The U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Postal Service and KeyCorp announced a pilot program to place ATMs in post office lobbies to determine the level of general public response to the presence of ATMs in six under-served areas, including usage for distributing government benefits to citizens. The initial program will involve ATMs at three urban locations in Maryland and three rural locations in Florida. Officials will study the potential for distributing Social Security payments, federal retirement payments, and other benefits via ATM before deciding whether to expand the program nationwide. The U.S. Postal Service operates some 33,000 post offices around the United States, and KeyCorp presently serves as depository agent for more than 5,000 post offices in 13 states. The Postal Service is KeyCorp’s largest depository/cash management services customer, with transactions of more than $6.7 billion per year.


Canadian LensCard

The ‘LensCard’ has migrated north. Royal Bank will unveil this morning the first-ever Canadian ‘LensCard’, the ‘Royal Bank VISA Gold’ credit card with a built-in lens that magnifies text up to three and a half times and helps cardholders read smaller print on sales slips, restaurant receipts, telephone listings, food labels, etc. The ‘LensCard’, originally developed by American inventor and restaurateur Alan Finkelstein, was inspired by actor Jack Nicholson, who at the end of a meal in a dimly lit restaurant, pulled out a credit card and magnifying glass to read the bill. Chase Manhattan introduced the ‘LensCard’ in the U.S. market exactly one year ago. Royal says the new card will be available in the first quarter 2000.


Associates Taiwan MasterCard

Associates First Capital Corporation (NYSE: AFS) announced today that it will issue MasterCard credit cards in Taiwan through a newly formed company, Associates Credit Card Taiwan Inc.

“Taiwan is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia. This new capability provides us with a unique opportunity to increase our presence in the Taiwan market and offer additional services,” said Wilfred Y. Horie, senior executive vice president of International Operations.

With its new capability, The Associates will have two distinct operations in Taiwan; a credit card operation and consumer retail sales finance operation. Associates Credit Card Taiwan Inc. will issue and service credit cards out of a centralized operations center in Taiwan. Associates Finance Taiwan Inc., which was established in early 1997, will continue to provide a consumer retail sales finance business in Taiwan for the purchase of consumer goods.

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 13 international markets. Headquartered in Dallas, it is one of the nation’s 100 largest companies, based on total market capitalization. For more information visit The Associates Web site at [][1].



NextCard Voted #1 Brand

NextCard, Inc. announced that the NextCard Internet Visa is the number one credit card brand that PC-using consumers would consider for use according to a recent ZDNet BrandIQ research study.

Based on a national evaluation of eight credit card brands, 53% of qualified respondents indicated they were most likely to consider using a NextCard. Although a new brand with limited overall awareness, the NextCard ranked higher in consideration by as much as 60% than American Express(R), AT&T Universal(R), Diners(R), Discover(R), FirstUSA(R), MasterCard(R) and Visa.

“This result is a remarkable milestone for the NextCard brand, especially considering that our first product was launched less than two years ago,” said Jeremy Lent, founder and CEO of NextCard. “It reflects the true differentiation that NextCard has achieved, with its unique combination of a customized application process and significant eCommerce value-added.

“With our new NextCard Concierge(sm) online wallet and companion, combined with other Web shopping services, NextCard is well on its way to gaining exclusive share of wallet for our customers when they make Internet purchases.” NextCard’s customers purchase five times more online than a typical credit card user.

The groundbreaking ZDNet BrandIQ research reports on the Internet’s role in building brand recognition, and its influence on purchasing activity.

The research highlights various aspects of Internet branding, including the impact of Web-related strategies in creating online brands and the heightened competitive environment for traditionally strong brands being challenged by new Internet-based businesses. More information about the credit card research is available at ([http://www][1]).

“Our ZDNet BrandIQ research confirms that the user experience with online brands is forming, and indeed transforming, brand perceptions, and altering the competitive landscape for many businesses,” said Barry Briggs, executive vice president, ZDNet. “We’ve reached the point where having a strong online presence is now mission critical in building a successful brand.”

About NextCard

NextCard, Inc. ([][2]), creator of The First True Internet Visa(R) 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), comprehensive rewards, personalized PictureCard(SM) design and exceptional online customer service.

NextCard is a Top 5 Web advertiser whose marketing partners include Hoover’s Online Network,,, ONElist, Kodak, InsWeb, and The Company has 20,000 affiliates as well as affinity and co-branded card relationships with Dilbert (United Features Syndicate), and

NextCard has strategic business relationships with Exodus Communications, Experian, Equifax, First Data Corporation, and TransUnion.

NextCard publishes the NextCard eCommerce Index(SM), the premier source of online purchase 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.

About ZDNet BrandIQ

Conducted in partnership with Bruskin/Goldring Research, ZDNet’s Brand IQ research targeted the US PC-owning population, aged 18 or over, using a random digital dialing telephone methodology.

The study covered 15 different categories (brokerage/financial services, desktop computers, computer reseller sites, top Internet sites, search engines, airlines, clothing, credit cards, printers, notebooks, travel sites, insurance, hotels, department stores and automobiles), and measured the differences in demographics, attitudes, and brand perceptions between Internet and non-Internet users.

The research provides a unique perspective into the attributes rated as important in forming a favorable brand impression and in determining purchase consideration.

About ZDNet

Based in San Francisco, ZDNet operates the leading Web destination ([][3]) for people who want to buy, use and learn about technology. ZDNet offers an enormous depth and breadth of original, fresh content that it serves to a growing audience ranging from IT professionals, to families, to gamers.

Winner of the Computer Press Awards’ Best Overall Online Site, ZDNet Sites consistently ranks among the Top 20 Web properties according to Media Metrix’s at home/at work study and has been ranked as the number-one news, information and entertainment site in ten out of the last 14 months. ZDNet’s content is available worldwide through its four wholly owned and 16 licensed international sites.



Marriott/VISA Promo

Marriott Certificate Marketing, a division of Marriott International, Inc. announced today the results of a recent online gift-giving survey as it simultaneously launched a special holiday discount offer with Visa U.S.A. designed to make the 1999 gift selection process a little easier.

The two companies announced that, between November 25 and December 31, 1999, people who purchase Marriott Gift Certificates* with their Visa card will save $10 on each certificate when ordered through either 1-800-813-GIFT or .

David Riddell, vice president of certificate marketing for Marriott, said that the special offer was created because “travel-related gift certificates always fit, regardless of the recipient’s size, shape or interests.” Citing the results of a recent online survey sponsored by Marriott, he said that more than 50 percent of the survey’s 500-plus respondents ranked travel-related gift certificates as the gift certificate of choice. He added that the survey showed people purchase gift certificates for two primary reasons: they give the recipient a choice while taking the worry out of picking the right gift.

“Our cardholders have told us that when it comes to holiday shopping, convenience is the top priority. Through our partnership with Marriott, Visa is pleased to offer our cardholders a value-added, effortless way to give the gift of travel this holiday season,” said Cheryl Rutenberg, vice president of sales and integrated solutions at Visa U.S.A.

Riddell said that, along with actual “best” and “worst” gifts like the ones named above, the survey asked men and women to offer gift-giving advice for each other. “There were a few surprises such as, while 64 percent of the men said ‘buy expensive’ for women, only 36 percent of the women offered the same advice. So, guys, if you thought you had to spend a lot of money to impress your woman, think again-what matters more is that you know your woman and listen for clues.”

The Top 10 He-Said, She-Said Holiday Gift Tips from Marriott**:

Buying for Women? The Men Say:

1. Go with the heart

2. Consider her need for relaxation

3. Buy jewelry

4. If you buy clothes, know her size; if not, buy smaller vs. larger

5. No household or kitchen appliances EVER

6 Listen to her for the clues that are surely there

7. Buy from a store she frequents

8. Think of her unspoken wants

9. Make it romantic

10. Make sure she knows where it’s from so she can discreetly return it

Buying for Men? The Women Say:

1. Buy what he wants, not what you want for him

2. They’re all little boys at heart and they still love cool toys

3. Ask his friends what he likes

4. Concentrate on his hobbies

5. Be daring and romantic

6. Pick up on little hints; not only will he love the gift, he’ll love that you listened

7. Nothing with a cutsie nickname printed on it

8. Give him a fishing or golfing trip with his buddies

9. Give him a gift certificate wrapped in a sexy pair of underwear

10. Don’t assume they all like sports

Additional survey** findings:

— Men spend an average of $467 on their spouse/significant other, while women spend an average of $231.

— Five years ago, 87 percent of respondents preferred to buy gifts at a retail store, while 13 percent purchased through catalogues. Today, 61 percent prefer to buy gifts at a retail store, 16 percent purchase through catalogues, and 23 percent purchase online.

— When asked what they did with their “worst” gifts, 32 percent stuck them in a closet, 16 percent recycled them, and 15 percent donated them to a charity.

(**Source: Marriott Certificate Marketing Online Survey, 1999)

*The Visa special offer applies to the following three categories of Marriott Gift Certificates: The Ultimate Weekend Night Certificate (good for one night’s stay and breakfast for two at all Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites and Renaissance Hotels and Resorts in the United States); The Weekend Night Certificate (good for one night’s stay and breakfast at all Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn hotels and good for one night’s stay at all TownePlace Suites in the United States); and Dinner-for-Two Certificates (good for a four-course dinner for two, including unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, at all Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites and Renaissance Hotels and Resorts in the United States. Some specialty restaurants do not participate.) (Certain blackout dates apply to The Weekend and Ultimate Weekend Night Certificates.) In addition to the Visa-discounted Gift Certificates, Marriott also offers dollar-denominated Gift Certificates ranging from $10 – $100.

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. (NYSE: MAR) is a leading worldwide hospitality company with over 1,900 operating units in the United States and 56 other countries and territories. Marriott Lodging operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Ramada International brand names; develops and operates vacation ownership (timeshare) resorts under the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Horizons brands, operates executive apartments and conference centers, and provides furnished corporate housing through its ExecuStay by Marriott division. Other Marriott businesses include senior living communities and services, wholesale food distribution, and procurement services. The company is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has approximately 140,000 employees. In fiscal year 1998, Marriott International reported total sales of $8.0 billion.

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 800 million Visa, Interlink, PLUS and Visa Cash cards, which generate nearly US$1.4 trillion in annual volume. Visa-branded cards are accepted at more than 16 million worldwide locations, including at over 500,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is .


Notre Dame VISA Renews

First USA, the world’s largest Visa credit card issuer, announced that the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association has extended its endorsement of First USA as the official issuer of the University of Notre Dame Visa credit card.

The program, started in 1995, offers a no-fee, low interest Platinum Visa credit card to alumni and friends of the University of Notre Dame. Revenue from the credit card program is used to fund academic scholarships for Notre Dame students.

First USA ([][1]), a subsidiary of Bank One Corporation (NYSE: ONE), is the world’s largest issuer of Visa credit cards. First USA offers credit cards to consumers and businesses under the First USA, First Card and Bank One names and on behalf of more than 2,200 marketing partners. Bank One is the nation’s fifth-largest bank holding company with assets of more than $264 billion.



AmEx Brokerage Online

American Express Company launched American Express Brokerage () – a service that combines attractive online pricing, including free equity trades for account holders with minimum balances, innovative online financial planning tools and access to American Express’ 9,300 financial advisors. The company announced plans to launch American Express Brokerage Oct. 5.

“With the launch of American Express Brokerage, there is now one place on the Web where all kinds of investors, from the beginner to the most sophisticated, will find what they need to help achieve their financial goals,” said Doug Lennick, executive vice president, Advice and Retail Distribution Group, American Express.

American Express Brokerage provides access to the tools for online investing that customers value most, including:

Low-cost equity trading. Online equity buys are free and sells are $14.95 with a minimum account balance of $25,000. For account balances of $100,000 or more, online equity buys and sells are free, although online sells are $14.95 if the stock was bought the same day. With an account balance of less than $25,000, online buys and sells are each $14.95. All equity buys and sells over 3,000 shares have an additional charge of three cents per share.

Instant online account opening. Qualified customers can open an account online and begin trading in minutes.

Financial planning tools. A comprehensive online financial planning tool will be available in the coming weeks. This tool helps investors set their goals and evaluate their financial situation through an interactive, easy-to-use “roadmap” integrating all areas of financial planning, from tax planning to estate planning to retirement and investment planning and more. Investors who use the tool will have a deeper understanding of their overall financial needs and will be able to ask smarter investment questions and make better investment choices.

The site will also include: An online asset allocation tool that helps investors determine the percentage of stocks, bonds and cash to keep in their portfolios and provides specific mutual fund selections to help clients meet their goals. An online equity evaluation tool that evaluates stocks to determine if they are a good fit for an investor’s overall portfolio based on the investor’s goals and risk tolerance.

Access to American Express financial advisors. Clients can choose to work with an American Express financial advisor to get whatever level of advice and help they need. Advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning as well as advice on individual investments. Advisors are able to offer American Express Brokerage as a tool for their clients, and Brokerage customers can use an online advisor locator to find an advisor in their area.

A choice of close to 2,000 mutual funds. These include funds from many well-known fund families, as well as the American Express index funds.

Free electronic bill payment, unlimited check writing and an American Express Gold Card. With a minimum balance of $5,000, clients have access to a cash management account featuring free, unlimited check writing, unlimited debit card use and ATM access at more than 94 percent of the ATMs in the United States, with automatic rebates for surcharges — up to $1.50 per transaction, four times per month. Customers who have qualifying assets of $25,000 or more can receive free electronic bill payment and an American Express Gold Card, with the $75 annual fee compliments of American Express. Gold Card charges will be debited from the cash management account monthly.

Professional research. Buy-side research from American Express Financial Advisors is available online, plus company profiles from Standard and Poor’s, earnings estimates from Zack’s and news and analysis from and Free real-time quotes and email price alerts are also available.

Service. American Express professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer technical and investment questions at 1-800 AXP-8800.

“Our aim is to be a leading destination site in financial services online,” said Ruediger Adolf, senior vice president, Strategic Planning and Business Development, American Express Company. “Now, with just the click of a mouse, customers can move from American Express Brokerage, to Membership B@nking, to personal or Corporate Card accounts, and even book a trip – all at”

American Express first introduced an online investing capability, Financial Direct, in 1996. Financial Direct customers have been automatically upgraded to the more comprehensive American Express Brokerage account.

American Express Company ([][1]) gives consumers, small businesses and corporations access to a range of Internet products and services:

Through My American Express, consumers can tailor the American Express Web site so that those services of particular interest will automatically appear on the start page. Options include the ability to view and pay American Express Card bills online; view Membership Rewards program points; consolidate and track travel rewards programs in a single, centralized location; make travel reservations and find last minute travel bargains; and receive special online offers.

Consumers interested in online financial services can conduct online banking with free bill payment and ATM rebates.

Resources for small businesses include tips on incorporation, managing staff, and franchising business opportunities. Corporate customers can choose from retirement planning, purchasing, travel and expense management services.

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network, and financial services provider founded in 1850. American Express Company and its subsidiaries are leaders in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking. For more information, visit [][2].

American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. Member NASD and SIPC. Insurance products are issued by IDS Life Insurance Company, except in New York, where IDS Life Insurance Company of New York is the issuer. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

For more complete information on Investment products, including fees and expenses, consumers may obtain a prospectus by calling 1-800 AXP-8800, option 1. Consumers should read the prospectus before investing or sending money.

Investments are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits or obligations of or guaranteed by a financial institution, involve investment risks including possible loss of principal. All deposit products and services are offered by American Express Centurion Bank, member FDIC.

American Express Travel related Services Company, Inc., offers charge cards, credit cards and travel services.



Risk Management Report

Despite being one of the most important risk functions within a financial institution, credit risk management remains one of the least automated practices in the risk industry. As a result, the credit risk management is currently one of the fastest growing segments of risk management technology investments. A primary driver catalyzing this segment is a growing trend among many industry players toward active portfolio management. In a new report titled “Achieving Active Portfolio Management,” Meridien Research examines recent advances in technology underlying the most advanced credit risk management practices.

The 26-page report examines the current state of the art technology for default probability estimation and credit exposure qualifications, as well as solutions that exist to facilitate active portfolio management. Profiles of leading vendors providing credit risk technology are included in the report. In addition, the report delves into the three major components of an active credit risk management architecture: data, exposure calculator and portfolio analysis tools. The inputs to the system, the data, run through two distinct processes: exposure calculation and portfolio analysis. The primary outputs are the expected loss information, used for loss provisioning, capital allocation, pricing and portfolio optimization.

“The tools that the industry provides for credit decision making have improved markedly over the past five years,” says Deborah Williams, research director of Meridien Research’s risk management group. “However, the future direction of the technology will depend on several drivers, one of the most important being competitive pressures. All things being equal, institutions that do a better job of managing their credit risk exposures will be more profitable in the long run. A significant portion of this will, in turn, depend on technology savvy.”

The report provides two case studies to illustrate the application of credit risk technology of financial institutions. NatWest, England’s fourth largest bank, provides an excellent example of a best practices approach that could be emulated by other institutions. The Basler Kantonalbank, a Swiss regional bank, adopted a credit risk management system to support its derivatives and foreign exchange trading.


Payments via Phone

Intell-A-Check, Corp. has formed a strategic alliance with Travelers Express/MoneyGram to market Intell-A-Check! software via ‘ExpressPayment’. The ‘ExpressPayment’ service offers an emergency bill payment product, enabling credit card issuers, mortgage servicers, finance companies, collection companies, and others to directly collect funds from customers who are delinquent in payments. With Intell-A-Check!, ExpressPayment users can support a new method of payment collections, offering customers the ability to instantly pay past due bills over the phone.


Microtransaction Study

Boston-based Aberdeen Group released a study this morning that shows Internet microtransactions will challenge traditional means of exchanging value, but that this challenge will take time to unfold. Aberdeen says Internet payment schemes such as credit card aggregation, ISP and telco billing, and stored-value smart cards will provide e-tailers, content providers, and Web intermediaries with cost-effective payment models that justify the sales of low-priced digital and physical goods on the Internet. The research group says they believe that digital cash technologies will begin growing in adoption and acceptance in Year 2000 and will contribute to significant worldwide e-commerce market growth, particularly in the sales of digital content, digital music, and on-line gaming. The study, ‘Dash to Digital Cash: Enabling Internet Commerce Microtransactions, Market Review and Competitive Analysis’, profiles 21 key vendors in the digital cash software and services sector.


ATM Concerns

The ATM Industry Association said this morning it is concerned with last week’s passage of a referendum banning surcharges at bank-owned ATMs in San Francisco. The industry group say deployment of ATMs at convenient, non-bank locations such as supermarkets, shopping malls and gas stations was a rarity until the Cirrus and Plus networks lifted a ban on surcharging in April of 1996. Since then, installation of these machines has exploded, with about 90,000 of the nation’s 210,000 ATMs currently found at such sites. The group notes that banks must spend $1,080 a month to maintain an ATM, while the cost for an ISO is about $700 a month. The cost of an ATM varies widely, from about $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the services and functions available to users.


Online Profiling

Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce will hold a public workshop on November 8, 1999, on “online profiling,” the practice of aggregating information about consumers’ interests, gathered primarily by tracking their movements online, and using the resulting consumer profiles to create targeted advertising on Web sites. The goals of the workshop are to educate government officials and the public about online profiling and its implications for consumer privacy, and to examine current profiling industry efforts to implement fair information practices. A notice announcing the workshop and requesting public comment will be published in the Federal Register shortly.

According to the FTC, online profiling typically employs “cookies,” text files placed on users’ computers to store information about their computers and their online activities. Privacy concerns have been raised by many of the business practices that support online profiling, and consumers are largely unaware of the creation of online profiles, the agency said.

The workshop will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Main Auditorium, 1401 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20239. It will include three sessions, which will run consecutively beginning at 8:30 a.m. on November 8, 1999:

Session I – Online Profiling Technology;

Session II – Implications of Online Profiling Technology for User Privacy;

Session III – The Role of Self-Regulation.