Passport Goes Natl

Rockport Healthcare Group, Inc., an integrated healthcare service company, announced Tuesday that its wholly owned subsidiary Rockport Preferred, Inc. will market its Passport Medical Savings Card to Independent Cab Drivers and other associations.

RPHL subsidiary Rockport Preferred, Inc. announced an agreement with a Taxi Cab Company to sell its Passport Medical Savings card to its 1,000 independent taxi drivers. The Taxi Cab Company will be offering the Card through a payroll deduction plan. It is anticipated 70% of the cab drivers will purchase the Passport Plus Card at $180.00 per card. This will generate $126,000 in revenue to Rockport Healthcare Group, Inc.

Rockport Preferred, Inc. has secured an agreement with a marketing group in Michigan. This group is marketing to 17,000 residents of a community in Michigan. The marketing group anticipates a twenty percent (20%) minimum sales penetration within the community therefore generating $510,000 in revenue to RPHL. The marketing group will insert Rockport’s Passport Card Brochure in the local newspaper for distribution.

In addition, Rockport Preferred, Inc. is negotiating with two national employee-leasing companies regarding offering their Passport Medical Savings Card to their employees to complement the basic benefits being offered. These two companies have over 50,000 employees.

Harry Neer, Rockport CEO added: “We are very excited to begin the mass marketing of our discounted medical services card to individuals and large organizations. This card will provide many benefits, typically unavailable to the insured and non-insured.” Neer added: “We expect to sell over 35,000 cards in the remaining months of 1999, this will generate significant revenues for Rockport Healthcare Group.”

Rockport Passport Plus Medical Savings Card provides access to over 300,000 physicians with savings up to 35% for physician fees, dental care with a minimum savings of 15% on all services including orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry, vision care provides minimum savings of 30%, chiropractic care savings of 50% and Hearing services, and devices of up to 45% savings and prescription services with over 40,000 retail pharmacies and guarantees the lowest price on any Rx needs.

The Passport Plus Card is sold for an annual fee of $180.00. The Rockport Passport Card without physicians’ services is sold for an annual fee of $120.00.

The Rockport Healthcare Group, Inc. family of companies includes Rockport Community Network, Inc., a managed care organization; Rockport Occupational Network, Inc., an Exclusive Provider Worker’s Compensation Network; Rockport Preferred, Inc., Medical Access Savings Card Programs; Newton Healthcare Network, LLC, a Preferred Provider Organization; and Rockport Group of Texas, Inc., a Healthcare Administrative Services Company.

Details

Juno Hires AmEx Exec

Juno Online Services, Inc. , a provider of Internet-related services to millions of computer users throughout the United States, Tuesday announced the appointment of Ronni Zlotnick as Director of Loyalty Marketing. Ms. Zlotnick comes to Juno from the American Express Company, where she served most recently as Senior Director, Marketing Service Strategy, Consumer Marketing. Prior to that, she worked at Citibank.

Ms. Zlotnick will be responsible for developing and implementing loyalty marketing strategies designed to drive use of Juno’s services and to reward Juno subscribers for their loyalty. In an April 1999 ranking published by independent measurement firm Media Metrix, Juno was listed among the top ten digital media properties in terms of user loyalty, ahead of other major Internet services including Prodigy, Netscape, and the Microsoft Network.

“We’re very pleased to have Ronni join us. Juno’s services have been crafted with special attention to the needs of mainstream consumers, and Ronni’s strong customer-oriented background make her a good fit for us in our efforts to provide our users with a rewarding online experience,” said Jonathan Cherins, Juno’s vice president of marketing.

About Juno Online Services, Inc.

Juno Online Services, Inc. is a provider of Internet-related services to millions of computer users throughout the United States. The company offers several levels of service, ranging from basic dial-up Internet e-mail–which is provided to the end user for free–to full, competitively priced access to the World Wide Web. Since the launch of Juno’s basic e-mail service in April 1996, more than 7 million total Juno accounts have been created. Juno’s revenues are derived primarily from the subscription fees charged for certain billable services, from the sale of advertising, and from the direct sale of products to Juno subscribers.

Juno can be downloaded from the company’s Web site at [http://www.juno.com][1]. To obtain a copy of the software on CD-ROM, call 1-800-TRY-JUNO.

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

Details

Boston Comm Upgrades Phone Card

Boston Communications Group, Inc. announced this week the implementation of an upgraded software platform, the Arlington release, to enhance its wireless prepaid services offering. The Arlington software release includes upgrades to each component of the BCGI prepaid platform to provide customers with a variety of new features.

New functionality includes real prepaid roaming at rates pre-negotiated between the home and serving carrier. The benefit for the carrier is more calls can be processed while the benefit to the subscriber is reduced roaming rates. With the Arlington release, roaming becomes a conventional offering for prepaid wireless as it is for postpaid cellular.

Individual Special Numbers (ISNs) allow carriers to assign a special rate to specified phone numbers for each subscriber. ISNs can be rated at no charge to the subscriber, rated with airtime charges only, or rated with both airtime and long distance charges. Carriers can assign a certain number of ISNs to a prepaid card, a certain number of calls per month to the prepaid card, or both. Subscribers enjoy the benefit of reduced rates to the number(s) they call most often.

For example, coupled with automatic periodic replenishment, released from BCGI last fall, is the perfect plan for a college student calling home using a prepaid wireless phone to do so for a reduced rate with the comfort of knowing that monthly his prepaid account will be automatically replenished up to a budgeted amount.

Other features of the release include: web-based reporting for carriers through the newly developed eStat application as well as credit card replenishment via the automated customer care menu and multiple language capabilities providing messaging in up to 99 different languages. BCGI’s customer care application (CCST) now includes a new distributed architecture which decreases response times for call representatives and allows carriers to house customer care at their own facility.

Kevin Thigpen, Vice President and General Manager of BCGI’s Prepaid Division, stated, “With the fast growth of prepaid and the competitive nature of the wireless industry, service differentiation is key to success at capturing and maintaining market share. The Arlington release provides wireless carriers with an improved version of our industry leading prepaid platform, giving customers a new generation of features and a Y2K compliant prepaid service.”

BCGI’s new naming convention for their software releases comes from the streets in Boston’s Back Bay. The Berkeley release is scheduled for later this year, with Clarendon set to be released in the second quarter of 2000.

Boston Communications Group (BCGI), is the leading provider of prepaid services to wireless carriers in North and South America. Founded in 1988, BCGI provides wireless carriers with a range of resources and support services targeted to address the unique needs of this growing industry. BCGI provides one or more of its services to nine of the top ten wireless carriers in the United States, who generate over 75 percent of industry revenues, plus more than 80 additional carriers. Each service plays an integral role in the Company’s mission: to help wireless carriers focus resources on their areas of expertise while improving quality, enhancing revenue and controlling costs. Please visit BCGI’s web site at [http://www.bcgi.net][1].

[1]: http://www.bcgi.net/

Details

Mid-Year PULSE

Houston-based PULSE EFT Assn reported yesterday that it signed 107 new members during the first half of the year, including a record number of 29 in May alone. At the same time, PULSE recorded two new all-time highs in volume during the first six months, a total of 33,862,570 ATM and POS transactions in March and 36,133,451 transactions in May. Volume grew 36% during the first six months of this year, with a total of 82,800,195 transactions compared to 60,966,282 transactions for the same period last year. POS now constitutes 42 percent of all network transactions.

Details

Bankruptcy Decline

Consumer bankruptcies should decline by 8-12% this year and be flat to down four percent in the year 2000 as a result of the strong job market and slower than anticipated credit growth. The prediction comes from a new report released this week by U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. The firm had previously been anticipating a decrease in consumer bankruptcies for 1999 of 5-10%, and had also projected a 5-10% increase in 2000. Piper Jaffray said Tuesday that a relatively small decrease in consumer bankruptcy rates can have a significant impact on the profitability of consumer finance companies. The report estimates that a 5-10% reduction in credit losses would add from three to 37% more earnings power to selected lenders in 2000. However, not every lender will benefit equally, the report cautions, pointing out that such factors as poor underwriting and product pricing, the timing of a purchase or sale of a loan portfolio, and overall leverage and operating efficiency also play a key role in determining profitability. As a result of the findings Piper Jaffray raised its earnings estimates for American Express, Metris, MBNA, Providian, Associates and Capital One.

Details

Euronet 2Q/99

Euronet Services Inc. reported this week that its ATM network and related services contributed $5.9 million (or 55%) of revenues, while ARKSYS software and related services accounted for $4.8 million (or 45%) of total revenues for the second quarter. The firm has a year-to-date net loss of $16.5 million. As of July 31, Euronet was operating 1,434 ATMs as part of its proprietary network, including 364 in Hungary, 492 in Poland, 381 in Germany, 74 in Croatia, 53 in the Czech Republic, 49 in the U.K., and 21 in France. In addition, Euronet operates 197 bank-owned ATMs under outsourcing agreements, including 175 in Hungary, 20 in Poland, and 2 in France. Increases in the proprietary network in the U.K. and Poland were offset by ATM de-installations in Germany made in connection with the reorganization of the recently acquired Service Bank network. For more 2Q/99 details on Euronet visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

Details

VISA Fan Search Underway

As part of Visa U.S.A.’s “It’s Everywhere NFL Fans Want to Be” integrated marketing campaign, it has teamed with the Pro Football Hall of Fame once again to search for 31 outstanding NFL fans — out of an estimated 170 million — to honor in the Visa Hall of Fans exhibit.

First unveiled in January 1999, the Visa Hall of Fans is the first and only exhibit in professional sports that recognizes and celebrates specific fans for their tremendous impact on the sport they love — professional football.

Beginning today, Visa U.S.A. launches a national search for the most loyal, knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan from each of the NFL’s 31 teams. Each winning fan will be featured in the Visa Hall of Fans exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and receive a two-day, two-night trip to Canton, Ohio, for a special Visa Hall of Fans ceremony in January 2000. Last year’s inaugural honorees included such icons as “Boss Hogette” (Washington Redskins), “The Packalope” (Green Bay Packers), “Barrelman” (Denver Broncos) and “Big Dawg” (Cleveland Browns).

“Over our past four seasons as an NFL sponsor, Visa has learned that the real marketing power of pro football is not just what’s on the field, but who’s in the stands and at home watching television,” said Becky Saeger, executive vice president, Brand Marketing, Visa U.S.A. “The Visa Hall of Fans is a key element of our 1999-2000 fully integrated NFL marketing program that is focused on bringing fans closer to the game and closer to the Visa brand.”

NFL fans are asked to enter by sending a photograph and one-page essay explaining “Why I Should Represent My Team’s Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” Entries must be mailed to: “Visa Hall of Fans Search,” P.O. Box 8039, Grand Rapids, MN 55745-8039. Prior to entering, fans should log on to [www.visa.com/nfl][1] or call 1-888-VISA-550 for complete rules, entry information and judging criteria. Entries must be postmarked by October 30, 1999 and received by November 5, 1999.

The winning fans will be selected by a panel of representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the NFL and Visa. Judging will be based on knowledge of the sport/team, enthusiasm, team loyalty and creativity.

“The Visa Hall of Fans exhibit has been a tremendous success since it honors the unsung heroes of the game,” said John Bankert, executive director, Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Fans, families, visitors and even enshrinees have shown great interest in the exhibit, and we anticipate continued success this year.”

The Visa Hall of Fans exhibit captures fan spirit and emotion through a display that includes a picture and profile for each winning fan. The exhibit also displays famous fan memorabilia and features an electrifying video showing avid fans on-site at NFL stadiums nationwide. Finally, a plaque listing last year’s honorees will also be featured.

“What’s a sport without the fans?” said Mike Torbert, the “Boss Hogette” of the Washington Redskins and a 1998-99 Visa Hall of Fans honoree. “The players obviously are a huge part of the game. But the fans are out there through thick and thin, rain, snow, sleet — routing for their team. My hats off to the NFL and Visa for sponsoring (the Visa Hall of Fans).”

Visa U.S.A., in its fifth year as the “Preferred Card of the National Football League,” has fully integrated its NFL marketing efforts for the 1999-2000 season under the theme, “Visa. It’s Everywhere NFL Fans Want to Be.” In addition to the Visa Hall of Fans search, the integrated marketing program will include national advertising and consumer promotions, direct mail, public relations, retail and online marketing, and league support. Visa’s campaign is designed to drive profitability for Visa Members and merchants, increase fan preference for Visa and enhance NFL fans’ experience.

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 [www.visa.com][2].

[1]: http://www.visa.com/nfl
[2]: http://www.visa.com/

Details

TheStreet.com signs FUSA

TheStreet.com, a leading Web-based provider of financial and investment news, Monday announced a multi-year marketing partnership with First USA, the world’s largest issuer of Visa credit cards. Under the terms of this agreement, TheStreet.com has the potential to recognize millions in revenue. The agreement names First USA as the exclusive marketer of credit card products on TheStreet.com site.

Over the term of the contract, First USA will promote its credit card products to TheStreet.com readers through a combination of direct marketing programs, while TheStreet.com will tap into First USA’s extensive cardholder base to target potential subscribers.

“TheStreet.com has been recognized as the leading online financial news organization, setting the standard for financial news and commentary,” said Kevin W. English, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TheStreet.com. “This e-commerce relationship with First USA, a leader in bank services, is evidence of our continued commitment to providing our readers with innovative options for managing their personal finances.”

First USA ( [http://www.firstusa.com][1] ), a subsidiary of BANK ONE CORPORATION, is the world’s largest issuer of Visa credit cards. First USA offers credit cards for customers and businesses under the First USA, First Card, and Bank One names and on behalf of more than 2,200 marketing partners. BANK ONE CORPORATION is the nation’s fifth-largest bank holding company with assets of more than $256 billion.

TheStreet.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: TSCM) is publisher of TheStreet.com, a leading Web-based provider of original, timely, comprehensive, and trustworthy financial news and commentary. TheStreet.com ([http://www.TheStreet.com][2] ) was founded in 1996 and is based in New York City, with bureaus in San Francisco and London. TheStreet.com’s editorial team, with over 65 experienced financial journalists and two dozen outside contributors, publishes approximately 40 original news stories and commentaries every business day, including columns by James J. Cramer, Herb Greenberg and Adam Lashinsky. TheStreet.com, Inc. has established strategic alliances with Yahoo!, America Online, The New York Times Co., Fox News Network L.L.C., Intuit, 3Com, E*TRADE, DLJdirect, and other leading companies.

[1]: http://www.firstusa.com/
[2]: http://www.thestreet.com/

Details

Rewards MasterCards

Co-branded reward credit cards continue to enjoy a rebirth this summer as Wells Fargo/Norwest Bank unveiled a suite of new cards with The Marcus Corp. yesterday. Marcus operates or franchises 165 Baymont Inns and Baymont Inns & Suites in 30 states and six Woodfield Suites in Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio and Illinois; 442 movie screens in Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota; one family entertainment center in Wisconsin; other hotels and resorts scattered across the U.S. and 27 KFC and 3 KFC/Taco Bell 2-in-1 restaurants in Wisconsin. The four new credit cards include the ‘Marcus Rewards MasterCard’, a ‘Marcus Rewards Platinum MasterCard’, a ‘Baymont Rewards MasterCard’ and the ‘Baymont Rewards MasterCard BusinessCard’. All of the credit cards will be offered without an annual fee except the ‘Marcus Rewards Platinum MasterCard’ which will charge a $40 annual fee. Under the program cardholders earn one ‘Reward Point’ for every dollar charged and two points for every dollar spent at Marcus locations and Sun Country Airlines. In addition, cardholders will be able to earn up to 3,500 Bonus Points for opening deposit, credit and investment accounts at Norwest Banks. All cardholders will earn 500 ‘Bonus Points’ when the card is used at a Marcus location within three months of receiving the card. Platinum cardholders earn a total of 1,000 ‘Bonus Points’ when the card is used at a Marcus location within three months. The points are redeemable for free companion movie tickets, free room nights and free dining at Marcus locations; and discount travel on Midwest Express Airlines, American Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. Redemption levels start at 2,500 points. CardTrak ([cardtrak.com][1]) estimates the value of each point to be one cent each.

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

Details

Ticketmaster Prefers AmEx

American Express and Ticketmaster recently signed a strategic marketing alliance in the U.S. in which AmEx becomes Ticketmaster’s ‘Card of Choice’ for all Ticketmaster consumer transactions at retail Ticket Center locations, ‘Charge-By-Phone Network’, and TicketMaster’s web site. Under terms of the alliance AmEx will provide a 15% discount on selected Ticketmaster merchandise such as musical CDs and entertainment related merchandise including Broadway memorabilia, sports collectibles, and concert t-shirts when these items are purchased via phone or online with the American Express Card. American Express has a minority investment in Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, Inc., which, through its relationship with Ticketmaster, provides the exclusive online ticketing for Ticketmaster’s sports and entertainment clients.

Details

ATS-6000

ATS Money Systems, Inc., announced Monday a new product for the retail store cash office — the ATS-6000 Electronic Currency Counting Scale. The ATS-6000 is the first in a series of new models for release in 1999 and is available for immediate delivery. The new ATS-6000 scale accurately and quickly counts bills, coins, coupons and gift certificates, on a single machine, utilizing a unique weighing technology that replaces up to three conventional machines. The new ATS-6000 series includes improved ergonomics, more powerful cash office programs and improved communications. Typical applications include register audits, starting fund set-up, bank deposit preparation, bank change order verification and safe audits. The ATS-6000 provides advanced communications with upload and download capabilities allowing the machines to be managed centrally as well as update central sales audit systems. The ATS-6000 may be used in a stand-alone configuration, interfaced with a printer for an instant audit trail, or integrated to custom cash office software. User programmable functions enable the scale to be easily set-up locally, or from central sites to meet specific counting procedures. Mr. James H. Halpin, Executive Vice President of ATS Money Systems, Inc., commented, “This new, improved scale technology will enable ATS to further accelerate and expand recent gains we have made in the grocery, fast food and convenience store markets as well as in our traditional markets of department store, home improvement centers and discount department stores.”

Retailers using this scale will benefit from notable labor savings and reduced counting errors, as well as a return on investment in less than a year, in most cases. The new ATS-6000 improved communication capabilities allows retailers to manage and integrate the cash office scale with other store systems maximizing and protecting their investment. The communications download functions include the capability to download from central sites, new set-up or denominations such as the upcoming NEW DOLLAR COIN. The ATS-6000 is designed for retail businesses that process cash, including supermarkets, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, specialty stores, home improvement centers, drug stores and department stores. A partial list of companies currently utilizing ATS retail cash management solutions includes: The Kroger Company, Nash Finch Company, Wendy’s, Arby’s, White Castle, Ames Department Stores, Carson Pirie Scott & Co., The Home Depot, Pilot Corporation, Target Stores and T.J. Maxx.

ATS Money Systems, Inc., is engaged in the development, sales and service of currency counting systems running on DOS, UNIX, Windows 95 and Windows NT platforms for department and chain store cash offices. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Innovative Electronics, Inc., is a major supplier to the retail marketplace, providing an end-to-end solution that integrates point-of-sale, in-store processing and host applications in a distributed computing network.

Details