First Data Merchant Services, a subsidiary of global electronic commerce and payments leader First Data Corp, announced it has signed a long-term merchant processing agreement with Merchant First Bankcard, an Independent Sales Organization which focuses on small- and medium-sized merchants including retail, restaurant, mail/telephone order, wholesale, start-up, home-based and e-commerce.

First Data Merchant Services will provide Merchant First Bankcard with core accounting, front-end authorization processing, settlement, and selected back office merchant processing services. Under this agreement, the companies expect to bring in more than 50,000 new accounts.

Alan Gitles, president and chief executive officer of Merchant First Bankcard said, “We have worked with many processors over the years, but as we look to regain our dominance in the acquiring market, we are turning to First Data because of their proven expertise and commitment. First Data has responded to our needs with a unique, customized product to assist Merchant First Bankcard in facilitating rapid growth through ISO relationships. With this processing platform in place, Merchant First is positioned to expand into partnerships in the fastest growing segment of the merchant industry,” said Gitles.

Merchant First Bankcard, which is located in Schaumburg, Ill., is launching with a senior management team that together has more than 100 years of bankcard experience. Alan Gitles, CEO of Merchant First and an industry veteran, is the former CEO of American National Bankcard, which was sold two years ago. Under Gitles’ leadership, American National had the largest number of registered ISOs in the business. Drawing on this experience, Gitles plans to incorporate one of his foundation policies into Merchant First by ensuring the company has experienced telemarketing professionals who will generate highly qualified leads for all of its ISOs.

“We are very excited about partnering with Merchant First Bankcard as they re-enter the market. Their decision to sign a long term agreement with First Data Merchant Services validates our expertise in the merchant processing industry,” said Bob McNamara, Alliance Group President of First Data Merchant Services. “We have worked with Alan in the past, and look forward to building a new relationship.”

About First Data

Atlanta-based First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) helps move the world’s money. As the leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves more than two million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. With more than 27,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit and stored-value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet commerce solutions; Western Union money transfers and money orders; and check processing and verification services throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Spain and Germany. Its money transfer agent network includes approximately 101,000 locations in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.firstdata.com][1].

Merchant First Bankcard

Merchant First Bankcard, a new full service ISO, located in Schaumburg, Ill., possesses a senior management team with over 100 years in the bankcard industry. The company offers ISOs a unique telemarketing lead generation program which will again provide new cutting edge value added services to the ISO community. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.MerchantFirstBankcard.com][2].

[1]: http://www.firstdata.com/
[2]: http://www.merchantfirstbankcard.com/



While bank credit card rates are tumbling in the UK largely due to
competition from US-based issuers, store cards continue to carry high
interest rates. Timecard now carries an APR of 31.9% compared to an 8% APR
on the Cahoot bank credit card. The latest issue of London-based Moneywise
magazine notes that John Lewis and Waitrose carried the lowest rates for
retail cards, coming in at 13%. Among other retailers charging the highest
interest rates on UK store credit cards: Laura Ashley, Owen Owen, Kwik Fit,
Monsoon, Country Casuals, and Russell & Bromley.


Kinney Heads TSYS Collections

Charles F. (Chuck) Kinney has been named president and chief executive officer of TSYS Total Debt Management, a collections and bankruptcy company. Former TDM president and CEO, Richard de Mayo, has been appointed chairman of the board with duties that include maintaining relationships with key clients. TDM is managed by Total System Services, Inc. and owned by Synovus Financial Corp..

Kinney brings more than 33 years of financial experience to TDM, which he will use to lead the company’s strategic direction as well as continue TDM’s commitment to providing the most sophisticated collections and bankruptcy services in the industry.

“This reorganization within TDM enhances its business operations. Both Chuck and Richard are experts in their fields, and we are confident the new structure will benefit not only TDM but the entire TSYS family,” said Richard W. Ussery, TSYS Chairman of the Board and CEO.

In 1999, Synovus acquired the debt collection and bankruptcy management business offered by Wallace & de Mayo, ranked by 1998 volume as the largest collections law firm and ranked by revenue as the fourth largest collections law firm in the nation by Faulkner & Gray, Inc. de Mayo was a founding partner of Wallace & de Mayo. After the acquisition, Wallace & de Mayo was merged into TSYS Total Debt Management and de Mayo was named president, where he served in this capacity from 1999 until the present.

Previously Kinney served as the president and CEO of CFK Consulting, Inc., focusing on the negotiation of credit card and other consumer asset purchases or sales for clients as well as assisting existing and start-up banks with aligning business strategy, risk and product development opportunities. Kinney has also served at multiple financial institutions, including The Prudential Bank and Trust in Atlanta, Ga., where he served as executive vice president and chief operations officer (COO).

Before his appointments at TDM, de Mayo served as special assistant attorney general for the State of Georgia. In 1979, de Mayo merged his law practice to form Wallace & de Mayo, P.C. de Mayo has more than 20 years of legal experience and has served on numerous bar committees. He has served as chairperson of the Debt Collections Seminar for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, president of the Younger Lawyer Section of the State Bar of Georgia, secretary and treasurer of the State Bar of Georgia and on the Board of Medical Assistance of Georgia.

About TSYS Total Debt Management

With the most sophisticated collections applications in the industry, TSYS Total Debt Management(SM) (TDM) offers clients low-cost, high-value early out and recovery collections and agency management, bankruptcy process and legal account management, and skip tracing services. Located in Atlanta, Ga., TDM handles any or all portions of a client’s collections business.

TDM provides fully-integrated technology offerings like the National Attorney Network (NAN), its legal management unit, which is the nation’s largest legal collections network, serving retailers, banks and finance companies. NAN facilitates and manages the placement of legal collection cases at the account level from the creditor to the collection law firm.

About Total System Services, Inc.

TSYS provides global commerce solutions. With more than 197 million accounts on file, TSYS facilitates the payment exchange between buyers and sellers. TSYS and its family of companies offer a full range of acquiring and issuing business services from accepting electronic payments for goods and services to credit applications and collections for credit, debit, commercial, stored value, retail and chip accounts. TSYS has offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada and Japan, and processes for 21 countries and in 11 currencies. Based in Columbus, Ga., TSYS ([http://www.totalsystem.com][1] stem.com/> ) is an 80.8 percent-owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. ([http://www.synovus.com][2]), No. 8 on FORTUNE magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies To Work For” in 2001. For more information, contact news@totalsystem.com .

[1]: http://www.totalsystem.com/
[2]: http://www.synovus.com/


GP Signs IRN

Global Payments Inc., formerly NDC eCommerce, announced a new processing agreement with Independent Sales Organization, IRN Payment Systems.

Under this new agreement, IRN will market Global’s services to new merchants signed through its extensive nationwide sales force, as well as to IRN’s existing client base of over 20,000 merchants.

![][1] “IRN’s relationship with Global Payments affords us the ability to provide our sales agents and merchants with custom service offerings at competitive prices from a premier industry provider,” said President of IRN Payment Systems, Amedeo Dino Sgueglia.

IRN is an Independent Sales Organization selling payment processing solutions and value-added services, including electronic gift card, stored value and loyalty products, EBT card processing, specialized leasing products and unique wireless solutions to multi-national, as well as Mom and Pop merchants within retail, restaurant, lodging, and emerging markets.

“Global Payments looks forward to providing IRN’s nationwide customer base with dynamic solutions to maximize their business potential,” said Paul R. Garcia, president and CEO of Global Payments Inc. “We are delighted with this latest opportunity to service more of the merchant community. The consummation of this agreement further emphasizes Global’s focus on servicing the ISO marketplace, and IRN’s commitment to the long-term success of their business.”

Global Payments Inc. is a leading provider of electronic transaction processing services to merchants, Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs), financial institutions, government agencies and multi-national corporations. Global Payments offers a comprehensive line of payment solutions, including credit and debit cards, business-to-business purchasing cards, gift cards, check guarantee, check verification and recovery, terminal management and funds transfer services.

[1]: /graphic/irnpayment/irnpayment.gif



MIST, Inc.,, a global leader in wireless transaction technology, announced that the Electronic Transaction Association has selected the MIST Freedom II wireless terminal to process registration transactions at the ETA 2001 Annual Meeting and Exposition on March 8-10 in San Diego.

The ETA is the major international trade association representing organizations offering transaction processing products and services. The MIST Freedom II terminals will be deployed at the show’s registration desk using Atomic Software’s “ecomPort” software to provide an efficient and speedy mobile solution for managing payments. ETA first used the Freedom II terminals at its August mid-year meeting held in Chicago.

The MIST Freedom II terminal, which features an integrated printer and pinpad, allows the ETA show management added flexibility in bringing the point-of-sale terminals to any location at the conference to conduct wireless transactions. ETA was organized to influence policy within the transaction processing industry by providing leadership through education, advocacy and the exchange of information.

“The success of the MIST Freedom II terminals at last summer’s ETA conference was tremendous,” said Linda Horwath, MIST Vice President of U.S. Sales. “There is nothing more satisfying than to see the ease at which business transactions can take place when using these terminals. We look forward to assisting ETA again this year and are confident the efficiency of our terminals will make significant contributions to the overall success of the conference.” MIST’s Freedom II is a wireless portable device that allows a merchant to perform credit or debit card transactions from any location. What sets the Freedom II apart is its ease and flexibility of use because integrated within each device is a wireless modem supporting multiple platforms including, CDPD, Mobitex, and Motient. This broad variety of wireless communication methods allows the merchant to select one technology that best fits its geographical area.

“The MIST Freedom II terminals and Atomic Software are a great assistance to us,” said Shawn Canfield, ETA Director of Meetings. “The efficiency, flexibility, and ease of these wireless solutions to handle our registration process provides great service. It is a significant benefit to our organizers to know this system will meet the ever-increasing needs of our registration team.”

MIST once again is teaming with Atomic Software to provide the ETA with a transaction-processing solution. Atomic’s ecomPort Wireless Payment gateway will be used to provide connectivity to ETA’s merchant processor. The ecomPort gateway service routes transactions from the point of sale to the merchant’s credit, debit, and check processors. It also includes a web-based Merchant Console where merchants can review transaction detail and batch reports, add new transactions and run voids or returns, as well as see up to one year of transaction history online.

“Atomic Software is proud to assist ETA at this year’s conference,” said Robert Brooks, Atomic Software’s Director of Wireless Products. “We are pleased ETA found the combination of our ecomPort Gateway and the Mist Freedom II terminals to be an effective solution to meet their wireless needs.”

About MIST Inc.

MIST Inc. (TSE:MIS), a leading global provider of wireless transaction-enabling technologies, is in the business of designing, manufacturing, and distributing wireless and wired Point-of-Sale (POS) solutions. With facilities in Toronto and Montreal, MIST has an installed base of more than 550,000 POS terminals. MIST’s clients include Canadian and international banks, financial institutions, credit and debit card processors, as well as retail, hotel, restaurant, healthcare, and loyalty customers. The “MIST Freedom” family of wireless transaction terminals was developed to complement its range of existing products. MIST has business offices in Canada and the United States. For more information, visit [www.mistwireless.com][1]. Investors may contact investor-relations@mistwireless.com.

About Atomic Software:

Atomic Software is a venture-funded company that provides electronic payment solutions to wireless, Internet, mail/phone order, retail and restaurant companies. The company’s products are certified for use by leading banks and transaction processors in the United States. For more information on Atomic Software’s ecomPort wireless payment gateway contact Robert Brooks at 813/995-0268 or visit [http://www.eComPortwireless.com][2]. Atomic can be found on the web at [http://www.atomic-software.com][3].

[1]: http://www.mistwireless.com/
[2]: http://www.ecomportwireless.com/
[3]: http://www.atomic-software.com/



Competition in the UK’s consumer credit reporting market is heating up as ‘FICO®’ scores will soon be offered. Callcredit, a new consumer credit reference agency in the UK is partnering with Fair Isaac to deliver consumer credit scores directly over the Web to lenders throughout the UK. Currently, the UK’s consumer credit reference agency market is dominated by two US-based giants, Equifax and Experian. Both Equifax and Experian offer their own proprietary credit scores to lenders in the UK The UK ‘FICO®’ scores will be introduced in June. About 140 million credit applications are processed annually in the UK. Fair, Isaac has been involved in the UK market since the mid-80s.


Smart Biz Card

Fleet Credit Card Services said Tuesday it tested its new ‘smart VISA Business Card’ late last year in select markets. Yesterday, Fleet officially rolled out, on a national basis, the first VISA smart card for small business. As first reported in yesterday’s CardFlash, VISA designed the new business card to extend the same smart card platform used for the consumer ‘smart VISA’ cards introduced six months ago by Fleet, Providian, and First USA. Fleet’s consumer smart card is marketed under the name: ‘Fusion’. Through its smart chip, the new business card offers quick sign on to its web site, as well as e-wallet form fill functionality at smart checkout merchant sites. The new Fleet ‘smart VISA Business Card’ also features the ability to: add or delete employee cardholders; set spending limits on employee accounts; produce itemized reports for tax purposes; print detailed reports by expense category; confidentially check employee spending; set e-mail alerts for notification of specific transactions; and download statement detail to accounting software packages. Fleet says it plans to add the ability to download loyalty programs with discounts, promotions and tickets in the future. VISA indicated yesterday that several other issuers are gearing up to launch ‘smart VISA’ business cards. Fleet’s Small Business Service group will target the new smart business card to companies with annual revenues of up to $10 million and credit needs up to $2 million.


Wells OneLook

Wells Fargo & Company launched Wells OneLook, a free account aggregation service that allows more than 2.6 million Wells Fargo customers easy, single sign-on access to their balances across multiple financial institutions through wellsfargo.com. With a privacy policy and security measures meeting all of Wells Fargo’s stringent standards, Wells OneLook offers additional convenience with phone and e-mail support.

Wells OneLook offers Wells Fargo’s customers quick, easy management of online accounts with a single user ID and password. Instead of visiting multiple sites with separate sign-on procedures, customers can now save time and view a consolidated financial picture all in one place. The new account aggregation service is the latest offering in Wells Fargo’s campaign to deliver comprehensive financial services to its online base, and furthers the reputation of wellsfargo.com as one of the premier financial destination sites online.

According to a recent Forrester Research study, 66 percent of online customers want to be able to consolidate their view of online services. Always ahead of the curve, Wells Fargo created Wells OneLook to help customers manage financial resources across various Internet sites. Wells Fargo continues its online leadership by developing services consumers desire most and which leverage its trusted brand to provide security and privacy online. “Wells OneLook meets higher privacy and security standards than many offerings in the industry,” said Avid Modjtabai, executive vice president of Wells Fargo’s Consumer Internet Group. “Consumers who value privacy and security can be confident that Wells Fargo is delivering online services that will safeguard their information.”

“We’re very pleased to have partnered with a leader like Wells Fargo to help develop and deliver truly personalized services for every individual customer,” said Anil Arora, president and CEO of Yodlee, a pioneer and leading provider of personal account aggregation services to businesses worldwide. Customers who make use of Wells OneLook can:

— Save Time: Instead of signing on to multiple Web sites, only a single ID and password is needed to view financial and other personal account information such as reward account balances and e-mail. Even link directly to a site to pay a bill or transfer funds.

— Access the Latest Information: Most account aggregation services present information as of the last time it was gathered. Wells Fargo refreshes the information with each sign on.

— View Everything At-A-Glance: Get a quick, comprehensive display of balances across various account providers on a single screen.

— Set Up and Use with Ease: Selecting a single ID and passcode and doing a one-time setup of each account is all that is needed to get started. Wells OneLook automatically updates all account balances and their most recent transactions with every sign-on.

Wells Fargo was the first major financial services company in the U.S. to launch Internet banking services ([www.wellsfargo.com][1]). Since that 1995 launch, Wells Fargo has blazed the trail for interactive tools and features for customers. Wells Fargo launched online services in 1989 and has introduced a wide range of easy-to-use online customer services. With more than 2.6 million Internet banking customers and 100,000 new customers joining Internet banking each month, Wells Fargo was named by Gomez Advisors and Nielsen/Net Ratings as the top Internet bank with a 14.4 percent market share and 1.6 million unique visitors.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo and Company (NYSE:WFC) is a $272 billion diversified financial services company providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance services through 6,000 stores, its Internet site ([www.wellsfargo.com][2]) and other distribution channels across North America as well as internationally.

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



The Electronic Funds Transfer Association announced yesterday the development of a set of guidelines that will facilitate real-time online debit as a consumer payment option for Internet purchases instead of credit cards. The guidelines are aimed at helping financial institutions, terminal manufacturers, merchants, payment processors, and software developers to bring to market debit products for Internet purchases. The EFTA says the use of ATM cards at the point-of-sale for purchases grew 28% nationwide last year. The guidelines were developed by the Advanced Payments Group, a task force that includes Cash Station, CO-OP Network, Exchange/ACCEL, MAC Network, NYCE, PULSE EFT, Star Systems and TYME. The guidelines assist networks in developing rules, and address security standards and business practices for companies and individuals to follow in developing products and technologies.



To help eliminate online identification fraud and unwarranted chargebacks, iShopSecure, Inc. announced the launch of their revolutionary, patent pending real-time payer authentication solution – Transact-Secure. Designed to protect both merchants and consumers alike, this authentication solution will immediately assure merchants that persons making purchases are who they say they are and that they are the owners of the payment cards they’re using rather than simply scoring a transaction based on the previous purchasing history of consumers. The end result will be the immediate slashing of current fraud losses.

“Transact-Secure is an ideal turn-key solution for all e-merchants,” said Joseph A. McDonnell, CEO for iShopSecure. “This application is of tremendous value to merchants and assures them that their bottom line will no longer be affected by those who try to commit fraud on their Web site.” Last year, e-merchants lost more than $300 million to consumer related online fraud and will reach more than $1 billion by 2002. This type of fraud, known as “identification” fraud, occurs when criminals use a consumer’s credit card to make online purchases or consumers make an online purchase then later denying the transaction. Due to the nature of online transactions where credit cards are not present, merchants have little to no recourse and are the ones held liable when transactions conducted at their sites are later declared to be fraudulent and subsequently charged back to them. Because of this, online merchants end up paying higher discount rates and fees and are subjected to higher penalties based on their chargeback percentages.

Transact-Secure uses a real-time, two-tiered approach for authentication that provides merchants with greater flexibility and control over the authentication and transaction acceptance process. With Transact-Secure, merchants are able to determine the risk levels they are willing to accept and to make changes in a matter of minutes as the need arises.

The first tier, or “in-wallet” authentication, for lower dollar purchases, determines the purchasers’ true identity based on information that would be held in their possession, which may include their billing addresses, telephone numbers or social security numbers.

The second tier, or “out-of-wallet” authentication, offers a 100 percent guarantee of the purchaser’s true identity and is commonly used for higher dollar transactions. This authentication process provides a more comprehensive identification process based upon information only the consumers could know and is not in their immediate possession. Questions may include:

– What is the amount of your mortgage payment?

– Who do you bank with?

– How much is your car payment each month?

Anyone interested in learning more about Transact-Secure is encouraged to contact iShopSecure at 888-533-5600, or visit [www.ishopsecure.com][1].

About iShopSecure

Headquartered in Davie, Fla., iShopSecure Inc. specializes in providing comprehensive, fraud preventive, real-time transaction technology solutions to safeguard credit cards issuers, consumers and e-tailers from online credit card fraud and privacy issues – the biggest barriers to the growth of e-commerce. Its technology prevents the fraudulent and unauthorized use of consumers’ credit cards and personal information, thus promoting consumer confidence and online spending. With its patent-pending technology, iShopSecure is dedicated to providing a safe, fraud-free, and secure shopping environment on the Internet.

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


Vital Snags Carter

Vital Processing Services, a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services, announced the appointment of Ron Carter, a seasoned senior leader in the merchant services industry, to serve as executive vice president of operations and technology. Carter will report to Jonathan Palmer, Vital’s president and CEO, and serve on Vital’s senior management committee.

As executive vice president of operations and technology, Carter will be responsible for Vital’s operations, client services and information technology functions. Carter will be based in Columbus, Ga., from where Vital’s merchant accounting and clearing and settlement services are delivered.

“For Vital to be the world’s recognized leader in technology-based commerce enabling services, we must attract recognized leaders in this industry to come work with us. Ron Carter is just such an individual. With more than two decades of experience in the merchant services industry, he brings valuable leadership to our company. I look forward to his contribution to Vital’s success,” said Jonathan Palmer.

Prior to joining Vital, Carter held senior positions at leading companies in the acquiring industry. Most recently, Carter served as president of Network Services for Alliance Data Systems and prior to that served as president of BUYPASS Corporation.

“I am proud to join Vital, a company uniquely positioned to be of service to its clients, who are the industry’s leading merchant acquirers. I look forward to helping our clients win,” said Carter.

About Vital Processing Services ([http://www.vitalps.com][1])

Arizona-based Vital Processing Services(R) (Vital(R)) is a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services. Vital’s clients include acquirers and merchant service providers that offer electronic payment processing services to merchants. Vital provides leading point-of-sale (POS) products and services, electronic authorization and data capture; VirtualNet(TM) Internet-commerce services; clearing, settlement and exception processing; accounting, billing and reporting; risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (TSYS) (NYSE: TSS).

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