Pet Blessing Card

Forget the pet just bring your card. A new e-card was announced yesterday by AmericanCatholic.org , web site of the Franciscan publisher St. Anthony Messenger Press in anticipation of the annual feast of St. Francis, Oct 4. The patron saint of animals is St. Francis of Assisi. Pet blessing ceremonies will be held at churches around the world this weekend. The ‘Pet Blessing’ e-cards allow people who can’t bring their pet to church a way to bless Fido at home. St. Anthony Messenger Press is publisher of St. Anthony Messenger, a 340,000 circulation national, Catholic family magazine.

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ATC & NPC

Air Travel Card announced Tuesday a partnership with QSP Inc. and National Processing called ‘InControl’. Utilizing QSP software with NPC as the processor, ‘InControl’ is the first system to provide airlines with a complete outsourcing solution for their ‘Air Travel Card’ billing needs. ‘InControl’ is a comprehensive service which processes ‘Air Travel Card’ receivables and account billing information. ‘InControl’ has multiple advantages over competitive products which include: cross-platform architecture, which allows it to run natively on both the mainframe and client/server environments commonly in use by airlines; full service outsourcing capabilities; interline accounting and settlement processing and international VAT tax calculation capabilities.

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TSYS Signs Retailer

Total System Services announced Tuesday it has signed a multi-year agreement to process a private-label card in Mexico for C&A, a department store fashion retailer originating from Holland. Processing will be in conjunction with TSYS’ joint venture partner, Total System Services de Mexico, S.A. de C.V.. The first C&A store in Mexico opened in Feb. 1999. C&A has more than 550 stores and 40,000 employees in 14 European countries.

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US Bank & Ariba

U.S. Bancorp and Ariba,Inc. announced an alliance yesterday to develop an integrated electronic buying and payment infrastructure for business-to-business eCommerce. The joint solution delivers fully electronic orders and invoices, automatically reconciles purchase orders with purchasing card charges, and integrates purchase data with the buyer’s financial systems, enabling businesses and their suppliers to streamline commerce, reduce operating costs and increase internal efficiencies by replacing paper-based payment processes with integrated electronic payment systems. This integrated solution has been successfully implemented at numerous leading organizations, including Hewlett-Packard Company, Boehringer-Ingelheim and VISA.

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Late Fees

Late fees have skyrocketed among larger bank credit issuers, now reaching $24.87 on average according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). However retail card issuers are limited as to what they can charge consumers in some states, due to state regulations. Bank credit card issuers are exempt from these regulations under a U.S. Supreme Court decision reached two years ago. The Court’s decision mirrors the regulations pertaining to bank credit card interest rates reached by the Court in the mid-70’s.

LATE FEE LIMITS
KS, MO: $10 (except $5 if the installment is $25 or less)
PA: $12
AR,CT,GA,IL,
KY,NH,NJ,NM,
SD,TN,TX,VT: $10
WV: Lesser of 5% of amount past due or $5
ID,WY: Greater of 5% of amount past due or $10
NE: Greater of 5% of amount past due or $5
NC: $10 (except $5 if outstanding balance is under $100)
SC: 5% of amount past due ($10 max and $4.80 min)
Other States: No restrictions
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Internet TeleCheck

TeleCheck Services introduced the ‘TeleCheck Internet Check Acceptance’ service yesterday. The new service offers consumers a safe and easy way to pay by check over the Internet. The consumer places an order on a merchant’s Web site and then completes an online payment form with information off their check. The check data is encrypted then securely transmitted to TeleCheck where the payment information is matched against TeleCheck’s extensive positive and negative databases and evaluated for fraud risk. Within seconds, an approval code is returned to the merchant.

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Coinstar Makes Fast 50

Coinstar Inc., a retail-based coin counting and e-services company, Tuesday announced it has been named to Deloitte & Touche’s prestigious “Fast 50” in Washington state. The annual rankings are based on the percentage growth in revenues during the five-year period from 1994-1998.

“It is an honor to be named to Deloitte and Touche’s Fast 50 list,” said Coinstar CEO Jens Molbak. “This recognition underscores how popular our service is with consumers and retailers alike and validates the incredible job done by the talented and dedicated employees at Coinstar. In addition to the revenue growth over the past 5 years, we have grown from 31 units installed in 1994 to over 6,300 today. To date, the network of Coinstar machines has completed over 50 million transactions and processed over $1.7 billion dollars of coins.”

“While we are very pleased to be recognized for our growth over the past five years, we’re focused on the future, and excited about the growth opportunities in our core coin business combined with our new e-services initiatives,” continued Molbak. “We hope that these exciting opportunities will continue to propel Coinstar’s momentum, maintaining a high growth rate.”

“Today, there are more than 22,000 high technology companies in the United States, many of which are competing for the same market here in the states and worldwide,” said Larry Hile, partner at Deloitte & Touche. “The Fast 50 winners for Washington have proven that they can compete successfully by consistently delivering technological wonders. We at Deloitte & Touche commend Coinstar for having the vision and determination to become one of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in Washington state.”

Coinstar’s revenue increase of 14,568% over the five-year period of 1994 to 1998 resulted in a third-place ranking in the Fast 50 for Washington state. To qualify for the Fast 50, companies must have had revenues of at least $50,000 in 1994 and at least $1,000,000 in 1998. They also must be public or private technology companies headquartered in Washington state.

Winners of the 19 regional Fast 50 programs in the United States are automatically entered in the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 500 program, which ranks the nation’s top 500 fastest-growing technology companies.

For more information on the Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 or Fast 500 programs, visit the web site at [www.fast50.com][1].

Coinstar and its subsidiaries provide consumers and retailers with value-added services that increase customer loyalty and retailer profitability. The Coinstar network currently delivers the company’s self-service coin counting product to consumers in more than 6,300 leading supermarkets in 38 states, the District of Columbia, the United Kingdom and Canada. Consumers can call 1-800-928-CASH, or visit [http://www.findcoinstar.com][2] for the location of the nearest Coinstar machine.

[1]: http://www.fast50.com/
[2]: http://www.findcoinstar.com/

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Rate Hoppers

Consumers who hop from one teaser rate to another are the bane of the card industry. This morning, Equifax announced plans to introduce ‘Equifax Attrition Navigator’, a new product from the ‘Equifax Dimensions Knowledge Management’ platform that enables the financial services industry to develop programs to retain consumers who might transfer their credit card balances to competition. Based on time-series data, analytics and modeling, ‘Equifax Attrition Navigator’ provides insight into consumer activity and attrition patterns allowing the credit grantor to improve customer loyalty strategies and tactics. ‘Equifax Attrition Navigator’ follows a two-phase process: First, it identifies a sample of accounts lost through voluntary balance attrition. Historical analysis is performed on these accounts to distinguish between various attrition categories including competitive balance transfer, general pay down or targeted pay down. The second phase is the usage of an attrition model to achieve maximum benefit. This attrition model focuses on identifying customers whose activity demonstrates a likelihood to transfer a balance to a competitive account. The product will be available by year’s end.

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Prio & Michigan National

Prio, Inc., the pioneer of `e-nabled’ commerce and premier provider of online reward and affinity programs, and Michigan National, the third largest bank holding company in Michigan, Tuesday announced a strategic marketing and distribution agreement that will offer Michigan National Merchant Processing’s 30,000 merchant customers access to Prio’s Internet-based promotions and rewards.

Through this agreement, Prio can deliver online promotion services to merchants processing credit and debit card transactions through Michigan National. Michigan National is excited to offer its merchants the opportunity to join the Prio Rewards Program and start online promotions programs that will generate increased consumer loyalty. The program underscores Michigan National’s strategy of leveraging Internet-based technologies to assist their merchant customers in building their business base.

Prio’s `e-nabled’ promotion and rewards system gives merchant payment processors such as Michigan National a value-added service they can offer to their participating merchants. With Prio, they can leverage the Internet to build merchant retention and loyalty. In addition to increased sales and customer acquisition, merchants participating in the Prio Rewards Program benefit from the ability to target, track and measure web-based marketing and promotional efforts – a first for Internet promotions.

“Prio allows Michigan National’s merchants to gain a foothold on the Internet to drive consumers to both their online and traditional storefronts,” said Dennis Kraft, vice president of sales, Prio, Inc. “With Prio’s `e-nabled’ commerce system, Michigan National can enhance its product offerings and expand merchant services. Merchants will see benefits in three areas: they see an increase in customer traffic from online and offline shoppers, they easily gain an Internet presence, and they can easily track and manage their promotions. Additionally, Prio’s powerful closed-loop promotional capability allows them to run these promotions without making any changes to their existing processing systems or procedures.”

“The Prio Network fits extremely well with our e-commerce strategies and we are excited to offer our merchants this leading-edge technology,” said Marc Belsky Senior Vice President of Payment Products and Services. “With Prio, Michigan National can provide merchants of all sizes a valuable new online promotions service. Our merchant customers can now present personalized, valuable promotions to consumers over the Internet through Prio promotions on Internet portal sites such as CitySearch or Knight Ridder Real Cities. It’s a win-win situation for the merchants and the consumers.”

Unique E-nabled Commerce: Simple and Effective Internet Promotions

The Prio `e-nabled’ rewards system includes a network of Internet destination sites and distribution partners that will populate their sites with Prio `e-nabled’ merchant promotions. Participating merchants can increase revenue through a cost-effective, measurable method of acquiring and retaining customers via interactive promotions that close the marketing loop and generate sales in both online and physical storefronts. Consumers take advantage of these valuable offers by visiting the merchant’s online or physical storefront and making a qualified purchase with their Prio-enrolled credit or check card.

Prio is designed for consumer convenience throughout the browsing, shopping and reward redemption experience. Consumers look for stores and restaurants on Prio Internet partner sites and view promotions that are relevant to their search. They then simply visit the online or physical storefront and make a purchase as they normally would using their pre-registered credit or offline debit card — with no need to print coupons or present a copy of the offer. Consumers then receive rewards automatically on their card account, with no extra effort on their part. Prio is free for consumers, with no enrollment fees or monthly dues to pay.

About Prio, Inc.

Prio is a privately held Mountain View California based provider of `e-nabled’ commerce solutions specializing in the development of strategic partnerships, technologies and programs that drive commerce in both traditional and online shopping environments. The unique Prio `e-nabled’ commerce platform delivers the highest return for Internet sites and services, online and traditional merchants, and credit card industry partners by presenting personalized, valuable promotions to consumers over the Internet. Investors including Intel, Microsoft Corporation, American Express Travel Related Services, Inc., DataCard Corporation, Knight Ridder Investment Company, SOFTBANK Technology Ventures, and VeriFone, Inc. (Hewlett-Packard), position Prio to drive the evolution of `e-nabled’ commerce. Prio was recently named by Technologic Partners as an Internet Outlook Investors’ Choice winner. For more information on Prio, visit [http://www.prio.net][1] or call (650) 919-0800.

About Michigan National Corporation

Michigan National Corporation, a member of the National Australia Bank Group, is headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Michigan National provides diversified financial services and offers creative ideas and product options designed to help consumers and businesses meet their financial goals. It is committed to being the bank of choice in its markets and provides the leading-edge products and services that customers expect from a member of a global financial network. Visit Michigan National’s web site at [www.MichiganNational.com][2].

[1]: http://www.prio.net/
[2]: http://www.michigannational.com/

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Hypercom Asia

Hypercom Corporation, a global provider of electronic payment solutions, has named Jeremy Su president, Hypercom Asia-Pacific. Immediately prior to joining Hypercom, Mr. Su was president, Bull Information Systems Ltd. of Greater China.

In his new position, Mr. Su will be directly responsible for expanding Hypercom’s leadership position in all Asia-Pacific region countries with the exception of Japan and Australia. He will report to Chris Alexander, president, Hypercom Transaction Systems Group.

“Jeremy Su’s extensive industry, regional and vertical market knowledge and leadership experience will be instrumental in guiding our growth strategy in this important region,” said Alexander. “We are fortunate to have Mr. Su join Hypercom.”

During his tenure as president, Bull Information Systems Ltd. of Greater China, Mr. Su managed that company’s operations in Hong Kong, The People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan. In this role, he created one of the first foreign information technology (IT) service operations in China, positioned Bull as the leading systems integrator for one of the largest banking IT projects in that country, and captured more than 80% of the IC banking card pilots in China.

Prior to Bull Information Systems, Mr. Su held senior positions with Sun Microsystems, Inc., and Apollo Computers, Inc. During his more than seven years with Sun as territory president/corporate director, Mr. Su established that company’s operations throughout Asia, and propelled Sun to market share leadership in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, ASEAN and India Subcontinent.

As chief representative of Apollo Computers, Mr. Su established that company’s Beijing and Shanghai offices, directed all Apollo efforts throughout China, and propelled that company to market share leadership.

Mr. Su graduated first in his class at Carnegie Mellon’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration “Programme for Executive”. He was awarded a Bachelor of Business Administration degree by the University of Wisconsin.

Hypercom Corporation (NYSE:HYC) is the single-source global provider of end-to-end electronic payment solutions, including card payment systems, peripherals, network products, software and e-commerce payment solutions that add value at the point-of-sale for consumers, merchants and acquirers.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products in more than 70 countries through a global network of affiliates and offices in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com][1].

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

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Changing Economics

Profits fall, convenience use and fee income increase according to new data collected by CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). Convenience use has has grown from 29% in 1990 to 42% in 1998.

INT INC FEE INC PROFITS
1994: $34.8b $ 7.3b $11.1b
1995: $42.2b $ 8.3b $12.9b
1996: $52.3b $10.0b $13.6b
1997: $53.1b $14.8b $11.5b
1998: $58.1b $18.9b $11.4b

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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VISA Trust

VISA International President and CEO Malcolm Williamson said yesterday that, more than any other single factor, success in the Internet economy will depend on financial services firms’ ability to maintain and enhance trust in the online experience they are offering their customers. Williamson said at Jupiter’s Financial Service conference in San Francisco that VISA’s long experience with virtual payments shows that what fuels business in a virtual environment is trust. He said the most important asset a bank has is not capital, size, or market value. It is the relationship between the banker and the customer.

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