WASHINGTON

Visa said it expects the growth of bankruptcy filings to slow next year to 14.9%, or 1.5 million cases, from the 18.6% increase expected this year. Page 2

REGIONAL BANKING

Information technology is so crucial to financial services these days that a New York executive recruiting firm has essentially combined its practices in the two fields. Page 6

Eighteen months after recruiting a top Huntington executive to develop retail strategy, New Orleans-based Hibernia is reorganizing and replacing him. Page 6

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

The route to customer loyalty may be through electronic wallets, a Verifone executive said at the American Bankers Association Bank Card Conference. Page 8

Mergers and acquisitions are reshuffling the ranks of the largest credit card issuers, with nonbank companies accounting for most of the growth. Page 9

COMMUNITY BANKING

Mergers of neighboring institutions of similar size are happening all over Kansas as bankers there try to build assets to boost returns. Page 14

CORPORATE FINANCE

Fleet has arranged a $185 million financing package for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. Page 15

Chase led a $1.15 billion loan for Jacor Communications, the third- largest radio group in the United States. Page 16

MORTGAGE TECHNOLOGY

Mers, the electronic system for tracking loan servicing rights, seems to be stumbling at the starting gate. Observers say lenders have been found it unexpectedly costly to adapt their systems to it. Page 17

A JOINT VENTURE of the title insurer First American and the credit information company Experian would be No. 1 in mortgage credit and flood data and No. 2 in appraisal and realty tax services. The synergy will yield "things ... that we haven't even thought about," predicts John Long, who is slated to run the operation. Page 17

TECHNOLOGY

Colombia's second-largest bank is installing scanners to identify customers by fingerprints. Page 20

A new branch in Connecticut is designed to encourage customers and prospects to try out telephone and personal computer banking products. Page 20

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

INSURANCE: With mass marketing campaigns for various insurance products under their belts, many banks are preparing to sell insurance to the wealthy. Page 24

MARKET MONITOR

Salomon Brothers downgraded Firstar, saying the company's fast-rising stock price was higher than performance warranted. Back page

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