CHL MasterCard

The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Bank of Montreal officially launched the celebrations for the CHL’s Top Prospects Game, by unveiling a special affinity MasterCard that supports the CHL and the Canadian Hockey League teams. A portion of the revenue generated by the card will help fund CHL education initiatives and further development of junior hockey players on and off the ice.

“Every time you use the CHL MasterCard, you’re helping young Canadians and the sport that so many of them love,” said David Branch, President of the CHL. “We are really proud to be partnering with the Bank of Montreal, with their long tradition of community involvement similar to the commitment of Junior Hockey teams across Canada.”

Each CHL Bank of Montreal MasterCard will feature a team logo of the cardholders’ favorite CHL team. This is the first such program of its kind in Junior Hockey in Canada.

The CHL MasterCard will provide ongoing contributions to the Canadian Hockey League. Other features of the card include:

– no annual fee;

– no transaction fees;

– a low interest rate option;

– extended warranty insurance;

– world-wide acceptance at more than 15 million locations;

– free additional cards; and

– choice of earning AIR MILES travel miles or FirstHome dollars.

“We are proud to welcome the CHL into our family of affinity partners,” said Kathy Silmser, Senior Vice-President, Cardholder Services, Bank of Montreal. “In addition to helping support junior hockey, cardholders will also be contributing to the Canadian Hockey League’s education fund which aids players in the league.”

Bank of Montreal, a sponsor of the Top Prospects game, is the largest MasterCard issuer in Canada and is recognized as the affinity leader in the Canadian marketplace with more than ten years experience in the affinity business. Bank of Montreal has over 250 affinity partnerships with a variety of groups including professional associations, sport clubs, university alumni and student groups, charitable and service organizations and leading companies.

Details

Another M&I Data Acquisition

For the second time in less than a month, M&I Data Services, a financial software and services leader, expanded its e-commerce solution offering with its agreement to purchase a leading e-commerce technology provider: the Electronic Banking Services division of ADP. This agreement joins the recent acquisition of Moneyline Express, a bill payment and presentment solution from Travelers Express.

On Friday, M&I Data Services agreed to acquire the Business Express, FORTE/FORTExpress and CashExpress software products and outsourcing solutions of this ADP business unit. These products are designed to provide business clients with access to their banking information and transactions through a spectrum of delivery methods including an Internet web browser, a direct PC connection or telephone.

The acquisition includes the purchase of all assets, operational processes and customer relationships.

Additionally, M&I Data Services will be retaining the over 300 associates who currently market, develop and support these products. It is estimated that the annual revenue generated by this new business unit will initially be $40 million; it is also expected to be accretive to the earnings of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation in 1999.

“This acquisition is further evidence that M&I Data Services is dedicated to maintaining our leadership role in electronic banking solutions,” said Joe Delgadillo, president and chief executive officer, M&I Data Services. “Providing leading e-commerce solutions helps our bank customers help their customers compete in this emerging marketplace.”

ADP Electronic Banking Services is the market leader in providing electronic banking services to the small, medium and large corporate customers through its partnerships with 110 financial services institutions across the United States including 18 of the top 20 largest financial institutions.

Currently more than 120,000 business customers representing small, medium and large organizations use the ADP Electronic Banking Services products. These comprehensive cash management products are delivered via an outsourced or in-house platform. Current Electronic Banking Services financial services institution partners have relationships with 20 percent of the businesses in the United States.

In a January 7, 1999 American Banker article, industry analysts Killien & Associates Inc. estimate that the Internet will open up the cash management market to 40 million to 50 million small- to medium-sized business and commercial customers.

“This acquisition gives us an Internet-ready electronic banking solution that fits directly into our development efforts and is another key building block in our e-commerce strategy,” said Mike Hayford, executive vice president, corporate development at M&I Data Services. “To gain a strategic advantage, businesses of all sizes recognize the need to explore the opportunities posed by e-commerce. As a company, we strive to provide our customers with first-rate technology that can help them meet this growing demand.”

M&I Data Services is the market share leader in providing electronic banking solutions to the financial services industry with more than 200 financial institutions currently using M&I Data Services’ consumer banking platform. M&I Data Services is combining its consumer product solutions with the Electronic Banking Services within its newly established Electronic Commerce Group. Merging these solutions into a single organizational group reflects the commitment of the company to be a leader in the e-commerce technology market.

“M&I Data Services has a strong reputation for superior service and expertise in the financial services industry,” said Todd Hutto, president, ADP Electronic Banking Services division. “Combining the business electronic banking solution from ADP with M&I Data Services’ consumer electronic banking solution makes the company the leading provider of e-commerce technology to the full range of financial institution customers. Integrating these solutions with the recent M&I Data Services acquisition of the Moneyline Express product, an electronic bill payment and presentment solution, adds important functionality to their suite of available e-commerce products.”

M&I Data Services is a division of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation (Nasdaq: MRIS), a $21.6 billion holding company. Marshall & Ilsley Corporation is the only organization that represents both a financial institution and a data processor. This uniquely positions the company to offer proven business process outsourcing from a single source.

M&I Data Services provides leading-edge technology solutions to the financial services industry with external revenue of $413 million in 1998. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., it offers consulting, software and processing solutions for financial institutions worldwide. The company’s rapid growth — 701 percent over the past 10 years — is being fueled by innovative product development, strategic product acquisitions and strong growth of its customer relationships. For more information, visit the M&I Data Services Web site at

Details

Merchant Promotion

Discover Financial Services and an Internet directory site have teamed to bring on-line visibility to local merchants. Switchboard, Inc., a subsidiary of Banyan Systems Inc., will offer Discover merchants a web presence via the Switchboard directory service. The ‘Discover/NOVUS Network’ plans to begin marketing this program next month with a particular focus on restaurants and other merchant categories that tend to use yellow pages type advertising to reach potential customers. Switchboard is one of the leading white and yellow pages directories on the Web, generating 40 million impressions per month.

Details

AmEx – IBM

American Express and IBM announced a marketing alliance Tuesday to provide two million American Express small business corporate cardholders automatic discounts of up to 10% on a broad range of current IBM products. American Express and IBM also are linking their web sites and plan to integrate web site content to give small business owners the opportunity to purchase on line and access information that can help them use technology. IBM products covered by the agreement include the recently introduced ‘IBM PC 300GL’ Small Business Series, as well as ‘Aptiva’ desktop computers, ‘ThinkPad’ laptops, printers, scanners and software. AmEx business cardholders receive the discount by calling IBM toll-free and paying for their purchase with their American Express ‘Corporate Card for Small Business’. AmEx currently offers automatic discounts through alliances with FedEx, Hertz, Hilton, Kinko’s and Mobil.

Details

On A Roll

Mondex International took a giant leap yesterday as Sanwa Bank and JCB joined together with MasterCard International to purchase Mondex franchises for the world’s second largest economy. Yesterday’s development will accelerate the introduction of Mondex electronic cash in Japan. Mondex International is already negotiating with a number of other parties such as Asahi and Sakura Banks and a number of credit card companies. Additionally Mondex International’s alliances with smart card industry vendors such as Dai Nippon Printing, Hitachi, Oki and Panasonic will also help drive the introduction of the Mondex technology in Japan. Sanwa and JCB bank officials indicated the multi-application ‘MULTOS’ operating system for Mondex smart cards, which allows several applications to operate from one card is the main attraction. Both banks believe Mondex will emerge as the de-facto standard in Japan with global compatibility. One JCB executive said Mondex will enable JCB’s affinity cards to be reborn as hyper smart cards. The Japanese franchise joins 14 other Mondex franchises in Asia-Pacific and 57 globally.

Details

Streamlining

Mastercard International announced a major reorganization late Tuesday, aimed at serving key members in MasterCard’s top markets and at improving responsiveness for all members. MasterCard International CEO, Robert Selander, said MasterCard is realigning the organization in five key areas: Customers; Strategic Ventures; Technology; Central Resources; and People. Alan Heuer, currently president of the U.S. Region and an EVP, will become senior EVP, taking responsibility for all customer-related activities and all global marketing. All six regions of MasterCard International will report to Heuer. William Jacobs, currently EVP of Global Resources, will become senior EVP, Strategic Ventures. Jerry McElhatton will be promoted to senior EVP for Technology. McElhatton is currently president of Global Technology and Operations and an EVP. Chris Thom, currently EVP of Franchise Management and the Canada region, will become senior EVP, Central Resources. Michael Michl will become EVP, People.

Details

Wells Phone Cards

Hackensack, NJ-based IDT signed an agreement with Wells Fargo to offer long distance services and create customized calling cards for customers to use along with the Wells Fargo credit card. Under Tuesday’s agreement, Wells Fargo will market IDT’s long distance services and calling cards to their small business credit and consumer credit customers nationwide through specialized direct mailing pieces, statement messages and inserts in billing statements. Wells Fargo credit card users will receive a sticker with the toll-free phone card access number that can be adhered to their credit cards. IDT will also implement a separate toll free customer service number exclusively for Wells Fargo clients.

Details

IL Power Goes CheckFree

CheckFree, the nation’s leading provider of financial electronic transaction processing, and Illinois Power Company have signed an agreement that will enable Illinois Power customers to visit a central Web site to both receive and pay bills electronically on their personal computers. Illinois Power, a subsidiary of Illinova Corp. , is an electric and natural gas utility that serves approximately 650,000 customers over a 15,000-square-mile area of Illinois.

Starting this spring, Illinois Power customers will be able to both receive and pay bills electronically on their personal computers by visiting financial services sites that offer CheckFree’s integrated electronic billing and payment. These sites include Chase Manhattan Bank at , First Union at , Charles Schwab at , Morgan Stanley Dean Witter at https://www.dwdean.com, Prudential Securities at , as well as other soon-to-be-launched CheckFree distribution points such as Bank One and PNC Bank.

With CheckFree E-Bill(sm), Illinois Power customers will have the ability to receive detailed information on their monthly charges. The electronic bills will be presented in color, complete with graphics, logos and summary billing detail, and will be paid with a click of the mouse. The ability to view and pay bills over the Internet provides consumers with flexibility in managing personal finances with their home computer.

“We are truly excited to be providing this next level of service to our customers,” said Tony Harris, Illinois Power’s Director of Customer Support Services. “This agreement follows our commitment to be market leaders in providing solutions to our customers to meet their needs. CheckFree E-Bill service joins DirectPay and Levelized Payment Plan as the newest billing and payment option from Illinois Power.”

Illinois Power is one of a growing number of U.S. companies to offer electronic bill presentment and payment to its customers using CheckFree E-Bill. Since launching the nation’s first fully integrated, market-proven electronic billing and payment solution in 1997, CheckFree has signed contracts with more than 40 of the nation’s top 100 billers, including: Ameren, American Electric Power, AT&T, Avista Utilities (Washington Water Power), BellSouth, Boston Edison, Chase Credit Card & Chase Mortgage, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Consumers’ Energy, Countrywide Home Loans, CUNA Mutual Group, Florida Power & Light, GPU Energy, HomeSide Lending, International Billing Services, Northern Illinois Gas (Nicor), PGE, Public Service Company of New Mexico, Small Business Administration, Southern California Edison, Southern Co., and Total System Services Inc. (TSYS).

“Illinois Power has a 75-year history of dedication to customer service, and like our many other biller companies, is helping to drive consumer adoption of electronic billing services,” said Matt Lewis, senior vice president of Electronic Commerce Product Management & Marketing for CheckFree. “That commitment to customer convenience helps to further our goal of presenting as many bills as possible through as many distribution points as possible.”

A demo of CheckFree E-Bill is available at www.checkfree.com. For corporate sales information, call 1-800-532-9696.

About Illinova Corporation

Illinova Corp., headquartered in Decatur, Ill., is an energy services holding company with annual revenues of more than $2.5 billion. Illinois Power is the largest of the Illinova subsidiaries and the second largest investor owned utility in Illinois. A second subsidiary, Illinova Energy Partners, markets energy, including natural gas, and energy-related products and services to customers in the Unites States and Canada. Illinova Generating Company invests in, develops and operates energy-related projects and facilities throughout the world.

About CheckFree

Founded in 1981, CheckFree ([www.checkfree.com][1]), the operating subsidiary of CheckFree Holdings Corp., is the leading provider of electronic commerce services, software and related products for more than 2.6 million consumers, 1,000 businesses and 850 financial institutions. CheckFree designs, develops and markets services that enable its customers to make electronic payments and collections, automate paper-based recurring financial transactions and conduct secure transactions on the Internet.

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

Details

Getting Neural

Equifax announced this week it has given its ‘Bankruptcy Navigator’ solution more predictive power and have added neural network technology. ‘Bankruptcy Navigator Index ’99’ draws upon the combined strength of four variables: 1. The statistical power of a proprietary neural network; 2. The ‘Equifax Risk and Usage Forecast’ for semiannual metropolitan statistical area-based credit risk and usage forecasts for the 231 US MSAs; 3. The ability to help identify high-potential, surprise bankruptcies; and 4. Five bankruptcy scorecards to predict bankruptcy risk within the next 24 months. ‘Bankruptcy Navigator Index ’99’ can be used throughout the entire credit life cycle, from account acquisition through portfolio management to recovery/collections.

Details

Hypercom UK Deal

Hypercom and the U.K.’s Cardsave Club announced yesterday that Cardsave has selected Hypercom as its provider of POS terminals for its 7,000 members. The Club is offering its members Hypercom’s ‘T7PS POS’ terminal that allows retailers to accept all card types, including the new chip-based cards which UK banks will start issuing this year. The Cardsave Club is a membership group for independent retailers. The Club’s members annually process more than (pound)750 million, or $US 1.2 billion, in credit and debit card volume. Cardsave’s members currently process their credit and debit transactions via NatWest Streamline, the card processing arm of the UK bank. The retailer group says 1200 members have already switched to Hypercom’s terminals.

Details

GTC Sells Cards Online

GTC Telecom announced that on February 15 it launched its website, www.ecallingcards.com which sells and delivers long distance calling cards directly over the Internet.

Paul Sandhu, President & CEO of GTC Telecom stated, “Delivering instantaneous product online has allowed GTC to move to the next level of e-commerce. Other online retailers like Amazon.com, EBAY, UBID, and Skymall allow customers to order and purchase their products online, which cuts out the cost of the middleman. By going one step further and delivering our product online, GTC has also eliminated the need for large warehouses, warehouse personnel, inventory financing and shipping costs. Additionally, because of our infrastructure and the fact that we process our calling card requests electronically, GTC theoretically has a virtually unlimited supply of product to sell.”

Gerry DeCiccio, Chief Financial Officer of GTC Telecom stated, “Because GTC takes the calling card order online and delivers the product online, our administrative costs and overhead associated with this service is minimal. >From a cash flow standpoint, we feel Ecallingcards.com is a cash positive program. The way this works is that we receive the money for the retail value, including profit, of the long distance calling card at the time a card is purchased. Once the customer begins using the card, we subsequently pay the transport costs based on usage. In addition, there is also an amount for breakage, (breakage is lost or expired cards) which also adds to our cash flow. We believe we are offering our calling cards at a rate which is 40 to 50% below current retail pricing, while still achieving a 30% gross margin.”

To purchase a calling card, simply go to Ecallingcards.com and review the product and pricing information. Then, submit the ordering information and customers will instantaneously receive their long distance calling card Pin number online.

GTC Telecom currently offers a long distance rate of 5.9 cents per minute in selected states as well as flat rate programs starting at $29.95 per month. In addition, GTC offers an array of Internet services, including wireless T1 access. The Company has been adding customers at a steady rate and continues to generate new business daily. Founded in 1997, GTC Telecom is an interexchange carrier, providing long distance service to small and medium sized businesses as well as residential customers throughout the United States. GTC’s long distance service offerings include outbound service, inbound toll-free 800 service, and dedicated private line services for data. GTC’s position as an interexchange carrier gives the company the ability to function as a large telecom company but alleviates the overhead, thus allowing GTC to have rates lower than many of their competitors. Visit GTC’s web site at [www.gtctelecom.com][1].

Included in this release are “forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements will prove to have been correct. The Company’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors including sales levels, distribution and competition trends and other market factors.

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

Details

Euronet Goes VSAT

Hughes Network Systems announced that its very small aperture technology (VSAT) satellite technology has been selected by Euronet for a pan-European network of ATM machines. The HNS VSAT solution offers economic benefits, reliability and flexibility not found in terrestrial-based network alternatives. Euronet’s evaluation process led to the selection of HNS because its VSATs met all of Euronet’s current requirements and offered capabilities for future applications such as broadcast advertising directly to the ATM machines.

“At Euronet, we needed a solution that would enable us to cost-effectively meet our market challenges,” said Dan Henry, Euronet’s chief operating officer. “The HNS VSAT network not only enables us to economically provide reliable 24-hour service, it prepares us to deliver long-range solutions for ATM locations throughout Europe.”

Euronet, which currently operates more than 1,000 ATM machines throughout Europe, the bulk of which are in central Europe, began its search for network technology based on the need for end-to-end network management and increased reliability, as well as the desire to secure fixed costs. Terrestrial-based networks such as ISDN and X.25 could not adequately meet these requirements. Additionally, Euronet needed a system that facilitated quick deployment and relocation of Euronet’s ATMs based on customer usage patterns. Terrestrial lines require a time and cost-intensive process for pre-wiring and circuit provisioning. Implementing a VSAT network ensures that Euronet can redeploy inactive machines or deploy new machines very quickly.

Said Vinod Shukla, vice president and general manager, Satellite Networks Division, HNS, “We’re delighted to have been chosen as Euronet’s supplier for its extensive European ATM network. The inherently broadcast nature of VSATs and combined with our turnkey, shared-hub network management makes it the most cost-effective solution for this type of wide-area network. In addition, our advanced and unique feature set ensures that Euronet can meet its customer demands and expansion goals.”

The HNS VSAT network centers on the company’s Personal Earth Station(TM) (PES(TM)) technology. A PES located at each ATM site will communicate with the network hubs located in Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary. HNS already has deployed over 500 VSAT sites throughout Europe for Euronet and another 1,500 sites will be completed within two years.

A world leader in satellite products and network systems, HNS has 60 percent of the global VSAT market and has shipped more than 200,000 terminals. Headquartered in Germantown, Md., the company has sales and support offices worldwide. HNS offers network solutions that include a complete line of integrated satellite, enterprise networking products, and fixed and mobile wireless networks. HNS is a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation and an ISO-9001-certified manufacturer. The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock. More information on HNS can be found at [www.hns.com][1].

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

Details