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April 30, 2005

April 29, 2005

VeriFone Completes IPO

VeriFone completed its initial public offering this morning. Its new stock symbol is PAY. The IPO was priced at $10 per share, down from its expected pricing range of $12 to $14 per share. VeriFone's latest SEC S-1/A filing is available online.

MBNA and Ixe Banco to Form Joint Venture to Market Credit Cards and Consumer Loans in Mexico

MBNA and Ixe Banco have announced signing a definitive agreement to form Ixe-MBNA SOFOLasa, a joint venture that will issue and service credit cards and consumer loans in Mexico. Each partner will contribute 50% of the necessary capital.

"Partnering with Ixe Banco is a terrific fit for MBNA," said John Cochran, MBNA's Chief Operating Officer. "Ixe is led by a proven management team and the Mexican market for credit card products and consumer loans is large and growing. The demographics of the customers who are attracted to Ixe are ideal for MBNA. We will benefit from Ixe's experience in Mexico, and Ixe will benefit from MBNA's experience in marketing and servicing credit cards. Together, Ixe and MBNA will offer an exceptional range of products, backed by outstanding Customer service."

April 28, 2005

Scotland: Fraudsters Steal Thousands in Card-Cloning Bank Scam

The Evening Times reports on unauthorized withdrawals from ATM's in Glascow, Scotland over the last ten days.

April 27, 2005

Visa Sees Steady Adoption of Verified by Visa

Visa USA reported today that Verified by Visa's share of e-commerce transactions has grown over 40$ with transaction volume during the first quarter of 2005 increasing more than 230% over last year.

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VeriFone is IPO of the Week

MarketWatch publishes Renaissance Capital's report on the upcoming initial public offering of VeriFone.

NTT Docomo Launches Wireless Phone Credit Card Service

EE Times reports that NTT Docomo has announced a new phone-based credit card service.

NTT Docomo will collaborate with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (SMFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) to establish a platform for a credit-payment service using Docomo's phones equipped with the Felica wireless IC chip for cashless payments.

Under the deal, Docomo will shortly launch a new credit card brand and acquire 34 percent of the equity of Mitsui Card, paying approximately 98 billion yen (about $925 million). Docomo expects that Sumitomo's card network will accelerate deployment of its new credit card network.

Legal Woes Are a Debit to Visa

Business Week reports on S&P's downgrade of Visa International's credit rating from A+ to A.

S&P believes Visa's risk profile has significantly changed in the past decade, with its ongoing legal challenges having emerged as a major risk component. The speed, number, and potential severity of events in aggregate elevate business risk to new levels. Concerns about legal risk and, to a lesser extent, changing industry dynamics, reduce the ratings on Visa by one notch. The negative outlook highlights further potential ratings pressure due to the negative effect of current litigations.

April 26, 2005

Stores Blame Checkout Software For Security Breaches

David Bank reports for the Wall St. Journal on a lawsuit filed by BJ's Wholesale Club against IBM seeking compensation for losses following a compromise of credit card information.

The sensitive information encoded in the magnetic stripe on credit cards "was out there more than we thought," says John Shaughnessy, senior vice president for risk management at Visa USA. These secret codes are "jewels" for thieves, Mr. Shaughnessy says. "The fact that it's stored anywhere is troublesome."

American Express Reports Record Quarterly Earnings

American Express reported first quarter financial results today with net income rising 19 percent to $946 million for the quarter on a 10 percent increase in revenues.

Cards in force grew 7 percent to 66.1 million while card payment volume grew 15 percent to $109.3 billion. Amex's Global Network Services payment volume rose over 35% reflecting growth in non-US partner volumes and MBNA-related volumes in the US. Average lending balances grew 4%. Amex grew its marketing, promotion, and rewards expenses aggressively in the quarter -- growing 29 percent.

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Lloyds TSB to Issue American Express Cards

The Financial Times reports this morning that Lloyds TSB will announce today that it will begin issuing American Express cards in the UK.

[Update: American Express has issued a press release confirming the Lloyds TSB relationship.]

VeriSign to Acquire Lightbridge's PrepayIN Technology Platform and Customer Base

VeriSign has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lightbridge's PrePayIN platform and customer base for $17.45 million in cash plus the assumption of certain contractual liabilities.

"Adding the PrepayIN(TM) platform to our existing pre-paid and billing portfolio is a compliment to our already extensive solution offering," said Vernon Irvin, executive vice president, VeriSign Communications Services. "This is a system that will enrich our prepaid offering domestically, while extending our customer base to markets internationally."

Separately, Lightbridge also announced that it has engaged investment bankers to advise the company on strategic alternatives for its Telecom Decisioning Services business.

April 25, 2005

Solid Rebound for Qpass

Tricia Duryee reports for the Seattle Times on Qpass.

Last month Qpass' customers sold almost $57 million in data on a retail basis. That represents a jump of almost 300 percent from the year-ago period.

A CEO and a Gentleman

Greg Farrell reports for USA Today on American Express CEO Ken Chenault.

April 23, 2005

China: eBay's Eachnet Cuts Listing Fees

Bill Bishop reports on his blog re: news from China about eBay's Eachnet cutting its listing fees as of May 1st.

I doubt they would be cutting prices if business were booming for them in China. I believe Alibaba's Taobao continues to take share from Ebay in China.

Compare PayPal's Fees

PayPal has a handy online calculator that allows merchants to compare their current bank card acceptance pricing with that of PayPal's.

We're often asked if a PayPal Business account is more or less expensive than a traditional online merchant account. The inquirer is often surprised when we say that a PayPal Business account is less expensive, even for multi-million dollar online businesses.

April 22, 2005

Using Payment Cards in Business

GTnews.com is published a six-part series in association with HSBC on the effective use of payment cards in business. The first two parts are now available: Introduction to Payment Card Business and Corporate Travel & Entertainment Cards.

April 21, 2005

MBNA Sees Difficult Environment

MBNA has reported financial results for the first quarter.

The Corporation's results were further impacted by unexpectedly high payment volumes from U.S. credit card customers.

While sales volume on MBNA credit cards grew 9.5%, MBNA's credit card loans outstanding declined 9.4% over the same quarter a year ago and 8.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2004. MBNA has posted is first quarter business results presentation online (PDF).

READ MORE »

Federated Department Stores to Accept Discover Network Cards

Discover has announced that Federated's 450 Macy's and Bloomingdale stores began accepting Discover cards on April 1.

READ MORE »

Credit Cards Buoy Profits For JP Morgan Chase

Ted Griffith reports for Delaware Online on Chase's first quarter earnings.

Craig Woker, an analyst with Morningstar in Chicago, called Chase's card business one of the "bright spots" in the first quarter, offsetting what he described as weakness in other areas, such as commercial lending.

April 20, 2005

PayPal Financial Results

As part of today's announcement of eBay's first quarter financial results (PDF), PayPal reported a 44% increase in total payment volume to $6.2 billion with 71% of that volume associated with auction payments.

PayPal reported total payment accounts (both registered and unregistered users) grew 57% to 71.6 million. Active accounts were 22.1 million in the quarter. In the conference call, eBay CEO Meg Whitman pointed out that PayPal's user base exceeds that of Discover and is over twice the size of Bank of America's.

PayPal's transaction revenue rate grew slightly from 3.60% to 3.64% while the transaction processing expense rate declined from 1.25% to 1.15%. PayPal's transaction loss rate ticked up slightly from 0.27% to 0.30%.

Overall, PayPal's net revenues for the quarter were $233.1 million, up 47% over last year.

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