HELOC vs Credit Cards

Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., the nation’s largest independent mortgage lender, is now offering an online product that gives qualified borrowers quick access to cash through cutting edge technology.  The home equity line of credit provides homeowners with a personal financial tool that can help them achieve their financial objectives.

The 10-Day HELOC can be found in the Home Financing section of Countrywide’s Web site, .  Homeowners who have at least $15,000 in equity and good credit can take advantage of this cost-effective product.  The 10-Day HELOC is an excellent financial tool that provides homeowners with a revolving line of credit at a rate much lower than most credit cards.  Consumers can access cash at any time for debt consolidation, home remodeling, car financing, college tuition or income taxes.  With the holiday season in full swing, homeowners may find the 10-Day HELOC perfect for easing the financial strain.

“The 10-Day HELOC simplifies the process by utilizing Countrywide’s new automated underwriting and settlement services.  The new internet loan process enables borrowers to receive cash in less than two weeks,” said Cameron King, Executive Vice President of Countrywide’s Electronic Commerce Division.  “We have taken our automated underwriting engine, automated settlement service process and our automated appraisal system and merged them into the Countrywide Streamlined Loan Application.  Countrywide’s advanced technology on the Internet places the ‘decision making process’ close to the consumer to improve transaction speed and simplify the process.”

Features of the 10-Day HELOC include:

— Consolidation of high interest credit cards or personal loans into one lower monthly payment.     — Instant access to cash through check writing privileges.     — Lower interest rate than most consumer credit cards.     — Interest may be tax deductible(b).

Countrywide’s Web site uses advanced technology to simplify the loan process and offers accurate, easy to understand information.  The site features competitive rates and simple online applications for a full range of home loan products as well as access to Countrywide’s state of the art underwriting systems and electronic business partner integration systems. Countrywide’s site was established in September 1996 and is experiencing tremendous growth, funding more than $78 million in November of this year.

Homeowners who are interested in refinancing or buyers who would like to lock in an interest rate from the comfort of their own homes can visit the company’s Web site at .  To speak with a home loan expert directly, customers can call 800-479-8930.

Founded in 1969, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. originates, purchases, sells and services loans for single-family homes.  A member of the S&P 500, the company is headquartered in Calabasas, California and has more than 500 offices across the nation.

(a) Homeowners’ assistance in providing documentation and signing loan documents on short notice is necessary to ensure a 10-day close.     (b) Customers should consult their tax advisor regarding their personal tax situation.


Bell South & Palm VII

BellSouth Wireless Data yesterday unveiled a groundbreaking technology feature called Wireless Subscription Management that allows easy, secure and instant activation and subscription management on the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network directly from a wireless appliance.

WSM debuted at the 1998 Palm Computing Worldwide Developers Conference in conjunction with the announcement of the new wirelessly enabled Palm VII connected organizer.  Palm VII organizer customers will be the first to use this completely automated procedure, right out-of-the-box, allowing them to activate the device on the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network and choose offerings on the new palm.net service.

“By integrating our innovative Wireless Subscription Management feature with wireless devices like the new Palm VII Connected Organizer,” noted William F. Lenahan, president and CEO of BellSouth Wireless Data, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based BellSouth Corporation, “we are simplifying the entire wireless enablement process for end-users, manufacturers and service providers.  This is a key to bringing the wireless data experience to the broad personal marketplace.  Consumers will be able to activate and select service plans easily.  Manufacturers and service providers will have an automated process that eliminates the need for personnel to handle activation orders, which positively affects their bottom line.

With WSM, consumers can activate their Palm VII organizer on the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network literally as soon as they complete their purchase.  Users simply raise the device’s antenna, select the level of service they desire through palm.net, enter billing and credit card or purchase order information, and in 60 seconds or less they are ready for interactive, wireless data communications.

BellSouth Wireless Data’s Wireless Subscription Management feature brings many other benefits to the marketplace as well.  For service providers, it delivers remote sessionless activation/deactivation abilities, on-line account management and help-desk services.  For device manufacturers it aids the manufacturing process by dynamically providing Mobitex Access Numbers (MANs) — similar to PINs — which releases the manufacturer from the responsibility of having to program a MAN into each device modem.  This results in lower price points and increased profitability for all parties.

About BellSouth Wireless Data

BellSouth Wireless Data, L.P., headquartered in Woodbridge, N.J., is an expert in providing proven wireless data communications solutions that eliminate the barriers between critical information and mobile users.  The company, a winner of the prestigious Sears Innovation Source of the Year and Partners in Progress awards for 1997, delivers a competitive advantage and increases personal productivity for aggressive, innovative companies and individuals leveraging communications technologies to meet their strategic goals.  BellSouth Wireless Data operates its wireless data service throughout the United States, covering more than 93 percent of the urban business population located in 266 metropolitan areas with a total population of 200 million people.

BellSouth Wireless Data is a subsidiary of BellSouth Corporation, which provides telecommunications, wireless communications, directory advertising and publishing, video, Internet and information services to nearly 30 million customers in 20 countries worldwide.


Wal-Mart MasterCard

Chase Manhattan revealed yesterday that its ‘Wal-Mart MasterCard’ program has passed the 1.7 million cardholder mark. The card now ranks among the top ten co-branded programs in the U.S. The Wal-Mart card program recently received the highest customer satisfaction ranking from J.D. Power and Associates. Chase’s ‘Wal-Mart MasterCard’ features no annual fee and a fixed annual percentage rate of 14.48% on purchases. The card also offers 9.9% APR on balance transfers for the life of the loan. Wal-Mart Stores has 1,862 Wal-Mart stores, 544 Supercenters, and 451 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) Chase Manhattan had $31.6 billion in receivables and 31.7 million total cardholders as of Sept.30.

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


Freedom Grows

Six more Pennsylvania banks have Joined the ‘FREEDOM ATM ALLIANCE’. Several PA banks, lead by Dollar Bank, recently formed the no-surcharge alliance. The alliance now consists of 25 local banks with over 200 ATMs. The six banks that have joined since the initial announcement on Nov. 5, are Compass Federal Savings Bank, Fidelity Bank, 1st Federal S&L of Greene County, Prestige Bank, Reeves Bank, and Workingmens Savings Bank. Dollar Bank has 58 ATMs in the alliance.


Gaming Processor

FL-based Cybergames Inc. announced Tuesday it has entered into a joint venture agreement with a newly-formed Costa Rican affiliate, Sistemas De Comercio Internet ICS S.A. to operate an Internet e-commerce credit card operation. Cybergames, which operates three casinos in Costa Rican hotels, will be one of three owners of the operation. ICS has an integrated hosting and credit/debit clearing system for the Internet. ICS has entered into an agreement with an undisclosed international card system for the exclusive right to develop and operate a complete credit/debit card issuance and processing system for commercial enterprises wishing to do gaming business on the Internet. CyberGames says it already has signed five additional clients.


Bull Java Card

Bull Smart Cards & Terminals pledged full support for Sun Microsystem’s ‘JDK 1.2’ , released yesterday. Bull will incorporate ‘JDK 1.2’ release into its Java Card developers environment, ‘OdysseyLab’. According to Sun, the new ‘JDK 1.2’ version provides a rich feature set of new class libraries and tools, making it easier than ever for developers to create portable, distributed, enterprise-class applications. ‘OdysseyLab’ is a set of tools designed to enable the development of Java Card applications for Bull Odyssey cards. ‘OdysseyLab’ is a kit that includes Java cards, a ‘Bull SmarTLP’ reader and a set of tools that facilitate the development of applets using a standard Java language.


Fair Isaac CRM

Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. recently teamed with the Tower Group and Hewlett-Packard to present the latest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to more than 140 financial services clients. These presentations, which took place in Charlotte, Wilmington, New York City, and Toronto, provided an overview of innovative CRM solutions and capabilities with accompanying research results and customer successes. Fair, Isaac offers a suite of CRM solutions delivered to clients in a series of components that can be mixed and matched to increase customer lifetime value, reduce losses, and offer greater operational efficiency.

“At Fair, Isaac, we believe the fundamental rationale for CRM is to make better decisions through data, insight, and technology,” said Hollis Fishelson-Holstine, senior vice president, Fair, Isaac. “By focusing on three areas¾customer-level marketing management, customer-level risk management, and customer-level interaction management ¾ financial organizations can realize the benefits of CRM today.”

During these presentations, Robert J. Landry, group director of the Tower Group’s Retail Banking and Consumer Credit Practices, stated that CRM is not a technology solution, but a sales and service strategy. In fact, these sales and service opportunities occur on an average of 30 times a month per customer. By providing more usable information and recommended actions to customer contacts, institutions can provide better, more personal service to the customer while ensuring the financial institution makes efficient, consistent decisions with all customers.

Ray Rahamin, industry director of consumer banking in Hewlett-Packard’s Financial Services Industry Group, represented HP, a Fair, Isaac CRM partner. He reported on their extensive research in defining a road map to personalized financial services. “No single company can provide a total CRM solution nor can CRM be purchased ‘off the shelf,'” Rahamin emphasized. “HP delivers customer data warehouses at client sites and the middleware that integrates to legacy systems, and partners with ‘best-of-breed’ solutions providers, such as Fair, Isaac, to provide a comprehensive CRM offering.”

Fair, Isaac unveiled its intelligent CRM framework during the presentations and offered results of several CRM solutions the company has implemented at client sites. According to Fishelson-Holstine, “In one success story, Fair, Isaac increased customer response rates to cross-sell offers by up to 300 percent and reduced application processing from 10 minutes to 42 seconds. We were able to demonstrate how financial services institutions can maximize customer value and profitability today and in the future with CRM.”

Fair, Isaac ([www.fairisaac.com][1]) helps businesses worldwide maximize the value of data to make more profitable decisions about their customers, operations and portfolios. Known for its pioneering work in credit scoring and its use of data in transaction-level decisions, Fair, Isaac now delivers data management services, analytics, software, and consulting to the financial services, direct marketing, personal lines insurance, retail, and healthcare industries. Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Fair, Isaac employs 1,500 people in 17 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 1998, the company reported revenues of $245.5 million, a 23 percent increase over the prior year. For more information, contact Fair, Isaac at 1-800-999-2955.

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


SmarTalk Update

SmarTalk TeleServices, Inc. announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with Fletcher International Limited for a $25 million secured term loan facility, maturing January 31, 1999. The Company expects to access up to $10 million of the facility over the next month, subject to the satisfaction of customary conditions to draw down. The Company could access up to an additional $15 million from the facility over various periods, subject to the discretion of the lender. SmarTalk plans to use the financing for general corporate purposes.

An affiliate of Fletcher Asset Management currently is a shareholder of SmarTalk. In connection with the financing transaction, SmarTalk has granted Fletcher the right to acquire, upon satisfaction of applicable notice periods, up to approximately an additional 15% of the common stock of SmarTalk.

SmarTalk TeleServices, Inc. is a leading provider of prepaid calling cards and prepaid wireless services. Based in Dublin, Ohio, SmarTalk maintains distribution agreements with the U.S. Postal Service and leading mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets, hotels, home office superstores and convenience stores throughout North America and the U.K. SmarTalk also creates promotional card programs for advertisers and corporate clients. Visit the SmarTalk website at [www.smartalk.com][1].

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