ECHO Up 316%

Electronic Clearing House Inc. reported fiscal 1999 first quarter net earnings of $258,000, compared with net earnings of $62,000 for the same period last year, a 316 percent increase, resulting in basic net earnings per share of $0.0163 and diluted net earnings per share of $0.0113, compared with $0.004 and $0.003 per share, respectively, for the same period last year.

Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 1999 totaled $5,469,000, a 29.8 percent increase over revenues of $4,212,000 for the same period last year.

Electronic Clearing House provides credit card processing, check guarantee, inventory tracking services and various Internet services to more than 17,000 retail merchants and U-Haul dealers across the nation.

Through its subsidiary, Computer Based Controls, ECHO designs, develops and manufactures software and point-of-sale hardware that is utilized as credit card processing terminals, automated money order dispensers, utility bill payment systems, and inventory tracking devices.


Back of the Card

Citigroup is spearheading efforts to move VISA and MasterCard logos to the back of the card in order to strengthen its own card branding. Citi’s co-CEO, John Reed, also indicated yesterday, he would eventually prefer to see VISA and MasterCard brand names removed from his bank’s cards. Reed says he wants VISA and MasterCard out of the marketing business and believes the development of a communal association brand over the past 20 years has cost big banks market share in the credit card business. He believes the current structure has enabled card specialists such as MBNA to build large market shares at the expense of the systems’ founders. Reed predicted that given recent mega-mergers in the U.S. and the explosion of the Internet, the bank credit card landscape for VISA and MasterCards could break up into four brands: ‘Citi’, ‘Bank One’, ‘BankAmerica’ and everyone else. The branding issue was reportedly broached at a special VISA board of directors meeting earlier this month. Reed’s comments were immediately condemned by the IBAA yesterday which said VISA and MasterCard logos only make up 10% of the card’s face and the removal of the logos would create confusion among consumers and would also be detrimental to merchants.



MasterCard and Symmetrical Resources Inc., announced Monday the formal launch of a new joint venture: Transactional Data Solutions. TDS will provide aggregate and other non-consumer specific marketing information from anonymous card transactions for use by merchants in better managing their businesses. Rather than using individual name and address information, the new discipline of transactional research collects anonymous information from previously conducted transactions to aggregate buying behaviors based on demographic, lifestyle, and media preferences. TDS’ first information product, ‘Merchant Advisor’, uses data that does not connect cardholder names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses to any transactions. ‘Merchant Advisor’ clients will have access to market intelligence including analysis of competitors’ sales trends; customer share, and customer duplication; consumer segments that do not shop at your store; relative spending and frequency of consumer segments; relative contribution of total revenue to industry, category, and store; and consumer segment product usage, brand preference and lifestyle characteristics.


HNC – OSI Merger Off

HNC Software Inc. announced Monday that it has commenced negotiations with Open Solutions Inc. to establish a strategic alliance with OSI.

The proposed alliance would be implemented in lieu of the parties’ previously announced plans to merge and is expected to involve a cooperative marketing relationship and a minority equity investment in OSI by HNC. HNC believes such a strategic alliance is preferable to a merger at this time, due to current uncertainty in the small to medium-size banking business environment.

OSI, a privately-held company based in Glastonbury, Conn., develops and markets client/server software that addresses core processing functions of small and medium-size banks and credit unions. HNC believes that the proposed strategic relationship will enable HNC Financial Solutions and OSI to exploit synergies between those of their products that address complementary applications.

“OSI’s products fit very well with some of our retail banking solutions,” said Michael A. Thiemann, HNC Financial Solutions Group president. “We intend to move full-speed ahead to integrate the FTI GL product into OSI’s The Complete Banking Solution(R), while also exploring which of our predictive products will be of most benefit to OSI’s market.”

Douglas K. Anderson, chairman & chief executive officer of Open Solutions Inc., commented, “There’s no doubt that introduction of HNC’s predictive modeling and analytical tools will provide community banks with technology that previously only large institutions could employ. However, although we initially contemplated a merger, both management teams have come to believe that at this time a strategic alliance is the best way to keep our respective organizations focused on making the right product decisions.”

OSI has its headquarters in Glastonbury, Conn., with several sales offices throughout the United States. OSI’s products, The Complete Banking Solution(TM) and The Complete Credit Union Solution(TM) are sold and installed in community banks and credit unions for complete core data processing in a pure client/server environment.

Features include deposit and loan processing, teller and platform automation, electronic forms, investor reporting, office automation and a marketing-style CIF. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Michael D. Nicastro, vice president of marketing, or via the Internet at [][1].

HNC Financial Solutions, an HNC Software business group, provides a powerful set of predictive business solution modules that address the mission-critical, customer-lifecycle management needs of financial institutions. HNC Software Inc. (Nasdaq:HNCS) is a world leader in the development and delivery of predictive software solutions in client/server environments.

With headquarters in San Diego, HNC Software Inc. provides innovative predictive software systems in the financial services, retail, insurance information, electronic commerce, and telecommunications markets.

For more information on HNC, contact Jane Leonard, HNC Software Inc., 5930 Cornerstone Court West, San Diego, Calif., 92121, 619/546-8877. For investor relations hotline, call 800/396-8052.



Card System Gold

Diebold introduced ‘Card System Gold; yesterday which enables campus administrators to deploy a one-card system capable of managing an array of transactions, including meal plans, access control, entitlements, stored value, vending, point-of-sale retail and remote management of other computer-based services.The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began taking advantage of CS Gold’s features at the beginning of the 1998-99 school year as a test user. Nearly 45,000 UNC campus cards were issued, giving cardholders access to services in 75 buildings across the campus.


CCM in Beta

Greenland Corporation announced that on January 7, 1999, it had installed its first production ready, automated check-cashing machine in Santa Ana, CA for beta testing.  This machine is a freestanding kiosk with automated payroll check-cashing capability, full ATM functionality, and money order dispensing services.  The machine was installed in a multi-service food market.

The Company said that the beta testing has been successful and that testing will continue for a total of 60 days.

The Company anticipates that another test site will be established in the next ten days and that information being gathered will support demographic data regarding the selection of site locations.

Lee Swanson, CEO and President of Check Central, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Greenland that is developing this technology, stated, “The response to the new machine and technology has been very positive.  The storeowner and customers have been very enthusiastic about having this service available to them.  Potential distributors and purchasers who have visited our beta site have been very complimentary of the unit’s appearance and the simplicity in which it provides financial services.  Based on the success of these beta tests, the Company should begin to deliver production units by the end of the first quarter 1999.”


MC-Cook Euro Cheques

To meet the needs of a changing European market and further demonstrating its commitment to providing global travelers with new products and services, MasterCard International announced the launch of a new travellers cheque denominated in Euros.

The Euro-denominated travellers cheques, issued by Thomas Cook, are available for sale immediately in denominations of 50EUR and 100EUR.

Consumers can use the Thomas Cook MasterCard Euro Travellers Cheques exactly as they would any other currency travellers cheque in the 11 European countries where the Euro is now established — Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

Merchants will accept the Thomas Cook MasterCard Euro Travellers Cheques for goods and services while banks will exchange the cheques for local currency, until the Euro currency is launched in January 2002 — enabling consumers to travel among participating EMU countries without carrying different currencies.

“MasterCard is pleased to partner with Thomas Cook in launching a Euro-denominated travellers cheque, a product that makes travel more convenient for consumers as more and more European countries transition to a single currency,” said Ralph Bianco, senior vice president, Global Product Management & Development, MasterCard International. “We are committed to developing value-added products and services that meet the evolving needs of today’s traveler.”

The Thomas Cook MasterCard Euro Travellers Cheques have all the benefits of traditional travellers cheques including security, widespread acceptance, and refundability. Consumers can purchase the new travellers cheques in banks, financial institutions, and any Thomas Cook Bureau de Change worldwide. The Euro Travellers Cheques will be based on the fixed national currency unit — the Euro Exchange Rate.

“With the Euro becoming the single currency of Europe, budgeting for travel expenses is even easier since no local currency conversions are required,” Bianco said. “The new Euro-denominated Thomas Cook MasterCard Travellers Cheques give consumers a complementary product to credit and debit cards when traveling.”

Additional cheque denominations of 20EUR and 200EUR will be available in 2001. Other MasterCard/Thomas Cook national currency denominated travellers cheques continue to be valid indefinitely, and can be exchanged for Euro-denominated travellers cheques at any time.

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands (MasterCard, Maestro, Mondex, and Cirrus) in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. More than 600 million MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus cards are accepted at more than 15 million locations worldwide. In 1997, gross dollar volume exceeded $600 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at .


Cendant Card Enhanced

Cendant Business Services has announced an industry first: the Cendant Card, the MasterCard-branded one-card solution for managing T&E, purchasing and fleet expenses, now provides enhanced information capture on vehicle maintenance purchases.

“When it came to paying for vehicle maintenance expenses for sales and service people, information capture was a challenge for the charge card platform,” says William Brooks, General Manager of Cendant Business Services. “Managers needed to be able to capture line-item detail on transactions such as oil changes, new tires or repairs, and store them in a database that could be accessed throughout the life of the company vehicle. Now, the Cendant Card has developed a network that captures this kind of information on a one-card platform. And it’s provided in a way that uses our data warehouse and makes reporting easy, while helping managers maintain control of maintenance spending. This is a capability that’s unique to the Cendant Card and truly enhances its value to the corporate buyer and manager.”

Robust maintenance information via the Internet Whether  corporate fleet has 100 or 10,000 vehicles, vehicle maintenance is an expense that needs to be tightly controlled. Detailed information is the key to managing costs and making vehicle replacement decisions. In the past, this kind of information was available only on private-label cards provided solely by fleet management companies.

Cendant Business Services has broken new ground by developing the network and data capture capabilities necessary to effectively manage vehicle maintenance. The Cendant Card is the only multi-purpose card on the market today that can track this information whenever a person driving a company vehicle uses the Cendant Card at a network of nationally recognized vehicle service facilities.

In addition to this enhanced information capability, only the Cendant Card enables managers to monitor purchasing activity online via the Internet at [][1]. They benefit from real-time information, available any time from any place in an easy-to-use format. Information can be manipulated in thousands of interactive inquiries and a variety of standard reports. Managers can also create ad hoc reports based on their specific needs and interests.

Cendant Business Services is the commercial card division of Cendant Corporation , one of the world’s foremost providers of consumer and business services. Cendant Business Services markets the multi-purpose, MasterCard-branded Cendant Card for travel & entertainment, purchasing and fleet services, as well as niche private label and co-branded cards.



Edwards to SkyMall

SkyMall Inc. announced Friday the appointment of industry veteran Thomas C. Edwards as’s chief marketing officer. Edwards was SVP of emerging technology and business development at VISA.. Prior to his work at VISA, Edwards served as vice president of marketing and product development at Citicorp Credit Services Inc. and in various marketing and management positions with the American Express. As chief marketing officer, Edwards’ goals at SkyMall will be to strengthen’s site content to attract a greater number and variety of visitors, develop new strategic host partner alliances and forge additional merchant relationships.