Paymentech Gets HotelTools

HotelTools, Inc., a company specializing in technology solutions for the hospitality industry, has announced its partnership with Paymentech, the nation’s leading acquirer and processor of credit card transactions. The alliance provides credit card and payment processing solutions within HotelTools’ Enterprise Management Solution, the company’s suite of Internet-Native application services comprised of Property Management, Reservations, Guest Management and Reporting. HotelTools’ industry-leading ASP solution provides hotel owners and operators with the tools to manage multiple properties, rates and relationships in real time.

Specifically designed to meet hoteliers’ needs, Paymentech’s Hospitality Solutions include a wide variety of back-end functionality including credit/debit card authorization, transaction processing and comprehensive reporting, as well as expanded payment options and competitive discount rates.

According to Mario Dittmer, Director of Strategic Relationships for Paymentech, “Our partnership with HotelTools allows us to extend our offerings within an ASP solution to our existing lodging customers and potential clients, as well as to bundle our services for the benefit of HotelTools’ customers.”

“As a valued third party partner, Paymentech provides HotelTools’ customers with a comprehensive technology solution for backend processing and value added information services,” stated Todd Sharp, Vice President of Global Solutions at HotelTools. “The addition of their credit, transaction and reporting solutions within our Enterprise suite is a winning combination. Through this partnership, our customers will have the option to unify their multi-property operations by leveraging the HotelTools application services together with select third party applications to better manage their business.”

About Paymentech

Dallas-based Paymentech, the payment solutions company, delivers secure and reliable electronic payment services in merchant acquiring and point-of-sale transaction processing. Paymentech ( ) processed approximately 3.4 billion transactions and $109 billion in bankcard sales volume in 2000. Founded in 1985, the nation’s premier processor and acquirer of credit card transactions is also the leader in non-face-to-face payment processing for Internet and direct marketing.

About HotelTools

HotelTools, Inc. has developed the first Internet Enterprise Software for the hospitality industry. As the lodging industry’s first ASP truly architected for the future, HotelTools leverages the Internet as a cost-effective communications network, giving hoteliers capabilities previously unavailable to most of the industry.


Smart Target

Smart payment cards in the U.S. got a big boost yesterday as a major retailer announced it will issue ‘smart VISA’ cards as well as install EMV-compliant smart card terminals throughout its chain of stores. MN-based Target Corporation will issue the new smart cards through its Retailers National Bank affiliate this Fall, and will deploy smart card POS terminals in all 990 Target Stores by the Spring of 2002. Target currently has 36.4 million retail credit card accounts according to CardData, and plans to convert millions of these accounts to ‘smart VISA’ cards. VISA says it expects Target to contribute significant growth to the number of ‘smart VISA’ cards issued in the U.S. Even though discussions are still underway, Target says it will focus on developing a loyalty function of the co-branded ‘smart VISA’ that could enable a cardholder to download electronic coupons onto the card from a PC. Target also expects to expand the functionality of its current rewards program offered under the ‘Target Guest Card’ program with the new smart card. The company currently operates 1,320 stores in 46 states including 990 Target stores, 266 Mervyn’s stores and 64 Marshall Field’s stores.


VisaNet Upgrade

VISA International’s Board of Directors has given the green light to build the next-generation of the ‘VisaNet’ system. Over the next five years, ‘VisaNet’ will be enhanced around a new framework called the ‘VisaNet Distributed Processing Solution’. VDPS will use a series of hardware, software, and connectivity upgrades to increase regional control and capacity. VDPS deployments will operate over an IP-based network, which is being implemented globally over the next three years. The VDPS framework allows easier scalability to accommodate the market needs of any region in the world, delivering cost-effective processing and global interoperability. ‘VisaNet’ processed more than $1.8 trillion in payments in 25 billion transactions last year.


New Metris Ops Cntr

Metris Companies Inc. announced plans to open a new operations center in Duluth, Minn., in October, and to add 150 jobs at its Minnetonka headquarters this fall. The hirings are expected to boost the company’s Minnesota employee count to more than 1,100 by early next year.

The new Duluth facility will serve as a collections center and will accommodate more than 200 collections representatives and management personnel by early 2002. Additional collections positions are expected to be hired at the site later in 2002. The operations center will be located at 4628 Mike Colalillo Drive in Duluth, in the 20,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by United Health Care. “The opening of our eighth location nationwide is another sign of the tremendous growth and success of Metris Companies,” said Ronald N. Zebeck, Metris Chairman and CEO. “As a Minnesota-based company, we’re proud to be expanding into the Duluth community, and we look forward to establishing Metris as a strong corporate citizen and employer of choice in this market. This move will positively impact the Duluth-area economy as well as our company’s collections operation, so it’s a win-win situation we’re very excited about.”

State Senator Doug Johnson was instrumental in recruiting Metris to the Duluth area. Representing District 6, located just north of Duluth, Johnson chairs the Minnesota State Senate Finance Committee and serves on the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and the Jobs, Housing and Community Development Committee, among others.

Duluth mayor Gary Doty and economic development official Mike McNamara also were influential in Metris’ decision to expand to Northeastern Minnesota. “We are thrilled to have an exceptional organization like Metris Companies expand to our community,” Mayor Doty said. “On behalf of our entire city government, I welcome Metris to Duluth and look forward to a long and dynamic association with our newest corporate citizen.” Metris to add jobs in Minnetonka

In related news, Metris also announced it would add more than 150 collections employees at its headquarters in suburban Minneapolis in September. Those positions will give Metris more than 900 Twin Cities employees.

“The Metris collections area continues to thrive and grow, and we’re excited to bring these new positions to our corporate headquarters, which still has plenty of room for expansion,” Zebeck said. “Creating so many new jobs, particularly here in our home state and our hometown, is very gratifying.” Applications are now being accepted for positions in both Duluth and Minnetonka. Resumes may be e-mailed to or mailed to Metris Staffing, 10900 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka, MN 55303. Interested candidates may also apply via the Metris Web site at, or by calling the Metris toll-free staffing line at 877-507-3365, Ext. 2 (Lisa). Metris Companies Inc. is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products and enhancement services. The company was recognized in September 2000 as one of “America’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies” by Fortune magazine. Based in Minnetonka, Minn., Metris also has operations in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Champaign, Ill.; White Marsh, Md.; and Tulsa, Okla. Metris currently employs approximately 4,200 people.


OPC in Kansas

Official Payments Corporation announced it has launched a new service that will allow Kansas taxpayers to file and pay their estimated taxes (Form K-40ES) by credit card over the Internet. Estimated tax payments are due in Kansas on April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th. Kansas citizens who use the service will not be required to file the traditional estimated tax paper form. Official Payments is authorized by the Internal Revenue Service to provide a similar service for federal individual estimated tax payments (IRS Form 1040-ES).

The new service expands Official Payments’ working agreement with the Kansas Department of Revenue. Prior to the expansion of the agreement, Official Payments collected tax-year 2000 balance due, balance due-prior year and retailers sales tax.

“It is gratifying when an existing client expands the scope of your business,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments Corp. “Thousands of Kansas taxpayers utilized our service in tax season 2000 when making their balance due payments. With the addition of the estimated category we can now service a substantial incremental market opportunity,” added Mr. Evans.

Kansas taxpayers can use the American Express(r) Card, Discover(r) Card, and MasterCard(r) to make their tax year 2000 balance due and tax year 2001 estimated payments by visiting on the Internet. Official Payments will charge taxpayers a convenience fee of 2.5% of their tax payment for the service. For example, a taxpayer who makes a $450 tax payment would be charged a total of $461.25; $450 for the tax payment, and a 2.5% fee, or $11.25, to cover the cost of the service. Taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs may, 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 800 county and municipal governments in 45 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 has experienced rapid and sustained growth over the past seven reported quarters in revenue, new client acquisition, and addition of incremental services to existing clients. The company’s success 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.


FDR Renews Popular

First Data Corp. announced its card processing subsidiary, First Data Resources, has signed a three-year contract renewal with Popular Bank & Trust, Ltd.

As the leading financial institution in the Dominican Republic, Popular Bank & Trust will partner with First Data to receive bankcard processing and other card portfolio management services until 2004. Popular Bank & Trust was one of the first Latin American banks to partner with First Data for card processing services in 1984.

“We are very pleased to continue our strategic partnership with First Data,” said Aylin Hung de Suarez, business division manager, Popular Bank & Trust. “As one of the leaders in the card processing industry, First Data provides the advanced technology, scale of resources, and dedicated service that helps us improve our profitability and meet the needs of our clients.”

In addition to Popular Bank & Trust, First Data processes for three leading financial institutions in Latin America. First Data also provides money transfer services to consumers through more than 176 Western Union® agent locations throughout the Dominican Republic.

“As First Data continues to enhance its international presence, we are pleased to renew our relationship with Popular Bank,” said Eula Adams, senior executive vice president and head of worldwide card operations for First Data. “For the past three decades, First Data has been committed to partnering with our issuing clients to deliver the advanced tools and technology needed to maintain and grow their portfolios in an increasingly competitive environment.”

First Data processes for 311 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 Popular Bank & Trust

Popular Bank & Trust, which previously operated as Banco Popular Dominicano (Panama), S.A. acquired Popular Bank & Trust Cayman credit card operations in November 2000. The Company is an established bank with an international license to provide services to clients throughout the Dominican Republic and Latin America. The company has total assets of U.S.$341.8 million.

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 30,000 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 104,000 locations in more than 186 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at


Ad Spending

CMR, the leading provider of strategic advertising and marketing communications information, announced first quarter advertising spending for the financial sector. Spending $75.8 million in advertising through the first quarter of 2001, Citigroup was the top ad spender in the financial industry. Behind Citigroup, FMR Corp. ranked second, spending $72.7 million. As for the top spending brands, Discover Card spent $34.9 million and Fidelity Investments spent $34.3 million. Overall, the financial sector showed considerable growth from the first quarter of 2000 ($1.48 billion) to the same time period of 2001 ($2.82 billion). This category?s increase of 47.6% outpaced the overall first quarter advertising expenditures, which decreased by 5.2%.

About CMR:

CMR, a Taylor Nelson Sofres company, offers strategic advertising intelligence to advertising agencies, advertisers, broadcasters and publishers. The company?s tracking technologies collect occurrence and expenditure data, as well as the creative executions of over 900,000 brands across 15 media. CMR is headquartered in New York City and maintains sales locations in major markets throughout the United States. For further information, visit

Through its international network of more than 150 offices in over 50 countries, Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) provides market information services in over 80 countries to national and multi-national organizations. It is ranked as the fourth largest market information group in the world. For further information, visit .


4Cash ATM Sale

Wireless Ventures, Inc. announced that it has finalized its Agreement to acquire 4Cash ATM Services a division of IRMG Inc., an Ontario Company located in Markham, Ontario.

In consideration for all of the 4Cash assets, Wireless Ventures shall issue to IRMG, 10 million common shares and 1.1 million five-year warrants to Mr. Stephen L. Cussons to purchase Wireless Ventures common shares at an exercise price of $0.10 per share. Subject to the achievement of certain net profit objectives, IRMG shall earn an additional 10 million common shares and 5 million three years warrants. Wireless Ventures has also entered into a three-year management services agreement with IRMG for the management of the company.

Effective immediately, Mr. Cussons shall be appointed Chairman, President and CEO of Wireless Ventures. Mr. Paul K. Hickey, Chairman and interim CEO has resigned as an Officer and Director. In addition Mr. Lawrence Fox, Mr. David O’Kell and Mr. Angelo MacDonald have also resigned as Directors. Mr. Cussons would like to express his gratitude to the outgoing board and management for the exceptional support and effort in completing this transaction. “I wish them well in their future endeavors.”

4Cash is involved in the marketing and management of automated teller machines (ATMs) and related services in Canada and the United States. 4Cash is in the final stages of signing a material contract to own and operate automated cash machines and kiosks to be placed in high profile locations throughout North America. In addition, IRMG management has identified a number of additional opportunities to increase the number of ATMs under management by new marketing agreements or acquisition. IRMG management has extensive experience in the North American ATM industry.

Mr. Cussons, incoming CEO of Wireless Ventures, stated, “The ATM and related products and services, plays an important role in the self-service solutions industry for retail and other market segments. Combined with strong strategic partners and a well-managed and aggressive business strategy, Wireless Ventures will undoubtedly position itself as a leader in this market space. We look forward to delivering to the shareholders of Wireless Ventures positive growth in all aspects of shareholder value.” Wireless Ventures, Inc. is a Delaware corporation whose shares are quoted on the NASD’s Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board under the symbol WLSV.


Catuity – Welcome

MI-based Catuity, Inc. announced Monday it will appeal the decision of the judge in the Federal Court of Australia in legal proceedings commenced by Welcome Real Time for patent infringement in Australia. Catuity has been advised by Australian legal counsel that the decision applies only to smart cards in Australia used in accordance with the patent claims. Catuity has obtained U.S. legal counsel opinion that states inter-alia that WRT has no counterpart U.S. patent issued and that the judge’s opinion on infringement is contrary to accepted rules of claim construction under U.S. patent law. The Federal Court of Australia ruled last month against Catuity and its Australian subsidiaries, Chip Application Technologies and CIT Cards (Australia) in a lawsuit filed last year by Welcome Real-time. Welcome claimed in the Court case that Catuity and its Australian subsidiaries had infringed its patent by operating the CiT Transcard system in Western Sydney from July 1997, and by offering to supply upgrades of the system since that time. (CF Library 5/18/01; 5/22/01)


Student Usage

A new survey by First USA found that approximately two-thirds of college students will pay their own credit card bills this fall, and that 23% of all purchases made by college students will be handled with credit cards. In conjunction with the release of the student survey, First USA also announced yesterday it will underwrite the college tuition costs for two innovative high school seniors from New Jersey. The two students launched an unprecedented campaign this year seeking corporate sponsorship for their college careers. First USA responded by selecting the two students as “student ambassadors” for First USA Bank, in exchange for college tuition at Pepperdine University and University of Southern California. One of the students wrote a book and launched a website, while the other student produced a CD and toured the East Coast with his band. First USA says its survey found that two out of five high school grads plan to carry a credit card with them to college and 63% will pay the bill themselves, while parents will cover the bill for 36%. First USA also found that 71% of this year’s 1.7 million college bound high school seniors will work part-time in their freshman year.


Accesspoint Gets Iced

Irvine, CA-based Accesspoint has selected Hypercom’s ‘epic’ and ‘ICE’ card payment terminals for integration with Accesspoint’s transaction processing and e-commerce suite of services. The purchase of Hypercom’s ‘ePOS-infocommerce’ suite of software will allow Accesspoint to add support for electronic signature and receipt capture, customized sales receipts with logos and automated coupons, promotional messages, and on-screen payment terminal advertising for merchants using Hypercom’s ‘ICE’ touch-screen based card payment terminals. The Company has also purchased Hypercom’s ‘Visual HDT’ C++ based developers software and has begun the development of next generation functional applications for merchant’s payment processing terminals. Accesspoint will also be deploying Hypercom’s ‘IEN 6000’ terminal servers within its network, which will allow for the routing of transactions from ‘ICE’ terminals located at merchant sites serviced by Accesspoint.