An application from First Financial Management Corp. to form a credit card bank may mean that its thrift unit will soon be on the block.

First Financial owns Atlanta-based Georgia Federal Bank, a $4.5 billion-asset thrift that it bought in 1989 to protect its access to the Visa and MasterCard payment networks. It would not need Georgia Federal if it operated its own credit card bank.

First Financial filed an application with the Georgia Banking Department about a week ago to form a credit card bank called First Financial Bank. Don Sharp, a senior vice president at First Financial, confirmed the filing but declined to comment further.

First Financial, a data processing company, sold Georgia Federal's consumer finance arm earlier in the month.

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