De La Rue Buys CSI

CSI, a high-speed currency sorting and solution company, has announced it is being acquired by the Cash Systems division of De La Rue plc., a publicly traded UK based company. De La Rue is paying cash consideration US $35.5m, comprising estimated net shareholders funds of US $9.0m. De La Rue is also assuming CSI’s debt, estimated at US$ 19.0m.

CSI provides cash handling solutions, including banknote sorters and software systems for Central Banks, commercial banks, cash in transit companies and other bulk cash operations worldwide. The business’s principal manufacturing location and operational headquarters is in Irving, Texas with its commercial headquarters being situated in the UK. It also has a network of sales, service and distribution centres in six other locations worldwide. CSI employs 274 staff of whom, 128 are based in the USA, 82 in the UK and the balance in CSI’s other overseas offices.

CSI is the only company in the cash processing industry dedicated solely to high-performance currency processing systems and the provision of advanced cash management solutions. It recorded sales of US $51m in the year to 31 December 2000 and an operating profit of US $5.3m before interest and tax, although this included one off licence fee income of US$ 1m.

De La Rue intends to merge CSI’s operations with its existing Cash Processing business and anticipates substantial cost savings as a result of the merger because of the substantial overlap in operations in many areas. A thorough review will be undertaken by both management teams, with appropriate consultation, to establish the size of the opportunity and cost of implementing the savings plan.

De La Rue believes there are excellent synergies between CSI and its Cash Processing business with scope for enhancing revenue where the complementary strengths of the two businesses can be exploited. CSI is strong in the commercial market and has a well developed sorter product range particularly in super fast sorters and multi-denomination sorting systems. De La Rue has strong links with many of the world’s Central Banks and a product range with particular strengths in the desktop sorting and desktop counting markets. Geographically, De La Rue is well placed in Africa, Middle East, South and Central America and the Far East, whereas CSI is strong in the UK, US and Australian markets.

The combined business will offer customers unrivalled levels of service and access to leading edge sorting technologies, software, consulting and holistic solutions. The CSI brand will be retained in the combined operations due to its excellent reputation in this market.

Commenting Ian Much, Chief Executive, De La Rue plc said:

“Following the successful reorganization of Cash Systems over the past two years our strategy is now focused on growth opportunities to expand our global reach and the range of products and solutions we offer to our customers. CSI’s large and respected cash processing business is an excellent fit with our own business and enhances our global position in this important market. The combined business will possess market leading expertise and offer a comprehensive range of cash processing solutions to those organizations which handle and process large volumes of cash.”

De La Rue believes there are excellent synergies between CSI and its Cash Processing business with scope for enhancing revenue where the complementary strengths of the two businesses can be exploited. CSI is strong in the commercial market and has a well developed sorter product range particularly in super fast sorters and multi-denomination sorting systems. De La Rue has strong links with many of the world’s Central Banks and a product range with particular strengths in the desktop sorting and desktop counting markets. Geographically, De La Rue is well placed in Africa, Middle East, South and Central America and the Far East, whereas CSI is strong in the UK, US and Australian markets.

The combined business will offer customers unrivalled levels of service and access to leading edge sorting technologies, software, consulting and holistic solutions. The CSI brand will be retained in the combined operations due to its excellent reputation in this market.

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First American CMSI

The First American Corporation, the nation’s leading, diversified provider of business information and related products and services, and Credit Management Solutions, Inc., a premier technology provider of credit automation software and services, jointly announced that First American has completed its acquisition of CMSI. The acquired entity will be known as First American CMSI.

As a result of the acquisition, which was approved by CMSI shareholders on May 29, 2001, CMSI shareholders will receive 0.2841 newly issued shares of First American common stock for each CMSI common share. First American will account for the stock-for-stock transaction as a purchase and will issue approximately 2,273,000 new shares of common stock.

![][1] “CMSI processes more than a quarter of a million credit transactions each month, and it has very strong business relationships with some of the world’s largest auto dealers and lenders,” said Anand K. Nallathambi, president of First American’s Consumer Information Group. “We expect the acquisition of CMSI will allow us to expand our consumer segment and provide opportunities to cross market our other valuable auto-related products and services, including merged credit reports, subprime credit data and automobile insurance tracking.”

CMSI’s president and chief executive officer, Scott L. Freiman said: “I am extremely proud of what CMSI has accomplished over its 15-year history. We look forward to continued success as a part of the First American family.”

The First American Corporation, based in Santa Ana, Calif., is the nation’s leading, diversified provider of business information and related products and services. The corporation’s three primary business segments include: title information and services; real estate information and services, which includes mortgage information services and database information and services; and consumer information and services, which provides automotive, sub-prime and direct-to-consumer credit reporting; direct-to-consumer public records reporting; resident screening; pre-employment screening; property and automotive insurance tracking services; property and casualty insurance; home warranties; investment advisory; and trust and banking services. Information about the company and an archive of its press releases can be found on the Internet at [www.firstam.com][2].

Since it was founded in 1987, CMSI has been a premier provider of credit automation software and services, including online lending and leasing technology. The company’s e-commerce subsidiary, Credit Online, Inc., credit-enables business-to-business transactions through its Internet gateway and its patented CreditConnection(R) technology ([www.creditconnection.com][3]), which links credit originators such as automobile dealers and borrowers with an extensive network of leading prime and nonprime lenders. Through its CMSI Systems, Inc. subsidiary, CMSI licenses credit decisioning and other automation systems and services for consumer and business credit that have been the choice of the world’s largest and most demanding lending institutions. Additional information on CMSI, is available at [www.cmsinc.com][4].

[1]: /graphic/firstamericancorp/firstamericancorp.gif
[2]: http://www.firstam.com/
[3]: http://www.creditconnection.com/
[4]: http://www.cmsinc.com/

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PAYMENTS VIA MOBILE PHONES

BSCH, BBVA, Telefonica Moviles and Airtel announced they had
concluded an agreement to integrate the various projects each had been
developing individually in the field of payments via mobile handsets. The new
project will from the outset be open to all financial institutions, mobile
operators and payment processing companies active in Spain. Amena has also
signed on to the project, and there is an agreement in principal to bring on
various other organisations, including Caja de Madrid, Banco Popular, Banesto,
Banco Sabadell and Xfera. Thus the agreement marks the creation of a Spanish
technological standard, with a clear will for international expansion.
This agreement takes Spain to the forefront in the development of new
business models and co-operation between financial institutions and mobile
operators and strengthens its leadership in the use of new payment system
technologies. Likewise, the project is in line with the objective of the
European Union to strengthen advanced European solutions to lead the
technological development of the information society.

The new standard is based on recognition of the role which mobile
telephony will play in consumers’ daily life, making it an ideal tool for
providing payment platform for their everyday expenses. It will make the
transition to the euro easier and makes it possible to provide an advanced
payment system for mobile businesses (household deliveries, household repairs,
etc.). The new standard will extend the range of businesses which have used
advanced payment methods to date and will open the door to the youngest
segment of the population.

The security offered by the new system will make on-line shopping easier,
give a decisive boost to mobile businesses, and open huge business
opportunities by bringing together the advantages of mobile telephony and
advanced payment systems. It uses the mobile telephone to identify the
account holder who can confirm each transaction via a secret number, different
to that used to activate the telephone.

The parties to the agreement envisage that large credit card companies
such as VISA and Master Card will enter the agreement and the international
company.

The agreement will result in the creation of two companies charged with
establishing the standard in Spain and abroad, respectively. The project will
involve initial investment of close to seven billion pesetas (42.07 million
euros) and envisages the launch of a pilot service in the fourth quarter of
this year and the marketing launch before the end of the year.

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Bankruptcy Projections

This year more people will file for bankruptcy than will graduate from college. And as a result of the economic downturn, stock market devaluation and thousands of corporate layoffs, a growing number of families have reached the brink of economic crisis.

This spring, LowerMyBills.com examined data from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, in addition to various other economic indicators, to reach these staggering conclusions. As Congress enacts tougher bankruptcy legislation, American families are fighting off creditors and searching for answers.

“Most American families are living paycheck-to-paycheck,” said LowerMyBills.com founder and CEO Matt Coffin. “It takes only one negative economic event to push a family into bankruptcy and home foreclosure, which in this weakening market is becoming more likely.”

The LowerMyBills.com study found that Americans are dipping into their past savings, selling investments and running up a staggering amount of debt to cover their growing expenses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey indicates that the three lowest income quintiles of American families, representing about 60 percent of Americans, spent more than their after-tax income in 1999.

The two lowest quintiles, representing about 40 percent of Americans, earned on average $12,338 after taxes and spent on average $20,808 in 1999. That’s roughly 32 million households running an annual deficit of $8,160. This debt is primarily attributed to large amounts of short-term liquidated credit. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve reports that consumer debt has now reached $1 trillion, or nearly $9,000 per U.S. family.

“American families are searching for solutions and tools to lower their monthly expenses,” asserts Mr. Coffin. “They need to recession proof their savings. In this time of economic insecurity, it doesn’t help that the government is rewriting bankruptcy laws to make it harder on the average person to set aside debt that is dragging them down. My mission at LowerMyBills.com is to provide the tools and guidance for the American family to protect their finances and secure their children’s future. LowerMyBills serves as preventative medicine for this looming crisis,” adds Mr. Coffin.

“Many families are unaware of how much money they actually owe, and how to handle their debt,” says Consumer Advocate David Horowitz. “Current bankruptcy laws are unforgiving, often forcing debtors into unrealistic payback plans that create an undue hardship on the family.”

About LowerMyBills.com

Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, LowerMyBills.com (http://www.lowermybills.com) is the premier online destination for lowering all recurring monthly bills. Current category offerings include long distance and wireless phone services, taxes, credit cards, loans, insurance, Internet service, debt reduction, credit ratings and energy. Since its inception, LowerMyBills.com has saved U.S. families more than 50 million dollars.

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GiftCards Soar

About 45% of U.S. consumers used a gift card during the past year, representing an increase of 34% over 1999. Prepaid phone card usage also rose by 14% during 2000 with 43% of consumers now using such cards. Standard Register’s third ‘National Consumer and Retailer Survey of Plastic Card Usage’ also found that consumers spend an average of $200 per year on gift cards, an increase of $61 from 1999, and that prepaid phone cards are most often used by travelers. SR also found that the holiday season remains the number one gift card giving occasion (71%), with birthdays (68%) a close second. The survey of 1,000 consumers also found the following percentages of adult usage of cards: credit cards, 87%; ATM cards, 62%; membership cards, 52%; debit cards, 41%; loyalty cards, 18%; and smart cards, 5%. According to the results of the retailer survey, which included interviews of 50 of the top 250 retailers, 44 out of 50 offer gift cards, prepaid phone cards or loyalty cards. In-store signage and point-of-purchase displays remain the most common methods used by retailers for generating awareness of prepaid cards. From an external communications standpoint, 80% of retailers utilize print advertising, followed by the Internet (57%), radio (25%) and television (18%).

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ValueStar Signs First VA

ValueStar Corp. announced that First Virginia Merchant Services has signed up for the ValueStar Customer-Rated program. First Virginia Merchant Services can now enroll their qualified merchants in the ValueStar Customer-Rated program, which enables merchants to differentiate themselves from local competition by highlighting quality service. In addition, the program drives ValueStar registered cardholders to participating merchants. The ValueStar Customer-Rated-program is open to all local service merchants, such as auto repair shops, plumbers, pool maintenance companies, dentists, etc.Through this program, ValueStar rates the merchant based upon a verification of their license, insurance, state compliance, legal and financial statuses, and, if qualified, enrolls the merchant in the ValueStar Customer-Rated program, which includes real-time Ratings. ValueStar then promotes these selected merchants to cardholders through a variety of media such as the ValueStar Report, direct mailings, in-store signage, and quality brand placement on the ValueStar web site. Participating merchants agree to: adhere to the ValueStar “Customer Bill of Rights,” participate in the mediation process, allow ValueStar to publicly post their customer satisfaction score, and must keep their customer satisfaction score above 70 on a 100 scale. “We are pleased with the results of the program as it has been well received by the merchant community,” said Jim Stein, CEO of ValueStar. “First Virginia Merchant Services is opening the door to approximately 1400 additional service merchants that could benefit from this program.” “First Virginia Merchant Services is always looking for ways to differentiate itself in the marketplace. The ValueStar proposition provides us with the competitive edge to distinguish our products and services from that of our competitors. ValueStar is a great way for us to help grow the consumer business of our service merchant base,” said Saeed Heshmatpour, Vice President and General Manager for First Virginia Merchant Services. “The ValueStar Customer-Rated program validates local service merchants as quality service providers and improves customer loyalty and increases referrals by matching quality seeking consumers with quality conscious merchants.” Card issuers offering the ValueStar Customer-Rated program to their cardholders can increase their cardholder loyalty, retention and stimulate card usage. By choosing service merchants that have earned this quality seal of approval, consumers can have confidence in their decision, and will gain access to various program benefits not typically offered in the service business sector. How the Customer-Rated Program WorksValueStar first verifies license, insurance, legal and financial statuses of local service businesses. First Virginia Merchant Services will match up transactions paid for with a qualified credit card made with qualified merchants. Consumers are then presented with an online or offline survey that, once processed, updates each local service merchant’s rating score in real time. Because only verified transactions are used, the ratings reflect only actual customer ratings. Customers who rate their satisfaction are also eligible for ValueStar Benefits, which currently include complaint resolution services, a money-back satisfaction guarantee of up to $500 and ValueStar Rating Points redeemable for products, charitable donations, services and travel. To use ValueStar, interested consumers can go to www.valuestar.com or to a participating card issuer Web site. Once on the site, consumers search by merchant name or industry and geographic region. Consumers can then browse lists of rated merchants or see if the merchant they plan to do business with has earned the ValueStar Customer-Rated seal. About ValueStar ValueStar® Corp. (OTC:VLST) is both a pioneer and a leading provider of customer satisfaction ratings of local service companies. Founded in 1992, ValueStar’s mission is to improve the local marketplace by providing knowledge, power and assurance. To accomplish this mission, ValueStar is expanding its branded ratings to the six million local service companies in America by introducing multi-tiered rating designations and adding additional brand content. It has developed the ValueStar Customer-Rated program which enables, matches, rates and rewards local service transactions both online and offline. It currently operates the ValueStar Customer-Rated Program in San Francisco; Los Angeles; Seattle; Chicago; Dallas; Philadelphia; Washington D.C. and Atlanta. For more information, visit ValueStar at www.valuestar.com or call 800-310-6661. ©2001 ValueStar Corporation. All rights reserved. ValueStar, ValueStar Customer-Rated, ValueStar Verified, ValueStar Real-Time Ratings, ValueStar Benefits and the ValueStar logo are trademarks of ValueStar Corporation. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, regarding ValueStar’s business strategy and future plans of operations. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties; both general and specific to the matters discussed in this press release. These and other important factors, including those mentioned in various Securities and Exchange Commission filings made periodically by ValueStar, may cause ValueStar’s actual results and performance to differ materially from the future results and performance expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof and ValueStar expressly disclaims any obligation to provide public updates, revisions or amendments to any forward-looking statements made herein to reflect changes in ValueStar’s expectations or future events.

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CardView

Synovus Financial has launched a free online service that allows customers of its affiliate and correspondent banks to view their monthly personal credit card statements in extensive detail. ‘CardView’ presents real-time account summaries and daily transaction details online. In addition to basic information, like the merchant’s address, phone number and date of purchase, ‘CardView’ also allows customers to sort their transactions by date, merchant or amount, or even connect directly to merchant websites for information and online shopping through an ‘Illuminated Statement’. The statement itself also provides targeted, customized offers for cardholders. Customers with personal credit cards issued by Synovus affiliate or correspondent banks are eligible for the free service when they register at CardView.com. ‘CardView’ was developed through a partnership among Columbus Bank and Trust, DotsConnect, and Encirq Corporation, the San Francisco-based online marketing services company that developed the ‘Illuminated Statement’.

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Global ATM Net

A global alliance is being formed to provide international bank customers with free access to ATMs. Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Scotiabank, and Westpac have teamed to offer their combined customer base free access to more than 20,000 cash machines on three continents. The 36 million customers of these five banks can begin using the alliance’s cash machine network without charge on July 1. The network of ATMs is located throughout the US, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia. In all of these countries, customers who use their debit card at cash machines that display the banks’ logos will incur no access fee. The ATM stats for the founding members show that Bank of America has more than 12,000 ATMs in the U.S. while Barclays has more than 3,000 ATMs throughout the UK. Deutsche Bank has more than 1,800 ATMs in Germany, Scotiabank has more than 2,100 ATMs in Canada, and Westpac has about 1,500 ATMs in Australia. In the coming months, the alliance will expand its service coverage to include their international ATMs (more than 2,500 ATMs in 58 countries) and actively pursue other members, targeting Mexico, Spain, Asia, South America and South Africa.

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PSCU Realignment

Payment Systems for Credit Unions announced Thursday it will open a new operations center in Phoenix and will close regional offices located in Jacksonville, Florida; Herndon, Virginia; Novi, Michigan; and Honolulu, Hawaii. Employees in the regional offices will have a choice of relocating to either St. Petersburg or Phoenix. The changes are part of a strategic alignment to meet significant expected growth in its western U.S. operations and in its e-commerce business. Under the realignment, which is expected to be complete by mid-year 2002, PSCU will maintain its national headquarters and operations center in St. Petersburg, Florida where more than 600 of PSCU’s 750 employees work. PSCU is a cooperative owned by more than 500 credit unions and serves more than six million cardholders nationwide. PSCU had a record year in 2000, with net income rising 19% to nearly $122 million.

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E-FRESH EXPANDS

VendTek Systems Inc. (announces a restructuring with new strategic business
focus for selling its
e-Fresh technology in North American and on the deployment of a North
American e-Fresh Network.

As a result of delays in orders for e-Fresh stations from its principal UK
customer as well as a decline in traditional product orders the Company is
accelerating its plans for e-Fresh sales in North America and on an e-Fresh
Network in North America.

“Although we are frustrated with the delays in product roll-out through our
existing UK customer we are nonetheless excited about the opportunities our
technologies present. If the ongoing delays persist it will mean that we
will likely not meet 2000 revenue levels so we have implemented layoffs,
work sharing and are optimizing infrastructure to reduce overhead during
this transition.” says VendTek CEO Paul Brock. “Even though the Company will
now increase its focus on the North American business opportunity we do
expect an upturn in international e-Fresh sales and in traditional sales by
first quarter 2002. We plan to continue our technology development for
licensing and to look to our overseas partners to create value from our
technologies in international markets.

To fund the Company through this restructuring and to implement the new
strategic focus we are in the process of sourcing additional equity
capital.”

About e-Fresh

The e-Fresh Network enables cellular and other service providers to
distribute prepaid services electronically to consumers via a proprietary
real time network and self-serve kiosks called e-Fresh Stations. The e-Fresh
Network consists of a central server running VendTek’s transaction
processing software connected to multiple e-Fresh stations. The system
includes proprietary encryption technology for securing the transmission of
the transactions and significantly reduces the operating costs for
companies, improving efficiencies and profits.

About VendTek

VendTek uses its expertise in payment and self-serve technologies, smart
cards and networking to develop systems for transaction automation.
VendTek’s secure proprietary systems reduce shrinkage, improve access for
consumers, increase the number of selling outlets and selling hours, and
enhance overall security making the systems superior to traditional
distribution and alternative channels.

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CIBC ADVANTEX

CIBC, together with Advantex Marketing
International Inc. announced the launch of the CIBC Aerogold
ADVANTEX Benefit Online, an innovative Internet-based shopping rewards program
developed by Advantex for CIBC.

CIBC Aerogold cardholders will register online for the ADVANTEX Benefit
Online program at www.aerogoldadvantex.com, and thereafter earn Aeroplan Bonus
Miles on their purchases at dozens affiliated leading e-retailers, including
Indigo.ca, IBM.ca, eBags.com, Sharperimage.com and Justwhiteshirts.com. Bonus
miles earned are in addition to the one Aeroplan Mile per dollar cardholders
receive when making purchases with their CIBC Aerogold card.

“We are very pleased to launch the CIBC Aerogold ADVANTEX Benefit Online
program, the first of our major Internet cardholder benefit initiatives,” said
Christine Croucher, executive vice president, CIBC card products division.
“This exciting new program demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhancing
cardholder value through expanded reward opportunities.”

“This represents a significant long-term opportunity for Advantex,” said
G. Randall Munger, chairman of Advantex. “Our programs turn frequent flyers
into frequent buyers at participating merchants.”

The program features the handy CIBC Aerogold SmartBar, an online shopping
guide to more merchants, more miles, more often.

CIBC Aerogold SmartBar feature – Never Miss a Mile(TM)

The CIBC Aerogold SmartBar online shopping guide travels with cardholders
as they navigate the Web, delivering valuable site-specific shopping alerts on
where they earn Aeroplan Bonus Miles online. CIBC Aerogold cardholders never
miss a mile(TM) with their SmartBar online shopping guide. The guide also
features quick access infolinkx(TM) to participating e-retailers, CIBC
services, Advantex Benefit dining, golf and hospitality directories, as well
as a range of other travel, business and lifestyle information web sites. The
built-in Aeroplan Miles Meter displays a running total of the bonus miles
earned through the program.

The CIBC Aerogold Visa Card is the number one premium credit card in
Canada with more than 500,000 cardholders. The Aerogold Visa, celebrating its
10th anniversary in 2001, was the first Aeroplan co-branded financial product
introduced by CIBC. Three other products are also offered as part of the
CIBC’s Aeroplan family of products. CIBC’s alliance with Aeroplan allows
cardholders to earn additional Aeroplan miles, redeemable for free flights on
Air Canada and its partner airlines.

About CIBC

CIBC is a leading North American financial institution offering more than
eight million personal banking and business customers a full range of products
and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches
and offices across Canada, in the United States and around the world. CIBC is
a leader in electronic banking, with more than three million e-banking
customers accessing Telephone and Internet banking. CIBC is also Canada’s
leading credit card issuer and offers the broadest range of choice and value.
To find other news releases and information about CIBC, visit our Media Centre
at www.cibc.com.

About Advantex Marketing International Inc.

Advantex Marketing International Inc. is a leading consumer marketing
firm, specializing in private label customer relationship marketing programs.
Advantex programs strengthen the relationships between major organizations and
their valued customers, while building new and ongoing relationships between
those customers and networks of affiliated merchants. Advantex partners
include The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Air Canada, US Airways, The
Bank of Nova Scotia, The New York Times, and other major North American
corporations, as well as an extensive list of retailers, restaurants, golf
courses, and resorts. Advantex is a public company, traded on the Toronto
Stock Exchange under the symbol “ADX”. For additional information on Advantex,
please visit www.advantex.com.

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Online Biz Banking

Speer & Associates, Inc., a leading financial services consulting firm, released the findings of its first study on the effectiveness of banks in serving the small business segment needs through Internet banking services. Based on an analysis of 100 sample commercial bank web sites, S&A found most banks lack a compelling online small business banking offering that has a clear focus on targeted marketing and commitment to execution. As a result, the ability to form deeper partnerships with small business customers on a value-added basis is not being optimized.

Richard N. Speer, Jr., S&A’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “While some of the largest banks in North and Latin America demonstrate a commitment to the small business banking segment, on balance there is a wide range of opportunities that have yet to be leveraged.”

S&A’s Survey focused on six categories most critical to small businesses based on their heavy adoption and use of personal computing and telecommunications technologies. The Survey measured the percentage of banks within the sample that “delivered” on core banking needs of the small business segment. The percentage of banks in the sample offering online services based on S&A’s six key evaluation categories were:

* Cash/Investment Management (33%)

* Access to Credit (32%)

* Advisory Services (19%)

* Revenue Enhancing Services (14%)

* Bill Payment & Expense Reduction Services (36%)

* Administration & Operational Assistance (21%)

For many institutions in the Survey, S&A found the Internet was used to display “brochure-ware,” relying on traditional channels such as the branch, telephone or calling officer for fulfillment. Speer continued, “Given the increasing adoption of the Internet by the small business segment, many mid- size and some large banks are leaving themselves threatened by larger and non- bank competitors.”

Survey Findings by Banking Segment

* The Major Diversified Segment, banks with asset size over $100 million, had the most compelling sites, with a full array of financial and value-added services and are well ahead of the U.S. and Canadian banks in delivering to the small business segment. Fleet Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank One are examples of leading sites that position the banks as integrated partners to the small business segment.

* Large U.S. Regional Bank small business online offerings have transactional functionality that is well behind the overall sample banking segment. Their offerings are centered on marketing financial services, rather than broader value-added features and functionality. Most noticeably, S&A observed only 25% of the banks in this group offered key credit products on a transactional basis.

* Although the mid-size institutions, ($9 to $40 billion in assets) claim a more traditional banking approach toward small businesses, this segment is delivering online services to the segments less frequently than the North American sample in all six areas reviewed. The mid-size banks are keeping up in traditional services such as account access, online customer service and online lockbox services. The widest gaps in offerings are found in the non-retail features such as online investments, merchant processing or escrow accounts.

* Canadian banks demonstrated an overall strong commitment to small business web offerings. They provide either online loan applications or online loan transactional capabilities for small business customers in greater frequency than observed in the overall North American sample.

* The 20 Major Latin American bank sites reviewed offered transactional functionality similar to their North American counterparts with a less brochure-ware orientation. Many banks focused on the value-added services by offering access to vertical procurement portals, account aggregation and access to business exchanges and portals.

Compared to the development of retail web sites, Speer estimates most banks are 12 to 18 months behind in the development of online offerings to small businesses. “This is a risky position for banks considering their non- bank competitors and the generally profitable nature of the small business customer.”

Mr. Speer concluded, “This first S&A Small Business Internet Banking Survey reveals the wide range of online offerings available to the small business customer in today’s environment. The winners will be those banks that understand the needs of their small business customer and fashion online offerings that are responsive. S&A’s next Survey in June will further explore their progress.”

For more information, contact Laura Lloyd at 770.396.2528.

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