Smart Card Drive

With slightly more than one million ‘smart VISA’ cards-in-force in the USA, VISA announced yesterday it is plowing ahead with its initiative to drive smart card acceptance into the U.S. market. VISA said yesterday that bankcard processors supporting 80% of VISA’s card volume can now process VISA smart card based payment transactions. While the first phase of VISA’s initiative centered around Internet usage of ‘smart VISA’ cards, by the end of this year many merchants will begin accepting smart card-based payments at physical locations. Top terminal vendors, Hypercom, Ingenico and VeriFone, are leading the drive to encourage merchants to upgrade their hardware and software to accept smart cards. The three top POS device suppliers have obtained EMV level 1 and level 2 approval to ensure global interoperability. Meanwhile several key merchant payment processors, including Vital, NPC, and First Data Merchant Services, will be able to offer smart card acceptance applications on Hypercom and VeriFone terminal models. The ‘smart VISA’ card was launched in the U.S. during September 2000 by Fleet and Providian, followed by First USA in late October. Worldwide, VISA has more than 23 million smart cards in use.

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Mondex Korea

Mondex Korea announced plans to issue an electronic cash Mondex Freepass Card in conjunction with Kookmin Bank and Kookmin Card Wednesday. The card contains electronic cash, debit card functions and online certification features. A palm-size Internet terminal for the use with the Freepass Card will allow the transfer of cash between individuals. The electronic cash can be spent at COEX malls, coffee shops, book stores, movie theaters, paid Internet sites, cybershops, and taxis.

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@pos Gets Kraft

@pos ([www.atpos.com][1]), a technology licensing pioneer in web-enabling the point-of-sale and point-of-presence environments, announced that Dennis Kraft has been appointed Vice President Sales and Business Development.

Kraft was most recently Vice President Business Development for InfoSpace, Inc./Prio, Inc., an ASP in online promotions for wireless devices and web sites. As a member of the executive management team for Prio, Inc. he led an acquisition of the company by InfoSpace, which was completed in February 2000. “Dennis is an outstanding business development leader with a proven track record for developing the potential of young companies,” stated Llavan Fernando CEO and CTO for @pos. “With the increasing interest in @pos’ web-enabled technologies, Dennis is both a logical and significant addition to our management team. We wanted an individual with both extensive experience in building and managing business development programs and a proven ability to produce results.”

“I am pleased to be joining such an innovative technology provider. @pos provides point-of-sale solutions to a number of the largest retail merchants in this country using its best of breed legacy technology. The opportunity to leverage that market position to establish leadership in high growth markets for new, yet related, technologies is extremely exciting,” said Kraft. Prior to InfoSpace/Prio, Kraft was Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Suntech Processing Systems where he managed sales, marketing, product development and client support. As Senior Vice President of Sales for First USA Paymentech, Kraft helped transition the company from a regional to a national presence and into a leading credit card services provider during his seven years with the company.

Kraft also served as Director of Commercial Services for Moneymaker EFT/ACS, where he had responsibility for creating and managing the Commercial EFT Services business division for the company. Prior to that he acted as Senior Consultant for Electronic Banking Systems where he was involved in the development of shared ATM/POS networks as they were initially being formed across the US.

With the expansion in the management team, some reorganization became possible.

Kraft has assumed the domestic sales and business development responsibilities previously held by Jim Boyer. Boyer will continue with @pos as Vice President Marketing and International Sales and adds Operations to his responsibilities. With Boyer taking on Operations, Gary Rummelhoff continues as CFO and now has the opportunity to focus on this vital area.

About @pos

@pos (OTC BB:EPOS) is the pioneer in Web-enabling the point-of-sale and point-of-presence environments. @pos’ technology allows its licensing partners and customers to utilize secure interactive transaction products for electronic signature capture, debit and credit payments, display advertisements, promotions, and surveys. For more information, see [www.atpos.com][2], email to info@atpos.com, or call 408-468-5400.

[1]: http://www.atpos.com/
[2]: http://www.atpos.com/

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Strong Card Debt

After a very sharp rise in revolving credit in February, American consumers slowed down slightly in March. The rise in credit card debt during 2001 has been mostly attributed to an increase in the number of revolving cardholders produced by a slowing economy. During March, American consumers added $6.6 billion to revolving credit balances, according to preliminary figures released yesterday afternoon by the Federal Reserve. Last year American consumers racked up $7.0 billion during the same period.The FRB calculates that revolving credit is now growing at an annual pace of 11.7% compared to 13.8% for March 2000. The March figures are a sharp contrast to the 19.6% annual growth rate experienced in February, during which period American consumers racked up $10.9 billion in revolving credit. Since the first of this year, American consumers have piled on $24.4 billion in revolving credit. Total U.S. revolving consumer credit now stands at $687.8 billion which includes $666 billion in credit card debt. Overall, consumer credit is growing at a 4.7% rate. At the end of March, American consumers were $1.569 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
($billions)

Mar01 Feb01 Jan01 Dec00 Nov00 Oct00 Sep00
%GRWTH: 11.7% 19.6 11.6 5.0 10.9 4.7 7.8
$OWED: $687.8 681.2 670.3 663.4 660.6 654.8 649.3

Aug00 Jul00 Jun00 May00 Apr00 Mar00 Feb00
%GRWTH: 12.6% 6.7 11.2 12.7 13.5 13.8 9.4
$OWED: $645.1 638.2 634.7 628.9 622.5 615.5 608.5

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 05/07/01;
For complete historical data visit http://www.carddata.com/

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ComDot Cards

The Israeli firm ComSense, announced this morning it has begun shipping the production version of its ‘ComDot’-powered reader-free Internet cards. The self-powered ISO card is able to authenticate users at any telephone or connected PC, using sound, eliminating the need for a card reader or other specialized hardware. Customers include online service providers, credit card issuers, and retailers. ComSense also announced field trials of the new card with iMetrikus, Nippon Shinpan Company, Sofmap, and Marubeni Information Systems.

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SurePay Investment

eONE Global, LP, a leading innovator in identifying and developing emerging payment technologies for Internet and wireless applications, and VeriSign, Inc., the leading provider of Internet trust services, announced that Anil Pereira, senior vice president and group general manager of VeriSign’s Enterprise & Service Provider division, has been named to the SurePay board of directors and that VeriSign has invested $20 million in eONE Global and its SurePay business.

The SurePay business of eONE Global provides a patent-pending online payment solution for enterprises and e-marketplaces and their members seeking to conduct secure payment transactions online. VeriSign and eONE Global on April 5 announced a strategic partnership to co-market each other’s products and services and co-develop emerging payment options.

‘We’re very pleased to have someone with Anil’s level of experience and background join the SurePay board of directors,’ said Garen Staglin, president and CEO of eONE Global. ‘This further enhances our alliance with VeriSign to co-market and develop services to simplify the complex integration of payment solutions for our customers.’

Through their alliance, SurePay and VeriSign will jointly enhance SurePay’s business-to-business services by offering and co-marketing a best of breed service via SurePay’s patent-pending complete payment solution to businesses. Additionally, SurePay will market VeriSign’s managed payment gateway as SurePay’s premier business-to-consumer payment gateway offering to First Data financial institution clients. eONE Global is a joint venture between First Data, the e-commerce and payment services leader, and iFormation Group, a company that partners with market leaders to create and develop new online businesses.

‘As e-commerce continues to grow, the need for an end-to-end payment and trade management solution for enterprises is mission-critical,’ said Anil Pereira, senior vice president and group general manager of VeriSign’s Enterprise & Service Provider division. ‘By leveraging the combined strengths of VeriSign and SurePay, our customers will be able to deploy a broader range of high-value e-commerce applications to drive greater cost-effectiveness in their online initiatives.’

Mr. Pereira leads four of VeriSign’s key business lines, including Enterprise Authentication Services, International Affiliate Services, Wireless Services and Corporate Domain Name Management Services. He is part of the management team that successfully completed VeriSign’s IPO in January 1998 and has been instrumental in forging strategic alliances with a broad range of strategic partners, including AOL/Netscape, Dun & Bradstreet, Netegrity, eONE Global/SurePay and VISA.

Prior to joining VeriSign, Mr. Pereira spent seven years at American Express Company in New York in a variety of marketing positions, most recently as Vice President of Affinity Card Marketing. From 1987 to 1989 he was a management consultant with Andersen Consulting. He holds a B.Mgt from the University of Lethbridge and an MBA in strategy and finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

About eONE Global

As the leading source for accelerating payment innovation, eONE Global, LP ([www.eoneglobal.com][1]) identifies, develops, and operates emerging payment systems and related Internet and wireless technologies spanning the business, government and consumer markets. Its operating companies include SurePay, LP ([www.surepay.com][2]), which provides end-to-end payment and security products for companies and consumers buying and selling over the Internet, as well as govONE Solutions, LP ([www.govONEsolutions.com][3]), which enables businesses and consumers to make government payments electronically. eONE Global is owned by global e-commerce and payment services leader First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) and iFormation Group, a company created by The Boston Consulting Group, General Atlantic Partners, LLC and The Goldman Sachs Group.

About SurePay

SurePay, LP provides complete, end-to-end payment, trust and security products and services for Internet B2B, B2C and Mobile Commerce markets on a global scale. Leveraging the leadership position of its founder, First Data, in payments processing, SurePay develops and delivers trusted, secure payment solutions for businesses and consumers buying and selling on the Internet. SurePay is a central operating company within the eONE Global network of payment companies and technologies. Headquartered in Melville, NY, SurePay has access to the powerful transaction processing and distribution resources of First Data Corporation throughout the world. For more information visit [www.surepay.com][4].

About VeriSign

VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN) is the leading provider of trusted infrastructure services to Web sites, enterprises, electronic commerce service providers and individuals. The company’s domain name, digital certificate and payment services provide the critical Web identity, authentication and transaction infrastructure that online businesses require to conduct secure e-commerce and communications. VeriSign’s services are available through its Web site ([www.verisign.com][5]) or through its direct sales force and reseller partners around the world.

About First Data

Atlanta-based First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) powers the global economy. Serving nearly 2.5 million merchant locations, more than 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data makes it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, stored-value card or check at the point-of-sale, over the Internet or by money transfer. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [www.firstdata.com][6].

About iFormation Group

iFormation Group is a company created by The Boston Consulting Group, General Atlantic Partners and Goldman Sachs to carve new ventures out of traditional companies in partnership with the Global 2000. iFormation teams with industry leaders to acquire, develop and build new Internet and technology ventures that leverage the corporate partners’ legacy assets. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [www.iformationgroup.com][7]

[1]: http://www.eoneglobal.com/
[2]: http://www.surepay.com/
[3]: http://www.govonesolutions.com/
[4]: http://www.surepay.com/
[5]: http://www.verisign.com/
[6]: http://www.firstdata.com/
[7]: http://www.iformationgroup.com/

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Zany Chase

Chase Merchant Services announced Monday that Zany Brainy, Inc., a specialty retailer of high quality toys, games, books and multimedia products, has signed a three-year agreement for merchant processing services. The company’s chain of stores conducts more than 4.2 million bankcard transactions a year, totaling more than $300 million in bankcard volume. Zany operates 188 stores in 34 states. across the country. In November CMS signed Frontier Airlines and Triarc Restaurant Group. During February, CMS signed deals with Peachtree Software and Intuit’s ‘QuickBooks’. Chase Merchant Services processes over 2.5 billion transactions a year and more than $175 billion in annual credit and debit card sales volume at the point of sale and over the Internet. (CF Library 11/1/00; 2/6/01; 2/14/01)

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CellCards Sale

CT-based American Payment Systems has acquired a majority share of CellCards, a marketer of prepaid phone card products in check cashing locations nationwide. Owned by a group of check cashing retailers, CellCards has a national distribution network of about 2000 locations. The company sells prepaid cellular phones and air time for major carriers including AT&T, CellularOne, Cingular Wireless, PrimeCo, Voice Stream and Verizon. APS specializes in providing in-person bill payment services and has a network of over 6,000 retail locations, including supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, and check cashing outlets. APS says its acquisition in the prepaid telephone industry supports the company’s overall strategy of becoming a distribution network for financial services and related products used by “unbanked” and “underbanked” households.

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Liberty Direct Settles

Continuing to caution consumers about the dangers of “credit card protection” fraud, the Federal Trade Commission Monday announced a court settlement with Liberty Direct, Inc. and individual defendants Paul L. Wiggs and David C. Furnia, the company’s two principals, for a variety of alleged activities related to the telemarketing sale of such “services.” The FTC’s complaint against Liberty Direct, Wiggs and Furnia was filed as part of the FTC’s September 1999 credit card loss protection law enforcement sweep.

Through the final judgment and order for permanent injunction announced today, the defendants will be banned from selling credit card loss protection, will have to post a $1 million bond before engaging in telemarketing activities and will be prohibited from engaging in several other deceptive activities, including making misrepresentations in violation of the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”). While the settlement does not require consumer redress (due to the defendants’ poor financial condition), Liberty Direct has already refunded approximately $2 million to defrauded consumers, including $1.5 million through credit card charge-backs.

According to the Commission, Liberty Direct began selling credit card loss “protection” services through third-party telemarketers in January 1998 and continued doing so until February 1999. During this time, the company used telemarketing scripts to promote its service, typically priced at $199, by falsely representing to consumers that the defendants were affiliated with the consumers’ credit card issuer; that consumers would be held liable for all unauthorized charges made against their accounts; and that consumers owed money to the defendants. The complaint also alleges that, in violation of the TSR, the defendants failed to promptly disclose that the purpose of their call was to sell a product or service.

Under the terms of the final order, the defendants are banned from participating in or benefitting from a business that sells credit card loss protection services. A $1 million bond must be posted before the defendants engage in telemarketing. In addition, the order contains relief specific to the complaint, including prohibitions on misrepresenting: 1) that the defendants are affiliated with consumers’ credit card issuers or third parties; 2) that consumers can be held liable for unauthorized credit card charges over $50; or 3) that consumers have purchased goods or services from the defendants. Other relief includes prohibitions on consummating a sale for any credit related product or service over the telephone; violating the Commission’s TSR; misrepresenting that consumers have been pre-approved for (or are likely to obtain) an extension of credit; and misrepresenting material facts about any goods or services.

The defendants are also permanently enjoined from distributing its customer lists, except as authorized by court order, and are required to meet specific conditions if they want to tape sales calls.

Lastly, the order includes provisions requiring the defendants to keep records, monitor their sales practices and those of their employees and agents, authorizing the Commission to access company records and providing other means by which their compliance with the order’s terms can be verified. In addition, if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial situation, the order will allow the FTC to seek the full payment for all consumer damage incurred.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint and stipulated final judgment was 5-0, with Commissioners Orson Swindle and Thomas B. Leary dissenting to Part III.F of the order, which requires the defendants to obtain consumers’ written authorization on a specified form before debiting their credit card or checking account for any product or service.

Commissioner Swindle concluded that the provision is “over-broad and unnecessary to prevent deception and may have unintended negative effects on legitimate activities.” He stated that the authorization form duplicates information that consumers already receive in the course of a transaction (for example, cost information on credit card slips), and contains some disclosures that pertain solely to credit-related products or services. He also explained that the use of an authorization form with “warning” written across the top might deter legitimate sales, since consumers may reasonably decide to purchase elsewhere. He noted that the requirement “effectively bars the defendants from engaging in any future telemarketing,” and stated that if the Commission intended to ban future telemarketing, the order should clearly state that fact. Commissioner Swindle stated that he believes “there are clearer, more narrowly tailored ways of protecting consumers and ensuring that the defendants comply with the law.”

Commissioner Leary stated that he generally agreed with Commissioner Swindle’s concerns and was “particularly concerned about the impact of this provision on a face-to-face transaction because it would require the defendants to present a form with specified disclosures to consumers and obtain written consent prior to any transaction that involves a credit or debit charge.”

He said the provision is “not necessary to ensure that consumers have consented to face-to-face transactions…” and may “deter consumers from buying at all; and it may also deter potential employers from hiring these defendants, even as over-the-counter sales people, in any business that involves potential credit or debit card transactions.” He concluded, “The conduct charged in the complaint fully justifies the injunctive relief otherwise contained in the order, but this particular provision goes too far.”

The complaint and stipulated final judgment were filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona on April 5, 2001 and signed by the court on April 20, 2001.

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Sears MasterCard

AZ-based Sears National Bank indicated this weekend it has converted 12 million of Sears’ 60 million retail cardholders to the ‘Sears Gold MasterCard’. At year end 2000, Sears had approximately 9 million cardholders for its bank credit card program, according to CardData. Sears launched the co-branded bank credit card one year ago, targeting inactive and non-revolving cardholders. Sears has been plagued by declining credit revenue due to lower average balances on the private-label Sears cards. At the end of 2000, there were approximately $1.4 billion in Sears/MasterCard receivables. 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. Sears/MasterCard receivables are estimated at $1.8 billion as of March 31. 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.

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