The FTC has added 11 firms to the list of defendants in a civil lawsuit, filed in November, alleging fraudulent credit card marketing activities. The original lawsuit include Rockwell Holdings, 1st Financial Solutions Inc. and American Benefits Club. The new defendants include Affinity Marketing & Sales Inc., Affinity Marketing & Sales LLC, Crown Distributors Inc., Leader Sales Company Inc., Merchant Services Inc., Mercury Consulting Services, Millennium Sales Inc., North American Marketing Group Inc., Regal Products Sales and Distributing Co., Rockwell Marketing Inc. and the Fletcher Group Inc. According to the lawsuit, the defendants promised credit cards and promotional gifts to consumers for a one-time fee of $100 to $220, plus a monthly fee of $10 or more. However customers received a prepaid card or nothing.Details
First Data Corp. announced that its card issuing services subsidiary, First Data Resources, has signed a four-year contract renewal with Advanta, one of the nation’s leading issuers of MasterCard business credit cards to small businesses.
Under the agreement, First Data will provide cardholder processing services for Advanta’s more than one million small business cards through 2005.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with Advanta,” said Eula L. Adams, senior executive vice president and head of worldwide card operations for First Data. “We are dedicated to delivering robust payment solutions that give clients like Advanta speed-to-market and a competitive edge.”
Advanta is also a client of First Data subsidiaries: First Data Merchant Services, First Data Solutions, TeleCheck and Western Union.
Conrad Vasquez, who heads Advanta’s Business Card operating areas including card processing said, “With First Data, a clear leader in the payments industry, Advanta can better serve the unique needs of our small business customers.”
Headquartered in Spring House, Pa., Advanta (NASDAQ: ADVNB; ADVNA) is a highly focused financial services company which has been providing innovative financial solutions since 1951. Advanta leverages its first-class direct marketing and information based expertise to develop state-of-the-art data warehousing and statistical modeling tools that identify potential customers and new target markets. It has used these distinctive capabilities to become one of the nation’s largest issuers of MasterCard business credit cards to small businesses. Learn more about Advanta at [www.advanta.com].
About First Data
First Data Resources, the card issuing services subsidiary of First Data Corp., processes for 312 million accounts on file around the world. First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC), with global headquarters in Denver, powers the global economy. As the leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves approximately 2.8 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. With 29,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit, smart card and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; Western UnionÂ® money transfers and money orders; and check processing and verification services throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Spain and Germany. Its money transfer agent network includes approximately 120,000 locations in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [www.firstdata.com].
iDine Rewards Network Inc., (formerly known as Transmedia Network Inc.), a leader in the development and marketing of transaction based dining and other consumer savings programs, filed a supplement to its November 2000 Prospectus that had covered registration of certain common and preferred shares previously issued in connection with various transactions that occurred prior to the fall of 2000.
The supplement reflected the Company’s name change to iDine Rewards Network Inc., which became effective February 1, 2002, and also recited that the common shares were now listed on the American Stock Exchange. The Prospectus Supplement does not register any additional preferred or common shares.
iDine Rewards Network Inc. offers its members a variety of dining savings and rewards programs at more than 7,500 restaurants throughout the United States via means of a registered credit card. The Company presently has 10.1 million credit cards registered through 7.76 million enrolled accounts. The savings are offered through the Company’s dining programs, either branded under the name iDine or provided through co-branded and private label partnerships, such as airline frequent flyer programs, club memberships or other affinity organizations. iDine members can also access personalized, real-time restaurant listings, special dining incentives and more information via the recently enhanced web site, www.idine.com. iDine Reward Network’s common stock trades on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and alongside its Series A Preferred Stock on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange (PHLX).Details
ComPsych Corporation, the pioneer in GuidanceResources (employee assistance programs, managed behavioral health, work-life, legal and financial services, personal convenience services and human resource support services), continues its explosive growth.
The company added several new customers to its client list, including Commerce Bank, Dick’s Sporting Goods, El Paso County, MasterCard International, National Dairy Holdings, Shields Health Care Group, Soft Gel Technologies, Inc., The Antioch Company, United Title & Affiliates, Webster Financial Corp., and Willmette Public Library. This adds over 100,000 individuals to ComPsych’s over seven million individuals that are currently served.
“Companies are turning to ComPsych due to the heightened concern for employee well being in light of today’s workplace demands, resulting in a continued demand for our services,” said Dr. Richard Chaifetz, CEO of ComPsych.
MasterCard has chosen ComPsych to provide an integrated EAP and work-life program.
“With work and home demands facing our employees and confusion on who to call for help, we decided to merge our EAP and work-life benefits under one provider who can offer integrated service expertise,” said Rodney Gingerich, manager, Diversity and Work-Life, MasterCard. “ComPsych GuidanceResources provides a valuable benefit for MasterCard to help our employees meet personal challenges, from every day occurrences to major life decisions.”
Commerce has also added ComPsych’s GuidanceResources to its employee benefits package.
“ComPsych’s broad offering of EAP and work-life programs has already been enthusiastically received by our employees,” said Grace Migliaccio, senior vice president of Human Resources, Commerce. “With the pace of growth at Commerce, these time-saving services are invaluable to our employees, helping them get focused on work and not distracted by life.”
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Chicago, ComPsych provides its programs to over 600 companies throughout 72 countries worldwide, covering over seven million individuals. Clients range from the Fortune 500, such as American Express, General Electric, Schlumberger, DuPont, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Comcast, to smaller public and private concerns, such as Dean Foods, Krispy Kreme, Mervyn’s, and Tiffany & Company, as well as government entities, health plans and Taft-Hartley groups. The company offers a full range of behavioral health and work-life services, creating “Build-to-Suit” programs, which help employers attract and retain employees as well as improve employee productivity and performance. For more information, visit .Details
eBay has repurchased Wells Fargo’s equity stake in Billpoint, eBay’s payment subsidiary, for $43.5 million. The news sent rival PayPal’s stock into a tailspin, dropping 13% yesterday to $15.42 per share. PayPal’s stock has declined 42% since its IPO one week ago. Wells Fargo said it will continue to support eBay payments by Billpoint through its payment processing and risk management services. eBay and Wells Fargo formed a strategic relationship in March 2000 to provide eBay’s buyers and sellers with its first integrated online payment service. At the time, Wells Fargo acquired a 35% equity stake in Billpoint. eBay acquired Billpoint in May 1999. Nearly a quarter of all eBay listings today offer Billpoint as a payment option. However, the PayPal service is the most widely used payment option among eBay buyers and sellers. PayPal draws more than 68% of it revenues from eBay customers. PayPal generated $104 million in sales in 2001. PayPal acknowledged in its prospectus that the loss of business with online auction Web sites, such as eBay, could make profitability difficult, if not impossible. About half of PayPal’s customers use credit cards for payments. PayPal members send more than $10 million per day in approximately 200,000 daily transactions. PayPal totally has 12.8 million customers. (CF Library 3/1/00)Details
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced court settlements with two companies for allegedly telemarketing worthless credit card protection insurance to consumers nationwide. Stemming from a complaint brought in the FTC’s “Operation Protection Deception” law enforcement sweep, the judgments settle allegations that defendants Consumer Repair Services, Inc. and Manhattan West Marketing violated both the ‘FTC Act’ and the ‘TSR’ in connection with the sale and marketing of credit card loss protection programs. CRS is a Georgia-based corporation. MWM is a Nevada corporation located in North Hollywood, California. According to the FTC, from late 1999 to October of 2000, CRS used various boiler rooms to cold-call consumers informing them that their credit card numbers were available on the Internet and could be used to make unauthorized charges. CRS allegedly claimed that for $295 the company would protect consumers against such charges, repaying them for any unauthorized charges that were made. MWM allegedly provided CRS’s fulfillment services and contracted to telemarket its credit card loss protection service.Details
Sub-prime specialist The Credit Store reported a net loss of $2.7 million for the quarter ending 12/31/01, compared to a $2.2 million loss one year ago. Last week the company acknowledged it made a mistake in calculating the value of its interests in credit card securitizations during the quarter ending 6/30/01. During the most recent quarter, the Company experienced a 2.3% increase in the aggregate balance of credit card receivables owned and managed from $115.0 million as of Dec. 31, 2000 to $117.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2001. Period to period new originations of credit card accounts remained stable at $21.0 million during the quarter, compared to $20.9 million during the same quarter one year ago and decreased 15.5% from $48.6 million during the first half of 2000 to $41.0 million in the first half of 2001. The Credit Store reported gross accounts of 84,843 at year-end 2001. Sioux Falls, SD-based The Credit Store acquires portfolios of non-performing consumer receivables and offers a new credit card to those consumers who agree to pay all or a portion of the outstanding amount due on their debt. The new card is issued with an initial balance and credit line equal to the agreed repayment amount. After appropriate seasoning, the Company seeks to sell or securitize these credit card receivables. For complete details on The Credit Store’s 4Q/01 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]). (CF Library 2/14/02)
Ingrian Networks, the leader in secure networking, announced it has raised $22 million in second-round financing from American Express (NYSE: AXP), Prism Venture Partners, JAFCO Ventures and Partech International. These new investors join existing investors Bill Joy, co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW), Andy Bechtolsheim, founder of Granite Systems, and Roy Thiele-Sardina, co-founder of Tasmania Networks who also invested in this round, bringing the company’s total funding over two rounds to more than $26 million. In addition, Ingrian Networks is adding three members to its board of directors: Jack Sweeney, General Partner of Prism Venture Partners, Jon Callaghan, Managing Director of JAFCO Ventures, and Glenn Solomon, General Partner of Partech International.
“We chose to invest in Ingrian Networks because we believe that the company’s platforms can effectively address the Internet data security needs that leading companies require and that online customers expect,” said Pierric Beckert, Senior Vice President, Investments and Business Development, American Express. “We share and support Ingrian Networks’ commitment to developing and deploying innovative online security solutions, and expect to leverage the company’s technology for the benefit of our customers.”
“Many companies are now realizing their network infrastructures are most vulnerable to security breaches deep inside the enterprise — specifically in their backend databases and storage systems,” said Jim Vogt, President and CEO of Ingrian Networks. “Ingrian Networks’ Secure Networking platforms address this gap by providing a single platform for managing all public and private keys, a method for securing data in transit and storage within the network and importantly, the ability to ensure this data security without compromising network performance. This latest round of funding allows us to further develop our position as the leading secure networking company.”
One of the unique features of the Ingrian Networks platform is its ability to secure data on web servers and databases by using powerful key management and innovative security technologies based on widely adopted encryption standards. These capabilities provide an additional, independent layer of defensive measures against attacks by hackers, viruses and Internet worms such as Nimda and Code Red, as well as future, as yet unidentified threats. Ingrian Networks’ products allow companies to leverage their secure critical B2B and B2C transactions in new ways, offering a high level of security without sacrificing the performance, speed and flexibility companies expect from their network.
With its initial round of funding of $4 million, Ingrian Networks developed and built its first generation of Secure Networking platforms and gained traction with key customers, including leading financial and Government institutions, Internet data center hosting providers and systems and networking vendors. This additional funding will allow Ingrian Networks to further develop its platforms, expand its operations and increase its sales and marketing efforts.
Visit Ingrian Networks in booth #1614 at the 2002 RSA Conference, February 18-21 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose California.
About Ingrian Networks
Ingrian Networks is the global leader in secure networking. Ingrian Networks enables its customers — global financial institutions, Internet data center hosting providers and systems and networking vendors — to protect critical network data in transport and in storage without significant capital expenditure, network complexity or compromise in performance. The company’s secure networking platforms integrate FIPS 140-1, Level 2 validated key management, backend data encryption, access management, intrusion protection, secure content caching, content switching and SSL/TLS acceleration into a single platform for a completely extensible and highly secure networking infrastructure.
Founded in January 2000, Ingrian Networks is headquartered in Redwood City, California, and is guided by some of the world’s leading technologists including Bill Joy, co-founder and chief scientist of Sun Microsystems; Andy Bechtolsheim, founder of Granite Systems; Roy Thiele-Sardina, co-founder of Tasmania Networks; Martin Hellman, co-inventor of public key cryptography; and Jim Vogt, Ingrian Network’s President and CEO, formerly of Nortel Networks. For more information, visit [www.ingrian.com]
About American Express
American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking. For more information, visit [www.americanexpress.com]
About JAFCO Ventures
JAFCO Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm that has been ranked in the Top Ten Listings of such publications as Forbes and Red Herring for 1999 and 2000. The fund has over $750 million under management and the team has over 155 years of experience in private equity investing, entrepreneurialism and operations. For more information, visit [www.jafco.com]
About Prism Venture Partners
Prism Venture Partners, Westwood, MA, is a leading venture capital firm with early-stage investments in communications, business infrastructure software and healthcare. Since inception in 1996, Prism has rapidly gained industry recognition through the firm’s high-visibility investment strategies. With $1 billion in capital under management, Prism’s growth reflects the extensive entrepreneurial expertise of its partners, a hands-on approach to working with portfolio companies, an integrated network of investors, and access to growing pool of highly skilled entrepreneurs. To better leverage West Coast investment opportunities, Prism has recently established an office based in San Francisco. Additional information on Prism Venture Partners can be found at
About Partech International
Partech International, founded in 1982, is an international venture capital firm with offices in San Francisco and Paris. The firm currently manages approximately $850 million in early stage venture, mid-stage venture and public investments. Partech International’s venture funds draw capital from a broad base of world-class institutional investors, including AT&T Investment Management/JP Morgan, IBM Pension, Lucent, Bell Atlantic Asset Management, GTE, Liverpool Victoria (UK), Vontobel (Switzerland), AGF and AXA. For more information, visit [www.partechvc.com]
Retail Decisions, an international supplier of payment card fraud prevention and value-added transaction services, announces the appointment of the entire team of consultants comprising PaySolv, Inc., a US-based electronic payments consulting firm, as part of the launch of Retail Decisions’ Strategic Electronic Payments Consulting Division.
Retail Decisions is pleased to announce that the consultants from PaySolv, Inc. will be joining the Company as full-time employees from February 20, 2002, including PaySolv’s founders, Mike Love and Ken Maliga. The employment of the consultants by Retail Decisions has been secured with the full agreement of PaySolv.
Based in Austin, Texas, PaySolv is a strategic consulting firm focusing on the smart card and electronic payments industry. The team joining Retail Decisions has extensive relationships, at a senior level, with card issuers, acquirers and processors, with over 350 clients in 40 countries across the world and has substantial collective experience in this market.
This team will be employed as a US-based subsidiary of the Company and will form the nucleus of Retail Decisions’ new Electronic Payments Consulting Division. The Strategic Consulting team will be focused on extending the reach of the Retail Decisions’ service offerings through their strategic relationships in the electronic payments industry. The Strategic Consulting team will also play a critical role in developing new products and services as part of a best practice strategy for risk management and electronic payment solutions, as well as identifying and exploiting opportunities for cross-selling Retail Decisions’ extensive suite of products across its various markets and territories.
Retail Decisions intends to announce its preliminary results for the year ended December 31, 2001 on Tuesday, March 12, 2002. As stated previously, the Company’s performance is in line with expectations.
Carl Clump, Chief Executive of Retail Decisions, said today:
“We are very pleased to welcome the PaySolv consultants to the Retail Decisions team. We see this as a significant step in achieving a greater level of penetration of North America, the world’s largest payment card market. In addition, our new Strategic Consulting Division will provide an opportunity to extend our client base globally and offer high quality strategic advice on all aspects of electronic payments, including smart cards.”
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 prevent payment card fraud; this infrastructure also provides a platform for a full range of transaction based value-added services.
PaySolv Inc. is a US-based technology management consulting firm dedicated exclusively to the electronic payments industry. The firm has established a worldwide reputation with over 350 customers in more than 40 countries. The principals of the firm have been active in the evolution of the electronic payments industry over the past 15 years and are recognized industry experts in the application of advanced concepts, architectures and technologies to the challenges faced by payment providers worldwide.Details
Montreal-based Sigma Assistel has become the provider of travel assistance and business concierge services for two of the new CIBC entourage American Express cards. The ‘Travel Assistance Service’ enables cardholders to receive forgotten documents from home or the office, have prescriptions filled, find lost luggage or send messages. ‘Business Concierge Service’ provides information on cultural customs and weather; business hours; hotel, restaurant, conference room and golf course reservations; access to entertainment and special events; and forwarding of documents in the event of loss or theft. CIBC launched its new line of entourage American Express cards on Jan. 9. The credit card line includes the first smart chip credit card available nationally in Canada, as well as the business card and an exclusive Platinum offer. CIBC is the first Canadian bank to issue American Express credit cards in Canada. (CF Library 1/10/02)Details
The Spiegel Group confirmed Thursday afternoon it is looking to unload its credit card business following rapid deterioration and a significant earnings shortfall in its credit card portfolio. Spiegel’s card business, which includes its OR-based First Consumers National Bank subsidiary, was particularly hard hit in its private-label credit card programs as charge-offs escalated last year. The company reported Thursday a total loss from discontinued operations of $396.3 million in the fourth quarter, which primarily consists of a $310.5 million anticipated loss on the sale of the credit card portfolo. Spiegel says its 4Q/01 net loss from discontinued operations was $85.7 million, compared to 4Q/00 net earnings from discontinued operations of $42.9 million. As a result of the 4Q/01 loss, the company said it is not in compliance with certain of its 2001 loan covenants and is currently working closely with its bank group and its majority shareholder, the Otto family, to restructure its credit facilities. Spiegel traced its problems back to 1999 when it aggressively entered the sub-prime market. At that time, the company adopted a risk-based pricing policy. However, in the fourth quarter of 2000, in response to rising delinquencies and charge-offs in its private-label credit card programs, Spiegel implemented more restrictive underwriting policies, more aggressive collection efforts, and selectively re-pricing certain segments of the portfolio. However, the 2001 recession, combined with the high account growth that was heavily weighted toward higher-risk accounts, led to an accelerated decline in credit quality and profits. Spiegel says it will form a relationship with a third-party to provide private-label credit card programs to its customers. First Consumers National Bank, which offers secured and unsecured bank credit card products, currently has approximately $1.3 billion in credit card receivables and 1.6 million accounts, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com]). For complete details on Spiegel’s 4Q/01 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
The Farm Bill passed last week by the Senate included a provision for wireless transaction processing at outdoor farmers’ markets. The Senate provided $3 million in the bill for projects including wireless EBT. The bill must now be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives on October 5. The move will open the door for wireless payment providers to provide POS terminals to the tens of thousands of farmers participating nationwide in the farmers’ market program. It will extend the ‘Food Stamp Program’ to farmers nationwide. Congress approved similar funding for landline POS terminals for grocery store owners under the ‘Food Stamp Fraud Reduction Act of 1993’. U.S. Wireless Data chairman and CEO Dean Leavitt testified before the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on the benefits of wireless EBT POS. USWD now handles more than 500 million transactions each year through its data centers and nationwide network.Details