Honor-Star Update

Honor Technologies Inc. and Star System Inc. made it official Tuesday that they have signed a letter of intent to combine the two companies with anticipation of a mid-1999 closing.The new company will serve more than 3,700 financial institutions and 79 million ATM/debit cardholders via 70,000 ATMs and more than 250,000 merchant POS locations throughout its primary service area of 20 states plus Washington D.C.  The company’s monthly transaction volume will include an estimated 69 million ATM transactions, 66 million POS transactions and 41 million off-line transactions. Star System president and CEO Ronald V. Congemi will be the president and CEO of the new corporation. Honor president and CEO T. O. Bennion will retire from day-to-day responsibilities and serve as vice chairman of the company’s board of directors when the new company is formed. The board will comprise the directors of both Star and Honor. The new company will be organized in multiple divisions reflecting both geographical and functional responsibilities and will retain the current offices in CA, FL, VA, SC, KS, MO and NM with corporate headquarters located in Maitland, FL. Both networks said Tuesday that there would be no immediate changes in operations, transaction processing, or ATM/POS branding and signage. The new company will continue to use both the Honor and Star brands until the new board decides otherwise. There were also indications yesterday that Star, due to the merger, will not renew its processing contract with Deluxe Payment Systems when it expires in 2000.

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FDC Fallout

First Data EVP Walter Hoff confirmed Tuesday that he is leaving his post July 31. Over the past five years Hoff spearheaded FDR’s growth, most notably on the acquiring side, where FDR’s marketshare grew from an eroding 12% share in 1993 to more than 50% in 1997.  Revenue grew about twelve-fold during the same period. Within the past year Hoff focused on developing FDR’s global business through a number of alliances with international banks. American Express spun off FDC in 1992 and picked Hoff to head the Card Services Group in 1993. In response to Hoff’s departure First Data named EVP David P. Bailis to lead the company’s Card Services Group. Bailis has served as COO for the Domestic Card Services Group since February. Bailis, who joined First Data in June 1989, has held a number of key positions including operations, general counsel, and overseeing various First Data corporate staff functions.  Bailis was named an EVP in Sept 96. Bailis will relocate from Atlanta to Omaha to assume his new post. Hoff’s resignation follows other bad news for FDR including the departure of another top executive, Roger Peirce, and the recent loss of the Sears processing contract to TSYS.

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GlobeSet Signs German Firm

GlobeSet, Inc., the world’s largest provider of SET Secure Electronic Transaction software for OEM solutions, has announced an expansion of its OEM channel partner network by signing an agreement with Netlife Internet Consulting & Software GmbH of Germany. Terms of the agreement call for the GlobeSet Payment System to be enhanced, branded, sold and supported by Netlife as Netpay. Founded in 1996, Netlife is among Germany’s renowned consulting and software firms that provide leading online banking and Internet and Intranet solutions for customers worldwide. Netlife has completed projects for German and Austrian banks, and with the GlobeSet partnership will extend e-commerce services to customers.

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Hypercom Intl Biz Dev

Hypercom Corporation named Ted Satchell Director of Business Development for the Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA) region. Immediately prior to joining Hypercom, Mr. Satchell served as founder and managing director for Keycorp Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Keycorp Ltd. Australia. In his new position, Mr. Satchell will be responsible for directing the expansion of Hypercom’s distribution network throughout EMEA and developing strategic relationships with select smart card system operators. His focus on business development in the point-of-sale (POS) arena will play a key role in supporting Hypercom’s aggressive expansion plans within Europe.

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SunTrust + Crestar

SunTrust Banks and Crestar Financial announced Monday that they have signed a definitive agreement to merge with the expectation the transaction will close in the fourth quarter of 1998. The move will combine two, one billion dollar credit card portfolios. Upon completion of the merger, Crestar will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of SunTrust, and will operate under its current name and management as one of SunTrust’s four locally-focused bank holding companies. The merger will create the tenth-largest banking company in the U.S., based on assets of $88 billion, and will provide a full line of consumer and commercial banking services to more than 3.3 million customers through its 1,093 branches in FL, GA, TN, AL, VA, MD, and the District of Columbia.

   MERGED   CARD   PORTFOLIO
   (as of 2nd Quarter 1998)
Issuer Receivables   Q Volume Gross Accounts
SunTrust       $1,021,215,000 $511,015,000    1,081,162
Crestar        $1,118,676,626 $348,096,768      859,408
TOTALS         $2,139,891,626 $859,111,768    1,940,570
Source: CardWeb’s CardData (www.carddata.com)

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Peirce Joins GRIC Board

Roger L. Peirce has joined the board of directors of GRIC Communications, Inc. in Milpitas.

Peirce, 56, recently retired as group president of electronic funds services at First Data Corp. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer at Visa.

As head of First Data’s electronic funds services group, Peirce ran the company’s largest business unit, First Data Merchant Service (FDMS). During his tenure at the company, FDMS grew from approximately $100 million to $1 billion in annual sales, processing one out of every two Visa and Mastercard transactions in the U.S.

At Visa, Peirce, at various times, was responsible for delivery systems, risk control, member relations, marketing and advertising. He was a key part of Visa’s worldwide growth throughout the ’80s and early ’90s.

“The GRIC business model is very similar to that of Visa and First Data,” said Peirce. “All three provide a network that lets one party use the services of another. GRIC is really the ‘Visa of the Internet.'”

“Roger brings a wealth of experience to our board in the areas of transaction settlement and operations,” said Dr. Hong Chen, president and CEO of GRIC Communications. “His insight will be especially valuable as our transaction volumes ramp up substantially with the inauguration of global Internet telephony services this summer.”

Prior to his 13 years with Visa, Peirce was with IBM for 17 years, leaving as a national account manager. He holds a BA degree in mathematics from San Jose State University.

GRIC Communications is a leading clearinghouse for Internet telecommunications services. GRIC provides routing, user authentication, network management, billing and settlement services to Internet service providers (ISPs) and telephone companies worldwide, enabling global Internet roaming, corporate remote access, fax, and telephony.

GRIC members number more than 300 in over 80 countries, and have a combined subscriber base of more than 16 million dial up users and 20 million corporate users, making the GRIC alliance the largest managed network of Internet-based telecommunications services in the world.

The GRIC alliance is comprised of the world’s largest ISPs and telcos, including SpryNet, NETCOM, Singapore Telecom, NEC, Fujitsu Niftyserve, KDD/KCOM, NTT DATA, SANNET, Malaysia Telecom, Telecom Finland, Korea Telecom, FranceNet, Cybernet AG, Hong Kong Telecom, Samsung, Hyundai, Chungwha Telecom, and Telstra.

GRIC’s strategic partners include Check Point Software Technologies, Cisco Systems, Digital Equipment Corp., Lucent Technologies, Microsoft, NetXchange Communications, Open Port Technology, Oracle, and Siemens Business Communications Systems.

Founded in 1996 and privately held, GRIC Communications, Inc. has offices in California, Asia and Europe. For additional information, please contact GRIC at 1421 McCarthy Blvd., Milpitas, CA, 95035. Phone: 408/955-1920. Fax: 408/955-1968. Email: [info@gric.com][1]. Web site: .

[1]: mailto:info@gric.com

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First Virtual Exits

First Virtual Holdings Incorporated agreed yesterday to unload all of its merchants and offer buyers a migration path to CyberCash’s ‘CashRegister Payment Service’.  Under the terms of the preliminary agreement, CyberCash will provide its premier Internet payment solution to over 2,000 merchants who previously used the ‘First Virtual Internet Payment System’.  In exchange, First Virtual’s Interactive Messaging Platform will be CyberCash’s preferred solution for interactive messaging.  Although First Virtual was one of the early entrants to the Internet payment service business a few years ago, the company will exit that business to focus on its messaging technology services.  Before First Virtual ceases its IPS operations in August, all 2000+ merchants and 60,000+ active buyers of the First Virtual IPS will be encouraged to deploy CyberCash’s payment technologies and services.

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VISA DPS Flies Falcon

VISA U.S.A.’s Debit Processing Service and HNC Software announced Monday that VISA DPS will offer ‘Falcon Debit’ fraud detection to its client base. ‘Falcon’ has more than 240 million payment card accounts under contract. VISA DPS already provides access to VISA’s  ‘Cardholder Risk Identification Service’ and will offer the debit-specific version of ‘Falcon’ as an additional product and establish an advanced fraud detection management infrastructure for its clients via the ‘Falcon Expert’ rules subsystem. Visa DPS will begin the Falcon product introduction in November.

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VISA  NFL  Incentives

America’s premier mall owner and operator, America’s most popular credit card and America’s favorite sport and have joined forces in an effort to generate enthusiasm for the upcoming 1998 National Football League season and sales of NFL licensed merchandise through Simon retailers.  Simon Brand Ventures, a strategic marketing initiative of Simon DeBartolo Group, Visa U.S.A. and the National Football League have agreed to an integrated mall promotion campaign to target NFL fans at the retail level nationwide.

The Simon portfolio will serve as the channel for Visa’s new in 131-mall retail promotion — “Kickoff 98” — and includes a series of interactive on- site events for Simon shoppers in ten NFL markets which debuts at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on September 5.  The promotion includes a consumer promotion/gift-with-purchase and interactive NFL events, as well as a national consumer sweepstakes.

“Simon’s relationship with Visa and the NFL demonstrates that powerful brands are selecting the mall environment to drive brand loyalty and sales,” said Karen Corsaro, president, Simon Brand Ventures.  “Simon properties as a venue for the NFL and Visa will enable America’s favorite credit card and America’s favorite sport to impact consumers directly at the point-of-sale.”     The components of “Kickoff 98” include:

Gift-with Purchase:  From September 1, 1998 through October 31, 1998, while supplies last, consumers will receive a free commemorative NFL “Kickoff 98” watch with a minimum $25.00 purchase of NFL-licensed merchandise using their Visa card.

NFL Experience:  This season, the league’s renowned NFL Experience events will visit Simon malls in 10 NFL markets with interactive games, celebrity appearances and local prize giveaways.  Following is the tentative schedule for appearances and corresponding NFL home teams:

    Minnesota Vikings
    Mall of America
    Bloomington, MN
    September 5

    Indianapolis Colts
    Lafayette Square
    Indianapolis, IN
    September 12

    Chicago Bears
    Lincolnwood Towne Center
    Lincolnwood, IL
    October 3

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Tyrone Square
    Tampa, FL
    October 10

    Jacksonville Jaguars
    The Avenues
    Jacksonville, FL
    October 11

    New York Jets
    Smithhaven Mall
    Lake Grove, NY
    October 17

    New York Giants
    Newport Center
    Jersey City, NJ
    October 18

    Green Bay Packers
    Forest Mall
    Fond-du-lac, WI
    October 19

    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Ross Park Mall
    Pittsburgh, PA
    October 24

    Dallas Cowboys
    Irving Mall
    Irving, TX
    October 26

Consumer Sweepstakes Support:  “Kickoff 98” will also support a 1998 Visa NFL consumer sweepstakes through retail signage and usage.  The promotion will drive Visa card usage by offering cardholders the chance to win an NFL season of their own making, using their Visa cards between September 1, 1998 and January 31, 1999.  One cardholder will win trips for two persons to eight 1999-2000 regular season games of their choice, plus a trip to Super Bowl XXXIV.  Each trip includes travel, hotel accommodations, two tickets, and free NFL merchandise.

“Kickoff 98” is one example of the many ways Visa supports its network of accepting merchants.  This NFL season, Visa is continuing its commitment to the retailer community by recognizing merchants who develop NFL-related promotions through the “Visa ALL-PRO Dedication & Commitment Award for Excellence in Merchandising” and utilization of Visa in a promotion. Visa and the NFL will once again recognize and reward outstanding retail marketing programs at the end of the season.  The winner will be nationally recognized through advertising and publicity following the announcement.

“This alliance demonstrates Visa’s commitment to reaching NFL fans everywhere they come into contact with the game,” said Rob Robins, executive vice president, Market Development & Acceptance, Visa U.S.A.  “When consumers travel to Simon DeBartolo Group malls this season, they’ll know that the ‘NFL prefers Visa’.”

“Kickoff 98” is a component of Visa’s 1998-99 NFL marketing program, which targets “Real NFL Fans.”  Visa, in its fourth year as an official NFL partner, is adding title sponsorship of FOX’s nationally televised “Visa Half-time Report” to a program that includes national advertising/consumer promotions, retail components, league support and national fan contests.

Visa’s NFL partnership is part of an event-marketing portfolio that includes the Olympics, NASCAR (effective January 1999), and the Visa Triple Crown Challenge.  These partnerships combine to deliver a continuous stream of Visa exposure throughout the marketing calendar.

Simon DeBartolo Group, Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust which, through its subsidiary partnerships, is engaged primarily in the ownership, development, management, leasing, acquisition and expansion of income- producing properties, primarily regional malls and community shopping centers. It currently owns or has an interest in 216 properties containing an aggregate of 139 million square feet of gross leasable area in 34 states.  Simon DeBartolo Group, together with its affiliated management company, owns or manages approximately 154 million square feet of gross leasable area.  Simon DeBartolo Group is the largest publicly traded retail real estate company in North America as measured by market capitalization and currently has approximately 177.7 million shares and partnership units outstanding. Additional Simon DeBartolo Group information is available on the company’s website at .

Visa is the leading card brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide.  It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy.  Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year.  Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including more than 400,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network.  Visa’s Internet address is .

“Visa NFL Sweepstakes 1998” Rules

No purchase or obligation necessary.  Open to legal U.S. residents, 18 and older as of 9/1/98.  Sweepstakes begins 9/1/98 and ends 1/31/99.  To enter without a purchase, hand print your name, address, city, state, zip, day and evening phone numbers and the words “Visa NFL Sweepstakes” on a 3″x5″ card and mail in a #10 envelope to: Visa NFL Sweepstakes, P.O. Box 4024, Grand Rapids, MN 55730-4024.  Enter as often as you wish, but all entries must be mailed separately and not mechanically reproduced.  All entries must be postmarked by 1/31/99 and received by 2/8/99.  Sweepstakes subject to complete official rules, which may be obtained by calling 1-800-VISA-511 or by sending a self- addressed, stamped envelope to “Visa NFL” Rules, P.O. Box 5000, Manhasset, NY 11030.  Residents of VT & WA may omit return postage.  Void where prohibited. Prizes/Value: (1) Grand Prize trip for two to 8 regular 1999 season NFL games and a trip for two to Super Bowl XXXIV and $5,000 cash/$40,000. Odds of winning depend on total number of eligible entries received.

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Novadigm & EPS

Novadigm, Inc. and Electronic Payment Services announced Monday that EPS has signed an enterprise licensing and reseller agreement for Novadigm’s Enterprise Desktop Manager, a centralized application deployment and desktop configuration manager.  EPS will use EDM to automate the delivery and management of high-resolution advertising graphics and data for display on ATM screens.  EDM also supports ATM printing of coupons and gift certificates. The company plans to make the service generally available in 1999.

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Back-to-School Spending to Increase 3%

According to the American Express Retail Index on back-to-school shopping, parents expect to spend $300 per child on items such as back-to-school clothing, supplies and other essentials.  Teens will contribute an additional $108.  Combined, this represents a total of $408 per child, a 3% increase from 1997.  The American Express Retail Index is designed to reveal consumer shopping and spending trends, and is based on a national opinion survey of more than 1,300 consumers.

Overall, 82% of teens will help their parents pay for back-to-school expenses, with high schoolers contributing 26% more, and college students 15% less, than last year.  In addition, although some back-to-schoolers are spending more this year than last year, 52% of parents say they will purchase a special item, or spend more than they normally would have on their son or daughter, as a reward for studying hard in school.  One in five teens will start shopping for back-to-school sometime in July, with half (51%) planning to complete their shopping by the end of August, and another 21% continuing to shop after school begins.

According to both parents and kids, apparel continues to be the number one item on the shopping list with 90% of parents saying they plan to buy new clothing for their back-to-schooler.  Parents will also buy:

    — school supplies (86%)           — small appliances/electronics (16%)
    — text books (41%)                — computer hardware/software (13%)
    — cosmetics and toiletries (30%)  — other items such as shoes and
    — sporting goods (24%)               art supplies (7%)

In addition, the most popular places to shop for both parents and teens are malls, department stores, discount department stores, factory outlet stores and sporting goods stores.

“Although apparel prices have dropped since last year due to deflation, the 3% anticipated increase revealed by this year’s survey means retailers still have reason to smile, while consumers can expect to get more for the money they spend,” said Emelie Smith, vice president of Retail Industries Marketing, American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. (TRS).

Parents and Kids: Sharing the Budget, Means Sharing Buying Decisions

According to the American Express Retail Index, half of teens surveyed have a disposable income or $25 or more per week.  By contributing some of their own money to the back-to-school budget, it appears that teens realize they can influence buying decisions.  Parents responding to the survey admit their children have more influence on what items are purchased, making buying decisions 48% of the time to their 39%.  However, when it comes to where to shop, parents claim to have more influence than their kids (62% vs. 30%). Eighty-two percent of parents also say they have at least some influence over how their kids spend their own money, whether it is from an allowance or a part-time job.

Parents also appear to be teaching their children how to value-shop, with 80% claiming to steer their kids towards sales and bargains.  This may explain why 42% of teens cite sales as a reason for waiting until after school begins to complete their shopping, and why 56% of teens will shop at either a discount department store or factory outlet.

Teens Rate Today’s Most Popular Brands and Styles

According to the American Express Retail Index, 69% of parents say their child is style-conscious.  In addition, 22% said their kids spend more on clothing than anything else including video games, going out, and everyday expenses.

Teens however, seem torn when it comes to placing importance on fashion. According to 66% of teens surveyed, there is too much pressure to wear the “right” clothing.  Despite this finding, 75% say they have at least one brand they like over all others, and 58% say they prefer brand name merchandise over non-brand name items.  Last year, the most popular clothing brand was Levi’s. Among the most popular this year are:

    — Tommy Hilfiger (38%)   — Polo/Ralph Lauren (19%)
    — Levi’s (27%)           — Calvin Klein (17%)
    — The Gap (20%)

While 77% of back-to-schoolers say they follow their own personal style, they also say their fashion choices are influenced by a number of factors. These include:

    — friends (47%)                — MTV/musical artists (15%)
    — magazines/newspapers (23%)   — celebrities (14%)
    — siblings (18%)               — television shows (14%)
    — sports figures (18%)         — models (11%)

When asked to describe their preferred style, almost half (47%), prefer either the sporty/athletic, preppy or casual/conservative look.  When it comes to wardrobe essentials, boys have a favorite shirt (35%), while girls treasure a pair of jeans (32%).  More than half of parents, who say they generally stop shopping for their kid’s clothes by the time they reach age 14, say they have forbidden their child from wearing a particular style or article of clothing at least once.

“Since introducing the back-to-school shopping survey four years ago, we have seen more and more sharing of the expenses and purchasing decisions between parents and their teens,” said Emelie Smith.  “As a result, retailers should take note that, although today’s teens have strong opinions and buying power, they continue to be influenced by fashion trends and popular culture, as well as their parents.”

What is Selling, and How is it Purchased?

According to 43% of parents, their home computer is used an average of 8.5 hours a week by their kids to do homework, among other things.  Boys tend to use the computer twice as much per week as girls, (11.25 hours vs. 5.6 hours).  Among those who do not have a home computer, 28% say they plan to purchase one within the next year, while 55% of those say they will not be purchasing a computer any time soon because their child has access to one through another source such as a friend, neighbor or school.

For the first time this year, the American Express Retail Index asked parents about their preference for using credit cards to pay for school tuition, and found that if permitted, 28% would consider using a credit card to pay for their child’s school tuition.  Not surprisingly, as expenses and tuition increase from elementary school through college, so too does the demand from parents to use credit cards (elementary – 22%, high school – 30%, college – 36%).

When asked what payment method they expect to use most for back-to-school purchases, 56% of parents cited cash, compared with 62% last year.  The American Express Retail Index also found that 22% will use personal checks, 12% will use credit cards, 4% will use ATM/debit cards, and 3% will use store credit cards.

American Express is welcome at more of the stores, restaurants, hotels and service providers where Cardmembers spend on everything from health and beauty aids to computers to a weekend away.  Current American Express research shows that based on the way American Express Cardmembers use their American Express Cards, Cardmembers can put 94 percent or their plastic spending on American Express.  Presently, a fast growing number of merchants worldwide welcome American Express, with a new establishment accepting the Card every two minutes.

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary or the American Express Company — a diversified worldwide travel and financial 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. ![][1]

[1]: /graphic/americanexpress/backtoschool.gif

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