Citi’s International Card Profits Double

Citigroup reported that its international card business produced fourth quarter net income of $251 million, more than double the year-ago quarter, largely driven by the performance in the EMEA region. During the final quarter of 2004, Citi posted a 22% gain in card loans, and a 31% increase in sales volume. For the full year, Citi’s profits for its international card business were up 53%, from $498 million to $761 million. Credit card loans at the end of 2004 stood at $17.9 billion, compared to $14.7 billion one-year ago. Charge volume for the fourth quarter was $15.3 billion, compared to $11.7 billion for 4Q/03. The account base was flat at 20.8 million accounts compared to the previous quarter, but up 32% compared to year end 2003. In Japan, average credit card loans were up 7% sequentially, and 12% year-over-year. In the rest of Asia, credit card loans grew 33% to $9.3 billion. Citigroup holds $5.8 billion in card loans for the EMEA region and $600 million in Latin America, which grew 12% and 20%, respectively. Charge-offs dropped sharply during the fourth quarter as delinquency remained flat for international cards, compared to the previous quarter. Delinquency (90+ days) remained at 1.55% for 4Q/04. Charge-offs decreased from 5.08% in 3Q/04 to 3.89% for the fourth quarter. For complete detail’s on Citigroup’s international cards performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

CITI INTL 4Q/04

Citigroup reported that its international card business produced fourth quarter net income of $251 million, more than double the year-ago quarter, largely driven by the performance in the EMEA region. During the final quarter of 2004, Citi posted a 22% gain in card loans, and a 31% increase in sales volume. For the full year, Citi’s profits for its international card business were up 53%, from $498 million to $761 million. Credit card loans at the end of 2004 stood at $17.9 billion, compared to $14.7 billion one-year ago. Charge volume for the fourth quarter was $15.3 billion, compared to $11.7 billion for 4Q/03. The account base was flat at 20.8 million accounts compared to the previous quarter, but up 32% compared to year end 2003. In Japan, average credit card loans were up 7% sequentially, and 12% year-over-year. In the rest of Asia, credit card loans grew 33% to $9.3 billion. Citigroup holds $5.8 billion in card loans for the EMEA region and $600 million in Latin America, which grew 12% and 20%, respectively. Charge-offs dropped sharply during the fourth quarter as delinquency remained flat for international cards, compared to the previous quarter. Delinquency (90+ days) remained at 1.55% for 4Q/04. Charge-offs decreased from 5.08% in 3Q/04 to 3.89% for the fourth quarter. For complete detail’s on Citigroup’s international cards performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

Rahaxi Selects Transaction Network Services

Helsinki-based Rahaxi has signed a three-year deal with
Transaction Network Services to provide a high-speed data
communications network that enables Rhaxi to transport transactions from
5,000 point-of-sale terminals in retail outlets across Finland and Sweden. TNS will route debit, credit, smartcard and wireless transactions between Rahaxi’s payment processing engine in Helsinki
and acquirers and issuers. Rahaxi supports up to 1,000 retailers in
Northern Europe.

GECF to Issue a Wal-Mart Discover Card by March

Wal-Mart is teaming with GE Consumer Finance and Discover Financial Services to launch a new credit card on the Discover Network. This is Discover’s first credit card issuing partnership outside its network. The new “Wal-Mart Discover” cards will be available by March. Under the program the card will carry no annual fee and offer up to 1% back from GE on all purchases. GECF says the deal will expand its Wal-Mart relationship, enabling it to offer both a Wal-Mart store card and a general purpose “Wal-Mart Discover” card. GECF’s current private label card contract runs through 2009.

Citi Posts Record U.S. Card Profits

Citigroup reported this morning that fourth quarter profits for its credit card business in North America neared a record $1.2 billion, increasing 18% annually, and 12% sequentially. Credit card outstandings for North America increased 3% over 4Q/03 to $147.8 billion, which includes $26.1 billion in private label card outstandings. Charge volume increased 14% year-on-year, to $82.5 billion. Citi’s account base at the end of the fourth quarter declined by 200,000 accounts from the prior quarter, and was down 3% from one-year ago. At EOY 2004, Citi had 120.0 million accounts in North America. Citi noted that its “ThankYou Network” continued to gain momentum and ended the fourth quarter with 8.7 million members. Citi’s charge-offs dropped from 5.66% in the third quarter, to 5.59% for 4Q/04. Charge-offs for bank credit cards declined to 5.22%, compared to 5.34%% in the third quarter, and 6.17% one-year ago. Charge-offs for private label credit cards increased, from 7.08% in the third quarter to 7.24% for 4Q/04. Charge-offs for private label cards remain above year ago levels by 59 basis points. Delinquency (90+ days) declined slightly from 1.84% for 3Q/04 to 1.80% for the fourth quarter 2004. Delinquency for bank credit cards was flat sequentially at 1.58%, and down 30 basis points from the year ago level. For complete details on Citigroup’s 4Q/04 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

CITIGROUP
North American Credit Card Net Revenues
4Q/03: $1010 million
1Q/04: $832 million
2Q/04: $850 million
3Q/04: $1067 million
4Q/04: $1190 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

A-P Consumer Confidence Mostly Optimistic

The latest “MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence” survey has found that 9 of 13 Asia/Pacific markets had an optimistic outlook, compared to 11 in the preceding survey conducted six-months ago. The bi-yearly MasterCard survey reveals that, overall, consumer confidence in Asia/Pacific withstood the tumultuous 2003-2004 period despite the series of external shocks of SARS, Iraq War, avian flu, and the spiking of the world price of oil. In the latest survey, Indonesia, Vietnam and China topped the list of markets with a highly positive outlook; other optimistic markets included Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Singapore. Markets with a pessimistic outlook over the next six months are Korea, the Philippines and Japan. Indonesia took the lead from Vietnam and tops the region with a near record high consumer confidence of 94.7. Consumer optimism in Vietnam looks set to prevail, with a “MasterIndex” score of 90.8 remaining relatively unchanged from six months ago (91.6) and a year ago (91.0). China (81.3) remains highly optimistic for the next six months, with the latest “MasterIndex” improving from six months ago (78.9). Over the “MasterIndex” score for the region was 63.2 compared to 65.8 in the last six-month period and compared to 68.4 one-year ago.

WaMu Switches to FDC for Offline Debit

Washington Mutual has selected First Data to provide authorization and settlement processing for its 9.4 million signature debit card portfolio. The deal extends the previously announced relationship between WaMu and First Data’s “STAR Network.” “STAR” currently serves as the preferred brand and network for PIN-secured, online debit point-of-sale, and ATM processing. Earlier this week, WaMu announced it is planning to switch its payment card programs to MasterCard.

Sovereign Bank Extends First Data Contract

First Data has signed a five-year renewal agreement to provide electronic payment processing products and services for Sovereign Bank’s merchant customers in the New England and Mid-Atlantic markets. First Data provides merchant payment processing services on behalf of Sovereign Bank in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In the past year, Sovereign Merchant Services had more than 27,185 merchant outlets, 73 million merchant transactions and $5.3 billion in merchant sales. Sovereign Bancorp, Inc., is the parent company of Sovereign Bank, pro forma, a $60 billion financial institution. First Data Corp. with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy.

iPayment Buys 25,000 Merchants for $130MM

iPayment and First Data have completed the acquisition of a portfolio of merchant contracts from First Data’s Merchant Services subsidiary for a sale price of $130 million in cash. The portfolio has approximately 25,000 small merchant locations representing approximately $9 billion to $10 billion in annual charge volume. The acquisition will become effective on December 31st. iPayment has expanded its revolving credit facility from $80 million to $180 million from Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase Bank to finance the purchase. iPayment is a provider of credit and debit card-based payment processing services to over 100,000 small merchants.

Casio Launches a New Retail POS Terminal

NJ-based Casio has introduced a new touch screen POS terminal for the grocery, convenience store, hospitality and general retail markets. The new “QT-8000” terminal is based on the Intel “Celeron” 1.2GHz processor and offers retail-specific powered interfaces for scanners, scales, POS printers, customer displays, magnetic card readers, etc., via four RS232 ports, four USB ports, a parallel port, and a CF card slot. The 15-inch touch TFT screen also has the ability to support “The Extended Windows Display.” The screen also has water splash proof construction. The “QT-8000” will be available next month.

JCB Takes a One-Third Interest in EMVCo

Japan’s JCB has joined EMVCo, the EMV chip card standards body jointly owned by MasterCard and VISA, as a 33% owner-member. JCB has been deploying an EMV-compliant infrastructure since 2001, with half of its 51 million branded cards predicted to be EMV compliant by April 2005. All three members now have equal interests in the organization and EMVCo’s management structure has been altered to reflect this. JCB will appoint representatives to the EMVCo Board of Managers and the Executive Committee as well as its working groups. JCB cards are now issued in 18 countries and territories, with 51.6 million card members.

JCB Becomes Owner-Member of EMVCo

JCB has joined EMVCo, the EMV chip card standards body jointly
owned by MasterCard and VISA, as a 33% owner-member. JCB has been deploying an EMV-compliant infrastructure since 2001, with half of its 51 million branded cards predicted to be EMV compliant by April 2005.
All three members now have equal interests in the organization and EMVCo’s management structure has been altered to reflect this. JCB will appoint representatives to the EMVCo Board of Managers and the Executive Committee as well as its working groups. JCB cards are now issued in 18 countries and territories, with 51.6 million card members.