Free Phone Cards

If you get on the horn or Internet today you can grab a free calling card from GTC Telecom. The company recently announced its plan to offer long distance calling cards for sale over the Internet. To kickoff its new service, GTC Telecom announced Tuesday that it will issue free long distance calling cards to the first 10,000 people that e-mail a request for a card to GTC. The company also announced last week it will offer some customers a long distance rate of 5.9 cents per minute in selected states.

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Associates’ Hot ’98

Managed credit card receivables for Associates First Capital climbed nearly 24% last year from $8.3 billion to $10.3 billion. About 72% of Associate’s card portfolio represents VISA/MasterCard accounts while the remainder is composed of private label cards. The hyper-growth has also driven delinquency and chargeoffs higher. Delinquency (60+ day), as a percentage of gross receivables, hit 4.73% for 4Q/98 compared to 3.92% for 4Q/97. Net chargeoffs, as a percentage of gross receivables, still remain high at 7.52% for 4Q/98 compared to 6.96% for 4Q/97. Associates had a busy year with the acquisition of SPS Payment Systems and Avco Financial Services. Last week the firm announced the acquisition of Shell’s gas card program.

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VISA Gets Reel

Reel.com (), the leading online movie store, and subsidiary of Hollywood Entertainment, Corp. announced a strategic partnership with Visa U.S.A., the world’s leading payment system.

As part of the agreement, Reel.com will deliver a variety of exclusive promotions to the 600 million Visa worldwide cardholders through Visa’s 21,000-member financial institutions. In exchange, Visa will receive preferred status and prominent branding throughout the Reel.com site and will be the default payment card on the site’s checkout page.

In addition, Reel.com is the featured shopping partner at the Visa web site () during the Visa Valentine’s Day Promotion.

“Reel.com is pleased to partner with a leading payment system that gives added credibility and security to our online store,” stated Julie Wainwright, chief executive officer of Reel.com. “Through this partnership, millions of Visa cardholders will be won over by Reel.com’s large selection, expert information, and unbeatable low prices.”

Reel.com will design promotions exclusively for Visa cardholders, such as discount coupons, free videos, and much more. These offers will be distributed via the Visa Member banks throughout the year.

“Visa’s partnerships with leading online destinations, such as Reel.com, are accelerating the adoption of e-commerce by introducing millions of consumers to the exclusive benefits and compelling experience of online shopping,” said Liz Silver, senior vice president, Advertising, Visa U.S.A.

Visa is a key player in the world of electronic commerce with a ready-made payment solution for the Internet. Visa’s electronic payment systems link consumers and merchants on the Internet, providing secure ways to pay that are as safe and easy in the virtual world as they are in the physical world. Today, Visa is the preferred method of payment for more than half (51%) of people shopping online.

About Reel.com, Inc.

Reel.com ( and AOL Keyword: REEL) is the leading Internet-based movie store offering over 100,000 VHS and 2,300 DVD titles for sale. Reel.com also features proprietary editorial content to help customers select movies. The staff of writers for the site includes film school graduates, video store veterans, screenwriters, and scores of other film experts.

Reel.com’s current Internet partners include Excite, @Home Network, Chicago Sun Times, E! Online, Film.com, Turner Home Entertainment, TV Guide Entertainment Network, and Yahoo! Reel.com was named the “Best Place to Buy Videos” by Yahoo Internet Life magazine. Reel.com is a subsidiary of Hollywood Entertainment, Corp. (Nasdaq:HLYW), dba Hollywood Video, the second largest video store chain in the United States, with over 1,100 stores in 42 states.

About Visa

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa Cash cards.

Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 620 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US$1.2 trillion in annual volume. Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 450,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com][1].

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

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Internic – AmEx Deal

Network Solutions, Inc. and American Express announced Tuesday plans to make it possible for small business owners to establish an Internet presence and receive helpful business advice at the same time.

As part of their agreement, Network Solutions will offer Web address registration services on the American Express Small Business Exchange Web site, and American Express will promote its products and services through Network Solutions’ online dot com toolkit.(TM)

Network Solutions will provide its Premier Domain Registration Service to American Express. This service features personalized support for fast, accurate and hassle-free domain name registrations, modifications and customized payment options. American Express(R) customers can access expedited domain name registration services through a hyperlink on the American Express Small Business Exchange (), which is a community for entrepreneurs featuring practical information, useful tools and helpful advice for starting, operating and growing a small business.

Network Solutions also will prominently display a link to American Express services in its dot com toolkit, a small business resource center that provides access to tools and services for setting up a Web site and doing business on the Internet. Visitors to the dot com toolkit can click on the American Express logo to apply to accept the card at both their e-commerce sites and/or offline businesses. The dot com toolkit, available at , is one of a series of value-added services Network Solutions is developing for small businesses as they come online.

“Network Solutions is very excited to begin a relationship with American Express, a premier company with an excellent customer service reputation,” said Doug Wolford, Network Solutions’ senior vice president, marketing and sales. “Now we can offer American Express customers fast, easy Web identities, and at the same time enhance the range of small business resources we offer to our customers.”

“We are pleased to enter into this mutually beneficial agreement with Network Solutions,” said Elizabeth Langwith, vice president of American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. “Network Solutions offers a critical service for businesses and individuals around the world to brand their names and products on the Internet with a Web address.”

About Network Solutions

Founded in 1979, Network Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:NSOL) is an Internet leader and pioneered the development of registering Web addresses ending in .com, .net, .org and .edu. NSI also provides enterprise network services that focus on assisting large commercial organizations in the evolution and management of their enterprise networks. For more information, see the www.networksolutions.com Web site.

About American Express

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, business services, insurance and international banking. For more information, visit [www.americanexpress.com][1].

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

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Spyrus Smart Card Reader

SPYRUS, a leading provider of cryptographic token and toolkit security solutions, Monday introduced the SPYRUS Smart Card Reader, which interfaces to desktop computers for high-assurance security applications. The SPYRUS Smart Card Reader is the first reader to feature its own keyboard for PIN entry, making it the ideal security solution for enterprises and governments looking for cost- effective and portable high-assurance protection of valued digital property.

“This announcement is a break-through in price/performance, and makes high-assurance smart card security cost effective for widespread use by enterprises and government,” said Sue Pontius, SPYRUS president and CEO. “Our new security reader used together with SPYRUS Rosetta smart cards reduces the cost-per-seat of high- assurance security by 80 percent.”

The Smart Card Reader is as thin as a credit card and can fit in a wallet, yet it includes a keyboard and display, so it can be used for PIN entry or other secure data entry applications. It connects to the PC through a serial port, and is compatible with Microsoft’s PC/SC standards for smart card readers.

Smart Card Readers and SPYRUS Rosetta smart cards work together to provide high-assurance public key security for use as a digital identity for local or Internet applications access control, encryption, or signature. Both products are key components of the SPYRUS Integrated Enterprise Security solution for enterprises and governments.

About SPYRUS

SPYRUS is a leading provider of network security solutions to enterprises and governments. Recently, the company was named as the fourth fastest-growing technology company in the Deloitte & Touche Silicon Valley Fast 50. The company’s end-to-end security solutions protect valued digital property in corporate IS, WWW/Internet, Intranet, electronic commerce, and government applications. High-assurance security tokens, available as smart cards and PCMCIA cards, provide a personal, portable electronic identity that enables encryption, digital signature, access control, and metering. SPYRUS’ solutions include Certification Authority (CA) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) services, Secure Electronic Transaction (SETT) payment card security, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) channel security, and Secure HTTP (S-HTTP) document security. SPYRUS is a privately-held company headquartered in San Jose, California with offices in England and Australia. In September 1998, SPYRUS acquired Signet Systems Pty. Ltd. of Australia, an international provider of Certification Authority (CA) solutions for Public Key Infrastructure. In 1997, SPYRUS acquired Terisa Systems(R) Inc. For more information about SPYRUS, visit the Web site at [www.spyrus.com][1]

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

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Atomic & GTE Sign Pact

Atomic Software, Inc. has entered into an OEM agreement with GTE Wireless to provide a GTE branded version of its Authorizer for Windows 95/98/NT electronic payment software.

The GTE product will be named PC-Retailer and will use GTE’s CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) technology for ultra-fast credit card authorization times. GTE will bundle the software, CDPD modem, and the airtime, for a single low monthly cost to the merchant that is substantially lower than the cost of a traditional credit authorization terminal with a dedicated phone line. PC-Retailer will be marketed through the financial channel including banks, transaction processors, merchant service providers, and GTE’s direct channel of stores, agents, and its direct sales force.

PC-Retailer is designed to process credit card, debit card, purchase card, and check authorizations for all types of environments including: traditional retailers, Internet, kiosks, fast food, mobile, trade shows, delivery, seasonal and temporary merchants, and most other merchants that require ultra-fast transaction times or do not have access to a standard phone line. Transaction times are typically 5-6 seconds versus 12-30 seconds using a traditional phone line. CDPD service is available in most major metropolitan areas.

“PC-Retailer will provide electronic payment capability to mobile merchants that were heretofore unable to collect guaranteed payments before” states Thomas McCole, President of Atomic Software. “Moreover, it opens new markets such as fast food stores with its lightning fast transaction times.”

Atomic Software will also provide and support an Application Program Interface to software developers who wish to integrate CDPD service into their applications directly,and then purchase site licenses for their customers from GTE Wireless. The API offers both a DLL and a file interface for developers, and includes comprehensive technical support to ensure a quick and successful implementation.

Atomic Software is a privately held corporation that specializes in electronic commerce and payment solutions for retailers, mail/phone order companies, Internet merchants, hotels and restaurants. For more information, contact Glynda Murphy at 770 417-1228, or visit our Web-site at [www.atomic-software.com][1].

GTE Wireless is a division of GTE Corporation, a global telecommunications company. For more information, contact Ed Huelsman at 972 527-3268.

[1]: http://www.atomic-software.com

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Authentication

Equifax Secure Inc. and Security First Network Bank announced Monday the first commercial use of next-generation technology that authenticates consumer identity beyond wallet data. Equifax announced the new technology Jan 5. Unlike traditional methods that rely solely on wallet information such as Social Security number, driver’s license number and address to identify users online, the Equifax Secure authentication engine requests both financial and non-financial information that should be known only to the user. The engine compares and analyzes multiple elements in the furnished information against consumer data from Equifax and other consumer and business information sources, including information maintained by the customer. The Equifax Secure authentication service simplifies the sign-on process while verifying the user’s identity in a simple, real-time process which requires the user to complete and submits an online application form. The authentication engine then displays a multiple-choice questionnaire compiled from information managed by consumer and business information sources. The user then completes and submits the multiple choice questionnaire form.

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Teleservices Merger

TeleSpectrum Worldwide Inc. announced  it has entered into a merger agreement with International Data Response Corp..The combined companies, with 30 call centers in the U.S, 4 in Canada, and over 11,000 employees, will become the 7th largest teleservices company in the industry, based on combined 1998 revenues of approximately $330 million.  It will operate under the TeleSpectrum name. The combined company will be headquartered in King of Prussia, PA., at TeleSpectrum’s current headquarters.  Combined, its 34 call centers will have 6,014 seats.  The company also has a consulting and an interactive voice response business.

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Bank One Breaks $70 Billion

Bank One announced this morning that managed card loans ended 1998 at $70,027,000,000. Average managed credit card loans were 15% higher in the 1998 fourth quarter than one year earlier and included the positive impact of the acquired Chevy Chase portfolio. On an end-of-period basis, balances in the VISA/MasterCard portion of the credit card portfolio, which represents 99% of credit card loans, were up 21%. Bank One’s First USA also added a record 2.9 million new accounts in the 1998 fourth quarter.  Cardholders at year-end totaled 56.6 million, down from 57.2 million at the end of the third quarter, the net change related to a joint venture established for the private label business.Net chargeoffs at year-end for managed card loans stood at 4.79% compared to 5.91% one year ago. Delinquency (30+ days) logged in at 4.47% on Dec. 31 compared to 4.90% for Dec. 31, 1997. For complete 4Q/98 earnings report for Bank One visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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VeriFone Omni 3200

VeriFone, Inc., Monday introduced the Omni 3200 — a sleek, compact POS payment terminal with a fast, integrated thermal printer designed to speed up transactions and lower the total cost of ownership, while occupying less counterspace than comparable solutions.

The new Omni 3200 is the first system in VeriFone’s new family of POS payment terminals that provides hardware and software flexibility to meet merchants’ current and future needs.

Atlanta-based Lynk Systems, Inc. is the first company to offer the Omni 3200 product to its merchant base. The initial release has been a success and Lynk plans to offer this terminal in their suite of product offerings.

“There are a broad array of requirements and emerging applications that payment terminals must accommodate, whether it’s debit and credit applications or new card technologies, such as smart cards,” said Claude Epps, director of Payment Products at Lynk Systems, Inc. “But, it is important that terminal vendors don’t lose sight of the critical needs in the marketplace, such as cost and compatibility. With the Omni 3200 we are very pleased that VeriFone put an emphasis on lowering the cost of ownership and making the migration to new applications a simple process.”

A fully integrated thermal printer helps the Omni 3200 reduce costs by simplifying installation and improving reliability with fewer moving parts and cables, and the covered paper path greatly reduces paper jams. At 12.5 lines per second, the printer helps merchants speed through transactions. The large graphical display and familiar ATM-style, screen-addressable keys provide a simple, familiar interface to improve clerk operation and reduce merchant training and help desk costs. Through its modular design and Flash memory, upgrades can be deployed and terminals can be managed remotely, eliminating the need for additional on-site maintenance.

“Over the life of a terminal, there are costs that go far beyond the price of the terminal itself. The Omni 3200 is a durable solution that not only maximizes flexibility and functionality for banks and merchants, but also minimizes the long-term costs of deploying and managing POS payment solutions,” said Pierre Francois Catte, vice president and general manager of VeriFone’s Appliance Systems Division. “With that said, we maintain our focus on future demands for new applications, so we have designed the product with programmable technology and the ability to leverage our powerful and flexible SoftPay software platform.”

The Omni 3200 also helps prepare merchants for the future by enabling easy migration of existing applications. In addition, it provides a path to new applications and virtually any card process and technology. Compatibility with VeriFone’s SoftPay software ensures that the Omni 3200 can support existing SoftPay applications with minor changes to the user interface, and enables rapid development of new applications.

SoftPay Software

SoftPay software provides merchants with the flexibility to process credit, debit, check, and EBT transactions on one device at the point of sale. The software package, which includes SoftPay Assist, a PC-based configuration software tool, and a flexible terminal application, allows for a wide range of options that can be tailored to meet specific merchant requirements.

About Lynk Systems, Inc.

Atlanta-based Lynk Systems, Inc. is an integrated provider of electronic payment services, cash dispensing services and other related value-added products and services. Payment services include the processing of credit and debit cards, check authorization and guarantee and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions from merchant point of sale terminals. Cash dispensing services involve processing transactions from automatic teller machines (ATMs). Lynk operates using internally developed, proprietary processing systems and technologies and differentiates itself by focusing on a single source approach to serving its customers. This strategy provides Lynk customers one company to call upon for all their processing needs and allows Lynk to control quality of service.

About VeriFone

VeriFone, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Company, is the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than 7 million electronic payment systems, which are used in over 100 countries.

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Mellon Bails Out

Less than three weeks after PA-based PNC Bank announced the sale of its card portfolio, Pa-based Mellon Bank announced, this past weekend, its intentions to exit the credit card business. Mellon said it plans to sell its mortgage business, credit card portfolio and network services transaction processing unit as part of an initiative to sharpen its strategic focus on businesses with the highest return potential. Mellon says the sales of the credit card and mortgage businesses will reduce its exposure to higher-risk assets and reduce potential earnings volatility by eliminating approximately $3.5 billion in loans and mortgage servicing rights from Mellon’s balance sheet. According to CardData, Mellon’s portfolio has $1.7 billion in receivables among 1.6 million accounts. Goldman Sachs & Co. will advise Mellon on the sales of the mortgage and credit card businesses.  Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. will be the adviser in connection with the sale of Network Services. The transactions are expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter. Mellon’s 4Q/98 full earnings report is available via CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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