FIRST DATA INTERNATIONAL ARRIVES IN PAKISTAN

Signs processing agreement with Alfalah Bank

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jan 29 - Feb 04, 2007

With the arrival of international financial players in the wake of acquisition and mergers in the domestic banking sector the latest electronic commerce technology and payment solutions are also making their way into Pakistan.

In fact, the process of consolidations in the banking sector also calls for acquisition of latest banking skills to remain in the business scenario especially in the face of growing challenges - a good sign for growth, customer facilitation as well as transparency in our banking system.

Dispelling the apprehension and concerns expressed by some quarters on acquisition of local banks by international banking players, a senior banker felt that we should also look at the positive side of the picture. Actually, the banking system as well as the workforce association with the local banking system would benefit with the new banking skills currently in vogue in the developed countries.

In this context, First Data International, a leader in electronic commerce and payment services around the world, has signed a card processing agreement with Alfalah Bank - the largest credit card issuer and largest merchant acquirer in Pakistan. Through this agreement, First Data extends its reach into Pakistan and provides further evidence of the company's commitment to building a global presence in support of its financial and retail clients.

Under the five-year agreement, First Data will provide credit card and acquirer processing services to Alfalah Bank, in support of the bank's current 325,000 card accounts and 17,000 merchants in Pakistan.

Additionally, First Data will support Alfalah's international growth as the bank extends its business across South West Asia over the next few years. Client services support will be provided from First Data's offices in Dubai.

Adil Rashid, Executive-in-charge, Credit Cards, Alfalah Bank said: "Through the rich functionality of its VisionPLUS® processing platform, First Data brings us the tools and capabilities to manage our card portfolio as it grows, with the fraud and risk management support we will need. We will also benefit from the company's global payments expertise and experience as we enter new markets."

David Yates, President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, First Data International, commented: "Alfalah is one of the most significant card issuers and acquirers in the region and we are delighted to secure the bank as our first client in Pakistan. Credit card usage is increasing across the country and the bank is seeing real opportunities to expand its business, locally and internationally. We, in turn, continue to extend our footprint, marrying our global capabilities with a local presence and market understanding, to serve the needs of our clients."

First Data International, part of First Data Corp., is a leading provider of electronic commerce and payment solutions for financial institutions and merchants around the world. First Data International serves a diverse range of markets, leveraging global scale through a local presence and maintaining focus on individual client needs. The company has more than 7,500 employees and operates across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Canada, Australia and Asia-Pacific.

First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) serves 4.6 million merchant locations, 1,900 card issuers and their customers and powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses around the world to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment.

The company's portfolio of services and solutions includes merchant transaction processing services; credit, debit, private-label, gift, payroll and other prepaid card offerings; fraud protection and authentication solutions; electronic check acceptance services through TeleCheck; as well as Internet commerce and mobile payment solutions. The company's STAR Network offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at two million ATM and retail locations.

Bank Alfalah Visa Credit Card was launched in Pakistan in February 2003 and is now the market leader with the largest number of 0.5 million Visa Credit and 165,000 Visa Debit cards, satisfying a much larger customer base in comparison to any other issuer in the country. With an extensive network of nearly 170 branches in all the major cities, Bank Alfalah has catered to a huge untapped potential market and the product positioning of "FREE FOREVER" ensures no annual fee to be charged to the cardholder forever. Numerous facilities are being offered on their cards including 24 hours utility bills payments through Call Center, exciting Rewards program, Platinum cards for high net worth customers and recently introduced SMS Alerts facility for each transaction, payment or any other activity on credit cards. They have also catered to the Cards Acquiring business resulting in unmatched expansion of the electronic cards acceptance business in the country with 16,000 machines installed countrywide in less than two years. An instant installment plan was also incorporated in the acquiring business, whereby Bank Alfalah cardholders can convert any transaction conducted at Bank Alfalah merchants to easy installments of 6 to 36 months at the time of transaction.