OPC Signs Tampa

Official Payments Corporation announced a new service agreement with the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office in Tampa, Fla.

The service will allow citizens of Hillsborough County, which includes the city of Tampa, to pay personal property and real estate taxes by credit card over the Internet or via the telephone. Official Payments is the leading provider of credit card tax payment systems via its Internet and telephone systems. The company has similar agreements with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments and over 900 counties and municipalities in 48 states.

Hillsborough’s systems will include a new lookup feature enabling taxpayers to access securely their personal payment information, such as amount owed, on Hillsborough County’s Web site or interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system. The taxpayer is then transferred to Official Payments to make that payment, eliminating the need to re-enter payment information.

“These new services assist me in the achievement of making the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office one of the most modern and cost-effective workplaces in the state,” said Doug Belden, Hillsborough County Tax Collector. “Every change we make should either improve service to the public or make the workplace better for our employees. This system provided by Official Payments Corp. will help us accomplish both.”

“This new business in the Tampa Bay area is a significant step in broadening our local business development in Florida,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments. “Hillsborough County represents a substantial tax base and revenue opportunity for our company, and Doug Belden is a pioneer in e-government in the state of Florida. We are delighted to welcome the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office as a partner.”

Annually, Hillsborough County collects over $700 million in real estate taxes and $147 million in personal property taxes. County statistics place the average annual real estate tax bill at $2,100, and the average annual personal property tax bill at $3,200. The new service in Hillsborough is now live and accepting payments. Real estate and property tax payments are due in Hillsborough County on Nov. 1, 2001. Taxpayers can make their payment using American Express(R), Discover Card(R), MasterCard(R) or Visa(R) by calling 813/635-5200 or by visiting the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s site at on the Internet. Hillsborough payments can also be made via the Official Payments Web site at www.officialpayments.com. Official Payments charges taxpayers a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions; rates vary depending on the amount changed. The fee schedule can be found on the Internet at www.officialpayments.com. Taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq:OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 900 county and municipal governments in 48 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state and local government payments.

Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company’s success in new client acquisition, increasing business with its existing clients and in building consumer awareness can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.



EDS Brazil and Visanet announced the renewal of a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract under which EDS (NYSE: EDS) provides financial transaction processing for all Visa credit card transactions in Brazil. Full terms of the contract extension were not disclosed. Visanet processes more than US$12 billion each year in financial transactions, representing all Visa credit card transactions in Brazil, as well as debit transactions from Visa Electron, an alternative to payment by cash or check. EDS provides Visanet with business process outsourcing services and technology infrastructure. The renewed agreement extends a relationship between the two companies that began in 1996. In recent years Visanet has become the financial transaction processing leader in Brazil in both market share and in customer care. The company provides high quality and varied services to its merchant clients and associated banks. Approximately 650 EDS employees are assigned to work collaboratively with Visanet, combining EDS’ processing expertise with Visanet’s knowledge of the Brazilian billing and payment market. To support Visanet’s growth, EDS has consistently invested in improving the quality and increasing productivity of the operations developed to serve Visanet. For example, EDS migrated all Visanet processing to EDS’ new Service Management Center in Sao Benardo do Campo, which handles high volume transaction processing with state-of-the-art processing and telecommunications capabilities. Visanet is located in nearly 4000 Brazilian cities, with 600,000 associated stores and 42 branches throughout the country. Last year, the company had revenues of over US$10 billion, processing more than 450 million transactions. With 140,000 machines, Visanet runs the largest network of ATMs in Brazil and electronically processes 95 percent of its transactions. Visanet receives 400,000 calls daily at its central authorization center, and 40,000 calls at its customer assistance center. EDS, the leading global services company, provides strategy, implementation and hosting for clients managing the business and technology complexities of the digital economy. EDS brings together the world’s best technologies to address critical client business imperatives. It helps clients eliminate boundaries, collaborate in new ways, establish their customers’ trust and continuously seek improvement. EDS, with its management consulting subsidiary, A.T. Kearney, serves the world’s leading companies and governments in 55 countries. EDS reported revenues of $19.2 billion in 2000.


Interlink Revolt

FL-based Publix Super Markets confirmed Friday it will no longer accept VISA’s ‘Interlink’ POS debit cards effective October 13. The grocery store chain is the third retailer to announce the Interlink action. Last week, Racetrac Petroleum, a gasoline convenience store retailer that operates stores in twelve Southeastern states, announced it will stop accepting Interlink debit cards next month. Two weeks ago, Wal-Mart Stores announced it will not accept VISA’s ‘Interlink’ POS on-line debit cards in its 2,700 stores effective October 13. Publix has 673 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Publix says it will accept other brands, including Presto!, STAR, Pulse, CU24, MAC, NYCE and Bank of America. (CF Library 9/5/01; 9/11/01)


Equitex Acquires MCA

Equitex, Inc. announced the signing of a letter of intent to acquire Money Centers of America, Inc. from its current stockholders, the largest of which is the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. Completion of the acquisition is subject to further due diligence, negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement, and is subject to customary regulatory, tribal, board of director and any necessary stockholder approvals.

MCA, based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, provides cash access, technology, and marketing services to the gaming and retail markets. The company’s funds transfer systems allow casino patrons to access cash through check cashing, credit/debit card cash advances, automated teller machines and wire transfers. MCA owns a proprietary Cash Access System which processes check, credit and debit card transactions thereby reducing the need for third party vendors.

“The proposed Money Centers of America acquisition would complement our Key Financial Systems and Nova Financial Systems operations and most especially our recently announced acquisition of Chex Services, Inc. scheduled for closing next month,” commented Henry Fong, Equitex President. “MCA’s Cash Access System would allow Chex Services to process its debit and credit card transactions in-house, eliminating the need for third party processors and their related fees.”

“The Equitex transaction will allow Money Centers of America to continue our plan to develop and acquire technologies and companies in the funds transfer industry for gaming and retail funds transfer applications,” said Chris Wolfington, CEO of MCA.

Equitex, Inc. is a holding company operating through its wholly owned subsidiaries Nova Financial Systems and Key Financial Systems of Clearwater, Florida. Nova and Key design and service credit card products for those who need to build or rebuild credit; marketed through direct mail, print media, telemarketing for financial institutions and the Internet through alliances with a number of popular Internet web sites.



The Bank of New York expects to have its ATMs in service by this afternoon, but it may still take another day or two. The ATMs have been down since Tuesday. BONY said Friday it will reimburse customers for ATM surcharges incurred when using other bank’s ATMs. BONY facilities on Barclay Street and Wall Street were evacuated in last week’s terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan.


Diebold Deal

Diebold confirmed this morning it is in negotiations to acquire the equipment maintenance operations, excluding PCs, alarms and branch automation, of Bank of America in the Western region. The negotiations also include a multi-year, multi-million dollar per year maintenance outsourcing agreement, covering ATMs and certain other bank products. BofA will continue to own and operate the ATMs. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this month.


AmEx Offices

American Express announced over the weekend it has signed an agreement with The Landis Group to lease approximately 175,000 square feet of office space in Stamford, CT. American Express has also moved some of its operations to New Jersey, where it houses backup facilities. AmEx says Stamford will be one of several locations in the metropolitan New York area where it is leasing facilities to accommodate its headquarters staff. The American Express headquarters was extensively damaged last week and the company lost its offices in 7 World Trade Center. AmEx had a handful of employees in 1 World Trade Center.



StarBridge Global Inc., an expanded and restructured network, systems
integration and smartcard services provider company with interests in
China, has filed its July 2001 quarterly report on Form 10-QSB with the
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

Mr. David Turik, President and CEO of StarBridge said: “As previously
indicated in our June 2001 Update, the national review of the Anti-Epidemic
and Sanitation stations (“Health Stations”) by the Chinese Ministry of
Health has impacted on the smartcard rollout program during the first half
of the year and more significantly in the July quarter. The aim of this
review is to increase the efficiency of the Health Stations through further
automation of their operations. Accordingly, our subsidiary Ai Wei, in
conjunction with the local agents, agreed to reduce the implementation of
the Health Card Registration and Maintenance system (“HCRM system”) and
smartcard rollout until completion of the review.”

Mr. Turik stated: “We anticipate that the review of the Health
Stations will be finalized in the months of September and October 2001, at
which time implementation of the HCRM system and smartcard rollout will
resume. To date, Ai Wei has appointed agents in Xian, Sheungfan, Nanchang
and Ningbo.”

Mr. Turik further explained: “Although the review has slowed our
implementation program we believe that the subsequent anticipated improved
efficiencies and automation of the Health Stations may provide greater
assistance in implementing the HCRM system and ultimately accelerate the
smartcard rollout program. To address this potential, the Company is
assessing the costs and benefits of adopting a distribution model of
working directly with the Health Stations to implement the HCRM system, in
addition to continuing to appoint new agents.”

Mr. Turik also said: “It is pleasing to report that our 45%-owned CCF
StarBridge Hengxin Corporation Ltd joint venture reported stronger sales in
the July quarter of $3,891,000 and net income of $194,550. This result was
higher compared to the previous three months ended April 30, 2001, in which
lower sales and net income were recorded due to the Chinese New Year
holidays impacting on work orders in the early part of the April quarter.”
Management confirmed that it continues to work towards securing
long-term equity and/or debt funding and that it has had a series of
positive meetings, with a number of parties. Management hopes to finalize a
financing in the current fiscal quarter, ending October 31, 2001.
Mr. Turik stated: “Our US representative office, located at 140
Broadway, New York is in very close proximity to the World Trade Center
area. We offer our heartfelt condolences, prayers and sympathy to the
families and friends that have been touched by the horrific and heinous
acts of the terrorists. We have been incredibly impressed by the resilience
shown by New Yorkers and the continued bravery demonstrated by the rescue

StarBridge Global conducts business through two Sino-foreign joint
ventures in China.

CCF StarBridge Hengxin Corporation Ltd., 45% owned by StarBridge and
55% owned by China Beijing CCF StarBridge Computer Technology Co. Ltd.,
(China Changfeng) a major Chinese corporation, is a network systems
integration and applications development business and also the holder of a
national ISP license in China.

Through Gold Phoenix Associates Limited, StarBridge owns 60% of Ai
Wei Information Technology Corporation Ltd, with the remaining 40% owned by
China Changfeng. Ai Wei was formed to develop a health card registration
and management system (“HCRM System”) in China for those individuals
working in the food or food-related industries. The HCRM System is designed
to provide a computerized system for the registration and data storage
process regarding hygiene standard inspections and other information
relating to workers in the food industry utilizing a smart card system
consisting of a credit-card size plastic card with an imbedded computer chip.


Stocks Crash

The stock market headed straight down at the opening bell with all major indices significantly down. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk more than 600 points in the first hour of trading and the Nasdaq has dropped more than 100 points. Internet connections to trading firms bogged down, preventing personal retail investors from trading or getting current information. However, the easing of SEC rules pertaining to stock buy backs should smooth out some of the roughing sailing expected today in stock trading as the markets open. Morgan Stanley said it expects to utilize some or all of its remaining $1 billion authorization under its capital management and equity anti-dilution repurchase programs. As expected American Express was the hardest hit as it opened for trading at 10:30am at $29.00.

9/17 9/10
Providian $25.60 $26.30 $25.55
MBNA $30.00 $31.24 $27.30
Metris $22.65 $23.20 $19.15
Capital One $48.10 $50.37 $45.88
Household $55.04 $56.31 $43.88
Amer Express $29.00 $35.01 $33.70
NextCard $ 7.80 $ 7.85 $ 4.56
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)


Experian CreditCommander

Experian, a leading global information solutions company, announced it has signed an agreement with MicroBilt Corporation, a provider of credit access software via the Internet. Experian’s Fast Start suite of applicant scoring models is now available to the financial services industry through MicroBilt’s CreditCommander.com interactive Web site.

“We are very pleased that MicroBilt has added our industry-leading Fast Start scorecards to CreditCommander.com,” said Rob Fite, director of strategic initiatives for Experian’s decision solutions business unit. “With access to these industry specific semi-custom scorecards, MicroBilt’s customers, such as credit unions and banks, can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the new credit evaluation process.

Experian’s Fast Start suite of empirically derived scorecards makes use of account credit bureau data as well as industry- and product-specific data to help banks and credit unions improve the efficiency and speed of the credit decisioning process. For each industry model, pooled data is analyzed, predictive characteristics are selected, point values are assigned, and the model is validated against a subpopulation of the original pooled data. This provides a flexible alternative to the development of a custom model.

“We are delighted to begin offering Experian’s Fast Start scoring models to existing and prospective customers,” states Mike Garretson, senior vice president and general manager of MicroBilt Corporation. “For example, integrating the Credit Union model into CreditCommander.com gives lenders the ability to quickly and accurately zero in on the right decision and product to offer their potential clients.”

Experian has developed a comprehensive suite of industry specific models including automobile, bankcard, credit union, home equity, and direct and subprime loans.

About Experian

Experian enables organizations to find the best prospects and make fast, informed decisions to improve and personalize relationships with their customers. It does this by combining sophisticated and intelligent decision-making software and systems with some of the world’s most comprehensive databases of information on consumers, businesses, motor vehicles and property. Through multi-channel delivery of its Web-based products and services, Experian enables its clients to conduct secure and profitable e-business and develop state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for communicating and building relationships with customers. Experian is a subsidiary of GUS plc and has headquarters in Nottingham, UK, and Orange, Calif. Its 12,000 people support clients in more than 50 countries. Annual sales are approximately $1.5 billion.

For more information, visit the company’s Web site at .

About MicroBilt:

MicroBilt, a division of Bristol is a nationwide leader in credit bureau data access and retrieval, providing credit solutions to the Financial (banking, mortgages, home equity, credit union, collections), Rental or Leasing, Health Care, Insurance, Law Enforcement, Educational (Universities, Colleges and institutions of higher learning) and Utilities (gas, electric, cellular, cable, residential phones) industries. MicroBilt provides interfaces with the three consumer bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union and the two commercial bureaus, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian Business. Bureau data is available via dial-up software, Internet website access (), or through an integrated custom interface utilizing the Software Developers Kit. The company also enables web sites to enhance their content offerings by delivering a CreditCommander.com co-branded site to their established online communities. MicroBilt services over 30,000 customers throughout the United States and Canada. MicroBilt (), formerly a First Data Corporation subsidiary, is headquartered in Kennesaw, Georgia with offices in Princeton, New Jersey, South Carolina, Arizona and California.