American Express began selling tickets on Sunday to its cardholders for concerts at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, scheduled the first week of February, to celebrate the “GRAMMY Awards” and to promote its “Blue Card.” Blue Jam Sessions artists have joined the Blue for Music(R) effort to help raise funds at a time when public school music education programs are being cut nationwide. Again this year American Express is proud to contribute funds raised through Blue for Music activities, beginning with the Blue Jam Sessions in L.A., to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in America’s public schools by restoring music programs in cities across the country, and raising awareness about the importance of music participation among our nation’s youth.
Citigroup’s credit card loans for the EMEA region increased by $600 million during the fourth quarter to $5.2 billion, a 37% gain over one-year ago, partially driven by the acquisition of Diners Europe. However, Citigroup’s overall international credit card profits dropped to $126 million for 4Q/03, a 24% decline from the previous quarter, primarily due to a significant increase in the issuer’s provision for credit losses and costs associated with its expansion into Russia and China. Net charge-offs were 3.84% for 4Q/03 compared to 4.21% one-year ago. The 90-day delinquency rate was 1.76% compared to 1.78% for 4Q/02. Total revenues, for credit cards issued outside North America, came in at $746 million, a 25% increase over 4Q/02. But, the provision for losses increased 47% year-over-year to $423 million, a $94 million increase from the previous quarter. At the end of the year, Citigroup had 15.8 million card accounts, representing $14.7 billion of card loans, in its international card portfolio. Total card volume for the fourth quarter was $11.7 billion, a 29% increase over one-year ago. Latin America card loans increased 25% to $500 million, while Asia (except Japan) increased 17%. Japan posted a 9% increase to $1.2 billion, a two-year high.
At approximately 12:00 p.m. (EST) on January 23, 2004, FDIC Consumer Call Centers in Kansas City, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., began receiving a large number of complaints by consumers who received an email that has the appearance of being sent from the FDIC. The email informs the recipient that Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has advised the FDIC to suspend all deposit insurance on the recipient’s bank account due to suspected violations of the USA PATRIOT Act. The email further indicates that deposit insurance will be suspended until personal identity, including bank account information, can be verified.
This email was not sent by the FDIC and is a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal information from consumers. Financial institutions and consumers should NOT access the link provided within the body of the email and should NOT under any circumstances provide any personal information through this media.
The FDIC and the FBI are attempting to identify the source of the emails and disrupt the transmission.
The Credit Card Research Group, a lobby group funded by the country’s credit card issuers, has shut down. The group was formed in 1993 to provide statistics and industry data on the payment card business. The CCRG Web site went dark on December 31st. Apacs, the banks’ clearing organization, says it will take over publishing the data previously produced by the lobby group. CCRG published monthly data on credit and debit card volume, plus card outstandings. The UK card business has recently been under close scrutiny for its disclosure practices. The country’s card issuers have also been criticized by the government for assessing very high interest rates during a period when other interest rates have hit 40-year lows.
Wells Fargo Card Services and Wells Fargo Financial Bank reported fourth quarter outstandings of $7,512,914,108, a 10.3% increase over the same period one year ago. Fourth quarter card volume rose 44% for Wells Fargo Financial Bank, and nearly 11% for Wells Fargo Card Services. Combined, Wells Fargo Card Services and Wells Fargo Financial Bank reported 4Q/03 volume of $4,222,421,863, a 13.5% increase over 4Q/02, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com]). At the end of the fourth quarter, Wells had 3,909,580 active accounts, an 11.4% increase over the prior year. In its earnings reports, Wells noted that its overall net credit losses for the fourth quarter were $465 million, including a $30 million loss on the sale of a sub-prime credit card portfolio. For complete details on Wells Fargo Card Services and Wells Fargo Financial Bank fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
Issuer 4Q/03 Outstandings 4Q/03 Volume 4Q/03 Actives
Wells Fargo Card Services (IA) $6.2b(+8.8%) $3.8b(+10.7%) 3.4m(+6.8%)
Wells Fargo Financial Bank (SD) $1.3b(+17.0%) $375.3m(+44.2%) 539.6k(+46.7%)
Total $7.5b(+10.3%) $4.2b(+13.5%) 3.9m(+11.4%)
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)
Datacard Group has introduced “Tru Photo” and “Tru Photo Professional” solutions that automate and simplify image capture. The new Datacard TruÃ¢âÂ¢ photo solutions greatly improve speed, simplicity and user control in the photo ID production process. Tru Photo software features an auto-capture capability that allows users to simply click on a photo field and capture an image without panning or tilting the camera. The system automatically crops the photo and presents the operator with the image. The entire process takes about seven seconds.
WI-based Wausau Financial Systems and Epson have signed a VAR agreement making available financial related printers and imaging solutions nationwide. This official agreement allows WFS to offer Epson’s teller station printers with digital check and ID imaging. These devices can be configured with TellerProof(tm), the image based teller solution from WFS. Epson offers an extensive array of POS printers and transaction terminals for the retail, hospitality, supermarket and banking markets. Wausau Financial Systems is the recognized leader in the development and implementation of knowledge-based products for the payment and transaction processing industry.
Tokyo-based Hitachi and Kyoto-based Omron announced an agreement to establish a joint venture to take effect on October 1st. Under terms of the arrangement, the new company will integrate
the total business of Hitachi’s “Ubiquitous Platform Group Mechatronics Systems Division,” such as ATM’s, other self-service machines and terminal systems, with the ATM and other self-service machines,
modules and solutions handled by Omron’s “Social Systems, Solutions, & Services Business Company and Advanced Modules Business Company.” Hitachi and Omron initially formed an ATM joint development alliance in 2000. It is expected that the position of chairman will be assumed by a person from Hitachi, and the post of president and CEO will be assumed by a person from Omron. Regarding the ratio of investment, Hitachi will hold over half of the shares granting it voting power, though the exact proportions will be decided later. Both companies said the joint venture is needed to strengthen their capability to respond
to the diversification and enhancement of customer needs domestically, as well as strengthening the business structure in China among other overseas growth markets.
Schlumberger’s Axalto, formerly known as Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals, reported revenue of $206 million for the fourth quarter representing a 6% increase over the same period last year and 2% sequentially. For the year, cards revenue was $717 million versus $658 million in 2002. Pretax operating income of $27 million increased 21% sequentially and 36% year-on-year. Sequentially, mobile communication card activity improved 12%, of which 3% was due to the strengthening of European currencies against the U.S. dollar. The increase was mainly in Europe due to strong demand coupled with a shift toward high-end products, which led to a pricing increase, and in North & South America, partially offset by lower demand in Asia. Axalto has 4,500 employees in more than 100 countries, with worldwide sales exceeding 2.6 billion smart cards to date. For complete details on Schlumberger and Axalto fourth quarter results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com])
The Federal Trade Commission said last week it received 214,905 identity theft reports last year, 42% of all consumer complaints lodged in its “Consumer Sentinel” database. The FTC received more than half a million complaints in 2003, up from 404,000 in 2002, and Internet-related complaints accounted for 55% of all fraud reports, up from 45% in 2002. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them.
DealerNet, Inc. of Matthews, NC has become a “Gold Level Distributor” for Team Nisca’s ID Card Printers. They join the ranks of Lenel Systems International and Comprehensive Identification Products. DealerNet has products in stock and is ready to ship printers and Genuine Nisca Ribbons. Nisca ID Card Printers have been in the ID Card market since 1994 and deliver reliable solutions to corporations, states, and countries. DealerNet, Inc. started operations in 2001 by offering their full-line of identification hardware, software, accessories, and supplies, exclusively through a reseller network, they have garnered phenomenal success and growth during their short existence.
Concur Technologies and U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems have teamed to offer commercial card holders “U.S. Bank AccessExpense,” which provides an end-to-end expense management solution to help companies control T&E costs. AccessExpense builds upon the control features inherent in commercial cards to more effectively manage travel and entertainment costs, the second largest controllable cost in most organizations. U.S. Bank Corporate Payment Systems, a division of U.S. Bancorp, offers clients a full suite of solutions for commercial, fleet and B2B payment needs. Concur Technologies, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of Corporate Expense Management solutions, servicing thousands of companies worldwide.