PULSE 30%+

The Pulse EFT Association reported yesterday it processed more than 341 million transactions in 1998, representing an increase of more than 30% over 1997 volume. POS transaction volume through ‘PULSE PAY’  increased more than 50% in 1998, posting in excess of 131 million transactions. More than 115,000 merchants currently participate in the ‘PULSE PAY’ program. Pulse now has more than 2,000 members representing approximately 20 million cardholders. The network includes more than 30,000 ATMs and 160,000 ‘PULSE PAY’ POS terminals across nine states.


Household Focus

Household said Wednesday it will continue to focus on fewer, stronger Mastercard/VISA to shore up profits. However the firm said it remains committed to two major credit card partnerships, the ‘GM Card’ and the ‘Union Privilege’ program with the AFL/CIO labor federation.  Household unloaded $500 million in card receivables during the third quarter and $1.4 billion during the fourth quarter. Household also indicated yesterday it will enter the sub-prime card market during 1999. To facilitate this effort, Household signed an agreement with Renaissance Holdings, a privately held issuer of secured and unsecured credit cards to non-prime consumers. During the fourth quarter Household sold $1.2 billion of card loans to Fleet Financial and $200 million to others from former telephone co-branded card programs. The 4Q/98 sales yielded a premium of approximately $144 million. For the full 4Q/98 earnings report for Household visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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


SmarTalk Sold

SmarTalk TeleServices confirmed Wednesday it has signed a definitive agreement to sell substantially all of its assets to AT&T for up to $192.5 million in cash. The company also confirmed it has commenced a Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. At this week’s signing,  AT&T made debtor-in-possession financing immediately available to SmarTalk. The companies expect the transaction to close during the first quarter, prior to the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings. SmarTalk is a provider of prepaid calling cards and prepaid wireless services.  Based in Dublin, OH, SmarTalk maintains distribution agreements with the U.S. Postal Service and other mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets, hotels, home office superstores and convenience stores throughout North America and the U.K. AT&T said SmarTalk’s assets will enable it to expand its prepaid card retail distribution capability.


Metris 50%+ Year

Metris Companies said net income for the fourth quarter soared 66% compared to 4Q/97. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]), managed card loans grew from $3,546,936,000 to $5,315,042,000, or 51%, during 1998. Credit card charge volume increased 10% to approximately $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 1998, compared to $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 1997. For the full year 1998, credit card charge volume was approximately $3.9 billion, a 41% increase over 1997. Managed net charge-offs continued to escalate to 10.4% for 4Q/98, compared to 10.5% for the prior quarter and 7.6% for the fourth quarter of 1997. The managed delinquency rate (30+ days) was 6.8% at Dec. 31, compared to 7.8% at Sept. 30, and 6.6% at Dec. 31, 1997. The charge-off  and delinquency rates were somewhat skewed by Metris acquisitions during 1998. Metris also reported Wednesday that managed credit card fees, interchange and other credit card income increased 52% to $71.0 million for the fourth quarter, from $46.7 million in the fourth quarter of 1997. For 1998, managed credit card fees, interchange and other credit card income was $251.2 million compared to $153.6 million for 1997. The company said these increases were primarily due to the growth in the managed credit card portfolio, as well as the continued impact of the re-evaluation and policy changes in the billing of fees. For the full 4Q/98 earnings report for Metris visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]).

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


Net.B@nk Goes QIF

Net.B@nk ([www.netbank.com][1]), the largest FDIC-insured bank operating solely on the Internet, announced today that it has upgraded its banking technology platform to better accommodate future growth and offer customers a wider range of new and improved services.

“As Net.B@nk continues to grow, we continue to improve and upgrade the bank’s service and delivery systems to better serve our existing customers and accommodate new ones,” said D.R. Grimes, CEO of Net.B@nk.  “We believe it is imperative to provide the best systems architecture possible to maintain our status as a leading provider of consumer banking services on the Internet. Our technology partnerships with industry leaders like NCR, Edify and BISYS play a key role in helping us achieve this goal.”

In addition to providing an updated look for the bank, the new platform is easier to navigate and enables customers to request information and materials on-line.  Account information provided to customers through Net.B@nk’s new platform is provided real-time, a feature not often found in Internet banking today.  Other new features include formatted order screens that enable customers to order checks, deposit slips, envelopes and copies of cancelled checks.  Online bill payment features have also been updated to display payment history and provide customers better status information on payments.

For customers looking to consolidate their personal finance statements, Net.B@nk’s new platform includes a Quicken(TM) Import Format (QIF), which allows customers to download their banking records into files for use with Quicken(TM) and Microsoft Money(TM).  The new platform also offers customers hyperlinks to their accounts using a more traditional Windows(TM) web interface.  For customers with multiple accounts, they can now assign nicknames to the accounts, making it easier to distinguish among accounts than with account numbers.

Net.B@nk’s new platform is based on Edify’s Electronic Banking System (EBS) application.  NCR Corporation will be the host of the new banking platform and BISYS Group, Inc., will remain the bank’s core processing center.

NCR Corporation is a recognized world leader in scaleable data warehousing, self-service and store automation solutions for the retail, financial and communications industries and other select markets.  NCR’s solutions are built on the foundation of the company’s long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, world-leading hardware technology, global customer support services and a complete line of consumable and media products.  More information on NCR and its products can be found on the World Wide Web at [www.ncr.com][2].

Edify’s Electronic Banking System (EBS) is a comprehensive direct banking solution providing financial institutions the means to deploy personalized, content-rich electronic banking services via multiple access channels including the Internet, telephones and personal financial management software. Further information on Edify is available from [www.edify.com][3] or by calling 408-982-2000.

BISYS Group, Inc., supports more than 9,000 financial institutions and corporate clients through its integrated business units.  BISYS provides technology outsourcing and check imaging applications and brokerage services to more than 1,000 financial institutions nationwide; distributes and administers over 60 families of mutual funds consisting of more than 900 portfolios; provides retirement plan services to over 7,000 companies in partnership with 30 of the nation’s leading bank investment management companies; and provides insurance distribution solutions, Internet/telephone marketing, enterprise-wide networking services, and loan/deposit product pricing research.  More information is available at [www.bisys.com][4].

Net.B@nk, Inc., Member FDIC, has quickly become a leading Internet bank, offering checking, money market accounts and certificates of deposits with attractive interest rates.  Net.B@nk has over 15,000 accounts and customers in all 50 United States and 20 foreign countries.  The bank also offers Visa(R) and MasterCard(R) credit cards, online brokerage services, mortgage lending and business equipment leasing services.  For more information on Net.B@nk, its products and services, visit the web site at [www.netbank.com][5], or call 888-256-6932.

[1]: http://www.netbank.com
[2]: http://www.ncr.com
[3]: http://www.edify.com
[4]: http://www.bisys.com
[5]: http://www.netbank.com


MedCard Marketer

SIMS Communications Inc. announced Wednesday that it has signed Innovatix as a Marketing Agent for its MedCard System.

“We are very impressed with the MedCard System’s capabilities and with its elegant system design,” stated John P. Sganga, president of Innovatix. “Since 1993, Innovatix’ strategy has been to offer our alternate care provider customers products and services that reduce their expenses. We see the MedCard System as a perfect complement to our product line.”

Four years in development, and using state-of-the-art computer and communications technologies, the MedCard System is an easy-to-use, cost-effective solution for electronically processing medical transactions. Verification of a patient’s medical benefits is obtained in real-time and most insurance payors can receive claims electronically. Its benefits include more rapid claims processing, fewer errors, faster payments and reduced expenses both for the healthcare provider and the insurance company.

“We are delighted that Innovatix has agreed to market the SIMS MedCard System,” stated Mark E. Bennett, SIMS president and CEO. Innovatix’ industry reputation, extraordinary growth, existing customer base and national sales focus makes them an ideal marketing partner.”

Innovatix, a privately held corporation, is one of the fastest growing alternate care group purchasing organizations in the U.S. Headquartered in Manhattan, with 11 sales offices located throughout the country, Innovatix services 1,500 alternate care providers in 50 States and Puerto Rico. These providers include independent oncology practices, physician groups, home I.V. infusion providers, long-term care providers, diagnostic centers and HMOs.

SIMS Communications provides low cost, turnkey, transaction processing solutions to service providers and retailers. These solutions use its patented, intelligent, DebitLink POS terminal, custom software and a comprehensive network of financial transaction processors encompassing most credit card and ATM networks. Its services include medical insurance eligibility and authorization, medical billing, prepaid phone card activations, customer affinity programs and customized vertical market applications.



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.


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.


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


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


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


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