Up For Grabs

First Union announced yesterday it is undertaking a repositioning to reduce risk and focus on high growth businesses. Part of the plan is to dump the bank’s credit card portfolio. A major part of the restructuring is the decision to discontinue the home equity lending activities at The Money Store. First Union said it is now seeking a suitable buyer for its consumer and commercial credit card portfolios. However the bank intends to continue to offer First Union-branded credit cards to customers through an agent relationship. Providian Financial purchased a $1.1 billion portfolio of unsecured credit card receivables from First Union Direct Bank in early 1998. First Union purchased The Money Store for $2.1 billion in March, 1998. In May, 1999 First Union sold its secured credit card portfolio to OR-based Orchard Federal Savings Bank. (See CF Library 1/5/98; 3/5/98; 5/27/99)

FIRST UNION SNAPSHOT
(1Q/00 Portfolio Data)
RECV: $5,804,006,027 ACTIVES: 1,951,257
Q-VOL: $1,598,208,964 CARDS: 3,782,479
ACCTS: 3,850,668

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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WebMiles MasterCard

Salt Lake City-based WebMiles and Metris Companies/Direct Merchants Bank officially launched the ‘WebMiles MasterCard’ yesterday. Under the new program, cardholders will earn rewards toward free travel and travel discounts on any airline and any flight without blackout dates, seating limitations, 21-day advanced notice, required Saturday night stays or cost caps. The ‘WebMiles MasterCard’ enables consumers to earn one ‘WebMiles’ reward per dollar spent on card purchases and extra miles for using the card when shopping within the ‘WebMiles’ partner network. There are three different card levels including ‘Platinum’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Secured’. Cardholders will pay annual fees of $25 or $39 for the ‘Standard’ or ‘Platinum’ version with an introductory APR as low as 2.9 % and 14.49% APR thereafter.

WEB MILES MASTECARD PRICING
ANNUAL FEE: $25 $25 $39 $39
PURCHASE APR: 14.49% 17.49% 21.49% 25.49%
DEFAULT APR: 18.49% 21.49% 25.49% 29.49%
DELINQUENCY APR: 22.49% 25.49% 29.49% 33.49%
note: all APRs are variable and based on a 9.50% Prime Rate

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Prudential Exits

Prudential Bank confirmed this morning it has signed agreements to sell its credit card portfolio to MBNA. The sale is effective June 30, although Prudential Bank will continue to service the credit card portfolio until October 31 when the conversion to MBNA’s systems should be completed. Earlier this year, when the contract expired on a smaller credit card portfolio Prudential had co-branded with Interval International, the bank also sold that portfolio to MBNA. Under terms of the sale there will be an agent/issuer relationship between Prudential and MBNA, under which MBNA will continue to offer a Prudential-branded credit card to consumers. According to CardData (www.carddata.com), at the end of the first quarter, Prudential had $255,723,378 in receivables, $100,001,841 in first quarter volume and 252,897 accounts.

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TransactionPoint

Escrow.com and its operating subsidiaries, collectively providing comprehensive online transaction management and escrow services, announced the launch of TransactionPoint, the first secure settlement engine that automates all of the necessary components for completing online transactions — from reliable collection and disbursement of funds to tracking and confirming the performance of all transaction participants, including third parties. In addition, TransactionPoint provides a platform for capturing transactional elements and standardizing business transactional processes. Escrow.com has filed to obtain patent protection for the technology underlying the TransactionPoint engine.

“TransactionPoint provides the B2B marketplace with a critical component for the future of e-business,” said Russell Stern, CEO of escrow.com. “We have combined our extensive domain expertise in trust accounting and escrow with state-of-the-art technology which uniquely qualifies us to provide a reliable solution for securing the completion of online business transactions. We are a catalyst for B2B commerce and are poised to bring business transactional standards to the Internet.”

TransactionPoint is an online rules-based business process application that brings to market the most comprehensive transaction management solution and trusted escrow service on the Internet.

Its user-defined parameters can be tailored to most any domestic or international online trading environment, with a highly flexible application architecture that meets the demands of managing multi-faceted online business transactions. Its time-tested trust accounting system ensures secure payment to all participants upon fulfillment of transaction terms. Its layered architecture has built-in capability to abstract business processes and capture transactional standards that can then be asserted across the B2B marketplace.

The foundation of the TransactionPoint system is escrow.com’s trust accounting technology originally developed by Micro General Corporation (Nasdaq: MGEN) and deployed through Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE: FNF) that has processed over $1 trillion in escrowed transactions since 1985.

Multiple Party and Flexible Term Capability

The technology behind TransactionPoint allows for the integration of all parties in a transaction, from multiple buyers and sellers to third party participants such as finance, logistic, inspection or appraisal services. In addition, the technology can be customized based on the specific business rules and processes of the individual online trading environment, buyer/seller scenarios, or transaction types.

“Escrow.com enables buyers and sellers to complete online transactions with companies unfamiliar to them, provides absolute assurance that the appropriate payments will be made, and ensures a safe and secure means of online trade,” said Frank Tufano, senior vice president with Chase.com, the unit of Chase focused on e-commerce initiatives.

Multi-staged Deposits & Disbursements

TransactionPoint’s technology offers the capability of multiple and/or staged escrow deposits and disbursements, and can support multiple party fund deposits by an individual buyer, bank or exchange.

“As business-to-business commerce evolves, buyers and sellers will need an easy and secure way to complete their deals online,” said Dwayne Spradlin, vice president of Corporate Development for VerticalNet. “We are confident that the depth and breadth of escrow.com’s offering will be tested across all of our vertical Web sites. Specifically, escrow.com’s TransactionPoint will add value to our customers by providing a complete solution — keeping all transaction participants informed throughout the buy/sell process by allowing us to communicate the status of the sale on a real-time basis.”

Transaction Tracking

The complete history and status of transactions are logged and stored on the TransactionPoint system, and can be accessed by approved participants at any time. Likewise, any partner data can be integrated to ensure accurate and efficient tracking of all terms in order to facilitate settlement of online transactions. At the close of a transaction, the system generates a statement outlining the relevant participants, event dates, actions, deposits and disbursements.

Built on a state-of-the-art enterprise class and highly secure network infrastructure, escrow.com provides its customers with the assurances of the most comprehensive financial networks in the world. “Our fiduciary responsibility is immense and we recognize that the integrity of our data center, network infrastructure and software technology has to be second to none,” said Stern.

About escrow.com Inc.

Escrow.com(TM) and its operating subsidiaries, founded by Micro General Corporation (Nasdaq: MGEN) and Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF), offer comprehensive online transaction management services, including online escrow and logistics tracking for the Internet. Its architecture and infrastructure provide a secure and scalable business transaction platform with integrated transaction management solutions for business-to-business e-commerce as well as online auctions and exchanges. For more information, please visit: [http://www.escrow.com][1].

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

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Chargeoffs Inch Up

Bank credit card charge-off rates, among card-backed bonds, increased in May. According to Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Indexes’, most of the increase in the index loss rate was attributable to a policy change at Bank One/First USA. To comply with the new FFIEC regulations, Bank One/First USA will now charge off bankrupt and deceased accounts 60 days after notification. Prior to this change, First USA and its affiliates charged off bankrupt accounts at 90 days and deceased accounts at 180 days. Meanwhile S&P reports delinquencies stayed flat at 4.2% in May, down from the 4.3% level reported in April. The delinquency rates for the year have been lower than last year’s levels and have stayed below the 4.5% barrier for three consecutive months. S&P says this positive trend indicates that losses will remain fairly stable and under 6.00% for the upcoming months.

CREDIT CARD QUALITY INDEXES

May 98 May 99 Mar 00 Apr 00 May 00
Outstandings (bil. $) 255.8 281.0 303.1 306.70 296.0
Yield (%) 19.1 19.9 20.2 18.9 19.9
Charge-offs (%) 6.6 6.1 5.7 5.6 6.2
Weighted base rate(%) 7.8 7.0 8.2 7.9 8.4
Excess spread (%) 4.7 6.7 6.3 5.4 5.3
Delinquencies (%) 5.1 4.5 4.3 4.2 4.2
Payment rate( %) 14.9 16.5 17.3 15.4 16.7

Source: Standard & Poor’s

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ECHO & kwikweb

Electronic Clearing House, Inc. announced an agreement with KwikWeb.com, Inc., an innovative full-service e-commerce development and hosting company, to offer its customers a convenient and cost-effective solution for integration of online payment processing on their Web sites.

This allows any business to have the ability to build a Web site at [www.kwikweb.com][1] or transform an existing Web site into a real-time electronic transaction storefront. Businesses using KwikWeb.com’s e-commerce sites to sell their products online will be automatically linked through ECHO’s processing center and KwikWeb.com’s payment gateway to process customer transactions through a secure socket layer in less than 3 seconds. The gateway includes fraud protection and credit card payment processing.

“By scripting our own gateway to the Electronic Clearing House processing center, we are able to pass on more savings to our clients by the elimination of the gateway fees currently charged by other e-commerce Web-site hosting companies. This reflects our commitment to constantly provide better services to our rapidly growing member base,” said KwikWeb.com President and CEO, Ric Kaestner.

“KwikWeb.com was one of the first developers to implement WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology that allows Internet interaction via cellular connections,” stated Joel M. Barry, CEO of Electronic Clearing House, Inc.

“The KwikWeb.com product line is recognized and utilized both here in the USA and internationally, and they provide the type of easy, cost-effective solutions that fit well with ECHO’s commitment to fair pricing for our combined merchant account and Internet gateway.”

The new e-commerce package with a merchant account and technical assistance is available by calling 760/943-7829 or online at [www.kwikweb.com][2]. Once approved for a merchant account, KwikWeb.com members will immediately be able to process online transactions.

About KwikWeb.com, Inc.: KwikWeb.com, founded in 1997, provides an online environment for consumers and businesses to create Web sites. These applications include several user interfaces that allow Internet users to design their own Web sites and create online Web stores.

KwikWeb.com has developed a suite of proprietary tools for building and maintaining Web sites that allow its clients to easily create Web sites from a library of pre-made templates and to edit Web sites from any computer without special software or training. KwikWeb.com’s products also enable its commercial clients to e-commerce Web sites with such features as shopping carts, orders administration, e-mail to fax and sponsored links from major advertisers.

KwikWeb.com generates revenues from a number of sources including licensing fees, monthly Internet server fees, advertising and additional options offered to its members. KwikWeb.com recently introduced the Instant Wireless Web Site Builder. Upon full deployment, users at corporate partner sites will be able to instantly enable specific contact information from their Web sites for viewing on WAP-enabled mobile phones and other wireless personal communication devices.

About ECHO: Electronic Clearing House, Inc. provides credit card processing, cash advance services, check guarantee, check verification, check conversion, inventory tracking and/or various Internet services to over 41,000 retail merchants, U-Haul dealers and casinos across the nation.

ECHO also designs, develops and integrates software and point-of-sale hardware that is utilized as credit card processing terminals, automated money order dispensers, inventory tracking devices, and casino cash advance systems.

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

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USTT Patents

USA Technologies, Inc. announced it has filed another 15 patent applications with the United States Patent Office for its revolutionary e-Port technology, the first non-PC pervasive computing and Internet appliance device.

The latest patent filings make USA Technologies one of the leading small technology companies in the United States in the area of patents granted and pending. The young network technology company now has expanded its patents approved from two to ten granted, and the number of patents pending from 26 to 44 over the last several months.

e-Port is an e-commerce solution that allows consumers to conduct simple, secure and direct transactions at vending machines, supermarkets and convenience stores, gas pumps and numerous other retail point-of-sale terminals with the swipe of a credit card. Developed by USA Technologies ([www.usatech.com][1]) and supported by IBM (NYSE:IBM), e-Port also comes with a color flat panel touch screen that allows advertisers to promote their products and services, and operate electronic store fronts.

“Our goal is to be the preferred method and industry standard for interactive media and self-serve public access e-commerce via Internet everywhere devices,” said George R. Jensen, Jr., Chairman and CEO of USA Technologies.

“Our touch screen, credit card-activated e-Port is intended for locations where consumers may want to pay for goods and services by credit card, and then make add-on purchases as low as $1.00. e-Port will also offer for free, access to information such as news, sports, weather and the stock market. e-Port also gives advertisers and merchants the opportunity to promote their products and services while a consumer may be pumping gas, buying a soda or a booklet of postage stamps,” he said.

Brock Kolls, Senior Vice President, research and technology, USA Technologies, said the latest filings of 15 applications for patent was part of the company’s ongoing campaign to aggressively protect its breakthroughs in pervasive computing and Internet appliance technology.

“Everyone in the industry is mobilizing to leverage the Internet with small feature rich, application specific wireless computing devices. These small Internet devices are going to be the next revolution, and we were among the first with e-Port. We need to protect every aspect of our intellectual property,” he said.

Kolls said USA Technologies years earlier had filed for patent protection for the physical e-Port device. Continued research, pilots, as well as surveys of customer driven applications for our e-Port technology has further validated current and future applications for e-Port. The 15 new patent filings were aimed at different ways consumers would be able to use and interact with e-Port in the marketplace. Kolls said the company intended to file more applications to cover even more uses.

Since it was first announced last December, e-Port has been undergoing pilot testing by a consumer products company in two large cities in the US. Further, USA Technologies has been working to enhance features and prepare e-Port for mass production by the end of the calendar year.

“While we are a leader among small companies in patents, we believe we also were first in the industry with pervasive computing and Internet appliance technologies,” said Jensen. “Our vision for USA Technologies is to be a leader among all in the Internet anywhere pervasive computing space, standing alongside industry giants such as IBM, Microsoft and Intel,” he said.

About USA Technologies

With patented technology and a rapidly expanding product line, USA Technologies is a leader in providing credit card-activated business services for professionals and consumers needing to communicate or conduct business outside the home or workplace. Visit the USA Technologies home page at [www.usatech.com][2].

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

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NBS Canadian Contracts

NBS Card Services is proud to announce the receipt of three new card manufacturing and fulfillment contracts from Canadian-based affinity card issuers. Valued at more than $1.5 million, these high volume contracts are with top tier retailers with national coverage.

“Ease of customer registration is key to the success of any loyalty program” said Dan Pelletier, General Manager for NBS Card Services, Canada. “We are uniquely positioned to help loyalty card issuers throughout North America. Starting with conceptual design through to card manufacturing and mass-distribution, we provide a comprehensive suite of Card Management services.”

Registration and enrollment is simplified by packaging the loyalty cards onto pre-completed registration forms saving valuable time at point of registration. Pre-completed forms also reduce downstream data entry errors when new customers are registered into the master database.

“Our high-speed production equipment makes us well suited for large scale affinity projects” said Pelletier. “Another of our valuable services is just-in-time-inventory. Mass-distribution is tightly scheduled to coincide with national or regional program launches, ensuring card distribution closely matches geographical enrollment patterns.” We have recently acquired smart card personalization equipment to address chip based loyalty programs.

NBS’ Canadian Graphic Design Studio recently won first place along with two finalist awards at the annual International Card Manufacturers Association’s (ICMA) world-wide conference. “These Global awards are truly special as winners are selected by a panel of industry experts who appreciate the intricacies of printing a complex design on a tiny palette – the size of a credit card.”

Loyalty programs continue to grow in popularity. Consumers gain by obtaining valued rewards such as travel, rebates or discounts. Retailers benefit by building customer relationships, increased revenue and better understanding buying patterns and trends. Cards are the enabling device for promoting and effecting successful loyalty programs. With the emergence of smart cards these loyalty programs will increase flexibility and convenience. The facility has recently obtained ISO 9001 certification to address the demanding requirements of the loyalty market.

NBS is a leading supplier of advanced card issuance systems and software, innovative card based solutions, transaction devices, card products and services. NBS provides a wide range of card products and solutions including smart card personalization, access control, identification and functionality. NBS serves a wide range of international customers including financial institutions, corporations, retailers, government agencies, service bureaus, marketing organizations, entertainment and recreation and healthcare organizations.

NBS is a Toronto based company with operations in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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Streamlining P-Cards

Paymentech, the leading payment solution provider, and CoreHarbor, the leading e-Commerce Application Service Provider, announced an alliance to incorporate Paymentech’s Purchasing Cards with CoreHarbor’s ProcureEdgeSM solution. ProcureEdge is a comprehensive hosted e-procurement solution powered by the Ariba B2B Commerce Platform. This alliance enables organizations to control, streamline and automate their purchasing processes, as well as their payment and reconciliation functions. Paymentech’s commercial card unit and CoreHarbor will jointly market and sell this integrated offering.

The combination of e-procurement and P-Cards offers a complete ‘req-to-check’ solution. While e-procurement automates front-end integration and workflow for purchasing goods and services, P-Cards automate back-end integration. CoreHarbor’s ProcureEdge will offer a standard reconciliation interface with Paymentech’s P-Cards allowing easy and streamlined payments.

Paymentech issues and manages MasterCard and Visa commercial card programs, including P-Cards, through its Utah-based First USA Financial Services commercial card unit. CoreHarbor’s ProcureEdge is a hosted e-procurement solution that includes business analysis, the Ariba Buyer application, implementation, ready-to-go hosting and ongoing support and management. ‘The Paymentech and CoreHarbor alliance sets a new standard in delivering an end-to-end e-procurement solution,’ said David Blanc, Vice President of Business Operations for CoreHarbor. ‘By building Paymentech’s P-Cards into CoreHarbor’s ProcureEdge, clients receive the benefits of both automated procurement and a comprehensive payment system.’

‘CoreHarbor provides corporations an exceptional hosted e-procurement solution,’ said David Cramer, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Paymentech’s commercial card group. ‘Paymentech’s Purchasing Cards are a perfect complement to CoreHarbor’s ProcureEdge, providing customers with seamless integration between the best in procurement solutions and payment systems.’

CoreHarbor, which deploys, hosts and manages the Ariba Buyer ASP Edition, with seamless integration with the Ariba Commerce Services Network’, provides mid-sized businesses access to the Ariba B2B Commerce Platform applications. CoreHarbor offers an affordable hosted solution eliminating up-front implementation costs as well as management and maintenance of the software. Customers benefit from CoreHarbor’s solutions and unique methodologies which bring value and rapid time-to-market, reducing operational costs, capturing corporate spend and providing a quick return on investment.

About Paymentech

Dallas-based Paymentech (), founded in 1985, delivers premier electronic payment solutions for merchant acquiring, point-of-sale transaction processing and commercial card programs. Paymentech’s commercial card unit (First USA Financial Services), based in Salt Lake City, is a leading commercial card issuer with the industry’s first robust Internet-based administration and reporting platform called PaymentNet. Paymentech is the nation’s largest processor and acquirer of credit card transactions and a leader in Internet payments. The company annually processes approximately 3 billion total transactions and $93 billion in bankcard sales volume.

About CoreHarbor, Inc.

CoreHarbor, a business-to-business e-Commerce Application Service Provider (ASP) for mid-tier and high growth companies, is dedicated to offering comprehensive software, services and solutions to manage the procurement of operating resources. With a singular e-Commerce focus, CoreHarbor delivers the Ariba B2B Commerce Platform, ready-to-go infrastructure, support and management, and unparalleled expertise for procurement processes and technology implementation. CoreHarbor has best-of-breed partners, including Ariba, Internet Security Systems (ISS), Check Point Software Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard allowing for the most complete e-Commerce solution in the industry. CoreHarbor can be contacted in Atlanta at 770.453.9001 or visit .

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Heartland Sets Up Dining Site

Heartland Payment Systems, a leading provider of credit card and payroll processing services for the restaurant industry, announced the launch of HeartlandDineSite.com, a nationwide online restaurant guide.

Leveraging the Internet’s power to drive consumers to restaurants, this new site allows any restaurants that process credit cards and/or payroll through Heartland Payment Systems to gain significant, cost-effective visibility via Internet promotion.

HeartlandDineSite.com, developed and “powered-by” DineSite.com, is among the most comprehensive restaurant guides in the world. The site offers access to over 100,000 restaurants in more than 12,000 cities nationwide, with several international guides underway.

Restaurants that participate also gain visibility via the entire DineSite.com network of restaurant guides which is syndicated by a growing list of more than a hundred popular web brands.

“By teaming up with DineSite.com, we are able to offer a world-class dining guide already proven to be a favorite among Internet users,” said John Waldron, VP Internet Marketing and Sales at Heartland Payment Systems. “This relationship is right in line with our mission to distinguish Heartland, and our product offering, from competitors in our market.”

The National Restaurant Association reports that the average American dines out 4.1 meals each week and pays .43 of each food dollar to the restaurant industry.

Ten percent of consumers have already used the Internet to view a restaurant’s menu, and among adults who have yet to do so, 44% would like to be able to access a restaurant’s menu online. It is therefore no surprise that “Food & Dining” ranks in the top five for portals and city guides covering local entertainment, travel, and lifestyle content.

Most portal sites report that restaurant sections account for 7-10% of local traffic.

“We are very pleased by the synergy this relationship brings…” said DineSite.com Marketing VP, Jim Hasan. “Heartland Payment Systems brings an army of professional sales reps targeting restaurants, while we bring over 5 years experience developing and running consumer-oriented web-based restaurant guides.”

About Heartland Payment Systems

Heartland Payment Systems provides businesses of all sizes with professional, one-stop solutions for payroll processing, traditional and Internet card processing and fraud prevention and protection programs.

Heartland Payment Systems began in May 1997 as Heartland Card Services, LLC and has rapidly grown to become the 15th largest merchant acquirer in the U.S., as well as the largest privately held merchant acquirer. For more information please visit us online at [www.heartlandpaymentsystem.com][1] or contact John Waldron at 888/702-3321.

About DineSite.com

DineSite.com () competes among top restaurant guides with what it claims is the most comprehensive restaurant database in the world. Created back in 1995 as a consulting demo, DineSite.com gained popularity because it allowed consumers to share dining experiences by posting their own restaurant reviews.

The site now has over 50,000 user-contributed ratings and reviews; and, a searchable menu database with over 3,000 destination restaurants across the nation.

DineSite.com is based in Schaumburg, Ill. and owned by Internet consulting firm DineCore Inc. Heartland Payment Systems is a privately owned company and is based in Princeton, N.J. For more information please contact Joan Herman, Director of Restaurant Marketing at 888/963-4200, ext. 4803 or email jherman@heartlandcard.com.

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

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Major Fleet Campaign

Fleet announced Monday an $18 million marketing campaign to drive new customers to its online ‘Fleet HomeLink’ banking program. Created by Boston-based advertising agency, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopolus, the campaign launches with 30-second television spots, 60-second radio spots, and print and outdoor advertising in metropolitan New York, Central New Jersey and Boston. The new features of ‘HomeLink’ include 90 days of account history on all Fleet checking, savings, cash reserve, money market, CD, IRA, credit cards and credit lines; a streamlined bill paying process that allows customers to pay multiple bills from one screen, rather than pay one bill at a time; and mortgage balance information, including principal balance, escrow balance and monthly payment amounts.

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FDC Smart Cards

First Data Corp announced they will provide secure web access smart cards to an estimated 400 attendees of the Microsoft ‘Smart Card Business Development Conference’ this weekend. Combining First Data’s expertise in multi-application chip personalization with TTI’s ‘PocketServer’ application, the multi-application smart card will serve as attendees’ identification badge and can be used at several PCs with card readers to obtain information about the conference and area attractions. In addition, attendees will be able to select a gift to be sent to the personal address stored on the card. Every time attendees use the cards, a loyalty application on the chip will automatically register them to win a ‘PocketPC’ from Microsoft.

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