First Data

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First Data Corporation
Industry Financial services
Founded 1971 (1971)
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Key people
Frank Bisignano,
Chairman & CEO
Products Merchant services
Owner Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
Number of employees
24,000 (2012)
Slogan Beyond the transaction

First Data Corporation is a global payment technology solutions company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The company's STAR interbank network offers PIN-secured debit acceptance at ATM and retail locations.

First Data has a global footprint of 6 million merchants, the largest in the payments industry.[1] The company handles 45% of all US credit and debit transactions, including handling prepaid gift card processing for many US brands such as Starbucks.[1][2] It processes over $1 trillion in card transactions annually, with an 80% market share in gas and groceries.[3] First Data has also provided shopping metrics for national news networks such as USA Today, ESPN, The New York Times and Vox.[4][5][6][7] The company has been recognized by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office as one of the companies whose binding corporate rules for data privacy are aligned with the EU's Data Protection Directive.[8][9]


First Data Corporation was incorporated in 1971. In 1980, American Express Information Services Corporation (ISC) bought 80% of First Data. The remaining 20% was purchased in 5% increments each subsequent year until June 1983.

First Data Corporation spun off from American Express and went public in 1992. In 1995, the company merged with First Financial Management Corp. (FFMC) and was then organized into three major business units serving card issuers, merchants and consumers. Western Union became part of First Data as a result of the merger with FFMC.


From 2001 through 2005, a period of expansion occurred as First Data acquired companies around the globe and in the US, including, in 2001, the acquisition of PaySys International and their VisionPLUS Payment Software System. VisionPLUS was followed by a $6.6 billion merger with Concord EFS, Inc. in 2004, which added the STAR Network and PIN-based debit acceptance at more than 1.9 million ATM and retail locations. Additional acquisitions and strategic relationships included GovOne, eONEGlobal, Paymap, Inc., and Taxware. Nevertheless, First Data eventually divested, closed down or absorbed these businesses.

On January 26, 2006, First Data announced its intention to spin off Western Union into an independent publicly traded company through a tax-free spin-off of 100% of Western Union to First Data shareholders. The spin off occurred as planned on September 29, 2006.[10]

On April 2, 2007, it was announced that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) had entered an agreement to acquire First Data[11] in one of the largest leveraged buy-outs in history,[12] and on October 1, 2007, KKR officially took over the First Data Corporation. Ric Duques retired, and Michael Capellas, previously the CEO of MCI Inc., the president of Hewlett-Packard Company, and also the chairman/CEO of the Compaq Computer Corporation was appointed CEO. As a privately owned company, First Data's stock was taken off the New York Stock Exchange on September 24, 2007. However, the company's LBO was financed with $24 billion in debt, and it remains heavily leveraged.[12] In June 2014, First Data raised a historic $3.5 billion private placement. $1.2 billion of the placement came from KKR; however the majority, $2.3 billion, was from hedge funds, mutual funds and institutions.[13] With this action the company reduced total debt by $3.3 billion, improving net leverage by 1.3 turns and significantly reducing annual cash interest payments.[14][15] The company continues to maintain investor relations pages on its web site and to publish quarterly financial results. Within two months of the KKR acquisition, the company laid off 1,700 employees across North America, Europe and Australia, about 6% of its workforce.[16]

First Data provided Go-Tag (contactless and mobile payment technology) stickers to delegates and media representatives at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, who used them to buy food and beverages. These stickers possessed NFC chips which were read by First Data scanners, which through its back-end system deducted the purchase sum from the Go-Tag ID's balance.[17][18] First Data also provided the trusted service manager that provisioned accounts to the new mobile Google Wallet system.[19][20]

First Data entered the Ireland market in a joint venture with Allied Irish Banks PLC named AIB Merchant Services on January 18, 2008.[21] First Data also acquired ICICI Bank's merchant services business in 2009 for 4 billion Indian rupees ($80 million USD).[22]

First Data and KKR vetted more than 60 startups before, in October 2013, announcing it had acquired POS startup Clover,[23] cardless mobile loyalty startup Perka.[24] and Gyft in 2014.[25]

In March 2010, Joe Forehand took over as chairman and interim CEO.[26] In September that same year, Jonathan Judge assumed those roles until his early retirement in January 2013,[27] after which Edward Labry covered the interim post.[28]

Under Frank Bisignano[edit]

In April 2013, First Data’s Board of Directors announced that former JPMorgan Chase Co-COO Frank Bisignano had been named Chief Executive Officer of the company. In March 2014, Bisignano assumed the role of Chairman.[29] Upon taking office, Bisignano launched an equity ownership plan for all 24,000 of First Data owner-associates.[30]

Bisignano promoted notable additions to the company's staff, such as Himanshu Patel, Guy Chiarello, Cindy Armine-Klein, Andrew Gelb, Adam Rosman, Carmen Menendez-Puerto, Joseph Plumeri, Gretchen Garrigues, Christopher Augustin and Michael Manos.[31][32][33][34][35]

In early 2014, First Data's STAR ATM Network adopted the Visa and MasterCard common application IDs for EMV-compliant debit transactions.[20]

Since joining, Bisignano has tried to "to transform First Data into a provider of new technology for small- and medium-sized businesses".[13] In June 2014, First Data introduced the Insightics solution for small and medium size businesses. Insightics is a cloud-based software that enables small and medium size businesses to monitor key business metrics.[36][37] First Data created Insightics with Palantir.[13]

In August 2014, First Data expanded its presence in Brazil with Bin, the company's acquiring solution developed specifically for the local market.[38] In September 2014, First Data announced it would provide encryption technology for Apple Pay.[13] Apple Pay allows payment with a single touch. With its integration into First Data's STAR Network, the company became a token service provider, supporting safe POS transactions in Apple Pay. Such transactions are used in venues such as all McDonald's restaurants in the US.[39]

In October 2014, First Data announced the Enhanced TransArmor Solution for small businesses. First Data's TransArmor Solution protects payment card data throughout the transaction process, incorporating several security and compliance products into one multi-layered solution.[40]

In late 2014, First Data announced its collaboration with Capgemini to develop new solutions based on First Data's AccessPLUS and VisionPLUS products, planning to offer new technologies in the second quarter of 2015.[41] The company also announced its partnership with Verifone, wherein merchants using integrated point-of-sale systems that process payments will have a security option when using terminals made by VeriFone Systems Inc.[42] In 2015, Samsung announced its Samsung Pay mobile system in conjunction with First Data. Samsung Pay will use NFC to make payments at POS systems that accept First Data's technology.[43]

In February 2015, First Data reported its first profitable quarter in 29 quarters since its 2007 privatization.[44]


While the official First Data's headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia,[45][46] First Data’s principal executive offices are in New York City.

First Data's headquarters were located in Greenwood Village, Colorado.[47][48] In 2009 First Data announced that it was moving its headquarters from Greater Denver to 5565 Glenridge Connector, NE Atlanta, GA 30342.[49] Its original headquarters, where the company remained based until 1992, were in Omaha, Nebraska.


In October 2014, First Data launched First Data Salutes. First Data Salutes is the company-wide military engagement strategy aimed at helping the veteran-owned business community and service members and their families transitioning to civilian careers.[50]

In November 2014, Bisignano, was awarded the 3rd annual Hiring Our Heroes Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment. This award recognizes the dedication of Bisignano and First Data in addressing challenges faced by veterans and military spouses in their search for meaningful employment.[50]

In 2014, First Data was designated as a "Best Place to Work" and earned 100 percent on the Human Rights Foundation's Annual Scorecard on LGBT Workplace Equality.[51]


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