Sprint & Cendant

Sprint announced an alliance with Cendant Corporation to market Sprint Prepaid Business Cards exclusively to more than 200,000 brokers and sales associates affiliated with franchised brokerages under the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA brands.

The new product for the residential real estate industry is being unveiled in San Antonio, Texas at the annual international conferences of the ERA, Coldwell Banker and Century 21 networks — which occur February 21 through March 6.

“Sprint Prepaid Business Cards are growing in popularity in the sales industry as a unique way to increase the impact and provide value to the traditional business card,” said Imke Mensah, Atlantic-ACM analyst.

The business cards function just like a prepaid phone card by providing a denomination of prepaid long-distance minutes for nationwide calling. To use the card, customers simply follow dialing instructions printed on the back of the business card.

“Sprint Prepaid Business Cards provide real estate agents with a ‘calling card’ of value when they announce themselves,” said Kelly Carnago, director of prepaid sales and marketing. “These cards give the agent’s business card some staying power.”

“Our alliance with Sprint allows the brokers and sales associates affiliated with the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and ERA brands to leverage this unique product to grow their businesses,” said David Hardy, senior vice president of business development, Cendant Real Estate Franchise Group. “At the same time, Sprint Prepaid Business Cards will help to enhance the experience for homebuyers and sellers.”

The cards will enable brokers and sales associates to provide value-added service for their existing and potential customers; enhance customer loyalty; and enjoy an additional competitive advantage.

“Being able to provide a family in transition with an easy way to make a long-distance call is a great selling feature and allows the agent to provide added value to their customers,” said Carnago.

Sprint has introduced the product to consumer agent-based industry segments and has seen marked growth over the past few years. The introduction of prepaid business cards into the residential real estate industry is now an indication that other vertical markets in the sales industry see the retaining value of prepaid business cards.

About Sprint

Sprint is a global communications company serving more than 23 million business and residential customers in more than 70 countries. With 80,000- plus employees worldwide and more than $26 billion in annual revenues, Sprint is widely recognized for developing, engineering, and deploying state-of-the-art network technologies, including the United States’ first nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network. Sprint’s award-winning Tier 1 Internet backbone is being extended to key global markets to provide customers with a broad portfolio of scalable IP products. Sprint’s high-capacity, high-speed network gives customers fast, dependable, non-stop access to the vast majority of the world’s Internet content. Sprint also operates the largest 100-percent digital, nationwide PCS wireless network in the United States, already serving the majority of the nation’s metropolitan areas including more than 4,000 cities and communities.

About Cendant Corporation

Cendant Corporation is primarily a provider of travel and residential real estate services. With approximately 60,000 employees, New York City-based Cendant provides these services to businesses and consumers in more than 100 countries. More information about Cendant, its companies, brands, and current SEC filings may be obtained by visiting [http://www.Cendant.com][1] or by calling 877-4-INFOCD (877-446-3623).

All products and services are provided by Sprint. This offer void if deemed an inducement under the laws of KY or WV or the real estate commission interpretations of MO or OK and elsewhere prohibited by law. A consumer purchase of a product or service may result in the seller or service provider paying a fee or commission to the Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA affiliated Broker or Sales Associate who obtained the sale. Neither Century 21 Real Estate Corporation, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation or ERA Franchise Systems, Inc. nor its affiliated companies, including Cendant Corporation, provide any product or service in connection with Sprint.

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



Equifax Inc. announced the appointment of Michael S. Shannon as Group
for Equifax
Europe. In his new role, Shannon has responsibility for managing all sales,
technology and operations for the consumer, commercial and marketing
businesses in Europe. He will report to Bill Catucci, Group Executive for
Global Operations.

Shannon has held a variety of senior management positions at Equifax
during the past 10 years including Senior Vice President of Corporate
Development, Group Controller for North American Information Services, and
Senior Vice President of International Development. He most recently was
managing director of operations and technology for Equifax Europe, a London-
based position he has held since July 2001.

“Michael brings exceptional leadership and expertise to this position,”
said Equifax Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Chapman. “His appointment emphasizes
our commitment to our customers and continues to strengthen our European

Prior to joining Equifax, Shannon’s 15-year banking career included senior
management positions at Citibank and Bankers Trust.

About Equifax

Equifax enables and secures global commerce through its information
management, consumer credit, marketing services, business information,
authentication and e-commerce businesses. As the leader in information
services, Equifax adds value wherever customers do business, including the
financial services, retail, telecommunications/utilities, information
technology, brokerage, insurance and business lending industries and
government. Equifax also enlightens, enables and empowers consumers to manage
and protect their financial health with services offered at
http://www.equifax.com .
The company ranked in the top five in return on equity among Business Week’s
Best Performers during 2001. Equifax employs 5,200 in 13 countries and has
$1.1 billion in revenue.


ATM Cost Data

Last year, on-premises ATMs attracted 4,479 transactions per month, while off-premises ATMs operated by a financial institution yielded 1,918 transactions per ATM per month. ISO terminals, on the other hand, generated an average of 600 transactions per month, according to the “2002 ATM Deployer Study” by Boston-based Dove Consulting. ATMs still remain cash dispensers as 77% of transactions are cash withdrawals and almost all of the other transactions are for other basic banking functions (balance inquiries, transfers, and deposits). In 1999, cash withdrawals also accounted for 77% of total transactions. For the industry as a whole, the average surcharge for an off-premises cash withdrawal rose from $1.36 in 1998 to $1.48 in 2001, or about 9%, according to Dove. In 1998, the average monthly cost to own and operate an off-premises ATM was $1,090. In 2001, it was $1,016. Once rent expenses and an allocation for back-office operations are factored in, the fully loaded cost per off-premises ATM increases by $282, to $1,298 per month. For off-premises ATMs, large credit unions have the highest cost structure, incurring a cost of $1,624 per ATM per month. ISOs with fewer than 1,000 ATMs tend to have the lowest costs, averaging $732 per terminal per month.



Moneris Solutions, Canada’s largest processor of
credit and debit card transactions, announced the launch of Merchant
Direct – Canada’s first online transaction reporting service for merchants.
Merchant Direct offers daily Visa, MasterCard, and debit card transaction
information by 7 a.m. the next day and uses state-of-the-art encryption to
ensure privacy and security.

“Merchants will no longer have to wait for their month-end statements to
review their credit and debit card transaction data,” says Jim Baumgartner,
President, Moneris Solutions Corp. “Merchant Direct streamlines information,
allowing merchants to spend more time focusing on their business and their

Merchant Direct empowers merchants to immediately respond to sales
trends. For example, the day after the launch of a special promotion, a
merchant can easily identify customer response and make adjustments and
strategic decisions regarding pricing, inventories and promotional techniques.
Additionally, Merchant Direct stores historical information, enabling
merchants to observe period-over-period growth trends.

“Moneris Solutions’ Merchant Direct offers single and multiple location
merchants consolidated card transaction data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,”
says Baumgartner. “Card transaction data is now online and at their

“By enabling us to see our daily card transactions online, Merchant
Direct is an invaluable source of information as well as a real time-saver,”
says Roy Nelson, Controller, STOTT PILATES. “Having access to a consolidated,
daily list of all our company’s Visa, MasterCard and debit transactions allows
us to quickly monitor our daily cash balances.”

STOTT PILATES is a subsidiary of Merrithew Corporation, the only full-
service organization of its kind providing pilates education, videos and
equipment to more than 40 countries.

Merchant Direct offers merchants several benefits including:

– Convenient and timely access to deposit and transaction information 24
hours a day, seven days a week

– Automatic consolidation of card transaction data for businesses with
multiple locations

– Up-to-date data to facilitate accurate decision-making, forecasting and
trend analysis

– State-of-the-art encryption to ensure privacy and security

– Generation of reports on a daily basis for tracking purposes

– The ability to move Merchant Direct data into spreadsheet and
accounting software programs for business planning, reporting and

“With this offering, Moneris Solutions continues to be on the cutting-
edge of point-of-sale and e-commerce technologies; Merchant Direct is a first:
consolidating merchants’ operations, enhancing customer service, and
ultimately offering an invaluable return on investment,” commented

About Moneris Solutions Corp.:

Moneris Solutions is Canada’s leading technology merchant processing
company. Moneris was formed in December 2000 as a result of a 50:50 joint
investment between the RBC Financial Group and Bank of Montreal. Moneris
provides businesses with technologically advanced, easy to use, point-of-sale
solutions designed to electronically process and authorize credit and debit
card transactions, including customized loyalty card transactions. Moneris’
leading-edge technology allows merchants to streamline payment processing and
improve business efficiency. In less than a year, Moneris has become Canada’s
largest and one of North America’s largest merchant payment processing
companies. Moneris serves more than 300,000 North American customers and has a
staff of over 900 employees. With its head office in Toronto, Ontario, the
company also has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Montreal, Quebec. For more
information, please visit


Concord & Logix

Concord EFS, Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of The Logix Companies, LLC, an electronic transaction processor. The acquisition of Logix is expected to have a neutral impact on Concord’s earnings per share in 2002 and to be accretive to earnings per share in future years. “The Logix transaction brings us new products, such as electronic check conversion with image capture, that we can offer immediately through our direct and independent sales channels, plus innovative new technology that we believe has good potential for future growth,” said Edward A. Labry III, Concord president. “For example, the IDLogix product, which is a unique terminal-based service to verify identity, represents an important new risk management feature for our point of sale processing and check services that can help our customers reduce fraud and lower costs.”IDLogix, one of several product lines created by Logix, is a terminal-based application that reads information encoded on driver’s licenses and other forms of government identification and displays on the terminal read-out information such as date of birth and physical characteristics. This service is especially useful for supermarkets and convenience stores that have age-related sales, such as alcohol and tobacco, but the service can also be used in conjunction with check payments to reduce check fraud. Other product lines include CheckLogix, an electronic check conversion service that captures and archives the check image, verifies the check via a negative file, and converts the check to an ACH transaction, and EFTLogix, ATM processing for approximately 10,000 ATMs with features specifically designed for retail ATM deployers.Tony Sdao, president of Logix, will be general manager of the wholly owned subsidiary, The Logix Company, which will continue to be headquartered in Longmont, Colorado.

About Concord EFS, Inc.

Concord is a leading vertically integrated electronic transaction processor, providing transaction authorization, data capture, settlement and funds transfer services to financial institutions, supermarkets, petroleum retailers, convenience stores, restaurants, and other independent retailers. Concord’s primary activities include Network Services, providing ATM driving, PIN-secured and signature debit card processing, and STARsm network access to the financial services industry; and Payment Services, providing credit, debit, check authorization, and electronic benefits transfer processing services to selected retail segments. Concord news releases, links to SEC filings, and other information are available on its corporate web site at [www.concordefs.com][1].

[1]: http://www.concordefs.com.note/


ADS Buys Reeds

Reeds Jewelers, Inc. announced the sale of its private label credit card portfolio to Alliance Data Systems Corp. Under the terms of a seven-year agreement, Alliance Data Systems will provide a full-service private label credit card program to Reeds Jewelers that will include account acquisition and activation, receivables funding, card authorization and data capture, private label credit card issuance, payment processing, statement generation, and customer service.

“We are excited to be starting our new fiscal year with Alliance Data Systems,” said Alan M. Zimmer, President and CEO, of Reeds Jewelers, Inc. “We look forward to growing our business and strengthening our balance sheet as a result of this relationship, while providing greater convenience and value to our customers.”

About Reeds Jewelers, Inc.

Based in Wilmington, NC, Reeds Jewelers, Inc. (Amex: RJI) is one of the nation’s leading jewelers and operates 100 specialty retail stores primarily in enclosed regional malls located in 21 states primarily in the Southeast and Midwest section of the United States. Reeds Jewelers employs more than 1,000 associates throughout its marketing area. For more information about the Company, visit its web site, [http://www.reeds.com][1].

About Alliance Data Systems

Based in Dallas, Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services, assisting retail, petroleum, utility and financial services companies in managing the critical interactions between them and their customers. Alliance Data each year manages more than 2.5 billion transactions and 72 million customer accounts for some of North America’s most recognizable companies. The Company also operates and markets the largest coalition loyalty program in Canada. Alliance Data Systems employs over 6,500 associates at more than 20 locations in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. For more information about the company, visit its web site, .

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


DoD Readers

SCM Microsystems has shipped an additional 85,000 smart card readers to the U.S. Army as part of the DoD’s ‘Common Access Card’ program. This follows an initial shipment of 50,000 readers for the initiative in November 2001. SCM is supplying the U.S. Army with smart card readers through its partner, Northrop Grumman’s Information Technology. The CAC program is designed to provide more than four million active duty military personnel, selected reserve, DoD civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel with a standard identification badge based on smart card technology. SCM is providing a variety of serial port, USB, and PCMCIA readers for the DoD program.


Credit Errors

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Friday which enables consumers to sue lenders for failure to clear up inaccurate information reported to national credit bureaus. The opinion came from a 1999 lawsuit filed against Chase. In the lawsuit, the consumer plaintiff had co-signed for a Chase mortgage for a friend who later went bankrupt. The consumer’s credit was impaired by the bankruptcy filing even though he continued to make mortgage payments. The plaintiff asked Chase to notify credit bureaus and delete the bankruptcy information noted in his personal credit file since he never filed bankruptcy. Chase agreed to make a notation in the credit file that the bankruptcy did not pertain to all borrowers on the account but insisted it was up to creditors to determine if he had filed for bankruptcy.


Net First Out

The sub-prime credit card implosion continues as FL-based Net First National Bank was closed Friday by the OCC with the FDIC named as receiver, and taken over this morning by Bank Leumi USA. Net First, in conjunction with Equitex’s Key Financial Systems, issued the sub-prime “Net 1st MasterCard,” a credit card program which charged consumers a one-time reservation fee of $500, which fully utilized the credit limit. Under the program, cardholders create available credit by making payments on the balance. The card program also charged a $99 processing fee to establish the account and a $96 annual membership fee. The card was dubbed the “worst” credit card program in the USA by CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]) and the company was repeatedly denied placement as an advertiser on CardWeb.com’s Web site. The Boca Raton-based Net First National Bank had one branch and $34.7 million in assets.

Bank Leumi USA agreed to pay the FDIC a premium of $4.55 million to assume the insured deposits of $22.7 million and to purchase about $6.0 million of the failed bank’s assets. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets of Net First for later disposition. Net First National Bank is the fifth FDIC-insured institution to fail this year. Links to the “Net 1st MasterCard,” extensively promoted on the Internet, were being routed this morning to Hoven, SD-based Plains Commerce Bank, which offers an unsecured sub-prime VISA card. Plains charges a $225 acceptance fee, $79 processing fee, $50 annual fee, and a $6 monthly participation fee, and guarantees an initial credit limit of $300. CO-based Equitex, Inc. and its FL-based subsidiaries, Key Financial Systems and Nova Financial Systems, reported in the fourth quarter that they were servicing nearly 150,000 “Net 1st MasterCard” accounts for Net First National Bank. Equitex stated this morning that it is already in active discussions with a number of other financial institutions for the potential assumption of its existing credit card portfolio, as well as to continue marketing the “Pay As You Go” credit card program, which Net First issued. (CF Library 5/30/00; 11/8/01; 2/13/02)

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


Online Fraud

Online fraud losses for last year were 19 times as high, dollar for dollar, as fraud losses resulting from offline sales. Also, more than $700 million in online sales were lost to fraud in 2001, representing 1.14% of total annual online sales of $61.8 billion. The findings come from a new survey by CT-based GartnerG2. The Internet survey of more than 1,000 adult U.S. online consumers, conducted in January, showed that 5.2% of respondents were victimized by credit card fraud in 2001 and 1.9% were victimized by identity theft (although respondents do not know whether the theft occurred online or offline). The survey found that, as a result of the fraud losses, adult consumers in the United States are beginning to adopt credit card company solutions designed to protect against online fraud. More than 18% of respondents are attempting to fight fraud by embracing “Verified by VISA” and MasterCard’s “Universal Cardholder Authentication Field” standard and “Secure Payment Application.” Gartner says other security schemes, including PKI, smart cards, and disposable card numbers, receive far less consumer support. Most consumers are unwilling to take the extra steps required to use PKI, as the failure of the previous MasterCard/VISA sponsored PKI-based SET standard demonstrated.


Risk Management Symposium

Retail Decisions, a leading card-based transactions services business providing fraud prevention to the finance, telecommunications, retail and e-commerce sectors, announces its inaugural Risk Management Symposium.

Hosted by ReD PRISM, a division of Retail Decisions plc, the symposium will feature interactive workshops, specialized conference sessions and informative case studies addressing solutions, strategies and `best practices’ for detecting and preventing card fraud and money laundering.

The Risk Management Symposium is being held on June 26-28, 2002 at the Hyatt Regency Newport in Newport, Rhode Island.

Distinguished Gartner analyst, Kenneth Kerr will keynote the symposium. Mr. Kerr serves on Gartner’s Emerging Payment Systems team, covering Internet payment systems and technologies and has world-renowned recognition as an expert in the field of electronic payment trends and the card-not-present arena.

The Card Fraud Control Workshop will be hosted by John McVitie, Fraud Prevention Specialist, and formerly of the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS). This dynamic workshop will explore the latest fraud schemes – who’s perpetrating them, what are the new techniques in random account generation, identity theft, ATM and POS fraud tactics, card-not-present (CNP) fraud and counterfeiting favored by organized criminal groups and how can card issuers and retailers effectively combat card and card-not-present fraud. The Anti-Money Laundering Workshop will be led by Charlie Intriago, President of Alert Global Media and publisher of Money Laundering Alert, a Miami-based monthly publication that is one of the world’s leading authorities on money laundering, the Bank Secrecy Act and foreign laws. This compelling, half-day session will provide an in-depth look at how new anti-money legislation is changing the role of financial institutions in the government’s heightened battle against illicit money laundering activities. Panelists in this lively, roundtable session will include representatives from U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies, law enforcement and compliance experts from leading financial institutions.

Other expert speakers and panelists already confirmed for the symposium include The American Bankers Association, AT&T, CertaPay Inc., The Coalition for the Prevention of Economic Crime, The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), GE Capital, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Kroll Associates, PaySolv Inc., Retail Decisions, Royal Bank of Canada, South Africa National Neural Network Steering Committee, Surefire Commerce, Target Corporation, Visa U.S.A., Walmart.com, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and more. Registration for the Risk Management Symposium 2002 is $495 until April30, and $595 after April 30. For more information or to register, visit [http://www.retaildecisions.com][1] or call Beth Lester at 401.228.2355 to reserve your space. Seating is limited.

About Retail Decisions

Retail Decisions ([http://www.retaildecisions.com][2]) is a card-based transactions services business that provides fraud prevention to the finance, telecommunications, retail and e-commerce industries. By leveraging both, rules-based and predictive neural risk management and analysis tools, Retail Decisions is able to identify and prevent payment card fraud. The company currently protects nearly 10,000 retail sites globally. In 2000, Retail Decisions processed more than 1.25 billion card transactions, stopping an estimated $113 million in fraudulent purchases. Retail Decisions has more than 16 years’ experience in credit card risk management and payment settlement services to the telecommunications industry in the US, and currently supplies its services to over 45 telecom companies.

ReD PRISM, a division of Retail Decisions, Inc., is a leading provider of intelligent decision-support solutions for the financial services and e-commerce industries. ReD PRISM’s client/server products incorporate innovative, pattern-recognition technologies ideally suited for data-intensive, real-time decision applications. The company’s products provide predictive fraud detection and case management for e-commerce fraud, credit, debit and retail (private-label) card fraud, as well as merchant fraud and money laundering.

ReD is publicly traded on the official list of the London Stock Exchange under the trading symbol, “RTD”. More information about ReD is available by visiting the company Web site at [http://www.retaildecisions.com][3].

[1]: http://www.retaildecisions.com/
[2]: http://www.retaildecisions.com/
[3]: http://www.retaildecisions.com/


Spiegel Card Bond Ratings

Fitch Ratings places the First Consumers Credit Card Master Note Trust, series 2001-A class A and class B notes on Rating Watch Negative as indicated below.

–$463,000,000 class A floating-rate asset-backed notes ‘AAA’;

–$63,000,000 class B floating-rate asset-backed notes ‘A’.

The securities are backed by a pool of Visa and MasterCard receivables originated by First Consumers National Bank, a subsidiary of Spiegel, Inc. Ratings assigned to Spiegel Credit Card Master Note Trust series 2000-A class A ‘AAA’ and series 2001-A class A ‘AAA’ are not affected by this action as they are based upon the claims paying ability of MBIA, Inc.

The action is prompted by Spiegel Inc.’s intention to sell its credit card operations, including First Consumers National Bank, the deterioration of master trust performance variables beyond original expectations, and Fitch’s concern over the repeated restatement of recent monthly servicer reports. Fitch’s action follows Spiegel Group’s announcement that it will take a fourth quarter 2001 charge of $396 million in connection with the sale of its credit card business, which will be treated as discontinued operations going forward. As a result of the charge and its 2001 full year financial performance, the company is in breach of certain loan covenants. Spiegel has indicated to Fitch that it is working closely with its bank group and its majority shareholder to restructure these credit facilities near term.

Spiegel’s results and its intention to sell the card operations concerns Fitch from a servicing standpoint. Details of these plans, including retention efforts and related personnel issues, and contingency plans have yet to be made available to Fitch.

Master trust performance variables have exhibited significant volatility in recent months and have deteriorated beyond Fitch’s original expectations. Chargeoffs have averaged 15.8% over the most recent six months, reaching 17.79% in December and 17.28% in January. Excess spread has also declined rapidly with the most recent three-month average at 3.5%, well below the six-month average of 6.8%. Also of concern is the fact that recent monthly servicing reports have undergone multiple revisions. Fitch is attempting to reconcile the revisions with Spiegel and will update investors as it does.