A credit card rate battle has erupted in the Middle East following the introduction, this past weekend, of a new VISA card and the unveiling of an American Express ‘Blue’ card in the United Arab Emirates. MasterCard may soon join the battle as it announced plans to open a new office in Dubai by October. Next week, a three day ‘Cards Middle East’ conference produced by Terrapinn, will get underway in Dubai for the second consecutive year. This past Saturday, the National Bank of Dubai introduced a new VISA card which offers an interest rate of 1.75% with NBD customers receiving a 1.25% rate. On Sunday, American Express rolled out its ‘Blue’ credit card offering a six-month intro rate of 1.0%, followed by a go-to APR of 1.95%. Under the NBD program there is a US$40 annual fee which is waived for the first year. The annual fee is waived or reduced in subsequent years based on charge volume. The new AmEx ‘Blue’ credit card also offers a ‘MoneyBack’ rebate program which credits back 1% of annual purchase volume to the cardholder. VISA has about one million cards-in-force in the UAE. AmEx is the process of launching its ‘Blue’ card worldwide after signing up more than six million Americans for the smart card version of ‘Blue’. The Mid-East cards conference scheduled for next week is being sponsored by Hypercom, VISA, ACI and others.Details
Fujitsu-ICL Systems Inc. announced that Foreline Security Corp., one of the United States’ largest independent integrators of financial and commercial security equipment, has chosen the full line of Fujitsu automated-teller machines as the first ATMs ever offered by the Tampa, Fla.-based company. Foreline Security is selling the Fujitsu Series 7000 and Series 8000 ATMs because of customer requests for a line of automated-teller machines, said Ray Scannapieco, vice president and general manager of Foreline. Fujitsu’s Series 8000, introduced in November 2000, is the first full-scale, Web-enabled ATM based on the Microsoft Windows(R) 2000 operating system.
“Foreline has been in business for 40 years, and our customers — banks and credit unions — have asked us for an ATM product that is reliable, secure and high-quality. Fujitsu’s ATMs are just that,” said Scannapieco. “We chose the Fujitsu ATMs as the first ATMs Foreline’s ever offered because we want to sell automated-teller machines that we consider wise investments for our customers. This is a long-term commitment on their part, and they must be certain of the quality and reliability of their purchases.” Foreline, which integrates all banking and security equipment for customers, sells, installs and services the Fujitsu ATMs, and offers support and training to Fujitsu ATM owners and operators.
Foreline’s decision to sell the Fujitsu Series 7000 and Series 8000 family of ATMs speaks to the known reliability of Fujitsu’s full-scale ATMs, said Neill Collins, Fujitsu-ICL’s vice president of sales for financial systems. “Foreline is a very respected company, and it is a true compliment that they have chosen Fujitsu’s as the first line of ATMs offered in the company’s history,” said Collins. “This is a good fit for both companies.” Fujitsu-ICL services and supports Fujitsu-branded ATM hardware and turnkey hardware/software solutions via direct and indirect distribution channels. The company also offers customer-support services, including hardware support and repair; ATM integration, installation and rollout; call center and help-desk support.
About Foreline Security Corp.
Foreline Security Corp., based in Tampa, Fla., was founded in 1961 as a family-owned printing company specializing in banking records. Today, Foreline is one of the United States’ largest, independent integrators of financial and commercial security equipment. Foreline offers vaults, safes, night depositories, pneumatic drive-in equipment, ATM equipment, under-counter steel, bullet-resistant enclosures and security portals. Additionally, Foreline installs electronic-security systems, including integrated high-rise access control with digital closed-circuit TV systems accessible from any secure PC, no matter the geographic location. The company also offers security-monitoring services. Web site: [www.foreline.com]
About Fujitsu-ICL Systems Inc.
Fujitsu-ICL Systems Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702), a leading provider of Internet-focused information technology solutions for the global marketplace. The company specializes in transaction-based solutions for the retail and financial systems markets. The company has almost 30 years experience in providing hardware/software solutions and services for retail point-of-sale (POS), specialized mobile computing and automated-teller-machine (ATM) applications. Its customer relationship management (CRM) solutions enable Fujitsu customers to build high-value, personalized relationships with consumers. Web sites: [www.fjicl.com], [www.fujitsu.com]
Customers of Los Alamos National Bank now can receive cash without having to pay a convenience fee by using their debit cards at ATMs owned by financial institutions participating in the PULSE Select ATM program.
The alliance, through which banks, credit unions and savings and loans offer each others’ ATM cardholders a greatly expanded number of ATMs at which they can access their cash without paying a convenience fee, is endorsed by the Independent Community Bankers Association of New Mexico, of which the Los Alamos National Bank is the largest member.
Typically, customers can use ATMs owned by their own financial institution at no charge, but when they use a machine owned by another financial institution, consumers may be assessed a surcharge, or convenience fee.
“Our participation in the Select ATM program allows us to better serve our customers as they travel across the state and throughout the country,” said Chuck Shull, Los Alamos National Bank vice president. “Through our branch offices, drive-through locations and our own ATMs, we were able to meet the banking convenience needs of our customers,” he said. “But becoming a member of this alliance greatly increases our debit cardholders’ opportunities to conduct transactions quickly, economically and securely wherever they are.”
“We are pleased to welcome Los Alamos National Bank as a major participant in the Select ATM program,” said Leah Huffmeister, senior vice president for PULSE. “The commitment exemplified by such a prestigious and influential banking institution is truly a compliment, and emphasizes the importance of electronic banking to community bankers and their customers,” she said. Launched in 1999, the Select ATM program now encompasses ATMs owned and operated by nearly 50 financial institutions in six states. “Community banks, savings and loans and credit unions form the core of the alliance, which helps them provide convenience similar to that offered by larger financial institutions,” Huffmeister said. However, she noted that participation in the surcharge-free group is open to all PULSE member financial institutions on a non-discriminatory basis.
PULSE is a financial industry-owned, not-for-profit shared electronic funds transfer network linking an estimated 60 million cardholders with more than 76,500 ATMs and 300,000 point-of-sale merchant locations throughout the United States. Its members include more than 2,800 banks, credit unions and savings and loans in a 22-state primary service area blanketing the central, south, midwest and southwest regions of the United States. PULSE has become well known in recent years as a recognized resource for consumer research related to EFT services, and an effective national public policy voice on issues of importance to the financial industry. Visit PULSE online at [www.pulse-eft.com].
U.S. Wireless Data, Inc. announced that its Chairman and CEO, Dean M. Leavitt, has been elected to the board of directors of the Electronic Transactions Association.
The ETA is the leading international trade association serving the needs of organizations offering transaction processing products and services. Its members handle the vast majority of all merchant-generated electronic payment transactions conducted in the United States.
“Executives of Dean’s caliber are always a valuable asset to the success of this organization,” stated Jim Plappert, president of the ETA Board of Directors. “However, it is particularly relevant in this case. Dean brings the perspective of wireless data transport, which is truly becoming a viable, cost-saving alternative to landline technology for our members. I am confident that his expertise and leadership will accelerate the benefits that this revolutionary technology can bring to our industry.”
“I am pleased to have been elected to the board of an association that has played such a key role in the evolution of electronic payment transactions,” said Leavitt. “Obviously, our membership recognizes that wireless data transport is no longer just a niche technology. I look forward to playing a meaningful role in furthering the ETA’s mission and continued development.”
About Electronic Transactions Association
ETA is the leading international trade association representing organizations offering electronic transaction processing products and services. Its membership represents leading companies providing services between merchants and settlement banks, financial institutions and businesses providing equipment or services to the industry. ETA was organized in 1990 to influence policy within the industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy, and the exchange of information.
About U.S. Wireless Data, Inc.
U.S. Wireless Data, Inc. ([www.uswirelessdata.com]), founded in1991, markets proprietary technology that brings together three large, rapidly growing industries – transaction processing, wireless data transport and the Internet – to enable wireless payment processing. The company’s Synapse(sm) platform provides a gateway among all of the parties within a wireless point-of-sale (POS) transaction. This enables businesses that require mobility (i.e., not tethered to a telephone line), or fixed-location business that seek faster transaction speed, to accept wireless point-of-sale payments. By providing a seamless interface among merchants’ POS terminals, wireless carriers and card processors, credit, debit and other card transactions can be processed as fast as cash, without the cost and inconvenience of a telephone line. In addition, Synapse’s Internet-based tools offer on-line, real-time transaction monitoring, remote diagnostics and automated terminal activation. The company is headquartered in New York City.
Two years to the month after initiating an overhaul of its customer satisfaction and marketing programs, Providian Financial Corporation has been recognized for its efforts by being awarded the Rochester Institute of Technology/USA TODAY Quality Cup for 2001. Providian, which was honored in the service category, was selected from among 146 nominees, including other Fortune 500 companies and business organizations, for the annual award. A panel of RIT faculty, other academics, and industry quality experts made the selection.
“Winning the Quality Cup is a testament to the hard work and commitment of all 13,000 Providian employees who have rededicated themselves to providing the highest levels of customer service,” said Providian CEO Shailesh Mehta. “While we continue to look for ways to make improvements, we are all very proud to have been recognized for our efforts.”
In May 1999, the Company began an effort to become an industry leader in customer satisfaction. Providian has implemented more than 200 changes in customer outreach, complaint handling, marketing and direct mail practices and its Web site. Since initiating the program, which was designed to ensure clarity in product promotion, provide the fastest possible response to customer inquiries, and increase customer satisfaction, Providian has boosted its account base by 60 percent to more than 17 million, cut customer complaints by 40 percent, and increased customer retention. Independent research conducted by Barry Leeds & Associates finds that nearly nine of out ten Providian customers would recommend Providian to a friend.
Providian also was recently recognized by BusinessWeek magazine as number six among all U.S. companies in the annual BusinessWeek 50 rankings. In March, it also received the “Corporate Advocate of the Year Award” from the Child Welfare League of America.
Award Judges Praise Providian’s Complaint Resolution System In selecting Providian, award judges told USA Today of the Company’s commitment to rapid resolution of complaints, enhanced training of its customer representatives, and convenient, new on-line and telephone payment programs that help customers avoid fees for late payment.
“They have a policy of guilt-free escalation for sales reps: A customer’s questions and complaints can go straight from a supervisor all the way to the CEO. There is a real system in place for customer service response,” said judge Gary Bonvillian, dean, School of Business and Professional Studies, Mesa State College, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Providian requires its 7,000 customer service representatives to ask each customer if they are fully satisfied at the end of every telephone conversation. If a customer says “no,” he or she is given the option of speaking to a supervisor.
Customers Show Support by Sticking with Providian Marc Loewenthal, senior vice president and chief privacy officer for Providian, said the Company’s efforts have struck a strong chord with customers as evidenced by significant gains in customer retention as well as internal satisfaction surveys.
“Our industry is highly competitive and our customers have many opportunities to take their business elsewhere. Very few are choosing to do so,” Loewenthal said. “We are honored by our customers’ loyalty, which is a tribute to the customer service people of Providian.” San Francisco-based Providian Financial ([www.providian.com]) is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the U.S., and offers credit cards and deposit products in the UK and in Argentina. Providian Financial has been named one of America’s Most Admired Companies in a survey by Fortune magazine, one of the nation’s top financial institutions by U.S. Banker magazine, and one of the most technologically innovative companies in the U.S. by InformationWeek magazine. The Company has more than $33 billion in assets under management and over 17 million customer accounts.
A deal was struck today that will allow consumers to use a leather pocket wallet for wireless payments at checkout lanes equipped with advanced payment terminals. Hypercom and WearLogic are teaming up to marry the flexible display and keyboard in the wireless WearLogic ‘Smartwear’ e-wallet with Hypercom’s ‘epic ICE’ card payment terminal. The e-wallet uses ‘Flextek’ technology which provides for a flexible screen, ATM-like soft keys, and an intuitive keyboard along with the usual pockets and compartments found in a traditional leather wallet. The ‘Smartwear Wallet’ also includes a smart card reader and advanced ‘WearX’ and ‘CardX’ software, and uses XML browser interface technology. Hypercom’s ‘epic ICE’ devices are high performance, touch screen-based, Internet-enabled card payment terminals and web appliances that incorporate a firewall-protected multi-application operating system, EMV chip card capability, secure PIN pad, built-in HTML/HTTP web browser, and integrated receipt printer. The new wallet payment system will be demonstrated at next week’s CardTech/SecurTech Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas.Details
SCM Microsystems this week introduced the first personal multi-functional smart card reader which provides for contactless payments. The company also announced it has received its first order for the new reader. The ‘E-25’ reader can be kept around a person’s neck as a corporate badge or simply attached to a belt. The reader features a keypad for secure PIN code entry and an LCD to read data from the card. It also features a transmitter to open doors, access courses for students or facilitate payment in cafeterias or on public transportation. The ‘E-25’ can also be connected to a computer via USB or RS-232 serial ports for conventional smart card applications such as secure authentication to networks, Internet payment or e-couponing downloads and loyalty applications. Dalmatinska Bank Zadar in Croatia has ordered more than 100,000 ‘E-25’ readers for their secure Internet banking implementation based on PKI.Details
The State of Pennsylvania will hold hearings next week on the possible implementation of smart cards to fight ID theft. House Bill 175 would require the use of smart card technology and biometric imaging on all Pennsylvania commercial and noncommercial driver’s licenses and state identification cards. Representatives from ORGA Card Systems will testify regarding the success of a similar program it launched in the Indian State of Gujarat. ORGA will deliver 10 million smart cards in the Gujarat project. The proposed Pennsylvania smart cards would include: license number, the driver’s name, date of birth, address, physical description, digital signature, fingerprint image, license expiration date, class of vehicle the driver is authorized to drive, and any restrictions or endorsements. The design of the license would remain the same, except for the addition of the chip.Details
ExxonMobil’s highly successful ‘Speedpass’ wireless payment program is being introduced in Canada. Imperial Oil announced Monday it plans to introduce ‘Speedpass’ into the Canadian marketplace in August. ‘Speedpass’ is a radio frequency transponder device that fits on a key chain. It will automatically bill purchases against a pre-determined credit card, as well as link directly to an ‘Esso Extra’ account for points accumulation. Consumers can use this device to pay for fuel and convenience store items at participating Esso stations. The rollout will start in Edmonton and then roll out across Canada. Last year, Imperial launched the ‘Royal Bank Esso VISA’ card, which allows cardholders to earn two or more ‘Esso Extra’ points for eligible purchases at participating Esso stations and one point for every dollar spent on non-Esso purchases. The ‘Speedpass’ program was introduced by Mobil in the USA during 1996. In 1999, the program was introduced in Singapore, the first market outside the U.S. to offer the e-pay system. (CF Library 1/22/99; 4/14/99; 8/17/00)Details
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.Details
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.Details
@pos ([www.atpos.com]), 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.
@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], email to email@example.com, or call 408-468-5400.