MasterCard Vision

MasterCard conducted an online forum last week to discuss lifestyle changes that will occur as smart card technology gains acceptance over the next five years. MasterCard believes multi-application smart cards will be an established technology in the payments business within the next five years. MasterCard projects that by the year 2010, all of MasterCard’s credit and debit cards and terminals will be chip-based. The forum included representatives from IBM, Hitachi, British Telecommunications, the U.S. GSA and The Tower Group.

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SLICK Coming

Betting Inc. has partnered with Novtech, a Florida electronics firm, to develop the first SLICK working model. The secured-line Internet computer keyboard (SLICK) will bypass the Internet completely. Looking like a regular keyboard, the SLICK will feature a card-reader insert for ATM cards, credit cards and stored-value smart cards; a modem; and a printer. The SLICK will use the consumer’s home phone to send a data transaction toll free to the ET&T bank host for bank-card authorization. The Internet merchant will be contacted over a private network to respond back with acknowledgment of SLICK payment. No information crosses the Internet. Betting Inc. is targeting November to begin selling the SLICK to Internet consumers.

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Providian’s Record Earnings

The nation’s largest secured card  and sub-prime issuer posted second quarter net income of $62.9 million, a 38% increase over net income of $45.7 million for the second quarter of 1997. Providian Financial said rapid growth in the company marketing to unbanked customers is driving profits. During the second quarter Providian signed-up 1.3 million new customer relationships and now has over six million total accounts, representing a 50% increase over the same period in 1997.  The company has $11.5 billion in total managed loans as of June 30, a 24% increase over the second quarter of 1997.The total managed net credit loss rate and the managed 31+ day delinquency rate, including the acquired portfolios, were better than expected at 7.56% and 4.90%, respectively. Providian’s 2Q/98 full earnings report is available via [www.carddata.com][1].

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

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First Data Slips

First Data Corp.’s total revenues fell 1% for the first half of 98 to $2.5 billion compared to the first half of 97. The company said the decline is due to FDC’s significant divestiture activity. FDC also posted an after-tax charge of $120.8 million resulting from delays in the conversion of Hong Kong-based credit card accounts and the general outlook for Asia. Meanwhile, second quarter merchant card volume increased 14% to $61 billion and transactions processed were up 12% to 1.1 billion. Merchant card revenues were up 1% for the quarter after being down 3% in the first quarter. Total domestic card accounts on file increased 23% to 174 million. International card services revenues were up 13% for the quarter to $70 million.  International accounts on file grew 32% from the prior year to 25 million. Payment instruments revenues were up 20% to $409 million. FDC’s 2Q/98 full earnings report is available via [www.carddata.com][1].

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

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Internet Casino V/MC Debit

It was bound to happen. Internet gaming has gone mainstream. An innovative company, licensed in the Dominican Republic, has become the first Internet gaming operation to issue VISA and MasterCard debit cards. Gamblers may establish an account by applying for a card on the company’s Web sites or by phone, and if approved, must deposit a minimum of $1,250 to back that debit card. Winnings will be deposited in the account. Players may not spend beyond the limits of their debit card deposits and their winnings. The cards are being issued by Internet Casino Sports Gaming (I.C.S.G.).

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PaySys’ Australia Success

PaySys International, Inc. announced Thursday that, in the first quarter of 1998, four of the six major banks in Australia and New Zealand have licensed VisionPLUS, PaySys’ standard-setting card management system. Some of the largest card-issuing banks, including National Australia Bank, ANZ Bank, Colonial State Bank, and, most recently, WestpacTrust (NZ) have all selected VisionPLUS as the system of choice for their credit card issuing, acquiring, and processing operations. PaySys has more than 20 credit card industry specialists working with its clients in Australia and New Zealand. PaySys International Pty Ltd, based in a newly developed business park near Melbourne, also works closely with PaySys sales and support groups in Singapore and Orlando, Florida.

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Atlanta Prefers VISA

Visa U.S.A. and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) today annonced the lauch of a marketing alliance that supports Atlanta as a premier leisure and business travel destination. This multi-year partnership will continue Visa’a marketing relationship with Atlanta, which began in 1993. Under the terms of the partnership, Visa will enhance its marketing and promotional support as a signature sponsor of ACVB asvertising and marketing programs. Visa’s present marketing campaign and designation as the “Official Card of Atlanta” will evolve to “Atlanta Prefers Visa.”

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ARKSYS Drives Euronet

Euronet Services, Inc.’s network processes approximately one million transactions per month with a growth rate of 15 percent per month. Powered by ARKSYS’ Gold-Net product, Euronet’s network at June 24, 1998, consisted of 942 ATMs in 5 countries, with 371 in Hungary; 349 in Poland; 145 in Germany; 61 in Croatia; and 16 in the Czech Republic, including 45 ATMs owned by a bank in Hungary. Euronet currently owns five IBM AS/400s, two model 53s, one S30, one 310 and a 300. To further promote card growth throughout the region, Euronet has partnered with ARKSYS and IBM to offer a comprehensive card management and authorization system named Blue Diamond. Blue Diamond software assists banks in managing cardholder databases and gives the ability to offer the additional services and conveniences of sophisticated electronic banking via debit cards. Blue Diamond not only provides comprehensive card management functions, it also delivers a built-in, on-line interface to Euronet’s host system.

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Sears Card Stumble

Second quarter operating profit for Sears, Roebuck and Co.’s credit card portfolio dropped 13.6% compared to 2Q/97.  Meanwhile, the percentage of Sears goods and services charged to the ‘Sears Card’ has declined to 52% from 55% one year ago. However, managed credit card receivable balances grew 3.3% from the second quarter of 1997, while decreasing 4.2% from 1997 year-end levels. Since 40% of Sears’ profits flow from its credit card operations, Wall Street reacted to yesterday’s earnings report by pushing Sears shares down by 9.5% to close at $51.31. The decline in the ‘Sears Card’ is driven primarily by the intense pricing competition in the bank credit card business whereby offered interest rates have plummeted to their lowest level ever. Sears says the decrease in card receivables is due to the seasonal nature of Sears retail business while growth over the comparable prior-year quarter has been driven by balance growth in existing accounts. For 2Q/98 managed credit card receivables logged $27.7 billion compared to $28.9 billion at EOY 97. Credit card chargeoffs declined to 7.37% from 8.12% for the first quarter. Sears’ 2Q/98 full earnings report is available via [www.carddata.com][1].

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

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Paymentech Up 27%

Paymentech, Inc. reported Thursday that net income for the fourth quarter ending June 30, was $5.0 million, a 27% increase year-over-year.  This compares with earnings of $3.9 million for the fourth quarter ended June 30, 1997. During the June 1998 quarter Paymentech processed approximately $12.7 billion in sales volume and approximately 519 million bankcard and third-party authorization and capture transactions.  For the fiscal year 1998, sales volume processed increased by 19% to $49.3 billion from the previous fiscal year.  Total transactions processed increased 41% to 1.9 billion.

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