OPC Signs Iowa

Official Payments Corporation announced the company has signed an agreement with the State of Iowa to provide a service enabling Iowa citizens to make a variety of delinquent tax and fee payments by credit card, over the Internet and by telephone.

The new system is scheduled to go live later this year. The contract represents the firm’s first business within the state. Official Payments also provides various credit card payment services to the Internal Revenue Service, 17 other state governments and over 700 counties and municipalities in 42 states across the United States.

When the system is launched later this year, Iowa taxpayers will be able to use the American Express Card, Discover Card, and MasterCard to make their delinquent tax and fee payments. The following taxes are included: individual income, withholding, fiduciary income, retail sales, retail use, consumer use, and inheritance. Debts owed to the Judicial Department, Department Of Inspections & Appeals, College Aid, and Department Of Human Services may also be paid through Official Payments.

Payments of delinquent taxes will be made by visiting www.officialpayments.com on the Internet or by calling 1-800-2PAY-TAX. Official Payments will charge taxpayers a convenience fee of 2.5% of their tax payment for the service. For example, a taxpayer who makes a $500 tax payment would be charged a total of $512.50; $500 for the tax payment, and a 2.5% fee, or $12.50, to cover the cost of the service. As a bonus, taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes. “We are pleased with our momentum in signing Iowa as our 18th state client,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments. “We will work quickly to launch the delinquent tax payment system and will then pursue other tax categories with the state,” Mr. Evans added.

In addition to the service for the State of Iowa, taxpayers can now make their Federal Form 1040 Balance Due Payments, Form 4868 Extension of Time to File, and Form 1040ES Estimated Payments (beginning March 1) by credit card, on the Internet at www.officialpayments.com or by calling 1-800-2PAY-TAX. Official Payments charges a flat 2.5% fee (minimum payment of $1.00), which is the lowest price available from the two companies that are listed in IRS instructions as providing credit card tax payment services to taxpayers.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments is the incumbent in contracts with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, and well over 700 county and municipal governments in 42 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state, and local government payments. Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company has experienced rapid and sustained growth over the past six reported quarters in revenue, new client acquisition, and addition of incremental services to existing clients. The company’s success can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.



Vital Merchant Services yesterday launched a Web site that provides acquirers a new channel to successfully manage their merchant customer’s terminal portfolios. ‘VitalSync’ enables acquirers to instantly order and monitor point-of-sale equipment, supplies and services as well as access historical data on their merchant customers. Acquirers log on to the web site with a protected password. Through ‘VitalSync’, Vital Merchant Services has direct access to Vital Processing Services’ ‘Merchant Management System’. This allows Vital Merchant Services to download merchant profile information of Vital’s acquiring clients.


Card Debt Softens

After a very sluggish December, American consumers have continued to show restraint with credit card debt during January. This year consumers added $6.7 billion during January compared to $9.2 billion for January 2000. According to preliminary figures released Wednesday afternoon by the Federal Reserve, revolving debt grew 12.1% annually for Jan 2001 compared to an 18.5% rate for Jan 2000. Last year American consumers added $67 billion to total revolving credit. Overall, consumer credit is growing at a 12.6% rate. At the end of January, American consumers were $1.550 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages. The latest FRB data shows the average annual interest rate charged on credit card accounts that revolve is 15.23%.


Jan 01 Dec00 Nov00 Oct00 Sep00 Aug00 Jul00

%GRWTH: 12.1% 4.4 10.9 4.7 7.8 12.6 6.7

$OWED: $669.7 663.0 660.6 654.8 649.3 645.1 638.2

Jun00 May00 Apr00 Mar00 Feb00 Jan00 Dec99
%GRWTH: 11.2% 12.7 13.5 13.8 9.4 18.5 12.5
$OWED: $634.7 628.9 622.5 615.5 608.5 605.0 595.8

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 03/07/01;
For complete historical data visit www.carddata.com.



Dallas-based Carreker Corp. has signed a new fraud prevention contract in
excess of $1 million with one of the largest banks in Australia and has
completed its first licensing agreement in the UK to provide its
‘eiManager’ ATM monitoring software to Halifax plc. In Australia, Carreker
will provide its ‘FraudLink On-us’ and ‘FraudLink Deposit’ software to
monitor potential fraudulent activity across all check transactions within
the bank’s operations. In the UK, Carreker’s ‘eiManager’ will provide ATM
fault and device monitoring, as well as automated dispatch and escalation
of service requests, to the more than 2,500 ATMs operated by Halifax
throughout the U.K.


Mont Ward Cards

With the Montgomery Ward bankruptcy underway, GE Capital is now replacing Montgomery Wards credit cards with Wal-Mart credit cards. Montgomery Ward filed bankruptcy in December and is in the process of unloading assets. GE’s Georgia-based Monogram Credit Card Bank began mailing out replacement cards on Monday. Monogram charges an APR between 13.24% and 21.24%, based on credit risk, for the Wal-Mart credit card, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]). GE currently manages or owns more than 100 million credit card accounts with approximately $25 billion in receivables, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]).

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


Intell-A-Check CEO

Intell-A-Check Corp., a leader in electronic payment solutions, announced the appointment of A. Joseph Gage as its chief executive officer. Mr. Gage brings more than 20 years experience in the financial services industry to the company’s management team.

As CEO, Mr. Gage is responsible for accelerating company growth and development, and plays a key role in the company’s marketing, sales, product strategy and business development initiatives. Prior to joining Intell-A-Check, Mr. Gage was president and CEO of GO Software, Inc., a venture funded developer and marketer of credit card and other payment processing software for traditional and Internet merchants. During his tenure, GO Software achieved annual revenue growth of 90 percent, executed product and co-marketing agreements with VeriFone, Visa, IBM and other leading e-commerce companies, and was acquired by Network Commerce (NASDAQ: NWKC), a leading e-commerce infrastructure provider.

“Early on Intell-A-Check recognized the growing trend of companies in the payment processing industry moving from paper to electronic-based methods of billing, documentation and authorization, and has developed its technology to meet these needs,” said Louis Obssuth, President of Intell-A-Check. “Joe’s demonstrated track record of proven revenue growth coupled with his extensive financial services experience makes him the ideal candidate to lead Intell-A-Check in continued growth.”

Since leaving GO Software, Mr. Gage has been a consultant to several companies in the e-commerce and payments arena, leading strategic planning, marketing, product development and infrastructure development for companies such as NXT Corporation, a leading transaction and networking company recently acquired by US Wireless Data (NASDAQ: USWE.OB), as well as a leading peer-to-peer (P2P) payments infrastructure company.

Prior to GO Software, Mr. Gage was vice president product management for First Data Corporation’s (NYSE: FDC) merchant payment business. During this time, Mr. Gage had comprehensive responsibility for developing, implementing and managing product strategy for First Data’s Advanced Products group, which accounted for approximately 50 percent of First Data’s credit card authorization and deposit transaction volume and revenues.

Mr. Gage is 42 years old and received his Bachelors of Science in Mathematics, Cum Laude, from New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.

About Intell-A-Check, Corp.

Founded in 1993, Belleville, NJ-based Intell-A-Check, Corp. provides electronic payment solutions to Fortune 1000 organizations in the financial services, telecommunications, utilities and retail (mail-order/ telephone-order) industries. Its flagship product, Intell-A-Check!(TM), enables companies to accept check-based payments over the phone, via the Internet, or through a VRU (voice response unit). The Intell-A-Check! Service Bureau offers database hosting, real-time check authorization, and ACH settlement services. The company is a Microsoft Commerce Partner, an Avaya CRM Solutions Alliance Network Member and an Affiliate Member of the National Automated Clearing House Association. For additional information, contact Intell-A-Check, Corp. at 800-946-8355, or via the Web at [http://www.icheck.com][1].

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


Wireless Advertising

SkyGo released the results from a wireless marketing study that show permission-based alerts delivered to wireless phones capture consumer attention, drive action and build brand awareness. During the study, 37% of the participants opted to provide their credit card information and sign up for an electronic wallet, enabling them to respond to advertisements and make purchases over the wireless Internet. VISA says it was particularly excited by the number of participants who opted to sign up for the electronic wallet and says it will enable members to understand this new ad medium. NextCard and Catalina Marketing also joined in the wireless study. SkyGo says 64% of the ads SkyGo delivered as WAP alerts to mobile phones were opened by consumers. These alerts generated an overall ad recall rate of 58%, and 15% of the ads resulted in action or planned action.



Proton World announced that it had joined the Global Mobile Commerce
Interoperability Group, an open organisation for the development of
secure wireless payment standards.

Proton World joins the other 61 members of GMCIG, including financial
institutions, telecommunications network operators, wireless device
manufacturers, mobile technology and content providers and payment card
organisations. GMCIG was formed in June 2000, and has several working groups
that will submit draft wireless payment standards to existing wireless
organisations, such as the WAP Forum, ETSI , Radicchio and others.
The draft standards being worked on at present are

This move reflects the added emphasis placed on mobile commerce by Proton
World. The recently-launched Proton Prisma family contains applications and
toolboxes for m-commerce transactions that are currently in development, and a
proof-of-concept Proton Prisma SIM card for Wireless Cardholder Authentication
was recently demonstrated at the 3GSM World trade show in Nice.

Peter Stroo, Product Manager at Proton World, said “One of Proton World’s
raisons d’être is to support efforts to create international standards for
products in the sectors where we are active. As we are developing a range of
products in the sectors covered by the work of GMCIG, we look forward to being
able to both contribute our experience and expertise to its discussions and to
learn from our fellow GMCIG members.”

Olivier Denis, Product Manager, Europay International and Chairman of a GMCIG
Working Group, said “Proton World’s participation in the GMCIG highlights the
Group’s key role in the development of a global vision and architecture for
mobile payments in the telecommunicationss and payments industries. Proton
World’s commitment to global payment standards will help to realise this
vision, contributing to the development of the mobile-commerce market.”

2000. Comprising banks, telecom network operators, handset manufacturers, chip
card manufacturers and software vendors, its ambition is to promote the
development of secure, global mobile payment services around the world to
benefit consumers and the companies involved.
The GMCIG members are working together towards a future where consumers
will be able to use their mobile phones.



Canadian Tire Acceptance Limited confirmed the sale of its Hamilton
Discount Corporation Limited subsidiary to The Associates. Hamilton is a
provider of private label credit card programs to some of Canada’s largest
retailers. As part of the deal, The Associates will also purchase from CTAL
outstanding credit charge receivables managed on behalf of a third-party
retailer. Total cash proceeds from both transactions will exceed $135
million with a net pre-tax gain to CTAL of approximately $8 million. The
deal does not affect Canadian Tire’s other credit card products including
the ‘Options MasterCard’ and proprietary Canadian Tire retail card. Both
cards are profitable, growing about 24% annually. Under last week’s
agreement, The Associates will retain all 117 HDC employees across Canada
and will continue to operate as Hamilton Discount Corporation Limited.


EPX Bank

Electronic Payment Exchange, a full-service payment processing company, launched epxbank.com, an online bank developed for the convenience of its merchant client base.

The launch marks the final step in completing the first true end-to-end ePayment solution available to merchants, offering the first direct link between merchant account and operating account reporting functions. epxbank.com is a private-label version of thebancorp.com, an online bank located in Wilmington, DE. The new service will act as an extension of the merchant services portion of EPX’s business, enabling merchants who maintain their operating account at epxbank.com to audit their credit card and ACH deposits, chargebacks, returns and fees online.

Clients who use the bank are able to log in directly from EPX’s website. Merchants can easily compare their online account statement to their online credit card transaction data, which includes all real-time transaction reporting and complete chargeback documentation and presentment conducted by the merchant.

“A common complaint we heard from merchants, especially from their finance group, was the inability to reconcile their bank account with their payment processing activity on a daily basis,” explains Ray Moyer, CEO of EPX. “Linking their payment processing reporting to their online bank account reporting was the solution we’ve introduced with epxbank.com.”

According to Moyer, one of EPX’s primary goals is to simplify business payment acceptance by providing a “one stop shop” for payment services. The company already acts as ISO, front-end software provider, underwriter, and provides back-end settlement and reporting to its client base. With epxbank.com, EPX is now the first company to provide a direct link between real-time online transaction reporting and operating account reporting functions. The website, [www.epxbank.com][1] is currently functional and has already enlisted a number of EPX’s merchant base. The company plans to roll-out the capability to its entire client base in late-March.

About EPX

Founded in 1979, EPX is a full-service ePayment processing company, which specializes in enabling businesses to accept credit card, debit card and electronic check transactions. Notable EPX milestones have included: processing the first Internet credit card and electronic check transactions, developing the first real-time transaction reporting website and creating the first merchant financial risk transfer processing guarantee for banks. EPX has a vast array of clients, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, such as DuPont, Verizon Wireless and Metrocall, and currently processes over $4 billion in Internet transactions a year. For more information, please visit us on the Web at [www.epx.com][2].

[1]: http://www.epxbank.com/
[2]: http://www.epx.com/



CIBC reported that credit card balances grew 22% during the quarter ending
Jan 31. CIBC is the number one card issuer in Canada with a total portfolio
of more than 3.2 million accounts and more than $8 billion in outstanding
balances. In the premium card segment, CIBC has more than 40% of market
share based on purchase volumes. Revenue was $260 million in the quarter,
up $46 million from the first quarter of 2000 due to rising balances and a
22% increase in purchase volumes.



ActivCard indicated this week it expects to break even at an operating
level at the end of this year. ActivCard reportedly projected sales to rise
between 100% to 120% from the $18 million posted last year. ActivCard
supplies digital identity and certification software to enable
secure Internet transactions like online banking and commerce and remote
access to corporate networks. Backed by partners like Microsoft and U.S.
giant Schlumberger, ActivCard wants to target the corporate market with
secure ID cards which could let staff into
offices and computer systems while offering digital signatures to seal
deals online and financial services to cover corporate expenses.