment on macroeconomic indicators or earnings or central bank decisions in a way that is fast, but also allows us to give more detail in a way that allows our blog visitors to get to know us a little better.”

Trading Floor has been running since May 2009 and features expert commentary starting every morning with The Daily Trading Stance that Saxo Bank’s strategists distribute to clients giving a rundown of the main themes of the day in FX, equities, FX options and commodities.

The commentary is prepared by David Karsbøl, Equity Strategist Christian Tegllund Blaabjerg and forex expert John Hardy. Commodities expertise is provided by Ole S Hansen and Alan Plaughmann. Also commenting are Market Strategist Mads Koefoed and Research Analyst Robin Bagger-Sjöbäck.

The Daily Trading Stance, daily commentaries and Weekly Forex and Equities Update are available on the Trading Floor web site and on Trading Floor’s dedicated YouTube channel.

About Trading Floor:
Trading Floor is run by Saxo Bank – a global investment bank specialising in online trading and investment across the international financial markets. Trading Floor provides up to date forex news and market place analysis.

Via EPR Network
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Positive Economy Growth For Late 2009 Predicted by Trading Floor Expert

Trading Floor columnist and Saxo Bank chief economist David Karsbol says the American economy will return to positive GDP growth in the second half of 2009; however, the reliance of the recovery on government spending and inventory re-stocking may mean the growth is not sustainable.

Karsbol says consumer deleveraging will continue and demand will remain subdued. US unemployment will continue to rise over the coming months, further hindering debt repayments and consumption.

Saxo Bank’s fourth quarterly financial outlook for 2009 is available for download on the Trading Floor site, which has been running since May 2009. Trading Floor gives daily and quarterly outlook and trading analysis of Forex, Equities, FX options, CFD trading, and commodities.

The Saxo Bank quarterly report is put together by the bank’s strategy team of chief economist David Karsbol, chief equity strategist Christian Blaabjerg, consulting FX strategist John Hardy and market strategist Mads Koefoed.

The quarterly outlook predicts that monetary stimuli and government deficits are likely to continue, leading to a ‘Japanisation’ of financial markets – higher price-to-earnings ratios and lower yields on both corporate bonds and treasuries.

Karsbol added: “Because Western economies are more flexible and able to embrace the necessary changes, we do not think that things will get as bad as was the case in Japan.

“However, it is increasingly evident that the current scenario in the West bears a close resemblance to post-1990 Japan, and it looks progressively like we have entered a new regime in which everyone assumes that large companies will be bailed out. This means that default risk is ‘priced out’, and we see higher price-to-earnings ratios and lower yields on fixed income.”

With maximum stimulus in the rear view mirror and austerity and exit strategies increasingly on the menu, Forex trading as a whole may begin to shift away from the rosier recovery projection that is already priced in. This could likely mean the exhaustion of many of the trends that are currently in place in FX, where so many trades are aligned along the ubiquitous risk appetite axis.

Via EPR Network
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New Micro-Lending Program To Help People Establish Businesses

Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) and ACCION-Texas, a national micro-lending organization, have jointly created the MATT Micro-lending Assistance Program (MMAP) designed to help individuals establish their new small enterprise.

“The beauty of this program is that we not only provide them with financial assistance but with technical support as well to help ensure their success” says Janie Barrera, President & CEO, ACCION Texas-Louisiana.

The MMAP program depends on the generosity and financial support from businesses and donors to succeed. MATT, a non-for-profit headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, has committed to securing financial supporters to ensure the continuation and success of the program. “Our goal is to assist people help themselves. We have many talented people who need some support and direction to succeed in life. That is what we are committed to do, in association with ACCION-Texas,” comments Aracely Garcia-Granados, executive director of MATT, who helped devise this initiative after she learned that ACCION-Texas is a non-profit and needs 3 million a year in order to serve its constituencies.

MATT will identify and secure businesses to support ACCION-Texas. However, MATT’s contribution comes with a twist. “We are going after Mexican-owned companies so that they give back to the community that has helped them succeed,” confirms Garcia-Granados. “We need to cultivate a sense of philanthropy among Latinos and this is one small way to do it.”

MMAP-San Antonio is possible due to the generosity of Anne-Marie Grube, owner of La Tradicional Tortilleria. As a successful small business owner, Anne-Marie jumped at the opportunity to help others realize their dream. She knows how hard yet liberating it is to be an independent entrepreneur and when approached by MATT and ACCION-Texas, she agreed to be the first to help establish the MATT Micro-lending Assistance Program in San Antonio. “There are many talented people in our communities, especially among Latinos, who just need a little counseling and financial support to make the American dream come true. I am glad to have had this opportunity to partner with MATT and ACCION-Texas. I cannot think of a better cause and a more needed program.”

It is MATT’s goal to work with its national network of supporters to identify communities where MMAP is most likely to succeed. “At this point, we want to get the information out there to create interest among potential donors but we are also going to aggressively promote this program and get supporters. There is a lot of need out there and we are committed to make this program work for those who will most benefit,” concluded Garcia-Granados.

Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT) is a San Antonio-based, bi-national, non-profit organization. MATT’s mission is to bridge the gaps of understanding between Mexicans and Americans.

Via EPR Network
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Majority Of Over 50s Unaware Of October ISA Limit Increases

Lloyds TSB has revealed new research that shows two thirds (61 per cent) of over 50s do not understand the approaching ISA changes which will enable more than 21 million savers to benefit from an increased tax free savings allowance.

As part of this year’s budget, the Chancellor announced that the total ISA limits would increase from £7,200 to £10,200, £5,100 of which can be saved in cash. For those born on or before 5th April 1960 the new limits come into effect on October 6th, whilst younger customers will need to wait until the start of the 2010/2011 tax year next April.

Despite the imminent changes, the findings show that just 15 per cent of over 50s know that the new ISA limit will be set at £10,200. Four out of ten over 50s are not even aware that increases have been announced.

Lloyds Banking Group customers can take full advantage of the increased limits, as the Group has confirmed that all of its ISA products will accept top ups when the new rules come into effect on 6th October.

Colin Walsh, managing director of savings and investment, Lloyds Banking Group commented: “As the UK’s largest ISA provider, we want our customers to be able to reap the benefits of the new rules and make use of their entitlement. This historic low rate environment has meant a challenging time for savers, especially for those who rely on returns to supplement their monthly income, so maximising your full tax free allowance has never been more important.”

Savers will be able to top up their existing ISA balance in any of the Group’s fixed and variable rate cash ISAs, as well as investment ISA products. New customers can also take advantage of the new entitlement and open one of the competitive products offered by the Group’s ISA brands, which include Halifax, Lloyds TSB, Scottish Widows, Bank of Scotland, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Birmingham Midshires and Intelligent Finance.

Colin Walsh continued: “Traditionally the ISA transfer market peaks in April around the new tax year, but this year’s changes will no doubt result in a ‘mini ISA season’ as savers look to take advantage of competitive rates on an increased balance.”

Earlier this year, Lloyds Banking Group announced its participation in electronic transfers for the cash ISA market, allowing customers to benefit from a more efficient process and reducing the delays caused by sending cheques in the post.

Via EPR Network
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Lloyds TSB Is Encouraging New Students To Eat Healthily Whilst Staying Within A Budget With The Launch Of Its ‘Budget Cook Off’

Lloyds TSB is encouraging new students to eat healthily whilst staying within a budget with the launch of its ‘Budget Cook Off’ section of the Savvy Saver student hub, an all round guide for students, advising them on how to manage finances during their time at University.

The new section of the site contains practical tips for healthy eating with limited finances and also offers a video showing students putting the budget cooking tips into practice.

Included in the range of tips is information on how to make sure a healthy diet is maintained throughout the day, even when students are pushed for time or under stress from upcoming exams or deadlines. The ‘Budget Cook Off’ section also advises prospective students on how to find the best deals on food in the shops and habits to avoid, such as junk food and eating out, in order to make the most of their money.

The savvy student hub has been launched in response to student concerns about their finances. As part of its annual research* with more than a thousand 17-25 year olds who hope to start a degree course in the autumn, Lloyds TSB found that three quarters of would-be freshers think that money management is especially important in the current economic environment.

Catherine McGrath, director of current accounts, Lloyds TSB, commented: “We want to do everything we can to support young people manage their finances responsibly but also have fun and enjoy their studies. We hope the hub will show them that it is possible to study on a budget, and also that they’re not alone in being concerned about looking after their pennies during their degree course.”

Via EPR Network
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Barclaycard Has Becomes The First Provider In The UK To Launch A Credit Card Pre-Application Check

The simple, one step, online facility allows potential and existing customers to establish their likelihood of being eligible for a Barclaycard, without the need to complete a full application.

The new service leaves a search ‘footprint’ on the customer’s credit file, to show their information has been accessed, but it isn’t a formal credit application and it will not affect their ability to get credit in the future. The pre-application check takes a couple of minutes and is available on the Barclaycard website.

This unique new service will not impact the applicant’s credit rating. Amer Sajed, chief executive of Barclaycard UK, explained: “Consumers currently need to apply in full for a credit card UK, without knowing whether they are likely to be accepted or not, leaving a search on their credit file which can potentially have a negative impact on their credit rating. This unique pre-application check solves this problem. The check can be completed in a few minutes and gives consumers a good indication of whether their application will be accepted.”

Since its launch, 4000 potential customers have used the pre-application check to determine whether they would be accepted for a Barclaycard, giving them a better idea of whether or not they would be successful in an application for a credit card.

As of August 2009, Barclaycard had 11.9m UK customers and a further 11.8m international customers, with 88,000 retailer/merchant relationships.

Via EPR Network
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Experian Payments Gateway Achieves Approval Under The Faster Payments Approved Software Scheme, Operated By Bacs

Experian, the global information company, has announced that its payment processing product, Experian Payments Gateway, has achieved approval under the Faster Payments Approved Software Scheme, operated by Bacs. As the first software to receive approval for unattended use with Direct Corporate Access (DCA), it will enable users to fully automate their Faster Payments and participate in the Barclays launch of DCA to Faster Payments in September.

Originally developed to enable payments originators to process Bacs Payments, Experian Payments Gateway has been extended, tested and approved for use with Smartcards and Hardware Security Modules (HSM) in both attended and unattended modes. It supports Faster Payments DCA via Secure-IP, the secure channel for corporates to initiate Faster Payments.

James Hilliard, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Experian Payments, said, “Many of our large customers use automated payments systems to help increase efficiency and reduce their risk and costs. Recognising their need to automate their Faster Payments securely, we have worked closely with the Faster Payments Approved Bacs Software Scheme to ensure they are able to gain maximum benefit from the new Faster Payments Service.”

Gareth Lodge, Regional Research Director, TowerGroup, said, “Automating payments has always been a key priority for corporates as it has multiple benefits, from cost reduction to improved risk management. But in the current economic environment, it probably is even more important than it has ever been, with working capital benefiting in particular. And of course, the deeper that SEPA Payments are integrated into the end-to-end process, the greater the benefits.”

Via EPR Network
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