This year’s roller coaster ride in revolving credit regained stability during September, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Federal Reserve. Revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, grew at a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.8% during September compared to a 6.9% annual rate for September 1997. Preliminary figures for the third quarter, complied by CardWeb’s CardData service, shows bank credit card debt is growing slightly more than 10% annually. Over the past twelve months consumers have added $21.6 billion to total revolving credit, or an average of $1.8 billion per month. Overall consumer credit is growing 7.9% annually according to the FRB. At the end of September, American consumers were $1.224 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.Details
MBNA confirmed Friday it has signed a 10-year extension with the Penn State Alumni Association for their affinity card program. The extension until the year 2008 also significantly expands the current ‘Penn State’ credit card program. The expansion will give members of the alumni association the opportunity to select additional MBNA products and services, including consumer loans, and deposit and insurance products. The expanded program also includes an endorsement from Penn State football coach, Joe Paterno, who earned his 300th victory earlier this year. MBNA says it has signed 150,000 Penn State alumni and students for the ‘Penn State MBNA’ credit card since its inception. MBNA also reports its affinity programs with more than 500 colleges and universities has netted 3 million cardholders with $4 billion in balances to-date.Details
Gemplus announced last week the successful certification of its GemGold Card or ‘Jin Hui Ka’. The certification was granted by the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC),and is based on PBOC Integrated Circuit Card Specifications .
The GemGold Card – a multipurpose chip card incorporates both electronic deposit and electronic purse capabilities and is one the first IC cards which met and passed PBOC stringent specifications, giving Gemplus the license to supply the nation’s financial institutions a standardized card.
The specification test for the bank cards include security, communication protocol, compatibility, essencial function test and physical feature test. The test was carried out by the Bank Card Certification Centre, a PBOC certifying authority.
Commenting on the efforts made by both local and international smart card vendors, Mr Liu Yongchun, Deputy General Director of Department of Payment, Science & Technical Department of PBOC said at his speech during a press conference in Beijing, “I would like to thank both the local and the foreign card and terminal vendors for their support of our banking development in China. With the first batch of card certified, it has set the basis for us to start our pilot implementation.” He added, “cards that are certified today have gone through many rounds of testing, this has shown the importance of product certification. Products that are not certified will be refused entry into the financial market of China.”
According to Serge Barthelemy, CEO for Gemplus Greater China, “the successful testing of Gemplus GemGold card is proof of Gemplus expertise and capabilities and we are indeed honoured to be working with the Peoples Bank of China in helping them lay a solid foundation to pave the way for China’s payment system.” Gemplus is already highly committed to the China market where we recently invested US$30 million and we looking forward to actively working with banks to incorporate our GemGold card offering into their system.
Gemplus is the world’s leading provider of plastic and smart card-based solutions. With sales of over US$592 million in 1997, Gemplus employs more than 4,111 people in 10 manufacturing facilities, 5 R&D centers and 41 sales and marketing offices located in 27 countries around the world. Founded in 1988, Gemplus has successfully implemented portable and secure smart card-based solutions to simplify applications such as public and wireless communications, financial transactions, loyalty, trasportation, education, healthcare, identity, access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, access control and information technology.
Gemplus Technologies Asia Pacific, headquartered in Singapore, had sales revenue exceeding US$100 million throughout Asia Pacific. The company has manufacturing facilities in China and Singapore. Gemplus in Asia Pacific has over 50% market share.Details
NeuralTech, Inc. and SPC Inc., doing business as First of Omaha Merchant Processing, announced last week a settlement effective November 3rd, 1998, of a lawsuit filed by SPC Inc. against NeuralTech on October 23, 1998. The parties announced a resolution of the lawsuit and indicated an intention to continue the vendor relationship under which SPC utilizes NeuralTechâs CADRE Merchant Software. The settlement did not involve payment of damages by either party. John Cramp, President of NeuralTech, stated âWe are pleased that SPC and NeuralTech were able to work together to resolve the differences that led to the complaint. We have committed to an aggressive schedule to accommodate Year 2000 compliance concerns of SPC and to resolve concerns raised by SPC about the performance of several CADRE Merchant Software functions within SPCâs processing system.â Nicholas W. Baxter, spokesperson for SPC, said âwe are satisfied with the resolution of the lawsuit and look forward to fully implementing NeuralTechâs CADRE Merchant Software within our business.âDetails
A Cleveland, OH-based company spammed millions of consumers over the Internet late Friday night for a “guaranteed credit card”. The email message sent out by America First Financial offered a complete guide to obtaining “unsecured VISA and MasterCards”. The company said it guarantees buyers a credit card “regardless of past or current credit problems”. The kit is being offered for $46. The firm also offers a credit repair and debt consolidation kit for $25 and $30, respectively.
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The NYCE Network announced today that an all-time one-day volume record for on-line debit point-of-sale (POS) transactions was set on October 31, 1998. On that day, NYCE cardholders conducted more than 559,000 on-line POS transactions through NYCE. This represents an increase of approximately five percent over the previous daily record, which was set on December 24, 1997.
In addition, NYCE’s weekly on-line POS transaction volume surpassed 3 million for the first time during the period of October 26 through November 1, 1998.
“throughout the year, NYCE has continued to promote on-line POS to consumers and sign major merchants to our service. In turn, these efforts have helped us achieve outstanding volume growth,” said Scott Strug, vice president of marketing with NYCE Corporation. “We expect that consumer confidence in on-line POS will continue to boost Network transaction volume, particularly during the busy holiday season”
Based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, NYCE Corporation provides both merchants and financial institutions with flexible, state-of-the-art processing services that support automated teller machine (ATM), on-line debit point-of-sale (POS) and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions. In addition, NYCE provides financial institutions with telephone- and PC-based banking and bill payment solutions, ATM terminal driving, card authorization and management, and gateway access services. The corportaion also operates the NYCE Network, the largest shared regional electronic funds transfer (EFT) network in the Northeast. As of October 31, 1998, more than 1,300 financial institutions participate in the NYCE Network, providing ATM and related payment services to more than 31.1 million cardholders through more than 19,600 ATMs and more than 153,000 POS merchant locations.Details
PubliCARD, Inc. reported that it has recently filed an application for trading its shares on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market. The Company’s shares have been trading on the over-the-counter bulletin board. The Company’s application is subject to the review and approval of The Nasdaq Stock Market. There can be no assurances regarding the timing of Nasdaq’s decision or that the application will ultimately be approved.
PubliCARD’s president and chief executive officer, James J. Weis, stated “The listing of our shares on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market would represent a significant benefit for our shareholders in terms of increased liquidity. PubliCARD would also benefit from the increased visibility of listing its shares on the premiere trading market for technology companies.”
About the Company
PubliCARD, Inc., headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, owns companies engaged in manufacturing and engineering services. Greenwald Industries designs and manufactures coin meter systems used primarily in the commercial laundry appliance industry and, through its interest in Greenwald Intellicard, manufactures and sells smart card readers, value transfer stations, card management software and machine interface boards to the commercial laundry appliance industry as well as for the parking and access control industries. Orr-Schelen-Mayeron & Associates provides general engineering, design and architectural services.
The Company also recently announced the execution of a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of Tritheim Technologies, a developer of both hardware and software smart card products. Tritheim’s hardware products include serial, parallel and PCMCIA smart card readers, smart port docking stations and smart card reader chipsets. Its software products include smart card software development tools for developing smart card applications, PC security software, Internet security smart card software, Internet purchase terminal software and Internet automatic teller software. Consummation of the transaction is subject to approval of Tritheim’s shareholders and other customary conditions and is expected to close within the next 30 days.
Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: A number of statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the applicable statements. These risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to the listing of the Company’s shares on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market and the Company’s ability to complete the acquisition of Tritheim and to successfully implement its acquisition strategy including the identification, financing and consummation of any acquisition transaction. For a more detailed discussion of such risks, refer to the Company’s most recent SEC reports, including the Form 1O-K for the year ended December 31, 1997.Details
Netscape is set to announce this morning a new software program to enable large companies to do electronic billing over the Internet. Netscape ‘BillerXpert’ allows companies to use the billing process to improve customer interaction by offering new self-service features, such as convenient one-click payment, in-depth statement analysis, customized views of billing information, and personalized content. The solution also helps companies increase revenue by delivering targeted marketing and enabling them to cross-sell and up-sell additional products and services to users based on usage patterns, behavior and detailed profile information. Companies can use the new product in combination with content and services from Netscape ‘Custom Netcenter’ to build compelling vertical portal sites that move their business to the Internet. ‘BillerXpert 1.0’ will sell for $250,000. Netscape said its first target industry will be the utility sector. Netscape says the program has a potential universe of 1,000 prospects.Details
The Neng card, developed by Bull for the Chinese financial sector, has just been given the go-ahead by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). The bank subjected the card to a series of certification tests, verifying the quality of the development work, its conformity with the specifications defined by PBOC, and the security of the implemented payment transactions.
This official seal of approval opens the doors of all the Chinese banks which will now be required to offer their customers a payment card to comply with the national standard, such as the Neng card.
Bull was the world’s first supplier to sign a contract with a Chinese bank for payment cards meeting the new set of specifications. Since June, the Pudong Development Bank (PDB) has been experimenting the Neng card and has expressed satisfaction with its choice.
Bull has already delivered 1.2 million smart cards to the Chinese banking sector, thus claiming 70% of the Chinese bank card market.
PBOC has chosen three cities, Shanghai, Beijing and Changsha as the first users of the new cards. All the banks operating in these three cities will be taking part in the project, adding up to a potential 21 million new bank cards.
“This certification proves not only that Bull is a key player in the strongly growing development of the Chinese banking sector, but, demonstrates, above all, the success of our cooperation with Chinese banks as a whole,” declared Jeremy Su, president of Bull Greater China.
Bull and debit-credit cards
Over 60% of bank cards in the world use an operating system developed by Bull, world leader in the banking sector.
In 1980, Bull created the B0′, the first microprocessor-based credit/debit card to be used on a national scale. Developed specifically for France’s Groupement des Cartes Bancaires, the card is used for both payments and withdrawals, and is accepted in all the country’s distributors and payment terminals. Today, 30 million of these cards are in circulation.
Bull, leader in electronic purse cards
Bull, the world leader in smart cards for the banking sector, is also leader in electronic purses. With over 40 million cards delivered in 18 countries, Bull’s e-purse range is the world’s biggest seller.
About Bull Smart Cards & Terminals
Bull Smart Cards & Terminals is the industry leader in the field of secured financial transactions. Bull designs, develops and markets global smart card solutions for financial, loyalty, transport, telecommunications, healthcare and other applications. Products include contact-contactless cards plus a full range of general purpose and EFT/POS terminals, automated teller machines, as well as associated software and services.
Bull Smart Cards & Terminals is the acknowledged industry leader in research, development and security related to smart cards & related terminals. The company is also the worldwide leader in electronic purse cards. Since inventing the microprocessor smart card in 1976, Bull has obtained more than 1200 patents in the field, and has received certification for smart card security that is the highest level ever achieved by a smart card.
In 1997, Bull Smart Cards & Terminals earned revenues of 1416 million of FF ($280 million). By relying on Bull international network, the division achieves 80% of the revenue abroad.
Bull is an international I.T. group based in Europe with 21,000 people and operations in nearly 100 countries. In 1997, Bull earned revenues of $4.2 billion including over 65% outside of France, its country of origin. Bull offers a wide range of systems, infrastructure software and I.T. services, through focused innovation, alliances with the best partners and its own integration expertise. In its industry, Bull is recognized for innovative products including Escala family of open servers, smart cards and software such as OpenMaster for secure management of systems and networks. In I.T. services, Bull is ranked in Europe as the third largest systems integrator and fifth in maintenance and support services. Information on Bull is available at: http://www.bull.com More information on these activities can be found on the World Wide Web at: , on Groupe Bull at:Details
‘This holiday season, Visa U.S.A. and online retailer eToys.com, the Internet’s top toy store, are making it more convenient than ever for consumers to bring joy to needy children through an innovative online toy donation program. With a simple click of a mouse, consumers can contribute a toy to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program online — the first time in the non-profit organization’s 51-year history when donations have been made over the Internet.
From Nov. 1 through Dec. 21, online shoppers can donate to Toys for Tots by logging on to eToys () and choosing from a range of popular toys, such as Princess Barbie, Classic Barney, Sing and Snore Ernie and a host of others. Toys for Tots and the Marines will deliver the gifts to underprivileged children nationwide as part of its traditional holiday collection campaign.
eToys is making toys donated online with a Visa card available at 50 percent off the regular retail price.
“With more and more people going to the Internet than ever before, we want to make it simple for them to give to a wonderful cause,” said Joe Vause, vice president of electronic commerce for Visa U.S.A. “The holiday season is a very busy time for everyone, making it difficult to take time out to help others. With just a few key strokes and the click of a mouse, this virtual program will reach many children in need this year.”
“Every year we hear from hundreds of people who plan to donate to the Toys for Tots program, but run out of time,” said retired Lieutenant General Matthew T. Cooper, president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “Together with Visa and eToys, we are giving people everywhere a new, convenient and fun way to participate in the Toys for Tots program by making donations online from the comfort of their homes.”
“With more and more first-time shoppers taking to the Internet, we have developed a very easy-to-use and fast online-donation process,” said Toby Lenk, chief executive officer of eToys. “In just a few minutes time, people can do something very important and memorable for underprivileged children this holiday season.”
The leading online toy merchant and the preferred payment brand on the Internet are teaming up in several other ways this holiday season. eToys is the first online merchant to be featured in Visa’s “It’s Everywhere You Want to Be” advertising campaign. The Visa advertisement with eToys, which launched Nov. 1, illustrates the ease of online shopping and Visa’s leading role as the link for merchants and consumers in the burgeoning e-commerce marketplace. In December, eToys will also be featured as the online merchant of the month throughout Visa’s online shopping pages, located at [http://www.visa.com/onlineshopping.]
About Toys for Tots
For the past 50 years, Toys for Tots has been the U.S. Marine Corps’ premier community action program and one of the nation’s flagship holiday charitable causes. Toys for Tots has donated more than 232 million toys to 116 million needy children since 1947.
Based in Santa Monica, Calif., eToys is the Internet’s largest store for children’s products, carrying more than 8,000 items at prices that meet or beat those of traditional land-based retailers. eToys is the only toy retailer to provide a comprehensive selection of both nationally advertised and specialty toy brands. eToys also carries a wide range of children’s videos, video games, music and software titles. The company’s Web site launched in October, 1997.
As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 620 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US$1.2 trillion in annual volume. Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 450,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [http://www.visa.com.]
The Federal Trade Commission announced last week it has negotiated a settlement agreement with May Department Stores to make full refunds totaling at least $15 million to consumers who having had their credit card account debts discharged in bankruptcy proceedings continued to make payments or face illegal collection efforts. The FTC settlement preserves the Commission’s right to file an action in federal District Court to seek full redress for consumers if the company’s refunds to debtors through the agreements with the states or through a related class action total less than $15 million.Details
U.S. Bank and Chicago’s food/drug retailer Jewel-Osco rolled out a new co-branded rewards card yesterday.The ‘Jewel-Osco Preferred VISA’ allows shoppers to receive discounts on grocery items, cash checks, and accumulate points redeemable for rewards ranging from airline tickets to cruises to movies to museum admissions. The new card program credits cardholders with two points for every dollar spent on the card at any Jewel-Osco location, and one point for every dollar spent on the card at any other retailer . Cardholders start earning rewards when 1500 points have been acquired. At that level, customers can earn $100 off select vacation packages with Carnival Cruise Lines or Royal Caribbean International. Other rewards customers can earn include certificates for $25 worth of free food at Jewel-Osco for 2500 points, or free American Airline tickets at 25-thousand points. In addition to the reward incentive plan, the ‘Jewel-Osco VISA’ automatically gives the same benefits as their current customer loyalty ‘Preferred Card’, including automatic store discounts and check cashing privileges. There is no annual fee if the VISA card is used three times in a 12-month period. Jewel-Osco has 187 food and drug combination stores and 79 free-standing Osco Drug Store locations.Details