FUSA Announces Resignation

First USA, the world’s largest Visa credit card issuer, confirmed Tuesday that Randy L. Christofferson, president of First USA Bank, has resigned to pursue other interests. The announcement was made by Richard W. Vague, chairman and chief executive officer of First USA.

“We appreciate Randy’s contributions to First USA and wish him well as he considers a number of alternatives outside of the company,” said Vague.

The First USA executive leadership team, which has been together for some time, will continue to report directly to Vague.

First USA (), a subsidiary of BANK ONE CORPORATION , is the world’s largest issuer of Visa cards. First USA offers credit cards for consumers and businesses under the First USA, First Card and Bank One names and on behalf of more than 1,500 marketing partners. BANK ONE CORPORATION, with assets of more than $250 billion, is the nation’s fifth-largest bank holding company.


AMEX Awards Free S&H

American Express announced yesterday, it is providing free shipping and handling to customers who use their American Express(R) Gold Card, Rewards Plus Gold Card or Platinum Card(R) to order from select mail-order and/or online merchants.

“By providing free shipping and handling at these popular mail-order and online retailers, we are giving shoppers another great reason to use their American Express Card,” said Michele Rankin, Vice President of Card Marketing for American Express. “This is also another way we can work with retailers to help them build business and add value to our mutual customers.”

Following is a list of participating merchants, some of which are in the program for mail-order purchases only, some for online purchases only.

Chef’s Catalog 800-338-3232, http://www.chefscatalog.com
Clinique http://www.clinique.com
Eddie Bauer 800-426-8020, http://www.eddiebauer.com
Eximious of London 800-446-9454, http://www.eximious.com
Gap http://www.gap.com
Hearth Song 800-325-2502
Kenneth Cole 800-KEN-COLE, http://www.kennethcole.com
Patagonia 800-638-6464, http://www.patagonia.com
Sharper Image 800-344-4444
Smith & Hawken 800-776-3336, http://www.smithandhawken.com
The Territory Ahead http://www.territoryahead.com
Tourneau 800-348-3332

Protecting Your Purchases

American Express has an Online Shopping Guarantee, which protects its cardmembers from any unauthorized charges made on-line to their card accounts. Consumers should also be aware of the Federal Mail/Telephone Order Merchandise Rule which also covers orders made online and requires that ordered merchandise is delivered within 30 days, unless stated otherwise, and if there are delays, the merchant must notify the customer. Also, American Express does not allow merchants to charge a Cardmember’s account for an item until it is shipped, unless the merchant has a signed agreement with the Cardmember stating otherwise.

“A credit card is often one of the best ways to protect your purchases whether you are buying in-store, from a mail-order catalog or online,” Rankin noted.

Many American Express Cards offer various types of benefits that help protect purchases. These include:

— Coverage to protect your purchases against no-return policies

— Free replacement for stolen or damaged items

— Guarantee of the lowest price

— Extension of the manufacturer’s warranty

Consumers should call their credit card company to ask about benefits, as well as limitations or restrictions. For free brochures on how to help protect purchases, check out the Company’s website at or write to: American Express Company, P.O. Box 4635, Trenton, NJ, 08650-9874, and ask for our brochures on Online Shopping Tips and “Protecting Your Purchases.”


Thomson Realignment

The parent company of Faulkner & Gray and American Banker announced a realignment yesterday to move away from a product driven model towards a market driven model. Thomson Financial Publishing has divided itself into six new market groups. The new ‘Banking’ market group combines the original American Banker/Bond Buyer company with the banking, bank technology, mortgage and credit union businesses of F&G and the directory and payments solutions businesses of TFP. Richard Burns, formerly with Euromoney plc, has been appointed CEO of the new ‘Banking’ market group. The new Electronic Commerce group will combine e-commerce products from TFP with existing and new F&G products in the areas of card technology, smart cards, data networking, Internet retailing, collections and biometric identification security. Jack Love, CEO of F&G, will head the group.


JC Penney

J. C. Penney Company announced Tuesday that its Board of Directors has authorized management to strengthen the competitiveness and appeal of the JCPenney credit card by outsourcing management of the credit card operation and selling to that management provider its credit card receivables portfolio. The sale of the credit card receivables portfolio is driven by the decision to significantly reduce debt. The department store/drug store chain hopes to wrap up a deal by the end of this year.


Gemplus Gets 2 New CEOs

Gemplus, the world leader in smart card solutions, yesterday announced the appointment of Chou Fang Soong as CEO for the Pacific Asia region and Serge Barthelemy as CEO for Greater China. Gemplus defines Greater China as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Pacific Asia covers the other Asia Pacific countries.

Fang Soong and Serge replace current Asia Pacific CEO, Remy de Tonnac, who will be moving to a new role as President of Gemplus Americas, managing all operations in North and Latin America.

Fang Soong was previously Executive Vice President of Gemplus Asia Pacific. A pioneer in the smart card industry in Asia Pacific he was instrumental in the start-up of the Gemplus asian operations in 1989. Over the years, Fang Soong has been directly involved in the development of major smart card programmes including a number of world’s first initiatives in the region. He is an engineering graduate, with over eighteen years of sales and marketing experience in both the information technology and electronic system industries.

Serge in his role as CEO for Greater China will be able to totally devote his time and resources to this unique and extremely dynamic market. This decision is a reinforcement of the commitment by the Gemplus group to develop the smart card industry in the Greater China region. Serge has held various key positions with Gemplus over the past seven years, the most recent being business development director for emerging markets. He is an engineering graduate from Ecole Centrale de Paris and has an MBA from INSEAD, France.

Daniel Le Gal, CEO of Gemplus Group said, “Asia Pacific is a key strategic region for Gemplus and China is taking an increased importance and is expected to become this year?s No. 1 smart card market in the world.

Gemplus? commitment is reflected by the appointments of two CEOs in these geographies, who will ensure smooth management and continued growth of the two Asia Pacific regions. Both Serge and Fang Soong bring with them proven and unique management capabilities that will certainly reinforce Gemplus leadership in the Asia-Pacific market.”

Gemplus Asia Pacific today operates as a fully functioning smart card hub, with two research and development centres, four manufacturing facilities and sales and marketing offices in ten regional business capitals. Gemplus has an estimated market share of over 50% in Asia and the region reported record revenues of US$120 million for 1998.

About Gemplus

Gemplus S.C.A. ([www.gemplus.com][1]) is the world’s leading provider of plastic and smart card-based solutions (by units sold, source: Dataquest 1998). Gemplus sells magnetic stripe cards, memory and microprocessor-based smart cards, smart contactless cards, electronic tags and smart objects. The company designs and markets software, development tools and readers. Gemplus also provides consulting, training and personalization services to deliver the industry’s most comprehensive and flexible card-based solutions to its developers, distributors, partners, and customers. With sales of over $US648 million in 1998, Gemplus employs more than 4,300 people in 10 manufacturing facilities, 5 R&D centers and 41 sales and marketing offices located in 27 countries around the world.

Founded in 1988, Gemplus has successfully implemented portable and secure smart card-based solutions to simplify applications such as public and wireless communications, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, identity, physical access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, logical access control and information technology.

Gemplus Technologies Asia had sales revenue exceeding US$120 million throughout Asia Pacific for 1998. The company has manufacturing facilities in China and Singapore. Gemplus in Asia Pacific has over 50% market share.

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


eBay Aquires Billpoint

eBay Inc. Tuesday unveiled plans to make it easier for its nearly four million members to buy and sell online. The world’s largest online person-to-person trading community announced it will purchase Billpoint, Inc. Billpoint, located in Redwood City, California, facilitates person-to-person credit card payment over the Internet.

“We are committed to providing the eBay community with the simplest and easiest way to trade online,” said Meg Whitman, president and chief executive officer of eBay. “Streamlining person-to-person trading is a core part of our strategy and Billpoint will offer shoppers a convenient and easy-to-use payment solution that will serve the needs of the eBay community at large.”

“eBay is a recognized leader in person-to-person commerce,” said Hope X. Chen, Billpoint’s co-ceo and chief operating officer. “Billpoint will simplify auctions by making payments a seamless and integrated part of the trading experience.”

As the pioneering online person-to-person payment enabler, Billpoint will eliminate the difficulties of dealing with paper checks and money orders. Sellers will use Billpoint to instantly accept credit cards and other forms of payment online. Buyers will use Billpoint to “buy with peace of mind.” Billpoint plans to make its services available to other e-commerce sites and to individuals across the Internet.

eBay said that the agreement to purchase Billpoint and the purchase of Kruse International, a second transaction announced today, will together result in the issuance of eBay common stock worth approximately $275 million. Both will be accounted for as pooling of interest transactions. The number of shares to be issued in the transactions will be determined by a formula involving the average share price of eBay common stock during a period prior to the closing of the transactions. eBay expects that the transactions may be slightly dilutive during the remainder of 1999. Closing is subject to certain conditions, and eBay may recognize certain one-time expenses related to the transactions in the second quarter. Both transactions are expected to close during the second quarter of 1999.

Forward-Looking Statement

This announcement contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including those relating to the closing of this transaction. Actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, stock price movements, the Company’s ability to integrate these new businesses and all of the factors that may influence future business and financial results, including those set forth in the Company’s Form 10-K for the period ended December 31, 1998, its form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 1999 and the Company’s prospectus on Form S-1 dated April 12, 1999. All forward-looking statements are based on information available to the Company on the date hereof, and the Company assumes no obligation to update such statements.

About eBay

eBay (), the world’s personal trading community(TM), pioneered person-to-person online trading. Founded in 1995, eBay has developed an efficient and entertaining trading site on the Web that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. eBay has more than 3.8 million registered users and over 8 million unique people visited the site in March. Currently, there are more than 1.8 million items listed for sale. More than 250,000 items are added daily in more than 1,500 categories, including: antiques; books, movies and music; coins and stamps; collectibles; computers; dolls and figures; jewelry and gemstones; photo and electronics; pottery and glass; sports memorabilia; and toys.

About Billpoint

Billpoint () facilitates person-to-person credit card payments over the Internet. Addressing the growing needs of auctions, classifieds and community sites, Billpoint empowers the entrepreneur in all of us by simplifying online payment collection. Billpoint, founded in 1998, is located in Redwood City, California. The company’s management team brings significant expertise from both the Internet portal environment and the electronic payments industry.


Sears Now Uses TS2

Just 11 months after signing the agreement to process Sears, Roebuck and Co.’s 64 million private-label card portfolio, Total System Services, Inc has successfully completed the third and final phase, converting the Sears card portfolio from its in-house system to TS2(R), TSYS’ state-of-the-art, Year 2000-compliant card processing system.

TSYS completed the conversion during the week of April 17, converting the remaining 32 million accounts after previously converting the first two phases of 7.2 million accounts and 24.8 million accounts in October 1998 and March 1999, respectively. All phases combined represent the largest conversion in the credit card industry, making Sears TSYS’ largest client.

“Our partnership with TSYS allows Sears to build on our strategy of developing and leveraging our customer relationships, treating each customer individually,” said Alan Lacy, president, Sears Credit. “TSYS clearly understands Sears unique processing needs, making them an exceptional partner.”

“We are delighted with the successful conversion of the Sears portfolio. We knew that successfully converting Sears would be one of our greatest challenges. Sears is one of the preeminent card issuers and best-known companies in the world, and the confidence they have placed in us is a source of great pride for our entire team. While our TS2 system is the finest in the industry, the people who support TS2 and all of our systems are our greatest competitive advantage,” said TSYS President Philip W. Tomlinson.

“We are honored that Sears chose us as their retail processor of choice. This partnership will help us to further strengthen our retail initiatives.” He continued, “TSYS has experienced extraordinary growth in the retail arena in recent years. While we have processed retail cards for the past 10 years, TSYS has acquired the expertise that makes retail a strategic business initiative that we are aggressively pursuing. We’ve equipped our team members with the tools and resources to better understand just how unique the needs of retailers are,” said Tomlinson.

“We are very impressed with the ‘can-do’ spirit of the TSYS team. In 11 months, TSYS assembled a dedicated support team who completed all development supporting the Sears legacy system, completed all phases of the conversion on schedule and were a pleasure to work with,” said Kevin Phalen, Sears director, portfolio conversion.

To accommodate TSYS’ aggressive growth which includes converting 78 million accounts in 1999, TSYS constructed a data center to house the latest technology and equipment needed. The center, called a ‘showcase accomplishment’ by IBM, was constructed in less than 120 days. Sears acknowledges that its construction played a major role in cementing the deal between the two companies.

Phalen continued, “Throughout the conversion process, TSYS went to great lengths to understand not only the unique processing needs of the retail industry but of Sears, in particular. They never suggested that we take any short cuts or alter our business requirements for their convenience. Throughout the conversion, the TSYS team exhibited a willingness to learn and understand our business. Because of this, Sears now has the flexibility to provide various products to our customers as well as improve service support of Sears multiple retail formats and operations.”

“TS2 enables us to accomplish large-scale conversions quickly and efficiently,” said Richard M. Cogar, TSYS Transition Manager for Sears. “Our team members’ dedication and expertise enabled us to exceed Sears expectations and to form some incredible relationships with their team.”

“The conversion of Sears 64 million accounts speaks so well of TS2’s ability to handle diverse portfolios from retailers as well as financial institutions,” said TSYS Vice President and Sears Account Manager Roddy Hunter. “We utilized best practices during the conversion process, and now it is time for us to demonstrate these practices in all facets of our relationship so that we can help Sears leverage the system to meet their business objectives and get on with the business at hand.”

The Sears credit portfolio is by far the largest in the retail industry — bigger than the next 10 combined. In 1998, more than 32 million Sears accounts were active, and the portfolio’s average managed receivables were nearly $28 billion. Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a leading U.S. retailer of apparel, home and automotive products and services, with annual revenues of more than $41 billion. For more information, visit Sears Web site at .

TSYS is one of the world’s leading information technology processors of data, transactions and payments for domestic and international issuers of credit, debit, commercial and private-label cards. TSYS’ sophisticated systems offer online accounting, data processing, electronic commerce services, portfolio management, account acquisition, credit evaluation, risk management and customer service. Through our family of companies, TSYS services the entire lifecycle of card accounts making it possible for more than 188 million cardholders to use their cards at the point of sale or over the Internet. Headquartered in Columbus, Ga., TSYS, is an 80.8% owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. named the Best Company to Work for in America by FORTUNE magazine.

Visit TSYS at :


Discover Acceptance

Bank of America and Discover Financial Services signed an agreement Tuesday to expand acceptance of ‘Discover Cards’ through Bank of America’s network of more than 14,000 ATMs nationwide. BofA began accepting ‘Discover’ via its ATM network in the early 1990s. Due to last year’s merger between NationsBank and Bank of America, the new Bank of America and Discover Financial Services agreed to expand acceptance of ‘Discover’ through the NationsBank ATM network. Discover currently has 46 million cardholders.



The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission will take a vote next Wednesday on whether to award a 10-year contract to a consortium led by Motorola to provide and develop a smart-card ticket system. The smart-card system would be called ‘TransLink’. If the Commission recommends the contract, the nine county Bay Area would become the first in the nation to have a universal ticket for use on all forms of public transportation. Similar smart-card ticket transit systems are in use in Hong Kong and Korea.



Consumer smart cards hit the nation’s capital for the first time yesterday as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority introduced ‘SmarTrip’. Tuesday’s event also marked the first use of contactless smart card technology on a major transit system in the USA. Metrorail riders will be able to store up to $198 in fare and parking value on the reloadable smart card. The WMATA is charging a $5 fee for each new ‘SmartTrip’ smart card or each replacement card. As an incentive Metro is offering a 10% bonus for riders who load $20 or more onto their card. VISA, MasterCard and Discover cards are being accepted for purchasing fare media and adding value at selected major stops such as the Metro Center. Earlier this year WMATA added internet sales to its web site, inaugurating ‘SmartLink’ for purchasing passes and Metrorail fare cards.The public transit service also launched a three month credit card pilot in April called: ‘SmartCharge’.


Secured Card Portfolio Sold

Baltimore-based Creditrust Corp. announced this morning it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire United Credit Card Bank for a purchase price of approximately $2.3 million in cash. Based in Louisiana, United Credit Card Bank issues MasterCard products, primarily to existing customers of its parent corporation. The accounts are secured by second mortgage loans on real estate. Creditrust is also receiving a participation interest in an $8 million credit card portfolio originated by the bank with the remainder of the portfolio being sold to a third party.


Personal Touch

While e-banking is taking off big time, Americans still love the personal touch of dealing with a teller according to a new survey by NCR. The company says the research shows that if banks want their customers to accept new technologies, then they must preserve that personal touch through their interactive offerings. The survey showed that teller transactions are still the most popular way to bank, followed by ATMs, telephone banking, and computer banking. More than 70% of Americans make deposits via a bank teller, while 62% use ATMs; 48% telephone their bank at least once a month; 45% still visit a bank teller at least three times a month; and 11% use a personal computer to do banking. However NCR noted that nearly half of the 25% of Americans with online access at home use their computer for banking. The survey was carried out for NCR by research firm BMRB International, which polled 1,237 adults in the USA by telephone.