Star & eFunds

Star Systems and eFunds announced a new multi-year agreement extending their 16-year relationship. Under terms of the contract, eFunds will continue to provide processing services for the STAR Western platform while also providing ATM terminal driving support services for the ATMs managed by STAR. STAR will continue to provide first-line customer service to its member financial institutions, retailers, and processors. Currently, eFunds switches approximately 120 million STAR transactions a month in the West.

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OPC NJ

Official Payments Corp. has signed an expanded contract with the State of New Jersey. The expansion enables New Jersey to collect and process credit card payments over the Internet for gross withholding taxes, as well as unemployment and disability contributions. The initial contract with New Jersey includes the credit card collection of individual balance due, fiduciary, estimated, extension, monthly and/or quarterly business sales and use tax, and deficiency tax payments. Over 240,000 New Jersey businesses and employers are required to file withholding taxes, unemployment and disability contributions quarterly.

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Mondex SVP to ComSense

ComSense announced the appointment of Ralph Browning as vice president of business development. Ralph Browning joins ComSense from MasterCard International, where he served as Senior Vice President of Mondex International, the smart card business of MasterCard.

“We are honored to have Ralph Browning join our management team,” said Alon Atsmon, president and CEO of ComSense. “We will leverage Ralph’s deep experience in the global payment card industry to guide ComSense’s growth and rapid penetration of this market.”

Ralph Browning joins ComSense from MasterCard International, where he served as Senior Vice President of Mondex International, North America. Mondex is the financial smart card business of MasterCard. Previously based in London, Ralph was instrumental in the creation of the U.S., Australian and Canadian Mondex franchises and the formation of Mondex International. Ralph has been a career banker with Citibank and National Westminster Bank, where his responsibilities have included strategy planning and the development of new product and service businesses in both investment and retail banking.

About ComSense

ComSense(tm) is the maker of Comdot(tm) — the world’s first reader-free Internet card technology. ComSense card-based products create value for card issuers and on-line services through their unique user authentication and loyalty functionality. For end users, ComSense cards introduce unprecedented ease and security to online shopping, banking, and Internet and communications services. Founded in mid-1998, ComSense Technologies has its international headquarters in New York City, with research and development at its home office in Tel Aviv, Israel, and manufacturing in San Jose, California.

For additional information please visit our Web site:

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Alibaba Enters China

Alibaba.com ([www.alibaba.com][1]), business-to-business marketplace for global trade and host to China’s largest domestic online B2B community, announced an agreement with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to jointly develop and promote Alibaba.com’s online B2B payment solution in China.

The partnership, the first of its kind for a B2B marketplace in China, will allow Alibaba.com’s over 170,000 members in China to conduct online transactions with buyers and sellers nationwide through the Alibaba Payment Center.

The agreement, signed today, brings together China’s largest B2B marketplace with the largest commercial bank in China for a long-term strategic partnership. ICBC accounts for half of the annual total settlement volume of the entire banking system of China and is aggressively developing and promoting B2B payment solutions.

“Alibaba.com and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China are making online B2B transactions a reality in China,” said Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba.com. “We are pleased to partner with the largest commercial bank in China to offer our members online transaction capabilities. Alibaba.com is leading the way for China’s businesses to conduct transactions with buyers and sellers online.”

According to the agreement, Alibaba.com and ICBC will roll out Alibaba.com’s payment solution in two phases. The first phase will allow Alibaba.com members to pay online for Alibaba.com services, such as advertising and promotional opportunities on the Alibaba China website ([www.china.alibaba.com][2]). The second phase will allow Alibaba.com’s over 170,000 buyers and sellers in China to settle payments online through the Alibaba Payment Center, a fully integrated payment solution to be provided by Alibaba.com and ICBC on the Alibaba China website. The two partners will also devote resources to co-marketing efforts to promote Alibaba.com’s online B2B payment solution.

To settle payments online, Alibaba.com members will use an IC (Integrated Circuit) card system developed by ICBC. To guarantee highly secure transactions, users will first swipe an IC card through a card reader connected to a user’s computer and then enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN). After positive identification, members will be allowed to transfer funds, track and verify payments online. After receiving a payment order, the bank will send confirmation and progress reports to Alibaba.com and the two parties executing the transaction, which can then trace the order through the Internet.

“The IC card system best meets the current online payment needs of China’s businesses,” said Jack Ma. “The system is highly secure and simple to install. Buyers and sellers in China will soon be able to settle payments online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Alibaba.com Payment Center.”

About Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest commercial bank in China and has long-standing cooperation with over 40,000 major companies. It accounts for half of the annual total settlement volume of the entire banking system of China.

About Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com is the leading online business-to-business marketplace for global trade and host to China’s largest domestic online B2B community. The company is focused on facilitating trade among small and medium sized enterprises through its web-based information and e-commerce platform. Alibaba.com’s web properties have a combined membership of 300,000, with over 170,000 members in China.

Alibaba.com is headquartered in Hong Kong with R&D and customer service operations in Mainland China, branch offices in Silicon Valley and London and a joint venture with SOFTBANK in Seoul.

Alibaba .com’s institutional investors include SOFTBANK, Goldman Sachs, Transpac Capital, Fidelity Capital, Venture TDF, Pte Ltd of Singapore and Investor AB of Sweden.

[1]: http://www.alibaba.com/
[2]: http://www.china.alibaba.com/

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Automated Process Patent

Another process patent will be issued this week. The latest one covers the automated processing of financial accounts. Columbia, SC-based Affinity Technology Group says it will be issued a patent tomorrow that gives Affinity proprietary rights concerning the establishment of financial accounts in a fully automated manner. The patent covers the process of receiving application from a remote computer interface, having the identity of the applicant verified and having the account processed and established in real time, all without human intervention. However the company admitted yesterday that the U.S. PTO has issued a second preliminary rejection of the company’s previously issued claims concerning Affinity’s first patent covering automated loan processing.

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Card Protection

The PA Attorney General has levied penalties against a Canadian telemarketer that used deceptive tactics to market a credit card protection program. American Fraud Watch Services Inc., of White Rock, British Columbia allegedly conducted a telephone solicitation to sell Pennsylvania consumers a $299 credit card protection program. The company allegedly misled consumers by falsely claiming that the failure to report a stolen or lost credit card within 48 hours would result in the consumer accepting responsibility for certain amounts of the unauthorized charges. The firm also allegedly gave consumers the impression that they were being contacted by credit card company.

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First Union Sale

First Union announced late Monday it has signed an agreement for MBNA to acquire its consumer and commercial revolving credit businesses. The deal involves a consumer revolving credit portfolio of $5.3 billion in loans and more than 3 million accounts, and a commercial credit card portfolio of $215 million in loans and approximately 300,000 accounts. As a result of this transaction, First Union expects to record a gain of approximately $1.0 billion before taxes and expenses. The deal also includes an agent relationship whereby MBNA will market personal, business, corporate, and purchasing cards to First Union’s 16 million customers. MBNA says the acquisition will give it a 22% penetration of the eligible market in the twelve East Coast states and Washington, D.C.. MBNA said it is paying for the deal by selling 50 million shares of newly issued common stock to Goldman, Sachs at $32.50 per share less a fee. The transaction enables MBNA to increase its capital ratios by raising common equity in excess of the amount required by this portfolio purchase without altering its non-dilution policy. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter. According to CardData (www.carddata.com) MBNA had $61,141,000,000 in card receivables as of June 30.

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ComSense Card

A new Internet payment card was unveiled Monday that uses ultrasonic technology for secure transactions and account access. The new ‘ComSense’ card is equipped with technology known as ‘Comdot’. ‘Comdot’ is the world’s first bankcard technology that does not require a card reader, because it uses sound, a capability that is highly standardized and pervasive on PCs. Pressing the flat ‘Comdot’ button, which is identified by a printed logo on the card, causes the Internet card to talk with a PC. Cardholders simply browse to a ‘Comdot’-ready Web site that automatically equips a multimedia PC to communicate with the cards. The ComSense technology is not limited to access and security, since each Web page can carry different instructions that are activated when the consumer clicks the ‘Comdot’ button. One of the first implementations of ‘Comdot’ technology will be for use with credit cards. The company says it is working with VISA to explore opportunities for its member banks and their cardholders. Towards that end, ComSense also announced Monday that VISA International president/CEO, Malcolm Williamson, has joined its board of directors as non-executive chairman. ComSense says it plans to place bankcard association approved cards into circulation with its first set of major credit card issuers during the fourth quarter of 2000. Founded in mid-1998, ComSense Technologies has its international headquarters in New York City, with research and development at its home office in Tel Aviv, Israel, and manufacturing in San Jose, CA.

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

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OPC’s New CFO

Official Payments Corporation announced the appointment of Edward J. Dimaria, CPA as the firm’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Dimaria is expected to commence his employment with Official Payments Corporation in late August.

“Ed Dimaria has an outstanding skill set and background for the job. We were deliberate in our search and selection of a CFO,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Official Payments. “Ed Dimaria’s hands-on experience, fiscal skill-set and communications acumen are precisely what we need to lead and manage our finance operations. Moreover, Ed’s drive, dynamic personality and entrepreneurial spirit fit very well with our corporate culture. Two criteria were paramount: skill-set and personality. We have hired the ideal candidate,” Mr. Evans added.

Prior to his appointment at Official Payments Mr. Dimaria was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Best Friends Pet Care, Inc, a venture-backed consumer service company. In that position Mr. Dimaria was in-charge of all financial operations including the marketing, negotiation and close of $42 Million in private equity capital. During his tenure Mr. Dimaria managed a cost-containment program that resulted in an annual cost-savings of $2.7 million and turned Best Friends Pet Care, Inc. profitable.

Earlier in his career Mr. Dimaria was Controller and Director of accounting for a regional airline, Business Express, Inc. and was Controller & Treasurer of Advanced Network & Services, Inc a high speed Internet service provider. Previously, Mr. Dimaria served in a variety of positions over a five-year period at KPMG Peat Marwick. There he gained extensive experience in SEC reporting and compliance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and financial auditing. Mr. Dimaria is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Pace University, Pleasantville, NY from which he holds Bachelor of Business Administration/Certified Public Account Degree.

About Official Payments Corp.

Official Payments Corp. is a leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company enables consumers to pay government fees and taxes via telephone or the Internet, using their credit cards. The company has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service; several state governments, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Oklahoma; and over 550 municipal and county entities, in which it collects property taxes, real estate taxes, parking fines and other government fees by credit card over the telephone and the Internet. The company is publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol OPAY. Official Payments Corp. is committed to making payments to the government go fast, smart and safe.

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Curious George – Priceless

MasterCard launched a new advertising spot in the highly successful ‘Priceless’ campaign that features the popular children’s storybook character Curious George. The new creative debut last night as a 30-second television spot during ABC’s broadcast of “Monday Night Football.” The new spot promotes automatic and recurring payments. The spot, created by McCann-Erickson, opens with an animated Curious George jumping onto the roof of a moving bus with a voice-over of “Commuting: 82 dollars every month.” The next scene captures Curious George entering a gym and features him swinging from a trapeze with a voice-over “Health club: 54 dollars every month.” A sequence of shots shows Curious George on the side of a building cleaning windows with a squeegee. The sequence appears with voice-over of “Insurance: 62 dollars every month.” The animation then dissolves into live-action, where in a quiet rooftop-garden setting, a mother is reading to her daughter from a Curious George storybook with a voice-over “Trading a check book for a story book….priceless.” In the final sequence, an animated Curious George is shown riding a bicycle over a check, which then curls up into the MasterCard logo with a voice-over of “Use MasterCard instead of checks to pay monthly bills automatically.” To review credit card related print and TV ads visit CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]).

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

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NCR Direct

NCR Systemedia Division, a developer of world-class consumables, announced the launch of [www.ncr-direct.com][1], the first e-commerce Web site in its industry dedicated to providing one-stop consumables shopping to niche-focused financial institutions.

Oxford Associates, a leader in channel integration for Fortune 500 companies, named NCR-Direct.com a best-in-class catalog site. “NCR-Direct’s catalog, pricing and ordering capabilities are comparable to nationally recognized shopping Web sites, such as Dell’s online store or Hewlett-Packard’s shopping site,” said Oxford Associates Vice President Scott Gillum.

Specifically developed for community banks, credit unions and savings and loans, NCR-Direct.com enables customers to purchase products specific to their needs, such as specialty business documents, self-service ATM supplies, teller forms and payment systems transaction processing consumables. In addition, banking markets can purchase targeted marketing media including custom printed ATM rolls, signs and magnetic media. Since the site’s inception in April, Systemedia has nearly doubled the products, services and information available with the click of the mouse.

Supported by NCR’s Financial Solutions Division, the Web site is an additional resource for banking institutions to obtain the latest information and specifications about NCR ATMs and Item Processing equipment ranging from low-end to high-end systems.

NCR-Direct.com incorporates cutting edge e-commerce technology to provide customers with advanced shopping cart functionality, the latest encryption security for processing credit card orders, and complete customized product packages and solutions at affordable prices. Offering comprehensive billing options, online customers who do not use credit or procurement cards can take advantage of flexible open accounts with Systemedia.

Orders placed by noon are shipped the same day — the best-in-class fulfillment commitment in the consumables industry. In addition, as an introductory benefit, shipping is free of charge.

“By partnering with the Financial Solutions Division we are combining the strength of our NCR product offering with leading edge e-business technology and the delivery infrastructure required to fulfill the needs of this dynamic market,” said Keith Taylor, vice president of NCR’s Systemedia Division. “This is just the beginning. Over the next several months we will be adding new industries, a broader offering and a great deal of increased functionality.”

NCR will continue to support and enhance its traditional channels of distribution. NCR’s distribution partners will benefit from increased exposure for the NCR brand. Additionally, the company plans to develop new products for all industry segments the Web site supports, resulting in richer product portfolios for all channels. In future phases of development the Web site also will direct customers to distribution partners that carry further NCR consumables that are not available on the Web.

NCR Systemedia Division is an industry leader in Internet-based solutions, enabling large customers to place secure orders, obtain up-to-the-minute order status information and create real-time inventory and usage reports through NCR On-Line, an Internet-based order entry and inventory management tool. With the addition of NCR-Direct.com, NCR will now provide financial institutions with customized product packages and solutions targeted to their needs, with the convenience of ordering online.

NCR Systemedia Division develops world-class consumables designed to maximize system uptime, minimize the total cost of ownership and enhance system capabilities. Backed by world-class technology and more than 100 years of experience, Systemedia specializes in consumables for the financial, retail and manufacturing industries, as well as the small and home office environment. For more information, contact NCR Systemedia Division on the World Wide Web at [http://www.ncr.com/sorters/ supplies_sorter.asp][2].

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE:NCR) is a US$6.2 billion leader in providing Relationship Technology(TM) solutions to customers worldwide in the retail, financial, communications, travel and transportation, and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include privacy-enabled Teradata(R) warehouses and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, store automation and automated teller machines (ATMs). The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and leading edge hardware technology. NCR employs 32,000 in 130 countries, and is a component stock of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. More information about NCR and its solutions may be found at [www.ncr.com][3].

[1]: http://www.ncr-direct.com/
[2]: http://www.ncr.com/sorters/supplies_sorter.asp
[3]: http://www.ncr.com/

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Financial Sites

Web sites of the business and financial genre command the highest ad rates on the Internet. According to the Media Metrix AdRelevance service, business and finance related Web sites have an average CPM of $41.75 compared to $37.23 for general news sites and $25.00 for search engine sites. Highly focused financial sites can deliver profitable results to advertisers at CPMs exceeding $90. For example, bankrate.com receives a CPM in the $70 to $90 CPM range. Last week, CardWeb.com attracted 114,071 unique visitors and delivered a click-thru-rate of 4.70% at a comparable CPM. Ad Relevance says vertical sites can demand the highest rates since they offer advertisers the opportunity to target a defined demographic.

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