Joins Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bancorp to offer cards to U.S. government agencies through SmartPay 2 program; cites vPayment tool as competitive edge By Editorial Staff
Phoenix — July 27, 2007 — The U.S. General Services Administration has approved the GE Money unit of General Electric Co. as an issuer to provide procurement, travel and fuel payment cards through the GSA SmartPay2 program.
GE will compete with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and U.S. Bancorp to offer cards to U.S. government agencies. "This means that we have what, in effect, is a hunting license [to compete for the agencies' business]," said Michael O'Malley, marketing manager with Salt Lake City-based GE Money - Corporate Payment Services.
GSA announced the four banks that will participate in the program on June 7. The SmartPay2 program involves an estimated $26 billion per year in transactions. The program continues government-wide purchase, travel, fleet and integrated charge card services currently provided by GSA's SmartPay program, the largest government charge-card program in the world.
SmartPay 2 helps federal agencies by providing improved agency spend analysis, program control and oversight tools. SmartPay 2 also expands the product and service lines available through the program to include prepaid and so-called "contactless" cards, as well as cards in foreign currencies and other separately priced, value-added items.
vPayment Tool Seen as Edge
O'Malley said that one unique solution that his company will bring to the GSA environment is GE's vPayment tool. vPayment supports "virtual accounts" that have a higher degree of control and data capture than standard commercial credit card accounts. vPayment also caps individual accounts to an exact value and time frame, so suppliers cannot overcharge or reuse accounts at a later date, and the tool automatically captures invoice or purchase order numbers for streamlined reconciliation.
Bloomberg reported last month that GE won the right to participate in the program even as Bank of America and Mellon Financial Corp. dropped out of the program because they did not see it as economically viable. But GE believes that the vPayment tool will provide it with a low-cost platform to compete effectively — and profitably — for U.S. agency business, according to O'Malley.
"The features that we've built into vPayment over the years make it a highly automated settlement tool compared to standard cards from the buyer and supplier standpoint," O'Malley said. "And the more transactions that we can move into this hands-free environment of vPayment, the lower our servicing costs, because there's less human intervention in the settlement and reconciliation stream."
Concluded O'Malley, "This is a major milestone in a multi-year effort on our part to win the right to compete for this business."