In-Flight Shopping

International passengers of United Airlines will now be able to access automated duty free shopping while in-flight. PenRight! Corp. and World Duty Free Inflight announced Monday they have completed a worldwide rollout of 800 pen-based handheld terminals for United Airlines. Flight attendants equipped with the PenRight! based handheld terminals will be able to automatically process thousands of in-flight POS transactions by credit card, cash, coupon or voucher, from items selected from the duty free in-flight gift catalog. At the passenger’s seat, the flight attendant selects the desired products from the ‘IDFS500’s’ LCD display and scans the product’s corresponding bar code. Payment is then collected and stored on the handheld’s internal RAM memory card, and an itemized receipt is then printed from the unit internal thermal printer and handed back to the customer. The ‘IDFS500 is manufactured by 4P Mobile Data Processing.

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FDDB Signs 60th Client

InterWest Bank, a $2.45-billion institution with headquarters in the Pacific Northwest, is Internet banking leader First Data Direct Banking’s 60th client, the two companies announced Monday.

In addition to choosing NetPrecision Home Banking for its transactional Internet services, InterWest is the first NetPrecision bank to pilot the TransPoint Internet bill delivery and payment system.

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity to introduce bill presentment service to the Northwest. We operate in a market area that is anxious to make use of this latest convenience in electronic banking, and believe our delivery of TransPoint will help attract many new customers to InterWest,” said Clark W. Donnell, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of InterWest Bank.

With 60 clients on board, First Data Direct Banking has already exceeded its goal of adding one new client per week this year.

“With its selection of NetPrecision Home Banking and TransPoint bill payment, InterWest Bank joins the leaders in online banking,” said Randy Kahn, president of First Data Direct Banking. “Their participation as a TransPoint pilot bank will help move a key element of Internet banking forward and further demonstrates our commitment to bringing next-generation technology to our clients.”

Through NetPrecision, InterWest will offer its customers online access to account balances and statement detail, fund transfers, stop payments and check orders. With TransPoint, the bank will enable its customers to receive and pay bills electronically.

TransPoint, formerly MSFDC, expects to introduce its end-to-end Internet bill delivery and payment service in early 1999. InterWest joins some of the largest financial institutions in the United States and a number of major billers who are already participating in the pilot program.

First Data Direct Banking’s NetPrecision 30/30 Home Banking product, introduced in February, enables financial institutions to launch a secure, fully transactional Web site in just 30 days for an upfront cost of only $30,000.

About InterWest Bank

InterWest Bank is a subsidiary of InterWest Bancorp Inc., a Washington State-chartered bank holding company with headquarters in Oak Harbor.

InterWest Bancorp is currently the holding company for four banking subsidiaries: InterWest Bank, Pacific Northwest Bank, Pioneer National Bank and Kittitas Valley Bank N.A. InterWest Bank operates 40 branch offices throughout central and western Washington.

InterWest’s total consolidated assets were $2.45 billion as of Sept. 30, 1998. InterWest Bank can be found on the Internet at [www.interwestbank.com][1].

About First Data Direct Banking

First Data Direct Banking builds and hosts customized Internet financial service solutions for financial institutions of all sizes.

Using the NetSpeed process, financial institutions can have fully functional, branded Web sites up and running in just 30 business days with the NetPrecision system.

Los Angeles-based First Data Direct Banking ties leading-edge online financial services partnerships and template, custom-built or existing Web sites into transaction processing provided by electronic payments processing leader First Data Corp.

Direct Banking can be found on the World Wide Web at www.netprecision.com.

Atlanta-based First Data Corp. is a global leader in payment systems, electronic commerce and information management products and services. First Data and its principal operating units process the information that allows millions of consumers to pay for goods and services by credit, debit or smart card at the point of sale or over the Internet; by check or wire money.

For further information about First Data, visit the company on the Internet at [www.firstdatacorp.com][2].

[1]: http://www.interwestbank.com
[2]: http://www.firstdatacorp.com

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GSA SmartPay

Two million VISA/MasterCards issued to Federal employee cardholders become effective this morning. The ‘VISA’ or ‘MasterCard’ brand cards will cover travel and purchase services, while fleet services are provided through either ‘MasterCard’ or ‘Voyager’ brand cards.  ‘GSA SmartPay’ has been billed by the U.S. Government as a charge card program that improves travel, purchase and fleet payment services for federal employees by simplifying payments and cutting administrative costs. The ‘GSA SmartPay’ program is a government initiative that combines commercially available products and services with unique government requirements and systems. Contracts were awarded earlier this year to Citibank, First National Bank of Chicago, Mellon Bank, NationsBank, and U.S. Bank.  Under the program, agencies have the opportunity to combine all their travel, purchase and fleet needs on one integrated card. The ‘GSA SmartPay’ contracts run for five years, with five additional one-year options.  They cover expenditures that were valued at more than $11 billion in fiscal year 1998.

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Diebold Award

The American Telemarketing Association awarded its ‘TELO’ Award for excellence in telemarketing to Diebold. Diebold earned the honor for its successful “Over-the- Phone” ATM marketing program. In the OTP direct marketing concept, associates at Diebold’s Green, Ohio-based call center market ATMs to customers who can’t be reached through traditional sales channels.  The TELO award was presented to Diebold to recognize the innovation and success of the company’s ‘TeleAdvantage’ program, which provides comprehensive telemarketing services to various Diebold customers. Diebold’s telemarketing expertise was also recognized with an ‘ACCE Gold Award’ presented by TeleProfessional magazine in September.

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Jekyll & Hyde Phone Cards

There’s no two ways about it — Bell Atlantic’s promotion that offers a discount on the Broadway smash hit Jekyll & Hyde is a great deal.

[http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19981125/NYW018][1]

Bell Atlantic customers who purchase commemorative Bell Atlantic $20 Jekyll & Hyde Prepaid Calling Cards will receive a $35-discount coupon for regular-priced tickets to the suspenseful Broadway show.  Theater-goers may then use the discount coupon when purchasing or ordering tickets for the show.

“The Bell Atlantic Prepaid Calling Card is a great tool for people on the go,” said Andrew Robbins, Bell Atlantic product manager for Prepaid Calling Cards.  “Customers can use it in many ways — when traveling, to help their children stay in touch, or when they don’t have the change for a call.  The Jekyll & Hyde cards and the discount to the show are sure to be a big hit.”     Residential customers in the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey and Delaware will receive information about the limited-edition Jekyll & Hyde card and the special promotion in their November phone bills.

Bell Atlantic Prepaid Calling Cards are ideal for calling anywhere in the United States, and internationally.  The retail cards feature a low 15-cent per minute rate and a 45-cent per-call fee.  They are available in denominations from $5 to $50 at convenience stores and other locations, or by calling 1-800-696-3990.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry.  With 42 million telephone access lines and eight million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world’s largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world’s largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

INTERNET USERS:  Bell Atlantic news releases, executive speeches, news media contacts and other useful information are available at Bell Atlantic’s News Center on the World Wide Web ().  To receive news releases by email, visit the News Center and register for personalized automatic delivery of Bell Atlantic news releases.

[1]: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/19981125/nyw018

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Payless GoldValue Card

Payless ShoeSource stores has joined the gift card frenzy this year. The ‘Payless ShoeSource GoldValue Card’ offers holiday shoppers the opportunity to purchase the new mag-stripe gift card in any amount redeemable at all Payless ShoeSource stores.  The reloadable gift card may be purchased at all Payless ShoeSource stores with cash, check or credit card for any amount. Payless operates more than 4,200 Payless ShoeSource stores in North America.

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Cash Back Suit

The Discover card has filed suit against American Express over its use of the “cash back” phrase for promoting AmEx cards. Novus Credit Services filed the suit in New York City just before the Thanksgiving Day holiday break. The suit stems from an AmEx recent promotion of a ‘Cash Back Card’ offering up to 2% back. Discover has offered 1% cash back to its cardholders since 1986. In court papers filed, Novus alleges American Express acted in a “willful, wanton and egregious way”.

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Moody’s Stats

Credit card chargeoffs and delinquency dipped a bit during the October collection period according to Moodys’ Investors Services. Based on data for securitized credit card pools chargeoffs dipped to 6.11% in October compared to 6.60% one year ago. Delinquency dropped to 5.17% in October compared to 5.36% last year. Moody’s noted, however, that repayment rates have escalated. During October, cardholders paid-off 14.90% of their balances. Moody’s tracks $260 billion worth of credit card bonds.

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VISA vs IBAA

VISA’s major brand re-positioning is drawing fire from the Independent Bankers Association of America. The IBAA issued the following statement over the holiday: “The community bankers of this nation were among the founders of the Visa member association nearly 30 years ago.  These same banks, under the leadership of Visa’s first CEO Dee Hock, helped transform the Visa mark into the top brand in card products and one of the most widely recognized brands in the world today.  While many brands have fallen because of competition, it is inconceivable that the strength of the brand all Visa members have built could be toppled solely through the influence of one board member.  The Independent Bankers Association of America, representing over 5,000 community banks, condemns this action and urges all Visa members to call for a thorough airing of this matter and the brand positioning issue among all members.” The IBAA says what is especially disturbing is the cavalier manner in which Visa appears to have handled it.

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eWallet

idealab! announced Friday the introduction of eWallet, the first PC program that allows consumers to make safe, secure purchases anywhere on the Web with a single click.

eWallet can be quickly and easily downloaded for free at [www.eWallet.com][1].

eWallet is stored securely on a user’s PC, eliminating the need to go to a special Web site first to get it to work. It is also compatible with all existing credit and debit cards — no need to sign up for anything new. Consumers enter their billing and shipping information in their eWallet just once, eliminating the need to reenter that same information every time they visit a new online shopping site. Because eWallet is designed to work at every e-commerce site on the Web, users’ shopping options through eWallet are limitless. And unlike other forms of virtual or electronic “cash,” use of the eWallet is free to both consumers and merchants.

“E-commerce has taken off and people are more comfortable buying on the Web every day. But it still hasn’t caught on with the majority of consumers in part because of how cumbersome the purchase process is once you find what you’re looking for — most people, in fact, are so put off by all the forms they have to fill out that they actually abandon their online shopping carts once they reach the checkout screen,” said Bill Gross, CEO.

“It reminds me of the early days of credit cards when every transaction had to be manually authorized. We’ve created eWallet to be as easy as swiping your credit card through a magnetic card reader, making checking out on the Internet even faster and easier than in the real world.”

Here’s how eWallet works: After the program has been downloaded (which takes less than five minutes at normal modem speeds), consumers simply input their credit card and shipping information once and encrypt it on their own PC with a personal identification number (PIN). Then they do all of their online shopping as they normally would. Once they encounter a checkout screen at an e-commerce site, they simply click on their wallet, enter their PIN and drag the credit card of choice over to the form. All of the credit card and shipping information is entered automatically and instantly. Once the ‘submit’ button is pressed, the transaction is complete.

eWallet also makes finding goods and services on the Web easier by letting consumers query several leading search engines directly from the eWallet task bar, which resides at the bottom of the PC screen, and by providing direct links to some of the more popular merchants on the Web. In addition, eWallet is unique in that it is stored on a user’s own PC and resides outside of the browser. It is completely secure and available anytime for users to change or update their information offline.

eWallet requires Microsoft Windows(R) 95 or 98 and works either with Netscape Navigator/ Communicator 4.0 or higher or with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.

eWallet is the latest business to spawn from idealab!, the nation’s leading Internet incubator. Founded in March 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, idealab! currently has more than 20 businesses including CitySearch, the industry-leading local information service, GoTo.com, the fastest-growing Internet search engine, and eToys, the leading online toy retailer.

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

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MAC-MAS Record

EPS reported last week that its subsidiary Money Access Services processed 386 million switch transactions during the third quarter, an 18% growth over one year ago. ATM volume was also up 18% to 349 million transactions, while MAC POS transactions soared 25% for the third quarter to 37 million. EPS also announced that the MAC network was the first regional network to announced it will raise its online POS interchange from 6.5 cents to 10 cents, effective July 1, 1999.

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Holiday Sales Up 4%?

Holiday sales are expected to increase 4% over last year, according to a survey of three dozen retail industry analysts conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) for the fifth consecutive year.

“This survey confirms what we’ve been hearing from shopping center executives over the past few weeks: sales will be strong this holiday season. Economic indicators like unemployment, inflation, interest rates, weekly earnings and consumer confidence are indicative of a robust economy. Retail sales have been strong all year long and if we finish the year with the same momentum, and all indicators are telling us we will, retailers will be pleased,” said Dr. John Konarski, vice president of research for ICSC.

In addition to a seasonal prediction, the analysts were asked to identify the most popular merchandise categories and the type of retailers that will capture the most sales. Questions included:

1.   Because of improved product offerings, this will be a particularly strong year for:

———————————————————– ———-
                                                            % of resp.
                    MERCHANDISE CATEGORIES
———————————————————– ———-
Computers, computer-related products                            53%
———————————————————– ———-
Other electronic items, such as TVs, stereos                    53%
———————————————————– ———-
Household items, such as glassware, linens, appliances          47%
———————————————————– ———-
Entertainment products, such as CDs, videos, video games        47%
———————————————————– ———-
Clothing, shoes and accessories                                 32%
———————————————————– ———-
Books, magazines                                                26%
———————————————————– ———-
Recreation items, such as camping gear and sports equipment     18%
———————————————————– ———-
Furniture                                                       15%
———————————————————– ———-
Toys                                                            15%
———————————————————– ———-

The majority of the analysts believe that 1998 will be a particularly strong year for computers & computer-related products (53%) and other electronic items (53%). Household items and entertainment products tied for second place, with nearly half of the analysts believing that this will be a particularly strong year for these two merchandise categories.

Fewer than 20% of the analysts believe that this will be a particularly strong year for recreation items (18%), furniture (15%) and toys (15%). In view of the wide publicity for toys, the 15% rating for this merchandise is very low.

2.   Please state whether the following retail formats will capture more, the same or less of total holiday sales this year:

—————————————– —— —— ——
             RETAIL FORMAT                 MORE   SAME   LESS
—————————————– —— —— ——
Department Stores                           9%     24%   68%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Discount Stores                             91%    9%     0%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Specialty Stores                            52%    36%   12%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Factory Outlets                             3%     41%   56%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Warehouse Clubs                             48%    42%    9%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Big Box/Category-killer                     42%    48%    9%
—————————————– —— —— ——
On-line (web-based) retailers              100%    0%     0%
—————————————– —— —— ——
Mail order catalogs, TV shopping channels   16%    48%   35%
—————————————– —— —— ——

According to the survey, four retail formats will capture more of total holiday sales this year, namely discount stores (91%), specialty stores (52%) and warehouse clubs (48%). All the surveyed analysts rated on-line retailers (100%) as capturing more of total holiday sales this year.

Big box/category-killers (48%) and mail order catalogs & TV shopping channels (48%) will capture the same amount of total holiday sales as last year.

Department stores will capture less of total holiday sales this year, according to a little more than two-thirds of the surveyed analysts. Factory outlets will also capture less of this year’s holiday sales (56%).

3.   Indicate your prediction about how people will pay for their holiday purchases, compared with last year:

———————————— ——– ——– ——–
          FORM OF PAYMENT              MORE     SAME     LESS
———————————— ——– ——– ——–
Cash/check/debit cards                  29%      50%      21%
———————————— ——– ——– ——–
Major credit cards                      62%      38%      0%
———————————— ——– ——– ——–
Store-issued credit cards               15%      46%      39%
———————————— ——– ——– ——–

About 62% of the analysts predict consumers to use major credit cards for holiday purchases more than they did last year. Cash/check/debit cards (50%) and store-issued credit cards (46%) will be used about the same as last year.

The International Council of Shopping Centers is the trade association of the shopping center industry, representing more than 37,000 members in U.S., Canada and over 70 other countries. For more information on the holiday season log onto ICSC’s web site: [http://www.icsc.org][1].

[1]: http://www.ecsc.org

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