Monday , September 21, 2020

Familiar Names Dominate New Rankings of U.S. Merchant Acquirers, With Chase Retaining the Lead

JPMorgan Chase & Co. led U.S. merchant acquirers last year with $1.51 trillion in dollar volume processed, according to new industry rankings announced Wednesday by The Strawhecker Group.

Long a powerhouse in acquiring, Chase led 2018’s rankings with $1.4 trillion in volume. Retaining second place last year was Worldpay, with $1.34 trillion, up from $1.18 trillion in 2018. Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) acquired Worldpay last July in one of the payment-processing industry’s three big mergers.

In all, the top 10 acquiring portfolios processed $6.18 trillion in volume in 2019 and accounted for more than 80% of all U.S. card volume, according to Jared Drieling, senior director of consulting and market intelligence at TSG, an Omaha, Neb.-based consulting and research firm.

Drieling: “The electronic payment market continues to have those good tailwinds.”

The other eight leading U.S. acquirers and their 2019 volumes, in descending order, are: Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS), $871 billion; First Data, excluding its CardConnect and BluePay units, $820 billion; Wells Fargo Merchant Services, $576 billion; U.S. Bancorp’s Elavon, $352 billion; Global Payments, $281 billion; Total System Services (TSYS), $171 billion; Heartland Payment Systems, $159.4 billion, and Square Inc., $100.9 billion.

TSG ranks the acquirers by portfolio, not company. Thus, one company could be represented more than once if it has big portfolios with their own identities, particularly in the wake of last year’s mega-mergers. For example, Fiserv Inc., by virtue of its July acquisition of leading merchant processor First Data Corp., now has such big portfolios as BAMS, Wells Fargo, and the First Data-branded portfolio under its wing. The BAMS joint venture, however, will end soon because Bank of America Corp. intends to pursue an independent strategy beginning in June. 

Similarly, Global Payments Inc. is the new owner of TSYS. Global bought Heartland in 2016.

Besides general prosperity, acquirers in 2019 continued to benefit from the long-term shift in payments from cash and check to card-based options. “The electronic payment market continues to have those good tailwinds,” Drieling tells Digital Transactions News. “Merchants that never accepted cards are doing so, like food trucks. We’re seeing a lot of doors open.”

It’s a different story today as merchant acquirers are getting hit hard by Covid-19, the coronavirus, which has walloped the economy in recent weeks and will continue to suppress consumer and business spending for weeks or even months to come. American Express Co. reported Tuesday that it expects a significant decline in revenues.

Besides dollar volume, TSG also ranks U.S. acquirers on other metrics. The leading processor by transactions last year was Worldpay/FIS, with 31.1 billion. Square led in merchant clients, with 2.6 million. And First Data/Fiserv had the most relationships with independent sales organizations, 168.

TSG evaluated more than 325 payment service providers to compile its rankings. Data came from proprietary surveys and other in-house sources, and external sources, including U.S. Census Bureau information. It made estimates if a company did not complete a survey.

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