Banks will now be able to conduct market research and create advertising opportunities by means of prepaid phonecards delivered through ATMs. Bellevue, WA-based FCG, Inc. announced Tuesday the development of the ATM prepaid ‘TeleSurvey’ phonecard. FCG’s ‘TeleSurvey’ is added to the bank’s phonecard program, but as an optional choice for the consumer. A purchaser who chooses to answer the questions in the ‘TeleSurvey’ is immediately rewarded with additional minutes on the calling card. This option allows a bank to conduct valuable market research while offering a branded product at the same time. Free long-distance minutes have a high perceived value for consumers. In addition to ‘TeleSurvey’, FCG offers a range of information services, which are added to a phonecard as needed. The card is used to directly access a bank’s network or customer service center, providing information to the consumer regarding loan processing, merchant services or even demand deposit accounts. The company says this type of interactive phonecard has a phenomenal response rate of 50-75%.Details
A new 13-country study by PSI Global found that significant numbers of Europeans want additional payment cards that can be used for more types of transactions in more places. PSI found that nearly half of the 300 million consumers in Europe indicated that the financial benefits associated with a payment card is more important than the issuer. European consumers also want revolving credit, especially in markets where this feature has not been offered. Other key findings include: Take-one applications from local financial institutions were used by 35% of consumers who had opened a card account; 45% of Europeans who were offered a balance transfer in connection with a new credit card account accepted; Europeans rated rebate of an annual fee, free replacement of stolen/damaged goods, rebates on purchases made with card and rewards programs such as free travel as among the most attractive card benefits; and the potential to issue new cards is particularly strong in Germany, Italy, Spain and the emerging markets of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Turkey. The PSI study was based on 10,500 consumer interviews conducted by telephone or in person.Details
College students nationwide will be able to stay in touch this school year for as little as 10 cents a minute thanks to a new Sprint FONCARD. Sprint announced Tuesday that its calling card for college students now carries a rate of 10 cents a minute for weekday calls from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and all weekend long. Weekday calls are 40 cents a minute.
“College students looking for a convenient calling card will find good value with the Sprint FONCARD,” said Amy Mosier, director of College Marketing for Sprint. “College students can take their long-distance with them wherever they go — and there are no per-call surcharges and no monthly fees.
“The FONCARD is the perfect way for students to stay in touch with family and friends during the school year or even all year long,” added Mosier. “There is no need to switch your long-distance service or even own a phone. The phone card goes with students whether they change dorm rooms or move off campus — and calls can be placed from virtually any phone, anytime, anywhere.”
Best of all, said Mosier, students who average $25 or more in long- distance each month can participate in Sprint’s Cool Rewards program, which allows them to redeem reward stamps for free long-distance and Sony Musica merchandise like music CDs, videos and much more. Four times a year, students automatically receive reward stamps to redeem for prizes. The Cool Rewards catalog is available on-line () or in print.
The Sprint FONCARD also can be used for emergencies or when students are short of change for a pay phone. There is a 26-cent charge for calls originating from a pay phone. The FONCARD also provides a convenient way to keep track of long-distance calls because there is no need to split the phone bill with roommates.
FONCARD usage can be billed to a credit card. To use the card, students call 1-800-2SPRINT and follow the voice prompts. There is also a collect calling option.
Marketing materials for the new calling card are being circulated in college bookstores and other campus locations. Those offers include trial incentives of up to 60 minutes of free long-distance. The FONCARD also can be ordered through the Sprint Web site — — and later this month through [http://www.taponline.com], a popular Web site among college students.
Sprint is a global communications company at the forefront in integrating long-distance, local and wireless communications services, and one of the world’s largest carriers of Internet traffic. Sprint built and operates the United States’ first nationwide all-digital, fiber optic network and is a leader in advanced data communications services. Sprint has $17 billion in annual revenues and serves more than 17 million business and residential customers.
bCard.net, a subsidiary of PrimeHoldings.com, Inc. , and a leader in smart card technology and services, Tuesday announced that it has reached a significant milestone by delivering its 100,000th bCard smart card in just four months. In reaching this milestone, bCard.net establishes itself as one of America’s leaders in the emerging smart card industry — estimated by market research firm Frost & Sullivan to be a $5 billion worldwide market by 2003. bCards are universal electronic business cards, based on proprietary “smart cards” used to store, transfer and otherwise manage information about business professionals. Unlike paper business cards, bCards can store large amounts of digital information that can be easily shared and stored to facilitate communication between business professionals and commerce between business entities.
Trade shows, conferences and corporate events are prime business environments where potential smart card communications and transactions are occurring continuously. In early 1999, bCard.net signed a contract with American Show Management of Portland, Ore., North America’s largest producer of information technology exhibitions, to provide registration and exhibitor services to 45 of its U.S. events in 1999. Under the agreement, bCard.net is expected to issue and manage more than 250,000 total bCards per year in a three-year pact valued at approximately $3-4 million.
“Unlike Europe, the United States has been slow to adopt smart card technology,” said Ivan Lazarev, president of bCard.net. “We have been fortunate enough to discover and exploit a niche that not only needs what bCards have to offer, but which is prepared to take advantage of the entire suite of bCard.net offerings.”
The bCard.net Vision
bCard.net issues bCards to qualified individuals and maintains a global database of bCard holder information. By controlling the information gathered through the issuance of bCards, bCard.net is poised for leadership as an Internet “infomediary” in the emerging Internet and smart card industry. An Internet infomediary is described in a new book from the Harvard Business School Press as “information brokers that help customers maximize the value of their personal data to get the lowest price, widest selection and best service possible while ensuring the customer’s privacy.”
As a trusted information broker, bCard.net provides an important link between businesses and their customers by providing secure and private means of communicating valuable information. With a bCard, individuals can control the use of their personal information and command a price or bounty for its use by commercial entities. In the case of bCard users the affinity rewards are currently bCard Points redeemable for frequent flyer miles. bCard.net is also actively developing an Internet portal for the dissemination of information and for conducting e-commerce activities related to the bCard affinity program.
bCard.net founders believe the company’s global universal electronic business card technology will create a new Internet based communications environment for business-to-business transactions and become a leading global business-to-business communications portal.
“The introduction of bCard Points as a web-based reward program linked to the use of bCard smart cards is a first for the industry that we believe will produce great results,” said Lazarev. “Our plan is to develop bCard into a major business-to-business portal with growth similar to Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite and other successful portal sites.”
For more information about the bCard concept, contact bCard.net at (301) 654-3779 or visit [http://www.bcard.net].
bCard.net, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of America’s leading providers of smart cards and Internet-based information services. The company is a subsidiary of PrimeHoldings, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: PRIM).
About PrimeHoldings.com, Inc..
PrimeHoldings.com, Inc. (OTC Board Board: PRIM), formerly PrimeSource Communications Holdings, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: PSCM) develops and operates Internet-based and Internet-related technology companies that together form a community focused on business intelligence and electronic commerce. Current PrimeHoldings.com companies include: bCard.net, a leader in smart card technologies; PrimeSourceNet, a leader in automated forms processing services: eROI, a cutting-edge provider of technology for evaluating hard-to-measure business processes such as training and UniQuest Communications, a top agency of telecommunications reseller UniDial, Inc. For more information call 801-562-1444 or visit [http://www.primeholdings.com].
bCard and bCard.net are trademarks of bCard, Inc. All other product and service names are trademarks of their respective holders.
This news release may include statements which constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Please be cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve significant risks and uncertainties, and that actual results may vary materially from those in the forward-looking statements as a result of any number of factors, including the risk factors contained in the Company’s disclosure documents.
Visa U.S.A., and Be Free, Inc., a leading provider of online affiliate sales technology, Tuesday announced the launch of the Visa Partners Network, an affiliate sales channel that will permit online merchants to connect with leading financial institutions.
The Visa Partners Network will give merchants access to millions of online consumers by allowing retailers to customize e-commerce storefronts on the Web sites of Visa’s Member financial institutions. By opening another access point for consumers to shop online, the Visa Partners Network creates new revenue opportunities for merchants and Visa Members.
Be Free’s BFAST(SM) technology will be used to create online storefronts for Visa Partners Network merchants and will display merchandise in context with the affiliate Member’s sites, permitting Internet users to be presented with products and services relevant to their specific wants and needs.
Be Free’s end-to-end solution allows Visa’s Member financial institutions to earn a commission for each sales transaction and to create pay-for-performance partnerships with participating merchants.
“The Visa Partners Network is a win-win for the e-commerce industry — not only will the Network provide new revenue opportunities for our merchants and Members, Visa’s partnership with Be Free makes it easier for consumers to shop online,” said Jim Degracia, senior vice president, Electronic Commerce, Visa U.S.A. “We believe that this type of network is a key driver of online retailing.”
“Visa is consistently viewed as a leader in e-commerce, and Be Free is proud to work with Visa on future developments in online commerce,” said Gordon Hoffstein, president and CEO of Be Free, Inc. “Our new relationship with Visa is further evidence that affiliate programs provide excellent solutions for online merchandising.”
The Visa Partners Network pilot program is anticipated to go live this fall. A number of leading online merchants, including Travelocity.com, Reel.com, eToys, Fogdog.com and Art.com could be among the first retailers to participate in this pilot program.
As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand on the Internet 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].
About Be Free, Inc.
Be Free, Inc. is a leading provider of online affiliate sales channel technology, services and knowledge. Be Free helps merchants build and manage merchant-branded affiliate sales channels, e-nabling(SM) online retailers to capture revenue by selling products in context on affiliate web sites.
Be Free’s clients have over one million affiliates in their sales channels and include some of the Internet’s leading merchants such as barnesandnoble.com, Travelocity.com, American Greetings, Electronic Newsstand, and Network Solutions.
Affiliates can enroll in affiliate programs using Be Free’s technology with FastApp(SM), located at:
[www.reporting.net] /networks/affiliates/bf_fast_app. The company’s product offerings include the BFAST(SM) affiliate sales channel technology and the BFIT(SM) targeted advertising delivery system.
Founded in 1996, Be Free has offices in Marlborough, Mass. and Pittsburgh, Pa. For more information, visit Be Free’s web site at [www.befree.com].
XtraNet Systems Inc. the Santa Ana risk management and credit card processing company, Monday announced that for the second quarter of the 1999 fiscal year the company had consolidated total revenues from processing operations of $576,540, or $.05 per share.
During the quarter total revenues rose from $178,428 in May to $301,966 in June. XtraNet anticipates continued growth in total revenues as it continues to expand the number of high volume Internet Merchants that it services and its International Merchant Banking affiliations.
“We are very pleased with the continuing growth in revenues from an increasing number of high volume Internet Merchants,” said William L. Shaw, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, “and we expect, with the anticipated opening of our Bermuda operations, and the expansion of our operations in Mexico to see continued revenue growth for the company in the third quarter.”
XtraNet is a provider of e-commerce credit card processing, proprietary risk management services, and stand alone financial processing solutions to Internet Merchants and Offshore Financial Institutions throughout the world. Having begun as a developer of extranet systems, XtraNet has now moved into the front lines of e-commerce by offering proprietary credit card processing services uniquely suited to high volume Internet Merchants worldwide.
Within its International Network, XtraNet has operations in the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States, and will soon be establishing operations in Bermuda, Latin America, South America, Europe and the United Kingdom. XtraNet projects that it will process a minimum of $500 million in total credit card transactions in 1999.Details
The average annual revenues of a woman-owned small company in New York City is slightly less than $500,000, according to a recent survey conducted by American Express and the New York City Chapter of Women Business Owners. Average annual revenues for men-owned firms is $779,000.
While the comparison of men and women owned firms is complex, some leading experts believe part of the difference is related to how some leading experts believe part of the difference is related to how women and men manage their companies differently.
“Too many entrepreneurs under estimate the long-lasting effects of the decisions they make early on in their business,” says Carol Lapidus, Managing Director Director, American Express Tax and Business Services, New York (TBS, New York). Lapidus has 16 years experience working with New York City-based businesses, with a specialty in fashion, design and apparel firms. “If a business owner has dreams of owning a multi-million dollar enterprise some day, they have to think that way from day one, even if they have a `slow and steady’ growth plan.”
Lapidus and Neal Rosenberg, Managing Director and a colleague at TBS, New York, recommend that entrepreneurs invest in a solid five-year plan with clear measurable goals that can be tracked at milestones in the business’ life cycle.
“Entrepreneurs need to benchmark against comparable small firms, set realistic goals, and come back to that plan two to four times a year to measure their progress,” says Rosenberg, who has 21 years helping small and medium size companies
In order to assist women in growing their companies, Rosenberg and Lapidus offer the following tips:
1. Formulate a five-year strategic growth plan with realistic, attainable goals and continually monitor and measure actual results against it.
2. Determine if you can modify your firm’s products and services to add new customers.
3. Review expansion of product and service lines offered to existing customers.
4. Review financing opportunities, including alternative sources such as factoring and equipment leasing, even if you might not need the capital immediately.
5. Don’t skimp on professional advice. Hire an experienced accountant and lawyer.
6. Form alliances with suppliers, customers and strategic partners.
7. Consider forming alliances with competitors as well as complementary businesses.
8. Consider out sourcing various overhead functions that are not core to your business.
9. Make marketing and public relations a priority.
10. Think international.
American Express Tax and Business Services, New York offers a range of tax and business advisory services. It is the second largest office in a national network of offices that make TBS the 11th largest accounting firm in the country.
American Express Small Business Services (SBS) is a division of the American Express Company focused on providing a broad range of credit and capital products as well as tax and accounting services to small and mid-sized firms. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel and financial services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance, accounting and international banking.Details
Executive Healthcare Services, a division of Executive Bankcard, Monday announced it will expand its current credit card transaction processing services for health care customers to include online, real-time insurance eligibility verification through Imperial Technology Solutions’ (ITS’) Receivables Payment Manager (RPM).
With RPM, health care providers can instantly verify a patient’s insurance eligibility and payment responsibilities, then collect co-payments at the point of care with a credit or ATM/debit card. RPM has proven to improve workflow associated with patient payment, collection, posting, reconciliation, billing and outstanding patient accounts receivable, while speeding income to the provider.
RPM turns every point of care into a patient payment verification and collection station.
“Knowing a patient’s payment responsibility at the time of care is a big challenge in health care. RPM differentiates Executive Healthcare’s services by offering real tools to improve provider collections,” said Barry Tikotin, sales and training manager with Executive Healthcare Services.
“Currently, health care administrators spend too much of their time verifying patients’ eligibility and benefits after the patient has already left. With RPM, Executive Healthcare Services can offer its health care customers a tool to determine coverage and patient payment responsibility, in most cases in less than a minute,” said Raymond Pedden, senior vice president of ITS.
Based in Calabasas, Executive Healthcare Services, a division of Executive Bankcard Services, provides cutting-edge products and services for all aspects of merchant non-cash transaction processing. Executive’s coast-to-coast network of service professionals serves all types of e-commerce, including auto-deductions from checking accounts and recurring billing with credit cards.
Executive Healthcare Services can be reached at 888/904-2244 or by email at email@example.com.
With a team of health care, technology and marketing specialists, ITS has developed an exclusive line of financial transaction software, the Receivables Payment Manager, that is operational today in single doctor practices to large provider organizations throughout the United States. For more information, contact Imperial Technology Solutions at 800/716-9777, or visit ITS’ World Wide Web site at [www.itsrpm.com].
ITS is a division of Imperial Bank, one of the leading independent business banks in the West. With more than $6 billion in assets, Imperial offers a wide range of financial services tailored to corporate customers, entrepreneurs and professionals. Based in Los Angeles, Imperial Bank is the principal subsidiary of Imperial Bancorp (NYSE:IMP) and can be found on the Web at [www.imperialbank.com].
PaySys International said Monday that Household International has exceeded 40 million credit card accounts being processed on ‘VisionPLUS’ software. The recent conversion of 11 million additional accounts to ‘VisionPLUS’ brought Household International’s cumulative account total to in excess of 40 million. ‘VisionPLUS’ is the standard-setting card management system that integrates retail, bankcard, and consumer loan billing and administration. The product consists of eight standard rules- and workflow-based software modules that enhance the marketability and profit potential of the entire credit card operation.Details
First Union installed the world’s first freestanding exterior walk-up cash dispenser yesterday in the new Universal Studios ‘Islands of Adventure’ theme park in Orlando. The ‘1075ix’ exterior walk-up cash dispenser was introduced in December. It is designed for outside deployment in a location where 24-hour operation and a small footprint is desirable, and medium-to-high transaction volumes are expected. The model includes four dispense cassettes, Diebold ix software and a full range of ix Series printers and displays that provide the options of coupon printing and dispensing, screen advertising, ticket/stamp/phone card dispensing and other revenue-generating features and applications. First Union says the Florida’s tough weather conditions will give the new machine a real workout.Details
What would it take to fuel your car for a lifetime? Take care of countless trips to the office, school, grocery store and playground? Run around town and zip down the highway? For the winners of the BP Free Gas for Life sweepstakes, this “free gas” dream will soon come true.
During August and September 1999, consumers can stop by any participating BP station, fill up with at least eight gallons of gasoline, and receive a free 7 minute phone card and a chance to win one of two BP Free Gas for Life awards. Other prizes include a $10,000 VISA shopping spree, or thousands of $5 gas gift certificates.
Last year’s winner of Free Gas for Life from BP was William Bressee of Oxford, New York, who is now enjoying his free-gas lifestyle motoring around with his pickup truck and motorcycle.
Consumers will find the scratch-off phone card game pieces at participating BP stations in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Tosco Marketing Company is the Phoenix-based retail division of the Tosco Corporation (NYSE: TOS), and is responsible for the marketing of a family of well-known convenience store and gasoline brands including BP in the Northeast and Northwest, 76 and Circle K.Details
J.D. Power released its ‘1999 Comprehensive Credit Cardholder Study’ this morning showing three winners in the cardholder loyalty categories. MBNA ranked highest in cardholder loyalty among VISA/MasterCard Platinum cardholders. Citibank’s ‘AAdvantage’ program scored the highest among rewards credit cardholders and the American Express Optima Card took top place among Gold/Classic cardholders. The J.D. Power study also found that consumers are beginning to use their ‘Platinum’ cards as a debt instrument and that 3% of credit cardholders use the Internet to access their account information. More study results are available from CardFlash Online ([www.cardflash.com]).
Cardholder Loyalty Among Reward Cards (Index Scores)
Citibank AAdvantage 108
Mileage Plus First Card 106
AmEx Delta SkyMiles 103
Household GM Card 103
Chase Shell 103
Industry Average 101
Source: J.D. Power and Associates