V/MC GLOBAL

Worldwide volume for VISA and MasterCard grew 15% last year while the number of transactions rose 18%, and the number of cards-in-force increased by 14%. While volume growth between VISA and MasterCard varied by region, the overall figures showed the same increase. VISA had a 2001 global volume of US$2,141 billion compared to US$1,855 billion for the year 2000. MasterCard racked up US$986 billion in volume last year compared to US$857 the previous year. The number of transactions rose from 35.5 billion to 42.0 billion for VISA and MasterCard combined. The number of MasterCard-branded cards-in-force grew at a faster pace than VISA. MasterCard’s cardbase grew 19% while VISA was up 12%. MasterCard ended 2001 with 519.9 million cards while VISA end the year with 900.5 million. VISA figures do not include Electron or Interlink.

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icAcquirer

Omaha-based CSG Systems’ plaNet Consulting this morning launched icAcquirer which combines the Web-based reporting tools and plaNet’s recently-acquired credit card merchant settlement system. The icAcquirer Merchant Accounting solution is designed to enable Web-based transaction processing for the financial payments industry and provide service and fee capabilities that satisfy third-party processing and billing for all merchants. Merchant customers now have the capability to view or download their billing statements and other information through a secured Web environment. The new solution also provides support for all major credit card types and is a processing platform for acquiring organizations in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Other components of the icAquirer application suite include File Exchange for settlement and conveyance of credit card transactions with major card associations and Internet Merchant Reporting System, to view and produce customer account reports.

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ID DATA CAPITAL

London-based ID Data plc announced plans this week to raise 4.1 million pounds through a new stock offering. Proceeds of the placing will be used to fund growth in new business sectors including the
development of the Systems Division and ChipPort, as well as the payment of existing obligations and to permit certain strategic capital expenditure. The company said that despite difficult market conditions it has made progress since the end of March, and in recent weeks the firm has signed new contracts. ID Data says it believes that the impact of new sales, the move to higher margin business and the reduction of the fixed cost base will assist its move to profitability.

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Infrared EMV

VISA International and Korea’s SK Telecom signed an agreement this week to launch the first wireless payment system that incorporates smart cards, infrared technology, and mobile phones. In January, VISA announced it had developed specifications to enable payments to be beamed securely from a handheld device to a merchant terminal using infrared technology. The “VISA Financial Messaging Profile for Proximity Payment” specifications will enable application developers and card issuers to develop new payment services for consumers who use portable devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. The SK Telecom solution, which integrates the EMV global smart card standard and the Infrared Financial Messaging standard, allows VISA cardholders and SKT subscribers to pay for goods and services by beaming an infrared signal securely from the mobile phone to a small infrared receiver located at retail POS, vending machines, subway stalls, tollgates, buses, and other payment locations. Since early April, SKT has been piloting a chip-based payment service using an infrared-enabled mobile phone. The pilot program is being held at SKT’s Seoul headquarters and by 20 merchants at the Seoul Finance Center. Later this year, the program will be rolled out to more than 30,000 merchants in Korea. Two million infrared-port enabled handsets will also be distributed by the end of this year. VISA estimates there are 150 million devices capable of infrared messaging in use worldwide. (CF Library 1/15/02)

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SCANNER DEAL

Paderborn-based Wincor Nixdorf GmbH & Co and NCR have sealed a bar code scanner sales agreement. The deal provides Wincor Nixdorf with access to bar code scanning technology and provides NCR with access to markets outside the USA for its scanner products. The agreement covers Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Wincor Nixdorf operates across the world in over 40 countries, including 28 where it has its own subsidiaries. NCR employs 30,300 in more than 100 countries.

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Mobile Dibz

CO-based Dibz, Inc. has formed a new sales and marketing division to provide Internet-based mobile entertainment via the new Dibz prepaid card. CellDog will be coming online in conjunction with the late June 2002 launch of the Dibz powered card and the Vans Warped Tour. CellDog will provide such services as cell phone ring tones, group graphics (logos and other images that can be associated with certain groups of callers, for example, family), text message capability, and voicemail greetings.

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Equity Gold MasterCard

Cleveland-based Charter One Financial has introduced a new home equity MasterCard with a promotion offering a chance to win a Jaguar. The Equity Gold MasterCard offers customers a 2.99% APR introductory rate on home equity lines of credit for the first four months of the line. For the remaining life of the line, the interest rate will move to Prime minus a quarter point with a minimum draw or balance transfer of $10,000 at time of activation. The maximum APR is 16%. There is an annual fee of $100, however it is waived each year if the average outstanding balance on the credit line account is 20% or more of the line of credit. The card offers a credit line up to a 90% LTV. To promote the new home equity credit card, Charter One is offering new cardholders a chance to win a 24-month lease on a 2002 Jaguar X-J8. Customers need to access their Equity Gold MasterCard once between May 20 and August 31 for any type of purchase. Charter One Financial recently converted from a thrift to a national bank. The bank has 456 branch locations in Ohio, Michigan, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Vermont. (CF Library 5/2/02)

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NPC Access

National Processing Company this week announced a major new release of its NPC Access platform which now enables users to easily isolate specific information they require to effectively manage their payment activity. Several of NPC’s national clients completed conversion to the new NPC Access platform in April and early May, with all national merchants scheduled for conversion in the months ahead. The product enables customers to quickly access various management reports for research, analysis, and internal reporting.

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EURONET RATED

Budapest-based Euronet Worldwide received a Positive Rating Outlook from Fitch Ratings. The firm was previously placed on Rating Watch Negative status since June 2000. Fitch says the change reflects the consistent improvement in Euronet’s operating performance over the past 18 months and, importantly, the strong liquidity the company now enjoys following a number of fund raising events in the first quarter of 2002. Euronet has demonstrated consistent improvement in revenue and margins in its core ATM processing business, with the company having posted four successive quarters of positive EBITDA and a second consecutive quarter of operating profit.

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Discover Hike

Discover is now notifying cardholders it will raise rates on existing purchase balances to 16.99% and to 22.99% for cash advance balances, effective June 15th. According to CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]), the rate hike does not apply to introductory or promotional rates until they expire. Current Discover cardholders pay interest rates ranging from 12.99% to 14.99% for purchases. Cardholders have until June 8th to reject the new rates. Beginning this month, Chase raised “preferred” credit card interest rates to prime +11.99% with a 19.99% minimum APR. Credit card “non-preferred” interest rates went to a fixed 22.99% interest rate. Providian has notified some of its sub-prime cardholders it was raising interest rates to 29.99% later this year.

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

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eMerchantWatch

First Data said this morning it is launching a proprietary security-testing program to validate that Internet merchants comply with new payment industry security requirements. eMerchantWatch unite security standards from different payment industry organizations into a single testing program. First Data has contracted with TrustWave Corporation, a high-tech security firm that arose from elements of the National Security Agency, to develop the technology and processes for remotely performing eMerchantWatch’s quarterly security testing. These tests will consist of two parts: an online security review and an electronic vulnerability scan. eMerchantWatch staff will work with Internet merchants to identify and resolve vulnerabilities, thereby mitigating the risk of fraudulent transactions and hacker intrusions. The program will be available this summer to acquirers and other payment industry organizations. First Data Merchant Services will initiate the roll out.

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InterCept & EPX

Atlanta-based InterCept has signed a definitive agreement to acquire DE-based Electronic Payment Exchange in a stock-for-stock deal. InterCept will issue 1,349,894 shares of its common stock to the EPX stockholders in exchange for the stock of EPX. A portion of those shares issued by InterCept will be held in escrow for a period of time after closing. InterCept had previously announced on March 19, 2002 a binding letter agreement to acquire EPX, an end-to-end provider of transaction processing services based in New Castle, Delaware.

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