Reform Committee

The House last week named the primary conferees to serve on the House-Senate conference committee working to wrap up the bankruptcy reform legislation. The joint panel will meet in September to work out of the final details of the new bankruptcy laws which will limit the availability of Chapter 7 filings to consumers with good income. The House-named members include James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Barr (R-GA), Melvin Watt (D-NC), Henry Hyde (R-IL), George Gekas (R-PA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). All of the conferees serve on the House Judiciary Committee. The House also named nine members from other committees to consult as conferees on limited sections of the bill. Last month, the U.S. Senate named Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Russell Feingold (D-WI), Charles Schumer, (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to serve on the House-Senate conference committee. The Senate also unanimously agreed to substitute the language of a pending House bankruptcy reform bill (H.R. 333) with that of the Senate-passed version (S.420). (CF Library 6/12/01; 7/3/01; 7/19/01)

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Top Billserv Exec Resigns

Billserv, Inc., the leading electronic bill presentment and payment Outsourced Solution Provider delivering electronic billing, online customer care, Internet direct marketing and communications, Friday announced the resignation of David S. Jones, Executive Vice President and Director of Billserv, Inc. and President of bills.com.

“David has reached a point in his life and within Billserv that his tremendous creative abilities and needs are no longer being satisfied. Both Billserv and David have reached a level of mutual maturity that the needs of each are no longer aligned,” said Michael Long, Chairman and CEO. Long continued, “As a founder of Billserv, David provided vast amounts of thought leadership in the early formation of our company. Our separation is highly cordial and David has earned the respect and admiration of all of us at Billserv and within the industry. We wish David and his family great success in all of his life pursuits.”

David added, “I’m not leaving Billserv because I don’t believe in the company but rather the opposite. I feel the company has reached a point of stability and focus that no longer requires my role as an executive and given the appropriate burn rate reduction goals, I believe this is the most effective and significant contribution I can make. I will continue to support Billserv in every way possible as I look into the future at other business ventures.”

About Billserv, Inc.

Billserv, Inc. is the leading electronic bill presentment and payment Outsourced Solution Provider, delivering comprehensive, cost-effective solutions for presenting and servicing consumer bills for payment via the Internet. As part of an integrated EBPP solution, the company also provides market-leading Internet customer care and direct marketing applications. Billserv consolidates customer billing information and then securely delivers it to distribution end points and to the client’s own presentment and payment site, hosted by Billserv. The company has relationships with all major EBPP distribution channels, including CheckFree, Spectrum, MasterCard RPPS, Paytrust, Metavante and BillingZone, giving companies and customers the widest array of Web sites from which to deliver, view, pay and manage bills. For additional information, visit or call (210) 402-5000.

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E-Disclosure Lifted

The Federal Reserve Board on Friday announced the lifting of the October 1, 2001 mandatory compliance date for interim rules governing the electronic delivery of certain consumer disclosures, including credit card disclosures. The Fed says the postponement was primarily due to operational issues raised by a number of institutions which indicated the time frame was not realistic. During March of this year, the Board published interim final rules on electronic disclosures and invited public comment. The rules established uniform standards for the electronic delivery of federally mandated disclosures under five consumer protection regulations including: ‘Reg E’ (Electronic Fund Transfers) and ‘Reg Z’ (Truth in Lending). Financial institutions may deliver disclosures electronically if they obtain consumers’ consent in accordance with the requirements of the ‘Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act’, enacted in June 2000. The Board says it is considering adjustments to the rules to provide additional flexibility.

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Persona C11

Fargo Electronics unveiled this morning the new ‘Persona C11’ desktop plastic card printer with of MSRP of $2,095. The ‘C11’ is a full color dye-sublimation printer and produces high-quality, continuous-tone photo ID cards edge-to-edge on standard ‘CR-80 PVC’ cards. The printer, in a ice blue casing, has a one-touch top cover release which opens widely for convenient access and ease of use within small spaces. The ‘C11’ is also available in a monochrome-only version, the ‘M11’ for $1,695. Options for both the ‘C11’ and ‘M11’ include built-in ISO magnetic stripe encoding (Hi-Co/Lo-Co); USB-to-Parallel interface cable; Ethernet interface adapter, and printer cleaning kit.

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Cardless Cashtown

NJ-based Champion Mortgage says last week’s ‘Great American Credit Card Swipeout’ was a success as 553 residents of Cashtown, Pennsylvania agreed not use credit cards for four days. The publicity event was center stage for a national effort by Champion to educate consumers about smart borrowing and strong personal financial habits. Last Tuesday the ‘Swipeout’ was kicked off when its residents were asked to sign a pledge to use only cash for all their consumer needs for 100 hours beginning at a kickoff event at the local school. Cashtown also served as the site for the unveiling of the Champion Mortgage ‘Best Financial Practices Index’, a national survey of more than 2,300 respondents who were asked about their practices and knowledge of aspects of personal finances. Champion says it chose Cashtown because the tiny community was named in 1797 after the local innkeeper demanded cash payment for all food and lodging. Champion says the residents are typical of much of small-town America.

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Updated Brand Stats

Driven by a significant increase in cards issued, MasterCard’s overall growth in U.S. card volume is outpacing VISA’s, as MasterCard racked up a 16.8% annual growth rate in the first quarter compared to VISA’s 13.0% rate. However both card associations reported substantially stronger growth than American Express (+9.9%) and Discover (+3.8%). VISA’s growth in cash volume slightly outpaced MasterCard’s, as VISA reported $44.1 billion in first quarter cash volume (+18%) versus MasterCard’s $26.0 billion (+17%). As of March 31, VISA’s market share, based on gross dollar volume and cards-in-force, was 51.9% and 51.2% respectively. At the end of 1Q/01, VISA had 251.4 million credit cards and 103.4 million debit cards in-force. MasterCard had 212.4 million credit cards and 37.9 million debit cards in-force as of March 31. (For complete details on 1Q/01 U.S. brand statistics visit CardData (www.carddata.com); for international 1Q/01 brand figures visit The RAM Report (www.ramreport.com). NOTE: This story corrects an earlier version which appear in last week’s CF, Thursday, August 2, 2001).

1Q/01 U.S. BRAND STATS
(includes credit and off-line debit)
VOLUME CHANGE CARDS CHANGE
VISA $204.6b +13.0% 354.8m +5.5%
MasterCard $109.6b +16.8% 250.3m +19.3%
American Express $ 55.6b + 9.9% 34.2m +8.9%
Discover $ 24.4b + 3.8% 53.2m +8.6%
TOTAL: $394.2b +13.0% 692.5m +10.5%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Reform Barometer

As bankruptcy reform is more or less a done deal, the majority of Americans believe, that given the funky economy and rising unemployment, this is not the time to make personal bankruptcy laws more restrictive. However the majority also feel that bankrupt consumers should be forced to repay a portion of their debts if they have income that exceeds reasonable living expenses. Nearly two out of three respondents to a CardWeb.com homepage poll say this is not the time to reform bankruptcy laws. However more than six out of ten believe bankrupt consumers should be forced to pony up for some of their debts if they have a good income. In response to the question: “Should there be a limit on the amount of home equity a bankrupt consumer can exempt in a bankruptcy filing?’, 55% said yes. Nearly three out of four consumers believe banks will not pass on the savings realized from bankruptcy reform to consumers by means of lower rates or fees.

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TrackPower Deploys First ATM

TrackPower, Inc. announced Friday that the company has signed a three year contract with Elmira Raceway of Elmira, Ontario, for the deployment of its first ATM. Elmira’s ATM has been installed and is being operated by TrackPower’s partner, 4Cash ATM Services Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Wireless Ventures, Inc. as part of an exclusive global agreement between 4Cash and Trackpower.

Mr. Hardave Gill, President of TrackPower, stated, “This is an exciting opportunity for TrackPower. We look forward to building upon this initial contract and aggressively growing the revenues of the company.” He added, “We are very excited to be working with Elmira, as it is a popular track and is open year round for simulcasting. As Elmira is expected to move to a new facility in Elora, Ontario, with 199 slot machines, we realize the potential of this contract and are working to capitalize on the opportunity to place our information kiosks and additional ATMs.”

Elmira Raceway is a half-mile harness track located in Elmira, Ontario, which is approximately one hour west of Toronto, Canada. The track operates live racing from April through October, and offers simulcasting year-round. The track is home to the Battle of Waterloo two-year old stake race and numerous Ontario Sires Stakes events.

TrackPower, Inc. maintains an Exclusive Worldwide Distribution Agreement with Post Time Technologies, Inc. for their RaceVision(TM) Kiosk product when combined with an ATM. Through this Agreement, TrackPower combines leading-edge kiosk technology with ATM’s to effectively deploy turn-key integrated information services at racetracks, OTB’s, and other gaming facilities. The RaceVision(TM) kiosk and ATM systems combine to deliver information, cash, advertising content, loyalty programs, integrated race information, entries and results, live and archived video, e-commerce and other future applications. TrackPower’s ATM’s are supplied and operated by 4Cash ATM Services Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Wireless Ventures, Inc. (OTCBB: WLSV) as part of an exclusive global agreement between 4Cash and Trackpower.

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Rewards Card Study

What reward programs do consumers really value? What can you do to boost returns from your reward program investments? These questions will be the focal point of a new Dove Consulting study-the most comprehensive research on card-based reward and loyalty programs ever to be conducted-with findings to be released in the late fall.

“In today’s challenging economy, it’s important for the return on loyalty programs to deliver strong results,” says Dove director Ann Schmitt, who is leading the study. “It’s a hot topic for companies throughout the financial services, retail, and advertising industries. Companies are scrutinizing their programs more heavily because of difficult economic conditions.”

“Our goal is to find out what consumers really value, and what will drive card sign up and use,” says Schmitt. Sponsors of the research will receive Dove’s analysis and a CD of the primary data findings, enabling them to benchmark their programs against changing consumer preferences as well as competitive offerings. A partial list of questions to be answered by the study include:

* What card rewards do consumer value most?

* How do these rewards compare to the value consumers place on other card features?

* Where do card fees and interest rates fit in?

* What card rewards drive penetration, activation and usage?

* How do consumers hear about reward programs and what claims do they find the most believable?

Findings on these and other questions will be of particular value to the financial services, retail, and advertising industries.

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ABNH 2Q/01

American Bank Note Holographics, Inc., a world leader in the origination, production and marketing of holograms for security applications, today announced financial results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 2001.

Revenues for the second quarter of 2001 increased 12% to $5.1 million, compared with $4.6 million for the second quarter of 2000. Net income for the second quarter of 2001 was $0.2 million, or $0.01 per share, compared with net income of $0.1 million, or $0.01 per share for the second quarter of 2000. Revenues for the first six months of 2001 increased 7% to $10.3 million, from $9.6 million for the comparable period in 2000. Net income for the first six months of 2001 was $0.5 million, or $0.03 per share, compared with net income of $0.4 million, or $0.03 per share, for the first six months of 2000.

Kenneth H. Traub, president and CEO of ABNH, commented, “We are pleased to report continued improvement in our financial performance particularly as we continued to invest in new product development and marketing for each of our target markets during the second quarter. We believe these investments will stimulate our long term revenue and profit growth as we address the increasing demand for effective security solutions for the manufacturers and issuers of transaction cards, valuable documents, ID cards, pharmaceuticals and branded goods.”

About American Bank Note Holographics, Inc.

American Bank Note Holographics is a world leader in the origination, production, and marketing of holograms. The Company’s products are used primarily for security applications such as counterfeiting protection and authentication of transaction cards, identification cards, documents of value, consumer and industrial products as well as for packaging and design applications. ABNH is headquartered in Elmsford, NY. For more information, visit [www.abnh.com][1]

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

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Canadian Tire MasterCard Drives Growth

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited reported second quarter consolidated net earnings of $53.4 million, compared to the $49.0 million recorded in 2000, an 8.9 per cent increase. Earnings before interest expense, income tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) also rose 8.9 per cent to $142.8 million from $131.1 million in the second quarter last year. Earnings per share for the quarter were $0.67, up 8.5 per cent from the $0.62 per share recorded in 2000.

“I am pleased to report that Canadian Tire Retail experienced exceptionally strong comparable store sales in a very challenging economic environment. During the quarter we also achieved double digit growth in total retail sales. These results reflect not only very strong seasonal sales, but also healthy increases across all of our key merchandising categories. In particular, we experienced very strong sales of non-promotional merchandise. Our results also reflect significant achievements in our focus on improving productivity and implementing strategic initiatives,” said Wayne Sales, president and chief executive officer. “All of our businesses contributed to our earnings performance during the quarter, including Retail, Financial Services and Petroleum,” Sales added.

Canadian Tire Associate Dealers reported strong second quarter retail sales up 12.9 per cent, a testament to customer acceptance of CTR’s product offering and a return to normal summer weather conditions compared to the same period last year. Comparable store sales increased by 7.0 per cent, the strongest quarterly increase in over seven years.

Major factors contributing to improvements in consolidated pre-tax earnings included a 12.0 per cent increase in pre-tax earnings in Financial Services reflecting cost reductions and productivity improvements, and a significant increase in pre-tax earnings in Petroleum. Increased shipments and revenues in Canadian Tire Retail helped offset the significant investments in growth initiatives. Increased expenses associated with these initiatives reduced pre-tax earnings during the quarter by $4 million for the continued development of CTR’s e-Commerce offering and $2 million for PartSource. The net result was a 1.9 per cent pre-tax earnings increase in CTR.

Canadian Tire finished the first six months with consolidated net earnings of $82.1 million, up 12.2 per cent from a year earlier. Earnings per share were $1.04, an 11.7 per cent increase over the first half of 2000. First half results reflect increased earnings in all businesses as well as the $8 million first quarter pre-tax gain on the sale of the third-party credit card receivables business in Financial Services.

Consolidated gross operating revenue for the second quarter was $1,499.3 million, up 7.2 per cent from the $1,398.2 million recorded in 2000. Major factors included strong retail sales contributing to a 7.3 per cent increase in shipments at Canadian Tire Retail, complemented by a 10.4 per cent increase in gross operating revenue in Petroleum. Revenues in Financial Services for the quarter were down 1.8 per cent, reflecting reduced revenue contributions due to the sale in the first quarter of the third-party receivables business. Consolidated gross operating revenue for the first half of 2001 was $2,634.6 million, an increase of 5.3 per cent over the $2,502.5 million recorded in the same period last year.

OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

– Construction of the new Calgary Distribution Centre building has been substantially completed and handed off to Canadian Tire and GENCO, the third-party operator of this facility. Integration and system testing is underway and the Distribution facility will be fully operational commencing in the first quarter of 2002. This represents a key milestone in the development of the Corporation’s more cost-effective regional replenishment and multi-channel distribution system.

– Vendor supply chain service levels to the Corporation reached a record high during the second quarter. Service levels from the distribution centres to Canadian Tire Associate Stores were up 103 basis points over the same period last year.

– As part of the Customer Values initiative, web-based learning technology has been introduced in more than 90 per cent of Canadian Tire stores, with more than 100 learning modules in production delivering product knowledge and customer service training for store staff.

– Consumer traffic to www.canadiantire.ca, including unique visitors, continues to be very strong and Canadian Tire’s web store is one of the top ten e-Commerce sites in Canada.

– 12 new-format stores were opened during the quarter, bringing to 249 the total number of new-format stores that have been opened since the rebuilding program was initiated in 1994.

– PartSource completed the conversion and integration of Auto Village/Drivers stores to the PartSource format and banner.

– Financial Services made significant progress in its continued expansion of the Options MasterCard portfolio and average balances and ancillary credit products benefited during the quarter as a result.

“Canadian Tire’s quarterly results indicate that our aggressive approach to growing our business and reducing costs is paying off, and at the same time we are putting in place a strong foundation for our future growth and shareholder returns,” noted Sales.

STRATEGIC REVIEW

Canadian Tire is committed to continually improving near-term earnings and performance by continuing to invest in existing programs which are designed to increase total and comparable store sales and to significantly reduce costs. At the same time, Canadian Tire is in the process of undertaking a comprehensive strategic review of the Corporation’s businesses and opportunities for long-term growth. The Corporation plans to communicate the direction of its Strategic Plan in late September.

OUTLOOK

The Corporation reaffirms its outlook for an increase in gross operating revenues in the range of six to eight per cent in 2001 and to increase consolidated net earnings in the range of seven to nine per cent. This excludes any gain from the securitization of credit charge receivables. Effective July 1, 2001, the Corporation adopted the new recommendations issued by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Accounting Guideline 12 “Transfers of Receivables”. As a result of the adoption of the new accounting rules, the Corporation will realize a gain of approximately $8 million to $9 million before taxes in the third quarter of 2001.

DIVIDENDS

On August 2, 2001 the Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.10 per share on each Common and Class A Non-Voting share. The dividend is payable on December 1, 2001 to holders of record on October 31, 2001.

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited (TSE: CTR.a, CTR) – the country’s most shopped retailer – offers a unique mix of products and services through three distinct, yet inter-related businesses. Canadian Tire Retail and the Associate Dealers together form one of Canada’s best-known and most successful retailers, offering customers the convenience and leadership of three specialty stores under one roof – Automotive, Sports and Leisure, and Home Products. Canadian Tire Retail recently launched www.canadiantire.ca, offering Canadians a brand new way for customers to shop online for automotive, sports, leisure and home products. Canadian Tire Financial Services manages related financial products and services for retail and petroleum customers, and also markets other value-added products to our customers. Canadian Tire Petroleum is one of the country’s largest independent retailers of gasoline, with 203 outlets. With 443 Canadian Tire Associate Stores serving communities nationwide, Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited and the Associate Dealers together employ more than 38,000 Canadians.

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