VISA Mini Cards Exceed 15 Million Since October

More than 15 million “VISA Mini Cards” have been produced and issued by IL-based Versatile Card Technology since the launch of the card in October. Bank of America’s “Mini VISA” is about half the size of a regular credit or debit card that can be attached to a key chain. The card can only be used with swipe terminals, not ATMs. BofA has exclusive rights to issuing the mini card for a one-year period. Following the first year, under a license from Bank of America, VISA member banks will be permitted to issue VISA-branded mini cards, for which Bank of America will receive royalty payments. The “Mini VISA” is a response to the successful launch in March 2002 of the Discover “2GO Card,” a small, oval shaped credit card, in a protective case, that attaches to a key chain, belt, or money clip. Discover has not released data on the number of “2GO Cards” issued. Versatile Card Technology is a certified manufacturer of VISA cards with facilities located in Turkey, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, South America and India. (CF Library 3/21/02; 10/2/03)

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2Q/03 Charge Volume Up 5.7% Among Major Issuers

Charge volume among the nation’s top bank credit card issuers is now growing at the rate of 5.7% annually. Based on second quarter data reported thus far, MBNA leads the top 10 issuers with a 15.8% increase in volume, while Citibank is the only major issuer to report a decline in volume. Citibank posted $59.7 billion in 2Q/03 volume, compared to $61.9 billion one year ago, a 3.6% drop. American Express posted a healthy 10% boost in volume, as Wells Fargo and First National Bank of Nebraska posted significantly higher volume levels than last year. Capital One, Bank of America, Providian, and Sears National Bank, all top 10 issuers, have not reported second quarter volume. For complete details on the top U.S. issuers for the second quarter visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TOP U.S. ISSUERS 2Q/03 VOLUME
(ranked on EOP 2Q/03 outstandings)

2Q/03 2Q/02 Y/Y CHG
1. Citigroup*: $ 59.7b $ 61.9b – 3.6%
2. MBNA: $ 45.4b $ 39.2b +15.8%
3. Bank One: $ 40.5b $ 38.4b + 5.5%
4. Chase: $ 22.2b $ 20.9b + 3.0%
5. Discover: $ 24.0b $ 23.5b + 6.2%
6. AmEx: $ 64.6b $ 58.7b +10.1%
7. Household: $ 9.3b $ 9.1b + 2.2%
8. Fleet: $ 5.7b $ 5.6b + 1.8%
9.Wells Fargo: $ 3.9b $ 3.4b +14.7%
10.Frst Nebraska:$ 1.8b $ 1.4b +27.1%
TOTAL: $277.1b $262.1b + 5.7%

The following top 10 issuers have not reported 2Q/03 volume figures as of 8/8/03: Capital One; Bank of America; Providian; and Sears National Bank.* Citigroup includes Canada; SOURCE: CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) SOURCE: CardData ([www.carddata.com][3])

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

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VISA Launches Plus No Surcharge Alliance

Visa USA announced this week the creation of an optional service that will help financial institutions expand no surcharge ATM access for their cardholders. Under the new “Plus No Surcharge Alliance” specially designed decals will be added to participating ATMs, and cardholders will be notified by their financial institution if it is a participant. In addition, the Visa/Plus ATM locator service on Visa.com and a toll-free hotline will assist cardholders in identifying participating ATMs. The program is geared towards small and mid-sized credit unions and banks. VISA is charging participants a $200 setup fee, a $50 monthly fee, and 5 cents per transaction to join the “Plus No Surcharge Alliance.” VISA’s “Plus” also offers “Plus Shared Deposits,” which allows consumers to make deposits at ATMs not operated by their own financial institutions. The “Plus” network has more than 800,000 ATMs in 144 countries with over 364,000 in the USA. In May, MasterCard announced it will now permit a waiver of ATM surcharges on its 350,000 ATM “Cirrus” network in the USA. (CF Library 5/29/03; 4/3/03)

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Older Men Carry Average Unsecured Debt of $19,000

A new study by MD-based Amerix has found that men 50 and older are shouldering more unsecured debt than women, $19,000 versus $15,500. The Amerix Quarterly Index examines trends and statistics compiled from the aggregate data of more than 300,000 individuals enrolled in debt management plans supported by Amerix technology. Amerix is the nation’s leading provider of technology and processing support to nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

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GTA VOLUME

Moneris Solutions reported that debit and credit card transaction for the week ending August 2nd, showed that overall retail transaction volumes in the Greater Toronto Area increased by 5.1% and that travel and entertainment volume jumped by 20.6%. The week included the SARS benefit concert and the start of Caribana celebrations. Extrapolating from its market share, Moneris Solutions estimates that the total revenue changes in the July 27 to August 2 period were: across all industries, spending in the GTA increased by
$75.2 million; the travel and entertainment industry was up $25 million; within this industry, spending at restaurants increased by $20.9 million and hotels were up by $1.9 million; and, that the retail industry increased by $39.6 million.

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Drexler Technology Posts Loss and Lower Revenues

Multi-biometric ID card maker Drexler Technology reported a net loss of $1.5 million for the second quarter compared to net income of $659,000 in 2Q/02. Revenues for the quarter were $2.5 million compared with $6.6 million for the same year-ago quarter. “LaserCard” optical memory card sales during the quarter included shipments of the Canadian government’s “Permanent Resident Card.” Follow-on production of the U.S. “Laser Visa Border Crossing Cards” and “Permanent Resident Cards” for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was delayed while new artwork for the cards was being designed by DHS. The artwork change for “Laser Visa BCCs” was completed in July. The DHS has not yet approved new artwork for the “Green Cards.” Drexler also announced last month that the Company received an optical memory card order valued at approximately $2 million for “Laser Visa BCCs,” under a five-year U.S. government subcontract awarded to the Company in June 2000. The new order called for card production to start immediately and to be completed within four months. Drexler has manufactured and sold over 20 million multi-biometric ID cards for U.S. government digital governance programs. For complete details on Drexler’s 2Q/03 performance visit CardData (www.carddata.com).

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HDFC & NIC TEAM

HDFC Bank and the National Insurance Company have teamed to launch the co-branded “HDFC Bank Health Plus MasterCard Credit Card.” The card is being launched in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. The card offers a free and cashless “Mediclaim” of Rs. 50,000 and a critical illness cover of Rs. 1.5 lakh. Critical illnesses covered include: open heart & bypass surgeries, cancer & bone marrow transplants, renal failures & kidney transplants and cerebral & vascular strokes. HDFC Bank is also extending the Mediclaim offer to supplementary cardholders. Furthermore, cardholders have the option of purchasing additional Mediclaim covers at highly discounted rates. The card is priced at Rs 950 per annum. HDFC expects to issue between 15,000-20,000 cards in the first year of the alliance. With this launch, HDFC Bank has expanded its credit card offering which already comprises the HDFC Bank International Silver Credit Card (launched in December 2001), the HDFC Bank International Gold Credit Card (launched in July 2002), and the HDFC Bank ­ eSeva International Credit Card (a credit card designed to help citizens fulfill civic obligations, launched in January 2003).

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AmEx’s Stiefler Takes Over Digital Insight

CA-based Digital Insight has named Jeffrey Stiefler, formerly President of American Express and President and CEO of IDS Financial Services, as Chairman, President and CEO to replace the retiring John Dorman. Stiefler brings world-class strategic leadership and more than 25 years of industry experience to Digital Insight. Stiefler will assume his new role in early September 2003. John Dorman, who has served as Digital Insight President and CEO since 1998, and as Chairman since 1999, plans to retire after a transition period. Dorman will remain on the Board of Directors and has entered into a consulting agreement that extends through December 31, 2004.

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ICON SCRUTINY

The joint venture card deal between American Express and CartaSi is getting closer scrutiny by the Italian antitrust authority. The venture, known as “Icon” will possibly boost CartaSi’s market share from 50% to 70%. The Italian card company currently has 7.5 million cards-in-force. Established in 1985 by a consortium of 16 banks as Servizi Interbancari, CartaSi SpA, as it is officially now known since January 1st of this year, is made up of four companies: CartaSi SpA; SI Servizi; SI INEC; and S.I. Immobiliare. CartaSi was set up to provide the Italian banking system with an international payment card system entirely owned and managed by a domestic company. CartaSi, was launched in 1986 as the first “dual” credit card providing access to both Eurocard/MasterCard and VISA. CartaSi SpA has more than 900 member financial institutions and provides acquiring operation services to 484,000 merchants. Italy’s antitrust authority will conclude its investigation by April 30, 2004.

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Williamson to Lead Xign Payment Services Network

CA-based Xign, an EBPP specialist, has named Bill Williamson, formerly of SAP America, FileNet, Honeywell Computer, Dictaphone/Pitney Bowes, and Xerox, as VP/Worldwide Sales to lead the expansion of the Xign Payment Services Network. Williamson will direct the Xign sales force in expanding the market for the Xign Payment Services Network, the fastest growing business-to-business electronic settlement network of its kind. Williamson served as vice president, western region, Consumer Products, for SAP America, where he managed software sales and consulting services for 14 western states.

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AmEx Blue Card Volume Up 40%

American Express indicated yesterday it will shortly announce a partnership with a major European air carrier. AmEx also noted Wednesday that “Blue Card” volume is up 40% for the first six months of 2003, compared to the same period in 2001.”Blue” now represents about 19% of the company’s total managed U.S. lending receivables. AmEx said that early vintage “Blue” products have write-off rates that are much better than early vintage “Platinum Optima” cards. AmEx says that FICO levels of new “Blue” customers have been consistent and strong throughout the four years it has offered the product, and in fact were slightly higher in the first six-months of 2003. AmEx also noted that its new “5% Cash Rebate” card has seen a 75% average monthly spend increase vs. the original “Blue Card.” In June the Company announced a corporate co-brand card with American Airlines and also strategic partnerships with Qantas and Air Canada.

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Morris to Unload COF Stock, Leaves in April

Capital One confirmed yesterday that Nigel Morris is departing Capital One in April. Morris also announced Wednesday his intentions of dumping 3 million shares of Cap One common stock within the next year. The option exercises and sales are Morris’ first since May 2001. The options he is exercising will expire in July 2004, three months after Morris leaves the company. After completion of the stock sales, he will own approximately 3.3 million options to purchase shares of COF common stock. Four months ago Cap One announced that Morris was stepping down as President and COO to become Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, effective May 1st. His role in executive management will conclude at the end of this year. Morris recently entered into an employment agreement with the company outlining his responsibilities prior to his planned departure in April 2004. Morris, who has four young children, says he wants to spend more time with his family and to pursue personal interests. Morris built Cap One with long-time business partner and CEO Richard Fairbank. (CF Library 4/22/03)

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