ATLANTA - Planning its debut in Asia, First Data Corp. said Wednesday that it would establish a joint venture with three Japanese businesses to provide outsourcing services to credit card companies in Japan.

First Data would join NTT Data Corp., the Tokyo-based data processing subsidiary of the prominent Japanese telecommunications company NTT Corp.; Diamond Computer Service Co., an information systems provider; and DC Card, the credit card arm of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. Terms of the final agreement are pending. The joint venture would offer processing services to both issuers and merchant banks. DC Card, with a portfolio of more than 8 million Visa and MasterCard credit cards, would become the first major card company in Japan to outsource issuing and merchant card processing, according to First Data. It is the fourth largest bankcard issuer and acquirer in Japan. The partners expect processing to begin later this year.

NTT Data would supply staffing, facilities, and hardware and DCS would offer expertise in large-scale information systems. DC Card would initially provide the processing infrastructure. First Data would bring expertise in processing for multiple clients.

First Data's future role in the joint venture is not defined, said a spokeswoman. Together, the partners "will be examining all development options to create the optimal system," she said.

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