Global electronic payments processor
First Data has announced that it has bought Deecal International, a
privately owned Irish provider of specialist commercial payments
software and services. Financial details of the agreement were not

Deecal International, founded in 1991, provides a hosted commercial
card e-payment package that can be fully integrated into existing
procurement, payment and accounting infrastructure and work flows.
The solution is offered using a hosted on-demand application
service provider model that ensures rapid implementation and
minimises start-up costs.

According to First Data, this technology supports the full range of
the company’s commercial cards, business, purchasing and corporate
travel and entertainment cards, meeting the requirements of local
and multinational organisations.

Deecal has an existing client base of more than 200 banks,
corporations and government agencies across Europe and in the US,
maintaining direct connections with banks, payment card
associations and travel agents to provide daily reporting. This
acquisition gives First Data a strong foothold in the commercial
payments market, enhancing its current global offering in this
expanding sector.

“Commercial cards are an increasingly important component of card
portfolios for financial and corporate organisations. This
acquisition positions First Data strongly to support our banking
clients in Europe, the United States and other major markets,
providing high-quality online management information in support of
their national and multinational corporate customers,” said David
Yates, president of First Data International.

Complementary functions

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According to John Chaplin, European payments adviser for First Data
International, the most attractive feature of Deecal was that it
would provide them with reporting and managing functions to
complement their core processing capabilities. “With this latest
acquisition, we think we’ve got all the capability to sell a
commercial card end to end programme to anybody in the world. We’ve
always had the core processing piece, but we’ve not had our own
top-class management information system,” he told CI. “Businesses,
whether they’re small or large, they want a couple of things from
commercial cards – control and information about what people are

First Data was recently acquired by affiliates of private equity
giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). That move followed First Data
jettisoning its Western Union money transfer business in an attempt
to streamline its operations. First Data International continues to
be organised regionally with a focus on selling the company’s suite
of payments services to merchant and financial institution clients
outside of the US market. “They [KKR] see cards and payments
processing as a great growth area,” explains Chaplin, “and in
particular overseas growth. They want to keep that going.”

International expansion

The company has recently launched a merchant acquiring business in
Canada called Posnet, adding to its similarly named acquiring
businesses in South America. In August 2007, First Data completed
its takeover of Polcard, Poland’s leading independent merchant
acquirer and card processor. The move has given the company a
strong foothold in Poland, a market that has considerable potential
for growth: according to figures from the central bank of Poland,
the total number of payment cards increased by 58 percent between
2003 and 2006. The acquisition will also allow First Data to
support multinational merchants and financial institutions
extending their presence across Central and Eastern Europe.

This follows the company’s announcement in July that it will be
purchasing Check Forte Processamento de Dados, a Brazilian provider
of payment transaction processing services. Check Forte was founded
in 1997, and provides data capture, switching and POS terminal
management, as well as network processing services to banks for
bill payment transactions initiated at off-premises merchant
locations and check verification services directly to

“Expansion is always a combination of acquisition and organic
growth,” says Chaplin. “We’ve bought a lot of companies over the
last couple of years, and obviously we’re integrating those. I
think we see organic growth now as one of the ways we’re going to
go, but you will still see First Data looking at options to buy if
the right thing comes up at the right price.”