GNS DEALS

American Express’ Travel Related Services reported it currently has 77
arrangements in place with banks and other qualified institutions in 77
countries providing for card issuance. The Global Network Services business
authorizes third-party financial institutions to issue American
Express-branded cards that are accepted on the American Express merchant
network. In 2002, AmEx signed eight new GNS partners, including Toyota
Finance Company in Japan, and Samsung Card Company, Ltd. in Korea.
Together, GNS partners launched 40 new products during 2002. Including
cards that AmEx issues directly, the company introduced more than 100 new
proprietary card products in 17 countries during 2002. The new card
products include
“Blue from American Express” in Mexico and Indonesia (bringing the total
number of international “Blue” markets to 18), the “American Express Tiger
Woods Credit Card” in Canada, and co-branded cards with Costco in Puerto
Rico, Alitalia in Italy and Shinsei Bank in Japan. TRS also acquired a
credit card portfolio from AMP Bank in Australia.

Details

VISA EU

Europeans generated 8.2 billion VISA POS transactions last year with volume of euro 494.1 billion, an increase of 13.3% and 14.3%, respectively. Including cash withdrawals, VISA’s 2002 gross volume in Europe hit euro 775 billion in 11.2 billion transactions, a 14.8% increase. Retail sales using a VISA card now account for almost 9% of personal consumer expenditure in Europe. The number of VISA cards issued in Europe increased 8.8% to 211.7 million, including 34.7 million EMV smart cards. Debit transactions at POS grew to euro 304.8 billion, a 13.8% increase. VISA also noted that e-Commerce sales in the last quarter of 2002 were up over 100%compared to the previous year-end.

Details

OBERTHUR 2002

Oberthur Card Systems returned to profitability in the second half of last
year. Oberthur says it cut debt by 40% last year, and is now positioned for
increased profitability in 2003. In 2002, all smart card segments kept on
growing in volumes, with 689 million units delivered versus 599 million the
previous year, showing a 15% increase. On a full year basis, Oberthur
delivered 99.1 million smart cards in 2002, an increase of 8.4% over 2001.
However the average selling price dropped by 16.7% in 2002. The payment
market accounted for 54% of Oberthur sales in 2002 (versus 52% in 2001) due
to its strong positions in both the United Kingdom and Benelux smart card
migration programs and in the French banking card renewal program.

Details

OMNI 3600

The project launched earlier this year between VeriFone, Visanet, and JV Telesp Celular Particpipações/ Telefônica Celular, which placed terminals at restaurants and shopping malls in and around São Paulo is scoring success. VeriFone Brazil has now announced that the “Omni 3600” terminal used in the project has become the first wireless terminal in the world to support cellular technology utilizing Qualcomm’s “CDMA2000 1X.”This new capability allows traditional transactions to be completed in less than 3 seconds, considerably faster than the 20 plus seconds for a regular debit or credit transaction. This solution expands the reach of payments to taxis, delivery companies, mobile kiosks, table payments, and traditional retails outlets. The terminal can communicate to WAP-enabled Internet home pages, consult on inventory position, electronically transmit order information and perform a host of other functions not typical of traditional POS terminals.

Details

Airline Problems

While U.S. Airways is expected today to emerge from the bankruptcy it filed seven months ago, American Airlines may begin its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process this week. In other bad news, United Airlines is being de-listed this week from the NYSE as the possibility of a liquidation rises. The Iraq war coupled with growing concerns about the spread of SARS via airline cabins is having a devastating effect on the airline industry. Frequent flyers who accumulate air miles via co-branded credit cards or loyalty cards, may find their air miles saved in bankruptcy but difficult to redeem on a shrinking number of flights. The U.S. government advised travelers last week to avoid Asian destinations, even passing through places such as Singapore and Hong Kong due to SARS.

Details

AmEx Cards

American Express reported Friday that new products it launched last year attracted nearly 500,000 new cards issued. The September introduction of the “Rewards Green” and the “Rewards Gold” charge cards along with the earlier introduction of “Cash Rebate Card” fueled the growth. AmEx says that rewards-based products have very favorable economics in terms of cardholder attrition, credit and payment performance. The new “Rewards Green” and “Rewards Gold” cards offer automatic enrollment in the “Membership Rewards” program and double points for purchases at supermarkets, gas stations, drugstores, and home improvement stores. The cards carry annual fees ranging from $65 to $130. The “Cash Rebate Card” for U.S. consumers carries no annual fee and offers up to five percent cash back, based on the cardholder’s annual spending and payment activity. AmEx currently has 35.1 million cardholders in the USA, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details