Acxiom Corp., a data processing company that serves the top nine credit card issuers, has signed an estimated $100 million, five-year contract with Citicorp.
The agreement's importance to the Conway, Ark.-based company is that stabilizes Acxiom's revenue stream. There will be no change in the services Acxiom has been delivering to Citibank for the past 12 years without a long-term contract.
"We have a strategic initiative to increase our revenue under long-term contracts," said Robert S. Bloom, chief financial officer of Acxiom. "This agreement makes our revenue stream more predictable."
Only 43% of the company's revenue is derived from such contracts.
Acxiom's customers include insurance, publishing, and retail companies, but so far Citibank is the first credit card client to sign a long-term contract.
A Citibank spokesman said signing a long-term contract simplified the process, compared with annual, renewable pacts.
On the basis of past performance, Acxiom estimates that the work it will do for Citibank will produce $100 million of revenues through the year 2000.
Acxiom specializes in processing credit bureau data that card issuers use to solicit new customers. When card issuers prescreen consumers' credit records to determine whether they qualify for a credit card, the coded list of consumers goes to Acxiom.
Then Acxiom merges credit bureau files with data it gets from the card issuer so that, for example, it can eliminate people who might appear twice on the mailing list or people who are already credit card customers of the issuer.
One industry source, who did not want to be identified, said, "Acxiom maintains the anonymity of the data."
Acxiom's services are needed, in part, as an intermediary between card issuers and credit bureaus and to protect the privacy of consumers.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act addresses this aspect of the credit card business, but industry sources said it is unclear whether card issuers are permitted to see the data files they request from credit bureaus.
Mr. Bloom, the chief financial officer, declined to comment on the regulatory issues with which Acxiom is concerned.
The $200 million company, which keeps a low profile, does not appear to have major competitors.
Mr. Bloom said other companies specializing in such services typically work for one customer. "I don't know of another company that has multiple clients," he said.
While Mr. Bloom conceded that it is difficult to convince card issuers to sign long-term contracts, Acxiom hopes to persuade its eight other credit card clients to follow Citibank's lead.
Acxiom also has a $15 million operation in the United Kingdom, where its largest customer is Procter & Gamble Co.
In addition, Acxiom has been managing Trans Union Corp.'s data center since 1992, performing the Chicago-based credit bureau's computer functions.