Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts announced an exclusive offer for “Premium MasterCard” cardholders to enjoy VIP treatment at Le Meridien properties worldwide. Benefits include a complimentary guaranteed room upgrade to a suite, daily breakfast buffet for up to two people and 3 pm late check out every time they book a two-night “Weekend Break” package from now until December 31st. To receive these special benefits, “Premium MasterCard” cardholders need to book and pay for their “Weekend Break” package with a “Gold,” “Platinum,” or “World MasterCard.” London-based Le Meridien is a global hotel group with a portfolio of more than 130 luxury and upscale hotels in 56 countries worldwide.Details
VISA’s cut of the U.S. pie expanded by 100 basis points last year as gross dollar volume rose 15% to nearly $1.3 trillion. The lift came at the expense of MasterCard and Discover, who lost 100 bps and 50 bps in market share, respectively. American Express, the fastest growing U.S. network, gained 40 bps in share during 2004. AmEx posted $305 billion in U.S. GDV, a 16.3% increase over the prior year. In total, Americans used the top four networks for $2.365 trillion in credit card and off-line debit transactions last year, a 12.8% gain over 2003.
U.S. GROSS DOLLAR VOLUME
Network 2004 2003 CHANGE SHARE
VISA $1265.2 $1100.3 +15.0% 53.5%
MasterCard $ 695.9 $ 636.9 + 9.3% 29.4%
Am Express $ 304.8 $ 262.1 +16.3% 12.9%
Discover $ 99.6 $ 97.9 + 1.7% 4.2%
TOTAL $2365.5 $2097.2 +12.8%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)
Sumitomo Mitsui Card unveiled a new service in which millions of full-color, personalized credit-card statements will be printed on-demand on 24 Xerox “iGen3” digital production presses. Sumitomo Mitsui Card was first in Japan to issue the “VISA” card, and it
has more than 13 million members. The new service enabled by the Xerox
“iGen3” will provide the latest information on products and services
tailored to the individual needs of each cardholder based on information
such as gender, address and past credit-card usage. The service is
scheduled to start with statements issued on March 28. Fuji Xerox is a 25/75 joint venture with Xerox Corporation and Fuji Photo Film and it markets the Xerox brand in Japan, the Pacific Rim and most of Asia.
Smart card manufacturer Axalto reported that it sold 72 million microprocessor banking cards last year to financial institutions. Within the Cards segment, which achieved revenue increase of 23%, all major product lines contributed to the growth, led by the strength of the Mobile Communication and Financial Services product lines and an excellent performance by the Public Sector and Other products line that includes in particular the patent licensing activity. The Point-of-Sales Terminals segment achieved the strongest growth: + 52%. For the full-year Axalto reported full-year revenue of $960 million, an increase of 25% versus 2003. Net income more than doubled to $59.1 million. For complete details on Axalto’s fourth quarter and full-year performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
Point Four and Comms XL are first to achieve global sign-off for Chip and PIN. Streamline, a provider of merchant accounts in Europe, has given the combined Point Four, Comms XL, and Verifone “Chip and PIN” solution a global accreditation certificate. This is the first blanket
sign-off for an integrated “EPoS” “Chip and PIN” solution by Streamline.
This means any merchant wishing to use the Point Four “EPoS” system, with Comms XL’s “SmartCCard” software and Verifone’s “SC500” terminal, will not have to go through any bank testing or approval for “Chip and PIN” if they use Streamline as their acquiring bank.
San Diego-based Encore Capital Group reported that fourth quarter revenues increased 46% and that net income rose 48%, compared to one year ago. Encore is a purchaser and manager of charged-off consumer receivables portfolios. Gross collections for 4Q/04 were $53.4 million, a 12% increase over the same period of the prior year. Encore says it was able to achieve strong growth despite scaling back its purchasing of new portfolios throughout much of 2004 due to to less attractive pricing in the marketplace. Total purchases during 2004 were $103.4 million compared to $89.8 million in 2003. The Company spent $46.1 million to purchase approximately $1.2 billion in face value of portfolios during the fourth quarter of 2004, a blended purchase price of 3.86% of face value. About 96% of the portfolios purchased in the fourth quarter of 2004 were credit card receivables. For complete details on Encore’s fourth quarter performance, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
Montreal-based Optimal Group reported revenues for the fourth quarter of $33.9 million, compared to $9.3 million in 2003. Net earnings for the fourth quarter compared to a net loss for the comparable year-earlier period of $2.9 million. During the year, Optimal acquired
National Processing Services, Terra Payments, the repair depot and field
services division of Systech Retail Systems, and acquired substantially all of the assets of RBA, a repair depot and field services company. For the first quarter, Optimal anticipates underlying earnings from continuing operations before income taxes to be approximately $4.5
million. For complete details on Optimal’s fourth quarter performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).
MasterCard International’s revenues increased 16% last year to $2.59
billion and are up 80% since 2000. Discounting the impact of the
$469 million set aside in 2003 as part of the settlement of the U.S.
merchant lawsuit, MasterCard’s net income for 2004 increased 187% to
$238 million. Compared to 2002, MasterCard’s profits have doubled.
The increase in revenue was due primarily to higher gross dollar volume,
up 10.6% to $1.5 trillion, and growth in the number of transactions
processed by MasterCard last year. Operating expenses as a percentage of
total revenue were reduced to 86% from 93% in 2003, excluding the impact
of the U.S. merchant lawsuit and other legal settlements, resulting from
an emphasis on cost control and streamlining of operations. Overall
operating expenses increased 7% in 2004, excluding the impact of the
U.S. merchant lawsuit and other legal settlements. The increase includes
the impact of additional advertising expenditures and acquisitions made
during 2004. For complete details on MasterCard’s 2004 performance, visit CardData (www.carddata.com).
Amex Bank of Canada has announced that Rogers Wireless has joined the American Express Small Business Savings Program to provide small business owners with substantial savings on wireless communications services. Under the terms of the agreement, AMEX Corporate Card for Small Business and the AMEX Costco Corporate Card for Small Business cardholders can save $100 on the purchase of any new Rogers Wireless device including the palmOne Treo and BlackBerry when card members sign a service agreement.Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. is Canada’s largest wireless voice and data communications services provider with more than 5.5 million customers, operates Canada’s largest integrated wireless voice and data network and the only Canadian carrier operating on the GSM/GPRS technology platform. Rogers Wireless is a subsidiary of Rogers Communications Inc. American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York-based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company, which provides a range of financial and travel related services for consumers and companies.Details
OMRON has introduced “OKAO Vision Face Recognition Sensor”, a world first in face recognition technology which can be implemented in PDAs, mobile phones or other mobile devices with a camera function.
Users register their own face image to their unit with the unit’s camera. To use the unit, the user simply takes his or her own photo. The “OKAO Vision Face Recognition Sensor” will automatically detect the user and unlock the unit. The identification process takes less than a
second from snapping the photograph. Further, their is no need to adjust
the camera position when taking the photo. If the face is included in the photo, the sensor will detect the owner automatically.
Synovus has been named on FORTUNE magazine’s annual listing of “America’s Most Admired Companies” for the second straight year. Synovus ranked No. 3 in the Consumer Credit category for 2005 after being ranked No. 5 in 2004. FORTUNE ranks companies based on eight attributes: innovation, financial soundness, employee talent, quality of management, use of corporate assets, long-term investment, social responsibility and quality of products/services. Scores are accumulated based on surveys from 10,000 executives, directors and securities analysts in each of the industries represented on the list. Synovus is a diversified financial services holding company with over $25 billion in assets based in Columbus, Georgia.Details