Card Stats Stable

Bank credit card charge-offs and delinquency continued their stable course during December among credit card-backed securities. Loss rates of 5.5%, 5.7%, and 5.7%, for the three consecutive months of October, November, and December, represent the lowest back-to-back month reported charge-offs since the early 1990s. According to Standard & Poor’s Credit Card Quality Indexes, the delinquency trend is positive as well. December’s delinquencies dropped 22 bps, to 4.6% from 4.8%. Compared with last year’s numbers, delinquencies improved by 40 bps. S&P also reported yesterday that among the major trusts, there was a significant increase only in the Discover Card Master Trust. Losses for Discover increased by 80 bps during December, to 6.8% from 6.0%. At the other end of the spectrum, Universal Card Services Master Trust and Citibank Master Credit Card Trust had the largest decline in losses. Both trusts reported a drop of 50 bps in losses for the month.

CREDIT CARD QUALITY INDEXES

Performance month Dec 97 Dec 98 Oct 99 Nov 99 Dec 99
Outstandings $248.7b 275.5 300.0 303.8 307.5
Yield 19.6% 19.7 20.0 19.5 19.7
Charge-offs 6.9% 5.9 5.5 5.7 5.7
Weighted base rate 8.1% 7.7 7.7 7.6 8.3
Excess spread 4.6% 6.1 6.8 6.2 5.7
Delinquencies 5.6% 5.0 4.8 4.8 4.6
Payment rate 15.0% 15.9 16.2 16.0 16.8

SOURCE Standard & Poor’s CreditWire

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Sting-in-the-Tail

Introductory interest rates have invaded the UK. However Co-operative Bank says with most card offers in the UK: “the sting-in-the-tail is the much higher standard rate once the introductory period is over”. Co-operative Bank announced it is introducing this week its lowest ever ‘Advantage VISA’ credit card interest rate of 4.9%, fixed until July 2000. The go-to interest rate for both the ‘Advantage VISA’ or ‘Advantage Gold VISA’ is 14.7%. Both cards have no annual fee. The gold card has a minimum credit limit of £3,000.

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NextCard Commissions

NextCard announced yesterday that its affiliate program is a real win-win for the card issuer and for outside promoters. In the first nine months of the program, NextCard paid out more than $1.1 million in commissions to other web sites. NextCard says it currently has 30,000 members in the affiliates program. Under the program, the Internet VISA issuer pays a minimum $20 commission for each approved credit card account delivered by external web sites. Yesterday a Mississippi man said he earned enough commissions since last July to purchase a new Cadillac SUV.

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AmEx Cards Grow

American Express acknowledged yesterday that during 1999 its consumer charge cards-in-force increased for the first time since 1990. Last year AmEx added 2.1 million net new accounts. The new ‘Blue’ card and the co-branded Costco cards contributed to the increase. Meanwhile, AmEx Travel Related Services reported a 15.1% increase in net income for 4Q/99 compared to 4Q/98. The strong earnings were driven in part by merchant fees and cardholder interest charges. Merchant fees for the fourth quarter were $1.9 billion compared to $1.6 billion one year ago. Finance charge revenue grew 22.3% for the 4Q/99 to $802 million compared to $655 million for 4Q/98. However interest expense rose more than 43% over the same period driving down the net growth in interest revenue to a 12.4% annual rate. The average AmEx cardholder charged $2,102 during the fourth quarter compared to $1,861 one year ago. The average merchant fee, excluding alliance partners and independent operators, for 4Q/99, was 2.71%. For complete current and historical statistics for American Express visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

AMEX 1999 U.S. STATS
EOY99 EOY98 CHNG
Card Loans: $23.4b $16.7b +39.8%
Charge Volume: $186.4b $165.6b +12.6%
Cards-in-Force: 29.9m 27.8m + 7.4%
Delinquency*: 2.6% 3.1% NA
Charge-offs: 4.5% 6.2% NA
Interest Yield: 8.6% 9.5% NA

* 30+ days Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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VoIP Phone Cards

Cybertel Communications Corp. announced Monday that it has now added prepaid VoIP phone cards to its line of Internet Telephony-based products and services. Cybertel’s phone cards are priced very aggressively, between 40 and 50 percent less per minute than most phone cards available through traditional phone companies such as AT&T , Qwest , Sprint , IDT Corporation.

Cybertel’s VoIP prepaid phone cards will be made available through the company’s Web site at [http://www.cybertelcorp.com][1] and will also be marketed to the members of organizations participating in Cybertel’s unique Affinity Partnership Program, including the Marine Corps Reserve Officers Association (MCROA) and the 10,000 member Tailhook Association. Cybertel is also researching the market potential for customized prepaid VoIP calling cards for its affinity customers, creating co-branded promotional cards as marketing and advertising incentives for those organizations.

“We are expecting a tremendous reception for our new prepaid VoIP phone cards. Prepaid calling card sales have exploded in the U.S. over the past 5 years to become a $1+ billion industry. Our prepaid VoIP cards route calls over the Internet, making it extremely inexpensive to deliver voice traffic to anywhere in the world. In addition to low rates per minute, our cards don’t have monthly fees or surcharges. Since we have no fees or surcharges, you can start saving money immediately,” says Richard Mangiarelli, president and CEO of Cybertel Communications.

Cybertel is a La Jolla, Calif.-based Voice Over the Internet Telephony (VoIP) company in the process of building a state-of-the-art Internet Telephony network throughout the United States. Cybertel has recently signed contracts with other major carriers like MCI/Worldcom (Nasdaq:WCOM), Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE:BEL) and Level 3 Communications, which have made it possible for Cybertel to offer 1+ long distance, 1-800 numbers, regular and pre-paid calling cards and Internet access at some of the most competitive rates on the market today. Cybertel is a fully reporting company, listed on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol OTCBB:CYTP. For more information, please visit .

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

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Relationship Processing

First Data unveiled Monday a new technology that enables card issuers to offer customers the option of linking multiple cardholder accounts from the same household. ‘Relationship Processing’ also gives cardholders the ability to extend a limited line, from the primary cardholder’s umbrella line of credit, to a younger family member. Other features include the option to merge accounts when two individuals marry without having to close either of the accounts and losing the past credit history; the opportunity to add an account number and line of credit to the relationship that the consumer can use solely for Internet shopping, without having to open up a completely new account with a separate credit line; and the ability to control the types of retail establishments as well as set geographical parameters for where their teenagers, for instance, can use their credit cards.

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Internet ATM Launch

CDNet Canada Inc. , Toronto, Ontario, Canada has agreed with the developer of a software application from Hamilton, Ontario to complete the commercial exploitation of this software program and system designed to facilitate the world wide purchase and sale of goods and services over the Internet without the use of credit cards. The market for the service and system are those vendors and purchasers who are unwilling or unable to use credit cards for e-commerce business but are desirous of concluding point of sale transactions without the delay in delivering cash or money orders to vendors before goods are shipped.

The Agreement provides for the formation of a corporation to be known as CDNet Cash Plus Inc. (“Net Cash Plus”) or such similar name. The parties will have equal ownership and equal representation on the Board of Directors of NetCash Plus. No treasury shares are being issued by CDNet as part of the agreement. Pursuant to the Agreement, CDNet will provide initial working capital up to $125,000.00 in the form of a loan, as needed, to test the system with a select group of vendors and purchasers. CDNet will make these funds available from cash flow derived from its ATM business and from private placements of its equity shares. The software developer will contribute the software and system to NetCash Plus and receive $25,000.00 as nominal consideration and will be entitled to purchase 166,666 treasury shares of CDNet at the exercise price of $.15 per share pursuant to its existing stock option plan should the developer become a director of CDNet. CDNet has 5,014,764 restricted voting shares issued and outstanding which trade publicly and 25,000 common shares which do not trade publicly. The Board of Directors of NetCash Plus will determine commercial exploitation of the service after the test. The test service is expected to be launched by February 15, 2000.

The software package was developed over a two year period to fill the need of those parties who were desirous of buying and selling goods and services over the Internet without using credit cards and without the shipping delay caused by the need for delivery of money orders or cash by purchasers. The software application uses the Linux operating system. Separate proprietary programs are downloaded to registered vendors and purchasers. The vendor’s program will allow a linkage to be made between NetCash Plus and the vendor’s web site or e-mail to conclude payment for point of sale transactions; NetCash Plus is offered as an alternate method of payment, confirmation that funds are available from NetCash Plus are given to vendors to facilitate sales and shipping quickly, and transfers of money are made from NetCash plus directly to vendors. The software allows a purchaser to place an order with any registered NetCash Plus vendor and quickly pay for the goods and services through NetCash Plus.

The service will work as follows, Vendors will agree to accept payments for their goods or services from NetCash Plus. Vendor subscribers will pay a fee to receive a software package that will integrate with their web site or attach to their e-mail. On conclusion of a purchase, NetCash Plus will be offered as an additional payment choice. To pay by NetCash Plus, purchasers must have a NetCash Plus Internet Card that can be acquired in various ways in denominations of their choice. Purchasers provide an e-mail address and receive a card registration and pin number. Thereafter all transactions between vendors and purchasers can be concluded quickly and goods can be shipped immediately. NetCash Plus has no knowledge or involvement in any transaction but merely acts as a cash facilitator for vendors and purchasers.

Vendors have no risk as NetCash Plus will provide the necessary immediate financial confirmation to the vendor to confirm the sale or to ship goods or provide services unless the purchaser has sufficient funds available on his NetCash Plus Internet Card. For purchasers of goods and services, NetCash Plus offers the convenience of completing a cash purchase without using a credit card over the Internet or leaving the computer site. For vendors, a reliable, inexpensive, secure and expeditious method of taking money over the Internet is made available without credit card charge-backs or the fraudulent use of credit cards.

ATM Machines

To update the public with respect to the activities of CDNet in the ATM business, the Company wishes to advise as follows. CDNet became an IBM Business Partner in September, 1999. The Company is actively selling and placing ATM’s in Ontario and is promoting the corporate sale of the Siemens Nixdorf ProCash Compact ATM. CDNet terminated all negotiations with ATM North Inc. with respect to the forming of a partnership to carry on any business related to automatic banking machines. CDNet did not conclude any partnership arrangement with this company which had wrongly represented itself to CDNet as an affiliated IBM Business Partner at the time negotiations between the companies were commenced in the spring of 1999. This news release has neither been approved nor disapproved by the Canadian Dealing Network or any other regulatory authority.

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Mambo.com Event Ticketing

Mambo.com, the leading online invitations and group payment service, unveiled the Mambo.com Payment Service, a ground-breaking online commerce capability that lets users sell tickets, pay expenses or collect money for all types of activities and events.

Intersecting community and commerce, the Mambo.com Payment Service transforms the way people conduct monetary transactions with each other over the Internet. This new service is a natural extension of commerce into the online invitation space and bridges online convenience with real-world rewards.

“The Mambo.com Payment Service offers a new form of commerce for our users around group activities and events. By offering these capabilities, Mambo.com is taking a leadership role in the category of online invitation and group payment services,” said Madeline Schroeder, CEO of Mambo.com. “Within minutes, our customers facilitate credit card transactions over the Web, so they can collect the money they need to coordinate every kind of gathering. Together with our unique offering of more than 200 invitation designs and our user friendly site implementation we are creating the best user experience for both guests and hosts alike.”

Mambo.com recognized early that all types of forums exist in which people need to exchange money with each other, but no service today offers an easy-to-use solution for facilitating economic interactions surrounding planning and coordinating activities and events. For the first time in the online event planning space, Mambo.com makes it convenient for hosts and guests to plan weekend ski getaways, collect membership dues for alumni organizations, share expenses for group gifts and purchase tickets for fundraising events. With the Mambo.com Payment Service, hosts no longer will struggle to collect money from their harried friends and co-workers, and guests will be able to easily pay for activities without having to carry their checkbook.

Getting Started with the Mambo.com Payment Service

Anyone planning any type of activity or event can choose an online invitation design that reflects the exact personality and tone of their gathering from Mambo.com’s selection of over 200 designs. In just one click, hosts can create a personalized online invitation, a ‘Mambo,’ and can choose to add specific features, including payment capabilities and maps and directions. After sending the Mambo to their guests, hosts can keep track of RSVPs with the Mambo Messenger, coordinate logistics with the message board and collect payments through the Mambo.com Payment Service.

Guests receive a truly personalized and compelling invitation that allows them to respond with one click and provides them with all the information they need to attend the activity or event. In addition, with the new Mambo.com Payment Service, they can pay whatever fees or expenses are associated with a gathering, like chipping in for a friend’s birthday present before a surprise party.

By offering a way to safely and easily exchange money between a group of people, Mambo.com presents the best, most complete online offering for users to coordinate all facets of their real-world activities and events. With the Mambo.com Payment Service, the company brings together cutting-edge, user-friendly features with integrated person-to-person commerce capabilities to offer a full-service solution that helps people get together for real-world activities and events while transforming the way they interact with each other online.

About Mambo.com

Mambo.com is the leading online invitation and group payment service that offers the broadest range of activities and events. Founded in 1999, Mambo.com brings people together for everyday activities, parties and events, utilizing the Web to build communities and commerce opportunities around these social gatherings. With venture capital funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and angel investors, Mambo.com is well-capitalized, strongly supported by its partners and positioned for long-term growth and success. Mambo.com is a privately held company located in Menlo Park, California. For more information about Mambo.com or to use its services to plan and promote a social gathering, visit the company on the Web at [http://www.mambo.com][1].

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

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Titanium Wars Ignite

With gold cards heading downscale and platinum cards becoming commonplace, the “Titanium” battle has drawn a few major players. MBNA has now entered the latest marketing war with a no-annual-fee ‘Titanium MasterCard’ featuring a 2.9% intro rate and a 13.99% go-to rate. MBNA Titanium cardholders also get online access to account information and access to Palladian Travel Services, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]). Fleet also introduced a ‘Titanium MasterCard’. Last summer the card featured a fixed 9.99% APR. However Fleet is now offering, online, its lowest interest rate, a fixed 7.99% for Titanium. Fleet is offering instant online approvals for the product. Meanwhile the pioneer of Titanium cards, First USA, may be toning down its offerings. Last summer, First USA offered a 1.9% fixed intro rate on its ‘Titanium VISA’ card with a go-to rate of Prime +3.9%. However Bank One and First USA have been re-pricing card offers, switching from a fixed 9.99% APR to a Prime +4.99% rate. FULL STORY:

–>

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

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Associates Names Investor Relations Head

Associates First Capital Corporation announced that Dianne Douglas, 43, will assume responsibility for investor relations. Douglas returns as senior vice president, investor relations after a one-year hiatus during which she gained operations experience as a key executive in the corporation’s business development and insurance division. She will report to Keith W. Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer.

“Dianne Douglas has a firm grasp of the financial services business, and is known and respected by the analyst community,” said Hughes. “The elevation of this position reflects the importance we place on assuring our shareholders’ perspective is reflected in our business. We expect the transition to be transparent.”

Douglas’ 16 years with the corporation includes positions in corporate planning, control and accounting. She was for more than two years the liaison with Ford Motor Company’s financial services group during the time The Associates was a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford.

She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has a Master of Arts degree in accounting from the University of North Texas. Douglas also is a member of the National Investor Relations Institute.

Associates First Capital Corporation, established in 1918, is a leading diversified finance company providing consumer and commercial finance, leasing, insurance and related services worldwide. The Associates has operations in the United States and 14 international markets. Headquartered in Dallas, it is the largest publicly traded finance company in the United States, based on total market capitalization. For more information, visit The Associates Web site on [http://www.theassociates.com][1].

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

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Intuit Names CEO

Intuit Inc. announced Monday that its board of directors has selected Stephen M. Bennett as president and chief executive officer. Bennett assumes his responsibilities immediately, succeeding Bill Campbell, who had been acting chief executive since September. Campbell is retiring from day-to-day responsibilities but will remain chairman of the board of directors. Bennett was also named to the board.

Bennett, 45, was most recently an executive vice president and member of the Office of the CEO at GE Capital, the financial services subsidiary of General Electric Corp. GE Capital is the world leader in numerous financial industries, including private label credit cards, commercial equipment leasing and vendor finance. With $330 billion in assets, GE Capital provides 42% of General Electric’s overall profits and is among the world’s largest non-banking financial institutions.

“Steve is an outstanding leader from a company renowned for strong leadership,” said Campbell. “His experience is tailor-made to fit Intuit’s needs now and in the future. We wanted someone with service industry knowledge, who had led large, complex organizations and with proven ability to produce fast growth. Steve is the ideal choice to take Intuit to the multi-billion dollar level.” “Intuit is the leader in e-finance. Quicken.com is already the leader in online tax preparation and online mortgage origination,” said Bennett, who will relocate from Connecticut to the Bay Area. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue developing services for the Internet and take Intuit’s industry leadership to new heights.”

During his GE career, Bennett held significant leadership positions in six different businesses within the company, spanning both manufacturing and financial services. In his most recent position, he oversaw a portfolio of five different companies whose more than 20,000 employees last year generated $15 billion in annual volume. Prior to that, as president and CEO of GE Capital e-Business, he pioneered the company’s efforts to leverage the Internet across GE Capital’s worldwide portfolio of businesses.

Previously he delivered significant growth as the president and CEO of GE Capital’s more than 4,000-employee Vendor Financial Services business. Under his leadership, assets grew to more than $13 billion from $5 billion and net income increased to $200 million from $80 million in four years.

Intuit board member John Doerr said he was impressed by Bennett’s broad base of experience. “Steve knows business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer. He knows service businesses. And he gets the Net. Intuit’s product leadership and Steve’s ability to grow businesses are an ideal match for our future.” Bennett added, “Intuit’s management team is strong, stable and experienced and works well together,” he said. “This is one of the few management teams to successfully and rapidly transform a company to the Net. I’m glad to have the opportunity to lead Intuit’s continued growth and expansion.” Scott Cook, Intuit founder and chairman of its executive committee, said, “Steve shares Intuit’s values. He’s a straightforward, no-nonsense, results-driven executive who cares deeply about people. His values-oriented leadership style energizes organizations to great achievement, and I look forward to working with him.”

About Intuit Inc.

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) is the leader in e-finance, including financial software and Web-based services. Intuit develops and markets Quicken(R), the leading personal finance software; TurboTax(R), the best-selling tax preparation software; and QuickBooks(R), the most popular small business accounting software. Intuit’s Quicken.com (R) Web site ([www.quicken.com][1]) is a leading financial Web site, offering a comprehensive set of financial news, information and tools, including insurance, mortgage, investment and tax preparation services. Intuit’s products and services enable individuals, small businesses and financial professionals to better manage their financial lives and businesses.

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

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Gold Lite

Gold cards continue to lose their luster as credit limits sink. Capital One has now introduced a sub-prime ‘VISA Gold’ card with credit limits between $200 and $1,000. According to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]), Capital One unleashed a pre-selected direct mail campaign for the new card last week. The Capital One ‘VISA Gold’ carries no-annual-fee and 19.8% APR. To sweeten the offer, Capital One is offering applicants a choice of a one year subscription to either Entertainment Weekly or Sports Illustrated. Cap One is making the free subscriptions offer on other card products including its ‘Designer VISA’ series. Since VISA and MasterCard have relaxed the minimum $5,000 credit limit of gold cards, several issuers have introduced low credit limit VISA and MasterCard gold cards. Some major issuers have dropped gold products entirely, replacing them with the platinum card.

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

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