Wireless POS Computer

Symbol Technologies announced this morning that computer software and video game retailer Electronics Boutique has installed the first Symbol ‘SPT 1740’ wireless cash register. The hand-held Symbol computer integrates a tiny bar code laser scanner, Symbol’s ‘Spectrum 24′ radio frequency technology and Kyrus POS software for scanning products, completing credit card transactions, recording sales and checking inventory with the store’s server. Kyrus’ software emulates the store’s POS system and when connected to the Symbol ‘SPT 1740’, acts like a mobile cash register. A small ‘Comtec II’ printer, also attached to the employee’s belt, prints receipts and labels. Electronics Boutique has 568 stores in 45 states. The firm says there are days during the holiday season, when revenue at an EB store is constrained only by how many customers the store can get through the registers. Electronics Boutique sells video and computer games, video game hardware, PC productivity software accessories in 1,000 square ft. stores, with two or three cash registers each.


Royal Rewards for Kids

For the second-straight year, Royal Bank Visa shoppers are donating Royal Rewards points to buy Christmas gifts for needy children across Canada.

Consumers who shop with a Royal Bank Visa Gold Preferred card, a Royal Trust Visa Gold, a Royal Bank US Dollar Visa Gold, or a Royal Bank Visa Platinum Preferred, may donate accumulated Royal Rewards points toward the purchase of children’s presents by calling their local Royal Bank Visa card centre, until December 6, 1999. The selection of gifts caters to all ages and includes stuffed bears, radio headsets, movie passes, artist kits and Play Doh. Gifts will be distributed in each province through the Kinsmen & Kinette Clubs of Canada.

“What a joy it is to put a smile on the faces of so many Canadian children during the Christmas season,” says Marion Price, executive director, Kinsmen & Kinette Clubs of Canada. “This initiative brings together key community supporters, working together to strengthen the foundations our neighbourhoods are built upon.”

With a 1999 goal of donating 3,000 toys, cardholders can buy a child a toy with a donation of 2,500 points. Last year, 2,000 toys were donated across Canada.

“Royal Rewards Points for Toys gives our cardholders the opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life, especially during the holiday season,” said Rod Pike, vice-president, retail credit cards, for Royal Bank. “Together with the Kinsmen & Kinette Clubs of Canada, Royal Bank hopes to collect thousands of toys for children in all parts of the country.”

Royal Bank (RY) is a global financial services group and a leading provider of personal and commercial banking, insurance products, wealth management, and corporate and investment banking. The bank and its key subsidiaries Royal Trust, RBC Dominion Securities, RBC Insurance, and Royal Bank Action Direct have approximately 52,000 employees (on a full-time equivalent basis) serving 10 million clients through more than 1,400 branches and offices in over 30 countries.


Multi-App Cards Die

A new study, released this morning, suggests that transitioning to multiapplication smart cards, which offer a better business model and consumer proposition, will pose enormous challenges. Forrester Research says that many companies are using single-application smart cards to test the economies of scale for multiapplication smart cards but going beyond a single application involves several hurdles. The research firm projects by 2004, there will be 295 million smart cards in use in Europe. For example the 7.5 million people currently carrying the ‘Dutch Chipper’ card perform only 1 million transactions a year, but as the region enters the new millennium, market factors will emerge that will sharply increase usage. A new standard (EMV) will accelerate card issuance, and the euro will drive vending machines to accept stored value payment schemes like ePurse. By 2002, $340 million will have been spent by vending firms to outfit machines to handle the new currency, and new technologies will further multiply access points . . . but multiapplication cards will not materialize. Forrester believes that several issues, like the right mix of functionality, the inadequacies of existing smart card operating systems, and appropriate partnerships, will undermine the multiapplication card. Higher costs will also deter card issuers, while telecom advances will eliminate the need to host apps on a card.


Creditrust Online

Creditrust Corporation announced last week the launch of its interactive credit card web site, Creditrust.com ([http://www.creditrust.com][1]).

In addition to providing key corporate information to investors and other visitors to the site, Creditrust.com is now a fully interactive web site designed to be a valuable resource for its customers and credit card account holders. The web site enables cardholders to retrieve real time account information with the click of a mouse. Through Creditrust.com, cardholders have the ability to access up to the minute balances, available credit, historical transaction summaries, graphs and charts of account activity, and search for individual transactions. Cardholders can also email Creditrust’s customer service department regarding their credit needs, credit line increases, address changes and transaction inquiries.

“We are very excited about the launch of the site. All account information can be downloaded by the customer into popular financial management formats such as Quicken(R) or Microsoft Money(R) complete with customizable categories,” said Joseph K. Rensin, Creditrust’s Chairman and CEO.

Mr. Rensin continued, “Some of our advanced features allow cardholders to receive special email alerts when they are approaching their credit limit, or when customizable spending thresholds have been achieved. Our cardholders can now receive email notices reminding them of special events or even a spouse’s birthday. We believe Creditrust.com will empower our customers by providing everyone with the same high quality tools and resources previously available only to a select few.”

“This powerful financial tool can be experienced by clicking ‘TEST DRIVE’ on our home page. This allows a non-cardholder to experience all the important benefits of the site, using sample data. This is another example of how Creditrust is using technology to make peoples’ financial lives easier,” Mr. Rensin concluded.

About Creditrust

Founded in 1991, Creditrust Corporation acquires, manages and collects delinquent consumer receivables utilizing an information-driven strategy. The Company uses proprietary technology to acquire receivables primarily consisting of charged-off Visa(R), MasterCard(R), and private label credit card accounts issued by major banks and merchants. Creditrust was added to the Russell 2000 Index(R) in July of this year.

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


Online Projections

How much will consumers spend online this holiday season? It’s a pure guesstimate. Amazon.com and Harris Interactive said yesterday that their survey shows consumers will spend $8 billion. CyberSource said Tuesday it projects the number to be $7.3 billion. Meanwhile Ernst & Young says its survey shows online sales will fall between $12 and $15 billion this holiday season. All three projections are somewhat fuzzy as to the definition of holiday online sales or the timeline involved. Last year AOL shoppers spent $1.2 billion online between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Based on merchant and card usage growth patterns this year, it is more likely AOL shoppers will spend $3.5 billion and that totals online sales, including retail, travel and entertainment sales, between the two major holidays, will land just north of $13 billion.


AOL Bill Pay

America Online and Intuit announced plans Tuesday to offer a comprehensive online bill payment service for American households. The service will roll-out during the first quarter 2000. Under the five-year agreement, Intuit will be the exclusive integrated provider of this bill tracking and payment service to AOL and AOL.COM. CheckFree will provide the routing, tracking and payment engine to support Intuit’s offering for CheckFree’s billers. Checkfree will also provide the payment engine for the “Pay Everyone” functionality that Intuit’s new service will offer to consumers. The new AOL feature will give consumers the ability to view, track, and pay all of their bills, whether they are issued electronically or in hard copy paper bills. Under the agreement, AOL and Intuit will provide utilities, credit card companies, and other billers with a way to present bills to their customers, complete with their brand and logo identity, at whatever level of detail they desire, using state-of-the-art encryption technology. Consumers can also direct billers who do not provide electronic billing to send paper bills to an Intuit address where they will be scanned into electronic format. A monthly fee, to be determined, will be charged for use of this feature.


Holding the Line

Despite cracks in some major portfolios, chargeoffs remained stable at 5.5% for the October collection period. Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Index’ says the October figure is slightly above September’s 5.4% rate but well below last October’s 6.2% charge-off level. The other performance variables tracked by the indexes reported improvements except for payment rate. Payment rate dropped 50 bps, to 16.2% from 16.9%. Average yield increased by 80 bps, although growing concerns that the days of charging higher ancillary fees are numbered, continue. The increase in yield more than compensated for the slight uptick in losses as average excess spread for the trusts remains strong at 6.7%.


ZeitControl Windows Reader

With the PC/SC interface Microsoft integrates a new generation of smart card readers into Windows 98/NT. This smartcard reader is connected to the PC via the serial interface or via the USB Bus.

Booting Windows NT 6.0 will only be possible with a smart card. Thus all existing PCs will have to be equipped with a smart card reader. ZeitControl is one of the first suppliers of this new generation of smart card readers.

All drivers for Windows as well as free software tools e.g. one to read GSM cards come with the reader or can be downloaded free from [www.zeitontrol.de][1].

[1]: http://www.zeitcontrol.de


Black Friday

A strong economy and a competitive credit card marketplace will drive American consumers to rack up a record $126.5 billion on credit and debit cards this holiday season according to data compiled by CardWeb.com and RAM Research Group. During the 29 day period between the holidays, Americans will swipe their credit cards more than 1.6 billion times, charging an average of $3.7 billion in purchases per day or $156 million each hour. For the peak shopping days of Nov 26, Nov 27 and Dec 24, consumers will use their credit cards more than 7,000 times per second generating charges of nearly $500,000 per second. VISA and MasterCard-branded debit cards will continue to soar in popularity this holiday season as consumers will use such cards about 499 million times, debiting their checking or savings account for an average of $37.68 per transaction. Last year Americans used debit cards approximately 354 million times during the Christmas shopping season. Online shopping will take hold this year as the fastest growing area of credit and debit card use. American consumers will charge nearly $12 billion of online holiday sales on credit and debit cards. Californians will continue to be the most active card users, charging more than $15.6 billion on major credit cards and store cards. Cardholders in the Northwest will lead the nation by posting $23.1 billion to their charge plates. CardWeb/RAM notes that gift cards are proliferating this year while digital wallets are slowly emerging as an easier way to pay online.

1999 Christmas Holiday Payment Card Statistics
(for period between 11/26/99 and 12/24/99 inclusive)

Purchases Transactions Avg. Ticket
Major Credit Cards $92.6 billion 1,400 million $66.14
Store Credit Cards $15.1 billion 260 million $58.08
Natl Debit Cards $18.8 billion 499 million $37.68
Total: $126.5 billion 2,159 million $53.97

Source: CardWeb.com, Inc./RAM Research Group




NextCard’s Latest Deals

NextCard and ebates.com, the next-generation rebates shopping portal, yesterday announced an exclusive Internet marketing agreement. Under the terms of the 3-year, multi-million dollar agreement, NextCard and ebates.com will collaborate to offer special promotions and co-branded products specifically designed for ebates.com members at [www.ebates.com][1].

Beginning today, ebates.com members will be offered a limited-time promotional offer of up to $50 cash back for opening and using a new NextCard Visa account at ebates.com. New cardholders will receive NextCard privileges including valuable online shopping services, a one-click digital wallet, NextCard Rewards and a 100% Safe Shopping Pledge(SM) and 24-hour interactive online service and support. A co-branded ebates.com NextCard will be available in the first quarter of 2000 and will include more features targeted to the ebates.com member base, including additional discounts at selected online merchants.

“The collective buying power of the ebates.com community combined with NextCard’s enhanced e-commerce services enables us to provide an innovative product for active online shoppers,” said Rich Goebel, vice president of business development at NextCard. “This agreement with ebates.com is yet another example of NextCard’s e-commerce strategy to provide distinct Web audiences the tools and services they need to shop online safely and efficiently.”

“This is absolutely the best credit card for online shopping,” said Alessandro Isolani, vice president of business development at ebates.com. “ebates.com is focused on delivering great value and convenience to online shoppers. Our partnership with NextCard furthers both of these goals in a huge way. The card we’ve developed together is a perfect fit for our members’ needs.”

eUniverse, Inc., an entertainment community and e-commerce network of websites ([http://www.euniverse.com][2]) with more than 2.5 million unique users per month, also announced yesterday a marketing agreement with NextCard, Inc., creator of The First True Internet Visa. Under the terms of the agreement, NextCard becomes the preferred credit card on sites throughout the eUniverse network, including CD Universe, Video Universe, and Game Universe. In addition, CD Universe ([http://www.cduniverse.com][3]), eUniverse’s online entertainment commerce property, will give $20.00 gift certificates to every person that applies for and receives a NextCard through any one of the eUniverse Web sites.

“NextCard is a true master of highly-targeted online marketing,” said Brad Greenspan, Chairman of eUniverse. “NextCard’s compelling online card proposition enables eUniverse to provide our visitors with valuable discounts and innovative e-commmerce tools for a new level of interactive fun. This alliance is sure to establish a whole new batch of loyal eUniverse users.”

“We’re excited to work with eUniverse to provide customized card products and relevant promotions to the network’s two and a half million monthly visitors,” commented David Schwartz, vice president of customer acquisition at NextCard. “eUniverse members are active online shoppers and recognize the value of the NextCard Internet Visa as the preferred card of choice on the Internet.”

About eUniverse, Inc.

eUniverse, Inc. ([http://www.euniverse.com][4]) is a network of entertainment-focused commerce, community, and editorial Web sites. Its online commerce properties include: CDUniverse ([http://www.cduniverse.com][5]), VideoUniverse ([http://www.videouniverse.com][6]), and the recently launched GamesUniverse ([http://www.gamesuniverse.com][7]). Its leading community and content sites include a combination of popular interactive entertainment editorial and event sites that include Case’s Ladder ([http://www.casesladder.com][8]), Gamer’s Alliance (http://www.gagames.com) and BigNetwork ([http://www.bignetwork.com][9]). eUniverse recently launched LivePlace, an advanced community-building product which features instant messaging, chat, and co-browsing technology. eUniverse is headquartered in Wallingford, CT and maintains an office in San Francisco, CA.

About CD Universe

CD Universe ([http://www.cduniverse.com][10]) has more than 280,000 items available for worldwide delivery and has been named the Best online music shopping site, both in service and selection, by independent tracking service, BizRate. Its catalog features domestic and import CDs, cassette tapes and music videos, DVDs and laser discs. Customers can browse by genre; search by artists, title, song, soundtrack or label; read album reviews; check track listings; view cover art and listen to sound clips before they buy. CD Universe also produces a free customizable music newsletter that includes tributes to music artists, upcoming events and awards.

NextCard, Inc.

NextCard, Inc. ([http://www.nextcard.com][11]), creator of The First True Internet Visa in 1997, is considered the industry’s leading issuer of consumer credit on the Internet. The Company has continued to innovate with its complete GoShopping!(SM) Web site, NextCard Concierge(SM), personalized PictureCard(SM) design and exceptional online customer service. NextCard is consistently a top 10 online advertiser, operates a network of over 20,000 affiliates and has exclusive card relationships with leading brands including Amazon.com and DILBERT. The Company publishes the NextCard eCommerce Index(SM), the premier source of online transaction activity and was named a “HOT 100 Company” by Upside magazine and one of “The Standard 100” most important and influential companies in the Internet economy by The Industry Standard magazine. NextCard was recently named the No. 1 credit card brand Internet consumers would consider for use according to ZDNet’s 1999 BrandIQ research study.

About ebates.com

Headquartered in San Francisco, ebates.com is a next-generation Internet shopping portal, which gives its members cash back when they shop online. Through ebates.com, members receive cash back of up to 25 percent on every purchase from over 200 merchants. In addition, members can earn additional cash back by referring others to ebates.com.

Launched in May 1999, ebates.com was founded by Paul Wasserman and Alessandro Isolani, two former deputy district attorneys in Silicon Valley. USA Today called ebates.com “the best story of the @d:tech SF show.” The ebates.com site ranks among the Net’s top five affiliate sites, and the company has also been named a Red Herring “Catch of the Day.” ebates.com is funded by Foundation Capital of Menlo Park, Calif.

[1]: http://www.ebates.com/
[2]: http://www.euniverse.com/
[3]: http://www.cduniverse.com/
[4]: http://www.euniverse.com/
[5]: http://www.cduniverse.com/
[6]: http://www.videouniverse.com/
[7]: http://www.gamesuniverse.com/
[8]: http://www.casesladder.com/
[9]: http://www.bignetwork.com/
[10]: http://www.cduniverse.com/
[11]: http://www.nextcard.com/


Cape Cod Exits Merchant Business

Cape Cod Bank and Trust Company, N.A. Tuesday sold its merchant credit card service business to NOVA Information Systems, Inc., it was announced by Stephen B. Lawson, President & CEO. Lawson indicated that the bank will realize an after tax gain of approximately $2 million as a result of the sale. He said that NOVA will be able to provide CCB&T’s merchant credit card customers with the service efficiencies of a large national company. NOVA is an Atlanta based company that handles credit card processing for over 1,800 nationwide bank clients with combined volume exceeding $50 billion, he said. CCB&T’s merchant credit card customers will be converted to the NOVA system beginning mid-February, 2000, Lawson said. They are presently being notified of the conversion. CCB&T, a subsidiary of CCBT Financial Companies, Inc., (NASDAQ: CCBT) is the Cape’s largest financial institution with assets of $1.3 billion. It has been serving the Cape market for 144 years.


New Cubic Subsidiary

San Diego-based Cubic Corp. announced the formation of a new subsidiary company to develop and leverage applications for the company’s newest contactless smart card chip technology. The new company will be known as Cubic Microchip Development Inc.

The formation of the company is related to Cubic’s development of a new high-speed chip for contactless smart card applications which require the ability to read and write data securely at very high speeds. A Cubic-designed chip currently in use in contactless smart cards in Washington, DC can handle transit transactions in less than one-tenth of a second. The newest Cubic chip design offers transit customers and other users greater memory and can operate at higher transaction speeds.

Cubic is the world leader in integrated payment systems for mass transit and is the only company with an actual working contactless card payment system in large scale transit use in the U. S. Cubic designed contactless cards are now in use by the Washington Area Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Washington, DC. Contactless cards using Cubic designed chips are also scheduled to go into transit use soon in Chicago.

Cubic’s new technology makes new contactless card applications available for uses beyond transit. Other potential customers include government benefits issuers, medical providers, drivers’ license bureaus, passport offices, security companies, as well as retail and e-commerce businesses. The expanded memory and security designed into Cubic’s latest chip will allow a commuter to use the same contactless card for transit and many other payment applications.