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.


Banner Year

The FDIC reported Friday that banks charged-off $3.5 billion in credit card loans during the fourth quarter, 25.8% or $724 million more than a year earlier, as the net charge-off rate on the industry’s credit card portfolio rose to a record-high 6.26%. However, the FDIC said benefits of lower interest rates outweighed credit-quality problems at most banks. Overall, FDIC-insured commercial banks registered their best fourth quarter earnings ever, reporting $19.0 billion in net income in the final quarter of 2001, an increase of 7.3% from the fourth quarter of 2000. More than half of all commercial banks reported higher earnings than in 4Q/00, and 51.3% reported higher quarterly ROAs. Full-year earnings of $74.6 billion easily eclipsed the previous record of $71.1 billion, set in 1999. Compared to 2000, 58.6% of all banks reported higher annual earnings in 2001.


Fleet Small Biz Prog

The Small Business Services division of FleetBoston Financial announced today the launch of its Small Business Value Package, a new suite of products that delivers a broad array of benefits for a flat and economical monthly fee.

“The Value Package taps the unmatched depth of Fleet’s sophisticated products and services, and delivers them affordably and conveniently in a dramatic new way. In addition to traditional transaction capabilities, the Value Package includes access to payroll services, merchant credit card services, and special rewards programs to deliver a product that has no peer in the industry. More than a simple account, it really is a relationship product set that brings enormous benefit to small business owners,” said Norman J. DeLuca, Managing Director of Small Business Services at Fleet.

Fleet has already tested the product in three markets (Long Island, NY; Westchester County, NY; and Providence, RI) resulting in more than 900 Value Package accounts opened during a 10-week pilot. Nearly 80% of account openings came from new customers during the pilot program.

“The design of the Value Package reflects our commitment to providing a superior customer experience. Our extensive research and investments in systems enhancements have resulted in a product that is simple to use, comprehensive in its resources, and predictable to the penny in monthly fees,” said Stephen E. Pollack, executive vice president responsible for the Mass Market Segment in Fleet’s Small Business Service group.

The Small Business Value Package combines these features and benefits:

– Business Checking with 200 free monthly transactions

– No cash handling fees for cash transactions

– Money Market Savings with no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance

– Free overdraft protection for checking with free, automatic transfers from money market savings account

– Free OfficeLink(sm) online banking with free bill payment

– Business Credit Card with no annual fee for the first year — and up to $50,000 in credit. Includes a rewards program that provides opportunities to earn free airline miles

– Special discounts on payroll services (one free month of payroll processing/one free year of direct deposit processing, and $5.00 rebates for every month in which payroll is processed)

– Special discounts on merchant credit card services ($85 set-up fee is waived, and a $5.00 rebate in every month in which it is used)

– Convenient combined monthly statement

– ATM and Debit cards

The monthly fee is $19.95. ($24.95 monthly fee in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County.) The monthly fee is waived when an average daily balance of $20,000 is maintained in the checking account.

The Value Package was developed following focus group research conducted among Fleet customers, prospects, and sales executives last year. Findings indicated strong interest in an account that provided a mix of essential services at a fixed monthly cost. The product was then tested in 3 markets last fall to further refine the Value Package offerings. The product’s March 4th launch makes the Value Package available in the seven Northeastern states where Fleet has a branch presence, plus Florida.

“The enthusiastic acceptance of this new account in test markets underscores its value to time-pressed small business owners. Our pilots produced an overwhelming response, including from our own employees. By taking great standalone products and services and bundling them in a single offer, we have made it easier and more affordable for our customers to take advantage of them in one great product,” said Pollack.

Fleet expects the Value Package to further galvanize its small business deposit growth, which last year grew by 8% in its 8-state franchise. Fleet will promote the new product through media advertising, direct marketing, and in-branch promotions. The product’s rollout is part of Fleet’s larger corporate initiative to focus on organic growth in its marketplace and to aggressively build new revenues.

Fleet Small Business Services is one of Fleet’s largest and fastest growing businesses, serving 500,000 customers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Florida. Fleet’s Small Business Services group serves the needs of businesses with annual sales of up to $10 million. Fleet Small Business Services has approximately $6.6 billion in total small business commitments and $13 billion in small business deposits.

FleetBoston Financial is the seventh-largest financial holding company in the United States. A diversified financial services company with assets exceeding $200 billion, Fleet offers a comprehensive array of innovative financial solutions to 20 million customers in more than 20 countries and territories. Among the company’s key lines of business are: retail banking, with more than 1,500 branches and more than 3,800 ATMs in the Northeast; corporate banking, including capital markets/investment banking and commercial finance; investment services, including nationwide brokerage; and full-service banking through more than 250 offices in Latin America. FleetBoston Financial is headquartered in Boston and listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FBF) and the Boston Stock Exchange (BSE: FBF).


Captura Expense 5.2

Captura, the leading global provider of Web-based services enabling companies to analyze and control corporate expenses, announced general availability of Captura Expense 5.2.

This release provides customers with significant performance and scalability improvements and includes Captura InfoCenter, a consolidated reporting database that gives users the power to access worldwide data on demand using virtually any corporate reporting application.

Customers will use Captura InfoCenter to identify global spending trends in expense management by consolidating all of their worldwide data into one database. They will access the data using their chosen corporate reporting application and not be forced to purchase, train, and support a new reporting product application. Captura will also provide an additional reporting option for customers that allows them to interactively view, graph and analyze expenses through the Captura InfoCenter database using OLAP (online analytical processing) software for multi-dimensional reporting.

Captura InfoCenter provides companies with access to a reporting solution that allows them to gather data captured in Captura Expense databases throughout multiple company locations and consolidate that data in Captura InfoCenter for easy reporting and in-depth business analysis. Among other features, Captura InfoCenter:

— Consolidates expenses from multiple countries into a single common currency to simplify financial reporting.

— Gathers expense categories from different cost centers to compare overall performance.

— Aggregates regional expenses by vendor to negotiate better vendor rates.

“Captura InfoCenter provides our customers with two great options for worldwide reporting — our OLAP option for comprehensive analysis or direct access to the data with the reporting application of their choice to create reports and analysis that best meet their unique needs,” said Dan Vetras, president and CEO of Captura. “Companies are always looking for ways to reduce expenses and to obtain better rates from their preferred vendors. By using Captura InfoCenter, they can now get access to all the data they need to identify and analyze their spending trends in one convenient location.”

“The ability to utilize data for management decisions is one of Captura’s most powerful features,” said Nikki Ogden, Global Process Lead — Employee Reimbursements for Hewlett-Packard. “The ease and flexibility of reporting from Captura InfoCenter clearly demonstrates the value of Captura to managers when it comes to having visibility to spending and expense trends.” Additionally, Captura Expense 5.2 has been proven to provide a true global solution with performance and scalability significantly exceeding competitors published benchmarks. Captura’s preliminary internal benchmark assessment of Captura Expense indicates it outperforms all expense management systems whose performance data has been published based on speed and number of concurrent users. Captura Expense has demonstrated up to 3 times faster response times compared to other published results.

In addition to the highest performance and Captura InfoCenter, the release of Captura Expense 5.2 will also include these significant enhancements:

— Additional reports for department managers and corporate card managers in Report Center, Captura’s standard transaction report library.

— Trip Request Enhancements that allow a spender more flexibility in estimating the total cost of a specific business travel opportunity and provide broader notification of approval.

— Support for travelers and approvers to access Captura Expense via several new mobile devices including the Pocket PC and the RIM Blackberry.

About Captura

Captura provides Web-based total expense management services for companies worldwide, revolutionizing the way they analyze, manage and control expenses. Founded in 1994, Captura leads the industry in developing innovative technology to make companies worldwide more profitable and productive through expense management solutions. Captura customers include Booz-Allen & Hamilton, British Sky Broadcasting, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Leo Burnett and Viacom. Visit [http://www.captura.com][1] for more information.

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



Retail Decisions, an
international supplier of payment card fraud prevention and value-added
transaction services, today announces the acquisition of the business and
assets of Paymentplus, Inc., a US-based card-not-present processing software

Retail Decisions is pleased to announce the acquisition of the business and
assets of Paymentplus, Inc. for a total cash consideration of
US$2.25 million (approximately (pound)1.6million). Paymentplus, which is
in Reston, Virginia, provides credit card and electronic check authorization
capability for card-not-present retailers. In its relatively short existence,
Paymentplus has developed an enterprise-class payment processing software,
LiveProcessor, a processing engine delivering live credit card and electronic
check transaction interfaces to third party transaction processors.

has over 80 installations of LiveProcessor in the US and its customers
an estimated 10 million card-not-present transactions in 23 currencies on a
monthly basis.
The business of Paymentplus, according to its unaudited management accounts
the year ended December 31, 2001, had revenues of US$1.75 million
(approximately (pound)1.2 million), an operating loss of US$148,000
(approximately (pound)105,000) and net assets of US$282,000 (approximately
(pound)200,000). As part of the transaction, Jeff Foster, Vice President of
Marketing and Sales, and Matt Wixson, Chief Technology Officer, will be
Retail Decisions and have entered into employment agreements with a US-based
subsidiary of the company. These contracts include a base salary plus an
incentive structure based on future Paymentplus product sales and the overall
performance of the company in the US.

The acquisition of Paymentplus is expected to benefit Retail Decisions in a
number of ways. In particular:

– Paymentplus provides the Company with the ability to become an integral
of the card-not-present retailer’s financial transaction processing needs,
particularly through the provision of Retail Decisions’ fraud detection and
prevention services.

– The Company has been working with Paymentplus since September 2000 and its
ebitGuard platform is already integrated with Paymentplus’ LiveProcessor
software, which should enable immediate cross-selling opportunities.

– The Paymentplus team has developed extensive experience in transaction
processing and will work with Retail Decisions to develop new products and
services to build new revenue streams for the Company.

– The acquisition further extends Retail Decisions’ global reach,
in the US, where Paymentplus has an extensive client base and key
with transaction processors.

Carl Clump, Chief Executive of Retail Decisions, said today:
“We are very pleased to welcome Paymentplus into the Retail Decisions
organization. We have watched Paymentplus’ progression since its formation in
2000 and recognize the significant scope they offer to deliver Retail
Decisions’ risk management solutions to their clients. Their skills and
experience in transaction processing should further assist the group in
value to payment card transactions in general. This acquisition is a further
demonstration of Retail Decisions’ intention to strengthen its position in
North America, the world’s largest payment card market.”
About Retail Decisions
Retail Decisions (www.redplc.com) is an electronic
payment transactions services business that provides fraud prevention to the
finance, telecommunications, retail and e-commerce sectors. Using risk
management and analysis tools, Retail Decisions is able to predict and
payment card fraud; this infrastructure also provides a platform for a full
range of transaction based value-added services.


FoneCash Gets Park

FoneCash Inc., whose mission is to become the leading producer of low-cost, high quality “transaction automated solutions,” announced this week that Pio Y. Park has joined the Company as Divisional Vice President in charge of the Northwest Division.

Mr. Park will be establishing a divisional office in Seattle, Washington. This division will encompass the area from the Northern border of California to Alaska, and east to Idaho and Montana.

“Pio will be a key member of the senior management team,” stated Daniel E. Charboneau, Chairman and CEO of FoneCash Inc. “He will work closely with other functional areas such as, operations, marketing, technology, development, finance, and human resources. Pio has demonstrated the capacity to lead the sales function in an environment in transition from start-up to a period of high growth.”

“My specialty is ensuring maximum profitable revenue growth and generation,” stated Pio Y. Park, Divisional Vice President of FoneCash Inc. “I will personally work to penetrate target accounts at the highest decision-making levels to enable the ultimate achievement of revenue objectives. Furthermore, I will recruit and lead a team of consultative and solutions-focus sales and consulting professionals in the cultivation of new and expanded client relationships.”

Mr. Park brings strong experience as a senior executive with extraordinary energy and drive with resourceful approaches to improving market share while reducing cost. Prior to joining FoneCash, Mr. Park was a senior business development consultant with PYP Enterprises where his projects included managing 500 fishers with a fleet of tender ships which processed King salmon for sales to Japan; project executive for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s patent technology transfer from U.S. Department of Energy and Lockheed-Martin for developing specialty valves used by marine, oil & gas and aerospace industries which won the R&D 500 Award for best invention in 1999.

Previously, Mr. Park was President & CEO of Calista Corporation with 13,000 shareholders in fifty-six villages and cities in Western Alaska. Calista managed real estate and land holdings of 3 million acres along with investments in oil well drilling, newspaper publishing, and gold mine exploration. As Calista’s CEO, he halted Calista’s losses of $7 million in the first year and implemented a strategic plan that now employs over 1,000 employees and been profitable for the past six years. Prior to Calista, Mr. Park was Vice President of Chugach Alaska Corporation and President of its subsidiary, Chugach Development, where he coordinated and managed international joint ventures in timber and mining. During his leadership as subsidiary President, his unit earned revenue of $400 million with net profit of $47 million in eight months by implementing oil spill response services mobilizing marine vessels in Valdez and Cordova, Alaska. Mr. Park holds a Bachelors Of Science degree in Business & Economics from St. John’s University in New York and was Honorable Discharged from the United States Army as a Field Artillery/Forward Observer.

About FoneCash Inc.

Under an exclusive licensing agreement, FoneCash, Inc. designs, develops and manufactures electronic terminals for processing credit and debit cards of all the major banks issuers whose cards are accepted for payment by merchants worldwide. The Company’s products includes software and proprietary processing services that provide end-to-end support of electronic financial transactions, utilizing wired and wireless networks for the transmission of data. The Company intends to market a complete processing system that is high quality and simple to operate. Revenues will be generated from sales/rentals of the terminals and from transaction charges.


PA Accepts CCs for Taxes

On behalf of Pa. Gov. Mark Schweiker, Revenue Secretary Larry P. Williams announced during a Senate appropriations hearing this week that Pennsylvanians will be able to pay their Personal Income Taxes with a credit card beginning March 1. The Department of Revenue recently signed an agreement with Connecticut-based Official Payments Corporation to provide this payment option to taxpayers.

“Adding the ability to pay by credit card is one more way Pennsylvania is making filing and paying your taxes hassle-free,” Secretary Williams said. “This service strengthens our commitment to friction-free government — with numerous benefits not only to Pennsylvania taxpayers, but also to the state, by eliminating many of the paper transactions the Department of Revenue receives.”

Taxpayers using the department’s Internet filing system — pa.direct.file

— can pay by credit card by accessing a link from the pa.direct.file website or by calling 1-800-2PAY-TAX.

Those using PA/IRS e-file also can use the credit card payment option by logging onto [http://www.officialpayments.com][1] or by calling 1-800-2PAY-TAX. The PA/IRS e-file service is available through authorized tax preparers or purchased software.

To date, 48 percent more taxpayers are using pa.direct.file over last year, while 31 percent more are using the PA/IRS e-file service.

A convenience fee of 2.5 percent of the balance due is charged by Official Payments for processing the transaction. American Express, Discover and MasterCard are accepted.

“Approximately 4.5 million returns still need to be filed this tax season,” Secretary Williams said. “Last year, from March 1 through April 15, the department received about two million balance-due returns, so this new service comes at a perfect time for millions of taxpayers.”

Timely Personal Income Tax payments can be made through the April 15 deadline. Taxpayers using pa.direct.file or PA/IRS e-file continue to have the option of paying their Personal Income Tax by electronic funds withdrawal or check.

For more information about all of Pennsylvania’s convenient tax filing options, visit the PA PowerPort at [http://www.state.pa.us][2], PA Keyword: “taxes.”

[1]: http://www.officialpayments.com/
[2]: http://www.state.pa.us/


Fees Resume Climb

Average late payment fees will surge by 3% this month, the largest one month jump in the industry’s history, as more issuers raise fees above the $29 level. U.S Bank recently joined the trend in the wake of fee increases by MBNA and Discover, which go into effect today. U.S. Bank is now charging a $27 or $35 late fee, depending on the number of delinquencies occurring within twelve consecutive billing cycles. Advanta was the first card issuer to institute $35 fees for holders of its business card products. In 2000, Fleet Credit Card Services began charging a $35 late fee on all its card products including the new ‘Fusion smart VISA’. Citibank boosted late payment fees to $35 in August 2001. Discover and MBNA have instituted new late fee structures effective this month. Both issuers will now charge a $15 late fee for balances under $100; a $25 fee for balances between $100 and $1,000; and a $35 fee for past due balances above $1,000. On average, late payment fees, among issuers with portfolios over $100 million, have increased 5.5% over the past twelve months from $27.10 to $28.58, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). (CF Library 8/1/01; 8/30/01; 2/7/02; 2/11/02)

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


Target Smart 4Q/01

Target reported yesterday it signed up 1.1 million new accounts for its new ‘smart VISA’ card during the quarter ending Feb. 2nd. Since the launch of the VISA program in September 2001, Target has opened 2.5 million accounts and has racked up $1.5 billion in receivables, becoming the third largest issuer of smart credit cards in the USA. The company projects the VISA program will conservatively grow to $4.5 billion by the end of fiscal 2002, and to $6.0 billion by 2003. Target ended its fiscal year 2001 with $2.6 billion in private label (‘Guest Card’) credit card receivables and $1.5 billion in bank (‘smart VISA’) credit card receivables. During the year, total card receivables grew 41.4%, from $2.9 billion to $4.1 billion. The full-year profit contribution of the company’s credit card operations increased 11.2% to $445 million from $400 million last year, on growth in average receivables serviced of 15.8%. Target’s provision for credit losses of $261 million is about 6.4% of card loans. The company expects the growth in its VISA program to contribute up to 5 cents in earnings per share during fiscal 2002. Target said it will rely heavily on in-store promotion for its ‘smart VISA’ program this year. For complete details on Target’s 4Q/01 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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


ReD Acquisition

NJ-based Retail Decisions announced this morning the acquisition of the business and assets of VA-based Paymentplus, Inc., a card-not-present processing software provider. ReD is paying total cash consideration of $2.25 million for the firm. Paymentplus had annual revenues in 2001 of $1.75 million, an operating loss of $148,000, and net assets of $282,000. Paymentplus developed the enterprise-class payment processing software, ‘LiveProcessor’, a processing engine delivering live credit card and electronic check transaction interfaces to third party transaction processors. The company has more than 80 installations of ‘LiveProcessor’ in the US and its customers complete an estimated 10 million card-not-present transactions in 23 currencies on a monthly basis. As part of the transaction, Jeff Foster, VP of Marketing and Sales, and Matt Wixson, CTO, will become employees of Retail Decisions.


LA Smart Cards

Cubic Transportation yesterday nailed an $84 million smart card contract for Los Angeles County’s Metro System. MTA ‘s Board said the move to smart cards for all public transit in LA County will take three years to complete. A temporary version of the smart card, a paper flash regional pass, Los Angeles County’s first universal fare media, will be introduced by this summer. Late last year, in an early test of UFS, Montebello Bus Lines became the first municipal bus operator in LA County to partner up with MTA by accepting MTA transit passes on all its bus lines. When UFS is fully implemented, the paper pass, like all other passes in the county, will become transparent to all customers in the form of one regional transit smart card. In January, Cubic received a $15.2 million contract from the Metropolitan Council in Minneapolis/St. Paul for a smart card-based ticketing system for light rail and bus rapid transit. Also in January, Cubic was awarded a $3.3 million contract to provide smart card-ready fare collection equipment for the Chicago Transit Authority and a $5.5 million contract to upgrade the central computing system and infrastructure for the CTA. Cubic has transit payment systems in more than 40 major markets in cities on five continents, including London, Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, Chicago, New York, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Atlanta, San Francisco, Singapore and Miami. (CF Library 1/2/02; 1/18/02; 1/25/02)