EBPP Firms Joins MC BSP

MasterCard International and Princeton eCom, a leading electronic bill presentment and payment provider, today announced an agreement making Princeton eCom among the first Biller Service Providers to join MasterCard’s Remote Payment and Presentment Service and its recently announced electronic bill presentment service. Princeton eCom also serves as a payment originator on behalf of its financial institution customers.

MasterCard’s RPPS program provides participating financial institutions flexible connectivity to process electronic payment transactions without capturing or storing consumer or biller relationship information. Through the agreement, MasterCard will act as a bill payment “hub”, offering Princeton eCom customers the ability to pay their bills online through MasterCard’s extensive payment network.

By leveraging MasterCard’s existing payment relationships through its Remote Payment and Presentment Service (RPPS), this collaborative effort allows the industry to reach a greater number of potential consumers than ever before. MasterCard’s 14 years of experience, along with its proven payments network, risk management and customer service infrastructure, enable companies like Princeton eCom to leverage MasterCard’s expertise, customer base and payment experience. As a result of this service, consumers have gained more convenience with access to more of their bills online, while billers have the opportunity to access a greater number of consumers then ever before. Member financial institutions can promote interoperability and leverage MasterCard’s extensive payments experience and “hub”. The full service offering will be available to all banks, Customer Service Providers and Biller Service Providers in September 2000.

“MasterCard’s RPPS allows Princeton eCom to significantly increase the number of online banking customers that we are able to access. This new reach furthers our goal of providing our customers with some of the most advanced reach for bill payment,” said Ronald Averett, president and chief operating officer, Princeton eCom. “We’re pleased to work with MasterCard because the company shares our commitment to providing anytime, anywhere access to bills.”

“Princeton eCom is at the forefront of bill presentment and payment technology and we’re pleased to have a strategic relationship with them on both fronts,” said Ruth Ann Marshall, president, North American Region, MasterCard International.

About MasterCard

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. More than 1 billion MasterCard(R), Cirrus(R) and Maestro(R) logos are present on credit, charge and debit cards in circulation today. An association comprised of 22,000 member financial institutions, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses, both large and small, in 210 countries and territories. MasterCard is the leader in quality and innovation, offering a wide range of payment solutions in the virtual and traditional worlds. With more than 18 million acceptance locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard Card. In 1999, gross dollar volume exceeded US$727 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at http://www.mastercard.com.

About Princeton eCom

Princeton eCom, N.J.-based company, is a leading application service provider in the fast-growing electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) industry and works with financial service companies and billers in the following industries: credit card, telecommunication, utility, cable, insurance, media and retail. The company is a leading integrated electronic payment provider for the banking industry and provides hosting facilities for both EBPP business-to-business and business-to-consumer platforms. Princeton eCom offers e-bill distribution over the Internet to biller websites, portals, interactive content sites, financial institutions, personal financial management (PFM) software, and is the only provider to go to more than one consolidator.

Princeton eCom also offers a billers’ consumers an integrated epayments solution via the Internet, telephone or any digital device. It was the first company to present an e-bill on the Internet and currently provides EBPP services to over 30 major online billers including Verizon Wireless, Cellular One, Adelphia and Cinergy Corp. Its integrated electronic billing and payment solutions are used by more than 600 of the largest companies in the United States. The Company provides a single point of contact for the entire EBPP solution-from integrated payment and presentment solutions to electronic collection services. Billing Concepts Corp. (Nasdaq: BILL), the lead investor in eCom — is a provider of billing solutions, products and services to the telecommunications industry. In addition to the Princeton eCom investment, Billing Concepts’ Internet division provides Internet-based instant loan approval products to the financial services industry. For more information visit http://www.princetonecom.com.


MC Canada

TD Bank announced Wednesday an agreement with Citibank Canada for the purchase of Canada Trust’s MasterCard consumer credit card issuing business. The transaction also includes the transfer to Citibank Canada of Canada Trust MasterCard facilities and operations in London, Ontario. The sale is the result of the TD Bank purchase of Canada Trust earlier this year, and the TD Bank decision to continue its existing credit card relationship with VISA. Visa Canada does not allow a financial institution to be an issuer of both VISA and MasterCard. Over a period of time Citibank Canada will be converting all of its Citibank Canada VISA credit card offerings to MasterCard. The transaction is expected to be completed by mid to late July. According to CardPlanet ([www.cardplanet.com][1]), Canada Trust has issued approximately one million MasterCards and is the third largest MasterCard portfolio in Canada.

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


Debit Card Lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that VISA and MasterCard have the right to appeal the class action status of the Wal-Mart debit card lawsuit. In February, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson certified the retailer’s debit card lawsuit against VISA and MasterCard as a class action. (CF Library 2/24/00) The lawsuit, originally filed by Wal-Mart, Sears and eleven other retailers, contends retailers are victims of an illegal tying arrangement, under which merchants are forced to accept ‘VISA Check’ and ‘MasterMoney’ debit cards. VISA and MasterCard’s off-line debit cards require considerably higher merchant fees than competing online debit cards offered by regional networks. Yesterday’s ruling could potentially impact the trial date of the Wal-Mart case. The ruling also comes on the eve of the VISA/MasterCard antitrust trial which gets underway this week in New York. FULL STORY:



Discover Incentives

Cybergold Inc., an Internet incentives company that rewards consumers with cash, today announced an alliance with Discover Financial Services. The program will offer incentives to entice consumers to apply for a Discover Platinum card through e-mail campaigns. The agreement expands the existing November 1999 partnership between the two companies.

With the new campaign, Cybergold members will receive a $20 cash reward. The program also will allow members to transfer funds from their Cybergold account to their Discover Card.

“Our advertisers are thrilled with the results they get through our programs. Cybergold members are the types of consumers most advertisers want to reach,” said Nat Goldhaber, president and CEO of Cybergold, Inc. “Our advertisers renew and expand their programs with Cybergold. Why? Because we provide the best value for our advertisers by providing the best value for our members from the most reputable marketers. We provide our advertisers with Web-savvy consumers who are ready and willing to act.”

About Discover Financial Services

Discover Financial Services, a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., operates the Discover(R) Card brands with more than 48 million Cardmembers and the Discover/Novus Network. The Network is the largest independent credit card network in the United States with more than 3.5 million merchant and cash access locations.

About Cybergold

Cybergold, Inc. is the leading Internet incentives and payment technology company that rewards consumers with cash and other rewards for responding to Web-based advertisements and programs. With more than seven million members, Cybergold provides its clients with an efficient means of reaching interested and responsive consumers on the Internet. Cybergold members receive a wide selection of programs and activities to participate in and to generate cash, which can be used online for purchases or offline by having it transferred to a credit card or a bank checking account or donating it to charity. Cybergold’s partners include Visa USA, MBNA, AOL, EarthLink, and Autobytel. Cybergold, headquartered in Oakland, California, pioneered Internet incentives in 1995. For more information, visit http://www.cybergold.com.


Sub-Prime Sale

Troubled sub-prime credit card issuer, Bank Plus Corp, announced last night it has executed a definitive agreement to sell the MMG Direct credit card portfolio and its credit card servicing center located in Beaverton, OR. The undisclosed buyer is an international financial services company with substantial sub-prime credit card operations. The estimated loss on the sale of the Beaverton servicing center and other transaction costs are expected to total approximately $4 million. As of May 31 total outstanding balances in the MMG portfolio was $78.4 million.


Jews on MBNA Board

MBNA Corporation announced the culmination of an extensive search with the election of William L. Jews to its board of directors. Mr. Jews is president and chief executive officer of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and is chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware. CareFirst is the seventh largest Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.

During his twenty-five year career in health care, Mr. Jews has been president and CEO of Dimensions Health Corporation and the Lutheran Health Care Corporation and was associated with the University of Maryland Hospital. He serves as a director of the National Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Crown Central Petroleum, Inc., the Ryland Group, and is a governor of the Federal Reserve.

Mr. Jews is actively involved in the Baltimore community where he resides. He serves as chairman of the Greater Baltimore Alliance and is a member of the Board of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the University of Maryland Baltimore County President’s Advisory Board, and the Maryland Health Care Foundation.

“Bill Jews brings a wealth of experience to our board. He has been a superb leader in the Maryland, Delaware and Washington health care systems, and has consistently brought a spirit of innovation, determination and common sense to his work,” said MBNA Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alfred Lerner.

“I consider Bill Jews to be one of the finest executives I know. His reputation in his community and his reputation in business is without parallel. We are very proud of the fact that he is joining our board of directors,” said Charlie Cawley, MBNA Corporation President.

MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $73.0 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, travel, and shopping services.


Speedpass Prizes

Exxon Mobil announced this morning that customers who sign up for a free ‘Mobil Speedpass’ through July 31 will automatically be entered in the sweepstakes. Nearly four million customers in the USA use ‘Speedpass’, a miniature radio transponder attached to customer key chains or affixed to their vehicles’ rear window which automatically charges fuel purchases to a designated credit or check card. Four grand prize winners will receive $20,000 to take a dream vacation. A total of 139 secondary prizes will be awarded.


Providian in Texas

Providian Financial opened a new credit services center in Austin, Texas. This is the third Texas facility the Company has opened in the last year. Providian customer service centers opened in Arlington last June and in San Antonio in March of this year.

Providian’s 60,000 square feet of space at 6500 Tracor Lane in east Austin will be home to more than 500 new employees joining the Company’s credit services department, which works with past-due Providian credit card customers to help them repay their debt and continue to build a positive credit record. Providian will recruit essentially all of the employees at the new facility from the local Austin population.

“I’m very pleased that Providian Financial has selected Austin as a location for expanding their rapidly growing business,” said Austin’s Mayor Kirk Watson. “Providian’s reputation for providing a quality work environment while supporting the community fits well into Austin’s philosophy of responsible economic growth. I’m sure the company will be well served by an enthusiastic and skilled local workforce.”

Providian has hired about a quarter of the workforce it needs, with many of the early applicants bringing relevant experience from other service-oriented businesses in the area. Besides competitive pay, the Company offers its employees extensive training, including computer training, excellent benefits, opportunity for advancement and a supportive work environment.

To celebrate the opening, Providian held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. Local business leaders and elected officials attended the event, along with Providian senior management.

“Austin offers a very supportive business climate and a strong labor force that will help uphold Providian’s commitment to 100% customer satisfaction,” said Dennis Brady, executive vice president of Providian’s credit card operation and one of the Company’s senior managers in attendance at today’s event. “We’re proud to be joining the Austin community and we plan to be an active member of it.”

During the celebration, as part of its community commitment, Providian awarded $25,000 to the Fund for Child Care Excellence, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the quality, accessibility and affordability of child care in the Austin area. The Fund will use the donation to support its many efforts, including improving teacher training and wages, expanding materials and resources for child care centers, and providing families with child care scholarships. The donation is part of the Providian Child Care Initiative.

San Francisco-based Providian Financial (http://www.providian.com) employs more than 12,000 people in the United States and in the United Kingdom, with facilities in Arlington and San Antonio, Texas; Henderson, Nevada; Fairfield, Oakland, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire; and London, England.

Providian is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the United States and offers credit cards in the United Kingdom. The sixth largest bankcard issuer in the U.S., Providian Financial was recently named one of America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, and the nation’s top financial institution by US Banker magazine. With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian helps customers build or rebuild, protect and responsibly use credit. Providian has more than $27 billion in assets under management and over 13 million customers.


Euronet Sri Lanka

Euronet Services Inc., a leader in the development of electronic financial transaction and payment systems, announced an agreement with Seylan Bank in Sri Lanka to provide the bank with the Arksys Integrated Credit Card System. Installation of the software is expected to be complete by October 2000 and will make Seylan Bank Euronet’s second credit card system customer in Sri Lanka.

Michael Brown, Euronet Services Chairman and CEO stated, “The credit card industry in Sri Lanka is still very much in its infancy and we’re see a growing interest in our customer base for this solution world-wide.”

Dr. Nihal Ramanayake, Seylan Bank’s Vice President for Information Technology stated, “Euronet technologies consolidate our electronic delivery services on a single platform ensuring protection of investment and scaleable growth. Today, it is ICCS and Internet banking. Next, possibly wireless and mobile banking.”

Dr. Ramanayake further added, “As Internet fosters globalization and opens up new markets, we would like to be a bank with a vision, to grasp the opportunities technology will offer.”

Since the first of the year Euronet has held eight credit card seminars throughout Europe and the Middle East with exposure to hundreds of industry professionals. The seminars highlight the features of ICCS, along with a demonstration of the product, and include an overview of industry trends.

The Arksys Integrated Credit Card System is a comprehensive card management system that supports bank cards, private label cards and simple interest consumer finance lending — all in one system. The system can fully integrate with ATM drivers, POS, and debit and credit card systems.

A significant differentiator of Euronet’s system is its dual currency capability, which allows a financial institution to maintain, balance, bill, and report two balances in two currencies simultaneously. Also enhancing the marketability and profit potential of this card operation is its multi-language screens and reporting capabilities within a single system.

In just over a decade Seylan Bank has established itself as the leading private bank in Sri Lanka. The bank has a network of 90 offices island-wide and has taken a strong position to offer its customers the latest technology available. The bank currently utilizes the Arksys ATM management and telephone banking solutions, and will soon install the Arksys Internet Banking solution.

Euronet Services is a leading provider of financial software and network solutions in the high growth markets of the world, a segment that represents approximately 3 billion people. As these markets move rapidly toward electronic financial transactions, Euronet is becoming the provider of choice. As an example of this, the company has recently expanded its business in Greece, Indonesia, Romania and the South Pacific.

Euronet provides banks and retailers with an advanced infrastructure for connectivity and transaction processing. The company’s Arksys Software Division offers a suite of integrated retail banking products that include ATM management, POS and Merchant systems, credit and debit card systems, internet banking, telebanking, and wireless banking. Euronet operates the largest independent ATM network in Europe and is building a growing electronic transaction processing capacity in the United States. The company serves customers in more than 60 countries around the world.


Coinstar TV Ads

Coinstar Inc. announced the debut of a new $10 million television advertising campaign in support of its aggressive brand building goals for 2000.

Recently ranked the 18th fastest-growing technology company in the United States, Coinstar maintains a network of 7,500 self-service, coin counting machines and recently surpassed the U.S. Mint as the largest supplier and processor of coins to the U.S. economy.

Developed by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the two 30-second spots begin airing this week in 12 media markets. Those markets are Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. Coinstar will add additional markets during the third quarter of this year and add a third flight in November and December.

The media mix for the spots includes early morning programming on the morning news shows; early fringe talk shows such as Rosie and Oprah; and prime access and late night programming such as Friends, Frasier, Drew Carey, The Tonight Show, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Coinstar is planning to support the television advertisements with radio and outdoor advertising as well. Radio, which launches in June, will consist of three 60-second spots to air on a combination of formats including adult contemporary, classic rock, oldies, and soft rock hit stations.

“Kicking off our new ad campaign brings to fruition our company’s commitment to aggressively advertise our service and launch the Coinstar brand in 2000,” said Dan Gerrity, president and CEO of Coinstar Inc. “We expect that these sharp, memorable advertisements will communicate the message that treating coins the Coinstar way is fun and makes new things possible.”

Shot by the Norwegian director team Roenberg (Espen Sandberg and Yoachin Roenning) the two Coinstar television spots are humorous takes on how coins can be changed into something useful in unusual ways. The two Coinstar television spots — “Bullies” and “Waitress” — turn snapshots of common, everyday situations into inspired “what if” scenarios by using loveable characters and surprise endings that engage viewers by appearing to unfold naturally. The ad titled “Waitress,” for example, was un-scripted, with the dialogue ad-libbed by one of the featured character actors. “Bullies” on the other hand, tells the story without dialogue, instead using animated facial expressions and body language by the actors, interesting camera angles, varied film speeds, and evocative music.

“The new Coinstar campaign represents a notable evolution, both strategically and creatively, from previous advertising efforts,” explains Rich Stillman, vice president of marketing for Coinstar. “In the past, our ads focused on the rational benefits of our service, such as convenience and ease of use. To better connect with consumers, the new ads are designed to strike an emotional chord, conveying a brand personality for Coinstar that is human, empathetic, inspiring and fun.”

About TBWA/Chiat/Day

TBWA/Chiat/Day is currently the 12th largest ad agency in the U.S. with estimated billings of $1.8 billion. Clients include Nissan, Apple, Levi’s, Taco Bell, Infiniti, Absolut, ABC Television, Pets.com, OnHealth.com, Promus Hotels, Sony PlayStation, Seagram, barnesandnoble.com, and Energizer. TBWA/Chiat/Day is part of TBWA Worldwide, an Omnicom company and the 11th largest worldwide advertising network with billings in excess of $5.7 billion and offices in 65 countries and 106 cities.

About Coinstar Inc.

Recently ranked the country’s eighteenth fastest growing technology company, Coinstar Inc. (Nasdaq:CSTR) and its subsidiaries, Meals.com and Coinstar International, use technology to deliver time and money saving services to consumers in their local supermarkets. Coinstar’s 7,500 strong network of machines is currently available to 125 million consumers in 40 states and the District of Columbia, as well as worldwide in Canada and the United Kingdom. Consumers can visit www.findcoinstar.com or call 1-800-928-CASH to find the nearest Coinstar(R) machine.


May Card Usage

The NextCard ‘eCommerce Index’, released yesterday, shows the top five online merchants for May are: AOL, Amazon.com, Earthlink, eBay and Buy.com. The NextCard index is a monthly listing of the top Web sites based on the number of online transactions by more than 330,000 NextCard cardholders. Consumers continue to use their credit cards to pay for ISP service. Nine Internet service-providers were among the Top 30 in May including America Online, Earthlink, MSN, CompuServe and Prodigy.