American Express (AmEx) reported first quarter (Q1) billed business for the Japan, Asia Pacific & Australia (JAPA) region increased 6% year-on-year (Y/Y). In Latin America and Canada (LACC) region billed business declined 1% while the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region rose 11%. Overall, the international card billed business rose 2% to $31.9 billion in Q1.
The International Card Services (ICS) reported Q1 net income of $159 million, down 11% from $178 million a year ago. ICS total cards-in-force rose 1% to 15.7 million and total cardholder loans declined 5% to $8.2 billion.
Total revenues net of interest expense were $1.4 billion for ICS, up 3% from a year ago. AmEx says the increase primarily reflected higher cardholders spending and higher revenues from the loyalty partner business.
ICS total expenses were $1.1 billion, up 2% from a year ago. AmEx notes the increase primarily reflected higher marketing and promotion and rewards costs, partially offset by a decline in operating expenses. AmEx further noted the effective tax rate was 22% compared to 8% a year ago due to certain tax benefits related to foreign operations last year.
During the first quarter AmEx signed Uniqlo, a large fashion retailer in Japan. AmEx also signed Landmark Cinemas, the second largest movie theater operator in Canada; K+K supermarket in Germany; and Krispy Kreme in Mexico.
ICS also expanded PAYBACK into Italy, allowing Italian collectors to accumulate loyalty points through everyday shopping across a variety of sectors. Italy became the fifth country to host the PAYBACK loyalty program, joining Germany, India, Mexico and Poland. PAYBACK Italy has already added over 3.5 million collectors at the end of the first quarter.
In our Global Network Services business a new network partnership was inked in Singapore with MatchMove, a provider of social networking, e-commerce and gamification solutions and platforms for many leading global brands, and launched MatchMove American Express Virtual Pay, a prepaid virtual product.
AmEx also supported GNS partners in launching a wide range of new products, including: the Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos Fukui Bank Platinum Business American Express Card in Japan; the Aeroflot Bonus Card from Uralsib Bank in Russia; and an enhanced Virgin Atlantic Bank Credit Card Account from MBNA and Virgin Atlantic in the U.K.
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