Better Homes Joins Delta SkyMiles

Buying or selling a home becomes more rewarding this week when Delta Air Lines and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service team up to reward Delta SkyMiles members for buying or selling homes listed with a Better Homes and Gardens real estate member.

With the new partnership, SkyMiles are awarded based on the price of the home purchased or sold.  For example, a home that sells for $100,000 would yield the frequent flyer 25,000 SkyMiles — enough for a round-trip ticket anywhere Delta flies in the continental United States (including Alaska) and Canada.  At the top level of the program, home buyers and sellers can earn as many as 125,000 SkyMiles.

“Our program with the Better Homes and Gardens network offers excellent rewards to SkyMiles members,” said Christine Jilek, Delta’s director – relationship marketing.  “This program is a logical addition to Delta’s extensive network of SkyMiles partners that reward members for purchasing various products and services from other fine companies.”

SkyMiles members participating in the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service program will receive the following number of SkyMiles based on the price of a home bought or sold:

    Home purchase/sales price        SkyMiles award
      $ 50,000 – $ 99,999                12,500
      $100,000 – $149,999                25,000
      $150,000 – $199,999                37,500
      $200,000 – $249,999                50,000
      $250,000 – $299,999                62,500
      $300,000 – $349,999                75,000
      $350,000 – $399,999                87,500
      $400,000 – $449,999               100,000
      $450,000 – $499,999               112,500
      $500,000 and greater              125,000

A SkyMiles member who buys and sells a home using the program may qualify for two mileage awards.

Interested SkyMiles members can find out if they qualify and preregister for the program by calling 1-800-988-5687 and consulting a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service relocation specialist.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service joins a growing list of Delta SkyMiles partners.  SkyMiles members earn mileage by flying Delta, the Delta Connection carriers, Delta Express, the Delta Shuttle and Delta’s airline partners.  Delta also offers SkyMiles in conjunction with many participating hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, more than 2,000 restaurants, through investments with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., through North American Mortgage Company’s HouseMiles program, by utilizing the SkyMiles Optima Credit Card from American Express and using MCI’s services.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service, formed in 1978, is an international network of more than 800 firms with more than 1,550 offices and more than 23,500 licensed sales associates in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.  This year, the Real Estate Service is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the business.

Delta carried more passengers worldwide last year than any other airline. Delta, Delta Express, the Delta Shuttle, the Delta connection carriers and Delta’s Worldwide Partners operate 5,230 flights each day to 355 cities in 62 countries.

RESTRICTIONS:  The Delta SkyMiles/Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Service offer is not allowed by law in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and West Virginia.

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Affinity Tech names Sales SVP

Affinity Technology Group announced Monday that Paul E. Adams, 46, has been named the company’s Senior Vice President of Sales. Mr. Adams replaces Clement Lamarre, 67, who recently retired.

“Paul is a widely respected figure with a proven record of strong relationship development in the banking industry,” said Murray Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Affinity. “We are delighted that he is joining Affinity’s management team.”

Mr. Adams will be responsible for sales of all Affinity products, including the company’s indirect automobile lending system and automated loan machines. He will also be responsible for development of strategic alliances to promote the sale of the company’s products.

Mr. Adams has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has been a frequent speaker on credit cycle management and the application of new technologies at annual conferences for the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association.

“Affinity’s outsourced loan processing technology enables financial services firms to quickly deploy origination, decisioning, and fulfillment capabilities in new or existing channels,” Mr. Adams stated. “From kiosks and Internet-based lending to vertical systems for indirect automobile financing, Affinity has the best solutions available to banks today.”

Mr. Adams spent 10 years with American Management Systems’ (AMS) Finance Industry Group, where he successfully marketed software and services to many large banks and financial services companies including American Express, Bank of America, Chrysler Credit, Citicorp and Sears. He also helped start a Risk Management Practice at AMS and served on a committee for client relationship development.

Prior to joining AMS, Mr. Adams worked for 10 years with Fair, Isaac Companies, where he initially assisted in the development of the automated strategic application processing (ASAP) system. He subsequently assumed responsibility for marketing and sales of the ASAP system, and later was instrumental in the launch of Fair, Isaac’s credit bureau pre-screening product, PreScore, and the introduction of SEARCH, their automated credit bureau interface package.

Mr. Adams worked for nine years as a communications engineer — spending four years in this capacity with the United States Air Force and five years in private industry. Mr. Adams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Louisiana State University.

Affinity’s technology enables financial institutions to link their branches, call centers, indirect agents and Internet customers electronically to their credit departments, providing fully-automated lending — and, if necessary, connectivity to a loan officer — through every channel. Its major products include the Automated Loan Machine (ALM), which enables customers to receive loans in just minutes.

Affinity is headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina.

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VISA’s 4th NFL Campaign

“Real NFL fans” will be the target audience for Visa U.S.A.’s 1998-99 NFL marketing program, the company announced Friday.  Visa, in its fourth year as the preferred payment card of the NFL, is adding title sponsorship of the nationally televised “Visa Half-time Report” on FOX and a marketing alliance with Simon DeBartolo Group to a program that includes national advertising, consumer promotions, retail tie-ins, league support, charitable contributions and a national fan contest.

Title sponsorship of the FOX “Visa Half-time Report” will provide Visa with on-air branding during pre-season, regular, playoff and NFC Championship games.  The package includes visual branding, audio mentions, promotional lead-ins, customized set design and 150 commercial units throughout the season, including two 30 second units during Super Bowl XXXIII.  Visa has signed a one-year agreement with FOX and will have first right of refusal for the 1999-2000 NFL season.

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InterCept & IBAT

InterCept Switch received the endorsement of their surcharge-free ATM network ‘InterCept Switch’ by the Board of the Independent Bankers Association of Texas. IBAT represents 700 banks in Texas with a combined total of $76 billion in assets. Members of the network agree to waive surcharges for ATM transactions initiated by customers of other member institutions. Member institutions have the option of applying fees to transactions performed by customers of non-member institutions. The network, which originated in Georgia, now has 127 members in 11 states.

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Driver’s Edge Cashback Option

Citibank’s replacement for its ‘Ford VISA/MasterCard’ program is being upgraded with more options to give cardholders a longer period to earn rebates toward the purchase or lease of any new car. The ‘Citibank Driver’s Edge’ credit card program, launched in January as the Ford program terminated, added ‘Driver’s Edge Options’ last week. Cardholders who choose the new ‘Driver’s Edge Options’ rebates will be allowed five years, from the end of the year in which the rebates were earned, to redeem them. Additionally, ‘Driver’s Edge Options’ rebates have a ‘CashBack Option’ to insure that cardmembers can receive full value for earned rebates. This feature allows a cardholder who has not yet made a purchase or lease decision, but has rebates that are expiring, to redeem those expiring rebates for their full cash value.  ‘Driver’s Edge Options’ rebates accumulate at 1% on eligible purchases, up to $500 in rebates per year, with a maximum of $2,500 on any one vehicle that is purchased or leased. Rebates may be applied toward a new car from any manufacturer (foreign or domestic) when purchased or leased from authorized dealers in the U.S. The rebates come directly from Citibank after the purchase is made. Citibank is launching a summer national print media campaign to announce the options and has formed a partnership with Penske Auto Centers to offer cardholders a 10% discount at over 800 Penske Auto Centers nationwide.

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More 2Q Feedback

National City Corp and Crestar Bank had a slight contraction in receivables for the second quarter while PNC tacked on more than $400 million. Results so far from CardWeb’s ‘2Q/98 Portfolio Survey’ shows a lackluster quarter for most $1 billion+ portfolios.

2Q/98  CARD  PORTFOLIO  UPDATE
ISSUER                   RECV                QVOL              ACCTS
PNC Bank $4,145,092,000    $1,981,311,686     4,164,333
Crestar Bank $1,118,676,626    $  348,096,768         859,408
Natl City Corp $1,071,026,000    $  508,695,000      1,273,045
           Source: CardWeb’s CardData; www.carddata.com

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Mr. Payroll Hires Senior IT

Mr. Payroll Corporation has recruited two internationally respected information technology experts to join its senior management team. Neil S. Chernoff has been named senior vice president/chief technology officer, while Kenneth E. Rees assumes the post of senior vice president/chief operations officer.  Chernoff and Rees will be based in San Francisco, where both reside.  Their appointments coincide with the decision by Mr. Payroll to open a San Francisco office later this summer.  Chernoff was formerly the head of his own information technology consulting firm, NSC Consulting, where he specialized in the evaluation of electronic commerce products for potential investors and joint-venture partners.  Rees also brings to Mr. Payroll a distinguished record of accomplishments at CSC Index, where he most recently served as head of the financial services practice for the firm’s Western Region.  He has extensive experience assisting top multinational technology companies in all phases of business transformation, from visioning through implementation, with a particular emphasis on creating operational excellence.

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AmEx Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus activated its “EuroFree” promotion Sunday offering free travel to 17 cities in the U.K. and Europe. Aer Lingus passengers using the American Express card to purchase a special APEX transatlantic ticket or higher before Sept. 15 will receive a free onward roundtrip ticket from Ireland to 17 cities in Britain or continental Europe. Aer Lingus flies non-stop from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Boston’s Logan International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Newark International Airport to Ireland. Travel must take place between Sept. 15 and Nov. 15.

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Australia I-Bank

Melbourne-based National Australia Bank – the largest financial institution in Australia and part of the National Australia Bank group, launched a FICS-developed transactional Internet banking suite for its retail customers. Developed as an “Australianized” version of FICS Group’s standard FICS – Retail Internet Banking product, the new system leverages the Java programming language to offer a range of on-line banking services to the Bank’s customers. The product is currently undergoing a trial with staff members and selected customers. National Australia Bank plans to make a full launch of the product later this year.

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Wireless Store

Vancouver-based The General Store International Corp. is introducing wireless transactions for its home delivery grocery business.  The General Store will launch the program immediately in the Vancouver and Seattle markets.  The company expects to expand to other major cities in the U.S. and Canada later this year. British Columbia Telephone and its subsidiary, BC Tel Mobility, are providing the CDPD technology.

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Online Procurement

VISA U.S.A. and CyberSystem Technologies are combining the ‘VISA Purchasing’ card with CyberSystems’ IntraMall, a private network that enables PC-based shopping, comparing and purchasing, to provide a cost-efficient environment in which government agencies and other organizations can buy goods and services. CyberSystem’s IntraMall was first implemented by the National Institutes of Health in August 1997.  Within NIH’s IntraMall, comparison shopping and purchasing can now be completed from the desktops of the agency’s scientists and researchers. The NIH says its per-order processing costs dropped from $100 to $5. There are more than 100 NIH IntraMall merchants; an additional 20 vendors are expected to open their doors in the virtual mall later this summer.

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Diebold Posts 2Q Loss

Diebold reported this week second quarter net income of $27,406,000, or $.39 per share on revenues of $280,592,000, excluding an after-tax charge associated with a previously disclosed realignment plan.  Including the charge, the company posted a net loss of $14,444,000, or $.21 per share.  For the same period in 1997 the company reported net income of $30,690,000, or $.44 per share, on revenues of $303,202,000 in the 1997 second quarter. For the six months ended June 30, Diebold had net income of $54,257,000, or $.78 per share, excluding the charge, on revenues of $576,331,000. Including the charge, net income was $12,407,000, or $.18 per share.  This compares with net income of $54,423,000, or $.78 per share, on revenues of $567,810,000 for the 1997 six-month period.

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