RI-based Nestor released the latest enhancement to its suite of neural network fraud detection systems. ‘PRISM 5.4’ includes a series of customer-defined developments to the ‘PRISM Analysis/Review System’ that boost system performance, enhance reporting capabilities and improve user security and system scalability. The new version provides higher levels of localization, including the support of double-byte languages like Japanese and Chinese, and international data, currency and numeric fonts. The new version now supports the Oracle database system. ‘PRISM 5.4’ also improves the scalability of the solution for large transaction volumes, and enhances user security within the ‘PRISM Fraud Reviewer’ workstation.Details
A new wireless ticketing and mobile commerce system designed for movie theaters, other entertainment venues, sports teams, and online ticketing portals was launched Thursday. Currently powered by smart cards, the ‘ZebraPass’ system has been created for a seamless transition to Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices such as cell phones, PDAs and other consumer appliances. ZebraPass also announced yesterday a $5 million venture financing round led by Nokia Venture Partners. ZebraPass was co-founded by Jordan Klear and Marc Steren and its current CEO is Dan Cunningham.Details
A new, private-label, pre-paid debit card hit the market yesterday. The new card was developed by iGain and Debix Systems. iGain debit cards are branded to reflect the logo and design of the site on which they were earned, and can be used on that site. Shoppers receive the card in the mail and can re-load it when they shop on the Web. Merchants have the option of letting consumers use the card in-store, online, or both. iGain is a marketing services company providing cash-based, private label promotion and customer-retention tools to E-commerce sites. Debix Systems, formerly known as Flexigift, Inc., was formed in February 1999 to develop a flexible prepaid debit card platform designed for specific corporate needs and for niche markets.Details
Clearnet Communications Inc. introduced Pay & Talk, Canada’s only Web Ready digital prepaid wireless service and the only one that includes the most popular calling services at no extra charge.
“Pay & Talk combines the ease-of-use and cost-control benefits of traditional prepaid wireless with the enhanced capabilities and bundled services of digital Clearnet PCS. It’s a prepaid offering unique in Canada,” said George Cope, Clearnet’s President and CEO.
“Decreases in the cost of leading-edge PCS phones have enabled Clearnet to join the high-growth prepaid sector with a package that fully exploits the advantages of digital wireless,” added Cope. Digital Pay & Talk offers numerous benefits over older analogue cellular prepaid offerings, including enhanced call clarity and security, per-second billing and new Internet capabilities.
Prepaid is the fastest-growing segment in wireless, and has grown to account for 20 per cent of the overall Canadian wireless market, up from 12 per cent a year ago. “With Clearnet PCS and Mike, Clearnet has led the wireless industry in postpaid net additions both in 2000 and in the past 12 months. We’re confident our all-inclusive, Future Friendly approach will mean similar success in the high-growth prepaid wireless sector,” said Cope.
Digital Prepaid with the Works
Like traditional prepaid, Pay & Talk offers clients complete control over their wireless costs and card-based airtime purchases, without set monthly fees, credit checks, contracts or security deposits. But digital Pay & Talk also offers some important and unique competitive advantages:
– Like all Clearnet PCS phones, Pay & Talk includes multiple calling services at no extra charge, including voice mail, call waiting, caller ID.
– Because all Pay & Talk digital phones are Web Ready, they will allow clients to take advantage of interactive Internet information services. Pay & Talk phones have built-in microbrowsers that will allow clients to access the Internet information services – such as telephone directories, news, weather and sports headlines, games and more – that Clearnet will introduce later this summer. Pay & Talk clients will be able to use those services free of charge until the end of 2000.
– Pay & Talk offers dual-mode service, meaning Clearnet’s prepaid will work in both digital and analogue cellular service areas covering 93 per cent of the Canadian population.
– A Best Rate Guarantee allows clients to lock in their lowest Pay & Talk calling rate. All Pay & Talk clients start with a $50 airtime card with airtime billed at 29 cents per minute. If clients top up with any denomination ($10, $25 or $50) card before the account balance reaches zero, the calling rate stays at 29 cents a minute. Clients who top up after the account balance reaches zero pay regular card rates: 29 cents a minute with a $50 card, 33 cents a minute with a $25 card and 40 cents a minute with a $10 card.
Pay & Talk is available for both new clients and those who already own Clearnet PCS phones. New clients can choose from two packages: a $149.99 kit that includes a Sanyo SCP-4000 dual-mode phone and a $50 prepaid card, or a $99.99 kit that includes a Qualcomm QCP-1960 single-mode (digital only) handset and a $50 prepaid card. A Pay & Talk $50 airtime card holds more than 170 minutes of airtime.
Clients who already own a Clearnet PCS phone or those who would prefer a Clearnet phone model other than the Sanyo or Qualcomm can buy a Pay & Talk Starter Kit for $75 that includes a $50 airtime card.
Pay & Talk kits and airtime cards will be available at thousands of locations across the country, including independent retailers and wireless dealers, convenience stores, university and college bookstores, and Clearnet’s own stores. Pay & Talk is also available directly from Clearnet’s Web Store at [http://www.clearnet.com] or by phone at 1-888-CLEARNET.
Clearnet (TSE: NET.A; NASDAQ: CLNT) is a leading Canadian wireless communications company that operates two state-of-the-art digital wireless networks, Clearnet PCS and Mike. Clearnet now serves approximately 700,000 clients across Canada. Founded in 1984 and public since 1994, Clearnet is an independent Canadian controlled and managed company. For more information, please visit [http://www.clearnet.com]
Amex Canada Inc. has launched an program to aggressively expand its retail leisure travel network from 100 to 300 locations in Canada over the next four years. The expansion plan is part of a worldwide growth strategy to triple the global American Express network from 1000 to 3000 locations outside of the U.S. American Express says it will use its existing worldwide presence and marketing expertise to aggressively franchise the business to take in new partners by targeting six major markets across Canada including Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.Details
Atlanta-based Skylight Corp. and Firstar Bank announced an alliance with to offer the ‘STRATUS Card’, an ATM card based account solution. Skylight provides alternative banking solutions for the unbanked through a direct deposit solution.By choosing the ‘STRATUS Card’, employees have an option to be paid via direct deposit, and can access their funds at any time through major ATM networks, and participating POS retail locations. With the ‘STRATUS Card’, employees will now be able to bank at Skylight. With the introduction of the Skylight alliance, Firstar says it gains a complementary, cost effective product for its corporate clients and their employees.Details
Sun Country Airlines unveiled phase one of its loyalty program, a co-branded “Smile Awards” credit card that gives customers a faster, easier way to earn free travel.
Sun Country President and CEO Bill La Macchia, Jr. said, “Unlike other airline’s frequent flyer programs, we are offering our loyal customers a faster, easier way to earn free travel for their family and friends with fewer restrictions and no black-out dates.”
La Macchia added that using the Smile Awards MasterCard enables families and friends to pool points and more quickly accumulate points toward free travel. The loyalty program offers very generous rewards. Each time members make a Sun Country Airlines ticket purchase, they earn ten points for every dollar spent. For Vacations by Sun Country purchases, members earn three points for every dollar spent. For all other purchases, members earn one point for every dollar spent — quickly adding up to free travel, both domestic and international. For example, a family of four purchasing Sun Country tickets at $250 each would earn 10,000 points ($250 x 4 x 10 points).
La Macchia also unveiled an added benefit of the Smile Awards program including international travel to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Sun Country Smile Awards members can accumulate points for European tickets via Icelandair. The agreement is reciprocal, so members of the Icelandair frequent flyer program may also redeem points for Sun Country Airlines travel.
Program Award Schedule:
Points Travel Awards
25,000 Sun Country Airlines Domestic Ticket
30,000 Sun Country Airlines International Ticket (Mexico & Caribbean)
32,500 Europe Ticket via Icelandair
45,000 Business Class Europe Ticket via Icelandair
The Smile Awards MasterCard(R), marketed through MBNA, offers no annual fee and a competitive annual percentage rate. La Macchia emphasized that this is only the first phase of Sun Country’s loyalty program and that all people who apply for the card will receive a $50 coupon for their next Sun Country purchase. “The goal of this phase of our loyalty program is to offer our passengers a faster, easier way to earn free travel without compromising Sun Country’s ability to offer friendly, affordable fares,” La Macchia concluded. Smile Awards members will also have value added when they work with partners of Sun Country’s Smile Awards. Currently Alamo and National Car Rental are providing Smile Awards cardholders with a 10% discount on care rental when they use their card to make purchases. Additional Smile Awards partners will be announced as the program expands.
Sun Country Airlines, established in 1983 and headquartered in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, employs 1,400 people and provides affordable air service to more than 30 domestic and international destinations.Details
Houston-based Rick’s Cabaret International announced plans yesterday to issue a debit card to enable consumers to anonymously purchase access to adult Web sites without the need to use a credit card or checking account. The card is being issued in response to the growing chargeback problems between adult web sites and traditional credit cards. The company said it has created a new subsidiary, RCI Debit Services Inc., to issue the card. Under the program, a consumer will purchase the debit card and then visit porndebit.com to see a list of participating sites that accept the card. The adult webmaster will be paid a percentage of the signup fee. RCI Debit Services plans to distribute the card through adult oriented retail outlets across the country. The retail outlets targeted include adult novelty stores, convenience stores, adult cabarets and adult video stores. The card will be activated at the register. Vending machines will dispense pre-charged cards with a $20 value. RCI says it has hired Dominik Hussl as the product manager. Hussl has been the VP of operations for a prepaid phone card company.Details
A new card targeted at black and unbanked consumers was introduced Wednesday. Revelation America, Western Union, and MasterCard unveiled their new co-branded card at the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Louisville, KY. MemphisFirst Community Bank, a minority-owned bank, will be the principal issuer of the new card. The ‘Revelation America Western Union MasterCard’ is a pre-paid debit card. Revelation America is a company owned, in part, by the five largest African-American denominations in the country, including the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, National Baptist Convention USA, National Baptist Convention of America, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Progressive National Baptist Convention. The overall strategic goal of Revelation America is to expand access to financial services in order to help revitalize America’s cities.Details
Apple and MBNA introduced instant financing that allows qualified customers to make monthly payments on Apple products, including the entirely new line of desktops recently debuted at Macworld New York.
Through the program — which enables monthly payments as low as $19.99 for the new $799 Indigo iMac — customers can apply for financing and receive immediate notification at the point of purchase. The program is available now through Apple’s online Apple Store([http://www.apple.com]) in the United States, and is currently being rolled out to Apple authorized resellers.
“Apple is all about making the best technology more accessible to consumers,” said Fred Anderson, Apple’s CFO. “We are proud to work with MBNA, a recognized pioneer in providing immediate web-based loan decisions, to give more people a chance to experience our revolutionary products.”
Loans up to $25,000 are available to qualified customers with a choice of four payment terms: 24, 36, 48 and 60 months. Customers will be able to reaccess their account without reapplying for a loan, enabling future purchases of Apple products with ease.
“Apple represents innovation and quality,” said Gregg Bacchieri, senior vice chairman of MBNA. “We look forward to providing Apple customers with the innovative and high quality services they expect from MBNA.”
Apple’s new product line includes the revolutionary new Power Mac(TM) G4 Cube, an all-new iMac family in stunning new colors (Indigo, Ruby, Sage, Graphite and Snow), dual-processor Power Mac G4s, a new family of displays, and the new optical Apple Pro Mouse and Apple Pro Keyboard, which come standard with all Apple desktops.
MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $76.3 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan and insurance products. MBNA.com ([http://www.MBNA.com]) provides credit card, consumer loan, retail deposit and shopping services.
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.
NOVA Corporation yesterday reported second quarter operating results, before a one-time charge, of $0.31 per diluted share based on record revenues of $405.8 million.
The Company also announced a pre-tax charge to earnings totaling $142.5 million, resulting in a reported after tax net loss of $0.99 per share for the quarter. Net income, before the charge, was $22.1 million, or an increase of 7.8% over the $20.5 million from the same period a year ago. Earnings per diluted share, excluding the charge, increased 10.7% from the $0.28 per share reported for the same period in 1999. Second quarter results also include an incremental $0.01 per share impact resulting from consolidation of 100% of the operating results of the Company’s majority owned subsidiary, Econex, LLC, (“Econex”).
Revenues for the second quarter corresponded with the Company’s July 26, 2000, pre-earnings announcement. Commenting on the quarter, NOVA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Edward Grzedzinski said, “Although we are not pleased with the results of our second quarter, we are encouraged by the fact that our revenue shortfall, relative to original analyst expectations, is largely isolated within a single component of our business.” The Company reported that merchant processing revenues originated through NOVA’s bank and trade association relationships increased 20.1%, while revenues generated from merchant processing activities relative to NOVA’s 1998 acquisition of PMT Services, Inc., (“PMT”) declined by 12.2%. Grzedzinski commented further by saying, “Excessive attrition in the former PMT portfolio, along with lower than anticipated profitability, combined to produce an impaired asset that is eroding at a relatively rapid pace. The corresponding result has had the multiple effect of lower than anticipated revenues and operating profits, while masking superb results in the other components of our business,” he said. Commenting on the recent pre-earnings press release issued by the Company, Grzedzinski said, “On July 26th, we attempted to shed some light on the situation by identifying several contributing factors to our revenue shortfall but, in the final analysis, more than 90% of the issue is related to non-performance in the PMT asset.” He went on to say that, “It is important to clarify that excessive attrition is the primary cause, and that it is isolated to this particular book of business. In fact, new sales remain strong,” adding that, “We signed over 31,000 new accounts during the quarter, and we expect to put up similar new sales numbers in the third and fourth quarters.”
In the second quarter NOVA recorded a pre-tax special charge of $142.5 million, or $1.31 per share, which included a charge of $84.6 million specifically related to an intangible asset comprised of merchant contracts acquired as part of the 1998 acquisition of PMT. The Company also announced a decision to accelerate the amortization of the remaining PMT-related intangible asset. The remainder of the pre-tax charge, or $57.9 million, was recorded to recognize an impairment of receivables the Company believes it will not collect. This includes approximately $54 million in receivables and related legal costs originating from former PMT business units. Commenting on the one-time charge, Grzedzinski said, “The closing of the second quarter happened to coincide with the completion of the PMT integration and normal analysis of our balance sheet and related assets. This work was substantially aided by the analytical data available as a result of having two full quarters of processing history with the majority of the PMT business on our platform. Our normal review of the data prompted us to take a very critical look at the associated intangible and receivable assets and, with that work now complete, we have concluded that the rapid rate of attrition and lower than anticipated profit characteristics of this book of business warrants the impaired asset treatment and write off of certain receivables.” Grzedzinski added that, “Our normal review of all other assets identified justification to retire several other receivables, including items totaling $4 million relating to what we refer to as core NOVA, or our bank originated book of business.” With respect to several of the written off receivables, Grzedzinski stated, “In examining various receivables emanating from former PMT business units, we have also concluded that certain items warrant further action and, as a consequence, litigation is either in process or pending,” adding that, “It would be inappropriate to elaborate any further on these items.”
The Company has also announced that it has decided to integrate Econex, LLC, a joint venture formed in 1999 to provide card processing services to the growing Internet merchant market, into NOVA’s core operations. As part of this decision, NOVA will continue to market the product line under the Econex brand name. Grzedzinski said that, “From a customer perspective, nothing will change relative to the Econex brand as we integrate the product development, sales and customer support activities into our core operations.” He also said, “We firmly believe Internet merchant processing represents a tremendous opportunity for NOVA and that this component of our business will continue to grow quite rapidly.” The impact of the decision to integrate Econex operations into NOVA will result in a third quarter charge estimated at $13 million, or approximately $0.12 per share. Grzedzinski concluded his comments on Econex by saying, “We remain committed to our Internet strategy and the Econex product line,” adding that, “We continue to see triple-digit growth in Internet processing volume, coupled with strong and growing demand for Econex products and services.”
Grzedzinski continued his commentary on the quarter and related actions by saying, “While second quarter earnings before the charge exceeded those of a year ago, we are clearly disappointed by these results and the need to take the actions we have communicated. With our technology, scale, capacity and distribution channels, NOVA has the tools necessary to deliver far better results, which we will demonstrate over time. Meanwhile, our operating plan is to focus on our core markets, customers and product sets in order to return to consistent delivery of double digit revenue growth, and proportionately greater bottom-line profits, as quickly as possible.”
Grzedzinski went on to say, “In order to clarify and align our expectations with those of the market, we are also providing revised revenue and earnings estimates for the remainder of 2000 and 2001. Our targeted projections for revenue growth for the third and fourth quarters of 2000 are estimated at 5% to 6%, and these estimates suggest a range of pre-charge operating earnings per share of $1.22 to $1.26 for the full year. Estimates for 2001 indicate consolidated revenue growth per quarter ranging from 7% to 10% and annualized earnings per share in a range of $1.43 to $1.47.” Grzedzinski concluded his comments by saying, “To demonstrate our confidence in our business model and prospects, the Company will be an active buyer of NIS shares when our trading window re-opens August 14th.” In June of 1999, NOVA Corporation announced authorization of a share re-purchase program of up to $250 million. To date, the Company has purchased shares totaling approximately $155 million under the program.
About NOVA Corporation
NOVA Corporation (NYSE:NIS – news), headquartered in Atlanta, GA., manages and transports payment and other business information on behalf of retailers, community banks and regional financial institutions. NOVA specializes in providing integrated credit and debit card payment processing services, related software application products and value-added services to more than 500,000 merchants in the U.S. NOVA merchant customers typically include small-to medium-sized merchants requiring a full spectrum of processing services. For more information on the company, visit [www.novacorp.net].
For complete current and historical data on Nova visit CardData ([www.carddata.com]).
The kiddie card war has moved to the system level as VISA U.S.A. revealed the development of a parent-controlled, re-loadable payment card. ‘VISA Buxx” comes armed with a range of parental controls including pre-determined spending values, online transaction monitoring and a parent-administered financial skills assessment test. Parents are able to monitor how much money their teen spends by viewing current or past account statements on the ‘VISA Buxx’ website or by a toll-free number that details where and when purchases were made. VISA says the new website will be operational on August 14. The teen’s name is embossed on the card, and all materials are mailed directly to the parents’ address. Meanwhile, U.S. Bancorp announced it will be among the first banks to offer the new card. The ‘U.S. Bank VISA Buxx’ will be available as of August 21. Bank of America will also issue the teen card. VISA says teens spend more than $153 billion dollars a year.Details