The private-label credit card processor Fiserv Inc. said it plans to offer its services to Visa and MasterCard issuers.
The Brookfield, Wis., company now processes six million private-label accounts and 46 million U.S. credit transactions monthly. It has not yet signed any Visa or MasterCard issuers but is in discussions with potential customers, a spokesman said.
The decision to move into bank cards was made years ago but took time to make a reality, said national sales manager David W. Merrick. "It was a slow process," he said. "The barriers to entry are so dramatic in the bank card market."
Fiserv will market its services to small and midsize banks, Mr. Merrick said. This is an underserved market in which Atlanta-based Equifax will be the main competitor, he said.
Private-label card issuers are taking a closer look at issuing Visas or MasterCards to their private portfolios to boost profits.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. in Hoffman Estates, Ill., launched a cobranded MasterCard this year and is offering it to inactive Sears card accounts. The Minneapolis-based retailer Target Corp. launched a general-purpose card last month.
Total System Services Inc. of Columbus, Ga., handles processing for both retailers, but "Total won't take someone with a 5,000- to 10,000-card portfolio," Mr. Merrick said. "There is considerable opportunity in servicing the small to midsize customer."
Fiserv's private-label card issuer clients include John Deere Credit, a subsidiary of Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co., and Orchard Supply Hardware in San Jose, Calif.