Credit Tightening

Credit card issuers are continuing to tighten underwriting standards as the economy stagnates. The OCC’s seventh annual ‘Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices’ found that underwriting standards tightened more significantly during the 12 months covered by the 2001 survey than in either of the previous two years. The research showed that 32% of the banks tightened retail standards, while 20% eased standards. Banks cited the economic outlook as the most frequently cited reason for tightening standards, followed closely by change in risk appetite and product performance/portfolio quality. Examiners also reported that the level of inherent portfolio credit risk increased in the past year. Last month, the Federal Reserve found that one-fifth of banks reported they had tightened standards on credit card loans during the first quarter, compared with 12% in the fourth quarter. In addition, 19% of survey respondents, on net, reduced credit limits on these loans. The ‘May 2001 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices’ found that expected future increases in consumer delinquency rates were the main reason cited for changing consumer-lending policies. (CF Library 5/15/01; 5/18/01)

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USTT Signs Betson

USA Technologies, Inc. has teamed with Betson Enterprises, one of the United States’ largest distributors to the vending and entertainment industry, to immediately begin selling its e-Port intelligent vending technology.

USA Technologies announced Thursday that Betson Enterprises was the latest, and the biggest distributor to sign on as an authorized reseller of the e-Port(TM) family of offerings. Last week, USA Technologies announced that five new distributors had joined the authorized reseller program, bringing the total number of distributors in the program to more than twenty worldwide. USA Technologies’ network of resellers now spans the American and Canadian market, and major overseas geographies, including Europe, the UK, and the Asia Pacific region.

Betson Enterprises is considered one of the biggest manufacturers and distributors in the United States covering a variety of growing and competitive industries, including vending machines, interactive video games, redemption games, and other high skilled and innovative entertainment and services technology. Betson Enterprises is also backed by a global marketing organization with proven import and export experience, and important parts and supply strengths.

“e-Port with its credit card payment capability allows customers to conduct cashless transactions, including microtransactions for as low as $1.00. This offers consumers and vending machine operators added convenience and simplicity,” said Steven Betti, CEO, Betson Enterprises. “It overcomes the need for coins and notes, strengthens security, and provides streamlined auditing control. The interactive multimedia display that comes with e-Port will allow vending operators the ability to provide promotional product information, opening up greater opportunities for us to sell more vending machines,” he said.

Betson Enterprises is made up of 10 distributorships, a wholesale supplier of coin-operated parts and billiard supplies, an export division, and an equipment wholesale division that sells products to other distributors. Included among its list of suppliers are: Games – Sega, Stern, Dynamo, Namco, Konami, Jessler, Merit, Coastal, JVL, Skee-Ball, U-wink, Apple Photo, Smart and Elaut. Vending – Automatic Products, Automated Merchandising Systems, Dixie-Narco, Royal Vendors, Vendo, Vendtronics, Fastcorp, Zanussi, USI, Appart, American Changers, Rowe, Mars, Coinco, Conlux, Amana, and Panasonic.

“Betson Enterprises is an ideal strategic partner for distributing our e-Port family of offerings worldwide,” said Stephen P. Herbert, President and Chief Operating Officer, USA Technologies, Inc. “Betson Enterprises has the global experience and presence to deliver e-Port quickly and efficiently to all our customers, wherever they are located, whatever industry they serve. USA Technologies will work closely with our new partner to leverage e-Port technology to add value to their customers and to drive Betson’s business results,” he said.

The USA Technologies Authorized Reseller Program was launched a little more than a year ago. It offers USA Technologies greater distribution of its technology, new marketplace opportunities and expanded distribution channels worldwide. USA Technologies expects to more than double the number of authorized resellers to fifty by year’s end, and to have more than one hundred distributing e-Port by the end of 2002.

e-Port is the world’s first non-PC e-commerce device that can be embedded into vending machines, and almost any kind of point-of-sale terminal, including gas pumps, office equipment, postage machines, and ATMs. The technology converts unattended points of sale terminals into intelligent “store fronts” connected to the Internet. The solution is capable of communicating operational data to operators, conducting cashless micro-transactions and providing interactive media at point of sale. The e-Port can come fitted with an interactive video screen that features rotating banner advertisements, giving customers the opportunity to make add on purchases, and location owners the ability to promote and advertise products and services, and provide free access to web based media such as news, sports and weather.

About USA Technologies:

USA Technologies is recognized as a leader in cashless micro transactions and interactive media technology and associated financial services. USA Technologies provides credit card activated and other cashless systems, allowing end users, ranging from consumers to business professionals, to communicate, conduct business or make ordinary commerce transactions, outside of the home or workplace. USA Technologies is an IBM (NYSE: IBM – news) Business Partner and an inaugural member of the Sprint (NYSE: FON – news) Enabling Application Service Provider Program for e-commerce. It has also established relationships with a number of global IT, multimedia, and telecommunications companies including Marconi Online Systems, RadiSys Corporation, DoubleClick Inc., and Xerox Corporation. Visit the USA Technologies home page at [www.usatech.com][1].

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

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IQ Multiplex

Global Card Services has implemented several credit card management services for the travel & entertainment industry powered by the ‘Sybase Adaptive Server IQ Multiplex’. ‘IQ Multiplex’ is a high-performance, relational database that provides scalable e-business intelligence for Web-enabled data warehousing. GCS uses ‘IQ Multiplex’ technology to process information for all of its online credit card applications. These applications allow merchants to process payments and quickly review transactions when refund requests occur. The combined GCS/Sybase solution creates efficiencies and reduces costs associated with credit card chargebacks, customer inquiries, processing fees and account reconciliation.

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LML – Phoenix Update

LML Payment Systems Inc. announces it has entered into an amending agreement with respect to its purchase of Phoenix EPS Inc. on July 9, 2000. As part of that transaction, the Corporation agreed to certain price protection covenants for the benefit of the former shareholders of Phoenix EPS that involved the further issuance of additional common shares of the Corporation. Rather than having the former shareholders of Phoenix EPS sell all their original shares and then exercise the price protection mechanism, the Corporation has agreed to issue an additional 679,134 shares of the Corporation’s common stock to the former shareholders of Phoenix EPS Inc.

The Corporation’s common shares issued pursuant to the Amending Agreement are being issued as restricted securities and may only be resold under Rule 144 as currently in effect or, alternatively, registration under the 1933 Act or in compliance with another exemption from registration requirements.

“The original price protection mechanism was predicated in part, on the former Phoenix shareholders selling all of the LML shares they had received in the original transaction and then being issued new additional shares based upon a present share value significantly lower than the original share value. This amendment satisfies our obligations regarding price protection and is something we believe to be in the current and future best interests of all our shareholders,” said Corporation President and CEO, Patrick H. Gaines.

The Corporation, through its subsidiary LML Payment Systems Corp., is a financial payment processor providing end-to-end check processing solutions including Electronic Check Conversion (whereby paper checks are converted into electronic transactions), electronic check verification, electronic check re-presentment (whereby returned paper checks are re-presented for payment electronically), and primary and secondary check collection to supermarkets, grocery stores, multilane retailers, convenience stores and other national, regional and local retailers. We also specialize in providing selective routing, including real-time monitoring of check, debit, credit and EBT transactions for authorization and settlement through our flagship transaction processing product REPS (Retail Electronic Payment System). The Corporation’s intellectual property estate, owned by subsidiary LML Patent Corp, includes new U.S. Patent No. 6,164,528 regarding Internet checking transactions, in addition to U.S. Patent No. 5,484,988 which describes a “Checkwriting point of sale system,” which, through a centralized database and authorization system, is capable of providing and administering various electronic payment services for customers and businesses. Also included in our intellectual property estate is a recently received Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a new patent based upon United States Patent Application Serial No. 09/562,303. The new patent describes corporate checks and electronic fund transfers (EFT) and relates to existing U.S. Patent No. 6,164,528 and U.S. Patent No. 5,484,988 (described above).

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Dash Award

Euronet Worldwide, a leading provider of secure electronic financial transaction solutions, was recognized as having one of the best records for transaction processing and highest service by the PULSE EFT Association, the leading financial industry-owned and operated electronic funds transfer network in the United States.

Dash, Euronet’s U.S.-based EFT processor, has processed transactions for the Houston-based regional network since 1996.

The Dash network, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded the Premier Processor Award by PULSE for transaction authorization performance and service availability that averaged 99.95% during 2000. PULSE monitors the levels of each data processing organization linked to the PULSE Switch and recognizes the top five performers. Dash rated in the top three.

“We are thrilled to receive this honor,” said Kenny Kerr, Euronet Vice President and President of Dash. “We are especially proud in light of the special challenges that we faced in 2000. Even though we moved our data center during a snow storm, our talented and experienced network operations team was able to keep the data center running smoothly the whole time.”

About Euronet Worldwide

Euronet Worldwide is an industry leader in providing secure electronic financial transaction solutions. The company offers financial payment middleware, financial network gateways, outsourcing and consulting services to financial institutions and mobile operators. These solutions enable their customers to access personal financial information and perform secure financial transactions — any time, any place. The company has processing centers located in the United States, Europe and Asia, and owns and operates the largest independent ATM network in Europe. With corporate headquarters in Leawood, Kansas, U.S.A., and European headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, Euronet serves more than 200 clients in 60 countries. Visit our web site at www.euronetworldwide.com.

About PULSE

PULSE is a financial industry-owned, not-for-profit EFT network, linking an estimated 60 million cardholders with more than 76,500 ATMs and 300,000 POS merchant locations throughout the United States, processing 700 million transactions annually. Its members include more than 2,700 banks, credit unions, and savings and loans in a 22-state service area blanketing the central, south, midwest, and southwest regions of the United States.

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E-Commerce

According to results of the inaugural ‘Yahoo!/ACNielsen Internet Confidence Index’, more than four out of 10 U.S.-based Internet users intend to purchase online during the next three months, and will spend an estimated $9.9 billion via the Web during that period of time. Regionally, Internet users in the Northeast exhibit generally higher confidence in e-commerce overall, especially in regard to delivery of goods purchased, price comparison tools and the ability to find better prices online. Internationally, 76% of all British home Internet users recently visited an e-tailing Web site compared to 74% of U.S. home Internet users, according to data gathered by Paris-based NetValue. The Yahoo!/ACNielsen study showed that the main motivators driving online purchasing in the U.S. are the ability to get a wide array of product information, the ability to compare prices, and product selection. Consumers rated comfort with using a credit card online and disclosure of personal information as the biggest barriers, but also revealed that they are relatively confident that the goods they order online will be delivered properly. Convenience does not appear to be a significant motivator to online shopping, and consumers are less confident in their ability to find better prices online. Comparing heavy Internet users (daily use) with light Internet users, overall confidence among heavy users is driven by higher confidence in online credit card use, convenience, availability of information and proper delivery of goods, as well as the ability to compare prices. While men and women indexed similarly in most attributes, men have more confidence that they will find lower prices online. Among previous online purchasers, nearly seven out of 10 people intend to purchase over the next three months. On average, purchasers will spend an estimated $184 each during the same time period. (CF Library 6/25/01)

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SecureSuite

As VISA rolls out ‘Visa Payer Authentication’ and MasterCard’ introduces ‘Secure Payment Application’ , NY-based Cyota yesterday unveiled an integrated online payment security platform designed to seamlessly integrate a wide range of authentication, association and credit card security products into a single, consistent user experience. Cyota’s ‘SecureSuite’ guarantees that an issuer’s brand is not diluted online since it offers a single backend integration flexible enough to allow banks to implement new association initiatives in any order and at their own pace. ‘SecureSuite’ was developed after working with multiple issuers in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and was designed to work with the different legacy systems and security protocols of global issuers.

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CREDIT DECISIONING

Equifax Inc. and Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. announced an
agreement to offer lending institutions in Brazil a one-stop solution to reach
the country’s most credit-worthy consumers, as an expansion of the two
companies’ strategic partnership.

The agreement will provide Brazilian businesses and credit grantors with a
range of credit granting (also known as “decisioning”) tools that allow
lenders to assess credit risk and cross-sell multiple lines of credit. The
first of these offerings, which will be available in the fourth quarter of
2001, will access credit information from Equifax, deliver scores developed by
Fair, Isaac and enable lenders to establish proprietary risk management
strategies.

Equifax information and Experto(TM) decisioning technologies will be
integrated with Fair, Isaac’s LiquidCredit(TM) — its Web-enabled credit
decisioning solution — so that lenders may offer instant credit to consumers.
This service also will empower lenders to convert one-time transactions into
financial relationships with customers — a strategic advantage for businesses
seeking to establish a long-term consumer and commercial franchise.

“The power of this partnership — combining superior Equifax information
with Fair, Isaac analytics and our shared technologies — will provide our
customers with the most advanced credit decisioning tools available in the
world,” said Tom Chapman, chairman and chief executive officer of Equifax.
“Our ability to provide these services to lenders will further our mutual
reputation for leadership in the Brazilian credit market, ease the process of
determining credit worthiness and help top lenders rapidly build market
share.”

This exclusive partnership is a major commitment of dedicated resources by
both companies, leveraging their combined strengths to offer credit granting
products and services for Brazil’s rapidly growing consumer and commercial
credit markets.

Tom Grudnowski, chief executive officer of Fair, Isaac, believes this
partnership has far reaching implications “We view this as an opportunity to
create a sea change in availability of credit for consumers and businesses.
This will lead to growth in e-commerce, finance, retail, telecommunications,
insurance and a host of other industries,” he said. “This is just the first
step we’re taking with Equifax to expand the potential of this market.”

Brazil’s vibrant economy and young population make the country an
outstanding market for Equifax and Fair, Isaac. According to the Banco
Nacional de Desenbolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES), the chief federal
agency for long-term funding aimed at promoting Brazil’s development, Brazil
is the sixth most highly populated country in the world with a population of
165 million. Almost 60 percent of the population is under the age of 30. With
a dynamic and fast growing Gross Domestic Product, currently at US$786
billion, Brazil is spawning increasing growth in income proceeds, resulting
from the sharp drop in the inflation rate from 20 percent in 1999 to nine
percent in 2000.

About Fair, Isaac

Fair, Isaac and Company is a global provider of customer analytics and
decision technology. Widely recognized for its pioneering work in credit
scoring, Fair, Isaac revolutionized the way lending decisions are made. Today
the company helps clients in multiple industries increase the value of
customer relationships. Fair, Isaac has made the Forbes list of the top 200
U.S. small companies eight times in the last nine years.

About Equifax

Equifax enables and secures global commerce through its information
management, consumer credit, marketing services, business information,
authentication and e-commerce businesses. As the leader in information
services, Equifax adds value wherever customers do business, including the
financial services, retail, telecommunications/utilities, information
technology, brokerage, insurance and business lending industries and
government. Equifax also enlightens, enables and empowers consumers to manage
and protect their financial health with services offered at http//www.equifax.com .
The company ranked in the top five in return on equity among Business Week’s
Best Performers for 2001. Equifax employs 12,000 in 18 countries, has sales
in 50 countries and has $2 billion in revenue.

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PORTOS CARD

Proton World announced today that Dexia Bank had become a Proton licensee in Belgium and had launched its “Portos” smart card system for schools.

Having witnessed the launch of the first ever Proton-based card system in 1995, Belgium is now the site of a pilot test of Portos, a smart card system that uses the Proton multiple-application smart card technology in a Windows/NT™host system to deliver electronic payment and access control services to schoolchildren.

Schools in many countries are anxious to eliminate cash from day-to-day use the school administrators spend a lot of time counting it, checking it and storing and transporting it securely; it causes problems of bullying and petty theft among the pupils, and parents are unable to control how their children spend it. Proton on a Portos card is a simple, secure and convenient means of making the small, everyday payments required in schools (for example for lunch, snacks, drinks, stationery and books) and also for contolling access to certain buildings (e.g. bicycle sheds), rooms (e.g. library) or databases.

Each school has a special account at Dexia Bank, into which the parents or guardians of its pupils transfer funds from their bank accounts, quoting their child’s unique reference number, which directs the funds to the individual “virtual account” for that child. The school personalises each card to an individual pupil and, when the pupil puts the card in one of the Portos load terminals, the value from the virtual account is loaded onto the card in an on-line transaction. The pupil then spends the value off-line and re-loads the card as required. When the payments are collected by the school, a payments log is created, which can be sent to the pupils parents or guardians on request. When a pupil reaches the end of his or her time at a school, the card is returned, the virtual account is closed, and the card is re-personalised for another pupil.

The Portos system was initially piloted in two schools, one in Brussels and one in Tournai, with encouraging results. In both cases, cash was completely eliminated from the schools by making Portos the only accepted means of payment. The school buys the cards, the load terminals and the payment terminals from Dexia

Bank, and is encouraged to charge a deposit for each card, which makes the pupils look after them and covers the cost of any replacements.

Dexia Bank is now targeting all 850 state secondary schools in Belgium, and is also looking at the possibility of introducing Portos to other closed user groups, such as hospitals, old people’s homes and prisons. The Portos system is confined to closed user groups, and, although based on the same Proton technology, does not interoperate with Proton, the Belgian national e-purse system, operated by Banksys.

Gilles Orts, Portos Project Manager at Dexia Bank, said “We are confident that, once the first few schools have adopted Portos, it will rapidly take off in Belgium. Satisfied and enthusiastic customers, after all, are better than any advertising. We have enjoyed working with the Proton World project team during the pilot and look forward to continued co-operation as the roll-out begins.”

Guy Verniers, Vice-President, EMEA Sales at Proton World, said “Closed user groups such as these schools are a target potential growth area for us, especially as they tend to cluster over a large geographical area, and can totally exclude cash, which is often not possible in larger premises. We wish Dexia every success in the Portos project.”

Notes for Editors

DEXIA BANK – A major player on the European banking scene

A precursor in the field of cross-border mergers, Dexia is an authentically European banking group, in terms of both the structure of its management and the scope of its different businesses. Dexia is listed in Brussels, Paris and Luxembourg. Backed by a stock market capitalization of more than 18.9 billion euros on December 31, 2000, Dexia ranks in the top third of the list of Euronext 100 companies. Rated AAA, AA, Aa1 and AA+, the Dexia group has one of the best credit standings in the world.

The group’s ambitions

Dexia has chosen to operate in only a few businesses, i.e. those in which the group is capable of providing top-grade services to its clients while respecting the strictest standards in terms of risk and profitability; those in which the group is already a leader or in which it can legitimately hope to attain a significant position.

·project and public finance and financial services for local governments and corporate clients

When it was created, Dexia set itself the ambition of becoming the world leader in the public finance sector. Since then, the group has expanded significantly from a geographic point of view, through internal growth and acquisitions or alliances, a movement which was crowned in 2000 by the acquisition of Financial Security Assurance (FSA) in the United States. Having achieved its objective, Dexia now has a global position which will allow it, to an even greater extent, to develop in areas of growth without ever compromising its objectives of profitability.

·retail financial services

Dexia is a major player in Belgium in retail banking, in particular through its network of almost 1,000 independent branch managers who provide many opportunities for the placement of savings products. Dexia will pursue its development in the important region of Europe Benelux represents, in particular by expanding the range of its bancassurance products in order to continue to increase its market share.

·investment management services (private banking, asset management and fund administration)

At the level of its domestic market, and particularly since the acquisition of Banque Labouchere in the Netherlands, Dexia occupies a significant position in the field of financial management (private banking, asset management and investment fund administration). Dexia’s results in this sector already compare very favorably with those of its main competitors. The bank’s ambition now targets this sector, in which it aims to rank among Europe’s leading banking groups over the long term.

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LARGEST ACQUIRER

Global Payments Inc. announced it has agreed to acquire National Bank of Canada’s Merchant
Services business and form a ten-year alliance for marketing merchant payment-
related products and services to National Bank’s customers. This transaction,
which is subject to normal Canadian regulatory approvals, will make Global
Payments the largest publicly traded, independent MasterCard and Visa acquirer
in Canada and will give Global Payments the capability to provide Canadian
businesses one source for all of their Visa, MasterCard, debit and other
payment processing requirements.

Global Payments is a leading North American payment processing and
merchant acquiring company. It expects the merchant services acquisition and
marketing alliance with National Bank, Canada’s second largest merchant
MasterCard acquirer and a leading Canadian online debit acquirer, to
complement its existing Canadian customer portfolio and significantly broaden
its presence in Canada. National Bank of Canada processes over 225 million
transactions per year for over 73,000 merchant locations throughout Canada
with referrals from National Bank’s 600 branch locations. With this
transaction, Global Payments has now expanded its Canadian distribution
channel to over 1,700 bank branches nationwide.

“It is important to Canadian merchants that they have enhanced convenience
and simplicity for all of their credit and debit processing needs, including
the ability to deal with one company for both MasterCard and Visa acceptance,”
said Global Payments’ President and CEO, Paul R. Garcia. “This transaction
also marks another key milestone in our Canadian growth strategy targeted
towards enhancing revenue and earnings growth opportunities.”

“National Bank is committed to meeting the needs of its customers,
including their requirement to have access to strong card-payment solutions,”
said Real Raymond, President – Personal and Commercial Bank at the National
Bank. “Creating this alliance with Global Payments, a recognized industry
leader, ensures that our merchants will enjoy the benefits of even more
merchant products and services designed to help them run their business simply
and efficiently.”

Global Payments Inc. is a leading provider of electronic transaction
processing services to merchants, Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs),
financial institutions, government agencies and multi-national corporations
located throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Global
Payments offers a comprehensive line of payment solutions, including credit
and debit cards, business-to-business purchasing cards, gift cards, check
guarantee, check verification and recovery, terminal management and funds
transfer services.

National Bank of Canada (Toronto NA) is an integrated group whose mission
is to provide comprehensive financial services to consumers, small and medium
sized enterprises and large corporations in its core market, while offering
specialized services to its customers elsewhere in the world. It has assets of
over $76 billion and, together with its subsidiaries, employs some 16,700
people. The Bank’s shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Citizens Sale

After being in the credit card business for 48 years MI-based Citizens Bank is throwing in the towel. Citizens confirmed yesterday it is selling its portfolio to MBNA and entering into an agent relationship. According to the last report filed by Citizens to CardData (www.carddata.com), the bank had approximately $25 million in receivables and about 50,000 gross accounts. Citizens says the credit card business has become more volume, marketing, and technology driven, and banks need a portfolio of substantial size to compete and achieve the necessary profitability and return.

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A BETTER SMILE

smile, the Internet bank, has redesigned its website and won instant approval from hundreds of customers and Gomez, the respected, independent, Internet assessment house set up to assess the service offered by on-line banks.

The new look site enables smile’s 350,000 plus account holders to go straight to their account details if they wish while those visiting the site for the first time are still made to feel at home.

Ed Bowie, of Gomez wrote on its website http//www.uk.gomez.com “Early indications suggest that smile’s new look site offers a greater range of features and furthermore downloads more quickly.

“In addition to these performance improvements the appearance of the site has been modified. The garish colours have been toned down and the Cheshire cat and friends have been removed to create a more functional look and feel. Roll-over html is employed to assist navigation and additional features include the new DIY area containing savings and budget calculators and other tools.”

smile’s Chief Executive Bob Head said “Changing anything is a risky business. Being human we do not like change. I always thought that people are more likely to complain than praise but we are currently getting overwhelmingly positive comments.

“The changes have been made for a number of reasons. We wanted the site to faster, be easier to navigate, have more help and be fun and provocative. We appreciate that fun and banking aren’t traditionally associated with each other but we want to change all that.”

The changes don’t affect smile’s accreditation to BS7799 – the British Standard for Information Security Management. And customer details are still protected by 128-bit encryption and many other security features.

Mr Head said “In many ways the website is the bank so any changes are only made following very careful thought and after listening to customer comments.

“When we launched smile 18 months ago everyone visiting us was a first time visitor. However, since then we have attracted more than 350,000 account holders who come to the site on a regular basis to do their everyday banking. Therefore, it must be easy for them to navigate while still acting as a brochure for people new to smile.”

smile, from The Co-operative Bank, is a purpose-built Internet bank, which offers customers a comprehensive range of banking products. If smile customers are temporarily unable to access the Internet for any reason, they can use smile’s dedicated 24-hour a day, seven day a week, service centre, which is staffed by the bank’s own fully-trained people.

Last July, Gomez chose smile as the best on-line bank in the UK. In the two subsequent quarters (October 2000 and February 2001) smile has maintained its number one position, despite increased competition

smile remains the only on-line bank in the world to have been awarded the British Standard BS7799 for Internet security.

In addition to a very competitive interest rate on their current account – 4.07 per cent gross AER on all credit balances – other benefits smile customers are grinning about include

· an automatic, no-fee, £500 authorised overdraft, with a market-leading rate of just 9.9 per cent.

· a special current account for students, with a totally free overdraft of up to £2,000, and 4.07 per cent gross AER on all credit balances.

· current account holders taking out a credit card pay a standard rate of just 9.9 per cent APR, and also enjoy up to 46 days’ free credit.

· personal loans with a typical APR of just 9.5 per cent.

· a cash mini ISA paying 6.00 per cent per annum – guaranteed to remain 0.75 above Base Rate until at least New Year 2002, and it fully meets the CAT standards.

· current account holders opening a smile no-notice savings account receive 5.25 per cent gross on every pound in their account.

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