Signature Service

Montgomery Ward’s The Signature Group formed a strategic alliance with San Francisco-based Consumer Car Club yesterday. The Consumer Car Club is preparing to launch an Internet fee-based membership club for auto owners early next year. Signature says the alliance will enhance its current auto club products and services provided for Amoco, Mobil and Montgomery Wards Auto Clubs. Consumers Car Club was established in 1987 as a discount auto buying service and provides services to more than 15 million consumers through members of affinity organizations including CUNA.

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NYCE  Magic

The largest electronic payments companies in the Northeast and Midwest, NYCE Corp. and Magic Line, Inc., announced Monday they have signed a definitive agreement to merge. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. A branding strategy analysis is planned to begin shortly after the companies are combined, however both firms indicated yesterday they will operate under one brand.  The Board of Directors for the combined company will be comprised of the 12 principal owners with 4 additional seats for regional representatives from the new company’s market area. Approximately 240 financial institutions are expected to own minority interests in the new company. NYCE CEO Dennis  Lynch will continue as President and CEO of NYCE, and Woodcliff Lake, NJ will be its corporate headquarters. John Bascom will serve as an EVP of the combined organization, and President of its Midwest Regional Business Unit, headquartered in Dearborn, MI.

NYCE + MAGIC LINE  SNAPSHOT  (stats as of 11/30/98)

Institutions 2,370 1,315 1,055
Cardholders 47M          31.1M       15.9M
ATMs 31,125         19,825      11,300
POS Locations 179,000 156,000 79,000
Terminals Driven        3,415          2,115        1,300
ATM Mo. Tx              31.2M         24.9M         6.3M
POS Mo. Tx              16.4M         13.3M         3.1M
Proc.Srvcs Mo. Tx      16.2M         11.3M         4.9M
Total Mo. Trans.        63.8M         49.5M        14.3M
Source: NYCE/Magic Line    M-millions; Mo.-monthly; tx-transactions;

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T-9 Smart Cards

CO-based Cardxx, Inc. announced it has completed the initial phase of production of ‘System T-9’ smart cards for Westinghouse Security Electronics. The ‘System T-9’ is a new core technology that is a superior alternative to the lamination process for the production of contactless, contacted smart cards and intelligent tags. The system uses a proprietary low pressure, room temperature process that encapsulates an integrated circuit and/or an antenna while the card is being formed. The ‘System T-9’ is currently producing 9,000 contactless cards per hour.

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DataCard 500

DataCard Corp. Monday introduced a new series of systems designed to fit the needs of mid-volume card issuers. The new ‘DataCard 500 Series’ will include two models. The ‘DataCard 503 System’ can be configured with a PC-based software controller and a choice of three card personalization features. The ‘DataCard 504 System’ can be configured with the controller and four card personalization features.

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Mall Sales Off

Sales at mall specialty stores decreased 0.7% during the third full week of the holiday shopping season, compared with the same period last year, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported yesterday. The group says this has been an unusual shopping season. Despite positive economic indicators, it appears the unseasonably warm weather as well as dramatic domestic and international political events have distracted shoppers.

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Sunoco Contract

Concord EFS confirmed Monday that Sunoco has signed a five-year exclusive agreement with Concord’s EFS National Bank, for credit settlement processing for its more than 3,800 locations throughout the Northeast and Midwest. The agreement will become effective in the third quarter 1999. Sunoco also elected to continue with EPS’ BUYPASS as its switch processor for debit and credit, signing a five-year agreement. The agreement is effectively an extension of Sunoco’s nearly ten-year association with BUYPASS. One month ago Concord and Electronic Payment Services announced a merger. The companies said yesterday that these two contracts are an indication of the synergies Concord and BUYPASS expect to offer current and future clients through this merger.

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China Airlines VISA

China Southern Airlines and The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China announced yesterday the new ‘Peony-China Southern Airlines VISA’. This is the first-ever VISA credit card offered by any airline in China. The new card, in its standard version, offers a 3% discount on China Southern Airline tickets. VISA Gold cardholders receive a 5% discount. The ICBC launched the ‘Peony VISA’ card in 1989 and currently has 33 million cardholders.

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CyberCash – Barclays

Barclays Merchant Services selected CyberCash’s secure payment technology Monday as the foundation of Britain’s first bank-owned Internet payment system. Barclays, which handles the credit and debit card purchases at over 125,000 shops and businesses across the UK, will offer ‘ePDQ’, a virtual version of Barclays Merchant Services’ PDQ point-of-sale credit/debit terminals used by UK businesses. The ‘ePDQ’ service is similar to CyberCash’s ‘CashRegister’ Internet payment service already available to merchants in the U.S..

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TSYS – HNC

Total System Services said Monday it has entered into a strategic alliance to form a marketing partnership with HNC Software to offer HNC’s suite of real-time, transaction-based predictive software solutions for credit, debit, and private-label cards for TSYS’ clients. HNC products covered by the agreement include: ProfitMax; ProfitMax Bankruptcy; Falcon; Falcon Debit; Falcon Select; and Falcon Retail.

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IVI-Debitek

IVI Checkmate announced this morning the acquisition of Debitek Holding Limited (Debitek) of Chattanooga, TN, was completed effective December 18th. IVI Checkmate acquired all of the outstanding stock of Debitek for $4.95 million in IVI Checkmate stock valued at $5.40 per share. The transaction will be accounted for as a pooling-of-interests. IVI Checkmate says it will integrate Debitek’s software libraries and hardware units with Ingenico’s smart card technology to form solutions that integrate the needs of closed systems and open payment systems.

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