Smart Move

Barclaycard told the London Financial Times yesterday it will save more than US$50 million annually as the result of its ongoing migration to smart cards. The savings will largely be produced by reducing losses from counterfeit cards used outside the UK. The UK’s largest card issuer has already converted 500,000 of its 17 million cardholders to smart cards and upgraded more than 400 of its ATMs. Barclaycard says it has plans to convert another 2.5 million cardholders to smart cards by year’s end. The issuer will also upgrade another 700 ATMs to accept smart cards and replace more than 20,000 Barclaycard-owned terminals in small businesses this year. The Times says the biggest consumer complaint so far has been the extra processing time required at the point-of-sale.

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FDC Up 10%

First Data Corp. reported Wednesday afternoon that first quarter net income margins were 11.1%, up from last year’s 10.8%. First quarter revenues from continuing operations hit nearly $1.3 billion producing net income of $141 million. Card Issuer Services worldwide revenues increased 5% in the quarter to $351 million producing an operating profit of $59.8 million. Volume trends remain positive with total accounts on file up 13%, to 214.6 million. Merchant Processing Services revenues grew 10% in the quarter to $346 million as compared to $313 million in 1998. Total domestic merchant card dollar volume for the quarter grew 17%, from $54 billion last year to $63.3 billion Payment instrument transactions or Western Union money transfers soared over the past twelve months from 14.2 million to 17.5 million. For additional information on First Data’s first quarter 1999 financials visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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eFunds Corp

Deluxe Corporation announced this morning it will combine its information and payment protection businesses with its electronic transaction processing business to form eFunds Corporation. Deluxe also announced an initiative to sell its collections business, National Revenue Corporation. eFunds will combine, under single management, Deluxe Electronic Payment Systems, Debit Bureau, Chex Systems, SCAN and Deluxe’s recently purchased electronic check conversion business. The creation of eFunds is part of the new business model which consists of a holding company and four independent operating units. Besides eFunds, the operating units are Deluxe Paper Payment Systems, Government Services, and Deluxe’s software development and business process outsourcing business, which was formerly HCL-Deluxe. The new leadership team consists of Debra Janssen as president of eFunds; Ronald Eilers as president of Deluxe Paper Payment Systems; Nikhil Sinha as president of Deluxe’s India-based software and business processing subsidiary; and Chuck Feltz, who will be president of Government Services.

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Data Mining Deal

HNC Software Inc. and Abacus Direct Corp. Wednesday announced that they have entered into a multi-year agreement to cooperate in significant product development and distribution initiatives.

Abacus, the leading provider of information products and behavioral marketing research services to the direct marketing industry, will use HNC’s Content Mining(TM) technology to enhance the data mining of billions of mail order merchandise purchasing transactions maintained within the proprietary Abacus Alliance database of 88 million households.

In turn, HNC Financial Solutions, a leading provider of predictive customer relationship management software to large banks and other financial institutions, plans to apply the Abacus aggregate prior purchasing data to further enhance the value of HNC Financial Solutions products to its clients.

Commenting on the new agreement, Abacus Chairman and CEO Tony White said, “HNC’s Content Mining technology will allow Abacus to maximize use of the huge amount of product-level (SKU) data that flows through the Abacus Alliance database, for the direct benefit of the 1150 plus catalogers who rely on us for highly effective target marketing activities.”

“This agreement is strategically important for both HNC and Abacus — both get the opportunity to leverage our special capabilities in different markets, ” said Robert L. North, president and CEO of HNC Software. “And it’s good news for HNC Financial Solutions clients, as well, because the Abacus view of consumer buying patterns will add a new dimension to the ability of financial organizations to better manage their customer relationships and marketing programs.”

HNC Financial Solutions is in the process of enhancing its suite of Predictive CRM products that leverage real-time information technology to understand financial customers at the individual and account level, predict behavior based on that understanding, and enable the firm to structure actions and strategies so that treatment is consistent and profitability-driven across all points of customer contact.

About Abacus Direct Corp.

Abacus manages the premier membership database, the Abacus Alliance, which is the nations’ largest proprietary database of consumer catalog buying behavior used for target marketing purposes. The Abacus Alliance database currently contains records from 1,100 merchandise catalogs, with more than 2 billion consumer catalog transactions representing virtually all U.S. consumer catalog buying households. Abacus applies its proprietary modeling techniques to the power of shared data to improve profitability, to improve targeting efficiency, and reduce unwanted mailings.

Founded in 1990, Abacus Direct Corp. is headquartered in Bloomfield, Colo. and has offices in New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, and Hawthorne, NY. For more information, visit Abacus Direct’s Web site at or contact Cindi Gallucci, Abacus Direct Corp, 22 Saw Mill Rd, 3rd Flr, Hawthorne NY 10532, 914/345-0441.

About HNC Software

With headquarters in San Diego, HNC Software Inc. (Nasdaq: HNCS) is one of the world’s leading providers of Predictive Software Solutions for service industries, including financial, retail, insurance, Internet, and telecommunications.

HNC’s suite of Predictive Software Solutions can provide real-time insight into customer relationships based on transaction-level data, helping business-to-consumer companies manage their relationships with individual customers.

By accurately predicting customer behaviors, these companies can create initiatives to mitigate risk and attrition; improve customer service; develop marketing programs to enhance profitability; optimize store replenishment activities, and detect fraudulent customer transactions.

For more information, visit HNC’s Web site at or contact Jane Leonard, HNC Software Inc., 5935 Cornerstone Court West, San Diego, CA 92121, 619/799-3880. For the investor relations hotline, call 800/396-8052.

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Metris to NYSE

Metris Companies Inc. announced that it has filed an application to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Pending final approval from the NYSE, Metris will begin trading its shares under the symbol “MXT” on May 7, 1999. Metris Companies has approximately 19 million shares of common stock outstanding that are currently traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol MTRS.

“Our rapid growth over the past several years has generated significant returns for our current investors and heightened interest among new investors,” said Ronald N. Zebeck, president and chief executive officer. “In response to investor demand, we are listing our shares on the New York Stock Exchange in order to provide our shareholders with the broadest and most efficient trading market possible. We expect to experience reduced price volatility and narrower quotation spreads that are typically available on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, our new listing should expose the company’s shares to an increased potential investor base and provide us with improved liquidity in the future.”

Metris Companies Inc. is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products and fee-based services primarily to moderate income consumers. Based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Metris also has operations in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Baltimore, Maryland; Champaign, Illinois; Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona and currently employs approximately 2,200 people.

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Stadium Card

CyberMark unveiled an advanced smart card system for stadiums complexes in North America and Latin America. The ‘SmartWorld Stadium Card’ can be designed to provide sport teams and fans with a multi-applications smart card for issuing season tickets, loyalty applications for merchants, payment for parking, long distance calling card services, and credit/debit capabilities. The card is also designed for future use with transit systems and GSM cellular phones. POS terminals can be integrated into a facility’s existing electronic cash register system or the devices can stand-alone. Microsoft, Gemplus, and First USA, are CyberMark partners via the ‘SmartWorld Partnership Program’.

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Hispanic Card

CO-based Equitex, Inc. and its subsidiary, First TeleServices Corp. unveiled Tuesday afternoon a program for issuing prepaid debit cards to the Hispanic market. FTC says it has signed an agreement with a large financial institution with a national presence to become the issuing bank for the cards. Under terms of the agreement FTC will receive a fee for each card issued. Net1Bank will complement the debit card by offering a secured credit card to help establish credit for those individuals with no credit or impaired credit. The program will be marketed primarily through Hispanic newspapers and organizations. The company says the Hispanic market is projected to increase at a rate more than three times faster than the general U.S. population over the next ten years.

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CBQ Acquisitions

CBQ Inc. announced Tuesday that it has closed into escrow its agreement to purchase Priority One Electronic Commerce Corporation of Akron, Pa. As part of the transaction, CBQ also gains a 10% equity interest in CitX Corporation, of Quakertown, Pa.

CBQ’s acquisition of Priority One and CitX will fuel CBQ’s momentum to gain marketshare as a leading provider of e-commerce solutions for businesses selling to other businesses online.

Priority One is a leader in Internet electronic payment processing. Priority One’s proprietary Bill Collect(TM) system relieves sellers from the burden of sending out invoices, waiting for checks to arrive in the mail, and dealing with accounts receivable collections. Bill Collect is a high-tech, automated system handling electronic funds transfers (ETF) and credit card payments for Internet e-commerce businesses and traditional sales companies. Priority One is a three-year-old leading high-tech company providing business-to-business electronic payment processing services that enable businesses to electronically collect and disburse payment in the form of electronic funds transfers (EFT) and credit cards.

Priority One’s flagship service, Bill Collect, enables businesses to collect their receivables electronically, via the Internet or Direct-Dial-up gateway, on the date due. The Bill Collect system can be fully integrated with the retailer’s software so that information on credit card charges and EFT authorizations can be combined in the same batch transaction and uploaded directly and simultaneously to Priority One, through the phone lines or via the Internet, without any additional data entry.

Bill Collect was codeveloped by Priority One along with strategic venture partner, CitX. Priority One was founded in 1996, by Sidney Lieberman, Chairman, and principle shareholder.

CitX develops and markets business-to-business, e-commerce solutions. CitX, along with Priority One, jointly developed Bill Collect as well as additional technology and software used in Priority One’s Payment Processing Center. In addition, CitX has developed a unique Web-enabled integrated, business-to-business, e-commerce platform, Intrapay(TM), to collect and disburse payments via the Internet.

CitX has formed equity partnerships with Priority One EC Corporation of Akron, Pa., and MCCS of Los Angeles. Additionally, CitX has created strategic partnerships with NCR Corporation, Bell Atlantic, and Redix Corporation. These strategic partners have aligned in support of the CitX Internet-based Electronic Commerce platform called Intrapay, Virtual Electronic Community platform IntraPortal, and Network based Software Application platform called IntraApp. As part of the CitX business strategy, CitX plans to align with other technology, marketing, and service companies in the future, to rapidly expand, and effectively satisfy the needs of its customers.

CitX has developed a unique transaction transport technology called SETX to provide the end-to-end security, scalable processing capability of Electronic Commerce transactions. SETX is a patented proprietary data communication system and protocol that uses dynamic password authentication, pseudonymous data envelopes, trusted-server predictive Internet routing technology to enable the exchange of secure data transactions, via the Internet, without the need for encryption.

CBQ’s foothold in the fast growing area of business-to-business, e-commerce is significantly improved by the acquired talent and technology of both Priority One and CitX. In addition, CBQ’s potential marketshare is increased due to an exclusive agreement between the three companies to jointly market each others services to each companies customer base. The acquisition of Priority One and its customer base, coupled with the joint marketing of integrated Intrapay/Bill Collect services to CitX customer base, could produce strong additional revenues in 1999 for CBQ.

Commenting on the transaction, Michael L. Sheriff, chief executive officer of CBQ stated, “The acquisition of Priority One and their Bill Collect electronic check clearing system, are steps forward in our strategy to become a dominant provider of Internet-based, e-commerce solutions.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with CBQ as our new strategic partner in the e-commerce space,” said Bernie Roemmele, CEO of CitX Corporation. “By combining our core competencies, and resources we will be able to quickly expand our customer base and move more aggressively into new vertical market opportunities.”

CitX Corporation is a privately-held, leading high-tech company that primarily develops and markets business-to-business e-commerce solutions, Community-Centric Portals, and Network-Centric (Web-Hosted) software applications, delivered securely across the Internet and private heterogeneous networks.

CBQ’s wholly owned subsidiary, CyberQuest Inc. is the developer of www.bid4it.com, a virtual, Internet-based marketplace based on the principles of securities trading. bid4it is a completely automated electronic marketplace that produces a “true” market price of products based on the open market interaction between bidders and sellers. Bidders electronically bid (“Bid”) on desired products and may modify or delete their bids at any time before the Bid matches a Sellers “asking price” (“Ask”). The Seller may accept any Bid at any time and may modify or delete their Ask at any time before it matches a Bid. bid4it allows sellers to compete in a worldwide market for the buyers of all types of products.

CyberQuest’s CyberMarketMaker(TM) integrates the best features of securities trading and an auction market. Bidding activity is continually analyzed and asking prices moved up or down in response to market activity. When a “bid” and “ask” match, the transaction is electronically completed, and the product is ordered and shipped to the buyer with instant notification to all parties.

For more information about CyberQuest visit www.bid4it.com (bid4it website) and www.cbq.com (Corporate website).

For more information about CitX call 215/538-3535, email bernie@citx.net, or visit the CitX website at [www.citx.net][1].

[1]: http://www.citx.net

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Metris Doubles

The Metris steamroller continues as net income for the first quarter nearly doubled first quarter 1998’s net income. Metris reported this morning that it earned $21.6 million during the first quarter versus $11.2 million last year. The managed credit card loan portfolio decreased by $200 million to $5.1 billion during the first quarter with credit card accounts remaining flat at 2.9 million. Metris says the contraction is due to the planned shrinkage in the acquired PNC portfolio, together with very little credit card marketing in the fourth quarter of 1998. Credit card charge volume increased 24% to about $927 million in the first quarter of 1999, compared to $747 million in the first quarter of 1998. The managed net charge-off rate was 9.4% compared to 10.4% for the prior quarter and 8.8% for the first quarter of 1998. The managed 30+ day delinquency rate was 8.0% at Mar. 31 compared to 6.8% at Dec. 31 and 7.4% at Mar. 31, 1998. Managed credit card fees, interchange and other credit card income increased 50% to $84.7 million for the first quarter. Metris says the increase was primarily due to the growth in the managed credit card portfolio, as well as the repricing of credit card fees. Metris also says it sold 550,000 memberships during the first quarter, primarily for its ‘PurchaseShield’ product. For complete first quarter financials for Metris visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Euronet Signs BIG Bank

Euronet Services Inc. and BIG Bank S.A. of Poland have signed an agreement by which Euronet will provide full ATM network services to BIG Bank S.A.’s new retail banking network, Millennium. Millennium customers will be able to perform a variety of functions on Euronet ATMs, including PIN change, bill payment and mini-statement functions as well as standard cash withdrawals and balance inquiries.

Under the terms of the agreement, Euronet will purchase and operate Millennium’s existing network of 68 ATMs. In addition, Euronet will install and operate ATMs in all new Millennium branches opened throughout Poland, estimated to be 250 branches by the end of the year 2001. Millennium cardholders will also have full access to their accounts on Euronet’s own nationwide network of 413 mostly off-premise ATMs in Poland.

Lech Kurklinski, CEO of Millennium BIG Bank S.A., said, “Millennium’s objective is to provide the highest level of retail banking services and customer convenience available in Poland. Outsourcing the ATM network services to Euronet is a logical step towards achieving that goal for our customers.”

“The agreement with BIG Bank makes Euronet the largest operational, on-line ATM network in Poland,” stated Daniel Henry, Chief Operating Officer of Euronet. “Becoming the network service provider for Millennium reflects Euronet’s continued growth as the leading provider of ATM network services and related software in Central Europe.”

As of March 31, 1999, Euronet was operating a total of 1,557 ATMs throughout Europe, including 534 in Hungary, 432 in Poland, 455 in Germany, 71 in Croatia, 55 in the Czech Republic, 4 in France, and 6 in the UK. Of these, 87% are operated by Euronet as part of its proprietary network, and 13% are owned by banks but operated by Euronet under outsourcing agreements.

About Millennium BIG Bank S.A.

Millennium, a retail banking network created within BIG Bank S.A., provides a wide range of modern and convenient banking services. The Bank offers its customers a 24-hour call center, a network of connected, on-line branches, multifunctional ATMs, and an integrated line of banking products. Millennium BIG Bank S.A. is a joint venture between Poland’s BIG Bank Gdanski S.A. and Banco Comercial Portugues, the largest private financial institution in Portugal. Established in October 1998, Millennium has opened 32 branches in the Warsaw area to date, and intends to open another 250 branches by the end of the year 2001.

About Euronet Services Inc.

Established in 1994, Euronet is a provider of end-to-end electronic banking solutions and transaction processing for retail banks. The Company operates an independent ATM network in Europe and owns a US-based software subsidiary, ARKSYS, specialized in electronic payment and transaction delivery systems. Together with ARKSYS, Euronet offers ATM network participation, outsourced management solutions, and comprehensive software solutions to retail banks around the world. Euronet ATMs accept transactions for a wide range of bank cards through agreements with Visa, MasterCard and Europay sponsor banks and international card issuers such as American Express and Diners Club International. The ARKSYS subsidiary has over 150 active retail banking clients in 60 countries.

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IVI Finalizes DataCard Deal

IVI Checkmate Corp. announced this morning it has completed the acquisition of the assets of the Financial Systems subsidiary of DataCard Corporation of Minneapolis, Minn.

Greg Lewis, President and CEO of IVI Checkmate’s U.S. operations, stated, “The acquisition of DataCard’s Financial Systems subsidiary strengthens our strategy of drilling deeper into retail. The Financial Systems business unit brings IVI Checkmate established relationships with the leading processors in the merchant bankcard industry. This acquisition also supports our strategy of opening new markets by leveraging the Financial Systems business unit’s position in Travel & Entertainment and Petroleum.”

John Mamalakis, formerly President of DataCard’s Financial Systems subsidiary and now Vice-President and General Manager of IVI Checkmate’s Financial Systems division, stated, “Since the April 12th announcement, IVI Checkmate has made great strides in incorporating the operations of the Financial Systems subsidiary. We anticipate a smooth transition that will add immense value in product offerings and services for our customers.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers a complete line of card personalization systems, digital photo ID systems, photo ID printers and transaction systems. (www.datacard.com).

IVI Checkmate is the third largest electronic transaction solutions provider in North America. The Company designs, develops, and markets innovative payment and value-added solutions that optimize transaction management at the point-of-service in the retail, financial, travel & entertainment, healthcare, and transportation industries. IVI Checkmate’s software, hardware, and professional services minimize transaction costs, reduce operational complexity, and improve profitability for its customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. For more information on IVI Checkmate, visit their web site at [www.ivicheckmate.com][1].

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

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Smartcardsource.com

PubliCARD, Inc. announced it has established Smartcardsource.com, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary which will introduce smartcardsource.com, a world wide web portal specifically designed to offer comprehensive smart card solutions for business customers seeking to take advantage of the many capabilities of smart card technology.

Users will be able to log on to the smartcardsource.com site, and through a series of interactive screens, “build” their desired smart card solution. smartcardsource.com will then deliver the solutions that most closely match the users’ smart card needs.

Information provided on the site is expected to include:

– a range of smart card solutions tailored to meet customer requirements

– functional and product descriptions of the proposed solutions

– supporting technical information for selected products

– case studies to support the business rationale for the use of smart card technology in business-to-business applications

– steps necessary to implement smart card technology successfully

“We plan to establish an Internet presence that serves as a virtual catalog of the smart card industry,” says Richard Phillimore, executive vice president for smart card businesses at PubliCARD. “smartcardsource.com will provide business-to-business smart card customers with necessary information to obtain their desired smart card solutions. The site will add value to this rapidly evolving industry by offering smart card customers a comprehensive source of smart card products, services and technologies.”

Smartcardsource.com, Inc. plans to build strategic alliances to provide comprehensive smart card solutions. When users enter the site, they will be guided to the products of their choice through a system of intuitive menu-driven screens.

“The launch of this dynamic site will broaden PubliCARD’s reach into the virtual world of e-commerce,” says James J. Weis, president and CEO of PubliCARD. “Our electronic footprint will complement our initiative to build our real world presence through acquisitions that enhance our smart card product and service offerings.”

Heuristic Solutions, LLC, a VA-based web information management service provider, will assist in the construction of smartcardsource.com, which is currently under development and scheduled to go live on the Internet within the next several months. The site will be available in a number of languages to expand its reach to potential customers of this global technology.

About PubliCARD, Inc.

Headquartered at Fairfield, CT, PubliCARD develops and deploys smart card systems and technology. With a presence in the U.S. and international smart card markets, PubliCARD specializes in many areas of smart card technology, including chip card manufacturing, smart card readers, electronic commerce security software, components for applications in cable and broadcast access, unattended point-of-sale equipment, chipsets, web filtering systems, a complete range of PCMCIA digital photography products and more. You can find more information at [www.publicard.com][1].

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

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