OPC & MNB

Official Payments Corporation announced the company has signed a strategic alliance with Michigan National Bank.

Under the agreement, the bank’s Public Funds group will market Official Payments’ electronic tax and fee payment services products to Michigan National’s base of government and educational clients. Michigan National’s Public Funds Group clients include over 700 local authorities, several state universities, and other state-level agencies.

Official Payments’ services enable consumers to charge their taxes, fees, fines, tuition, and other payments to their credit cards, via Internet ([www.officialpayments.com][1]) and telephone (1-800-2PAY-TAX). Official Payments provides similar services to the Internal Revenue Service, 17 state governments and over 700 counties and municipalities in 41 states across the United States.

“Official Payments’ agreement with Michigan National allows us to expand our marketing within the state, bringing the convenience of credit-card payments to a larger base of government and university clients,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments Corporation. “We expect this alliance will significantly enhance our sales efforts within Michigan,” Evans added. Official Payments currently provides services to 45 municipal and county clients in Michigan, including Auburn Hills, Flint, and Grand Rapids.

“We are pleased to work with Official Payments to expand the array of services we provide,” said Ron Jeszke, Director of Public Funds at Michigan National. “Through these services, Michigan’s municipalities and educational entities can offer citizens and students the ability to pay their taxes and fees with their credit cards, making the collection process faster and easier,” Jeszke added.

Official Payments will charge citizens and students a convenience fee for their use of the service. The fee averages between 2.5% and 3% of the payment amount. As a bonus, taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes and fees.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments is the incumbent in contracts with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, and well over 700 county and municipal governments in 41 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state, and local government payments.

Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company has experienced rapid and sustained growth over the past six reported quarters in revenue, new client acquisition, and addition of incremental services to existing clients. The company’s success can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.

About Michigan National

Michigan National provides diversified financial services and offers creative ideas and product options designed to help consumers and businesses meet their financial goals. It is committed to being the financial services corporation of first choice in its markets and provides the leading-edge products and services that customers expect from a member of a global financial network.

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

Details

Late Payments Up

The number of credit card bills paid late during 4Q/00 increased to 3.34% of all accounts (seasonally adjusted), compared to 3.21% in the previous quarter, and 3.22% one year ago. The American Bankers Association’s ‘Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin’ also reported this morning that fourth quarter credit card delinquencies, based on total dollars outstanding, was 4.25% (not seasonally adjusted), up from the previous quarter’s 3.93% but lower than 4.28% in the same period last year. The ABA says the number of delinquent accounts has increased as the economy has slowed but remains within the average rate seen over the past five years.

4Q CREDIT CARD DELINQUENCY HISTORY
(based on total dollars outstanding)
1999: 4.28% 1995: 4.45% 1991: 4.61% 1987: 3.65% 1983: 2.74%
1998: 4.62% 1994: 3.20% 1990: 4.46% 1986: 4.80% 1982: 3.57%
1997: 5.38% 1993: 3.64% 1989: 3.22% 1985: 3.88% 1981: 2.26%
1996: 5.45% 1992: 4.11% 1988: 3.40% 1984: 2.85% 1980: 3.00%
Source: American Bankers Association Delinquency Bulletin

Details

LuXEMBOURG

EuroSignCard S.A. and DigiStamp, Inc. join forces to bring next
generation electronic transaction validation to European banking communities
with a trusted third-party time stamping focus.
The partnership will add to EuroSignCard’s trust center array of
security technologies with time-stamping services that are interoperable and
available today.

EuroSignCard S.A., a Luxembourg trust center, and DigiStamp, Inc., a
security system firm/provider, have announced a strategic partnership to
provide the next generation of trusted services to financial transactions;
that of trusted third party time stamping services. This partnership
expedites the delivery of secure Internet-based transactions using PKI
solutions. The DigiStamp product suite gracefully becomes part of the public
key infrastructure (PKI) to provide trusted time stamping to financial
transactions. Coupled as an ensemble to a trust center, which validates an
individual’s identity, time stamping “captures” the transaction and assigns
a time element to it. The partnership provides EuroSignCard a new
competitive advantage with an interoperable and scalable time stamp service
and DigiStamp access to the European market with a leader in trust services.
“Our customers are moving millions of euros in transactions between
financial institutions via the Internet; absolute legal certainty as to the
time and place the parties entered the transaction is critical. DigiStamp
has an open standards based toolkit to provide our developers with just such
services,” commented David Sweigert, Managing Director of EuroSignCard S.A.

“We are especially pleased that a European trust center, like
EuroSignCard, has been able to move quickly to provide secure time stamps.
We anticipate rapid growth of interest in our products as world markets
demand critical, trusted third-party time stamping services,” said Conrad
Deeter, of DigiStamp.

About EuroSignCard S.A.

EuroSignCard S.A. provides security technology for electronic
transactions to commercial and government organizations. EuroSignCard’s
products include Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) architectures, smart cards,
and cryptography techniques. EuroSignCard was formed in 1999 and recently
received a cash infusion of Euro 1,500,000. The firm specializes in
technology that complies with EU Directive 1999/93.

Details

BannerDirect Promotes Neale

BannerDirect of New York, NY, is pleased to name Dave Neale corporate controller, effective immediately. In his new position, Mr. Neale will be reporting directly to Christine Fontana, president. ‘Dave has been with us for less than a year and in that short time has grown to become an integral part of the company,’ says Ms. Fontana.

Based in New York, Mr. Neale will be responsible for overseeing the general accounting department, financial analysis, acquisition possibilities and all other facets of financial control.

‘During the course of a year replete with transition and growth, it became clear the demands of our business required this position to be filled by a responsible team player,’ says Ms. Fontana. ‘Dave has shown himself to be both, and as such, will have a key role in the corporation.’

Dave Neale’s previous positions include IT coordinator and assistant controller for Columbia Cornell Care, operations accountant for Cunard White Star, Ltd., and accountant for the Haitian Women Program. He is a graduate of York College (CUNY) in New York City and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Patrice and their infant son, Darion.

BannerDirect is a full-service direct marketing agency recognized for the development and execution of direct response marketing programs for clients in the financial, entertainment, telecommunications, association, retail and medical industries. Its services and expertise include comprehensive marketing strategy and planning; creative development; production management; list procurement; list processing; and, data analysis. BannerDirect is headquartered in New York City; production coordination and fulfillment are managed from BannerDirect’s Wilmington (NC) office. BannerDirect has sales offices in New York City, Milwaukee (WI), Carson City (NV), Charlotte (NC), Brightwaters (NY) and Syosset (NY).

Details

Gemplus & BodyCom

BodyCom Technologies and Gemplus, announced they have entered into a Joint Marketing Agreement. Under the agreement, both companies will cooperate in promoting and marketing their respective products in order to increase customer recognition of the benefits of the joint use of Gemplus and BodyCom products.

Through its fully integrated smart card reader, the Forum will offer radical new applications such as highly secure mobile on-line financial transactions, on-line banking and cutting edge point-of-sale electronic purchases, in conjunction with the Bluetooth short-range RF.

Numerous countries worldwide are seriously considering the implementation of smart citizen Identity cards providing access to government and public services anywhere, anytime. BodyCom’s wireless and portable terminals will definitely provide the necessary cornerstone to enable authorities to securely access identity, driving license and car insurance information with a user-friendly, privacy sensitive and convenient workstation. BodyCom’s optional fingerprint sensor will enable Off and On-line identity verification of smart citizen ID card holders.

Dr. Bruno Lassus, VP of Healthcare and Identity Solutions at Gemplus also mentions interesting opportunities using the BodyCom’s Forum(TM) for healthcare applications in socialized medicine countries where he has already implemented some national smart health insurance and medical card programs. “These countries have medical providers visiting patients at home and Forum(TM) would provide an exceptional and expected secure solution enabling real-time eligibility verification but also accessing remote medical information and finally submitting wireless electronic claims processing,” he claims.

BodyCom’s Forum line of communicators combines the very best features of wireless mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The Forum enables revolutionary and secure m-commerce, and multi-media functionality. Through the use of miniaturized and robust technologies, the Forum is a truly pocket-sized Smart Mobile Device (SMD), with fully integrated GSM, GPRS and Bluetooth capabilities. In addition there is a highly sophisticated module expansion architecture, known as the “Backpack(TM).” These sophisticated USB Backpacks will allow BodyCom and third parties to provide any additional functionality to the basic communicator, including a Fingerprint Sensor; Campack; Compact Flash Type II, GPS, 802.11, and numerous other features.

“BodyCom is excited to partner with Gemplus because of its demonstrated leadership in delivering market leading smart card solutions,” said BodyCom Chairman and CEO Michael Ausems. “This partnership leverages the strengths of both companies and will enable the healthcare system to streamline inter-organization communication with uncompromising personal privacy or security. The improved communication resulting from the use of our Forum Communicator and Gemplus technology will help reduce administrative costs and improve the quality of healthcare.”

About Gemplus

GEMPLUS: world Leader of smart card based solutions

Since its creation in 1988, Gemplus has been driving the worldwide deployment and marketing of smart card based specific applications and services for telecommunication, financial services and e-business security.

Gemplus smart card technology has been a driving force in the deployment of wireless telephony since 1990, when SIM cards were introduced into the GSM standard. Since, Gemplus has enhanced SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) technology to provide greater value-added services to most wireless operators and their network subscribers. Gemplus now provides products compliant with new transmission standards (2.5 Generation, 3 Generation).

Gemplus is present throughout the value chain: chip design, software development, card management system and consulting. Gemplus provides its clients and partners with comprehensive, integrated, tailor-made solutions for their security, personalization and privacy management needs.

In 2000, revenue was 1.205 BE, up 57% from the previous year’s 767 ME. Net income was 99 ME. Gemplus employs over 7870 people in more than 37 countries worldwide. Gemplus shares are traded on Euronext Paris S.A. Premier Marche and on Nasdaq Stock Market since December 11, 2000. Gemplus Nasdaq Stock Market = GEMP

About BodyCom

BodyCom Technologies’ mission is to be the world’s leading provider of truly pocket-sized, highly integrated, GPRS, UMTS and Bluetooth-enabled SMDs. Communicators that offer extreme ease-of-use, and enable revolutionary internet-based, m-commerce applications.

Founded in 1998, BodyCom is privately held and headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Please visit [http://www.bodycom.com][1] for further information, or contact Michael Ausems on 650/324-9160, michael.ausems@bodycom.com.

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

Details

INDIA

Navin Communications, Inc., a leader in global voice
messaging and telephony services, announced that it launched its Telivoice
Prepaid Cards in Mumbai, India. The launch
achieved two objectives. First, it made its global voice messaging service,
NavinMail(TM), readily available to the masses in
Mumbai. Second, it propelled Navin’s efforts to use prepaid cards to make the
service easily accessible to people throughout
India. The service provides a quick, easy, low-cost means of communicating with
family, friends, and associates worldwide.

Being a store-and-retrieve phone messaging service, a member does not need
Internet or computer access to send and
receive voice messages. All that the member needs is a phone operating in tone
mode. The member can access the service by
way of a local phone call, select operating instructions in a number of
languages, and record and send messages in any language.
Messages can be stored in a predefined mailbox or delivered to any phone. The
recipient can retrieve a stored message and
reply to the message by calling a local access phone number. With the
introduction of prepaid card service in India, a person can
start using the service simply by purchasing a Telivoice prepaid card,
available at retailers for 50 Rupees (approximately $1
U.S.). The registration process is very simple, allowing a person to register
and start sending messages in one step.

The cost of the service depends upon the destination and duration of
messages. The charges are deducted from the 50 Rupee
prepaid amount, and once the balance reaches zero, the member can replenish the
amount by purchasing a refill slip.

Vishwas Godbole, Navin’s chief executive officer and president, said, “This
is a great day for Navin Communications and the
people of India. Prepaid cards make our global voice messaging service more
accessible and easier than ever to use. Now the
masses in India will enjoy an affordable, efficient, and convenient way to stay
in touch with loved ones and friends throughout the
world.”

About NavinMail

NavinMail is a global voice messaging service that provides its members
with distinctive benefits. Without need of personal
computers or Internet access, members place local phone calls and exchange
messages globally with family, friends, and
associates. Outside of India, people can register for NavinMail over the Web,
at www.navinmail.com, or by calling Navin toll
free at 877/628-4626. The service is currently available in Australia, Canada,
India, Mexico, the Philippines, the UK, and the
US. Plans are to expand the service into China, Europe, the Middle East, South
America, and Southeast Asia. eNavinMail(TM),
the Web-based NavinMail messaging application, allows people throughout the
world with Internet access to use their computers
to record, send, receive, and listen to voice messages as e-mail attachments.

About Navin

Founded in 1998 by Vishwas Godbole, Navin’s president and chief executive
officer, and headquartered in San Jose, Navin
was established to empower and enrich individuals and communities by
strengthening relationships via its easy, innovative, and
affordable voice messaging solutions. To that end, Navin, a privately held,
rapidly growing voice messaging company, offers a
new class of voice messaging services for international communication. Press
announcements and other information about Navin
can be found on the Web, at www.navin.com.

Details

FRANCE

Webraska, the worldwide provider of wireless
navigation services and technologies, and SureFire Commerce Inc., a
leading global provider of secure online transaction processing services,
announce their partnership to develop wireless location-based mobile commerce
(m-commerce) services.

Webraska and SureFire Commerce will provide technology and m-commerce
solutions for merchants and wireless carriers. The solution will combine
SureFire’s proprietary e-commerce solutions with Webraska’s Personal
Navigation API. The initial offer will allow merchants to target selected
customers, through mobile phones, with personalized purchase offers based on
their proximity and individual profile. Furthermore, customers would be able
to receive turn-by-turn directions and street-level maps to guide them into
the store, providing the merchants with a virtual wireless sales force.

The service will allow consumers to buy goods at a discounted price from
the store and get a returned confirmation SMS (or Short Messaging Service)
message on the transaction. SureFire Commerce will provide all the secured
transactional functions of the service through its mission-critical FirePay
online payment platform.

“The Webraska and SureFire joint offering provides a very powerful
platform for location-based m-commerce applications,” said Charles Nahas,
General Manager, Webraska North America. “This partnership results in an
additional strong value proposition for our telecom customers, as well as for
consumers and merchants. Registered customers will for instance be able to
receive timely personalized offers from merchants, complemented by
turn-by-turn directions and maps that guide them to the store to purchase the
product.”

“For the consumer, it is a discreet and paperless way to benefit from
enticing discounts from renowned merchants. Likewise, mobile operators gain a
new revenue stream, differentiate their offerings and reduce subscriber
churn.” added Daniel Kornitzer SureFire’s Senior Vice President, Marketing &
Product Management. “This innovative location-commerce service stimulates
offline transactions by providing location-based offers to consumers and then
tracking the transactions in order to immediately apply the appropriate
discounts.”

About Webraska

Webraska is the worldwide provider of wireless navigation, spatial
searching, mapping and traffic information services and technologies for
telecom operators and car manufacturers.

Helping carriers leverage their UMTS, Wireless Internet and
Location-Technology assets, and allowing application developers to ‘location &
navigation-enable’ their wireless applications and location-based services,
Webraska shortens time-to-market requirements, increases revenue and market
opportunities, customer loyalty and brand recognition, for leading wireless
service providers around the world, including SFR, TIM, ADAC and Orange.
Webraska’s technology has been selected by industry leaders such as IBM,
Nortel, Oracle, Openwave and SignalSoft.

The company is headquartered in Poissy, France and has offices in London,
Brussels, Madrid, Amsterdam, Milan, Stockholm, Tokyo, Singapore, Melbourne and
Montreal. For more information visit http//www.webraska.com

About SureFire Commerce

SureFire Commerce Inc. is a global business-to-business provider of
proprietary e-commerce solutions in the area of secure credit-card transaction
processing and merchant enabling. SureFire Commerce is an international
provider of secure online transaction processing services to merchants in the
areas of sports, entertainment and gaming, among others, targeting to process
in excess of $1 billion in transactions this fiscal year. SureFire Commerce’s
merchant enabling solutions provide telecommunications companies, Internet
service providers, high traffic portals and financial institutions the ability
to generate recurrent revenue streams for themselves and their small- and
medium-sized business customers. SureFire Commerce is headquartered in
Montreal, with offices in Hull and Boston.

Details

SPAIN

Oberthur Card Systems has
acquired Logica Impresora S.A., currently ranked number one in the
manufacturing and personalization of banking cards in Spain and number nine
worldwide in the shipment of VISA and MasterCard cards. This FRF 66 million
(USD $9.06 million) purchase gives Oberthur the leading position in banking
in addition to its existing number one ranking in GSM across Spain and
Portugal.

“The Spanish payment card market is an important market and this acquisition
strengthens our reputation as the leader in EMV migration,” said Xavier
Drilhon, Managing Director for Oberthur Card Systems’ SEMEA and Latin
American region. “By increasing our personalization and distribution
network, we are embracing our ‘Think Global, Act Local’ philosophy.
Acquiring established companies in our field enables us to meet the needs of
the local markets and offer the best all around solution in terms of
quality, price and customer service.”

This acquisition is in line with the projected migration to smart cards of
the Spanish banking sector by 2003. A strong growth is predicted in Spain as
well as the rest of Europe where the adoption of EMV specifications calls
for the replacement of traditional magnetic stripe cards with chip-based
smart banking cards. This move also provides Oberthur with the ideal
platform to further penetrate the burgeoning South American market.

Based on the outskirts of Barcelona, Logica Impresora S.A. has a turnover of
FRF 60 million (USD $8.24 million) and an EBIT of 12%. Established in 1994,
Logica Impresora S.A. and its sister company Logica Personalizadora S.L.
(also included in the acquisition) are internationally certified by VISA,
MasterCard, Europay and Diners, and have strong distribution across the
Spanish and Portuguese markets as well as Germany, Greece, Russia, Estonia,
Turkey and South America.

With two modern, highly secure plants and 70 employees at Logica Impresora’s
and Logica Personalizadora’s site, this latest acquisition brings Oberthur’s
total up to 19 production sites across the five continents.

About Oberthur Card Systems

Oberthur Card Systems (Paris Stock Exchange – Code SICOVAM 12413), a global
leader and the innovator in the smart card industry, is shaping the future
by offering the ultimate in SIM, WAP, 3G (IMT-2000/UMTS), e-wallet
technologies & Internet-based card management services coupled with a firm
commitment to open standards.

Championing EMV migration, Oberthur is the world’s #1 supplier of MasterCard
and Visa cards, #1 in banking, e-commerce, m-commerce and pay-TV, Oberthur
is also the #1 in JavaTM and GSM technologies.

Details

CardService Platform

Cardservice International successfully completed its migration to a new, more powerful LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway, a complex combination of software and hardware for its Internet merchants, designed to securely handle electronic credit card payments over the Web.

Cardservice International’s updated multimillion dollar LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway launched on Feb. 4, 2001, after 10 months of intense planning, design, development, testing and quality assurance. The new LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway, which comprises leading-edge architecture from top-shelf manufactures like Hewlett Packard, EMC, Cisco and F5, and includes more advanced software for transaction processing on several machines simultaneously, enables LinkPoint to extend its ability to process more than 100,000 online merchant credit card transactions seamlessly, rapidly and reliably.

The new gateway processes transactions four times faster then it did before the migration, and Cardservice has implemented additional safeguards to greatly enhance overall system availability. In addition, the new LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway architecture ensures that higher processing loads can be handled with no customer disruptions.

About Cardservice International:

Cardservice International Inc. is a global leader in providing real-time secure credit card transactions to merchants. Cardservice offers merchants a cost-effective service tailored to their businesses, enabling them to provide credit card processing over the Internet as well as to the traditional marketplace. More than 185,000 merchants have contracted with Cardservice International. Of those, 55,000 are actively using Cardservice as their Internet solution. First Data Corp, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment services, holds a 50% equity position with Cardservice. For more information about Cardservice International, visit [cardservice.com][1].

[1]: http://cardservice.com

Details

UNITED KINGDOM

Posting an unprecedented
eleventh year of double-digit growth, Visa International reported that
global sales volume surpassed US$1.8 trillion for the year ending December 31,
2000.

This represents a 21 percent increase in global sales volume over 1999. Visa
also saw a 19% increase in the number of Visa transactions. During the peak
holiday shopping season in December 2000, Visa processed almost 4,000
transactions per second.

“Our continued double digit growth is a very positive indication of the
strength of the Visa brand,” said Malcolm Williamson, President and CEO of
Visa
International. “Visa continues to be the payment brand of choice to our
cardholders, merchants, and members as we move toward our vision of universal
commerce — the ability to conduct commerce securely and conveniently anytime,
anywhere and with any type of device.”
Visa saw the most dramatic growth in its CEMEA (Central Europe-Middle
East-Africa), Asia-Pacific, and Latin America & Caribbean regions with
year-to-year growth rates of 51 percent, 45 percent, and 31 percent
respectively.

There are currently over one billion Visa payment cards issued globally. The
Visa acceptance network includes over 21 million merchants and 652,000 ATMs.
“The continued growth we are seeing is a reflection of a variety of
organizational and business initiatives undertaken in 2000, particularly the
delegation of more operating control to our six regions and continued
innovation in product and service offerings.” said Williamson.
Significant accomplishments within the Visa organization in 2000 include the
launch of Inovant (Visa’s IT and processing services subsidiary), the
launch of
the Global Secure e-Commerce Initiative (aimed at increasing security and
consumer confidence in e-commerce), and continuing enhancements to the Visa
network including the launch of DirectExchange in the U.S.A. Visa also made
great strides toward the global use of smart cards with an accelerated rollout
in Visa EU, negotiation of a $3 smart card for Visa issuers, and the launch of
Smart Visa in the U.S.A.

“As a global organization, we operate in very diverse markets, but by
harnessing technology and our expertise in payments, we have succeeded in
meeting the needs of consumers, merchants, and member banks in all regions of
the world”, said Williamson. “We expect 2001 to be an equally successful
year.”

About Visa

Visa is the world’s leading payments brand and the largest payments system
worldwide. Visa-branded cards generate more than US$1.8 trillion in annual
volume and are accepted at over 21 million locations around the world.

Details

BELGIUM

At the end of 2000, Europay Member banks had issued 271.5 million cards
carrying Europay brands, a rise of 14% over 1999. More than thirty-three
million new cards bearing one or more Europay brands – Eurocard®-MasterCard®,
Maestro®, eurocheque® and Cirrus® – were issued by Member banks during the
year, translating into a 59%* overall market share.

The number of Eurocard-MasterCard credit/charge cards rose 15% to reach 68.8
million. Europay debit products sustained their front-runner market position as
European consumers’ preferred payment options, with cards bearing Maestro,
eurocheque and/or Cirrus surpassing the 200 million milestone to reach 202.6
million – a rise of 14%. Over 183 million of these were Maestro cards.

Maestro – the world’s leading debit programme – continued to be popular at
retailers, with a dramatic increase in the number of transactions to reach 3.1
billion – a growth of 30% over 1999. The number of transactions generated by
cards bearing Europay brands reached 11.2 billion, a rise of 16% over the
previous year. Associated volume increased by 15% to a value of over €966.5
billion.

The expansion of Europay acceptance networks across Europe was also
significant, with 24-hour access at cash machines (ATMs) increasing by 15% to
almost 278,000. The number of terminals accepting Maestro jumped 13% to reach
2.5 million, while 4.7 million merchants now accept Eurocard-MasterCard cards –
a rise of 12%.

Dr. Peter Hoch, Europay’s Director and CEO, commenting on last year’s figures
said, “Results from 2000 clearly highlight Europay’s continued leadership in
payment cards across Europe, particularly with a 71%* market share in debit. We
are well positioned for sustained growth in traditional and emerging markets
and continue to seize new opportunities for our Member banks in the virtual
world, and in particular the rapidly evolving mobile payments sector.”

Europay International, headquartered in Waterloo, Belgium, is Europe’s leading
payments organisation, dedicated to providing a tailored product range and
support services to its more than 9,000 Member banks. At present, 271.5 million
cards (Eurocard®-MasterCard®, Maestro®, Cirrus® and eurocheque) provide
European and global debit and credit card services, and offer cash access to
Europe’s largest network of more than 277,000 ATMs in 43 countries. Through its
alliance with MasterCard International, over 600,000 ATMs and more than 19
million retail locations worldwide accept Europay products.

Details

UNITED KINGDOM

Independent market analyst Datamonitor’s new
report, ‘UK Plastic Cards 2001’, finds that borrowing on plastic has increased
by an average of 22% a year between 1996 and 2000. Total balances outstanding
on cards went from GBP18.7 billion in 1996 to GBP41.1 billion in 2000. As
operators make it easier to get a credit card, consumers are increasingly
willing to borrow as they are attracted by high card limits and low interest
rates. The future British wallet is likely to be increasingly dominated by
plastic.

In 2000, a total of 121 million credit, charge and debit cards were in
issue in
the UK, with the balances outstanding totalling just over GBP41 billion and
spend on credit cards being approximately GBP280 billion. Fears of saturation
in the UK credit card market are unfounded as the number of credit and charge
cards in issue continues to go from strength to strength. By 2005, the number
of credit and charge cards in issue in the UK will almost double to 92.7
million. Not only will the proportion of the adult population that own a
credit
or charge card increase, but so too will the average number of cards held. By
2005, these will have increased to 80% and 2 cards respectively, following
trends already seen in the US.

We Are Nurturing a Credit Card Society
As cultures change and people grow up with the concept of credit cards,
increased familiarity is encouraging ownership. Credit cards are increasingly
offered as a standard product, as they are currently with student accounts.
Advertising spend remains high, which reminds people of the ease with which
they can get credit and the advantages of doing so on a credit card. Lenders
have made it easier to obtain a credit card as better technology and improved
credit-scoring techniques allow companies to target previously ignored groups
such as the sub-prime (those with adverse credit record) market.
The advent of pre-pay cards mean that now teenagers are able to have their own
plastic card, getting them more used to the idea of credit and debit from a
much younger age than previous generations.

Credit Cards Increasingly Suited to Different Lifestyles
Technological developments such as data warehousing (database functionality
allowing easy manipulation to give required information) techniques are
allowing better targeting, finding individual needs and marketing to them.
On the back of the trend for home decor, prompted by TV programmes such as
Changing Rooms and Ground Force, Barclaycard have aimed to target house buyers
with the launch of ‘Home’ card. This card is designed to meet the needs of
those who have just moved house, offering lower interest rates in the stores
they are most likely to use while offering associated promotions.
It is these enticements that customers are likely to demand in the future.
Hence, product innovation will help differentiation, allowing issuers to
maintain market share. By 2005 further numbers of ‘lifestyle’ cards will be
introduced that act as additional cards to take advantage of this trend.

Gold Cards No Longer A Status Symbol
Gold and premium cards have grown at almost five times the rate of other
credit
and charge card products. This is the result of the increased number of gold
and premium cards marketed and issued to consumers. The entrance of the US
mono-lines (card issuers from the US who initially only offered credit cards)
in the 1990’s concentrated heavily on marketing gold and premium card
products,
using the status attached to them as a marketing tool. Thus, a premium
product,
once offered only to well off and highly valued customers, has become a
mass-market product.
Credit Card Fraud Increasing
Over the period 1995-9 the cost of fraud to the card industry has been rising.
The growth in fraudulent transactions has been growing faster than the growth
in the value of transactions, with growth of 22.8% annually and 14.3% annually
respectively.
1999 was a particularly bad year with losses amounting to GBP189.4m. This has
been estimated to have increased to almost GBP300m in 2000. However, as a
proportion of the total value of transactions this is minimal. Fraud only
accounted for 0.3% of transactions in 1999. However, this shows a 50% increase
from 0.2%, which was the proportion of fraudulent transactions throughout
1995-8.

Concern over Credit Card Debt
The increasingly competitive nature of the card market means that ‘teaser’
rates are now commonplace and interest rates have dropped significantly.
This environment is more complicated for the average consumer to understand
and
has led the National Association of Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and the Office of
Fair Trading to become concerned about credit card debt. Both associations are
worried that consumers are being misled as to the price of borrowing on credit
cards and believe that they are borrowing more than they can afford. The
National Association of Citizen’s Advice Bureaux hopes that the small print
will be made more obvious and that the industry will not mislead consumers
through their marketing. The Office of Fair Trading is particularly concerned
about younger borrowers, who have not previously been targeted so heavily and
are unused to managing their money.

Heading Towards a Cashless Society
“Our findings indicate the advent of a plastic dominated society; not only do
British consumers hold greater numbers of plastic cards than ever before, but
debit cards are increasingly dominating people’s payment habits.
Although debit cards are generally used for lower value purchases, high
frequency of use combined with the ability to obtain cashback has escalated
the
proportion of transactions on debit cards. It is likely that debit cards will
continue to dominate transactions to 2005. The dominance of the debit card,
together with easier access to credit, means that the British wallet of the
future is likely to be increasingly dominated by plastic as new generations of
consumers grow up being used to making payments by card,” comments Nicola
Kubiak, Datamonitor financial services analyst.

Details