Zebra & Fargo

Zebra Technologies and Fargo Electronics this morning announced that they have mutually agreed to terminate their merger agreement as it appears unlikely the Federal Trade Commission will clear the transaction as currently proposed. The acquisition was announced on July 31, 2001 and provided for Zebra to acquire all outstanding shares of Fargo common stock for $7.25 per share in cash. Fargo’s stock is currently trading around $6.50 per share. The transaction has been under Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust review by the FTC. Fargo said this morning that since it had been in the midst of the transaction, its management had previously declined to offer guidance for 2002. Before any costs related to the acquisition, they currently estimate that Fargo will achieve earnings of 6 to 9 cents per common share in the first quarter of 2002. Fargo estimates are for earnings of 50 to 65 cents per common share for the year 2002, or an increase of 47% to 91% over the 34 cents per common share it achieved in 2001. Fargo Electronics produces desktop plastic card personalization systems. More than 50,000 Fargo systems are currently installed throughout the U.S. and in more than 100 other countries. Zebra Technologies provides on-demand printing solutions to businesses and governments in more than 90 countries around the world including the Eltron-brand plastic card printers.


4Q/01 Delinquency

Credit card delinquencies, based on total accounts, inched up, from 3.77% in the third quarter to 3.88% for the fourth quarter, according to data released yesterday by the American Bankers Association. However, the composite ratio, which tracks eight types of closed-end consumer installment loans including auto, home equity and personal loans, fell from 2.40% for 3Q/01 to 2.34% in the fourth quarter. The ABA says that despite continued layoffs and marginal economic growth, it appears that the rate reductions throughout 2001, along with continued high mortgage refinancing and automotive financing incentives, helped keep delinquencies down. The ABA noted that the decrease in the composite ratio was influenced largely by a decrease in auto loan default ratios. These ratios were likely lower because of the increase in the total number of auto loans made in the fourth quarter, spurred by factory incentives offered post-September 11.

(based on total dollars outstanding)
2001: 4.67% 1999: 4.28% 1995: 4.45% 1991: 4.61% 1987: 3.65% 1983: 2.74%
2000: 4.25% 1998: 4.62% 1994: 3.20% 1990: 4.46% 1986: 4.80% 1982: 3.57%
1997: 5.38% 1993: 3.64% 1989: 3.22% 1985: 3.88% 1981: 2.26%
1996: 5.45% 1992: 4.11% 1988: 3.40% 1984: 2.85% 1980: 3.00%
Source: American Bankers Association Delinquency Bulletin


Discover 1Q/02

Morgan Stanley this morning reported that its Credit Services/Discover Card division had net income of $167 million for the quarter ending Feb. 28, 2002, an 18% increase over the same quarter one year ago. Discover had higher net interest and cardholder fee revenues, and lower marketing expenses but net chargeoffs were up sharply. Chargeoffs hit 6.49% compared to 4.79% one year ago. Meanwhile, managed credit card loans were $49.6 billion at quarter end, relatively unchanged from a year ago. The interest rate spread widened 152 basis points over the same period, as a result of a decline in credit services’ cost of funds.

Merchant and cardholder fees rose 9% to $541 million, reflecting higher late fees and an increase in the merchant discount rate. Transaction volume declined 1% from last year’s record first quarter to $24.1 billion.

The over-90-day delinquency rate was 3.12% compared to 2.74% a year ago. For complete details on Discover’s current and historical performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

1Q/01* 2Q/01* 3Q/01* 4Q/01* 1Q/02
Receivables: $49.5b $50.2b $49.7b $49.3b $49.6b
Volume: $24.4b $23.5b $23.3b $22.1b $24.1b
Accounts: 43.7m 44.7m 45.4m 45.7m 46.0m
Actives: 24.0m 24.3m 24.0m 24.0m 23.8m
Chargeoffs: 4.79% 4.98% 5.79% 5.85% 6.49%
Delinquency: 6.34% 5.84% 6.31% 6.85% 6.75%
Yield: 13.66% 13.34% 13.34% 13.48% 12.63%

1Q/01 fiscal quarter ended 2/28/01;
2Q/01 fiscal quarter ended 5/31/01;
3Q/01 fiscal quarter ended 8/31/01;
4Q/01 fiscal quarter ended 11/30/01;
1Q/02 ended 2/28/02.
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com


CSC & 724

724 Solutions and Computer Sciences Corporation announced a strategic alliance in which CSC will resell 724 Solutions’ software applications, provide systems integration services, and manage the operation of 724 Solutions’ application hosting business. The alliance is expected to allow 724 Solutions to expand its reach to banking organizations and private-label credit card issuers worldwide while enabling CSC to grow its wireless services business.

Under terms of the agreement, CSC will license, resell, and implement 724 Solutions’ Alerts, Banking, and Credit Card products to the financial services industry. 724 Solutions’ technology will be integrated with CSC’s Hogan Systems and CAMS II (Card and Merchant System) software products. 724 Solutions’ Worldwide Professional Services Group will offer on-going training and consulting support to CSC.

In addition, 724 Solutions will transition its application hosting business to CSC’s e-HUB Application Hosting facilities. This agreement allows 724 Solutions to focus on its core competency of wireless technology development while continuing to provide its customers with a cost-effective hosting service option.

“724 Solutions’ expertise in the financial services industry and mobile commerce market is very valuable to us,” said David Blanton, executive vice president of Banking Solutions for CSC’s Financial Services Group in the Americas. “By leveraging 724 Solutions’ applications, CSC can immediately extend its core banking and credit card offerings with a mobile channel and bring more value to its financial services clients and their customers.”
“CSC is one of the world’s leading information technology service providers serving over 1,200 major financial institutions worldwide,” said John Sims, chief executive officer, 724 Solutions. “This key focus on the financial services market aligns perfectly with our offerings and strategy. The strategic relationship offers a ‘win-win’ situation for our customers, CSC and ourselves. The combined offering that results from this alliance will help us bring more value to our customers while we continue our drive toward our profit objectives.”

About CSC

Computer Sciences Corporation, one of the world’s leading consulting and information technology (IT) services firms, helps clients in industry and government achieve strategic and operational results through the use of technology. The company’s success is based on its culture of working collaboratively with clients to develop innovative technology strategies and solutions that address specific business challenges.

Having guided clients through every major wave of change in information technology since 1959, CSC combines the newest technologies with its capabilities in consulting, systems design and integration, IT and business process outsourcing, applications software, and Web and application hosting to meet the individual needs of global corporations and organizations. With some 68,000 employees in locations worldwide, CSC had revenues of $11.3 billion for the 12 months ended Dec. 28, 2001. It is headquartered in El Segundo, Calif. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.csc.com.

About 724 Solutions Inc.

724 Solutions Inc. is a leading provider of mobile Internet infrastructure software and applications. It makes m-business happen globally by powering the delivery of secure mobile transactions for financial institutions and mobile operators. With headquarters in Toronto, Canada, the company has development and sales offices around the world. For more information, visit www.csc.com


Tax Incentives

VISA’s decision to accept tax payments on its credit cards via the Official Payments service has spurred American Express and MasterCard to increase consumer awareness of the program. According to the IRS, as of mid-March, the agency had received more than 20,000 credit card payments, up 13% from nearly 18,000 for the same period last year. The charges totaled more than $55 million. Yesterday, the Citibank/American Airlines AAdvantage Program encouraged taxpayers to earn AAdvantage miles when paying income taxes. For the promotional period March 1 through April 15, cardholders are able to earn one AAdvantage mile for every dollar of income tax paid using any Citi AAdvantage MasterCard credit card. Miles can be earned using either the Official Payments Corporation or PhoneCharge, Inc. services. Last week, American Express encouraged consumers to earn Membership Rewards by charging taxes.



Borland Software Corporation announced that Europay International, Europe’s leading payment organization, has selected Borland technology to form the strategic development environment for its future Java-based applications. Europay International offers its more than 9,000 member banks European and global debit and credit card services and support. At present, Europay has 291.1 million cards in circulation, including all EuroCards and MasterCards. These cards also support cash withdrawal at more than 305,500 ATMs, Europe’s largest network.

Europay International plans to develop mission-critical Java-based solutions both for its organization’s members and for its own internal solutions using Borland(R) JBuilder(TM), the leading cross-platform environment for building business, database, and distributed applications for the Java(TM) 2 platform, and Borland(R) JDataStore(TM), an object relational database management system written entirely in Java. Europay International chose to build solutions entirely based on Java and the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE(TM) platform) to ensure portability and scalability.

“In our business you have to be very flexible; in the financial industry things can change dramatically overnight. We need to be able to adapt to changes quickly,” said Peter Vandenbroucke, Head of Regional Systems, at Europay International. “We chose Borland for all current and future development because of its firm support for open standards and excellence in development technology.” “The financial and electronic payment industry is an area which typically requires very robust software,” said Nigel Brown, vice president and general manager, Borland EMEA. “Borland technology will provide the best-in-class development platform Europay International needs to meet the high demands of this industry.”

About Europay International

Europay International, headquartered in Waterloo, Belgium, is Europe’s leading payments organization, dedicated to providing a tailored product range and support services to its more than 9,000 Member banks. At present, 291.1 million cards (Eurocard(R), MasterCard(R), Maestro(R), Cirrus(R) and eurocheque) provide European and global debit and credit card services, and offer cash access to Europe’s largest network of more than 305,800 ATMs in 43 countries. Through its alliance with MasterCard International, over 600,000 ATMs and more than 22 million retail locations worldwide accept Europay products. Europay’s web site at www.europay.com gives a detailed view on the company’s products and services and shows how Europay offers its Member banks both support and leadership on issues including virtual commerce, chip technology, security & risk management, and the advent of the Euro.

About Borland(R) JBuilder(TM)

Borland JBuilder is the leading cross-platform environment for building business, database, and distributed applications for the Java 2 platform. JBuilder simplifies EJB(TM) 2.0 development with two-way visual designers and rapid deployment to the leading J2EE(TM) platform application servers, including BEA(R) WebLogic(R), IBM(R) WebSphere(R), iPlanet(TM), and the integrated Borland(R) Enterprise Server. It enhances developer productivity with UML code visualization, refactoring, unit testing, and documentation tools, and enables development and deployment of applications on Windows(R), Linux(R), Solaris(TM), and Mac OS platforms. JBuilder is available in three versions: Enterprise, Professional, and Personal. For more information on JBuilder visit http://www.borland.com/jbuilder.

About Borland(R) JDataStore(TM)

JDataStore can function as a server or be embedded into “client-side” or remote applications with top performance and virtually zero administration. JDataStore is a complete, cost effective solution for Java platforms including: mobile computing, Internet applications, Web servers and Enterprise JavaBeans(TM) (EJB) servers. Other key features include object relational storage; Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) local or remote Type 4 drivers; JavaBeans(R) components that allows direct access to JDataStore; and lightweight replication and synchronization technology. All of these features enable JDataStore to solve a variety of general database problems and complement popular native RDBMS systems like Borland(R) InterBase(R), Oracle(R), IBM(R) DB2(R), Microsoft(R) SQL Server(TM) and Sybase(R).

About Borland

Borland Software Corporation is a leading provider of technology used to develop, deploy and integrate software applications. Delivering best-in-class technology solutions dedicated to interoperability, Borland allows enterprises of all sizes to move into Web based computing while leveraging legacy systems. From the Fortune 1000 to the Borland Nation consisting of millions of developers, Borland provides customers the freedom to develop applications, deploy them anywhere and integrate and manage them across the enterprise. Borland solutions enable organizations to increase productivity and deliver higher performance projects faster and on budget, while lowering total cost of ownership.

Founded in 1983, Borland is headquartered in Scotts Valley, California with operations worldwide. To learn more, visit Borland at http://www.borland.com or the community site at http://community.borland.com.


American Airlines & SWISS

American Airlines announced it has entered into an extensive codeshare agreement with SWISS, the newly branded national airline of Switzerland and one of Europe’s largest carriers. The arrangement includes reciprocal frequent flyer cooperation with American’s AAdvantage program and SWISS’ Qualiflyer program.

American will put its AA code on SWISS’ eight daily transatlantic flights between Switzerland and seven U.S. gateways, as well as on SWISS’ flights beyond Zurich to points in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This beyond service will be on the combined network of Crossair’s existing European regional operations and significant portions of the former Swissair intercontinental and European trunk route system.

SWISS’ U.S. gateways are Boston, New York-JFK, Newark, Washington, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.

SWISS, in turn, will place its LX code on American’s two daily transatlantic flights between Zurich and its U.S. gateways of Dallas/Fort Worth and New York Kennedy and American flights to a broad range of destinations within North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Effective March 31, members of American’s AAdvantage frequent flyer program will be able to earn and redeem mileage credit when they travel on flights operated by SWISS. Likewise, members of SWISS’ Qualiflyer program will earn and redeem mileage credit when traveling on flights operated by American.

“This codeshare and frequent flyer agreement between these two highly regarded, world class airlines will enable us to offer our customers more service options and greater travel flexibility,” said Mike Gunn, American’s executive vice president for marketing and planning. “This partnership reflects American’s continuing commitment to bring top-quality airlines into our worldwide network.”

Gunn said American, which on Monday celebrated 15 years of service to Zurich, will now be able to offer its passengers more on-line travel options and convenient access to more points in Europe and beyond, especially for those passengers originating from American’s DFW gateway. The combination of the Crossair and former Swissair networks will provide American customers more on-line destinations than the American Airlines-Swissair relationship provided.

Both carriers will soon apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation for approval of the codeshare agreement and expect to implement it shortly thereafter.

American and SWISS will continue to explore ways to strengthen their relationship beyond what they announced today.

“More Room for More Coach Passengers … Only on American”

Current AMR Corp. (NYSE: AMR) news releases can be accessed via the Internet. The address is .



Western Union Financial Services, Inc.,
a leading international money transfer company and subsidiary of
First Data Corp. announced its contract with the
Agricultural Bank of China has been extended to five years, into 2006.

The announcement, made just nine months into the original two-year
contract, further strengthens Western Union’s strategic alliance with ABC, one
of China’s leading banks.

Charles T. Fote, the new President and Chief Executive Officer of
First Data, who is in Hong Kong after leading a delegation on a four day
business-development mission in China, said: “This is great news! The
contract has been extended because Western Union’s early results in China have
exceeded ABC’s expectations. This shows we are fast becoming the preferred
partner for the banking community. Western Union is fulfilling its promise
and is one of our fastest growing business units within the FDC family.”

Bill Thomas, president of Western Union International, who was with Fote
at the contract signing ceremony in Beijing, added: “Western Union has
deliberately set its goals in China very high. We are on track with our
original plan to reach up to 10,000 agent locations in the country, but our
goal is to have an agent network of 30,000 locations over the next three to
five years. The overseas Asian community is the largest in the world and we
expect China to be our biggest single market in the next 10 years.”

Thomas explained that making the service available round-the-clock as well
as accessible over the Internet would support growth.

“Although a relatively new service category to the region, we’ve seen
growing demand for a fast, reliable and convenient way to send and receive
money worldwide, through trusted vendors,” said Thomas. “Our partnership with
ABC represents much more than simply numbers of outlets — it’s about our
long-term vision and expanding our customer’s choice and control.”

During the trip, Fote and Thomas also met with officials from China Post,
the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, and the
People’s Bank of China.

“We discussed the possibility of establishing relationships with other
First Data entities in the areas of card issuing services and merchant
processing services,” said Fote. “We think there are some excellent
opportunities and great potential for expanding First Data’s international

About Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and First Data

Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp., is an international leader in consumer money transfer services.
Consumers can quickly, safely and reliably pay bills and transfer money around
the globe using the company’s proprietary money transfer network. Western
Union and its subsidiary, Orlandi Valuta, together make up one of the world’s
largest money transfer networks with a total of approximately 120,000 Agent
locations in more than 187 countries and territories. Famous for its
pioneering telegraph service, the original Western Union dates back to 1851
and introduced electronic money transfer service in 1871. For more
information, please visit the company’s Web site at http://www.westernunion.com.

First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the
global economy. Serving approximately 2.8 million merchant locations,
1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data makes it easy, fast
and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using
virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, smart card, stored-value card or
check at the point-of-sale, over the Internet or by money transfer. For more
information, please visit the company’s Web site at http://www.firstdata.com.


Metris Tumbles

Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Bank watched its stock drop nearly 23% yesterday after a Wall Street analyst raised concerns over credit quality. An analyst with Wachovia Securities cut 2002 earnings estimates for the sub-prime specialist. Wachovia Securities says Metris has increased credit limits as 57.6% of cardholders now have at least a $5,000 credit line and 15.1% have lines over $10,000. Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Bank reported a managed net chargeoff rate of 10.9% for 4Q/01 compared to 9.7% for 4Q/00. The comparable managed delinquency rate was 9.7% at Dec 31, 2001, compared to 8.3% at Dec 31, 2000. For the fourth quarter of 2001, managed net interest margin was 14.0%, compared with 14.2% for the third quarter of 2001, and 12.6% for the fourth quarter of 2000. For current and historical performance on Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Bank visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). (CF Library 1/16/02)

[1]: http://www.carddata.com



Trintech, a global provider of secure payment
infrastructure solutions, announced that Merisel has
selected Trintech’s enterprise payment solution PayWare ERP to power its
payment processing requirements.

PayWare ERP was implemented by Merisel to offer its customers a
best-in-class online shopping experience. The advantage of PayWare ERP is the
seamless integration with Merisel’s SAP R/3 system. PayWare ERP has also
reduced Merisel’s costs by lowering the processing cost of each transaction.

“Merisel’s customer-centric approach means that we are constantly seeking
the best-in-class technology to provide our customers with the most positive
buying experience possible. By working with Trintech we are able to offer our
customers secure payment and therefore peace of mind,” stated Traci Barnett,
Vice President Sales & Marketing, at Merisel. “The ability to integrate
seamlessly with our SAP R/3 system with PayWare EPR’s was a key factor in our
decision to choose Trintech.”

Developed in close collaboration with SAP, PayWare ERP is ideal for
enterprises with large transaction volumes. The solution extracts costs from
internal operations to streamline the payment process, while providing a
migration path to new revenue channels, such as eCommerce, mCommerce and
tCommerce. PayWare ERP is scalable, designed to seamlessly integrate with R/3
sales order processing system and is easily configured to process card
payments in both physical and virtual environments.

PayWare ERP sends and receives credit card authorizations during order
entry which allows Merisel to notify its customers immediately when orders are
accepted or rejected.

“Merisel is an innovator in the provision of excellent services to its
customers,” said Trevor Healy, EVP of the ePayments Division at Trintech.
“Merisel’s decision to deploy PayWare ERP provides further support that this
solution is the preferred payment technology for users of SAP R/3. Today’s
announcement reinforces the strength of Trintech’s eCommerce offering.”

PayWare ERP Product Overview

Trintech’s PayWare ERP solution provides seamless and tight integration of
the payment acceptance function into enterprise and resource planning (ERP)
systems and retail automation applications, allowing corporations to leverage
their ERP system to realize operational efficiencies and cost benefits.
Supporting multiple financial and communication protocols, PayWare ERP manages
both the authorization and settlement of transactions between acquiring
institutions and ERP-based merchants and businesses.

About Trintech

Trintech is a leading provider of secure electronic payment infrastructure
solutions for real world, Internet and wireless transactions. The company,
founded in 1987, offers a complete range of payment software products for
credit, debit, commercial and procurement card applications. Trintech’s
secure product range is deployed in over 35 countries worldwide and covers the
payment requirements of consumers, card issuing banks, merchant acquiring
institutions, merchants, eMerchants, telcos, wireless operators, ISPs/CSPs,
Portals and large corporations. The Group’s range of scalable, open systems
architecture solutions for UNIX(R) and Windows NT(TM) platforms covers
consumer, merchant and financial institution requirements for all card-based
payments, including eCommerce and the emerging world of mCommerce. Trintech
can be contacted in the U.S. at 2755 Campus Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
(Tel: 0650-227-7000) and in Ireland at Trintech Building, South County
Business Park, Leopardstown, Dublin 18 (Tel: 353-1-207-4000). Trintech can
be reached on the Web at http://www.trintech.com. Investor information can
be found at http://www.trintech.com/investor.

About Merisel

Founded in 1980, Merisel, Inc. is a leading provider of software licensing
products to resellers throughout the U.S. Headquartered in El Segundo,
California, Merisel delivers flexible, focused software solutions and a
superior level of customer service. Visit Merisel at http://www.merisel.com .


Firstar Re-Branding

New red, white, and blue U.S. Bank signs, replacing the green Firstar Bank signs in Iowa, including the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois, will begin appearing on March 28, 2002.

The new U.S. Bank signage is the result of the merger of Firstar Corporation and U.S. Bancorp, which was completed on February 27, 2001. At the time of the merger it was announced that Firstar locations would adopt the U.S. Bank name. The transformation of all Firstar Bank locations to the new U.S. Bank name will be completed by the end of summer 2002.

“While the U.S. Bank name and our red, white, and blue colors may be new to some of our markets, people will quickly recognize our continued commitment to our customers and support of the communities we serve,” said Steve Caves, regional president for Firstar Bank and U.S. Bank in Iowa. “Also, one of our most valuable assets will not be changing – our people. The same team of outstanding financial services professionals who helped customers as Firstar Bankers will now help customers as U.S. Bankers. Our customers can still bank with us when they want, where they want and on their own terms as U.S. Bank customers.” Dan Watters, division head for U.S. Bank and Firstar in Iowa, added that the bank’s `Five Star Service Guarantee,’ which assures customers of certain key banking benefits or they will be compensated for their inconvenience, will continue at U.S. Bank. “Our customers will get the same great service they’ve come to expect from us.”

What does the name change mean for customers of Firstar Bank? Caves said that it means the name of the bank is changing. However, almost all account numbers, customer relationships and products and services of the former Firstar Bank will remain the same. The only thing customers will see different will be new “U.S. Bank” signs in place of the old “Firstar Bank” signs. Even with the new name and signs, customers can continue using their current supply of Firstar checks. Upon reordering, they will receive new U.S. Bank checks. New credit, debit, ATM and check cards will be sent to customers in order to match the new signage. Card account numbers and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) will stay the same. Customers will have 2,147 branch locations and 4,904 ATMs to do their banking when they travel to states in the West and Midwest. Customers have been notified and provided with additional information explaining the integration and the benefits of the new organization. Over the upcoming months, the name change will continue to occur in Firstar’s other markets. The organization has been communicating the name change to customers via targeted mailings, advertisements and a marketing campaign.

U.S. Bank and Firstar Bank are subsidiaries of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB). With assets in excess of $171 billion, U.S. Bancorp is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,147 banking offices and 4,904 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is home of the Five Star Service Guarantee which assures customers of certain key banking benefits and services or customers will be paid for their inconvenience. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at [firstar.com][1] or [usbank.com][2].

[1]: http://www.firstar.com
[2]: http://www.usbank.com