Magazine article American Banker

USB to Issue Corporate Cards to European Clients

Magazine article American Banker

USB to Issue Corporate Cards to European Clients

Article excerpt


In a move to strengthen relationships with its multinational customers, U.S. Bancorp's subsidiary Elavon Financial Services Ltd. soon will begin issuing commercial cards in Europe through a new processing agreement with Total System Services Inc.

U.S. Bank's initial overseas commercial card-issuing program is confined to Europe, where it will compete with several major players offering robust global commercial card services, including American Express Co., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., observers said.

The arrangement will enable U.S. Bank for the first time to issue cards in British pounds in the U.K. and in euros in Ireland, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, the bank said in a press release Tuesday.

U.S. Bank said it plans to begin issuing commercial cards in Europe "this summer" and will soon extend its card-issuing capabilities to other European countries. A bank representative did not say when expansion to other countries would begin.

Providing direct commercial card issuance in local currency is becoming increasingly important as corporations operating abroad seek the advantages oflocal exchange rates and the ability to streamline data.

"Our North American multinational customers increasingly are saying they want their card programs to fall under a single global contract with a single point of approval and a single service contact" for consolidated worldwide reporting and rapid analysis of commercial card data, the U.S. Bank representative said in an interview.

It is unlikely U.S. Bank will attempt to compete head to head with the biggest direct commercial card issuers around the world, an analyst said.

"I see U.S. Bank's move into commercial card issuing in Europe as primarily defensive in that they want to prevent some of the bigger global card operators from taking away their multinational customers that have operations overseas," Patricia McGinnis, a director with Mercator Advisory Group, said in an interview. …

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