Optimal Checkout

Optimal Robotics will launch its new line of smaller, more compact ‘U-Scan’ systems next week. The new terminals have been designed using composite materials to give customers a true ATM look and feel. The terminals will be available in a variety of configurations ranging from one to five bags. The reduction in size offers retailers the opportunity to extend self-checkout from the traditional four terminal footprint to six terminals, while maintaining the supervision of a single ‘U-Scan’ attendant. The company has also developed the ‘U-Scan Mobile Attendant’, a handheld device that enables ‘U-Scan’ attendants to perform a wide range of cashier functions while away from the attendant station. The ‘U-Scan’ will also have an integrated signature capture device, which enables shoppers to sign electronically when making credit card transactions.

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Bankserv Captures 80% Share

Capture of an estimated 80 percent of head-to-head competitions in the automated wire transfer business serving the nation’s banks and credit unions at year-end 2001 was reported today by BankServ, a privately held electronic payments processing firm headquartered here.

In an internal report to its investor group, David F. Kvederis, president and CEO, said that 2001 was a record year for the company in its Fedwire (Federal Reserve Wire Network) business with installation of either its turnkey GFXN (Global Funds Exchange Network) or GFX (a related software package) products in 15 financial institutions across the country. He said that the institutions included commercial, savings, and Federal Home Loan banks, and credit unions with assets ranging from $750 million on up to a lofty $41 billion.

“We believe this represents an 80 percent share of head-to-head competitions in wire transfer business sales to financial institutions in 2001 based on an analysis of sales for the year,” Kvederis said. “This has been our turn-around year in the wire business as we completed years of costly development early in the year and are now rapidly increasing profitability in our wire transfer sector,” he told the investors of five-year-old BankServ.

“Installation of GFXN at the 15 financial institutions represented 50 percent growth during the year in our wire transfer business,” Kvederis said, “with those institutions joining more than 30 financial services holding companies, representing more than 100 banks and credit unions, using BankServ’s automated wire transfer solution.”

Among those installing GFXN or GFX during 2001 were: Banc First Corp., Oklahoma City, Okla.; Danvers Savings Bank, Danvers, Mass.; Federal Home Loan Bank — Boston; Federal Home Loan Bank – Indianapolis; Federal Home Loan Bank — Seattle; First National Bank of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Guaranty Bank, SSB, Brown Deer, Wis.; North Island Financial Credit Union, Chula Vista, Calif.; Old National Bank, Evansville, Ind.; Pacific Northwest Bank, Seattle, Wash.; PNB Financial, Lubbock, Texas; Republic Bank and Trust, Louisville, Texas; Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, Calif.; and Texas Bank, Forth Worth, Texas.

Amounts of dollars being transferred, incoming and outgoing, for these institutions by BankServ ranged from about $2 billion to over $3 billion on an average daily basis, according to Kvederis.

He told the investors that “customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, with many of the banks reporting reductions in manpower needed prior to installation of GFX automation features, increased throughput, seamless system integration, and the highest level of backup and redundancy for wire transfers. Demand for the product also remains high due to the government’s renewed focus on enforcement of money laundering and anti-terrorism regulations.”

Supporting that customer contention, John Murphy, first vice president- Bank Operations, Federal Home Loan Bank — Boston, says “the ease of implementation and the intuitive nature of the (BankServ) system made the install and subsequent training of staff relatively seamless to the operation of the funds business. The system’s design provides the highest level of backup and redundancy for our most critical operation.”

Echoing Murphy’s comments, Keitha Shoupe, vice president and manager-Global Funds Transfer, Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, Calif., adds that “BankServ has significantly enhanced the security procedures over our wire process as well as enabled us to bring extended wire products to our clients.”

Kvederis also reported continuing improvement in other segments of BankServ, which not only is one of the nation’s leading providers of Fedwire processing, but also of Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic payment processing for financial services companies and businesses.

During 2001, he said that BankServ signed up significant new consumer-to-business or “point-of-sale” and business-to-business customers for its electronic check (eCheck) conversion and ACH processing services. “We can offer financial firms, marketplaces, exchanges and businesses a full spectrum of funds transfer and payment solutions, including real-time, secure on-line check processing, credit card processing and wire transfers — and they are joining us in growing numbers,” Kvederis said.

U.S. Federal Reserve studies recently suggest that check writing in the U.S. is steadily giving away to electronic forms of payments as consumers, businesses, and financial institutions seek to be more efficient and cost-effective. American consumers and businesses, says the Fed, make 80 billion retail payments annually, nearly 50 billion by check and 30 billion by electronic instruments, such as credit cards, debit cards, and the ACH. Checks have declined from approximately 85 percent of non-cash payments since the last Fed study in 1979 to about 60 percent today.

“To meet this changing trend,” says Kvederis, “our company announced during 2001 the addition of three new electronic payments processing products — BankServ Transfer, SameDayPay, and MOTOpay. All three of the products are designed to reach out to anyone who needs to move money or pay bills electronically, whether by average computer users on the Internet, between banks or brokers and their clients, ordinary or on-line businesses and their customers, and by mail order/telephone order businesses.

Kvederis also reported that BankServ entered into seven partnerships, joint ventures, or alliances during 2001, working with firms on everything from expediting Web-enabled electronic payroll tax payments to guarantees for check payments. Details may be found on the BankServ Web site, .

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D&B Joins AmEx OPEN

American Express and D&B announced a strategic alliance to provide D&B’s Web-based Small Business Solutions through OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express.

OPEN: The Small Business Network was launched last week by American Express and offers small business customers greater control and flexibility over their finances and other business needs by providing an expanded set of tools, services and savings.

D&B Small Business Solutions provide online access to D&B information to help small business owners find profitable new customers, manage vendors more efficiently, run instant online credit checks and perform competitive analyses. A free company look up feature is also available for querying the D&B U.S. database of more than 13 million companies. Through the OPEN Small Business Network, small business customers receive 20% off Silver subscription pricing when they use their Cards to purchase the service.

“D&B is an important component of the OPEN Network because their online credit, marketing and collection tools help small business owners better manage their businesses,” said Kerry Hatch, Executive Vice President and General Manager, OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express. “One of the benefits of being a part of the OPEN Network is gaining access to special values that we negotiate on behalf of our customers and our alliance with D&B delivers on that promise.” “D&B provides the tools and information that help customers to make more informed, confident business decisions. We believe that OPEN: the Small Business Network customers will benefit from easy, online access to D&B Small Business Solutions and D&B information to help their companies succeed,” said Larry Kutscher, President D&B E-Business Solutions. “Our partnership with American Express offers an exciting new online distribution channel for D&B Small Business Solutions. D&B Small Business Solutions, launched last year, furthers D&B’s Blueprint for Growth strategy by enhancing our current business, leveraging the Web and providing solutions that enable E-Commerce.”

OPEN Network customers can access and sign up for the full suite of D&B Small Business Solutions at the [open.americanexpress.com][1] Web site.

About OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express

OPEN: The Small Business Network from American Express is a unit of American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. The OPEN Network offers small business owners a wide range of tools, services and savings designed to meet their evolving needs, including convenient access to working capital and credit information, instant decisioning on all card products and savings on business services from an enhanced lineup of OPEN Network partners. The OPEN Network serves nearly three million customers and is dedicated to those companies with fewer than 100 employees. To obtain more information about the OPEN Network, visit open.americanexpress.com or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card or loan. 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.

About D&B

D&B (NYSE: DNB) provides the information, tools and expertise to help customers Decide with Confidence. D&B enables customers quick access to objective, global information whenever and wherever they need it. Customers use D&B Risk Management Solutions to manage credit exposure, D&B Sales & Marketing Solutions to find profitable customers and D&B Supplier Management Solutions to manage suppliers efficiently. D&B’s E-Commerce Solutions are also used to authenticate and verify potential trading partners online, increasing trust and confidence in e-commerce transactions. Over 90 percent of the Business Week Global 1000 rely on D&B as a trusted partner to make confident business decisions. For more information, please visit [www.dnb.com][2].

[1]: http://open.americanexpress.com
[2]: http://www.dnb.com

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Priceline Phone Cards

After a failed attempt at grocery and gasoline savings cards, Priceline.com announced yesterday an expansion of the ‘Priceline Long Distance’s Name Your Own Price’ service. Priceline has added Qwest Communications International and the CNM Network as supplier/partners to its phone card program operated by Priceline Long Distance LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of priceline.com. Priceline Long Distance enables customers to choose their own price for blocks of domestic and international calling time. Priceline Long Distance customers can save up to 40% or more over other popular long distance calling plans. The pre-paid phone cards can be purchased in 60-, 125-, 250-, 500- and 1,000-minute blocks. Priceline currently has Net2Phone and Deltathree as phone card partners.

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WINPAY24

ACI Worldwide, a leading international provider of enterprise e-payment solutions, announces the continued adoption of its e-payment processing solutions for retailers. Four retailers in the U.S. and Mexico have recently licensed WINPAY24 and join more than 80 retailers worldwide that use ACI software to process debit and credit card transactions.

ACI’s newest retail customers include:

— Hy-Vee, Inc.

— Weis Markets, Inc.

— OfficeMax Mexico

WINPAY24 offers retailers a fast, reliable software system to capture and authorize consumer payments. The system operates on the Microsoft(R) Windows platform and supports interfaces to leading EFT software providers, major point-of-sale systems, authorization networks and settlement institutions. In addition to debit and credit card processing, WINPAY24 can provide a fast check authorization and tracking system that helps retailers limit exposure to losses from check runners, organized fraud schemes, checks written on closed accounts and checks from customers who consistently write non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks. The WINPAY24 system also supports gift card and paper certificate programs, EBT programs, including the U.S. Food Stamp and AFDC programs.

“Retailers choosing our WINPAY24 software are looking for a solution designed specifically for the retail industry and the challenges retailers face,” said Doug Parr, managing director of ACI Worldwide’s Americas operation. “WINPAY24 provides a blend of performance and flexibility to satisfy retailers’ unique business and processing needs. The system can help retailers control costs, limit consumers’ in-lane checkout time, and accept a wide variety of consumer payments.”

About ACI Worldwide

Every second of every day, consumers are initiating electronic payment transactions — getting cash at ATMs, using debit and credit cards to make purchases in stores and on the Internet, banking by phone and PC, paying bills online. Twenty billion times a year, ACI software is used to process these transactions, powering the world’s online payment systems. ACI was founded in 1975 and pioneered the development of applications and networking software for online transaction processing. Today more than 530 customers in 71 countries use ACI supplied software. Visit ACI Worldwide on the Internet at www.aciworldwide.com.

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FOMC Action

The Federal Open Market Committee decided Wednesday to keep its target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1-3/4 percent. Signs that weakness in demand is abating and economic activity is beginning to firm have become more prevalent. With the forces restraining the economy starting to diminish, and with the long-term prospects for productivity growth remaining favorable and monetary policy accommodative, the outlook for economic recovery has become more promising. The degree of any strength in business capital and household spending, however, is still uncertain. Hence, the Committee continues to believe that, against the background of its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth and of the information currently available, the risks are weighted mainly toward conditions that may generate economic weakness in the foreseeable future.

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Procisa Application with Active Card Control

Works, a leading provider of spend management applications, announced the general availability of the Works Procisa application with Active Card Control technology. This solution enables companies to use commercial credit cards, such as purchasing cards and corporate cards, to manage a greater amount of their overall spending without sacrificing control. This is made possible by combining the Procisa application’s pre-spending approval capabilities with the efficient payment processes offered by commercial credit cards, which together help companies better manage spending and realize savings from greater back-office efficiencies and streamlined payment processes.

The Procisa application with Active Card Control technology provides companies with the flexibility to distribute cards with different levels of spending authority and control to individuals within their organizations. This includes cards that can be used to make purchases without advanced approval, cards that require pre-approval for every purchase and any combination in between. If a cardholder needs to make a purchase above and beyond his spending authority, he submits a request through the Procisa application and it’s automatically compared to company spending policies. The request is then approved, denied or automatically sent on to designated personnel for online review and approval. Once approved, the spending settings on the individual’s credit card are instantly adjusted to allow the purchase.

The Teacher’s Credit Union (TCU), a billion dollar institution and the largest credit union in Indiana, recently selected the Procisa application with Active Card Control technology to more effectively manage operational spending. The solution will make it possible for TCU to use Visa commercial credit cards to pay for a number of high dollar expenses, including technology purchases and spending associated with construction of seven new credit union branches. “The capabilities of the Procisa application provide the controls we need to use our credit cards to purchase things we never would have paid for with cards before, such as expensive capital items that require pre-purchase approval,” said Amy Sink, senior vice president and chief financial officer, Teacher’s Credit Union. “This control, combined with the streamlined payment process and reporting available from a commercial credit card program, will help us reduce our overall expenses and operate more efficiently.”

In addition to its pre-spending approval capabilities, the Procisa application also provides:

— Streamlined accounting processes: allow companies to automate allocation of purchases, split individual transactions between multiple account codes, and add additional line item purchase detail either before or after the purchase is made, leading to increased efficiency and accuracy in the back-office.

— Real-time card administration: gives companies the ability to manage cards one at a time or in groups; request, activate and suspend cards; and manage card spending settings online. Changes take effect immediately.

— Visibility into spending: allows company managers to view up-to-date spending activity for their area of responsibility and use the data for detailed spending analysis.

“The Works Procisa application multiplies the possibilities of what a company can do with its commercial card program,” said Bo Holland, president and CEO of Works. “The upfront controls of the application combined with the payment efficiencies of the card program make it the ideal solution for managing a high percentage of a company’s spending.”

The Procisa application with Active Card Control technology is currently available through PNC Bank and will soon be available through additional banks. For more information, contact Works at 800-967-5726 or visit .

About Works ()

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Works is a leading provider of spend management applications. The company’s flagship product, the Works Procisa(TM) application, allows organizations to gain up-front control over company spending and reduce costs.

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MasterCard Business Cards

As noted in yesterday’s CardFlash, MasterCard will unveil a business card solution this week geared toward companies with annual sales between $10 million to $250 million, and• have, on average, between 100 to 250 employees. The ‘MasterCard Middle Market Solution’ includes three major components. The ‘MasterCard Corporate Multi Card’ allows mid-sized businesses to combine their T&E, purchasing and fleet expenses into a single, manageable program. ‘•MasterCard Smart Data OnLine’ enables businesses to track, view and manage card expenditures across the entire organization. The ‘MasterCard Rewards Program’ can be customized by the issuer for the middle-market customer. MasterCard estimates the middle-market segment represents more than 137,000 potential customers. Under the program, issuers receive a ready-made marketing toolkit supporting the solution, including design templates, sales presentations, research summaries and tools to help issuers immediately implement the solution.

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ERNEX GIFT CARDS

Ernex Marketing Technologies Inc., a provider of real-time marketing solutions, announced it has signed on eight new customers in the last several weeks, spanning 100 hospitality and retail point-of-sale (POS) locations. Ernex services being used include Ernex’s Real-Time Points loyalty programs, E-Gift stored value gift card programs, reward fulfillment services, and a suite of business intelligence analytical reporting services.

STRATEGY

Ernex provides marketing technology services to help its clients achieve customer relationship management (CRM) success through real-time loyalty points programs, electronic gift cards and customized offers at the point-of-sale. The recent client wins reflect Ernex’s overarching mission of helping its clients cost-effectively identify, reward, and personalize offers to their card-carrying customers. The Ernex-enabled point-of-sale tracks customer spending and behavior, and can instantly respond back to customers on their receipts with coupons, messages or even prizes – based on a real-time central database. Ernex has proven successes in a variety of markets, including retail, restaurant, golf, hotel, and travel – managing millions of cardholder accounts and thousands of points-of-sale.

DETAILS AND HIGHLIGHTS

The eight new clients include programs at 100 locations.

— The Palm Restaurant (www.thepalm.com) has implemented its “837 Club” rewards program with plans to roll out Ernex’s gift card program in the New Year. The Palm, the oldest family-owned white tablecloth restaurant to expand across the United States while still maintaining its family ownership, is based in Washington, DC. The Palm has 25 participating locations. As part of the relationship with The Palm, Ernex will fulfill reward redemption, provide cardholder support, and provide data keying services through its Customer Service Center.

— Maverick Southern Kitchens (www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com) has dubbed its loyalty program “The Maverick Collection.” Maverick Southern Kitchens owns and operates restaurants, a retail and wholesale bakery, and provides food and beverage services to area hotels. Five Maverick locations will participate in the program, and will use Ernex’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for points lookups for cardholders. The program’s features include bonus points for birthdays and anniversaries, and a web-based cardholder points balance lookup feature.

— Levy Restaurants (www.levyrestaurants.com) will work with Ernex on its “Levy Preferred” program. Levy Restaurants were founded in 1978 by brothers Larry and Mark Levy, and has grown from one delicatessen in Chicago to a specialized, industry-leading food and dining organization, boasting national and international accolades. With a diverse and disciplined culinary background that lead to tremendous success in the restaurant business, Levy Restaurants pioneered a new category of upscale food service – providing authentic restaurant experiences in places one would least expect to find them, such as sports stadiums, ballparks, arenas, convention centers, zoos and more. There are 10 Levy locations participating in the program. The program provides bonus points on birthday and anniversaries as well as for lapsed customers. Additionally, real-time redemption of points is offered at the point of sale. Levy Restaurants also participates in the Compass Rewards Program – launched with Ernex t echnology in July 2001 – offering stakeholders special incentives for dining at close to 50 participating restaurants. The Compass Group is the world’s second-largest food service company with operations in more than 70 countries, providing contract catering and concession services at airports, hospitals, rest areas, and schools.

— Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club (www.florida-hospitality.com) is run by the Klauber-Moulton-Mancini family of resorts, shops and restaurants on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The club is using Ernex technology at seven participating locations for its loyalty program. Members may accrue points at The Colony Restaurants, Michael’s On East, Michael’s Mediterranean Grille, Pattigeorge’s, Michael’s Wine Cellar, Le Tennique, and The Colony Spa and Salon. This real-time loyalty program also offers bonus points to club members on their birthdays, anniversaries, and as an incentive for lapsed customers. This innovative club also offers exclusive special events for its members, including culinary trips to restaurants across Florida, fashion shows, culinary demonstrations, progressive dinner boat trips, and more. The program includes real-time redemption of points at the point-of-sale, and an IVR and web-based points-lookup for members.

— R.J. Gator’s HomeTown Grill & Bar (www.rjgators.com) is offering the “R.J.Gator’s Frequent Diner Program” for its patrons. The Restaurant chain is an authentic Florida-style casual dining neighborhood restaurant that captures the laid-back atmosphere of a Key West grill. Nine R.J. Gator locations are participating in the program. Ernex provides fulfillment for gift certificates for cardholder redemptions. The program also includes an IVR system and web-based interface for cardholders to check on their points. Cardholders receive cards on their birthdays and anniversaries.

— That’s Amore Restaurants (www.thatsamore.com) offers a program called “Friends of the Family” in six participating locations. The That’s Amore restaurant concept originated in May of 1991 during an after dinner stroll on Taylor Street in Chicago, by friends and business partners of 30 years – Fred Berman and Artie Altschuler. They found themselves eating a remarkable, over-portioned, southern Italian dinner and discovered that there was a need for this type of restaurant in Washington, D.C. Today, Chef Gennaro Ferrigno’s cuisine champions the idea of “old school” Italian cooking and is a critic of “short cuts” and chain restaurant automation. The “Friends of the Family” program awards points toward free coupon certificates issued at the point-of-sale, IVR and web-based points lookup for cardholders, birthday and anniversary cards, real-time redemption of points at the point-of-sale, and bonus points on Mondays.

— CompuSmart (www.compusmart.com), Canada’s largest computer superstore network with the first Canadian computer superstore opened in 1982. CompuSmart is using Ernex’s technology to provide a reloadable gift card program for customers at 20 of its store locations. CompuSmart will stand to benefit from being able to electronically track and reconcile its gift card spending across all locations, increase gift card sales, and reduce fraud with a more secure real-time electronic system.

— Coast Hotels & Resorts (www.coasthotels.com) – Western Canada’s leading chain of hotels and resorts throughout British Colulmbia and Alberta is using Ernex technology at 18 of its locations to improve service delivery of its Coast Select loyalty program. The program will begin in March. Hotel guests qualify for Silver, Gold or Platinum status based on their number of stays and room nights at participating locations, earning them special benefits such as complimentary room upgrades. Front desk clerks will use Ernex-enabled point-of-sale systems to automatically record member stays and track redemption of room upgrades.

ABOUT ERNEX MARKETING TECHNOLOGIES

Ernex Marketing Technologies is a provider of innovative real-time marketing solutions for merchants, credit card and bankcard issuers, and large membership organizations. Its solutions include loyalty programs, stored-value gift card programs, reward fulfillment services and loyalty database hosting services. For more information, contact Ernex at 877-GO-ERNEX or visit www.ernexinc.com. Ernex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada.

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STUDENT DEBT

“Student debt has increased by a quarter in 12 months, yet on average students spend £20 a week on drink and 86% own a mobile phone”, according to the Student Living Report 2002, published today.

The report represents one of the most comprehensive quantitative surveys of full time undergraduate and postgraduate students. The findings are part of an ongoing study to explore how students are meeting the challenges and opportunities of the higher education experience.

This year the report addresses new areas such as attitudes to politics, part-time work, living on a budget and stress, whilst uncovering fresh information on issues covered in the 2001 report such as academic studies, accommodation, financial preparations and crime.

The UNITE Group plc, the UK’s leading specialist provider of student accommodation services, commissioned MORI (Market & Opinion Research International), to conduct the survey among over 1,000 full time undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland between October and November 2001. Interviews were conducted face to face across twenty universities.

Headline findings from the report show:

Financial:

– 1 in 4 students are now admitting to financial trouble

– At the start of the academic year 2001 / 02 university students say they currently owe and must repay on average £4,203, an increase of £877 since last year (26%).

– 43% of students have a part-time job during term time (1-29 hours per week)

– Student debt and juggling university work with other commitments are the worst aspects of university life
– 46% of students would prefer the current system of student loans to the new system of maintenance grants and higher student taxation on graduation.

– 90% believe that the money they are spending on their education is a good investment in their future.
Politics:

– If there was a general election tomorrow, our young professionals in training would vote as follows: 28% Labour, 20% Lib Dem and 11% Conservative.

– Students are more likely to support a Single European Currency than the General Public.

– Given the choice, students said they preferred the current system of student loans (46%) to any potential new system involving maintenance grants and graduate taxation.
Leisure pursuits:

– Going to the pub is the preferred social pursuit of 52% of students. On average, students spend £20 on alcoholic drink in a typical week.

– Two-thirds of students own a PC and/or laptop – an increase of 7% from last year-86% of students now own a mobile phone.
Attitudes:

– Over half of students admit to being more stressed since starting at university

– 86% have an optimistic outlook for the future and 88% are happy with life.

– 96% consider going to university a worthwhile experience.

– 25% of students have been a victim of crime.

– 60% of students still believe in the institution of marriage.
Politics:

– If there was a general election tomorrow, our young professionals in training would vote as follows: 28% Labour, 20% Lib Dem and 11% Conservative.

– Students are more likely to support a Single European Currency than the General Public.

Given the choice, students said they preferred the current system of student loans (46%) to any potential new system involving maintenance grants and graduate taxation.

Commenting on the Student Living Report, UNITE’s Chief Executive, Nicholas Porter, said:

“The Student Living Report 2002 is one of the most comprehensive studies of the views, concerns and aspirations of students. This year’s research has highlighted some interesting issues such as the fact that over 50% of students now admit to more stress since starting at university, and that three quarters are in debt. Through continuous research, UNITE can keep pace with changing student lifestyles. We will not only be better equipped to help our partners within the HE sector plan for their future accommodation needs, but will also be able to support students through care and welfare in our own student accommodation.”

Professor Bob Worcester, Chairman of MORI, added:

“The `Student Experience’ is constantly evolving. To ensure that their needs and wants are met, it is important for all involved in the provision of Higher Education services to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues facing today’s students. MORI is delighted to be working in partnership with UNITE for a second year to present the findings of this enlightening survey.”

Technical Note: MORI conducted 1,068 face-to-face interviews with full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students between 22nd October and 16th November 2001.

Additional press releases are available and Photographs can be accessed via password at the Company’s website at http://www.unite-group.co.uk.

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NextCard Layoffs

NextCard, Inc.announced that it has reduced its staff by approximately 170 persons, or 19 percent of the Company’s current workforce. The reductions came from all areas of the Company’s operations. More information on risk factors affecting the Company is available in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and current reports on Form 8-K.

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