April 30, 2010
Third-party gift card distributor InComm continued its integration with the virtual world yesterday when it announced it has acquired GroupCard, an online gifting platform that enables groups of users to contribute to and give gifts via social networking Websites. The Atlanta-based company recently entered the online gaming space with its acquisition of virtual currency provider Zeevex (Paybefore March 10, 2010). The most recent acquisition connects 400 million Facebook users, in addition to others on MySpace and other social networking sites, with InComm’s partners. “It will allow InComm merchants and product partners to capitalize on social platforms, especially Facebook, to sell and distribute gift cards online,” Brian Parlotto, InComm senior vice president of consumer products and international, tells Paybefore. Making the products of InComm’s gift card partners an option for group gifting is an obvious opportunity, but retailers in the company’s merchant network can leverage GroupCard’s technology too, Parlotto notes. “It allows our retailers to trigger a gifting event either through their own Websites or through individuals’ pages on Facebook,” he explains. Milwaukee-based GroupCard was founded in 2007, and Facebook is an investor in the company through its fbFund. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
April 30, 2010
First-quarter 2010 sales by dollar volume for Blackhawk Network increased 28 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Steven Burd, CEO of Safeway Inc., the third-party prepaid card distributor’s parent company. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based supermarket chain reported a first-quarter profit of $96 million, down from $144 million from a year earlier on a 3.1 percent dip in same-store sales. During a conference call for analysts and investors, Burd pointed to Blackhawk’s recent performance as an indicator that the economy continues slow growth and Safeway’s earnings should swing back to growth in the second half of 2010. “The increase [in the face value of cards sold] is larger than any quarter in 2009 and represents a significant acceleration from what we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2009,” he said. “Again, I would attribute a good piece of that to the fact that I think we’re seeing a bit of a recovery in the U.S. economy. And I believe it’s slow, but I think that is indicative of some of the numbers we see coming from Blackhawk, and some of the numbers we see in some other aspects of our food retail operation.”
April 30, 2010
National Gift Card Corp. (NGC), a B2B distributor of prepaid cards to the loyalty and incentive industry, yesterday announced that it has added an American Express-branded prepaid card to its product line. The American Express Prepaid Reward Card joins several other American Express-branded prepaid cards available as incentives or rewards through NGC including the American Express Gift Card and several others that direct spend to certain purchases. The most recent offering is available in any denomination from $25 to $500, and companies can purchase in bulk for less than the face value of the card, according to a press release.
April 29, 2010
Visa Inc. beat Wall Street expectations as it posted a $713 million profit for its fiscal second quarter in 2010, a 33 percent increase over the same period last year. The San Francisco-based card network said higher-than-expected growth in payments volume and a slowly improving economy fueled its performance. Payments volume grew 13 percent to $745 billion for the three months ended March 31, 2010, over the prior year. The number of transactions processed by VisaNet for the quarter totaled 10.6 billion, a 14 percent increase over fiscal Q2 2009. And, prepaid is an increasingly significant part of the company’s product mix, suggested Visa CEO Joseph Saunders during yesterday’s analysts and investors call. “At the end of calendar year 2009, the number of Visa debit and prepaid cards issued globally surpassed 1 billion for the first time in our history,” Saunders said. “This represents not only further penetration of debit globally but the underlying growth and importance of prepaid cards, which are a key contributor to our debit business overall.” Saunders also noted during the conference call that prepaid is the “most mature” of the products Visa considers new initiatives and that the company would consider breaking out prepaid numbers in its quarterly earnings reports “as we go into 2011.”
April 29, 2010
A London-based prepaid technology provider has partnered with a South African firm to supply a prepaid contactless chip card system for South Africa’s new nationwide integrated public transit network. The multiyear transit infrastructure upgrade, which has been fast-tracked to get some components ready for this summer’s World Cup soccer tournament happening in various South African cities, will feature contactless prepaid payment cards supported by Aconite Technology Limited and Traderoot Africa (Pty) Ltd. The project, approved by the country’s Ministry of Transport and scheduled to go live in a pilot version this summer, will launch with 50,000 cards and enable the purchase of tickets on public taxi-buses. “This project will benefit passengers and transit companies alike for many years, providing a faster, more convenient way to pay fares that saves significant costs compared to paying with cash, cheques or other types of card,” said Patrick Regester, Aconite’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “The system also can facilitate contactless payment with NFC-enabled mobile phones.” The Ministry expects 800,000 cards in market within a year, 2 million in two years and 10 million as the solution is rolled out nationwide for all modes of travel in the planned integrated mass transit network.