Elvis Cards

MBNA has cranked up the marketing machine this month for the ‘Elvis Presley Platinum Plus VISA’ card. Two years ago MBNA signed an affinity card deal with Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. The card benefits the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation’s Presley Place, a transitional-housing project that will provide homeless families up to one year of rent-free housing, child day care, job training and counseling, and financial guidance. New cardholders of the Elvis VISA receive a special commemorative envelope with a Graceland first date of issue postmark after making at least $25 in purchases. Other card benefits include 10% off Elvis souvenirs, 10% off Graceland Platinum Tour admission, 10% off Elvis Presley Memphis Restaurant meals, 10% off Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel accommodations, and free parking while visiting Graceland. The no annual fee card is currently being offered with a fixed 13.99% interest rate. MBNA is offering a special 1.7% intro rate to select cardholders while others may be offered a 3.9% intro rate. An Elvis MasterCard is also available to British residents from Bank of Scotland. The Elvisly Yours MasterCard was launched in 1998.



The Veterans of Foreign Wars announced its endorsement of MBNA America Bank to provide credit card services to its members and supporters.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, with a rich tradition rooted in the 19th century, is the oldest major veterans organization in America. VFW has 9,500 Posts with 1.9 million members who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and all the expeditionary campaigns through Bosnia.

“We are proud to be associated with the VFW,” said John Cochran, chief marketing officer of MBNA. “We will provide its members with the superior customer service and innovative financial products they expect from MBNA.”

About MBNA

MBNA Corporation is a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, with $88 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products. MBNA.com (http://www.MBNA.com) provides credit card, consumer loan, retail deposit, travel, and shopping services.


EBPP Projections

EBPP is poised for accelerated expansion as more financial services institutions get into the game according to a new report. Roundtrip electronic bill volume will equal less than 1% of total bill volume in 2001. However, this share, which includes both the consumer and B2B billing markets, is expected to increase to 9% by 2005, according to TowerGroup research. Currently, only 1% of U.S. depository institutions offer some form of EBPP service. TowerGroup expects that number to rise to 7% by 2005. More than 90% of the institutions presently involved in the EBPP market offer a consumer service provider capability to provide their retail customers with front-end services to receive and pay bills electronically.


Swissotel in VISA Pilot

Swissotel Hotels & Resorts announced it is one of five hotel groups participating in Visa International’s Enhanced Data project for business travel management involving selected Visa Corporate cardholders.

The concept revolves around software written exclusively for Visa that extracts itemized business travel hotel expenses from the Fidelio property management system. Once extracted, Visa Commercial Card issuers consolidate the card spending information and supply the itemized data to the corporate client usually in electronic format. The software allows hotel expenses to be broken down by transaction type, i.e. telephone charges, laundry bills etc, and by hotel outlet.

Visa’s Enhanced Data product is in its pilot stage, with plans to test market and ultimately launch worldwide in 2002.

The plan is to further the consolidated business expense tracking service that will include all aspects of business travel, i.e. air and rail travel, car rental as well as hotel stay information for holders of the Visa Corporate Card.

“This new service will enable us to deliver comprehensive hotel folio data that can be transmitted directly into the traveler’s expense report,” said Michelle Woodley, vice president, electronic distribution & marketing, at Swissotel. “At Swissotel, our focus has always been to continually offer cutting-edge technological enhancement that benefits our business clientele, and this new Visa product allows us to do just that. Our long standing partnership with Visa has provided the opportunity to be in on the ground floor launch.”

“We have been developing our Enhanced Data System in response to the growing demand for extra information relating to business travel by large corporations,” said Susan James, data delivery manager, Visa Commercial Solutions, EU Region. “Our research shows that the future is more about the delivery of data than just providing a payment method. Visa was the first to develop and test this technology and the extension of the scheme to include Swissotel Hotels & Resorts clearly puts Visa Commercial Solutions ahead of the game.”

About Visa EU

Visa EU Commercial Solutions offers tailored commercial payment solutions for its member banks and corporate clients throughout Europe. Visa’s three commercial card programmes, Visa Business, Visa Corporate and Visa Purchasing provide innovative payment products for companies across the commercial spectrum, addressing the diverse needs of the small business sector, through meeting the management information and control requirements of large corporate and public sector organizations.

About Swissotel Hotels & Resorts

Swissotel Hotels & Resorts is a fully owned subsidiary of SAirRelations, the SAirGroup division specializing in hotel management, catering and travel retail. The company currently operates or markets hotels in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. For further information, visit the Web site at http://www.swissotel.com.


Xchange Card

Warrantech Corporation, a leader and innovator in the field of service contracts and extended warranties, announced that Automotive Technologies, Inc. D.B.A. Wireless Zone will begin selling Warrantech’s innovative Xchange Card Program under a three-year agreement. Wireless Zone operates 150 stores in 12 states.

The Xchange Card guarantees that if a product fails, the customer will receive a brand new product. The card can be easily registered through a toll-free number or through Warrantech’s web site, http://www.myxchangecard.com.

Joel San Antonio, chairman and chief executive of Warrantech, said, “In keeping with our track record of innovation, we developed The Xchange Card to provide dealers with a user-friendly, tangible product that allows them to provide better service to their customers. We are very pleased that Wireless Zone has chosen Warrantech as its partner.”

Mark Asnes, vice president, new product development for Wireless Zone stated, “We feel with this program, we have the ability to offer our customers the utmost in positively outrageous service.”

About Warrantech

Warrantech Corporation, headquartered in Euless, TX, through its subsidiaries, administers and markets service contracts and after-market warranties on automobiles, automotive components, recreational vehicles, appliances, consumer electronics, homes, computer and computer peripherals for retailers, distributors and manufacturers. The company continues to expand its domestic and global penetration, and now provides its services in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Latin America. For more information about Warrantech, access http://www.warrantech.com.


Ruby LynkPak

Lynk Systems, Inc., announces that VeriFone has released LynkPak, Lynk’s credit, debit and EBT application for VeriFone’s Ruby SuperSystem, to convenience store and petroleum marketers. LynkPak interfaces with a wide range of fleet card networks and all of the major electronic dispensers, and incorporates a batch verification system that virtually eliminates dropped or duplicated transactions.

VeriFone’s Ruby is an integrated point-of-sale solution that combines card processing, fuel dispensing, dispenser card reader control and electronic cash register functions to meet the needs of fast-paced petroleum and convenience store operations. With Ruby, cashiers can authorize fueling and keep traffic moving at as many as 32 fueling positions. Ruby is currently used in over 40,000 locations nationwide, including independent and major oil company service stations and convenience stores.

![][1] “LynkPak is a new unbranded payment interface to Ruby, and Lynk’s experience in servicing small and mid-sized merchants enables us to anticipate and meet the needs of the independents,” said Doug Currie, director of Lynk’s Petroleum and Convenience Store Unit. “LynkPak brings some real competition to the petroleum and convenience store industries.”

PDQ, a chain of 44 convenience stores with outdoor gasoline sales in Madison, Wisconsin, is Lynk’s first 40+ store implementation of Ruby pay-at- the-pump processing technology. PDQ installed LynkPak on all of its Ruby POS systems and processes hundreds of thousands of debit, credit and fleet card transactions each month through Lynk. “Lynk also handles many processing service issues on behalf of its customers,” Currie explained. “If PDQ is having a problem with a specific card, Lynk will handle the problem for them with the card issuer. In the past, PDQ had to spend valuable time handling this type of processing issue.”

Quick processing is critical in the petroleum and convenience store industry. To eliminate delays, Lynk has direct connections to the major debit, credit and fleet card networks, which provides almost instantaneous authorizations and fewer denials. Lynk also provides value-added services such as personalized online customer service and reporting features. As a full-service transaction processor, Lynk is familiar with handling the complexities of the processing industry, and supports the entire cycle from front-end transaction processing to back-end reporting.

About VeriFone

VeriFone ([http://www.verifone.hp.com][2] ) is the leading global provider of secure electronic-payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than nine million electronic-payment systems, which are used in more than 100 countries.

About Lynk

Lynk is a proven leader in electronic payment, cash dispensing and e-commerce services. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Lynk processes transactions initiated by credit and debit cards, checks and other access cards from merchant point-of-sale terminals, ATMs and web sites. Lynk also provides related payment services such as the issuance of stored value cards that facilitate electronic funds distribution.

Lynk controls the entire processing sequence, including sales, merchant payment equipment, design and hosting of Internet storefronts, transaction authorization, capture, settlement and customer service. This “in-sourced” model facilitates a truly integrated single-source service that gives Lynk customers one-call support for all their processing needs. Lynk’s proprietary technology and comprehensive network connectivity offer customers of all sizes unsurpassed processing performance.

Founded in 1991, Lynk has earned recognition as one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Deloitte & Touche and Inc. magazine. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at [http://www.lynksystems.com][3] .

[1]: /graphic/verifone/verifone.gif
[2]: http://www.verifone.hp.com/
[3]: http://www.lynksystems.com/



The battle of online consumer credit report providers has picked up steam as NY-based MoniTrust.com launched a new product to deliver consumers their credit reports from all of the major credit bureaus. The MoniTrust.com credit report service is targeted at the individual consumer with a price tag of $29.99. Other services include a ‘Credit Monitoring’ service ($60 per year) and a free ‘Credit Analyzer’. There are also newsletters on credit topics and preformatted forms, such as dispute letters, FBI records request, and forms to stop telemarketing calls. MoniTrust is offering Web site affiliates up to a 22.5% commission of the sale amount. The company has partnerships with MoneyNest, EDebtconsolidation, IRS.com, NextCard, and Autobytel.


New & Improved

Sears is gearing up to make its store card “walk and talk” like a bank credit card. By the end of this year the Sears store card will offer balance transfers, cash advances, and broader acceptance. With 40 million active cardholders, the Sears portfolio is a formidable competitor in the sub-prime segment. Last year, Sears National Bank launched the ‘Sears Gold MasterCard’ which has successfully converted 12 million store cardholders to bank credit cardholders. According to recent information, the Sears MasterCard portfolio may have grown to as many as 15 million cardholders with $2 billion in balances. The program is targeted at retaining Sears “prime” credit risk cardholders and reviving inactive accounts. In a related move, Sears announced it will increase the interest rate for its store card from 21.0% to 21.9%, raise the minimum finance charge from 50 cents to $1.00, and reduce the minimum payment from 2.38% to 2.22% of the monthly balance due. Sears has been plagued by declining credit revenue due to lower average balances on the private-label Sears cards. At the end of the first quarter 2001, Sears had U.S. total managed card receivables of $25.7 billion compared to $25.5 billion for 1Q/00. While average and ending managed credit card receivable balances were slightly higher than last year, overall portfolio yield declined. Portfolio yield for 1Q/01 was 19.13% compared to 20.29% one year ago. The net charge-off rate for the managed portfolio declined to 5.07% from 5.69% a year ago. Delinquency, at the end of 1Q stood at 7.50% compared to 7.56% for 4Q and 7.20% for 1Q/00, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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


Firstar P-Card Prog

Williams Food Service, Inc. recently announced that it will be utilizing Firstar Bank’s purchasing card program as a way to streamline and better manage their low dollar procurement process. Also, Firstar’s commercial lending group and real estate financing divisions have crafted loan programs to help support the company’s growth.

Firstar’s program will provide employees of Williams Food Service, Inc. with purchasing cards that will be targeted for purchases of less than $1000. As a result, the program will enable the company to reduce the number of checks it has to issue by approximately 75 percent, which will save both time and money through operational efficiencies.

Steve Payne, owner of Williams Food Service, Inc., noted “Firstar’s purchasing card will save our company money. By giving our employees the ability to make small dollar purchases with the purchasing card, which works just like a credit card, it means we will save on processing costs as well as the number of checks we have to write on a monthly basis. Saving time and money is critical to a growing company like ours that must maximize its existing resources and control administrative expenses.”

In addition to the purchasing card product, Firstar’s commercial lending group developed a loan structure for Williams Food Service, Inc., which supports the company’s current capital structure. This allows Williams Food Service, Inc. the ability to utilize more of its existing cash flow and additional borrowing capacity for new equipment purchases needed to support the company’s robust sales growth. Also, Firstar provided real estate financing that allowed the company to expand its current facility and make more efficient use of existing space to support their growth in sales and new business.

About Williams Food Service

Williams Food Service, Inc., founded in 1928, is a vending machine operator, mobile catering and traditional catering operator with headquarters in Louisville and offices throughout Central Kentucky, Southern Indiana and Southern Ohio.

About Firstar

Firstar Bank is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, with assets in excess of $160 billion, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,231 banking offices and 5,208 ATMs in 24 states in the Midwest and Western portion of the country. The organization also provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of Firstar Banks and U.S. Banks. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at http://www.usbank.com. and Firstar Bank at http://www.firstar.com


Credit Squeeze

One-fifth of banks reported this month they had tightened standards on credit card loans over the past three months, compared with 12% in January. In addition, 19% of survey respondents, on net, reduced credit limits on these loans. The findings come from the ‘May 2001 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices’ conducted by the Federal Reserve. The recent run-up, or expected future increases, in consumer delinquency rates were most often cited as a reason for changing consumer-lending policies. Among credit card-backed securities, charge-offs increased 10 bps to 6.1% in March from 6.0% in February. The 6.1% level was the highest loss rate reported since May 1999. The FRB survey also found that, on net, 10% of domestic institutions reported increased demand over the past three months for consumer loans of all types. Almost all domestic banks reported no change in standards for residential mortgage loans. Loan officers from fifty-five large domestic banks and twenty-one U.S. branches and agencies of foreign banks participated in the May survey. (CF Library 5/15/01)