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


Cyberflex Access

Schlumberger announced ‘Cyberflex Access’ yesterday, a new smart card based on Java technology that combines multiple application capabilities with built-in cryptographic services.The new card provides information security services: digital signature, authentication and authorization, along with application security features, such as secure remote ‘Java Card’ applet loading using digital signatures. As the world’s first commercially available card with this combination of features, ‘Cyberflex Access’ complies with the current Java Card API 2.0 specification from Sun Microsystems, and primary features of the new Java Card API 2.1 specification.


Florida ATMs

BankAtlantic is now installing ATMs in 92 Cumberland Farms stores throughout Florida. Access Cash, one of the largest non-bank deployers of ATMs, has been commissioned by BankAtlantic to outfit these convenience outlet installations. Access Cash, based in Minneapolis, Minn., will handle all operational aspects including cash management, servicing and processing. In pursuit of increased market penetration across Florida, BankAtlantic has more than tripled its ATM installations this year. By the end of 1998, BankAtlantic expects to have nearly 800 ATMs, with 90% of these in retail establishments, including Wal-Mart stores, gasoline and convenience food stores, malls, and college campuses.