American Express has expanded its prepaid card offerings with the introduction of a reloadable travel card. The new “TravelFunds Card” can be used at both the POS and ATM. The card is available in U.S. Dollar, Euro and British Pound Sterling, enabling cardholders to lock in exchange rates. AmEx will provide refunds on a 24-hour basis if the card is ever lost or stolen. AmEx says the card will also protect users against identity theft. AmEx also offers users free passport and credit card replacement services. The issuer says it is working with its partners, namely, Continental, Delta, Starwood, Alamo, and National Car Rental, to distribute the card. The TravelFunds Card can be purchased over the phone or online. AmEx’s prepaid products include “Cheques for Two,” “Gift Cards,” “Gift Cheques,” the “Be My Guest” dining card, as well as a range of corporate incentive prepaid products through American Express Incentive Services.Details
The impact of SARS is still affecting Singapore-based bank credit card issuers. According to this week’s issue of CardFlash International, monthly charge-offs in Singapore are running 20% above last year. However, losses in August remain well below June’s S$17.5 million, a twelve year high. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, credit card issuers wrote-off S$15.7 million in August compared to S$13.1 million one-year ago. Much of the rising losses this year were due to the outbreak of SARS, which sacked the local economy. According to the MAS, bank credit card issuers lost S$14.0 million in May, S$15.6 million in April, S$13.6 million in March, S$13.7 million in February, and S$12.1 million in January. The total number of cards in the country at mid-year was 3.3 million, which included 2,295,027 primary cards and 992,555 supplementary cards.Details
India’s ICICI Bank is ramping up competition and may unseat Citibank as a market leader in the country. According to this week’s issue of CardFlash International, the issuer is adding 150,000 debit cards and 100,000 credit cards to its portfolio each month. ICICI has become the second largest issuer of credit cards in the country with 1.6 million. In the debit card market, ICICI has about 4.0 million cards. Citibank remains the credit card leader in India with 1.8 million cards, but could be overtaken by ICICI within the next twelve months. The third and fourth largest credit card issuers are Standard Chartered Bank and SBI Cards, respectively. ICICI is reportedly focusing on co-branded cards to fuel its growth. The bank currently has co-branded deals with HPCL, BPL Mobile, and Trinetra.Details
Standard & Poor’s has assigned its highest servicer ranking of “Strong” and an outlook of “Stable” to the MBNA’s U.S. credit card operations. S&P’s cited MBNA’s “highly experienced management team,” “solid internal controls and risk management environment” and ability to execute strategic initiatives as a basis for the ranking. They also recognized MBNA for its “superior level of automation,” expertise in default management, and ongoing investments in technology aimed at improving the bank’s effectiveness and efficiency. The ranking makes MBNA America Bank one of the earliest recipients of this ranking among credit card lenders.Details
Optimal Robotics has acquired Montreal-based RBA Inc., a provider of multi-vendor hardware maintenance outsourcing services. RBA is the largest independent Canadian provider of multi-vendor hardware maintenance outsourcing services, with over 350,000 sites being serviced and annual revenues of approximately Cdn.$41 million. The net cost of the RBA transaction is approximately Cdn.$10 million. Optimal has arranged for a credit facility with the Royal Bank of Canada to fund this acquisition. Optimal Robotics Corp. is a leading North American provider of self-checkout systems to retailers and field services to retail, financial services and other third-party accounts.Details
MasterCard’s Ruth Ann Marshall, president of MasterCard North America, has been elected to the American Standard Companies board. Marshall joined MasterCard International in 1999, and currently leads MasterCard’s largest region, which reported gross dollar volume — the amount of purchases and cash transactions on a card — of $602 billion in 2002. Before joining MasterCard, Marshall served as group executive president of two Electronic Payment Service companies, MAC Regional Network and Buypass Corporation, a leading third party processor. American Standard is a global manufacturer with market leading positions in three businesses.Details
NJ-based Merchant Services, Inc. and FL-based Global eTelecom have renewed their partnership to facilitate electronic check conversion for merchants. These programs empower merchants to accept and process paper checks similar to a credit card transaction. Merchant Services, Inc is a premier credit and debit card processor serving merchants nationwide. MSI today enables over 25,000 businesses to accept credit cards. Global eTelecom provides it’s proprietary, fully customizable XML based electronic check processing services to a nationwide network of banks, independent sales agents and associations, credit card processors, insurance companies, and retail merchants, ranging in size from small “Mom &Pop” stores to national retail chains.Details
Eracom Technologies is integrating its “ProtectHost White” host security module with S2 Systems’ “OpeN/2” payment processing application. ProtectHost White supports VISA, MasterCard, and American Express requirements such as card validation, PIN verification and cryptographic key management functions. S2 Systems, Inc. is a leading global provider of mission-critical enterprise payment and transaction management solutions for the banking, financial services, retail, telecommunications, utilities and travel & hospitality industries. Eracom Technologies is a leading developer and global supplier of cryptographic-based hardware and software products for uncompromising IT security applications.Details
San Francisco-based BankServ has ranked #63 nationally, and #1 in San Francisco, in this year’s Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 500” ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the USA. Of the California companies listed by Inc. BankServ ranked first of six in San Francisco and eighth of 59 in the state. BankServ is a leading U.S. provider of Fed wire transfer and ACH payment solutions for banks, governments, higher education and businesses. The only business magazine dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of fast-growing private companies, delivers real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.Details
Atlanta-based InterCept has signed a deal to provide GMAC Bank with client service for merchant accounts, customer service for customers of bill payment clients, chargeback management, ACH return processing, as well as risk and fraud monitoring and reporting, new merchant account set up, and underwriting services. InterCept Payment Solutions is a full-service billing provider, provides secure payment processing services that enable merchants and billers alike to accept and process multiple types of payments for goods and services. GMAC Bank is a federally chartered thrift offering remote consumer banking and FDIC-insured money market accounts, certificates of deposit and other products/services in person, via the phone, by mail and through the Internet at http://www.gmacbank.comDetails
ICICI Bank is pushing ahead of its competition, as the issuer adds 150,000 debit cards and 100,000 credit cards each month. ICICI has become the second largest issuer of credit cards in the country with 1.6 million. In the debit card market, ICICI has about 4.0 million cards.
Citibank remains the credit card leader in India with 1.8 million cards, but may be overtaken by ICICI within the next twelve months. The third and fourth largest credit card issuers are Standard Chartered Bank and SBI Cards, respectively. ICICI is reportedly focusing on co-branded cards to fuel its growth. The bank currently has co-branded deals with HPCL, BPL Mobile, and Trinetra.
While sub-prime credit card portfolio premiums continue to decline to well below par value, premiums for prime and super-prime portfolios this year have been holding steady in the 17% to 19% range. Over the first three quarters of 2003, more than $39 billion of prime and super-prime outstandings have changed hands. According to data compiled by R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, 41 deals above $15 million have been struck this year as well as 39 sales of small credit union card portfolios. Over the first nine months of this year, prime premiums have ranged from 2.5% to 26.0%. During the third quarter the range was 2.5% to 24.5%, compared to a range of 5.0% to 26.0% for the second quarter, and 3.1% to 19.7% for the first quarter.Details