2005 Poised to be a Banner Year for Biz Cards

A new survey has found that 39% of small businesses expect to increase business credit and debit card usage in 2005. The “Small Business Economic and Spend Outlook Survey” by MasterCard, also found that 70% of small businesses surveyed report holding one form of a business credit or debit card, although 20% report having only a business debit card. MasterCard says small businesses in the Northeast were most likely to use small-business credit and debit cards for more than 50% of business purchases. Small businesses in the West (30%) are more likely to have both a business debit card and a business credit card, while Midwestern companies are most likely to have neither (36%). The MasterCard research showed that, overall, small businesses expect 2005 to be a turning point, as many companies increase revenue, add staff, and grow.

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Experian Buys a Top Consumer Research Firm

Experian has acquired Simmons Research, a provider of syndicated research information on American consumers. Simmons recently ranked as the second fastest growing, privately held research company in America over the past five years. Simmons surveys more than 30,000 individuals annually to produce the “National Consumer Adults (English-speaking and Spanish-speaking), Teens, Kids, Adults and Household Studies.” Each of these reports provides individual and household information on approximately 8,000 brands in more than 450 data categories.

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Duetto VISA Lifts Starbucks Card Reloads by 40%

This week, Bank One/Chase and Starbucks are celebrating the first year anniversary of the “Starbucks Card Duetto VISA.” The card is the first to combine credit card functionality and rewards with a re-loadable stored-value card. Bank One/Chase says that 70% of “Duetto” cardholders use the “Starbucks Card” account, and that nearly 20% of “Duetto” cardholders use automatic reload. Also, the average amount that “Duetto Card” customers reload onto their “Starbucks Card” account is 40% higher than on the original “Starbucks Card.” Additionally, 61% of “Duetto Card” cardholders list the “Duetto Card” as their primary credit card. (CF Library 10/14/03)

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CheckFree’s APS and BillMatrix Partner

CheckFree’s American Payment Systems has extended its joint marketing agreement with Dallas-based BillMatrix. The agreement has enabled each company to offer clients a comprehensive range of payment offerings by providing referrals to the other company. The acquisition of APS by CheckFree Corporation was completed in June 2004. Sean Feeney, executive vice president of CheckFree and general manager of APS, says that the extension of the agreement allows clients to see how outsourcing multiple payment methods can reduce costs, increase cash flow, and improve customer satisfaction. American Payment Systems has over 10,000 retail locations and has been processing in-person payments for numerous billers since 1990. CheckFree Corporation provides financial electronic commerce services and products to organizations worldwide. BillMatrix Corporation provides outsourced payment services for the nation’s largest companies.

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VISA Cardholders Account for 25% of 03 Spending

Last year, international VISA cardholders spent S$1.7 billion in
Singapore, out of a total of S$6.9 billion spent by tourists in 2003.
According to the report, top spenders in Singapore in 2003 were VISA
cardholders from Australia who spent S$337 million, the United States
S$278 million, the United Kingdom S$250 million, Indonesia S$225
million, and, Japan S$169 million. According to a VISA-commissioned Network Economics Consulting Group report, international VISA cardholders spent most on computer products (S$240 million), followed by department stores (S$160 million), jewelry stores (S$138 million), clothing (S$127 million), household goods (S$69 million), and electronic stores (S$66 million).

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AssetExchange Facilitates 3 CU Portfolio Sales

OR-based AssetExchange has brokered the sale of three credit union credit card portfolios to two different buyers. North Jersey Federal Credit Union, an $8.3 million credit card portfolio, was sold to Inficorp and the New Horizons Community Credit Union and the California Preferred Credit Union, with $1.9 million and $1.1 million credit card portfolios respectively, were sold to Elan. AssetExchange is a leading credit card consulting and brokerage firm that offers credit card portfolio brokerage, performance assessments, market valuations, and best practices consulting services.

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Xoom Expands its Money Transfer Service

Xoom has expanded its money transfer service to six South
American countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia. The service is available, via local disbursement partner Latin Express. Xoom’s money transfer service allows individuals to send money from any
Internet-enabled computer to friends, family and businesses in 14
countries Worldwide. Senders can use PayPal, major credit cards or have
funds withdrawn directly from their bank account to fund the money
transfer. Recipients, receive cash in local currency or US Dollars. Xoom
also offers money transfer services to India, the Philippines, the
Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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Shoppers Charge Accounts Lands Hicks

NJ-based Shoppers Charge Accounts has hired Keith Hicks, formerly with Wells Fargo Financial Retail Services and American General Finance, as AVP for new business development for the private label credit company’s southeast and southwest regions, located in metro Atlanta. Hicks brings over 14 years of experience to SCA, a division of Hudson United Bank and a subsidiary of Hudson United Bancorp. Hudson United Bancorp has $7.8 billion assets and over 200 branch offices in the northeast.

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MasterCard & Shell Launch a Q4 Promotion

MasterCard has teamed with Shell Oil to launch a fourth quarter sweepstakes to drive traffic to Shell-branded gasoline stations and generate increased applications for the “Shell MasterCard from Citi Cards.” Each time a customer uses a MasterCard card at a participating Shell station now through December 31 will be entered automatically into the “MasterCard Sweepstakes at Shell.” Prizes include 2005 Chrysler Crossfires and $1,000 worth of premium gasoline. Shell says it expects to achieve a 50% increase in “Shell MasterCard” applications and booked accounts during the promotion. Shell ran a promotion in the second quarter for its private-label credit card, which netted 130,000 new applications. (CF Library 9/22/04)

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Citi Card Profits Soar as Charge-Offs Dive

Citigroup reported this morning that third quarter profits for its credit card business in North America topped $1 billion, soaring 25% sequentially, and 31% year-over-year, to a record $1067 million. Credit card outstandings for North America increased 24% over 3Q/03 to $146.0 billion, which includes $28.8 billion in private label card outstandings. Charge volume increased 24%, from $62.3 billion to $77.3 billion, year-on-year. Citi’s account base at the end of third quarter was 120.2 million accounts, a 33% gain over 3Q/03, but a decline of 900,000 accounts from the previous quarter. Citi’s charge-offs dropped from 6.61% in the second quarter, to 5.66% for 3Q/04. Charge-offs for bank credit cards declined to 5.34%, compared to 6.15% in the second quarter, and 5.75% one-year ago. Charge-offs for private label credit cards also declined, from 8.61% in the second quarter to 7.08% for 3Q/04. However, charge-offs for private label cards remain above year ago levels. Delinquency (90+ days) declined slightly from 1.85% for 2Q/04 to 1.84% for the third quarter 2004. Delinquency for bank credit cards dropped 3 basis points, and increased 9 basis points for private label cards, quarter-to-quarter. For complete details on Citigroup’s 3Q/04 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

CITIGROUP
North American Credit Card Net Revenues
3Q/03: $815 million
4Q/03: $1010 million
1Q/04: $832 million
2Q/04: $850 million
3Q/04: $1067 million
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Circle K Stores Selects NCR’s RealPOS 70

Alimentation Couche-Tard, through its subsidiary Circle K Stores, has selected the NCR “RealPOS 70” POS workstation for approximately 1,000 of its convenience stores in the USA. The workstation enables components to be easily swapped, offering a stable POS platform that is easy to upgrade and service. Alimentation Couche-Tard is also installing the NCR RealScan(TM) 92, which allows for fast presentation and pass-by scanning. It can read similar bar codes using its built-in single-line mode for pin-point accuracy. Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc. is a leading Canadian convenience store industry with a network of 4,898 convenience stores in operation. NCR Corporation is a global technology leader that helps businesses create strong ties to their customers through their ATMs, retail systems, Teradata(R) data warehouses, and IT services.

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Motorola Pilots a PayPass-Enabled Mobile Phone

Motorola is planning to conduct a field trial of mobile phones enabled with MasterCard’s “PayPass” by year’s end. The Motorola phones will be equipped with NFC technology, which enables the device to run multiple proximity applications as well as payment. In the future, these may include applications such as contactless ticketing for mass transit or events. In addition, the phone can function as a contactless reader, paving the way for a variety of marketing and promotional applications. Applications can also be loaded into the secure area of the phone over the air. In August, McDonald’s announced it inked a deal to accept MasterCard “PayPass.” (CF Library 8/18/04)

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