First Data Corporation (FDC) is the largest company in the world whose sole function is to process electronic transaction data. For many of the world’s largest corporations, your local merchants and even individuals, First Data is the gateway company that securely processes all of their electronic transactions.
First Data owns the LinkPoint gateway, one of the biggest and most secure gateways in the world, in addition to a host of other companies in the financial services industry. It was the first firm to process both MasterCard and Visa transactions in 1976. By 2003, First Data was processing 12.2 billion transactions a year in North America alone.
First Data’s comprehensive range of services includes financial transactions for merchants, credit card processing, debit card transactions, gift cards and payroll solutions, as well as electronic security programs, E-check transfers through TeleCheck, Internet commerce and mobile payment options. Furthermore, the company offers PIN-secured debit card acceptance through its STAR Network.
First Data makes buying and selling simpler and easier in today’s global, e-commerce world. It specializes in helping businesses safely and efficiently process all types of customer transactions, and to understand how the entire process functions. The company prides itself in making customers feel safe and secure while making electronic transfers of money and information from any place in the world to any other place in the world.
The company’s reach is so pervasive that whether someone is writing a check and getting cash back at the local supermarket, using their ATM card to buy school supplies, paying for a vacation with their credit card or using a gift card to buy some candy, chances are the purchase is being processed by First Data.
The company had its beginnings in 1969 when the Mid-America Banking Association (MABA), a non-profit entity that processed credit card transactions, opened its doors in Omaha, Nebraska. Two years later, First Data Resources (FDR) was incorporated as a for-profit business that provided processing services to MABA. At the time, First Data Resources had 110 employees and slightly more than $2 million in annual revenues.
A division of American Express bought most of FDR in 1980 and spun off First Data Corporation as an independent public company in 1992. Three years later FDC merged with First Management Corp. and the new entity was divided into three sub-divisions to better serve card issuing firms, merchants and consumers. The world’s largest wire services company, Western Union, became part of FDC as part of that merger.
It took another six years before First Data was providing transaction services beyond the U.S. and into Australia, Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. With a huge increase in retail outlets for Western Union, FDC became a leading provider of e-commerce and financial solutions for many businesses and consumers around the world.
Once firmly established, First Data merged with Concorde, which
enabled them to place their STAR Network in more than two million ATM
and retail locations worldwide. Further expansionary moves increased
FDC’s presence and capabilities in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Early in 2007 FDC announced that it had entered into a merger agreement with another company, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, for the astounding price of $29 billion dollars.
Today, First Data is the world’s largest electronic expediter of all kinds of financial and finance-related data. There is almost no e-commerce transaction that doesn’t move through or across something owned or operated by First Data. The company not only processes data of all kinds, it harnesses the value of that data, delivering infrastructure solutions to its customers and enabling all that data to flow freely and securely to its various destinations. As they like to say around FDC, “Data is the new currency.”