WSBA & USPI

U.S. Processing (USPI), an EFT processor based in Wisconsin, and Western States Bankcard Association (WSBA), a California not-for-profit organization serving the financial industry, have entered into a marketing agreement to offer WSBA members USPI’s ATM and online card authorization options.

The agreement provides WSBA members who use First Data Resources debit card platform with an alternative transaction authorization option. When a purchase is made, USPI will request a current, real-time cardholder balance from the card issuer’s deposit system or balance file and route it to First Data through a direct link. Members gain added control and fraud reduction from this type of authorization.

In addition, USPI supports all popular ATM models with advanced functionality and all major protocols. Reliable, around-the-clock monitoring is included. USPI also installs, certifies, and maintains links to all major regional and national networks for transaction routing.

Based in Richmond, California, WSBA offers credit and debit card processing and support services for both issuers and acquirers in the western United States. It has over 100 member financial institutions and has specialized in turnkey card management programs for over three decades.

“We are very excited about our relationship with U.S. Processing, as it provides us with a means to offer our members debit processing services utilizing the direct link to First Data Corporation and provide them with an integrated option for ATM processing,” said Barbara Kelly, Vice President at WSBA.

PriVest Bank of Costa Mesa, California, was the first WSBA member to sign up for USPI’s transaction processing service.

USPI is a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. (Nasdaq: TSAI), a leading provider of electronic funds software around the world. USPI provides transaction processing services for the electronic funds transfer (EFT) industry. The company drives and supports all popular ATM models and offers a comprehensive package of related services, including single point settlement, monitoring of an organization’s ATM environment, authorization, network access and card management services. USPI uses BASE24® and TRANS24® software solutions in combination with the latest Compaq and IBM hardware offerings for its processing operations.

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Raffaeli to CFN

Atlanta-based Consumer Financial Network announced Wednesday that C. Cathleen Raffaeli, formerly Executive Director of the Commercial Card Division at Citicorp, has joined CFN as President & COO. CFN is an Intranet-based employee benefits portal that enables employees of major corporations to comparatively shop and purchase voluntary benefits such as auto and mortgage financing, insurance, and legal services.

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SmartDisk Taking Off

SmartDisk Corporation, a company focused on providing simple, innovative solutions that advance and enhance the use of miniature storage media and smart cards, announced the expanded role of Michael S. Battaglia as president and chief executive officer (CEO) for SmartDisk Corporation. This move reflects the robust market acceptance of SmartDisk’s products and the company’s dramatic growth rate.

Since SmartDisk’s inception as a joint venture of Fischer International Systems Corporation (FISC) and Toshiba Corporation in February 1998, Mr. Battaglia has served in the dual role of president and CEO of both SmartDisk and FISC. Intensive market momentum in the miniature storage and smart card arena, coupled with the impressive growth of both companies, which serve very different target markets, required that each company have its own dedicated management team. Mr. Battaglia was appointed to the board of directors of SmartDisk and will be appointed to serve on FISC’s board of directors in the near future.

“SmartDisk and Fischer International both offer products and services for markets that are rapidly expanding,” said Addison M. Fischer, chairman of SmartDisk Corporation and of Fischer International Systems Corporation. “Mike’s enhanced leadership role and board position at SmartDisk will enable the company to more aggressively seize market opportunities and to continue its impressive growth, to the benefit of its customers, employees and shareholders.”

“SmartDisk provides unique and exciting products to young, explosive markets,” said Mr. Battaglia. “In just one year, SmartDisk and its products, FlashPath and Smarty, have performed incredibly well and we are all extremely excited to be on the forefront of these emerging technologies. Within the next few months, the company will announce several important strategic relationships and will embark upon the development of innovative new products.”

About FlashPath(TM)

FlashPath(TM) has the same physical dimensions as a 3.5 inch floppy disk, and includes a slot in which a Toshiba SmartMedia(TM) card can be inserted. FlashPath fits directly into and works from the 3.5 inch floppy disk drive found on most PCs, quickly and easily uploading digital images, audio clips and data from the SmartMedia card onto the PC for editing and transport. FlashPath provides SmartMedia with a decisive advantage over other portable storage media because it can be used with various PCs, including portable and desktop computers, without the need for special cards, external connections or interfaces. FlashPath is expected to accelerate further development of the digital still camera market and to significantly expand the use of SmartMedia for other purposes including audio applications and general data storage.

About Smarty(TM)

The Smarty(TM) smart card reader/writer acts as a bridge between a smart card and a PC. Smarty has the same dimensions as a 3.5 inch floppy disk and includes a slot into which a smart card can be inserted. To use it, one simply inserts a smart card into the slot and slips Smarty into a PC’s floppy drive. Increasing use of smart cards in Asia, Europe and the Americas is fueling a need for a versatile, economical card reader. Smarty fulfills this need, supporting electronic commerce, banking, health care, and government applications, and the high-level security that such transactions require including access control, network authentication and data certification.

About SmartDisk Corporation

SmartDisk Corporation is the provider of patented solutions for reading and writing to flash memory cards, smart cards and other miniature storage media. These solutions take the form factor of a 3.5-inch floppy disk, therefore transforming the floppy disk drive of the personal computer to enable new applications. The market for SmartDisk’s solutions is the installed base of 300 million personal computers that work with the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. SmartDisk Corporation was formed to capitalize on the growth of digital applications. For more information, go to [www.smartdisk.com][1].

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

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Diebold Goes OEM

Diebold, Incorporated , the leading provider of self-service solutions in the United States, has formed a new distribution unit to directly supply its product and component solutions via original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreements to businesses around the world.

The global OEM distribution organization will provide manufacturers with products, components and modules to integrate into their own product offerings.  All Diebold self-service, security, card-based hardware and software will be offered through the OEM group.  Among the individual technologies available on an OEM basis are the multi-media dispenser for automated teller machines (ATMs) and the Provisor(TM) cash recycler, which allows retail deployers to replenish an ATM by simply feeding cash into an acceptor on the dispenser.  In addition, Diebold will also offer technical integration and maintenance services to OEM purchasers.

Bartholomew J. Frazzitta, Diebold vice president and general manager, will oversee the OEM organization.  “Our products and technology have become the standard of excellence in the financial and security industries,” he said. “Now, we can broaden our market presence through other companies that want to offer similar, world-class technology without expending the resources to develop their own solutions.”

Brad Stephenson, general manager, OEM distribution, is managing the new group.  For several years, Diebold has successfully provided certain products and component technologies on an OEM basis and can now justify formalizing this new organization, according to Frazzitta.  “Our strong systems integration capabilities and outstanding field service infrastructure will provide our OEM customers with a global business service that is second to none,” he said.

Diebold, Incorporated is the global leader in providing integrated delivery systems and services.  Founded in 1859, the company employs more than 6,000 associates in some 120 locations worldwide with headquarters in Canton, Ohio, USA.  Diebold reported revenues of US$1.2 billion in 1998 and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “DBD.”  For more information, visit the company’s Web site at [www.diebold.com][1].

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

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ACE Banner Year

ACE Cash Express reported net income for the latest quarter was up 36%. Fee revenue increases continue to drive company growth. Check-cashing fees led fiscal 1999 second quarter growth with fees of $18.1 million, up $2.3 million from fees of $15.8 million in the second quarter of fiscal 1998. Bill payment services realized the largest percentage growth, increasing 149% to $2.1 million during the fiscal 1999 second quarter from $0.9 million during the fiscal 1998 second quarter.  In addition, loan fee revenue grew 54% during the fiscal 1999 second quarter to $3.6 million from $2.4 million during the second quarter of the previous year. For the full 4Q/98 earnings report for Ace Cash Express visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Diebold’s Flat 4Q

Diebold, Incorporated reported its fourth quarter results, which showed significant improvement over the third quarter, including a 16 percent increase in earnings per share.

In the fourth quarter ended December 31, Diebold had net income of $34,350,000, or $.50 per share (diluted), on revenues of $322,085,000.  This compares with net income of $29,391,000 or $.43 per share (diluted) on revenues of $287,291,000 in the 1998 third quarter.  In the 1997 fourth quarter, the company reported net income of $35,037,000, or $.50 per share (diluted), on revenues of $341,348,000.

For the 12 months ended December 31, Diebold had net income of $117,998,000, or $1.70 per share (diluted), excluding realignment, on revenues of $1,185,707,000.  This compares with net income of $122,516,000, or $1.76 (diluted) per share, on revenues of $1,226,936,000 for the 12 month period in 1997.

The company showed other improvements, including:

* 10 percent increase in the backlog from the third quarter, raising it to the highest in the company’s history.

* 13 percent increase in orders from the third quarter.

* 9 percent decrease in operating expenses in the fourth quarter 1998 compared to the same period in 1997.

“We are pleased to end the year on a positive note and are proud of the strides we made during the second half of 1998,” said Robert W. Mahoney, chairman, president and chief executive officer.  “Many challenges lie ahead, such as continuing to build the company’s global infrastructure and our ongoing effort to control expenses. By executing our strategies professionally, we have completed two consecutive quarters of significant financial improvements with a record backlog, which positions us well heading into 1999.”

Diebold, Incorporated is the global leader in providing integrated delivery systems and services.  Founded in 1859, the company employs more than 6,000 associates in some 120 locations worldwide with headquarters in Canton, Ohio, USA.  Diebold reported revenues of US$1.2 billion in 1998 and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘DBD.’  For more information, visit the company’s Web site at [www.diebold.com][1].

For 4Q/98 Earnings Report please visir CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

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

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Cap One Tops 40%

Capital One reported Tuesday that 1998 earnings were $275.2 million compared with 1997 earnings of $189.4 million, an increase of 41%. For the fourth quarter earnings were $72.7 million versus earnings of $58.2 million for 4Q/97. Cap One continues to make substantial investments into marketing. For the fourth quarter the firm spent $159 million to bring total 1998 marketing expense to $446 million. During the fourth quarter, Cap One increased its managed portfolio by $1.1 billion to $17.4 billion in outstanding receivables and added 1.8 million net new accounts, bringing the total number of accounts to 16.7 million. The managed delinquency rate as of Dec. 31, decreased to 4.70% versus 4.90% as of Sept. 30 and 6.20% as of Dec. 31, 1997. In the fourth quarter, the managed net charge-off rate was 4.51%, a decrease of 52 basis points from 5.03% in the third quarter of 1998. For Cap One’s complete 4Q/98 earnings report visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Mr. Payroll Goes to Houston

Mr. Payroll Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cash America International, Inc. announced yesterday it has entered into a definitive agreement with H-E-B Grocery Company for deployment of the Mr. Payroll Check Cashing Machine.

Initially, the two companies will collaborate on a 10-machine program in the Houston area involving H-E-B Pantry Foods stores-smaller-size stores known for their convenience and low prices, in addition to the full variety of fresh meats, produce and name-brand groceries they stock.  Installations are scheduled for mid-February.

“We’re extremely pleased to have the opportunity to partner with H-E-B, one of the grocery industry’s most admired retailers,” said Michael Stinson, president and co-chief executive officer of Mr. Payroll Corporation.  “The H-E-B Pantry Foods concept should be an excellent fit for our check cashing machine.”

“We think our customers will really appreciate the convenience, affordability and privacy of self-service check cashing using the Mr. Payroll CCM,” said Michael De La Garza, vice president for public affairs and corporate communications with H-E-B.

Mr. Payroll Corporation is a leading provider of electronic financial services to the underbanked.  Its self-service check cashing machine, the world’s first, uses facial biometrics to verify the identities of customers. The machine permits even those without bank accounts to cash their own checks, with no ATM card or photo ID required.

Since the installation of the first Mr. Payroll CCM in June 1997, machines have been deployed in 19 states in a variety of locations.  The Mr. Payroll CCM already has been used to cash over 500,000 checks of all types for more than $130 million.  Additional information on Mr. Payroll can be found on the World Wide Web at .

H-E-B, based in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the nation’s largest regional food retailers, and the 12th largest overall.  It operates more than 250 stores in Texas, as well as Louisiana and Mexico.  Sales totaled nearly $7 billion in 1998.

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Hypercom’s Strong US Growth

Hypercom Corporation reported revenues and earnings for its second fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31, 1998.

Revenues for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 1998, were $70.6 million. Net income for the quarter was $6.6 million, or $0.19 per share on 34.5 million diluted shares outstanding. Revenues for the year-ago quarter ended Dec. 31, 1997, were $71.2 million. Net income for the prior-year period was $1.8 million, or $0.06 per share on 30.8 million diluted shares outstanding.

Net income in the fiscal 1998 second quarter included a non-cash compensation charge associated with the company’s initial public offering, which reduced earnings that quarter by $0.19 per share.

For the six months ended Dec. 31, 1998, revenues totaled $136.6 million. Net income for the period was $12.4 million, or $0.36 per diluted share. For the six months ended Dec. 31, 1997, revenues were $150.1 million. Net income for the year-ago six months was $11.0 million, or $0.38 per diluted share. Net income in fiscal 1998 included a charge totaling $0.25 per share related to the IPO non-cash compensation charge.

“Hypercom continues to make great strides in the global electronic payment markets,” said Al Irato, chief executive officer of Hypercom. “We continue to see strong demand for our terminals, peripherals and transaction software. In addition, our acquisition of The Horizon Group, a national provider of point-of-sale equipment and services, is building our distribution channels, is providing a strong recurring revenue stream, and has been immediately accretive to earnings.

“This acquisition, as well as the strong introduction of our Interactive Consumer Environment (ICE) 5000 terminals and their deployment to more than 1,000 casinos around the country, are major milestones in the implementation of our business plan to become the global leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing electronic payment applications.

“Higher second quarter revenues in the United States, which were up 42% over last year, and in Europe, where revenues increased $3.9 million, have nearly offset the large decline in Hypercom’s revenues from Asia. In the second quarter, Asian revenues declined 56% from the same period last year and declined 52% for the six months,” Mr. Irato said.

“Hypercom is successfully cutting expenses and reducing our dependence on certain weak international markets,” Mr. Irato said. “In this regard, we believe that Hypercom has very limited exposure to the problems in Brazil. The devaluation in Brazil’s currency may result in a charge to earnings of $0.03 to $0.04 in the quarter ended March 31, 1999.

“However, this charge will be offset by lower costs in our manufacturing facility in Brazil. Moreover, the problems in Brazil are not expected to affect Hypercom’s business in other Latin American markets, where our transactions are conducted in dollars.”

The company reported that backlog as of Dec. 31, 1998, was $118 million, up 47% over Dec. 31, 1997. Consolidated book to bill ratio was 1.28 for the quarter and 1.26 for the six months.

Expense Control

“SG&A expenses for the second fiscal quarter of 1999 were lower than during the same period a year ago,” Mr. Irato said. “In fact, SG&A expenses were 11% below the average incurred in our March and June quarters of fiscal 1998. We maintained our focus on research and development, but the rate of increase in R&D expense slowed considerably and actually declined as a percent of revenues from the first quarter ended in September 1998.

“The Network Systems business also benefited from tight expense controls, continuing to break-even in spite of revenues being below first quarter levels.”

Acquisition of National POS Provider

On Nov. 3, 1998, the company reported the acquisition of the assets and business of The Horizon Group, Inc., one of the leading national providers of value-added, point-of-sale support services. Based in St. Louis, Mo., The Horizon Group is recognized as one of the industry’s largest point-of-sale terminal suppliers and service providers.

The Horizon Group brings a variety of services to Hypercom, including sales of new equipment, refurbishing equipment, help desk, PIN pad key loading, terminal deployment and other custom programs. The acquisition will allow Hypercom to meet the needs of a segment of its customer base that requires direct-from-manufacturer terminal services.

The company has approximately 66 employees and had annual sales of approximately $24 million in the year ended Dec. 31, 1997, including $5 million in sales of Hypercom products.

Deployment of ICE 5000 Terminals

Hypercom announced in December the deployment of the ICE 5000 terminals to more than 1,000 casinos around the country by the Global Cash Access consortium, the largest cash access provider to casinos. ICE 5000 terminals will be used in conjunction with Hypercom’s T7E terminal to form a complete point-of-service cash solution for casino players.

The ICE 5000 terminals are delivered with touch screen and smart card functionality and are equipped with Hypercom FastPOS 9600 baud modems built in.

Expansion of Focus to Multi-Lane Products

On Jan. 7, 1999, Hypercom announced the appointment of Roger Hitchcock as Vice President and General Manager of the Hypercom(R) POS Multi-Lane Division. Mr. Hitchcock is responsible for furthering Hypercom’s efforts in the multi-lane market, targeting large national retailers, chain drug stores, and supermarkets.

The company is bringing an innovative solution to the multi-lane environment, which is at the forefront of developments of new payment schemes and technologies such as smart cards and loyalty programs.

Strong Balance Sheet

Hypercom reported that accounts receivable declined in the second fiscal quarter from the first fiscal quarter even though revenues increased 7% over the first quarter. Days of sales outstanding declined from 78 days in the first quarter to 72 days at Dec. 31, 1998. Inventories also declined for the second consecutive quarter.

At Dec. 31, 1998, cash balances and short-term investments totaled $73.6 million. Total cash invested at Dec. 31, 1998, was $90.7 million, including $17.1 million of cash investments maturing after more than one year. This is down slightly from Sept. 30, 1998, due to the reduction in accounts payable and the acquisition of Horizon.

Bright Outlook

“The third fiscal quarter ending in March is seasonally our slowest quarter. However, as of March 1999, it will be a full year since the Asian slowdown, and therefore year to year comparison going forward will better reflect our growth in the United States and Europe,” Mr. Irato said.

“We have begun ICE 5000 terminal production and are experiencing strong customer acceptance of this new product. Vigorous demand for our products and services and our sizable backlog, combined with expense reductions, provide us with a strong positive outlook for the second half of our fiscal year and beyond.”

Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Hypercom markets its products in more than 60 countries through a global network of offices and affiliates in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com][1].

For 4Q/98 Earnings Report please visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

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

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BankAmerica Chargeoffs Drop

BankAmerica said Tuesday that fourth quarter chargeoffs, as a percentage of average receivables, declined to 5.83% from 6.58% for fourth quarter 1997. Meanwhile NationsBank reported yesterday to CardData that card receivables grew 4% during the fourth quarter. NB also added more than 160,000 accounts for 4Q/98. For BankAmerica’s complete 4Q/98 earnings report and NationsBank’s current and historical portfolio stats visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

NATIONSBANK  SNAPSHOT  (4Q/98)
     RECV              YTD  VOL          GRS  ACCTS      ACTIVES      CARDS
$10,268,232,941    $26,192,967,000        8,878,474      4,149,787    10,318,505
        Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Chase Revenues +14%

Chase reported yesterday that operating revenues from cardholder services increased 14% in the fourth quarter, with the growth driven by recently acquired portfolios, pricing initiatives and higher levels of consumer card usage. For the year, card revenues rose 17% to $3.91 billion, however charge-offs also rose due to the impact of acquired portfolios. Chase said average credit card receivables as of Dec. 31 were $31.9 billion compared to $30.0 billion one year ago. Net chargeoffs, as a percentage of average receivables, climbed to 6.27% for the fourth quarter compared to 5.37% for 4Q/97. Delinquency (90+ day) increase slightly in the fourth quarter to 2.17% compared to 2.13% for fourth quarter 97. For Chase’s complete 4Q/98 earnings report visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Hello Kitty Cards

A Taiwan bank this week launched a line of ATM and credit cards featuring the popular Japanese toy character Hello Kitty. Makoto Bank is the first financial institution in Taiwan to use the famous feline for promotional purposes. Due to the high license fees Makoto is paying Japanese toymaker Sanrio Co., the bank is charging an annual fee of 800 New Taiwan dollars or about 25 U.S. dollars, for ATM cards bearing the image of the kitten.

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