McJoy Club Card

McDonald’s Japan Ltd has encountered an unexpected strong response to its new ‘McJoy Club’ credit card, launched June 20. In the first two weeks more than 7,000 applications were approved. The company projected it would issue 30,000 cards in the first year.  The ‘McJoy Club’ card is a cobranded JCB, VISA or MasterCard issued exclusively to female customers. The program offers special McDonald’s discounts and special classes, such as flower arranging. Applicants choose the card brand. Of the 7,000 issued thus far, 3,200 have been the JCB brand. MasterCard has been selected on 2,100 cards while VISA was designated for about 1,700 ‘McJoy Club’ cards. McDonald’s indicated over the weekend it has revised it projections to 30,000 cards in the first two months.

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Royal Bank Mondex

Royal Bank has installed the first ‘Mondex’ electronic cash loading device of its type in North America at Royal Bank Plaza in downtown Toronto this weekend. The device will allow all Canadian ‘Mondex’ cardholders to load electronic cash onto their Mondex cards. The Toronto program involves employees of Royal Bank and 18 participating merchants in the Royal Bank Plaza. The new loading device has the ability to transfer electronic cash onto your Mondex card, print or display a record of your last 10 purchases, print or display your card balance and the option to lock and unlock your card. Royal Bank is a participant in the Guelph, Ontario Mondex pilot. Initiated in February of 1997, the Guelph pilot has grown to include 12,000 cardholders and 560 merchants with more than $2 million in electronic cash having been issued to date.

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Versatel Sweepstakes

Bank of America kicked off a summer POS sweepstakes for its ‘Versatel Check Card’ debit card last week. The ‘Triple Win Sweepstakes’ will award three grand prizes: three brand new, yellow, VW Beetles. To kickoff the promotion nineteen BofA employees stuffed themselves into a shiny new Yellow VW Beetle in San Francisco’s financial district.  Customers who use the ‘Versatel Check Card’ to pay for purchases will automatically be entered in the ‘Triple Win Sweepstakes’ each time they use the card to make a purchase between now and August 31. A total of 1,000 customers, whose names are picked during weekly sweepstakes drawings, will win triple the amount of the purchase they made using their ‘Versatel Check Card’. All card users, whose names are entered during the July/August sweepstakes, will be eligible to win one of the three grand prizes.

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NationsBank – Voyager

Voyager Fleet Systems, a unit of Associates First Capital, and NationsBank announced Friday they will team up to offer Voyager’s fleet card to NationsBank’s commercial customers. ‘Voyager’ is the fastest growing universal fleet card in the industry with acceptance at more than 126,000 service locations, including all major oil companies as well as 29,000 maintenance locations nationwide. The ‘Voyager’ fleet card, which can be issued to a driver or a vehicle, can prompt the terminal for the vehicle’s odometer reading, vehicle or driver identification, or personal identification number (PIN).  The system also captures fuel, oil and maintenance charges.  ‘Voyager’s’ reporting can be used by fleet managers to negotiate volume discounts, and automatically applies any discount to all purchases.  In addition, customers use ‘Voyager’s’ reporting for analysis and determining fleet costs down to the individual vehicle level. Voyager customers determine what reporting they receive and how exceptions are defined for that reporting.

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Speedpass Accelerates

Mobil’s ‘Speedpass’, a wireless credit card payment system, will add 900 locations this morning to bring the total number of Mobil stations equipped with ‘Speedpass’ technology to over 3,300. Also this morning, ‘Speedpass’ will be introduced in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Milwaukee and Las Vegas metro areas, thus completing the roll-out of the program to all of Mobil’s major gasoline marketing areas in the U.S.. Mobil’s wireless payment program was introduced last year in 20 major U.S. metro areas and now has more than 1.5 million motorists enrolled in the program. Consumers must enroll to acquire a ‘Speedpass’, which is a transponder device attached to a key chain or the rear window of the car. There is no fee and enrollment is handled via telephone, Mobil’s Web site or by completing a form at Mobil’s service stations.

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UK Loyalty

Loyalty cards are red hot in the U.K. with more than 40 million such cards in circulation representing a market penetration of 75%. Sainsbury’s ‘Reward’ card, slightly more than two years old, recently surpassed the 10 million cardholder milestone. A study released last week by the Kingston Business School confirmed there is no “loyalty fatigue”  for reward card programs in the U.K. so far. Kingston found that nearly 50% of all U.K. shoppers preferred a reward card over a discount.

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Columbia Cap Buys Berwyn

Columbia Capital Corp announced Friday that it has signed a Letter of Intent to acquire Berwyn Holdings, Inc., from the majority shareholders of CLCK, Glenn Gallant and Douglas Baetz. Gallant and Baetz will receive additional shares in CLCK in return for 100% of the stock in Berwyn. The final price for the acquisition will be determined by a fairness opinion and approval of the purchase will require the unanimous consent of the independent Directors of the Columbia.

Ken Klotz, president of Columbia, said that Berwyn would be operated as a separate subsidiary of Columbia, upon completion of the acquisition. Berwyn, with offices in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Wilmington, DE, and Thornton, CO, provides a full complement of credit card services, including credit processing, customer service, collections, accounting and settlement for over 560,000 accounts presently processed by First Independent Computers, Inc., (FICI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Columbia. Harold Hendrickson, president of Berwyn stated, “This union will expand the capabilities of both companies and provide a synergy which will give Columbia a distinct advantage over other card servicers and processors, by providing marketing, processing, and servicing to all potential clients. Finally, financial institutions can go to one vendor for all of its needs, truly one-stop shopping. Not only can we market cardholder servicing to our client banks, we will now have the ability to offer a full banking solution with the Kirchman Dimension 3000, fully Year 2000-compliant, system.”

The addition of Berwyn will add a significant new facet to the services available from Columbia, making it possible for Columbia to offer true turnkey solutions to any financial institution. Armed with the recent agreement with PaySys International, Inc. (PaySys), the VisionPLUS management solution and processing system will allow Berwyn to process and service all types of accounts. “We will not be forced to make old software fit the new, non-traditional card products that the banks are now offering or considering,” said Hendrickson. Klotz stated that, at present levels, the acquisition of Berwyn will produce an additional $20 million in revenues for CLCK, annually. For the first five months of the year, Berwyn had gross revenues of $6,876,879 and net income, after tax, on an unaudited basis, of $1,055,525.

Columbia Capital Corp. operates through its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Independent Computers, Inc., which is a multi-faceted information and transaction processing service organization. The services provided by the Company include credit and debit card processing, transaction processing for the health care industry, bank and financial services processing and document management and distribution services. The Company concentrates on a niche market, consisting of small to medium-sized financial institutions, and health care providers that have not achieved the economies of scale to operate their own in-house programs and systems.

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Private Issue Gallery

Three Discover ‘Private Issue Card’ celebrity artists assembled this week at Les Celebrites Restaurant in New York’s Essex House Hotel to celebrate the opening of the new Celebrity Gallery, displaying works by artists that have been featured on the ‘Private Issue Card’. Phil Collins, Randy Travis and Patrick Ewing along with actor and fellow artist Billy Dee Williams and actress and singer Deborah Gibson serving as co-emcees, pulled golden cords to release a burgundy sash across the entrance to The Private Issue Gallery at Les Celebrites. The art will be on loan to the restaurant indefinitely. Since 1995, Private Issue has featured works of celebrity artists on its card, including those by Ringo Starr, Jane Seymour, Anthony Quinn and Florence Griffith Joyner.

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CashPay

NationsBank announced Wednesday it will begin offering its payroll debit card to its commercial and corporate customers, effective immediately. ‘CashPay’ enables employers to pay employees electronically and offers employees the benefit of having 24-hour access to their money. If an employee chooses to receive pay via ‘CashPay’, their money is deposited directly into their ‘CashPay’ account on payday.  They can then access it at any automated teller machine or PIN-based POS terminals. Employers can include their ‘CashPay’ employees on the same tape or transmission they currently send their bank to support direct deposit of payroll payments via the ACH.  NationsBank says employers will no longer have to support two systems for payroll; nor will they have to deal with safely transporting checks to remote company offices or arrange for check cashing agreements with banks in areas not supported by their primary financial institution.

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AmEx CitySearch

American Express made an undisclosed, minority investment in CA-based CitySearch yesterday. The two companies also signed a joint marketing agreement. CitySearch, with 550 employees nationwide, works with local media, government, community and business groups and educational institutions to develop comprehensive, up-to-date online city sites.  The company has 16 city sites launched or underway, some through its newspaper company partners.  Current city sites include New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Sydney and Toronto.  They feature original content covering arts and entertainment events, community activities, recreation, shopping, news, sports and weather.  In addition, CitySearch provides small- and medium-sized businesses with affordable Web site development and hosting services.

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ACS Wins $5 Million Contract

Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services signed a five-year, $5 million processing agreement with NM-based CUSO, CU Anytime. Currently there are fourteen major New Mexico credit unions with 73 ATMs who have transferred the management and operation of their ATMs to CU Anytime. ACS will convert all these ATMs to its operating platform, and perform all the processing for the CU Anytime ATM Network. Also under terms of yesterday’s agreement ACS will provide a electronic commerce services for CU Anytime and its participating credit unions.  These services include production and distribution of ATM and debit cards, all authorizations, and complete electronic funds processing.

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USWDA Extends Liviakis

U.S. Wireless Data Inc. announced Wednesday it has renewed its consulting agreement with Liviakis Financial Communications Inc. for a new period beginning August 1, 1998 and ending March 15, 1999.

CEO Evon Kelly commented, “Liviakis Financial has been very productive and instrumental in much of our corporate evolution. We are proud to continue the association.”

John Liviakis also commented, “Like many small, fast growing young companies, U.S. Wireless Data has been facing and prevailing through many challenges. Its absolutely clear to us, though, that the company’s pioneering technology and its competitive position cannot be taken lightly. The recent signing of three national sales and marketing agreements with Ameritech, Bell Atlantic and GTE validates our theorem and establishes a formidable distribution infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the company’s unique recurring revenue strategy, participating in each credit card swipe, creates a compelling long term economic model. Finally, as a positive gesture to the financial markets, our firm has volunteered to lock up its large stock holdings in USWD for an extended period. This, along with our new contract agreement, serves as further commitment and enthusiasm for this project.”

U.S. Wireless Data Inc. has developed, tested and is now delivering new proprietary products, programs and standards for the transaction processing and credit card industry which utilizes wireless cellular digital packet data (CDPD) networks. USWD delivers the fastest and most cost-effective transaction processing solution to retail merchants in the United States today. The company has joint marketing initiatives in place with Ameritech, GTE Wireless and Bell Atlantic Mobile.

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