NaCCA Preferred Card

The National Check Cashers Association and Citicorp Services Inc. officially rolled-out the NaCCA ‘Preferred Card Program’ yesterday. The new debit card for the unbanked will be offered through Citibank Delaware. Through the NaCCA ‘Preferred Card Program’, individuals can sign up to have their Federal benefit payments and/or payroll deposits directly deposited into a special ‘NaCCA Preferred Card’ account at Citibank for a fee ranging from $3 to $6 per month. These customers will be issued a ‘NaCCA Preferred Card’, along with a four-digit PIN, which will enable them to use the debit card to access their cash at Citibank, Honor and Cirrus ATMs and make purchases at participating NaCCA stores and retailers. NaCCA expects to enroll over 100,000 customers in the program during its first year. NaCCA is an organization that represents 3,500 of the estimated 5,500 to 6,000 check cashing outlets nationwide.

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International RoundUp

The second co-branded debit card in Eastern Europe, using the Cirrus/Maestro debit card system as its base, will roll out this morning. The Latvian unit of Norwegian Statoil will announce the new debit card program with Unibanka today. Unibanka already issues co-branded debit cards for Lattelekom, a Finnish telecom monopoly. Statoil has more than 73 service stations in the Baltic states.

Chase Manhattan has withdrawn from the credit card market in Mexico following the sale last week of its credit card portfolio in Mexico to Banorte. Reportedly the sale price was 70 million pesos. Chase indicated Friday it is focusing on its corporate banking services in Mexico.

Japan’s Oki Electric Industry Co. has launched a marketing campaign for its new multipurpose ATM that can be used for electronic-commerce transactions. The new ‘CP 21’ is designed to go beyond typical banking services to settle smart cards, debit cards or e-commerce transactions.

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Fast Food – Fast Cards

Having it your way at the Burger King restaurant in lower Manhattan now means you can pay by credit card, thanks to Bell Atlantic Mobile’s AirBridge wireless data service and U.S. Wireless Data’s Wireless Express Payment Service.

Tim Pham, owner of the Burger King franchise at 273 Canal Street, says his customers appreciate the speed and convenience of buying by credit card and he’s ringing up higher sales to prove it.

“My customers include a great many tourists who don’t like to carry cash in the city,” said Pham, who installed the new system some six months ago. “Many customers who wanted to place large orders would walk away before I began accepting credit card payments. Now, they’re ordering more and getting the fast service they appreciate.”

The service that makes such speedy and secure transactions possible is the result of a joint marketing agreement between Bell Atlantic Mobile and U.S. Wireless Data announced in March 1998. Bell Atlantic Mobile representatives are working with U.S. Wireless Data to distribute U.S. Wireless Data’s proprietary Wireless Express Payment Service for the retail market. The system uses Bell Atlantic Mobile’s AirBridge wireless data network.

“For merchants who currently own and operate wired dial-up terminals, and those who may not currently accept credit card payments, the wireless terminals provide a faster cheaper way to transact business, ” said Bill Davidson, Bell Atlantic Mobile’s vice president – wireless data sales marketing. “The wireless transaction using Bell Atlantic Mobile’s wireless data network takes 3 to 5 seconds vs. 11 to 20 seconds with a dial-up service.

“Going wireless means the merchant no longer needs a dedicated or shared telephone line to carry transaction traffic, thereby eliminating delays, busy signals and the cost to install or pay for monthly telephone service. And because it’s wireless, the merchant can transact business anywhere the customer wishes to buy, instead of being confined to a service counter with a telephone line,” Davidson said.

Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 116,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging.  Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 5.9 million customers and 7,500 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its “Wireless at Work” community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications.  Bell Atlantic Mobile’s parent is one of the world’s largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim.  For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit:  ; on global operations visit:  .

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MasterCard Promos

MasterCard International appointed Willie Fung to SVP and GM for Greater China. Fung will oversee MasterCard’s businesses in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. He previously managed MasterCard Taiwan. MasterCard also announced last week that J. Sonny Sannon has been appointed to SVP and GM for the South East and South Asia Regions for MasterCard Asia/Pacific. Sannon was responsible for introducing Maestro, ATM sharing and co-branded credit cards to South Asia.

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BASIC Smart Cards

ZeitControl cardsystems, developer of the world’s first smart card that can be programmed in BASIC, will be expanding its innovative product line in 1999 to meet competitive challenges in the chip card marketplace.  Microsoft Corp., for example, recently announced plans to develop a BASIC programmable smart card for its Windows operating system.  However information on delivery dates and card costs is scant at this point.

According to Wolfgang Salge, managing director for ZeitControl, his company’s unique BasicCard is not only available now, but offers a highly cost-effective smart card application development solution for non-experts in the field.  “Using our proven platform, BASIC programmers can custom design their own smart card in a single afternoon, with no previous experience required,” Salge explains.  “The entire development cycle of writing code, downloading and testing takes hours instead of weeks.”

Salge additionally points out the most important difference between ZeitControl’s BasicCard and a Java or MultOS card: the price.  These two programming alternatives require larger chips to operate, therefore increasing the card’s ultimate price tag.  Java and MultOS cards currently run between $10 and $15 per unit, compared to a BasicCard which costs $2 to $5.

The BasicCard is available in two versions:  the Compact BasicCard and the Enhanced BasicCard.  Both versions contain 256 bytes of RAM, plus user- programmable EEPROM: 1 kilobyte in the Compact BasicCard, and 8 kilobytes in the Enhanced BasicCard.  The EEPROM contains the user’s ZC-Basic code, compiled into a virtual machine language known as P-Code (the Java programming language uses the same technology).  In order to create P-Code and download it to the BasicCard, a user needs ZeitControl’s support software.  This development tool is free of charge and can be downloaded at any time from the company’s Internet page.

ZeitControl, in partnership with Philips Semiconductor, is now developing a Mifare Pro BasicCard (contact and contactless in one chip).  The first sample cards are expected to become available by the middle of this year. Future products in their early planning stages include an RSA-based Public- Key BasicCard as well as a Multi-Application BasicCard.

ZeitControl cardsystems GmbH, headquartered in Minden, Germany, is a pioneer in the development of BASIC-programmable smart cards.  Founded in 1990, the company has delivered more than 5 million cards to customers around the world.  For more information on ZeitControl and its BasicCard, visit the company’s Web Site at [www.basiccard.com][1] or [www.zeitcontrol.de][2]

[1]: http://www.basiccard.com
[2]: http://www.zeitcontrol.de

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Contraction ?

American consumers cut $700 million off revolving credit card debt during November according to preliminary figures released Friday afternoon by the Federal Reserve. For November 1997 revolving credit card debt grew at annual rate of 2.6% versus this year’s -1.5% annual rate. Over the past twelve months revolving credit has grown a paltry 4.9%, from $530.3 billion to $556.4 billion. For November, automobile rose sharply, growing at an annual rate of 12%. Overall consumer credit is growing 3.6% annually according to the FRB. At the end of November, American consumers were $1.301 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.

                    REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
                Nov 98   Oct98   Sep98  Aug98  Jul98                  
%GRWTH:          9.2   -1.4     5.4    9.1    5.1
$OWED:         $556.4   557.1   552.5  548.7 543.6  

                 Jun98   May98  Apr98  Mar98  Feb98
%GRWTH:      -1.5%  10.1     8.1   11.3   -3.8
                 545.3   541.2   541.8  539.4  535.3    

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 01/08/99; also note the FRB incorporated new seasonal adjustment factors for January 1993 onward; for complete historical data visit [www.carddata.com][1].

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

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Pre-Paid.Com

Portland, OR-based Carrier Services, Inc. has launched prepaid.com to sell prepaid phone cards online. Doing business under the brand name 1-800-PRE-PAID, CSI currently provides value-added prepaid programs for partners such as Diners Club International, United Airlines, American Airlines, and the American Automobile Association. The company offers customized prepaid phone card programs that combine long distance service with awards such as frequent flyer miles or rewards points.

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Breaking Into U.K.

Euronet Services Inc. announced Friday it will install ATMs in off-bank locations throughout the United Kingdom following the signing of an agreement with the British bank Woolwich plc. Under the terms of the deal, the ATMs will be installed by Euronet in selected locations with Woolwich plc. Cardholders will be charged a convenience fee of 1 British pound sterling for each cash withdrawal.  Euronet also signed a real-estate agreement with Spar supermarkets to place ATMs in certain Spar locations. There are 70 million ATM cards in U.K.. Euronet also reported Friday that transactions over its network grew 19% in December to nearly two million. As of Dec. 31, Euronet was operating 528 ATMs in Hungary, 425 in Poland, 197 in Germany, 68 in Croatia, 50 in the Czech Republic, two in France and one in the U.K.

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Open Market – iBelong Net

Open Market, Inc., a leading provider of Internet commerce and information publishing software, announced that it has signed a letter of intent with iBelong Networks, Inc. to form a strategic partnership. Under the terms of the LOI, iBelong Networks will utilize Open Market’s technology as the platform for its services for non-profit organizations. Additionally, both Open Market and iBelong Networks will co-market the services.

iBelong Networks is a start-up venture that will target non-profit associations who are looking to create destination sites on the Web. iBelong Networks seeks to build an Internet-based network to offer a suite of complimentary services to these organizations.  As part of its strategy to reach these organizations, iBelong Networks has an exclusive partnership with KFS that provides commercial services such as affinity-based credit cards to over 4000 non-profit organizations.

iBelong Networks was started by Shikhar Ghosh, who also co-founded Open Market and continues as the Chairman of Open Market’s board of directors. In order to devote more attention to iBelong Networks during its start-up phase, Mr. Ghosh has relinquished his role as an Open Market employee. According to Shikhar Ghosh, “As an early participant in the Internet commerce arena, I have witnessed the transformation of businesses from simply using the Web for marketing purposes to taking full advantage of the medium to conduct real business.  At Open Market, we developed the software that enables companies to totally transform the way they do business.  I’m excited about putting this infrastructure into motion for the thousands of non-profit organizations.”

More About Open Market

Founded in 1994, Open Market, Inc. (Nasdaq: OMKT) is the market-share leader in Internet commerce software.  Open Market’s high-performance application software products and professional services allow its customers to engage in business-to-consumer and business-to-business Internet commerce, information commerce, and commercial publishing.  Among Open Market’s distinguished roster of global customers are 7 of the 15 top domains on the Web, including Time Warner Pathfinder.com, major industrials such as Ingram Micro and Acer, more than 700 publishers including the top 10 commercial publishers, and 11 of 14 of the world’s top national telephone companies. The company, headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, with offices in Japan, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Australia can be reached by calling 1-888-OPEN.MKT or by visiting .

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Unbanked Credit Card

The National Check Cashers Association and Citicorp Services Inc. will officially announce today they have teamed up to offer the new ‘NaCCA Preferred Card’, a national debit card program for recipients of Federal benefits and/or payroll checks, who want the convenience of direct deposit, but do not have traditional bank accounts. The announcement will be made at 11 A.M. (mountain time) today from Phoenix, AZ. NaCCA represents more than 3,500 of the nation’s estimated 6,500 check cashers, who cash checks exceeding a face value of $55 billion. Please monitor CardFlash Online (www.cardflash.com) for details later today.

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