FDC Signs Scotiabank Inverlat

Electronic commerce and payments leader First Data Corp. announced its card processing subsidiary, First Data Resources, has signed a multi-year contract renewal with Scotiabank Inverlat.

Scotiabank Inverlat is a leading banking institution in Mexico with headquarters in Mexico City. The bank will partner with First Data to receive bankcard processing and other card portfolio management services.

“As a 30-year leader of the card industry, First Data provides us access to a unique array of products and services that help Scotiabank Inverlat execute its plans to grow and diversify our portfolio,” said Carlos San Martin, director of central operations for Scotiabank Inverlat. “We are pleased with First Data’s commitment to providing the advanced tools and technology we need to serve our cardholders and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Scotiabank Inverlat has been a First Data client since 1994. In addition to Scotiabank Inverlat, First Data processes for three leading financial institutions in Latin America.

“Scotiabank Inverlat is a leader in the Mexican card marketplace and we are very pleased to continue providing the state-of-the-art functionality and expertise needed to successfully manage and grow its card business,” said Eula Adams, senior executive vice president and head of worldwide card operations for First Data. “In addition, this agreement underscores our international growth strategy and our commitment to provide leading-edge payment services to Latin America and other international markets.”

First Data processes for nearly 300 million accounts on file around the world. For more than 30 years, First Data has developed products and services which enable card issuers to enhance their portfolio growth, increase market share, reduce risk and improve profitability.

About Scotiabank Inverlat

Grupo Financiero Scotiabank Inverlat S.A. de C.V. is one of the principal financial groups in Mexico, with more than 400 branches and almost 1,000 ATMs throughout Mexico. First quarter net income after tax for the Group was $31 million (P$183 million). Scotiabank has a 55% ownership stake in Inverlat. The Group employs approximately 7,200 people across its three main affiliates, Scotiabank Inverlat S.A., Scotia Inverlat Casa de Bolsa S.A. de C.V. and Scotia Inverlat Casa de Cambio S.A. de C.V. Together, these companies offer an integrated suite of financial products and services for the entire spectrum of customers – from individuals and small businesses up to the most sophisticated multinational corporations. See Scotiabank Inverlat at [www.scotiabankinverlat.com][1].

Scotiabank is one of North America’s premier financial institutions, with about $275 billion in assets and approximately 52,000 employees worldwide, including affiliates. It is also Canada’s most international bank with more than 2,000 branches and offices in over 50 countries.

About First Data

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 2.6 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 27,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit, smart card and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; Western Union® 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 109,000 locations in more than 186 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [www.firstdata.com][2].

[1]: http://www.scotiabankinverlat.com
[2]: http://www.firstdata.com


Taxi Cards

Even though credit cards are widely accepted in taxis from London to Sydney, credit cards may soon work their way into taxis in the Big Apple. The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers says it has tested and approved a credit card program for livery cabs. About 29,000 livery cabs provide service in areas of New York where yellow taxis don’t operate for economic, safety, and sometimes racist reasons. The drivers often use their own cars and serve the communities where they live. Partners in the livery cab program, which utilizes wireless credit card terminals, include Cynergy Data, Lipman USA and U.S. Wireless Data. When a passenger presents a credit card to a driver, the transaction is communicated from the terminal to the cardholder’s bank and back via ‘Synapse’ technology from U.S. Wireless Data. The wireless terminals are manufactured by Lipman USA and transaction processing is provided by Cynergy Data. The system will also have a button to dial 911 and a GPS system to help law enforcement locate a missing vehicle. The terminals will accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and other forms of payment cards.


Linux POS Terminals

Wincor Nixdorf Inc., announced plans to offer Linux as a platform for migrating DOS-based POS systems to full-function, next-generation POS solutions.

The migration offering marks another step in Wincor Nixdorf’s ongoing commitment to assist retailers in building modern POS solutions based on the Red Hat Linux platform.

With the support of Red Hat Inc., Wincor Nixdorf has developed a tool set that enables the technical layer of a DOS-based application to be replaced by a Linux-based technical layer. As the interface to the technical layer does not change for the POS application, implementation of the business rules remains the same, thus protecting the customer’s software investment.

“Many POS systems are still running on DOS, because a considerable number of retailers don’t want to lose the enormous investment made in their existing DOS-based applications,” said Jeff Soisson, vice president, Retail Solutions Group, Wincor Nixdorf. “By replacing the underlying operating system (OS) platform, we can offer retailers a migration path toward a modern POS solution environment that supports advanced POS functionality such as customer relationship management and multi-channel retailing.”

“The open strategies of Wincor Nixdorf have resulted in a customer-driven solution in which retailers and their customers are the winners. Wincor Nixdorf’s business model is built around listening to retailers, then applying our years of retail experience and technology know-how to help them make sound investments that drive productivity and reduce costs,” added Soisson.

Initiated in 1998, Wincor Nixdorf’s dedicated work with Linux for retail POS is unprecedented. Wincor Nixdorf’s long-standing investments and achievements include:

— First retail-hardened thin-client POS system — BEETLE /NetPOS

— First Linux-ready POS system platform in production — the BEETLE family

— First thin client competency labs focused on Linux-based POS systems

— Significant Linux-based POS engagements at leading retailers worldwide including Burlington Coat Factory, Carrefour, DIA, and co op Schleswig Holstein eG

— First globally-managed, network centric in-store solution — SmartClient

— First POS vendor to offer a complete set of JavaPOS drivers for Linux

— Active participation in ARTS, JavaPOS and UPOS standards committees

The BEETLE Family of POS Systems

Wincor Nixdorf’s BEETLE family of POS systems addresses the complete spectrum of customer touch points in the retail store environment. With solutions that encompass thin-client POS terminals, lean- and thick-client POS systems, kiosks, lottery terminals, and mobile POS devices, the BEETLE family is the industry’s most comprehensive POS product line. An open design supporting commonality of components across the entire BEETLE family substantially simplifies software deployment and hardware maintenance, keeping costs down and productivity high.

More than just PCs, BEETLE systems are rugged, designed to withstand the rigors of retail environments. All systems include standard retail interfaces, accept a wide range of peripherals, and are compliant with established retail software standards. Standard operating systems include Red Hat Linux, the Microsoft(R) Windows(R) family and Microsoft DOS.

The BEETLE family of POS systems is the industry’s first and only complete line of customer-proven, Linux-ready POS systems in production. The systems also offer the most expansive and complete set of JavaPOS(tm) drivers for POS peripherals.

About Wincor Nixdorf

Worldwide, Wincor Nixdorf Inc. is one of the fastest growing providers of IT products and solutions for the retail and banking industries. Wincor Nixdorf’s offerings include hardware, application software, professional services and a complete range of service programs including on-site support, depot service and Advanced Exchange. Wincor Nixdorf is the world’s third largest provider of POS systems and automated teller machines. Employing more than 4,600 people, Wincor Nixdorf operates in 40 countries with manufacturing plants in Germany and Singapore. North American headquarters are in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit [www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa][1].

[1]: http://www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa


Active Card Control

VISA U.S.A. and Works, Inc. have teamed to deliver a unique feature called ‘Active Card Control’. The solution gives midsize companies the flexibility to choose card controls most beneficial to their business, including the ability to dynamically control and manage their VISA commercial card spending through the Web. The ‘ACC’ feature gives companies the ability to use the ‘Works Procisa’ procurement application to customize controls on VISA commercial cards for individual employees and require pre-approval, by purchase type and dollar amount, of purchases before they are made with the card. After an employee’s purchase request is routed and approved through the ‘Procisa’ application, the card controls are adjusted instantly, increasing spending limits to allow for the designated purchase. Once the transaction is completed, the card is automatically reset to its normal limits.


Slowdown Continues

While strong consumer spending has held off a full blown recession this year, there are cracks appearing in the consumer debt data. For the first time in four years, consumer borrowing for automobiles, mobile homes, big-ticket items, and other non-revolving loans has declined. Revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, is also beginning to slow, according to preliminary figures released yesterday afternoon by the Federal Reserve. During June, non-revolving debt declined $3.8 billion, or at a negative annual rate of 5.2%. Meanwhile, American consumers added $2.3 billion to total revolving debt, the smallest monthly increase so far this year. As a result, revolving debt, 95% of which is credit card debt, slowed to an annual growth rate of 3.9% during June. During June 2000, consumer revolving debt increased by $5.8 billion. The slowing pace has been attributed to rising unemployment and may signal an impending slowdown in other borrowing, including mortgages. Total U.S. revolving consumer debt now stands at $703.4 billion which includes about $675 billion in credit card debt. Overall, consumer debt declined 1.2% during June. At the end of June, American consumers were $1.590 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.


Jun01 May01 Apr01 Mar01 Feb01 Jan01 Dec00
%GRWTH: 3.9% 6.0% 14.2 11.9 20.8 11.6 5.0
$OWED: $703.4 701.1 697.6 688.2 681.4 670.3 663.4

Nov00 Oct00 Sep00 Aug00 Jul00 Jun00 May00
%GRWTH: 10.9% 4.7% 7.8 12.6 6.7 11.2 12.7
$OWED: $660.6 654.8 649.3 645.1 638.2 634.7 628.9

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 08/07/01;
For complete historical data visit www.carddata.com.



Citicorp yesterday completed the acquisition of Banamex-Accival. Citicorp
acquired approximately 4.7 billion of Grupo Financiero Banamex-Accival
ordinary shares for approximately $12.48 billion in cash and Citigroup
stock by settling transactions that were conducted on the Mexican Stock
Exchange on Friday, August 3, 2001. As announced on Friday, those
transactions comprised both the acquisition of Banacci shares tendered in
response to Citicorp’s offer to acquire up to 100% of Banacci’s outstanding
shares and the sale of Citigroup shares to the tendering Banacci shareholders.


Sears CardSite

Incurrent Solutions, Inc., the leading provider of Internet-based cardmember self-service solutions for credit card issuers and transaction processors, announced that Sears, Roebuck and Co., the largest proprietary credit card issuer in the world, will utilize Incurrent’s CardSite solution to offer expanded e-services to its nearly 60 million Sears Card and Sears Gold MasterCard holders. Sears expects to begin offering these e-services through its Sears.com Web site later this year.

CardSite is a powerful Web-based e-CRM solution employed by Fleet Bank, NextCard, Certegy, MBNA and numerous other major credit card issuers. The long-term service agreement between Sears, Roebuck and Incurrent represents the first agreement of its kind between a large retail credit card provider and an Internet-based CRM solution provider.

“Incurrent is proud to deploy our CardSite solution for Sears, the company that blazed the trail for the retail credit card market,” said Loren Hulber, Incurrent’s Chairman and CEO. “Sears has long been a leading merchandiser of quality products. By offering their cardholders CardSite’s full-featured functionality, they are again proving their leadership, this time in the e-service arena.”

“At Sears, we are committed to delighting our customers through every venue, whether it’s in our store, over the telephone, or online. In addition to providing value in our goods and services, we want to make the way our customers purchase and finance those products to be as convenient and efficient as possible,” said K. R. Vishwanath, Sears Vice President of Risk Management and Credit Analytics. “We are finding that Incurrent is a great partner for delivering the platform of online services that we need with the features our customers expect.”

Sears chose CardSite for its powerful features, ease of implementation, and its established, integrated links with Total System Services, the data processing company Sears uses for its credit card processing.

About Incurrent Solutions

Founded in 1997, Incurrent Solutions ([www.incurrent.com][1]) provides advanced Internet and wireless services to card-issuing banks and transaction processors. Incurrent’s clients include NextCard, Certegy, Fiserv, Fleet Credit Card Services, MBNA, Metris Companies, and other major card issuers. Incurrent has seen the volume of its clientele’s total cardmember base grow from 15 million to 100 million, reflecting a rapidly growing industry need for its services.

CardSite, Incurrent’s cutting-edge, Internet-based CRM solution, enhances cardholder experience and cultivates account loyalty at a cost significantly lower than traditional customer interaction methods. Cardholders enjoy real-time access to account information, statements, bill payment, secure e-mail, reports, searches, interactive sessions, and other service-enhancing tools for Web, wireless and voice channels.

About Sears, Roebuck and Company

Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NYSE: S) is a leading U.S. retailer of apparel, and home and automotive products and services, with annual revenues of more than $40 billion. The company serves families throughout the country through approximately 860 department stores, more than 2,100 specialized retail locations, and a variety on online offerings accessible through the company’s Web site, [www.sears.com][2].

[1]: http://www.incurrent.com
[2]: http://www.sears.com



S2 Systems, Inc., a global provider of transaction processing, authorization and integrated solutions for the banking, financial and retail sectors, announced the completion of a recent expansion into Beijing, Dubai, Paris, Riyadh, and Sydney, along with an extended presence in Canada and throughout the Americas. S2’s strong foothold in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific positions the company for continued growth as the premier market player for open systems enterprise payment solutions.

S2 Systems’ global expansion is targeted to strengthen its reach into market sectors such as banking, finance and retail — where organizations are under competitive pressure to provide value added services online at reduced cost and maximum uptime. Companies and institutions also require high availability payment solutions to drive increasingly huge transaction volumes in an open architecture environment. In addition, business requirements demand that these solutions support transactions through ATMs and EFTPOS devices, as well as Internet, wireless and other emerging technologies connected by open networks. S2 is leveraging its 18 years of proven industry experience in this area to expand market share.

“Our business is growing internationally as organizations migrate to open systems,” said Stephen Clark, president and CEO of S2 Systems. “We’re seeing major wins in all the regions and a dramatic shift away from proprietary switching platforms. S2 Systems clearly enjoys a leadership position in the area of open systems payment solutions and our global client base is expanding.

We’re opening new offices as a result, and in order to meet the demand of new and existing customers for business-critical transaction processing solutions. S2’s proven ability to deliver high-volume, continuously available solutions is a strong differentiator in the eyes of our customers.”

Today, S2 customers are on every continent of the globe and span across a range of industries. The company’s recently expanded coverage strengthens its global presence and reflects the increasingly high profile of S2’s diverse customer mix. S2 clients include two of the world’s largest credit and travel and entertainment card associations; four international stock exchanges, including the nation’s first stock exchange; three of the top grocery chains in the United States; the world’s largest international airline carrier; and 300 banks around the world.

About S2 Systems

S2 Systems, Inc. is a leading global provider of e-business solutions for the banking, financial services, retail and travel & hospitality industries. For more than 18 years, some of the world’s largest organizations have relied on S2 products to drive their high-volume e-commerce transactions. Today, our leading-edge technology enables businesses worldwide to implement Web-based initiatives that improve operational efficiency, enhance customer service and generate new revenue streams. S2 Systems is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and has offices in Atlanta, London, Paris, Maarssen, Stockholm, Dubai, Riyadh, Hong Kong, Beijing, Melbourne, and Sydney. For more information about S2 Systems, visit its Web site at www.s2systems.com


Oberthur Cards

Oberthur Card Systems unveiled this week its first full array of newly designed cards, including translucent and holographic technology designs for the U.S. market. Oberthur says smart card issuers in the U.S. are looking for cards with the ‘wow’ factor. Oberthur card designs include a full suite of printed security features that offering full face holograms, holographic effects and specially designed explosive inks. In addition to its graphic and printing innovation, Oberthur has established personalization centers throughout the U.S. that provide additional services such as card management, inventory control and reissuance technology that allows new applications to be added to chip cards based on evolving customer preferences.



Standard & Poor’s placed its single-‘B’-plus rating on RG Receivables Co.
Ltd.’s $100 million 9.6% credit card-backed notes on CreditWatch with
negative implications.

The negative CreditWatch placement follows the disclosure that the
underlying generator of the transaction’s assets, Viacao Aerea
Rio-Grandense S.A. (Varig), breached an interest coverage covenant in the
first quarter of 2001 that could lead to an early amortization of the
transaction’s outstanding balance. In addition, Varig’s financial
performance in the first several months of 2001 deteriorated as a result of
the more difficult operating conditions in Brazil this year, with further
adverse results expected in the second half of 2001.

Varig’s performance has been hurt by a drop in both domestic and
international air travel in Brazil this year, as well as a significant
decline in the local currency and higher interest rates and jet fuel costs.
Although the company is attempting to cut costs, results beyond those
already realized in a similar restructuring effort in 1999 may be difficult
to achieve. Varig’s management has completed a refinancing of some
short-term debt and may derive some additional relief from the sale of a
stake in its cargo transport business, but financial flexibility
nonetheless remains limited.

The RG Receivables notes are secured by the proceeds of credit and
charge card receivables generated by the sale of airline tickets in the
U.S. to Varig customers flying between Brazil and the U.S. The transaction
is structured to capture offshore U.S. dollar-denominated payments
generated from the sale of tickets on Varig flights between Brazil and the
U.S. and between the U.S. and Tokyo, Japan.

To date, the transaction has performed well despite a challenging
operating environment in Brazil at various times over the past three years.
Cash flow coverage currently remains in excess of three times quarterly
debt service, and Varig has not yet attempted to reduce the frequency of
flights between Brazil and the U.S.-routes that are critical to the
generation of foreign charge card receipts. Moreover, the transaction
performed as designed in 1999 despite similar financial pressures and a
broad restructuring of Varig’s debt undertaken at that time with the
company’s other creditors.

Nevertheless, the CreditWatch placement reflects uncertainty
surrounding the near-term actions of investors who, given the interest
coverage covenant breach, currently have the right to accelerate the
amortization of the transaction notes. In addition, Standard & Poor’s
remains concerned that the economic outlook in Brazil over the remainder of
2001 remains challenging and could lead Varig’s management to reduce flight
frequencies to the U.S., thus, negatively impacting the transaction.
Standard & Poor’s has also noted that an early amortization of the RG
Receivables notes-whether triggered by the interest coverage covenant or
some other transaction covenant-could have a significant negative impact on
Varig’s liquidity and, consequently, its overall credit profile to which
the transaction rating is directly tied. Standard & Poor’s believes that
the transaction rating could come under near-term downward pressure from
either investor actions that accelerate the transaction’s amortization or
from a prolonged economic slowdown in Brazil that further impairs Varig’s
financial health.


FTC & Phone Crammers

Companies that illegally “crammed” unauthorized charges for a variety of services onto consumers’ telephone bills and claimed that consumers had to pay the charges, even though they neither purchased the services nor authorized the charges, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that their unfair and deceptive practices violated the FTC Act and the FTC’s 900-Number Rule. The proposed settlements would: bar the defendants from illegally billing consumers in the future; require one defendant, New Century Equity Holdings Corp., Inc. to give up $350,000 in ill-gotten gains; and require the other defendants, Enhanced Services Billing, Inc. (ESBI), and Billing Concepts, Inc. (BCI), to provide notices to consumers that their bills may contain unauthorized charges for website design and other enhanced services, to inform consumers how to obtain a refund, and to provide refunds. ESBI and BCI each served as “billing aggregators.” Billing aggregators open the gate to the telephone billing and collection system for vendors, and act as intermediaries between the vendors and the local phone companies, contracting with the local phone companies to have charges on behalf of their client vendors placed on consumers’ telephone bills and to have the local telephone companies collect those charges from consumers. Once the charges are collected by the phone companies, the billing aggregators, after taking their fee, pass the revenues back to their client vendors.

Although billing aggregators’ services allow consumers to use their phone services as a payment mechanism, they are also susceptible to abuse if the billing aggregators fail to adequately police the practices of vendors who may engage in fraudulent billing.ESBI and BCI were subsidiaries of New Century Equity Holdings Corp., formerly known as Billing Concepts Corporation from 1996 until October 23, 2000. ESBI and BCI are currently owned by Platinum Equity, L.L.C. Although not a defendant, Platinum Equity has agreed to comply with the provisions of the settlement with its subsidiaries ESBI and BCI to the extent that Platinum Equity or its divisions, affiliates, successors or assigns bill consumers for any “enhanced service” – basically, anything other than common carrier telecommunications services – on consumers’ telephone bills. The FTC’s complaint, filed with the settlements, charged: that ESBI falsely represented that consumers were legally obligated to pay charges on their telephone bills for web sites and other items they had not ordered or authorized others to order for them; that ESBI unfairly attempted to collect – or arranged for local phone companies to collect – payment of charges from consumers for web sites and other items they had not ordered and that consumers were unable to prevent ESBI from causing such unauthorized charges to appear on their phone bills; that BCI falsely represented that consumers were legally obligated to pay charges on their telephone bills for an activation fee and monthly minimum fees for a calling card, when the consumers had neither asked for the card nor authorized anyone else to ask for it on their behalf; and that BCI unfairly attempted to collect – or arranged for local phone companies to collect – payment of charges for an activation fee and monthly minimum fees for a calling card that consumers had not ordered and that the consumers were unable to prevent BCI from causing such unauthorized charges to appear on their phone bills. The complaint also alleged that, acting as a billing aggregator for vendors of 900-Number services, BCI violated the FTC’s 900-Number Rule. According to the complaint, many consumers contacted BCI to complain that 900-number charges on their phone bills were not incurred by anyone calling from the consumers’ phone, and offered convincing evidence to support that assertion. Yet, in such cases, the complaint alleges, BCI failed to perform a reasonable investigation to determine whether the charges were valid, and continued to attempt to collect. The 900-Number Rule prohibits a company from attempting to collect any disputed amount until the company has completed an investigation or refunded the charges.The proposed settlements with the defendants bar future violations of the 900-Number Rule. They would also bar the defendants from placing charges on a consumer’s phone bill when they “know or should know” the consumer did not authorize the charge; from making misrepresentations, in connection with the provision of customer service, that consumers owe money for telephone-billed goods or services they did not authorize; prohibit them from submitting billing records from vendors they “know or should know” do not obtain express authorization for each telephone-billed good or service; and require that when the defendants submit information to local phone companies to cause charges to appear on consumers’ phone bills, they must provide the phone companies with an accurate description of the goods or services being billed, and a toll-free complaint number. The proposed settlement with New Century requires the company to turn over $350,000 in ill-gotten gains. The proposed settlement with defendants ESBI and BCI also requires them to provide notices to consumers who receive bills for enhanced services after the date of the Order, informing them that their bills may contain unauthorized charges, that the FTC has entered into a settlement with the defendants, and providing a toll-free number (1-800-555-ESBI), an e-mail address and a street address, any of which consumers can use to request refunds. The defendants also would be required to inform consumers about the terms and conditions for obtaining a refund, and to provide refunds. Both proposed settlements also contain record keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance.The Commission has set up a hotline for consumers to call with questions about the case or the refund procedure. It is (202) 326-3060.The Commission vote to refer the complaint and settlements to the Department of Justice for filing was 4-0, with Chairman Timothy J. Muris not participating. The complaint and proposed consent judgments were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 1,2001 by the Department of Justice at the request of the FTC. The proposed settlements are subject to court approval.



Datamonitor, a premium business information company specializing in industry analysis, predicts the size of the eBanking technology market to almost double over the next four years, growing from $2.7 bn in 2001 to nearly $5 bn by 2005 in Europe. Moreover, 75 million Europeans will be banking on the Internet by 2005: equivalent to over 2.5 times the combined population of every capital city in the EU. The PC will remain the most popular online channel for banking services, followed by wireless devices and interactive digital television.

The report, eBanking Technology in Europe 2001, forecasts a tripling of the number of customers using PC-based Internet banking services over the next five years, from 23 million at the end of 2000 to over 75 million in 2005. The combined population of the capital cities of all the EU member states is currently estimated at around just 28 million.

Certainly the last few months have not been easy ones for Internet banking in Europe, with standalone ventures such as ABN-Amro s MoneyPlanet and SEB s planned UK expansion being withdrawn. The saturation of many European markets and the negative outlook for Internet investment has made all but the most differentiated standalone Internet propositions unsustainable.

However, Datamonitor s research shows that, in spite of this, banks are being successful in migrating their customers onto the Internet, giving them plenty of reasons to continue investing strongly in eBanking services in order to support this growth.

Datamonitor is bullish about the future uptake of mobile phone banking. While initial uptake of WAP-based services has been limited, the advent of 2.5 and 3G networks will allow for richer banking services to be delivered via the wireless channel. As a result, Datamonitor forecasts almost 35 million customers banking on WAP by 2005.

Siân Jones, eFinancial services analyst at Datamonitor, comments:

In spite of some recent setbacks, eBanking is still the strongest growth story in European retail banking. The availability of more and more value-added services, such as account aggregation and online advice, will going to continue driving strong consumer uptake of eBanking services. The challenge for banks now will be to hang on to these customers through using advanced personalization and one-to-one marketing technologies to build up loyalty.

We are particularly excited by the potential of mobile devices. Although there has been some initial customer disappointment in WAP services, we firmly believe that, when higher bandwidth networks and suitable handsets become widely available, mobile banking will become a killer mCommerce application. Our research has shown that banks are very committed to investment in this area: after all, mobile phones are ideal for receiving timely financial information. These kind of services are highly sticky should also help build customer loyalty.

Datamonitor plc is a premium business information company specializing in industry analysis. We help our clients, 5000 of the world s leading companies, to address complex strategic issues. Through our proprietary databases and wealth of expertise, we provide clients with unbiased expert analysis and in-depth forecasts for six industry sectors: Automotive, Consumer Markets, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology. Datamonitor maintains its headquarters in London and has regional offices in New York, Frankfurt, and Hong Kong.