April Sales Modest

April same-store retail sales rose a modest 1.9 percent over the same period last year, as a calendar shift split Easter spending between two months, according to data compiled by TeleCheck Services, Inc., the world’s leading check acceptance company. The Midwest region led the nation, followed by the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic, the West, the Southeast and the Northeast. The TeleCheck Retail Index is based on a year- over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 210,000 subscribing locations. TeleCheck is a subsidiary of First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC).

“This year’s Easter spending was split between March and April, with only the last three days of pre-Easter spending occurring in April. Continued NATO activities in and around Yugoslavia, and the Columbine High School tragedy, may have had a slight negative affect on retail sales by keeping shoppers at home. Overall, though, consumers continued their moderate pace of retail spending throughout the month,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s Senior Economic Advisor.

The Midwest was up 3.6 percent, with sales up 4.5 percent in Wisconsin, 3.9 percent in Michigan, 3.7 percent in Illinois, 3.3 percent in Ohio, and 2.1 percent in Minnesota. Milwaukee’s sales rose 4.0 percent, Detroit’s grew 3.4 percent, Chicago’s gained 3.3 percent, Cleveland’s increased 3.5 percent and Minneapolis/St. Paul’s 2.6 percent.

Sales rose 2.5 percent in the Southwest, with Missouri up 3.2 percent, Texas up 2.5 percent and Oklahoma up 1.3 percent. Sales grew by 3.6 percent in St. Louis, 3.4 percent in Kansas City, 2.8 percent in San Antonio, 2.7 percent in Houston and 2.6 percent in both Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa were up 1.3 percent

Sales rose 2.3 percent in the Mid-Atlantic. Virginia’s sales were up 3.0 percent, Pennsylvania’s rose 2.7 percent, New Jersey’s grew 1.5 percent and Maryland’s rose 1.2 percent. The District of Columbia’s sales gained 2.7 percent, Philadelphia’s increased 3.0 percent, Pittsburgh’s grew 2.7 percent and Baltimore’s rose 0.8 percent.

The West was up 1.7 percent, with gains of 3.4 percent in Arizona, 3.2 percent in Hawaii and 3.1 percent in Colorado. Oregon’s sales rose 1.2 percent and Washington’s gained 0.4 percent while California’s fell 5.1 percent. Sales were up 3.2 percent in both Phoenix and Denver, 1.1 percent in Portland and 0.8 percent in Seattle. Sales fell 3.1 percent in San Diego, 4.3 percent in Los Angeles and 6.3 percent in the Bay Area.

The Southeast rose 1.4 percent. Tennessee’s sales grew 2.6 percent, The Carolinas’ rose 2.4 percent, Louisiana’s gained 1.7 percent and Georgia’s grew 1.5 percent. Florida’s dropped 2.0 percent. Sales rose 2.4 percent in Nashville, 2.1 percent in Memphis, 1.9 percent in New Orleans and 1.8 percent in Atlanta. Orlando’s sales fell 0.1 percent, Tampa’s dropped 1.4 percent and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale’s fell 3.1 percent.

Sales were down 0.5 percent in the Northeast, with New York up 2.3 percent and Massachusetts down 1.1 percent. New York City’s sales rose 2.0 percent and Boston’s dropped 2.0 percent.

TeleCheck’s index is compiled on a calendar basis and is based on the total sales volume of check-writing consumers at a broad cross-section of retailers. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. Checks account for approximately 37 percent of retail spending. In 1998, TeleCheck authorized over $112 billion in checks and processed more than 2.2 billion check inquiries.

Note: The TeleCheck logo and retail sales figures can be downloaded from the TeleCheck web site at or from PR Newswire and NewsCom.

Atlanta-based First Data Corporation is a leader in payment services, electronic commerce and information 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 or over the Internet; by check or wire money. For more information about First Data, please visit the Company on the Internet at .

Dr. William Ford holds the Weatherford Chair of Finance at Middle Tennessee State University. Earlier in his career he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and served on former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s Federal Open Market Committee.

April 1999


Florida -2.0% Arizona 3.4% Illinois 3.7%
Ft. Lauderdale -3.1% Phoenix 3.2% Chicago 3.3%
Orlando -0.1% California -5.1% Michigan 3.9%
Tampa -1.4% Bay Area -6.3% Detroit 3.4%
Louisiana 1.7% Los Angeles -4.3% Minnesota 2.1%
New Orleans 1.9% San Diego -3.1% Minneapolis/
St. Paul 2.6%
Georgia 1.5% Oregon 1.2% Wisconsin 4.5%
Atlanta 1.8% Portland 1.1% Milwaukee 4.0%
Tennessee 2.6% Washington 0.4% Ohio 3.3%
Memphis 2.1% Seattle 0.8% Cleveland 3.5%
Nashville 2.4% Colorado 3.1%
The Carolinas 2.4% Denver 3.2% MID-ATLANTIC 2.3%
Hawaii 3.2% District of
Columbia 2.7%
SOUTHWEST 2.5% Pennsylvania 2.7%
Texas 2.5% NORTHEAST -0.5% Philadelphia 3.0%

Austin 2.6% Massachusetts -1.1% Pittsburgh 2.7%
Dallas/Ft. Worth 2.6% Boston -2.0% New Jersey 1.5%
Houston 2.7% New York 2.3% Virginia 3.0%
San Antonio 2.8% New York City 2.0% Maryland 1.2%
Missouri 3.2% Baltimore 0.8%
Kansas City 3.4%
St. Louis 3.6%
Oklahoma 1.3%
Oklahoma City 1.3%
Tulsa 1.3%


Intro to Smart Cards

The Smart Card Forum announced yesterday the next program for ‘The Smart Card Forum Educational Institute, a non-profit educational organization designed to help accelerate the widespread acceptance of smart card technology. Scheduled for June 14-15 in Toronto, the Educational Institute’s “Introduction to Smart Cards” course is staffed by a faculty of world-leading industry experts.


Fidelity AmEx Card

American Express and Fidelity Investments unveiled the new ‘American Express Fidelity Gold Card’ yesterday. The new card will be offered, beginning next month, to new and existing Fidelity brokerage customers who maintain a minimum cash management account balance of $30,000. The $75 annual fee will be waived to all qualifying applicants. Both firms say they will launch a ‘Platinum Card’ version of the program in July. Platinum card customers will pay a reduced annual fee of $225. Cardholders may also elect to enroll in the ‘Membership Rewards Program’ for an additional $25 per year. All card purchases and cash withdrawals will be directly debited from the customer’s Fidelity brokerage account and reported on the consolidated monthly statement. Fidelity says research showed that 70% of its customers currently do not have an AmEx card. The investment brokerage firm also offers a ‘VISA Check’ card through PNC Bank. Fidelity says it will continue to offer the VISA debit card but will no longer promote it. However American Express will not permit Fidelity to place the Fidelity logo on the card. Only the name ‘Fidelity Investments’ will appear next to the AmEx logo. Fidelity also offers the ‘Platinum Plus VISA’ credit card through MBNA with no annual fee and a 12.99% APR.


My Baby VISA

NextCard, the First True Internet Visa, and BabyCenter, the leading information and e-commerce site for expectant and new parents, Tuesday announced a multi-year alliance to create online shopping services and credit card products specifically for parents. NextCard will develop the My Baby Visa card exclusively for BabyCenter.

“Parents have unique needs and special interests that traditional financial services just do not satisfy,” said Rich Goebel, director of business development at NextCard. “With the innovative features of My Baby Visa, parents will be able to earn valuable merchandise rewards from BabyCenter, shop safely with NextCard’s 100% safe Internet shopping guarantee, and even personalize their card with a picture of their baby. The My Baby Visa provides the perfect e-commerce solution for today’s wired parent.”

My Baby Visa

My Baby Visa is a joint collaboration between NextCard and BabyCenter. The My Baby Visa will enable proud parents to personalize their credit card online with any digital image of their child. In addition, the alliance will provide time-crunched parents with valuable online shopping and reward features.

The NextCard Internet Visa

NextCard made history in December 1997 by launching The First True Internet Visa. Today, over 1.5 million people have applied for the NextCard Internet Visa, making it one of the leading online credit cards. Internet consumers are attracted to NextCard’s innovative features including:

My Visa Customized upgrades and personalized PictureCard designs.

Rewards Up to double rewards for free travel on any airline, books,
music and more — with no annual fee.

Go Shopping! End-to-end Internet shopping including comparative search
tools, digital coupons, digital wallets, and a 100% safe
online shopping guarantee.

Community Complete online account service, sweepstakes and special
offers. View and sort statements online. Plus 24-hour
Internet-savvy telephone support.

About NextCard, Inc.

NextCard, Inc., is a privately held company based in San Francisco, California. Apply for a NextCard Internet Visa at .

About BabyCenter

San Francisco-based BabyCenter is the leading Internet information and e-commerce company serving the multi-billion dollar baby products market. The company produces BabyCenter.com, a complete information source on preconception, pregnancy, and baby, and operates the BabyCenter Store, an online store offering thousands of baby products and supplies. BabyCenter also provides pre/postnatal health education resources for health organizations. The popular site continues to grow in scope and to attract a large and loyal online audience. Founded in early 1997, BabyCenter has recently agreed to merge with eToys.com.


FDC & Bank One

First Data closed on an agreement to purchase Bank One Transaction Processing Services yesterday. TPS is the platform Bank One uses to process debit cards and checks for cash management accounts, credit cards for community banks and group service providers, and the majority of Bank One’s ‘VISA Check Cards’. Under the agreement, First Data will process Bank One’s 3.8 million off-line debit cards and over 1.5 million broker debit cards. FDC already processes debit cards for Bank One. Tuesday’s agreement brings the total Bank One debit card accounts on file processed by First Data to more than 6.7 million. Also under terms of the TPS acquisition about 350 Bank One employees will become First Data employees.


More Cedant Rebates

Cendant Business Services announced Tuesday clients who use the ‘Cendant Business MasterCard’ for more than one category of purchases can receive a 2¢ per gallon rebate on gasoline purchased at two major fuel brands they select. This rebate is in addition to the automatic rebate of 2¢ per gallon already being provided when the ‘Cendant Card’ is used at participating Shell stations. In addition to the fuel rebates, the business fleet card program also offers automatic rebates of up to 8% on vehicle maintenance purchases; a rewards program that enhances a client’s volume leverage and rewards employee compliance with real airline tickets without blackout dates; and advanced Internet-based information management capabilities.


Ethnic Minorities & ATMs

A new survey, commissioned by PULSE EFT, reveals that among holders of checking or savings accounts, ethnic minorities lead U.S. consumers in the possession and usage of ATM cards. The survey showed that among those with a checking or savings account, almost 71% overall have an ATM card. But the data revealed a higher percentage of card ownership among ethnic minorities: African American 76%; American Indian 75%; Asian 74%; Hispanic 82%; and White 68%. Ethnic minorities also demonstrated their preference for ATM cards in that more than 58% of African Americans, 54% of American Indians, 59% of Asians and 64% of Hispanics chose ATMs as the most typical way they obtain cash. Those numbers compare to 50% of the overall sample and 47% of Whites. PULSE says the study shows the financial industry has been very effective in making available this technology and in gaining acceptance and utilization of services involving ATM cards among ethnic minority populations. The study was based on interviews of more than 3,000 respondents in all 50 states and headed by Rice University Marketing Professor Dr. Richard Batsell through Houston-based Analytica Inc.


Turkey Deal

Hypercom sold 10,000 ‘T7P’ POS terminals and 52 ‘Integrated Enterprise Networking’ nodes to Turkey’s IsBank yesterday. Tuesday’s sales agreement increases the total number of Hypercom terminals ordered by IsBank during the last two years to more than 25,000. Hypercom’s POS and networking equipment is being supplied to IsBank by Hypercom’s local Turkish partner, SERVUS. Based in Istanbul, SERVUS is a diverse information technology group and has, to-date, provided over 550 IEN networking nodes and more than 67,000 Hypercom terminals to banks and retailers throughout Turkey.


PC Card Reader Battle

NetPack, SmartDisk and PubliCARD all made announcements yesterday. CA-based NetPack, Inc. announced Tuesday its new PC keyboard with built-in card reader for home and small business use will have the capability to read and recharge smart cards as well as read standard credit cards. The company also says it is planning to integrate wireless technology with the new PC keyboard-card reader too. The new keyboard-card reader will be released for beta testing later this year. Meanwhile FL-based SmartDisk Corp. announced Tuesday the introduction of a new version of its ‘Smarty’ smart card reader/writer. The new version offers several enhancements including compatibility with Microsoft’s PC/SC smart card standard, faster data transfer speeds and extended battery life with an advanced power saving mode. ‘Smarty’ is the only device to use the familiar 3.5-inch floppy disk drive to read and write data to and from smart cards. Elsewhere CT-based PubliCARD, Inc. announced this morning that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tritheim Technologies, Inc., has qualified for PC/SC from Microsoft. PubliCARD’s ‘SmartPort LT PCMCIA’ smart card reader, includes the capability of ‘Plug N’ Play’, which enables smart card reader/writers to automatically configure themselves when connected to any port on a computer using a Microsoft Windows operating system. PubliCARD’s ‘SmartPort LT’ already has been certified for Mondex, VISA Cash, and EMV.


MPS Giant Eagle

Fifth Third’s Midwest Payment Systems signed a five-year agreement to provide debit card processing services to Giant Eagle. The Pittsburgh-based supermarket chain currently operates 201 stores with locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. MPS processes almost three billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 55,000 retail locations and financial institutions worldwide, including Federated Department Stores, The Kroger Co. and CompUSA. MPS’ merchant customer base generates more than $30 billion in credit card sales annually.


ECHO Merchant Booklet

Electronic Clearing House, Inc. is offering a free guide for small business owners interested in accepting credit cards or improving their profitability from accepting credit cards.

The guide, “The ABCs of Credit Card Processing,” explains how the credit card system works from the merchant’s perspective. Recently published by ECHO for the company’s 8,000 merchant clients, the guide also explains strategies to avoid chargeback expenses and prevent costly fraud at retail locations, mail order businesses or Internet businesses.

To obtain a free copy of the guide, call ECHO at (800) 262-3246, extension 3111, and ask for marketing.

ECHO provides credit card processing, check guarantee, inventory tracking services and various Internet services to more than 19,000 retail merchants and U-Haul dealers across the nation. ECHO also designs, develops and manufacturers software and point-of-sale hardware that is utilized as credit card processing terminals, automated money order dispensers, inventory tracking devices and casino cash advance systems.


Xtranet Update

Xtranet Systems Inc.Tuesday announced that for the 1st quarter of 1999, it processed $68,380,209 for 912,205 credit card transactions for primarily Internet Merchants.

“We are extremely pleased with our progress in reaching our target of processing a minimum of $500,000,000 in 1999,” said William L. Shaw, chief executive officer of Xtranet. “As we integrate both regional and major offshore banks into our system, we not only increase our capabilities for our Internet Merchants, but we are also accommodating the retail merchants of these banks onto our system.”

The reduction in processing from the 4th quarter of 1998 to the 1st quarter of 1999 was attributed to seasonal variations, and continuing improvements in Xtranet’s proprietary risk management system, which in the short term tends to reduce processing volume while increasing the Merchant’s net revenue per completed transaction.

Xtranet recently completed a week training Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV) personnel in Mexico City, so that BBV’s 22,000 domestic retail merchants could begin processing through Xtranet’s system.

“As we have already begun to process Hospitality Merchants through BBV, it is a natural next step to bring all of BBV’s domestic retail merchants onto our system,” said Shaw. “Although this process took longer than anticipated due to the inherent problems in translating technical information for the training, we look forward to a long relationship with BBV in Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and Europe, and we hope to handle credit card processing through additional BBV offices before the end of the year.”

Xtranet anticipates processing significant credit card transaction volume in Mexico for International Hospitality Merchants, major Corporate Merchants, as well as local domestic Hotel and Time-Share Merchant Accounts.

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, Europe and the United Kingdom. Xtranet projects that it will process a minimum of $500,000,000 in total credit card transactions in 1999.

“Thanks to aggressive overseas expansion, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya (BBV) is Basque-ing in the international limelight. In Spain, BBV offers wholesale and retail banking services at nearly 3,000 offices, including corporate, and consumer lending, credit card services, and ATMs. BBV also operates in 26 countries worldwide, where it provides investment banking and brokerage services, venture capital, and investment management. In Latin America, BBV owns major stakes in banks in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela; it also invests in pension funds, insurance outfits, and industrial companies. BBV is part of the Spanish consortium that has purchased Telesp (formerly part of Brazil’s Telecomunicacoes Brasileiras).” (As quoted in Hoover’s Company Profiles at [www.pathfinder.com/money/hoovers/corpdirectory/b/bbv.html][1].)

[1]: http://www.pathfinder.com/money/hoovers/corpdirectory/b/bbv.html