P-Card Award

One Valley Bank was awarded a symbolic “Certificate of Savings” by the West Virginia Governor Wednesday for saving the state $16.8 million. The savings are attributed to the ‘State Purchase Card’ program or ‘P-Card’ program. The certificate represents savings that the state government would realize by writing 350,000 less checks for the fiscal year with use of the ‘VISA Purchase Card’. The amount of the “Certificate of Savings” was computed using the lowest industry standards of $50 savings for every transaction. The ‘State VISA Purchase Card program’ was enacted by the legislature in 1996


Garth Brooks Card

MBNA America and the Garth Brooks Touch ’em All Foundation announced yesterday the establishment of a credit card program for the Foundation. The five-year agreement includes an initial $1 million payment to the Touch ’em All Foundation with the potential for additional revenues based on the success of the program.

The Touch ’em All Foundation, established in January 1999, is a non-profit corporation which contributes financial resources to selected non-profit organizations that effectively serve and benefit children with an emphasis on health, education and inner city needs. The Foundation will enlist the participation of Major League Baseball players who will contribute a predetermined sum based upon selected categories of on-field performance. Each player will then be paired with “Celebrity Teammates” who will match the players donations. Seventy major league baseball players have already agreed to participate in the program.

“Garth is passionate about doing all he can do to help kids. The Foundation is excited that now everyone can join us as `teammates’ in this great cause,” said Bo Mitchell, co-founder and President of the Touch ’em All Foundation. “We are honored to be associated with such a fine institution as MBNA America Bank.”

“The Touch ’em All Foundation is the type of organization we are proud to work with,” said John R. Cochran, MBNA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Customers will be very enthusiastic about the program and it will benefit some terrific causes.”

MBNA America, a subsidiary of MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), is the largest independent credit card lender in the world with more than $60 billion in managed loans. MBNA is the “Official Credit Card Issuer of Major League Baseball” marketing its products to the fans of all 30 teams. MBNA also provides retail deposit, consumer loan and insurance products.


@Home Joins SCF

@Home Corporation has joined The Smart Card Forum (SCF), a multi-industry organization working to accelerate the widespread acceptance and application of smart card technology, as one of the Forum’s newest Principal Members, it was announced yesterday. Additionally, Louis Gasparini, vice president of Information Technology for @Home, has joined the Forum Executive Committee as Assistant Treasurer. As a leading innovator in the development of high speed Internet connections, @Home’s participation in the largest smart card organization demonstrates the value smart card applications bring to today’s emerging Internet economy.

“@Home brings to the Forum much insight and expertise on the rapid growth of the Internet and online service industry. The need for high-speed Internet connections will be increasingly important as smart card technology becomes more widely accepted,” said SCF President and CEO Donna Farmer. “We are thrilled to have @Home on board, and also to have Louis Gasparini’s participation on our Executive Committee. We are pleased to see the trend of Internet focused organizations such as @Home Corporation participating actively within the Smart Card Forum.”

As a Principal Member, @Home is entitled to privileged access to The Smart Card Forum Consumer Research, other Forum sponsored research and documents, along with attendance at the Technical Working Group sessions, Smart Card Forum Educational Institute programs, and the Annual Meetings.

About @Home

Based in Redwood City, CA, @Home Network (NASDAQ: ATHM) distributes high-speed, openly accessible Internet and Web services to residences and businesses using its own network architecture and a variety of transport options including the cable industry’s hybrid-fiber coaxial infrastructure. The cable connection provides users significant increases in speed over conventional Internet services. Leveraging the “always on” attributes of cable, @Home allows for unique multimedia applications that go beyond current Web experiences. Since its founding in 1995, @Home Network has reached affiliate agreements with 21 leading cable companies-worldwide, including AT&T Broadband and Internet Services, Cablevision Systems Corp., Cox Communications, Garden State Cable, and Midcontinent Cable Co., among others. More information is available at the @Home Network Web site at http://www.home.net.

About The Smart Card Forum

The Smart Card Forum is a non-profit, multi-industry organization of nearly 200 members working to accelerate the widespread acceptance of multiple application smart card technology by bringing together, in an open forum, leading users and technologists from both the public and private sectors. The Smart Card Forum is the leading organization for education and awareness of topical issues associated with the use and adoption of smart card systems. The Smart Card Forum also operates the Smart Card Forum Educational Institute, the industry-leading course dedicated to providing smart card education that has set the standard in the industry. The curriculum is based on leading edge educational models and methodologies utilizing experienced instructors who are experts in the smart card industry. For more information about The Smart Card Forum, log on to the organization’s website at [www.smartcardforum.org][1].

[1]: http://www.smartcardforum.org


Hush Money

A popular Australian radio personality admitted yesterday he agreed to stop bashing banks on-the-air in exchange for more than one million Australian dollars. The bizarre story comes from CardWeb.com, Inc. president Robert McKinley who is visiting Sydney this week. As part owner of an advertising agency, Australian radioman John Laws came up with the idea in response to an initiative by the Australian Bankers Association to improve banks image. Laws regularly criticized banks, including their credit card programs, on a morning program airing on the 2UE radio station. After the deal was sealed, Laws, with two million listeners, ended his bank lambasting. Laws insists it was just a private business deal and since he is an entertainer, not a journalist, it does not matter. The Australian Consumers Association was not amused.


Hypercom & BP Agree

Hypercom Corporation Tuesday announced an agreement to provide BP with Hypercom’s ‘Ascendent Advanced Transaction Processor’. BP will use Hypercom’s ATP software to centralize, streamline and enhance the authorization and settlement of BP gas and fleet card transactions in Singapore and Malaysia. ‘Ascendent’ enables merchants and banks to offer advanced payment products, such as chip cards, and value-added services, such as loyalty programs.


Super ATM Patents

Capital Security Systems yesterday announced that it has received approval for three more patents on features of the Super ATM(TM) development platform, the ATM PowerBuilder, a powerful toolkit that will ultimately provide automated banking customers with a means for accessing 17 different banking functions from an ATM terminal.

“With the approval of these three patents,” stated Robin Gustin, president of CSS, “we are within sight of creating the ATM of the future — the ultimate in one-stop shopping for all of a customer’s electronic banking needs.” According to Gustin, the first patent covers signature verification in a terminal environment. Once verified, an ATM customer will be authorized to cash a check or money order, pay bills, create a money order, or perform a variety of other electronic financial transactions at an ATM location. The second patent covers the capability for a bank network customer to transfer funds from one ATM to any other ATM, in effect, emulating a Western Union wire order in an ATM environment. “It’s more convenient for the customer — and it will produce more fees for the networks, too,” explained Gustin. “Several things make our platform unique,” Gustin went on, “including check cashing technology that is 100% automated and the way we direct dollars and cents to a smart card, which is covered by the third patent.” Because Smart Cards enable more options and provide better security for the customer, Gustin believes that Smart Cards will eventually replace magnetic strip cards at ATMs. She says that the possibilities created by the powerful ATM PowerBuilder platform should help gain bank support for the conversion to a Smart Card-based, e-commerce society.

According to Gustin, the ATM PowerBuilder will enable banking networks to access three major electronic financial markets: conventional ATM banking, electronic benefits transfer, and unbanked customers. According to a recent government study, unbanked customers comprise one out of every eight homes in the U.S. — which means possibly another strong revenue source for the networks. CSS is currently talking to a number of large domestic and foreign companies that are seeking to secure a controlling interest in the ATM-based world of electronic commerce by owning the patents granted to the Super ATM(TM) — ATM PowerBuilder platform.


Art.com Preferred Card

Art.com, the leading consumer brand of Getty Images, Inc., announced Tuesday an agreement with Visa U.S.A. which designates Visa the “Preferred Card” on the Art.com site, and will allow Art.com to develop marketing promotions that will be offered exclusively to Visa cardholders.

Under the terms of this agreement, Art.com will be included in Visa’s Value-Added Offers to millions of its cardholders, and promoted through statement inserts, direct mail, sweepstakes, e-mails and online mentions. These co-branding opportunities include Visa’s Back to School and Holidays promotions featuring Art.com — expected to generate one million impressions via Art.com’s website. Art.com is included in the Visa Rewards online program via jump page advertising on [http://www.visa.com][1] and hot links to financial member web sites and two exciting sweepstakes featuring Visa as a primary means for entry. Additionally, Art.com provides Visa’s cardholders exclusive offers when shopping at [http://www.art.com][2].

“Art.com is proud to name Visa as its preferred card. Our goal is to create the most satisfying and enjoyable consumer experience possible on our site, and Visa shares our commitment to excellent customer service,” said Bill Lederer, CEO of Art.com. “With their international reach and focus on using technology to enhance customer convenience, safety and flexibility, they are a natural partner for us in the e-commerce arena.”

During the important holiday season, Art.com hopes to generate an estimated one billion impressions through co-branded online advertising. The partnership allows Art.com, the leading destination for art and art- related products on the web, to extend its marketing programs to include Visa’s extensive customer base. According to Visa, online purchases represent one of their fastest growing market segments.

“Online purchasing has become a regular part of our customers’ shopping habits, and Visa is very pleased to be working with a leading e-commerce brand such as Art.com,” said Jim Degrocici, SVP, E-commerce, Visa U.S.A. “Partnering Visa with Art.com creates a wonderful opportunity to provide products of high quality and value to Visa’s cardholders.”

About Visa

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 630 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US $1.3 trillion in annual volume. Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 450,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [http://www.visa.com][3].

About Art.com

Art.com(SM) ([http://www.art.com][4]), the consumer brand of Getty Images, Inc., is an inviting and engaging e-commerce destination that makes buying art accessible, personal and fun by offering valuable information consumers need to learn about and purchase art. The site is an enriching and convenient source for art, offering many of the world’s great prints in one place. Art.com’s expansive galleries feature master works by world-famous artists, as well as original pop culture artists. In addition to everyday discounts, personalized product choices and a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, Art.com offers three distinguishing features — framing visualization software, seasonal and featured galleries, and the ArtClique(SM) Saver’s Club. Art.com is the recipient of the respected Pinnacle Award for Overall Excellence and the eMarketer Web recognition Award. Art.com is the consumer brand of Getty Images, Inc. (Nasdaq: GETY), the leading, global provider of visual content. More information about Getty Images and its visual content brands can be found on the company’s Web site at .

[1]: http://www.visa.com/
[2]: http://www.art.com/
[3]: http://www.visa.com/
[4]: http://www.art.com/


New Zealand E-Billing

CheckFree, in partnership with New Zealand Post, has launched a program that will enable New Zealanders to receive, view and pay their bills electronically through the Internet. Involved with the program is the Bank of New Zealand, which provides the payment mechanism and allows customers to access the system from its home banking system on the Internet. The initial bills being presented and paid on the Internet are from Saturn Communications and Bank of New Zealand Credit Cards.


Oberthur Prez

Oberthur Smart Cards USA named Philippe Tartavull president and CEO of Oberthur Smart Cards USA this morning. The former COO takes the reins from Kirk Hyde who has held the CEO post since 1980 and who will remain on the Board of Directors. Oberthur Smart Cards USA resulted from the purchase of family-owned Kirk Plastic Company by Groupe Franssois-Charles Oberthur in October of 1996. For six years, Philippe Tartavull was the president and CEO of SYSECA, a $25 million North American subsidiary of Thomson CSF, helping to diversify the company into future high growth markets including interactive TV, smart cards and Internet/Intranet technologies.


FDC Storefronts

Excite@Home, a global media company, Tuesday announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire iMALL, Inc. , a leading provider of fully integrated, “one-stop” e-commerce solutions. In the merger, Excite@Home will issue approximately 8.3 million shares of Excite@Home stock, having a value of approximately $425 million and also will assume iMALL’s outstanding options and warrants. In addition, Excite@Home and First Data Corporation subsidiary First Data Merchant Services, a leading electronic commerce payments solution provider, today announced an agreement to enable merchants to quickly establish an online commerce storefront with transaction capabilities and access to Excite’s millions of daily users.

These two agreements provide Excite@Home with industry-leading momentum in adding merchants to the Excite Shopping Service for consumers. For businesses, the First Data/iMALL solution will be marketed through @Work, Excite@Home’s business-to-business division which provides Internet access and hosting solutions, to various Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) resellers and other third parties that want to offer their e-commerce services for sale. First Data gains the opportunity to begin generating enormous consumer traffic for its merchant alliance partners’ and financial institution customers’ online merchants. Excite@Home and First Data will also explore opportunities to develop and cross-promote additional products and services in a preferred marketing relationship. This relationship has the potential to give Excite@Home in-store exposure to a base of more than two million merchant locations, and First Data clients’ merchants exposure to Excite’s 22 million unique visitors each month.

The three-way relationship leverages iMALL’s unique commerce capabilities, which make it extremely easy for merchants to set up an online storefront, and First Data’s electronic commerce payment solutions and processing technologies to enable merchants to put up electronic storefronts which will enrich the Excite Shopping Service. These services, along with Excite’s popularity with consumers, position Excite@Home and First Data at the forefront of offering merchants commerce solutions on the Web.


First Data Merchant Services, which processes and settles more than 5 billion credit and debit card transactions annually, currently has an 11% ownership stake in iMALL. First Data will work with Excite@Home to market its new e-commerce solution to First Data’s financial institution clients and their respective merchants. Merchants using the new commerce solution on the Excite portal service will automatically have all back-end banking services integrated, including merchant application processing and transaction gateway, set up in hours rather than weeks. As merchants are additionally enrolled into Excite@Home’s searchable directory of products and stores, the Excite Shopping service will have one of the largest shopping offerings for consumers online.

Inside the Excite@Home Network, this new solution will be leveraged in two ways:

The Business-To-Business offering: The new electronic commerce solution will be offered to partners through @Work. For small businesses, the First Data/iMALL solution will continue to be marketed through third parties that want to offer their e-commerce services for sale.

The Business-To-Consumer offering: The suite of electronic commerce services will serve the business-to-consumer market through the Excite portal. Merchants can benefit from the significant reach of the popular Excite Shopping Service (). As First Data’s financial institution partners begin promoting the new solution, and merchants begin establishing Web storefronts with thousands of offerings, the Excite Shopping Service is well positioned to become a premier online shopping area with an unparalleled breadth and depth of both merchants and products. These online merchants will be supported through promotion and Web advertising designed to generate traffic and increase sales activities for their sites.


Excite@Home and First Data will offer merchants one of the easiest and fastest solutions to become an online retailer. The joint e-commerce solution offers merchants a comprehensive package of electronic commerce tools to get online and start selling the same day, including: Web-site development, online shopping carts, a merchant account, sales tax and shipping calculations, secure payment processing, and most important, traffic-building and promotions opportunities.

“We view this agreement with Excite@Home as a natural extension of and terrific enhancement to our Internet commerce strategy. Our clients’ merchants will benefit from the enormous traffic that the Excite service generates, and our financial institution partners will have an even more compelling proposition to enhance existing customer relationships as well as attract new merchant customers. This agreement reinforces our leadership position in providing e-commerce payment solutions, and we see significant opportunities to leverage this relationship both today and for the long term,” said Ric Duques, chairman and chief executive officer of First Data Corporation.

“Through our acquisition of iMALL and our new relationship with First Data, we have in a single step become a leader in offering the most complete end-to-end e-commerce solutions to merchants who want to become online retailers – a huge trend in American commerce,” said George Bell, president, Excite@Home. “The combined solution gives us critical mass to bring together online buyers and sellers with new services for our business-to-business efforts – benefiting our @Work division, and business-to-consumer transactions. By becoming the best solution for merchants, we attract thousands of stores and products that will make the Excite shopping services the best choice for consumers looking to buy online.”


Excite@Home and iMALL have executed a definitive agreement for the acquisition of iMALL. Under that agreement, each shareholder of iMALL will receive 0.46 shares of Excite@Home Series A Common Stock for each share of iMALL Common Stock. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by the shareholders of iMALL. The transaction is expected to close in the 4th quarter of 1999. As part of the agreement, First Data, Richard Rosenblatt and certain other iMALL shareholders who, in the aggregate, hold over 40% of the outstanding shares of iMALL, have agreed to vote in favor of the transaction. After the closing of the acquisition, iMALL will operate as an independent subsidiary of Excite@Home reporting to its @Work division.

“Offering a simple turn-key solution is critical to getting stores online and is the foundation of our business strategy. Joining the Excite@Home family is an exciting next step in the life of our company,” said Richard Rosenblatt, CEO, iMALL, Inc. “We are delighted to deliver this opportunity to iMALL shareholders. iMALL set the standard with e-commerce solutions that enabled merchants to set up shop on the Web in less than a day, and now together with the popular Excite Excite@Home>mailto:Excite@Home Shopping Service and Excite@Home’s @Work division, we will deliver huge benefits to both merchants and consumers.”

About iMALL

iMALL, Inc. is a leading provider of fully integrated, “one-stop” e-commerce solutions. iMALL’s unique e-commerce solutions and integrated process allow businesses to create fully commerce enabled Web sites or add transaction capabilities to their existing ones, establish “Internet ready” merchant accounts online, and process customer orders securely through iMALL’s proprietary payment gateway. To help increase businesses’ online sales, iMALL’s popular shopping portals and sophisticated shopper services are integrated into iMALL’s e-commerce solutions. iMALL’s e-commerce solution, merchantstuff.com, created jointly with First Data Merchant Services, in located at http://www.merchantstuff.com>. iMALL’s shopping portals are located at http://www.imall.com> and http://www.stuff.com>. For additional information, visit iMALL’s corporate site at .

About First Data

Atlanta-based First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC) is a leader in payment services, electronic commerce and transaction management products and services. First Data and its principal operating units process the information that allows millions of consumers to pay for goods and services by credit, debit or stored-value card at the point of sale, over the Internet, by check or by wire transfer. First Data Merchant Services Corporation (FDMS), a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data Corporation, is one of the nation’s leading providers of electronic commerce solutions for hundreds of financial institutions and two million merchant locations. For further information, visit .

About Excite@Home

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) is a global media company based in Redwood City, Calif. Through the company’s narrowband portal, Excite ([www.excite.com][1]), and broadband services, @Home and @Work, the company uniquely offers consumers content and interactive services across both narrowband and broadband, and advertisers highly targeted marketing solutions across all platforms of delivery. Leveraging the high-speed, always-on attributes of cable, Excite@Home empowers unique multimedia applications that go beyond current Web experiences. The company will combine the Excite brand – one of the best known names on the Internet with 70 percent recognition among Web users – with @Home’s broad distribution, a worldwide footprint of more than 65 million cable homes, to deliver on its vision of “All Band, All Device, All the Time.”

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


NPC Says “NO”

National Processing, Inc. reported Tuesday that its Special Committee of its Board of Directors has determined that the tender offer by National City Corporation is inadequate and is out to squeeze NPC’s minority shareholders. The Special Committee urged NPC’s minority shareholders to reject the National City tender offer yesterday. National City currently owns approximately 88% of National Processing’s shares. The Special Committee’s decision focused on the inappropriate timing of the tender offer, which is scheduled to be completed before National Processing’s minority shareholders have an opportunity to fully assess National Processing’s recent divestitures, improved operating performance and increased focus on its core businesses and the unfair nature of National City’s tender offer, which permits National City to waive the minimum condition to the tender offer and “squeeze out” the minority shareholders in a second step merger if as few as 2% of National Processing’s outstanding shares (or 17% of the publicly held shares) are tendered.


Plugging Along

Associates First Capital continues to plug along as managed receivables surpassed $78 billion and total managed assets approach $100 billion. For 2Q/99 Associates held $10,667,800,000 in credit card receivables, which includes bank credit cards and private label cards. For 1Q/99 Associates has $10,296,800,000 in card loans compared to $7,887,800,000 for 2Q/98. Net earnings for the second quarter reached $358.1 million, a 22% increase over the same period a year earlier. Credit card delinquency (60+ day) improved slightly to 4.13% from 4.73% for 1Q/99 and 4.09% for 2Q/98. Charge-offs also declined to 7.55% for 2Q/99 compared to 7.52% for 1Q/99 and 7.63% for 2Q/98. For complete financials on Associates visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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