NextCard – InsWeb

NextCard announced this morning it has signed an agreement with InsWeb, an Internet insurance marketplace. The agreement marks the first time that NextCard applicants will be able to access insurance products online through a co-branded insurance center, which may be accessed directly from NextCard’s Web site. Under terms of the deal, InsWeb will become NextCard’s exclusive insurance provider.

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De La Rue to Sell

The smart card shake-out has begun! UK-based De La Rue is reportedly in advanced discussions to unload its card division, including its smart card operations. According to this weekend’s Financial Times, De La Rue is in negotiations with three interested parties, namely, Gemplus, Schlumberger and Groupe Bull, all based in France. It was not clear whether Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient or France’s Francois-Charles Oberthur were also involved in the final phase of bidding. NM Rothschild, which replaced Schroders as the De La Rue’s advisers this year, is handling the sale. According to London’s Financial Times, De La Rue’s cards division made operating profits of 4.7mGBP on sales of 161mGBP last year, with smartcards comprising about a third of revenues. The newspaper estimated that De La Rue has been investing 15m-20mGBP a year in smart cards and has an 8% share of the global smart card market. The cards division also produces mag stripe credit and debit cards, including those for VISA and Mastercard. The company is thought to prefer a sale of the division as a whole rather than two separate deals. The deal is expected to fetch 100m-200mGBP. The company has been going through a restructuring since last September.

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AMNESTY VISA

Canada’s Citizens Bank and Amnesty International Canada have joined up to offer the new ‘Citizens Bank Amnesty International VISA’. The new card, which features a dove in flight on a black background, was introduced Monday. Under terms of the affinity agreement Citizens Bank will automatically donate 10 cents to Amnesty International Canada for each transaction. Amnesty International has 67,000 members in Canada. Citizens Bank is wholly owned by VanCity Savings Credit Union.

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Instant Discount

Royal Bank announced this morning it has extended its instant discount program to its ‘Low Rate Option’ and ‘No-Fee’ VISA cards. Royal has more than 5.2 million VISA cardholders in Canada. The program features instant discounts at point of sale on a variety of products and services wherever the Visa ‘Partners Program’ logo is displayed. Over 30 of the country’s top retailers are ‘VISA Partners’, offering discounts from 5% to 25% in 4,000 retail locations across Canada. Participating retailers include: AMJ Campbell Van Lines, Cadet Cleaners, Cantel AT&T, Certa ProPainters, Chubb Security Systems, Crabtree & Evelyn, Domino’s Pizza, Famous Players, Glidden Paints, Kernels Popcorn, Maaco Auto Painting & Body Shop, Music World, National Car Rental, Play It Again Sports, RadioShack, and others.

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AmEx Cards in Puerto Rico

Banco Santander Puerto Rico and American Express today announced a new strategic alliance that will allow Banco Santander to issue American Express Card products in Puerto Rico. Under the agreement, Banco Santander will introduce in Puerto Rico an American Express Card designed for small and medium-sized businesses. In addition, Banco Santander will issue American Express standard and gold revolving credit cards.

All Banco Santander American Express card products, available in the fall, will be distributed through Banco Santander’s 76 branches in Puerto Rico and accepted by all merchants on the American Express global network.

“We are pleased to announce this new partnership with American Express,” said Benito Cantalapiedra, president and chief executive officer of Banco Santander Puerto Rico. “This alliance will enable our bank to strengthen its position in the credit card industry in Puerto Rico, and is in line with its expansion strategy in the region.”

Mr. Cantalapiedra added, “The new service will enable our existing clients and potential new clients, in an expanded market area, to benefit from the recognized quality and dependability associated with American Express and Banco Santander.”

“This agreement is an expansion of our existing relationship with Banco Santander in Spain where we have had a joint venture since 1992 to market the American Express Card,” said James Li, president, Global Network Services for American Express. “Banco Santander is one of the largest financial institutions and card issuers in the world and one of the leading banking institutions in Puerto Rico. They are a natural fit with American Express, bringing together our global reach, highest customer service level and their local market position and expertise.”

Under the agreement announced today, Banco Santander Puerto Rico American Express Cardholers will have access to more than 1,700 Travel Service Offices in more than 130 countries.

Founded in 1976, Banco Santander Puerto Rico is a publicly held company that trades in the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SBP.” Operating in Puerto Rico for 22 years, the bank offers a full array of commercial, mortgage and consumer banking services. Supported by a team of more than 1,700 employees, Banco Santander Puerto Rico has 76 branches in Puerto Rico — 14 of which are fully automated branches operating under the name of “Red Express” — and one branch in New York City.

Banco Santander Central Hispano (BSCH), S.A., the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, owns 78.3 percent of Banco Santander Puerto Rico outstanding common shares. It is ranked first by stock market capitalization in the Euro zone, and eighth by assets volume. According to proforma balance sheets and statements of income on March 31, 1999, BSCH had US$337.61 billion in total managed funds, and US$259.46 billion in assets — with 22 million clients spread across its operations in 34 countries, including all of the major global financial centers.

American Express, while continuing to grow its proprietary card business, has been aggressively pursuing its strategy of opening the company’s merchant network to other card issuers around the world. In the last several years American Express has developed partnerships with 47 such institutions in more than 50 countries.

American Express is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

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Providian Opens TX Ops

Providian Financial last week officially opened its new Arlington, Texas, banking operations center. Providian currently employs 400 people in Arlington and expects to create as many as 700 additional jobs there in the next year.

Community members and government officials joined Providian senior management and employees for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new facility. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer David Sampson welcomed Providian to Arlington saying, “We’re delighted to see Providian become a top employer in this community. Their investment in the long-term growth of Arlington and the sheer number of new jobs created is exciting. We are proud to include Providian among an impressive local representation of corporate America.”

“We’re glad to be in Arlington,” said Providian Executive Vice President Seth Barad. “Our new community offers a very positive business climate and a very strong and qualified labor force. Both will enable us to build our growing employee population, who will help uphold Providian’s commitment to 100% customer satisfaction. Providian is proud to be a part of the Arlington community and we plan to be an active member of it.”

As a part of its community commitment, Providian today announced a $20,000 donation to the YWCA Arlington Child Development Center, a program of the YWCA of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Providian’s donation will assist the center in providing subsidized quality child care for economically disadvantaged families. “Subsidized child care is essential for low-income working families to be self-sufficient,” said Judy Bishop, Executive Director of the YWCA Arlington Child Development Center. “We are extremely grateful to Providian for making this leadership donation. It will greatly enhance our efforts to provide quality child care to needy children.” Providian’s donation is part of the Company’s national Providian Child Care Initiative.

Providian Financial has over 8,000 employees in the U.S. and the U.K, with facilities in California, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Utah, Texas, and London, England. Providian’s Arlington, Texas, offices are located at 3801 South Collins Boulevard. People who are interested in employment opportunities with Providian should call 817-417-4444 or fax their resume to 817-417-4673.

Providian Financial Corporation (www.providian.com) is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to consumers nationwide and in the United Kingdom. Providian serves a broad, diversified market with loan products that include credit cards, revolving lines of credit, home loans, secured cards and fee-based services. With $16 billion in assets under management and 10 million customers, Providian is committed to providing 100% customer satisfaction. San Francisco-based Providian Financial is one of the ten largest bankcard issuers in the nation, and in 1998 ranked as the seventh best performing stock in the S&P 500 and the single best performing stock in the S&P Financial Composite Index.

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Discover Partners

Discover Financial Services announced late last week its list of ‘Platinum Partners’ for Discover ‘Platinum’ cardholders. Under the program cardholders who receive a yearly ‘Cashback Bonus’ award of up to 1% can double the award through certificates that are redeemed at select merchants. Participating merchants include: United Airlines; Hyatt Hotels; Alamo; Blockbuster; Rand McNally; Foot Locker; 1-800-flowers; Omaha Steaks; Lobster Gram; Samsonite; Royal Caribbean; Carnival Cruises; Delta Certified Vacations; MusicDirect.com; Virtual Vineyards; and Discover Brokerage.

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AmEx UK

American Express is unleashing a major new advertising campaign to support its charge card business in the UK. Competition in the UK is heating up after the recent entry of Providian and Discover into the credit card market. One of the four initial themes features Lennox Lewis in the boxing ring promoting AmEx as “Handy If You Get Robbed in America”, highlighting AmEx’s emergency card and cash replacement services. Another spot features the tag line “What the Brits Pack”. Insertions will appear in the national press and national press supplements as well as lifestyle magazines such as Vanity Fair and Harpers & Queen through to current affairs weeklies such as Time and The Economist. The 3mGBP advertising campaign was developed by Ogilvy & Mather. Media buying is being handled by Carat.

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Renaissance Cited

Portland, OR-Renaissance Holdings, Inc. (RHI), a Beaverton, OR-based financial services company, has been recognized by The Business Journal as one of the 100 fastest-growing private companies. This award acknowledges businesses with headquarters in the Portland metro area that have experienced record growth since 1996, tripling its workforce to 499 employees and reporting a 146% increase in gross revenue.

‘We are happy to be recognized as the 30th fastest growing private company in the Portland metropolitan area. Last year was the most significant growth year in the company’s eight-year history and we expect equally dynamic account growth in the future,’ said Irving Levin, CEO of Renaissance Holdings.

The Business Journal received entries from companies within the 5-county metro area (Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, Yamhill, OR and Clark, WA). Business that met the following qualifications were considered for an award: annual growth over each of the past three full year; revenue of more than $200,000 but less than $50 million in fiscal 1996; and an independent, privately hold corporation, proprietorship or partnership with headquarters in the Portland metro area. The winners were notified of their rankings and presented their awards on June 12, 1999 at The Business Journal’s Awards Reception held at The Oregon Zoo. Primary sponsors of the project included PricewaterhouseCoopers and KeyBank.

Privately held RHI originates, manages and services customized sub-prime MasterCard and Visa programs on behalf of cardholders, financial institutions, retailers and affinity groups. Through its two subsidiaries, Renaissance Bankcard Services and Orchard Bank, the company provides credit card and credit education to individuals who have difficulty obtaining credit from traditional lenders. Established in 1991, Renaissance helped pioneer sub-prime credit card products and management systems and is considered a knowledge leader in this market segment.

Founded in 1976, Banco Santander Puerto Rico is a publicly held company which trades in the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘SBP’, The Hank, which is the second largest in the local market, has been operating in Puerto Rico for 22 years and offers a full array of services in the areas of commercial, mortgage and consumer banking, support by a team of more than 1,700 employees. Banco Santander Puerto Rico has 76 branches in Puerto Rico, 14 of which are fully automated branches operating under the name of ‘Red Express’, and one branch in New York City.

Banco Santander Central Hispano (BSCH), S.A., the largest financial group in Spain and Latin America, owns 78.3% of Banco Santander Puerto Rico outstanding common shares. It is the first bank by stock market capitalization in the Euro Zone and the eighth by assets volume. According to proforma balance sheets and statements of income on March 31, 1999, BSCII had US $337.61 billions in total managed funds and US $259.46 billions in assets, with 22 millions clients and operations in 31 countries including all the major international financial centers in the world.

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Express Company, is a diversified worldwide travel and financial services company founded in 1850. It provides card, Travelers Cheque, travel and financial services in over 160 countries.

While continuing to grow its proprietary card business, American Express has been aggressively pursuing its strategy of opening its merchant network to other card issuers around the world. In the last several years it has developed partnerships with 47 such institutions in more than 50 countries.

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CheckFree Promotion

CheckFree, the leading provider of financial electronic commerce services, software and related products, Friday announced the promotion of Frank Polashock to president of New Jersey-based CheckFree Investment Services (CFIS). Polashock will report directly to CheckFree President and Chief Operating Officer Pete Sinisgalli.

Polashock joined CheckFree’s Investment Services division in May 1997 as executive vice president and general manager. “Over the past two years, Frank has led CFIS to substantial improvements in quality, productivity and financial performance,” said Sinisgalli. “In addition, he and the entire team of CFIS associates have positioned the division for a very exciting and rewarding future.”

Under Polashock’s leadership, the CFIS team has increased revenue by 67 percent, while operating income has nearly tripled. The number of portfolios managed on CFIS’ APL system has doubled to more than 700,000. The acquisition of the Mobius Group in March has expanded the division’s product offerings to include data-based information services and products extending to the rapidly growing financial planner marketplace.

About CheckFree

Founded in 1981, CheckFree (www.checkfree.com ), the operating subsidiary of CheckFree Holdings Corporation, is the leading provider of financial electronic commerce services, software and related products. CheckFree designs, develops and markets services that enable nearly three million consumers to receive and pay bills over the Internet or electronically through a variety of bill aggregation points, including banks, brokerage firms, portals and interactive content sites on the Internet, and personal financial management (PFM) software. CheckFree’s range of services and products are focused on enabling customers to make electronic payments and collections, automate paper-based recurring financial transactions and conduct secure Internet transactions.

After more than a year of beta testing, CheckFree launched the nation’s first fully integrated electronic billing and payment solution, CheckFree E-Bill, in March of 1997. Today, the Company has multi-year contracts with more than 50 of the nation’s top billers to provide online billing and payment through the CheckFree distribution network.

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New Visa Region Prez

VISA International announced this weekend that Jonathan Sanchez-Jaimes will take over as the new president of VISA’s Latin America and Caribbean Region. He will succeed James Partridge, one of the founders of VISA, and the Region’s first president, who is retiring. Partridge will continue to serve as a member of the VISA International, Latin America and Caribbean Region Board of Directors, and as a Senior Advisor to the Region. Sanchez-Jaimes began working with VISA in the Latin America and Caribbean Region, as senior consultant in 1996. Since 1997, Sanchez-Jaimes has served as a VISA EVP. He will be based in Miami.

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Saratoga To Target Hispanics

Saratoga International Holdings, Corp. released additional information concerning the operation of its recently acquired telecom operation through its wholly owned subsidiary, Saratoga Telecom Corp.

The Telecom industry and the purchase of the Telecom division of Internet Interview, Inc. which was closed last week, represents a major opportunity for the company. The company initially plans to market pre-paid long distance cards over the Internet to Spanish speaking countries.

The company’s operation within the pre-paid long distance telephone card arena will be the foundation from which SHCC will launch its Internet based business. The company is planning to concentrate on building by acquisition and by increase in market share within the Telecom sector of e-commerce. The Internet offers a multitude of commercial venture opportunities that have relatively low cost entry and huge upside potential.

SHCC’s association with major telecom industry companies lends credibility to SHCC’s entry into the e-commerce field. The company plans to offer its products and services to Central and South America initially with expansion to Europe and the Pacific to follow.

The company is pursuing selling other products on the net. Included is the selling of phone-to-phone service over the net. Negotiations are currently underway with several providers of telecom products and services. Industry analysts forecast that in two to three years telephony over the Internet will be the medium of choice for the movement of voice and data. At a fraction of today’s prices Internet phone usage is expected to explode. Several companies have such products available or under development. SHCC is of the opinion that the company would be ideally positioned to sell these exciting new services.. More details will be published, as they become available.

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