Government MasterCard

Bank of Montreal’s Card Services division has been awarded a four-year contract to supply its ‘MasterCard Acquisition Card’ program to more than 100 federal government departments and agencies in Canada. Beginning in January, BMO ePurchasing Solutions will provide Government of Canada-branded ‘MasterCard Acquisition Cards’ to 28,000 government employees to pay for government purchases made online and offline. Current annual MasterCard volumes total more than $400 million and account for almost 90% of credit card use within the Canadian federal government.

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United VISA Signature

United Airlines, VISA and First USA are introducing a ‘VISA Signature’ version of the ‘Mileage Plus VISA’ card next week. Cardholders will now have access to free 24-hour concierge service and no pre-set spending limits. The card will be issued to existing cardholders with no change to annual fee or annual interest rate. First USA also announced a new promotion to give away one million ‘United Mileage Plus’ miles every week this holiday season. The “mile-ionaire” program will kick-off tonight with the ‘United Mileage Plus VISA Card Night’ at the Chicago Bulls game at the United Center. Eight lucky fans will be randomly selected to take center court at halftime and compete in a basketball rendition of musical chairs for a chance to win one million ‘United Mileage Plus’ miles. Starting tomorrow, through Jan 31st, each time cardholders use their United card they will automatically be entered to win one million miles. Nine additional winners will become “mile-ionaires. The corporate trio is sponsoring advertisements in the Chicago market as well as nationally, with radio, television, outdoor and print to support and promote the campaign. The ads feature lifestyle purchase situations in which people earn miles for every day spending, with the tag line “More Miles”. The ‘United Airlines Mileage Plus VISA’ card is the second largest carrier-based co-branded program in the USA, according the CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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New Printer & Cleaner

Zebra Technologies introduced the ‘Eltron P720 Dual Sided Color Card Printer’ and announced a patent for a card cleaning system. The ‘P720’ produces full-color dual-sided laminated plastic cards in as little as 30 seconds per card and incorporates a field-proven print engine with 300-dpi print resolution. List price of the basic model is $9,995. Zebra also received a U.S. patent for a card cleaning system used in the company’s Eltron-brand plastic card printers. The patented design incorporates a disposable, adhesive roller within an easily removable cartridge frame.

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VENDTEK DEBIT

VendTek Systems Inc. announces
that it has introduced debit card acceptance onto its ‘Now Prepay e-Fresh’
terminals currently under trial with a national cellular company in Vancouver,
British Columbia.

“The trial has proved tremendously successful to-date, demonstrating
excellent consumer acceptance and the commercial viability of the system,”
says VendTek President Paul Brock. “The trial has now been extended to allow
for evaluation of the new debit card acceptance technology, and to study,
together with that of the new coin acceptance feature, its impact on consumer
purchase patterns of prepaid wireless pins at the retail location.”

The debit card acceptance system adds to the existing acceptance of
credit card and paper currency. As part of the enhancements the company has
also implemented coin acceptance for evaluation of exact cash payment
protocols. The debit card system includes a secure encrypted PIN entry device
and uses VendTek’s e-Fresh(TM) Server platform for processing the debit card
transactions in real-time in co-operation with a major Canadian chartered
bank. The debit card processing data is also encrypted along with all other
transaction data using VendTek’s proprietary encryption protocols and
transmitted wirelessly to the central server.

The Company also announces that for the time being, it will build its
“Now Prepay” brand through its existing operating subsidiary, VendTek
Industries Inc. Accordingly, Mr. Robert Cruickshank, who was previously
announced as Chairman of Now Prepay Corp., and as a Director of VendTek
Systems Inc., will instead act solely in the capacity of Advisory Board
Chairman to the Company.

About VendTek

VendTek uses its expertise in payment and self-serve technologies, smart
cards and networking to develop systems for transaction automation. VendTek’s
secure proprietary systems reduce shrinkage, improve access for consumers,
increase the number of selling outlets and selling hours, and enhance overall
security making the systems superior to traditional distribution and
alternative channels. VendTek’s e-Fresh(TM) System enables consumers to
purchase prepaid services, such as cellular time, via POS and self-serve
terminals connected to a central server. VendTek through its new subsidiary,
Now Prepay Corp., and in conjunction with various strategic partners is also
building its own electronic, prepaid services network in North America,
utilizing e-Fresh technology.

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Air Cafe Gift Card

Gift Check Solutions Tuesday announced it has been selected by Doolittles Air Cafe to provide electronic gift cards for the company’s five nostalgic cafes that depict the essence of aviation.

As part of the agreement, Gift Check Solutions will manage the gift card fulfillment, processing, security and site maintenance for Doolittles Air Cafe.

The electronic gift cards are customized to meet the look and feel of the cafe including the company’s logo and aviation theme, U.S.A.F. (Unmatched Service and Food).

Customers may purchase the electronic gift cards on Doolittles Air Cafe Web site at or on Gift Check Solutions’ Web site at [http://www.giftchecksolutions.com][1]. “Several other restaurants, including Famous Dave’s (Nasdaq: DAVE), highly recommended Gift Check Solutions for its strong support and the convenience and usability of its gift card program,” said Melanie Brudos, director of business development for Doolittles Air Cafe.

“The electronic gift cards are convenient and durable for our customers and Gift Check Solutions’ program makes it easy to track sales for our company.” Gift Check Solutions’ electronic gift card program utilizes magnetic swipe card technology, allowing all gift card transactions to be processed in real-time through a highly secure network. Gift Check Solutions’ electronic gift cards are designed to utilize compatible location-established point-of-sale (POS) equipment or a Gift Check Solutions dedicated gift card terminal. “We are excited to hear that our customers are pleased enough with our services to refer us to other companies, and we feel privileged to have Doolittles Air Cafe as a new client,” said John Bechard, president of Gift Check Solutions. “Our electronic gift cards provide Doolittles Air Cafe with a strong marketing tool to introduce new customers to their unique atmosphere and food, while our e-commerce services add a new dimension to Doolittles’ Web site and added convenience for its loyal customers.”

About Doolittles Air Cafe

The first Doolittles opened its doors in 1989 in Eagan, Minn. Doolittles has steadily grown because of its commitment to its ideals and goals which are accomplished through loyal and dedicated employees. Doolittles now has five locations in the Minnesota region.

About Gift Check Solutions

Based in Salt Lake City, Gift Check Solutions provides paper- and electronic-based gift products and services. The company manages the creation, processing, printing and fulfillment of gift certificates and gift cards. Electronic gift cards utilize magnetic swipe card technology, allowing gift card transactions to be processed real-time via a secure network. Gift Check Solutions also offers hosted e-commerce services for online gift certificate and ordering and customized point-of-purchase materials to drive gift certificate and gift card sales throughout the year. For more information, visit [http://www.giftchecksolutions.com][2] or call 888/739-9971.

[1]: http://www.giftchecksolutions.com/
[2]: http://www.giftchecksolutions.com/

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Starbucks Card

Starbucks Coffee Company this week introduced the Starbucks Card, a stored value card designed for personal use and gift-giving.

“The ability for Starbucks customers to use the Starbucks Card as a form of currency is a tremendous opportunity for us to enhance the Starbucks Experience,” says Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman. “With the introduction of the Starbucks Card, we have the immediate opportunity to improve our customer service, shorten lines and make a person’s daily stop at Starbucks quicker and more convenient.”

The Starbucks Card is a quick, convenient way to purchase Starbucks products anytime. Customers can purchase Starbucks Cards and load them with any monetary denomination from $5 to $500, then use them just as they would use cash or credit cards. When the Card’s balance gets low, it can be reloaded in person at a Starbucks location, toll-free at 800-STARBUC or online at Starbucks.com and used again.

The Starbucks Card can also be used for any gift: customers can purchase anything from a week’s worth of Caffe Lattes for a friend to one of the coffeemakers in the Starbucks Barista(R) line for the college graduate. “Because the Starbucks Card is a stored value card, our customers can use it anytime — and even every day — to conveniently purchase their favorite beverage. In fact, the Starbucks Card is actually faster to use than a credit card, debit card, or even cash,” explains Darren Huston, Starbucks senior vice president, New Ventures. “We are also excited about the future of The Starbucks Card as the platform for some exciting, experience-enhancing interactive initiatives that we will test and implement over the next couple of years.” The Starbucks Card is currently sold at most company-owned Starbucks locations in North America, toll-free at 800-STARBUC and online at Starbucks.com. Starbucks licensed locations, including those at airports, grocery stores, bookstores, hotels and other locales, are expected to be card-enabled in the future. The Starbucks Card can be loaded and re-loaded with any monetary denomination from $5 to $500. The Starbucks Card is only valid in its country of origin.

Starbucks Coffee Company is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world. In addition to its retail locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, Starbucks sells coffee and tea products through its specialty operations, including its online store at Starbucks.com. Additionally, Starbucks produces and sells bottled Frappuccino(R) coffee drink and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships. The Company’s other brands enhance the Starbucks Experience through best-of-class products: Tazo Tea Company offers a line of innovative premium teas, and Hear Music produces and distributes a line of exceptional compact discs.

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Vital Express

Vital Processing Services launched a fully hosted, online management tool that gives acquirers the ability to automate their credit review and enrollment operations of new merchant accounts. ‘Vital Express’, utilizing HNC’s ‘Decision Manager’, provides straight-through processing of a new merchant application, from credit review and approval, to boarding accounts on terminal management and merchant accounting systems. Vital says the additional business intelligence allows acquirers to improve underwriting and pricing methodologies and to implement a customized and consistent decisioning practice.

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ULTRACARD PO

UltraCard China, Inc., a
wholly-owned subsidiary of UltraCard, Inc., whose parent
company, Upgrade International, is pleased to
announce that it has successfully completed the UltraCard Technology
Demonstration in Shanghai earlier this month.

Shanghai G-Pro Technology Co., Ltd., a procurement company for the Shanghai
Government has issued a Purchase Order to implement a pilot program consisting
of two million UltraCards and ten thousand UltraDrives
(Reader/Writers). The Fifteen Million Dollar (US) Purchase Order is subject to
delivery of the UltraCards and UltraDrives, conforming to mutually
agreeable specifications and will include the 5 1/4″ Half-Height
UltraDrive with USB interface and triple-read capability. Delivery is expected
to
commence
in the first quarter of 2002.

President of Shanghai G-Pro Technology Co., Ltd., Yang Yan says “After
attending the UltraCard technology demonstration in Shanghai we are
prepared to
move forward on the pilot program for the use of the UltraCard as an
end to
end solution for the Security Control System application.”
Dan Kehoe, Chairman and CEO of both UltraCard China, Inc. and UltraCard Inc.,
stated “We have been working with Arthur Zheng, President and Oran Chang, Vice
President of UltraCard China, Inc. for many months and are very confident that
under their leadership, UltraCard China, Inc. will be a strong and reliable
source for sales of UltraCards(TM) and UltraDrive(TM)reader/writers for many
years.”
Daniel Bland, President of Upgrade International, stated, “This Purchase Order
marks the first implementation of the UltraCard(TM) as a revolutionary product
in a Credit Card Format for use in a Security Application. I am very proud of
the UltraCard team that developed the UltraCard(TM) and prepared the
presentation and demonstration.”

About Upgrade

Upgrade International Corp. through its ownership interest in UltraCard Inc.,
Efornet Corp., and cQue Corporation is engaged in the development and
commercialization of a patented ultra high-capacity portable data storage
technology. UltraCard’s patented method for using existing hard disk storage
technology provides both highly durable media in a credit card format and an
inexpensive read/write device that together will become the next generation in
personal portable data storage for a broad range of existing and new markets.
Management believes that the UltraCard technology will potentially provide
numerous industrial users with a combination of high levels of security and a
vastly greater amount of personal transportable data storage at the lowest
cost
in the industry. In addition the acquisition and development of existing
SmartCard solution providers represents a strategic market strategy
designed to
accelerate the integration of the vastly superior technology inherent in the
UltraCard into existing and newly developing markets.

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Trintech 3Q/01

The top global provider of secure payment infrastructure solutions reported Tuesday a 24% increase in revenues for the third quarter. Trintech Group’s revenue for the quarter ending Oct 31, was $17.4 million which included software license revenue of $8.2 million, product revenue of $6.7 million, and service revenue of $2.5 million. The company says that after Sept 11th many of its professional services staff were unable to travel readily to their destinations resulting in lost billable time. The firm used up $8 million in cash during the quarter with an ending cash balance of $74 million. Trintech took a stock compensation charge during 3Q of $800,000 relating primarily to stock options granted in 1999 at market value to the members of the Company’s Advisory Board and to MasterCard as part of a strategic alliance. Trintech also noted that it reached agreement on its earn-out obligations to Exceptis Technologies, now offering total consideration of $1 million in cash if targets are met instead of the previous earn-out agreement which offered $10 million of stock for hitting milestones. The company has scheduled an analysts conference later this morning. For complete details on Trintech’s 3Q/01 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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OPC Downsizes

The nation’s dominate provider of credit card payment services for taxpayers and government entities confirmed yesterday it is taking the knife to its payroll and expense budget. CT-based Official Payments Corporation said the restructuring will include the incorporation of newly developed technology; a reduction in marketing, administrative and telephony costs; and a near-term reduction of over one-third of the company’s workforce. Among those whose employment is ending is Kenneth Stern, the company’s founder and president. Stern will continue to serve as a director. The restructuring is expected to result in a decrease in operating expenses in 2002 of over $10 million. The reductions, excluding the restructuring costs, are expected to dramatically decrease the company’s cash consumption rate to less than $8 million in 2002, from approximately $19 million in 2001. Revenues for the third quarter ended Sept 30, were $3.9 million, up 14% from 3Q/00. The company was founded in 1996 as U.S. Audiotex Corp. and went public in Nov. 1999 as Official Payments Corporation, raising $80 million. The company has agreements with the IRS, 19 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 1,000 counties and municipalities in all 50 states. Through September of this year, OPC captured 88% of all of the taxes paid to the IRS by credit card. For complete details on OPC’s 3Q/01 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Heartland in California

Heartland Payment Systems Inc. is pleased to announce a recent partnership with the California Hotel and Lodging Association, one of the hospitality industry’s largest state lodging associations.

Both companies have joined forces to offer a new Special Value Program to CH&LA members. This partnership provides an excellent fit for CH&LA members. An acknowledged leader in the transaction processing industry, Heartland has extensive experience with clients specializing in the lodging, restaurant and food service industries, and is an endorsed provider of services to several other state hospitality associations.

Dedicated to the success of their members, CH&LA strives to develop partnerships that provide value-added services to their members to help their businesses grow and prosper.

“Our heritage is in the hospitality industry, so it’s no coincidence that Heartland offers comprehensive products and services specifically designed for our lodging and association partners,” said Sanford Brown, senior vice president and director of business development, HPS. “The relationship between CH&LA and HPS is a prime example of how a not-for-profit organization like the CH&LA and a for-profit organization like HPS can and will work together to provide greater services and support to the lodging industry.

“By combining our resources, both organizations will be able to increase their exposure and provide more value to merchants in all segments of California’s lodging industry.” Heartland is committed to the success of the lodging industry and partnering in their success. The HPS and CH&LA partnership offers association members local, statewide representation from an established company that focuses on credit card and payroll processing.

CH&LA members benefit by being able to better manage their time, their customers, and their businesses more effectively, and still save money by taking advantage of special membership rates. Jim Abrams, executive vice president, CH&LA, stated, “HPS has demonstrated that it is a significant partner to the hospitality industry. We are excited about this partnership and look forward to the increased value it will provide to all of our members regardless of size, location or type of lodging facility. “We have every confidence that this program will provide the same excellent service and products that HPS is known for nationally to our hotel and motel members in the state of California! We’re convinced the Heartland Special Value Program will encourage new membership and successfully contribute to our growing association.”

About CH&LA

The California Hotel and Motel Association (CH&LA) is the statewide trade association for the lodging industry in California. CH&LA provides industry governmental affairs representation, educational programs, cooperative buying services, and promotional programs for 1,500 plus member properties representing over 200,000 member guestrooms statewide. CH&LA membership ranges from small bed and breakfast inns to the largest hotel properties in the state, and also includes guest ranches, resorts, spas, and vacation rental properties nationwide.

About Heartland

Heartland Payment Systems Inc. (HPS) is a full-service payment systems solution’s provider, handling merchant card and payroll processing services for over 50,000 merchants of all types and sizes. Using a strategically located national sales force, HPS builds long-term business relationships in local sales territories providing merchants with enhanced technology tools that assist them in more effectively operating their businesses. For more information about HPS, please visit them online at [www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com][1] or [www.e-hps.com][2] or contact Sanford C. Brown at 888/472-0065.

[1]: http://www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com/
[2]: http://www.e-hps.com/

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Card Bond Payments

Payment rates on credit card-based securities dropped in September to 14.8% from 16.7%, its lowest level since late 1997. The 190 bp decline may be the first sign that the pace of paying down existing debt is slowing as household income declines. Consumer confidence fell to 7.5 year low this month, according to data released yesterday by the Conference Board. Unemployment is also expected to report a strong gain later this month. The two factors may be the main drivers of the radical change in payment rates. According to data reported by Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Index’, portfolios concentrated more heavily on transactors felt the effect of declining payment rates more heavily. The biggest drop in payment rate (in excess of 300 bps, on average) came from trusts backed by receivables in which the issuer has a cobranded relationship with airlines or other entities for reward points. S&P says it expects federal funds to drop again before the end of the year, which means that the master trusts’ average cost to fund will continue to decline and excess spread should remain healthy. Excess spread for September dropped 90 bps, but the current level of 6.60% continues to provide adequate protection for investors against potential base rate amortization payout event risk. Fixed-coupon deals’ excess spread will be more directly affected as charge-offs continue to rise and the risk of an early amortization payout event for those deals is certainly greater.

Credit Card Quality Indexes
Performance month Sept 99 Sept 00 Jul 01 Aug 01 Sept 01
Outstandings ($b) 298.0 330.6 363.2 366.7 366.1
Yield (%) 19.2 18.9 19.9 20.0 18.9
Weighted base rate (%) 7.4 8.4 6.2 6.0 5.8
Excess spread (%) 6.4 5.5 7.1 7.5 6.6
Payment rate (%) 16.9 15.4 16.3 16.7 14.8
Source: Standard & Poor’s

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