Gemplus reported first quarter revenues of $171 million, a 12.6% decline over the year-ago quarter. However, the smart card manufacturer reported a significant decline in its net loss from $69 million for 1Q/02, and $107 million for 4Q/02, to $42 million for the first quarter of this year. Analysts had forecast a loss between $43 million and $57 million. At the end of the first quarter, the restructuring plan announced in February 2002 was nearly completed with headcount reduction of 1,156 vs. 1,010 at the end of the fourth quarter. Revenue of the banking segment was impacted by slow start of EMV migration in Southern Europe and the renewal cycle of “GeldKarte.” However, in the EMV market, Gemplus achieved significant progress in the UK which is expected to be the hottest regional market in 2003. Excluding “GeldKarte,” shipments of smart cards in the banking segment increased 33% and revenue grew by 8% year on year despite adverse currency fluctuations. Also in the banking sector, Gemplus was able to secure two key wins for delivery in 2003 and beyond. These contracts, with major UK banks, represent a total of 15 million EMV smart cards.Details
Experian announced the formation of Scorex, a new decision support and consulting business. Experian acquired the outstanding shareholdings in its prior joint venture with Scorex, one of the world’s foremost developers of application processing and customer management software.Details
Major credit card issuers facing new challenges in reaching elusive college students with credit card offers have a new tool at their disposal. Stiel Direct and FreeCar Media have formed a strategic alliance to combine their expertise and offer a powerful new marketing program to leading college student credit card issuers.Details
AZ-based eFunds Corporation reported net revenue of $130.5 million and net income of $4.6 million for the first quarter. In 1Q/02, the electronic transaction processor reported net revenue of $134.0 million and net income of $8.5 million. eFunds says the decrease in revenue is primarily due to the 2002 expiration of the STAR, EMEVS and an EBT contract in the electronic payments segment, and lower software license sales in the professional services segment in the first quarter. However, increased revenue derived from ATM acquisitions completed in 2002 somewhat offset these declines. For complete details on eFunds’ 1Q/03 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
Bank Austria Creditanstalt has selected Fundtech’s “Global PAYplus” to be its new payments platform. Bank Austria Creditanstalt’s two-year phased roll-out of GPP will cover up to 16 countries throughout the Central and Eastern European Region, beginning with the Czech Republic and Hungary in 2003. Funtech also received another order from a large, undisclosed, existing customer. Both deals total about $10 million. “Global PAYplus” offers global banks the ability to reduce their operating expense while expanding the payment services offered to customers.Details
VISA USA confirmed last night it has reached a preliminary settlement with the plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart debit card lawsuit. Under terms of the settlement VISA will pay retailers $2 billion over a ten-year period, lower off-line debit-card fees beginning August 1st, and modify its “Honor All Cards” policy. The settlement mirrors the deal struck earlier this week by MasterCard. However, VISA’s off-line debit card business is three times the size of MasterCard’s. VISA said last night that beginning January 2004, merchants will decide whether they want to continue to accept VISA’s debit products. VISA says it will be “clear” in the future to consumers where they can use their VISA cards. Meanwhile, Lloyd Constantine, counsel for the retailer plaintiffs, declared a major victory in the litigation. He said “five million merchants will now get relief from excess fees that were forced down their throats by MasterCard and VISA. Competition will be restored to the debit card market and off-line signature debit transaction fees will drop. Consumers will continue to have the choice to use debit cards that are competitively priced. Billions of dollars in excess costs to merchants will be eliminated during the coming years and that should mean lower prices for consumers.” Federal district court Judge John Gleeson adjourned the court session yesterday morning until Friday.Details
U.S. Bank is introducing an international money remittance service specially designed for individuals who wish to send money to their loved ones in Mexico safely and affordably. As part of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, U.S. Bank will offer the first transfer for free throughout May.Details
Bankrupt Air Canada this week received an unsolicited and non-binding expression of interest for a credit card agreement in regard to its “Aeroplan” frequent flyer program. Reportedly, MBNA has made an offer to be the exclusive credit card partner of Air Canada, replacing Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. MBNA currently issues a co-branded “Aeroplan” credit card in the USA. Earlier this month, Air Canada and CIBC agreed to extend their “Aeroplan” air miles contract from 2009 to 2013. Under terms of the deal, CIBC agreed to boost its prepayment to Air Canada for air miles from $200 million to $350 million, and agreed to pay Air Canada a higher price per “Aeroplan” mile. CIBC purchases “Aeroplan” miles to issue to CIBC “Aerogold VISA” credit card customers. As at March 31st, CIBC carried the payment at $181 million on its balance sheet. In February, Air Canada and MBNA launched the “Air Canada Aeroplan Platinum Plus MasterCard.” The program enables “Aeroplan” members, resident in the USA, to accumulate one “Aeroplan Mile” for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. There are 400,000 “Aeroplan” members in the USA. Since its inception in 1984, Aeroplan has generated more than six million members in over 200 countries and has signed over 90 partnerships. In January 2002, “Aeroplan” became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air Canada. Since then Air Canada recently agreed to let Onex Corporation acquire a 35% equity interest in “Aeroplan” for $245 million. (CF Library 1/28/03; 2/28/03; 4/21/03)Details
Montreal-based SureFire Commerce Inc. announced this morning that its US subsidiary has been formally certified and registered as an Independent Sales Organization by VISA and MasterCard. Boston and Houston-based SureFire Commerce Corp. will immediately offer VISA and MasterCard merchant accounts to mainstream POS and e-commerce/card-not-present customers throughout the USA. SFCC will for the first time in the SureFire group’s history be able to acquire transactions for retail point-of-sale merchants. The company expects first year USA revenues to exceed C$10 million. SureFire recently merged with ebs Electronic Billing Systems AG.Details
IL-based APAC Customer Services reported first quarter net income of $2.1 million compared to net income of $3.2 million in the same period a year ago. 1Q/03 revenues were $86.2 million, compared to revenue of $104.3 million in the first quarter of last year. APAC says the decline in revenue versus the first quarter of 2002 resulted principally from a gradual reduction in services provided to three significant clients. APAC Customer Services is a major provider of telemarketing services to the credit card industry. It has 32 customer interaction centers across the nation. For complete details on APAC’s 1Q/03 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
MasterCard International confirmed last night it has signed a memorandum of understanding to settle claims against it in the class-action antitrust lawsuit brought against MasterCard and VISA in 1996 by U.S. merchants. Under terms of the deal, MasterCard agreed to pay ten annual installments of $100 million each into a settlement fund account, except for the first year when the payment will be $125 million. MasterCard says merchants will also have the right to choose not to accept US- issued MasterCard debit cards. Furthermore, MasterCard will establish a separate interchange rate for MasterCard debit transactions by August 1, 2003. The new interchange rate for debit will be at least one-third lower than the existing interchange rate. Additionally, MasterCard will develop rules requiring issuers to clearly and consistently identify MasterCard debit cards on their face and to make these debit cards identifiable through electronic terminals. The agreement is subject to court review and approval.Details