SNET  Phone Cards

Interactive Telesis, a leader in interactive shareholder communication, this week announced that Southern New England Bell of Stamford, Conn., nationally represented by Communications Design Group Inc., has signed an agreement with ITI’s MarketREACH division to utilize ITI’s groundbreaking automated TeleSurvey system.

TeleSurvey is the newest application designed to deliver a new level of value to Southern New England Bell and its clients for pre-paid phone cards.

Savvy telecommunications companies and their clients are realizing that utilizing pre-paid phone cards as gifts in their promotions are a great tool for advertising and creating goodwill.

The initial terms of the agreement call for ITI to incorporate its unique TeleSurvey system application at the beginning of each Pre-Paid Phone Card activation process. The effect of the TeleSurvey will be far reaching as it turns the prohibitive costs and time of the old-style market survey into low cost, real-time, live information data in the very instant a customer keys in their answers from any phone.

This 5-7 question survey allows any client company of Southern New England Bell to generate valuable sales and marketing data conveniently and at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional mailed questionnaires. The information gleaned from callers activating their phone cards will generate immediate and cost effective customer preference information.

Communications Design Group Inc. (CDG) are the national representatives for Southern New England Bell’s phone card program, with a client base including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, IBM, The White House, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson and many other major clients. CDG’s national sales manager, Mark McGill, said, “ITI’s TeleSurvey gives us the opportunity to go back to our current client base and offer them enhanced services.”

CDG has indicated to Interactive Telesis that the demand for ITI’s TeleSurvey has been immediate. The first 2 major clients to express interest in utilizing the service are one of the fastest growing fast food providers in the nation and a Fortune 100 film processing company.

Interactive Telesis is in advanced discussions to provide similar value added services to a number of America’s leading providers of pre-paid phone cards. These companies are expected to join ITI’s growing MarketREACH TeleSurvey client base, which already includes GTE and Ameritech.

Interactive Telesis continues to redefine Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology by designing and supporting communication solutions for North America’s largest, most progressive companies. Clients include AT&T, GTE Card Services, Ameritech, Yahoo and Nike.

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Airline Comm Cut

Last week’s action by United Airlines to reduce travel agency commissions on its international flights will translate into higher travel costs for business and leisure travelers, according to American Express.  Should other airlines follow suit, American Express warns the traveling public to brace for a $500 million increase in travel costs.

United Airlines’ announcement November 12 further slashed the commission it pays to travel agencies and companies, setting a $100 “cap” on commissions for international roundtrip flights after reducing it last year to 8 percent.

American Express reacted swiftly to United Airlines’ announcement by alerting corporate clients on Friday that the move amounts to an indirect fare increase and suggesting they call United to protest the move.

“At a time of record profits and declining international traffic, United Airlines has effectively raised fares and disguised the move as a cost savings.  Ordinarily when suppliers cut costs, the savings are passed along to customers.  The reverse is true here.  Business travelers, already reeling from record-high business airfares, will be bit especially hard,” said Ed Gilligan, President, American Express Corporate Services.  “Because most companies receive the commission and pay their agencies a management fee, firms will be paying more when they fly United.  Should other airlines follow suit, companies will pay an average of three to four percent more on international travel.”

“Our larger clients are not sitting still.  Those who have negotiated fares with United based on specific levels of volume are telling the airline that they can no longer commit to the volume originally negotiated.  Some are already looking to other carriers instead,” Gilligan noted.

On one of the most popular international routes, New York to London, the commission paid on a $5,300 business class roundtrip ticket would plummet 75 percent.  On a $2,580 full coach roundtrip ticket, the commission would fall by 49 percent.  The company would have to absorb the shortfall.

Leisure and small business travelers will also feel the impact.  “This additional commission cut makes it even more expensive for travel agents to handle complex international reservations,” Gilligan added.  “The majority of travel agencies are already charging service fees.  They’ll have no choice but to raise them, especially if other airlines take similar actions.  Travelers who want to avoid agency fees may choose to go directly to the airline for tickets.  But it’s difficult to imagine any airline recommending another carrier for a better price.  The agent’s role — searching out airfare values among all carriers U.S. and foreign, and knowing the details of special offers and restrictions — is particularly important on more expensive and complex international bookings.”

American Express, like other travel agents, is studying other ways to help customers cope with the cost increase resulting from this commission cut.  “As a member of the travel agency community, American Express fully supports the recommendations of the American Society of Travel Agents that agents voice their protest,” said Gilligan.

Before last week’s action by United, travel agencies and their clients had absorbed nearly a billion dollars in higher travel costs as a result of commission restructuring by the airlines since 1995.

Background on Corporate Travel Purchasing

Airline commission changes directly affect more corporate customers today, as the majority of large corporations now retain travel agency services on a fee-based arrangement.  The company earns the airline commissions and pays the agency pre-determined fees for such services as ticketing, low-fare searches and management reporting.

This arrangement became the predominant one after the 1995 commission cap, as corporations and agencies adjusted financial agreements to maintain customer service levels despite the reduced commission revenue.  “Agencies certainly proved their value to corporate America as the best way to control travel costs,” said Ed Gilligan.

American Express operates the world’s largest travel agency, with business and leisure travel sales worldwide of more than $17.4 billion in 1997. American Express Corporate Services, which includes the American Express Corporate Card, Business Travel Services and Corporate Purchasing Card, assists companies in managing and controlling their business travel and general expenses.  It is a unit of American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Express Company — a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850.  It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

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netClearing Buys Access Services

Digital Courier Technologies, Inc. announced Tuesday that its netClearing Internet payment processing division has signed a letter of intent to acquire Access Services, Inc., a private company based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Access Services is a leading third party credit card transaction processing company.  The acquisition is expected to close by early December.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Digital Courier becomes one of the first companies to provide online businesses with a suite of Internet-based payment processing products with built-in direct connections to the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover payments networks.  NetClearing currently provides the payment processing transaction engine for Digital Courier’s Videos Now online video shopping service, which debuted this month on America Online, as well as for a growing number of online merchants.  netClearing will also be used in industrial-strength Web-based and wireless personal weather applications to be introduced by Digital Courier’s WeatherLabs division later this year.

“It is projected that the e-commerce market will grow to $300 billion by 2002, and the acquisition of Access Services accelerates our strategy to position netClearing at the hub of this market,” stated Mitchell Edwards, Chief Financial Officer of Digital Courier.  “Access Services will immediately bring world-class payment processing management and substantial financial institution and merchant business to our netClearing division,” he added. Access Services provides credit and debit card authorization and capture services to major banks and ISO/MSP service organizations nationwide through its processing center located in Atlanta, Georgia.  Based on leading edge client-server technology provided by Verifone and Hewlett-Packard, Access Services fields a broad array of payments products and services designed to take advantage of up to date offerings in Internet and other telecommunications mediums.

“Our alliance with Digital Courier will further enhance our Internet payments offerings and enable us to continue our rapid expansion in the payments processing marketplace,” said Tom Tesmer, President of Access Services.

Digital Courier Technologies Inc. supplies businesses and major web portals with sophisticated e-commerce and content delivery software.  The software is based on a powerful matrix of server-side Java software components.  The company’s current content offerings, which utilize the powerful e-commerce and content delivery software, include: WeatherLabs, a premiere online weather information service (), VideosNow (), and BooksNow ().

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Affinity Tech & Fair Isaac

Affinity Technology Group, Inc. and Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. Tuesday announced that the companies have signed a joint marketing agreement that will make Affinity’s outsourced credit approval products for direct and indirect loans available with Fair, Isaac’s current offering of decision-making solutions.

“This agreement provides Affinity with access to Fair, Isaac’s highly regarded sales team and customer base,” said Paul Adams, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing of Affinity. “In addition, Fair, Isaac’s predictive models for automobile loans are the perfect complement to Affinity’s iDEAL indirect and direct auto loan processing system.”

Al Sowden, senior vice president of Alliance Management of Fair, Isaac added, “Affinity’s outsourced approach to loan application processing enables financial institutions to automate their credit functions easily and quickly. For companies addressing the Year 2000 issue in their front-end systems, this service bureau offering provides a timely solution. Our SEARCH and ScoreWare tools, which implement our predictive models, are an integral component in Affinity’s system.”

Affinity’s technology enables financial institutions to link their dealers, branches, call centers, and Internet customers electronically to their credit departments, providing fully automated lending – and, if necessary, connectivity to a loan officer – through every channel. For financial institutions, Affinity’s solutions expedite loan decisioning and processing and increase productivity and capacity of branch personnel, call center agents, loan officers, and indirect agents, while improving the overall customer experience. Affinity is located on the World Wide Web at [www.affi.net][1].

Fair, Isaac ([www.fairisaac.com][2]) 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, California, Fair, Isaac employs 1,500 people in 17 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ending 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.affi.net
[2]: http://www.fairisaac.com

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ClaimCard Signs Quarterback

The ClaimCard, Inc. announced Monday that Bernard J. Kosar, Jr. has joined its board.

Mr. Kosar is a Senior Vice President and a Director of Precision Response Corporation, Chairman of the NFL Quarterback Club and part of the group that won the bid for the new Cleveland Browns franchise. A former NFL quarterback, he was most recently with the Miami Dolphins after his affiliations with the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys and the original Cleveland Browns.

Bernie is also a director and majority shareholder of Tidewater Management Group, Inc., an Arby’s multi-unit franchisee with thirteen restaurants in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and the Bernie Kosar Greeting Card Company, a distributor of sports-oriented greeting cards in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We are extremely pleased to have Bernie join ClaimCard’s Board of Directors,” said Larence Park, the company’s Chief Executive Officer. “Bernie is a talented and creative individual. His business development expertise and knowledge of teleservices is a valuable asset to ClaimCard in introducing our revolutionary payment system services to the market.”

“ClaimCard is on the leading edge of innovative development of electronic payment systems” Kosar said, “and I’m excited to be a part of this dynamic organization.”

The ClaimCard, Inc. is a technology leader in the development of Internet based software applications and innovative payment systems for the insurance industry. ClaimCard’s software delivers scalable solutions that enable its customers to improve the management, valuation, and payment of insurance claims. The company pioneered the development of the ClaimCard MasterCard, the first payment system of its kind designed specifically for the unique requirements of the insurance industry. ClaimCard’s proprietary authorization and settlement systems empower an insurance company to deliver payments utilizing enhanced authorization controls tailored to their unique requirements.

For more information go to on the Internet.

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Advanta Settlement

A class action suit against Advanta’s pricing policies may be settled next month in a hearing scheduled for Dec. 23 in Delaware. The plaintiff law firms which include Girard & Green of San Francisco; Langston, Frazer, Sweet & Freese of Birmingham; and Shepherd & Geller of Media, PA. made the announcement yesterday. The class action covers the period between Jan. 1, 1992 and Nov. 2, 1998 and extends to all consumer credit cards issued by Advanta National Bank, Advanta National Bank USA, or Colonial National Bank USA. The suit seeks damages for cardholders who established a balance through the Advanta ‘SmartMove’ program and were charged an interest rate on that balance higher than the rate described in the promotional material pursuant to which the balance was established.

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NextCard Infusion

San Francisco-based NextCard, Inc.announced Monday it has raised $38 million in a third round of equity financing from Moore Capital Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, and Highland Capital Partners. NextCard’s investors from its first and second round of financing include Brentwood Venture Capital, Trinity Ventures, St. Paul Venture Capital and Forrest Binkley & Brown. Since its launch in December 1997 approximately 500,000 consumers have applied for the ‘NextCard Internet VISA’, and the company is generating over $15 million per month in balance transfers. The card is offered exclusively through the Internet and offers credit approvals within seconds. NextCard is marketed through a strategic relationship with Heritage Bank of Commerce in San Jose, CA..The company said yesterday it has now become a top 20 online advertiser. NextCard advertises in USA Today Online as well as CardWeb’s online consumer channels. The start-up firm says it has captured as much as 20% of the market for online credit card applications in just nine months, based on two independent studies from Cyber Dialogue, Inc. and Brittain Associates. The privately held company recently changed its name/structure to NextCard, Inc., from Internet Access Financial Corporation.

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SLM Finalizes Bankline Acquisition

SLM Software Inc., a leading global provider of electronic transaction management solutions, announced Monday that it has completed the acquisition of Bankline Holding, Inc., a privately-held, leading supplier of client server retail banking systems and data processing services including imaging for community financial institutions in the U.S. The SLM/Bankline combination creates a leading single source provider of in-house and outsourced electronic financial service solutions in the U.S. With strong brand equity, customer service and management expertise, SLM is well positioned to deliver a greater array of financial transaction management products and services to community financial institutions in the U.S. who want to remain competitive in this consolidation-driven industry. It also allows SLM to derive greater market share in the U.S. and extend its global reach.

“We have already received early positive response from customers eager for the expanded suite of products and services now available to them. The benefits of this combination extend to all stakeholders. Enhanced shareholder value is possible by more than doubling sales and earnings performance. And employees become part of an even stronger and fast-growing market leader. The Bankline acquisition represents an important milestone in SLM’s U.S. market entry,” said Govin Misir, CEO, SLM Software Inc.

John French, CEO of Bankline Holding Inc. and now CEO of SLM’s U.S. Operations, added “The opportunity to serve the community financial industry with affordable, leading technology has never been better. We have already taken active steps to leverage the synergies between our two organizations to help financial institutions deliver the services their customers demand.”

The purchase price was approximately US$20 million and was paid with 1.2 million in common shares of SLM, and performance-based stock warrants based on a price of US$9.81, exchangeable for up to an additional 254,000 common shares of SLM, and will be payable with US$8.6 million in cash. The 1.2 million common shares are escrowed for a 2-year period, as well as any common shares issued out of the warrants.

About SLM Software Inc.

Founded in 1986, Toronto-based SLM Software took an early lead in the electronic financial revolution. Its open systems technology set the standard for on-line transaction management, enabling true hardware, database and protocol independence. SLM was the first to offer the financial services and health care markets the compatibility, flexibility and upward scalability necessary for global electronic service delivery. SLM’s state-of-the-art ESP-Link product solutions help organizations maintain their competitive advantage in 52 countries on five continents, powering end-to-end electronic commerce solutions from credit and debit cards, smart cards, ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, in-branch services, Internet, telephone and PC banking systems to wealth management and integrated, on-line medical insurance claims processing.

About Bankline Holding Inc.

Based in the greater Kansas City area, Bankline is a recognized leader in client server information products and services including imaging for community financial institutions in the U.S. Bankline’s Windowsr based retail banking software, MicroSOLV, is Y2K compliant and operates on a relational database in an open systems environment. MicroSOLV includes fully integrated core banking applications, retail and branch automation systems, check imaging and a complete range of support systems and interfaces. As a full service provider, Bankline supplies nearly 400 clients turnkey in-house installations and services including outsourced data processing, imaging, back office, as well as facilities management. Bankline operates 14 data centres in eight states and has a system integrator in Tennessee.

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Smart Fingerprints

Key Tronic Corporation introduced the ‘Secure Scanner’ keyboard with a smart card reader yesterday. The new product provides the ultimate in authentication of users through fingerprint recognition. Now, someone using a smart card for transactions or distribution of the information stored on the smart card, can verify that they are the owner of the card through fingerprint recognition. The master fingerprint file can be stored on the smart card, making any transaction with that particular smart card to require fingerprint authentication before completing the transaction. Both features can work independently of each other as well for network access control and smart card transactions. The keyboard features the Key Tronic ‘Secure Scanner’ on the left. This optical scanner is the ‘DFR200’ scanner from Identicator, Inc.

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BofA EAGLS

Bank of America said Monday it will enable its commercial credit card customers to access the power of a transaction information management system that uses Web-based, point-and-click technology to set new standards of speed, accuracy and cost-efficiency. The online account management and reporting system, ‘EAGLS’ will be available mid-year 1999. ‘EAGLS’ was originally designed with the requirements of the federal government’s General Services Administration in mind. ‘The system has now been modified to meet the needs of private sector customers. ‘EAGLS’ allows users to set up accounts, maintain them, and view regularly scheduled reports, as well as write their own reports with new flexible management information tools. The system also provides superior controls, expedited cardholder setup and on-line access to at least 13 months of data. End-to-end purchasing capability will be delivered through an electronic mall interface, accompanied by electronic reconcilement and EDI capability.

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NetPrecision 99

First Data Direct Banking announced this morning the release of the newest version of  ‘NetPrecision 99’. The Internet banking product features an all-new, easy-to-use customer interface with expanded new graphic options and more features included in the entry-level ‘NetPrecision 30/30 Home Banking’ product. Another major feature of the new release is the addition of dynamic ad banner generation, providing a way for NetPrecision clients to expand the opportunities to promote their services and products or even generate revenue on their Web sites. Other features of ‘NetPrecision 99’ include: a local authorization bill payment and settlement process; the addition of interfaces to several new bank transaction processors; automatic integration of First Data Direct Banking’s ‘Privacy Policy Program’, which assists financial institutions with the development and posting of policies on their Web sites; the addition of a Web traffic tracking component; differentiation between electronic and paper billers in the bill payment module and the ability to expand customer use to Canada and Mexico through the addition of address formats for those countries.

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Destiny Cash Infusion

Destiny Software Corporation announced Monday that it has received equity investments from Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners L.P., Newlight Associates L.P., and Women’s Growth Capital Fund.  Destiny Software, a leading provider of online systems for credit card issuers and other financial institutions, will use the new funds to extend its product lines and intensify penetration into new markets.

“Destiny Software represents an exciting opportunity,” stated Stephen L. Amsterdam, a Principal of Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners.  “Destiny has both an outstanding management team and robust technology, in addition to fitting well within our charter to assist in the growth of attractive Pennsylvania-based enterprises.”

Mr. Amsterdam and Robert Brill, General Partner of Newlight Associates, L.P. have joined Destiny’s Board of Directors.  Both Mr. Amsterdam and Dr. Brill bring extensive experience in entrepreneurial and technology ventures to the company.  Referring to the reason his firm invested in Destiny Software, Dr. Brill commented, “We were primarily attracted to Destiny for the exceptional management and technical teams they’ve created.”

“The experience and stature of our new investors will help us to build our leadership position in online financial services,” remarked Lucinda Duncalfe, Chief Executive Officer of Destiny.  “Strong investor support is a key ingredient for growth.  Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners, Newlight Associates, and Women’s Growth Capital Fund are top notch, and we’re delighted to have them as business partners.”

Newlight Associates led this round of venture capital financing.  These venture capitalists join Blue Water Capital L.L.C., which provided Destiny with its initial round of venture funding in May 1997.

Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners is a $50 million venture capital fund associated with Safeguard Scientifics, Inc., a strategic information systems company with a proven track record of bringing emerging technology companies into the public markets.  Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners seeks to invest in promising early stage companies with the potential for exponential growth, located primarily in Pennsylvania, or those willing to relocate operations to the Commonwealth.  The fund has a strong emphasis on technology and looks for opportunities with market leadership potential and outstanding management.

The Newlight Associates Funds are focused private equity funds that invest principally in high growth technology-oriented businesses.  The Funds began operation in 1997 and are capitalized at $50 million.  The investors that provide Newlight’s capital base range from global financial institutions to entrepreneurs.  One of the largest of its kind, the Women’s Growth Capital Fund is a $29 million venture capital fund that invests in established, women- owned businesses seeking expansion capital, primarily in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

About Destiny Software

Destiny Software, with offices in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, provides online products and services to financial institutions.  Granite Foundation, Granite Sculptor, Granite Retail Card, and Granite Commercial Card allow credit card issuers, private banks, and other financial institutions to deliver their products over the Internet, Open Financial Exchange (OFX), America Online and other electronic channels. Destiny’s clients include Bank of America, The Northern Trust Company, First USA, Advanta, and GE Capital.  The company’s web site is located at .

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