Cross-Bank Cardholder Transactions Up 52%

China UnionPay reports that cross-bank transactions by bank
cardholders reached 16.6 billion yuan (US$2 billion) for the first week of May, an increase of about 52% from last year. China UnionPay says that more than 5.5 million yuan was spent by traveling cardholders.
The seven-day “May Day” holiday is typically a busy consumer period. China currently has about three million credit cardholders.

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Business Payment Card Usage Soars

A new survey has found that the biggest challenge for small businesses, regardless of size, is receiving and collecting payments. Small business owners’ ability to manage and move funds is the second highest ranked issue at 22%, followed by their concern about making payments. The VISA USA “Small Business Cash Management Survey” also found that 29% said card-based payments provide greater efficiency in receiving and collecting payments. Additionally, 26% found these products offer greater ease in making payments, as well as managing and moving funds. Nearly half of the respondents stated they would make all of their company’s payments on a payment card, if all of their vendors and suppliers accepted electronic payments. More mid-sized small businesses say they use business credit cards as a type of payment than any other category of small business, although 56% use business payment cards to make a percentage of their payments. The survey found that nearly 30% use business debit cards for core services and 20% report using business credit cards. For travel and entertainment expenditures, 82% of businesses use credit cards and 53% use debit cards. Nearly 40% of those surveyed reported making payments for maintenance and operating supplies on business credit cards and 42% reported using business debit cards. About 30% reported using business credit cards and 37% reported using business debit cards to make payments for raw materials.

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VASCO Launches Digipass for Java Phone

VASCO Data Security has launched “Digipass for Java Phone.” The end-user will be able to easily install the Digipass software on
his/her mobile phone, by means of OTA provisioning or through
the GSM provider’s synchronization tool. In order to be able to use the
Digipass, one has to introduce an activation code into one’s mobile phone. The activation codes will be provided by VASCO through VASCO’s channel partners.

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VISA Europe Seeks Better Communication

VISA Europe has launched a new section on its Website to help increase understanding about what it is, who owns it and how it is governed. VISA says it wants to communicate how transactions are made using VisaNet; the range of security systems in place to ensure that every transaction is as safe and secure as possible; how the four-party payment system works between the issuers, acquirers, cardholders and merchants; the impact of new technologies including the migration to chip technology, mobile payments and proximity payments; VISA’s relationships with merchants and cardholders; how VISA is structured and the separately incorporated business of VISA Europe; and, VISA’s fee structure and how it manages its costs. There are 162 million debit cards or 107 million credit cards in Europe that carry the VISA brand.

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First Data Acquires Vigo Remittance

First Data has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire FL-based Vigo Remittance. Vigo was founded nearly 20 years ago to provide money transfer services to Brazilian consumers living in New York City and Newark, New Jersey and has successfully expanded to serve 47 countries. In 2003, Mario Trujillo, in partnership with Great Hill Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, acquired Vigo and proceeded to improve and grow Vigo’s profitability and business efficiencies. Vigo operates through approximately 3,700 Agent locations from across the U.S. and more than 47,000 payment locations throughout the world, primarily in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. In 2004, Vigo processed approximately 8 million transactions.

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Cap One May Move U.S. Processing to TSYS

TSYS announced it has reached an agreement in principle with Capital One to provide processing services for Cap One’s North American portfolio of consumer and small-business credit card accounts. The two companies are now negotiating. Capital One currently handles processing in-house. Capital One recently reported U.S. card outstandings of $46.6 billion, a 2.8% increase compared to one-year ago but down 4.1% from the previous quarter. U.S. card outstandings represent about 57% of Cap One’s total managed loans. The issuer has about $100 billion in annual global volume, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1])

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

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GECF Acquires a Major Stake in BAC

GE Consumer Finance has acquired 49.99% of Panama City-based BAC
International Bank, a privately held retail bank and credit card issuer
based in Panama City, Panama. BAC’s Credomatic subsidiary is a
significant debit and credit card issuer in Central America. BAC has 178
branches in countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. BAC has about $1.7 billion in consumer
credit card loans. GE Consumer Finance has more than $151 billion in
assets. Credit Suisse First Boston advised BAC in the deal.

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HSBC Retail Services Gets a New CFO

HSBC – North America has promoted Asim Majeed to CFO of HSBC’s Retail Services business, effective immediately. Majeed will lead the financial accounting and management team for the business, which provides private label financing. Majeed joined the company in 2000 in the corporate strategy and development group and most recently was vice president within the HSBC wholesale/correspondent mortgage business. A graduate of Elmhurst College, Majeed earned his master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. HSBC Retail Services, a subsidiary of HSBC – North America is a leading issuer of private label credit cards in the US. HSBC – North America has more than $300 billion in assets.

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ExpressPay Certifies a Gas Pump Manufacturer

North Carolina-based Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s contactless smart card reader has been certified for use with American Express’ “ExpressPay,” becoming the first gas pump manufacturer to attain this certification. ExpressPay is a key chain fob and can also be embedded in a traditional American Express card. Gilbarco Veeder-Root is a provider of retail and commercial products to petroleum marketers, private and commercial fleets, and high-volume fuel retailers.

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LG Card to Issue JCB Debit Cards in Japan

South Korea’s largest credit card issuer is planning to launch the first debit card branded with JCB in Japan. According to this week’s issue of CardFlash International, the “LG JCB Toresard Card” will be launched in June. LG Card expects to issue 100,000 of the new cards in the first year. Purchases made with the new card will be directly debited from the cardholder’s bank account in Japanese yen. JCB signed an issuing license agreement with LG Card in 1997. There are currently 1.6 million LG JCB cards.

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LG Card to Issue a JCB Debit Card

South Korea’s largest credit card issuer is planning to launch
the first debit card branded with JCB in Japan. The “LG JCB Toresard Card” will be launched in June. LG Card expects to issue 100,000 of the new cards in the first year. Purchases made with the new card will be directly debited from the cardholder’s bank account in Japanese yen. JCB signed an issuing license agreement with LG Card in 1997. There are currently 1.6 million LG JCB cards. LG Card has 9.65 million cardholders and 52 billion won in annual transaction volume. JCB cards are
now issued in 18 countries and territories, with 53.6 million cardholders.

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