ACE Cash Express, Inc. signed a multi-year agreement with Oklahoma Natural Gas (ONG). ONG customers who make service payments at ACE retail stores will have their accounts posted the same day utilizing ACE’s proprietary point-of- sale network.

“This agreement provides our customers with an additional convenient payment option at any of the 23 locations in the Ace network of stores across our state,” said Roy Clymer, ONG Vice President of Customer Service. “This gives our customers more choice in where and how their gas bill payments are made.”

“Building a relationship with a major utility like ONG is very exciting because everybody wins,” said Jay B. Shipowitz, President of ACE. “Customers now have a convenient place to make their monthly payment, ONG will get the information the same day for fast account posting and ACE has added another service for our customers.”

ACE Cash Express, Inc. is headquartered in Irving, Texas and traded on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol AACE. It is the largest owner, operator and franchiser of check-cashing stores in the United States. Founded in 1968, the company has a total network of more than 1000 stores, including over 854 Company-owned stores and 146 franchised stores in 30 states and Washington, D.C. ACE offers a broad range of financial services, which include check cashing, MoneyGram wire transfers, money orders, small consumer loans, bill payment services and telecommunication services, including prepaid long distance and local phone service. The ACE web site is found at [][1].

Oklahoma Natural Gas, a division of ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE: OKE), is the largest natural gas utility in Oklahoma, providing service to more than 750,000 customers. More information about the company is available on the ONG web site at [>][2].




NBS Technologies released its ‘Generation 2’ smart card ‘Card Personalization Element’ for the NBS ‘Horizon’ in-line card personalization system. The new ‘G2 CPE’ enables the Horizon to maintain its production speed of over 1000 cards per hour. NBS has already tested the ‘G2’ technology at beta sites across Europe during 1999 and selected customers have been running live for several months. The latest GSM smart cards, including new larger capacity 16 Kbytes chips and applications, and other types of smart card are being personalized at rates that exceed 1000 cards per hour.


Tradesafe Payments

Another Internet payment system surfaced yesterday offering P2P, C2C and B2B transactions. RI-based launched ‘ Payments’ and announced a joint venture with Fleet Bank. According to the terms agreement, Fleet will provide with credit card processing services, and a gateway for ACH payments. In return, will provide new technology that enables online sellers to collect payments quickly in consumer-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions. Because Fleet is able to process online credit card transactions immediately through the bank’s own merchant services group, sellers at Internet auctions and other e-commerce sites can do business without the delays and financial constraints involved with merchant or escrow accounts. For purchases under $1,200, the buyer provides with a credit card as payment for the product. immediately deposits the money into the seller’s bank account. The buyer and seller then complete the delivery of goods. For transactions of $1,200 or more, confirms buyers’ receipt and satisfaction of the product before releasing funds to the seller.



First Data Corp. announced Monday it has both invested in and entered into a strategic marketing agreement with CoolSavings. As part of the agreement, First Data will leverage its technology platforms to provide electronic processing and fulfillment for the various savings incentives CoolSavings delivers to its more than six million registered members. CoolSavings provides targeted online coupons, rebates, free samples and other savings opportunities to its registered membership base via its Web site. Through First Data, the CoolSavings model will be enhanced to allow redemption at participating Internet and brick and mortar merchants to be completely online, automatic and paperless. First Data’s patent-pending technology will enable CoolSavings’ members to experience savings that are fulfilled electronically, appearing directly on their credit card statements. First Data will be the exclusive provider of these services to CoolSavings for VISA and MasterCard transactions.


MBNA & JP Morgan

MBNA America Bank announced Monday an agreement with J.P. Morgan to provide credit card services to the firm’s private banking clients, including clients of its new Morgan OnLine service also introduced Monday.

MBNA will offer a J.P. Morgan credit card to Morgan’s private banking clients. The announcement coincides with the launch of Morgan OnLine, the Wall Street firm’s new integrated wealth advisory service available via the Internet to Morgan’s clients.

“J.P. Morgan’s selection of MBNA as the credit card of choice for its wealth management clients underscores our commitment to providing superior services to premier Customers,” said John Cochran, chief marketing officer of MBNA. “For more than a century, J.P. Morgan has provided the highest quality advice and client service, and MBNA will maintain those high standards through its credit card offerings.”

“As J.P. Morgan expands its’ private client business to serve the growing number of millionaire investors with integrated wealth management solutions, a high caliber credit card is a service we know our clients will appreciate,” said Albert Bashawaty, managing director of JPMorgan Advisors, Inc. “We are pleased that MBNA will provide this added feature to our high net worth clients.”

MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $72.3 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products.

J.P. Morgan is a global financial firm that has built an international reputation for excellence in serving the needs of corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals. J.P. Morgan manages $350 billion in assets for defined benefit and defined contribution plans, proprietary mutual funds, third-party mutual funds, and high-net-worth individuals. The firm has U.S. private banking offices in New York, Philadelphia, Palm Beach, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, DE, and will be expanding into 10 cities in 2000.


SafeDebit on STAR

Star Systems, Inc. announced Monday that it will join NYCE Corporation in offering SafeDebit to 3,400 STAR member financial institutions, representing 80 million ATM/debit cardholders. SafeDebit, an innovative payment solution, will allow consumers to use their ATM/debit card to make secure, real-time Internet purchases.

“Consumers have come to depend on their ATM/debit cards for secure, convenient payments at the point of sale,” said STAR(sm) President and CEO Ronald V. Congemi. “Before SafeDebit, consumers could not make real-time, secure purchases on the Internet with their ATM/debit card. SafeDebit will change that, extending those benefits to Internet transactions and expanding consumer and merchant choices in an important way.”

Scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2000, SafeDebit builds on the infrastructure and experience of the regional ATM networks, including NYCE and STAR, expanding the options for cardholders while preserving customer trust.

“We are thrilled to have STAR join us on this important initiative, offering SafeDebit to its member institutions,” said Dennis Lynch, President of NYCE Corporation. “Like NYCE, STAR has a history of innovation … by making SafeDebit available to its member institutions and merchant processors, STAR will broaden and enhance the e-commerce options for millions of cardholders.”

SafeDebit is modeled on the existing ATM/debit card design. Participating financial institutions will issue their customers a SafeDebit CD-ROM “card” in the shape of an ATM/debit card, as well as a personal identification number (PIN). When making an Internet purchase, SafeDebit cardholders will select the SafeDebit symbol as the payment option, insert the SafeDebit “card” into the CD-ROM drive on their PC and enter an e-PIN for authorization. As with ATM/debit cards, the SafeDebit transaction will be routed through the designated online EFT network, including NYCE and STAR. This two-step process, entry of a card and PIN, which is unique to the Internet but familiar to debit card users, provides consumers with a level of security currently unavailable for Internet purchases.

“Consumers, Internet merchants, and financial institutions will all benefit with SafeDebit,” said Congemi. “Secure, real-time Internet transactions will not only expand payment options. SafeDebit also is designed to reduce fraud and enhance consumer trust when making purchases online.”

The SafeDebit service being offered is in addition to other secure, real-time Internet purchasing initiatives, including digital signatures, currently under pilot through STAR. The STAR Network processes more than 2 billion transactions a year, via nearly 520,000 participating ATMs and merchant locations such as grocery stores, gas stations and discount stores. The largest such network in the U.S., STAR is headquartered in Maitland, FL, with offices also in San Diego, CA; Columbia, SC; Reston, VA; and St. Louis, MO.


VISA Volume Up 18%

VISA U.S.A. reported this morning it processed $721.1 billion in consumer and business purchases during 1999. This compares to $611.0 billion for 1998. Growth in 1999 dollar volume was driven by the ‘VISA Check’ card, which makes up more than 25% of VISA’s today dollar volume. Dollar volume on the ‘VISA Check’ card reached $183.8 billion in 1999, up 36% from 1998. There are now more than 84.5 million ‘VISA Check’ check cards in the U.S. Non-traditional acceptance categories also drove VISA’s growth. VISA volume at movie theaters, for instance, jumped 107% in 1999, as moviegoers spent $195 million with their VISA cards. At fast-food restaurants, where VISA volume rose 66% last year, some $616 million was transacted on VISA cards. Among recurring utility payments via VISA cards, card use for cable TV bills hit $1 billion last year. VISA’s suite of commercial card products also represented a major product growth category for 1999. Volume on bank-issued VISA commercial cards reached $45 billion in 1999, up 42% from 1998. There are now over 9.2 million VISA commercial cards in circulation, up 23% from year-end 1998.


OPC Signs Spokane

Official Payments Corporation announced Friday a new business award with Spokane, County WA.

Under the contract, Official Payments Corp. will provide Spokane County a service by which taxpayers can pay their Real Estate Taxes, Property Taxes and Improvement District Assessments by credit card, over the Internet and telephone. Real Estate and Property Taxes are due in Spokane County on April 30 and October 31. Taxpayers will be able to make their payments by credit card by calling 1-888-2-PAY-TAXSM or over the Internet at [][1]. Spokane County collects $300 million annually in Real Estate and Property Taxes; the average bill is $1,600.

“Offering our citizens the option to pay their taxes by credit card is part of our ongoing program of innovation and enhanced services,” said Linda Wolverton, Spokane County Treasurer. “In our due diligence in investigating this type of payment option, we found Official Payments’ services to be reliable, safe and secure,” Ms. Wolverton added.

Official Payments Corp. processes credit card payments for over 450 counties and municipalities and operates in 34 states. The company has contracts with seven state governments and the Internal Revenue Service to collect income tax by credit card, over the Internet and telephone.

Official Payments Corp. charges taxpayers a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. The fee schedule can be found on the Internet at [][2]. For example, a taxpayer who owed Spokane County $1600 and charged their taxes would find a total of $1,649 on their credit card statement: $1600 for the tax bill and $49.00 for the convenience fee. American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa are the credit cards accepted by the program. Taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corp.

Official Payments Corporation (formerly U.S. Audiotex Corporation) 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 California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oklahoma, and 450+ municipal and county entities in 34 states, in which it collects income taxes, 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.



PCCharge Alliance Inc. unveiled, last week, new versions of its ‘PCCharge’ products including ‘PCCharge Express’, ‘PCCharge Pro’ and ‘PCCharge DevKit’. The products, collectively called the PCCharge Alliance, are software programs designed to enable electronic transaction payments. The upgraded ‘PCCharge’ products include additional anti-fraud features that cater to both card-not-present and card-present circumstances. Features include ‘CVV2’, a verification feature currently certified with six processors; Magnetic Strip Verification; definable user level security; and adoption of a convention (in compliance with a new California law) mandating secure receipts that truncate the credit card number and omit the expiration date. The products are also bolstered with two legacy anti-fraud features: Address Verification Services and data file encryption. ShopNow’s transaction processing division has over 16,500 customers.


Verza, a VC-backed Dutch-American start-up, has launched a package of technology and services for small Internet merchants. Verza’s turnkey solutions include a proprietary anti-fraud protection model. Verza offers a suite of payment services that includes virtual online shopping applications, anti-fraud screening, real-time processing of direct debit and credit card transactions, integrated reseller marketing programs, shipment tracking facilities, and billing and multi-tiered end-user support. Verza’s integrated, cost-effective, and sophisticated anti-fraud system to prevent online credit card fraud utilizes cross-checking a number of parameters at the transaction level. Each card transaction is scored against an anti-fraud database prior to processing. Verza’s services are available in 31 Internet countries around the world, offering local support in ten languages, both online and off.


Providian NV Ops Ctr

Providian Financial opened a new customer service center in Henderson, Nevada last week. The center, which will support the company’s expanding Internet-based Aria credit card, is Providian’s first e-commerce facility outside of California.

Providian has experienced outstanding success in its e-commerce business over the last year, which in turn has created a need to add resources. Less than a year old, the company’s Internet-based Aria Visa has already surpassed 220,000 accounts and continues to grow. Internet-sourced retail deposits in Providian CDs and money market accounts recently hit the $750 million milestone. In addition, consumer loan referrals from the Providian-owned financial marketplace Web site, [][1], have markedly increased.

Providian’s 63,000 square feet of space at 2280 Corporate Circle Drive in Henderson will be home to approximately 700 employees dedicated to providing customer service for the company’s e-commerce customers. (Individuals who are interested in employment opportunities in Henderson and have prior call center experience should fax their resumes to 702-992-3251.)

At last week’s opening celebration, local business leaders and elected officials, as well as representatives of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Development Authority, and City of Henderson, joined Providian senior management and employees in a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“The tremendous success of Providian’s Web-based businesses, including Aria Visa, Providian retail deposits, and, has the company’s e-commerce division rapidly outgrowing its current facilities. Henderson’s hospitable business climate, state-of-the-art communications infrastructure and strong and qualified labor force make it an ideal home for Providian’s newest e-commerce facility,” said James Rowe, Providian’s executive vice president and head of Providian’s e-commerce business. “Providian is proud to join the Henderson community and we plan to be an active member of it.”

As a part of its community commitment, today Providian made a $25,000 donation to the Economic Opportunity Board (EOB) of Clark County. Providian’s donation will support the EOB’s Child Care Assistance Division, which works to provide affordable, accessible, reliable, caring and stimulating child care for the children of Southern Nevada through subsidy, education, and other support programs. Providian’s donation is part of the company’s national Providian Child Care Initiative.

Providian Financial employs more than 11,000 people in the United States and in the United Kingdom, with facilities in Henderson, Nevada, as well as Arlington, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Fairfield, Oakland, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire; and London, England.

San Francisco-based Providian Financial Corporation ([][2]) is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the United States and also 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.

Providian serves a broad, diversified market with loan products that include credit cards, secured cards and membership services. With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian’s mission is to help customers build or rebuild, protect and responsibly use credit by providing a quality borrowing experience that leads to active and lasting customer relationships. Providian has more than $23 billion in assets under management and over 12 million customers.