Next Card Boost

The provider of the ‘First True Internet VISA’, the NextCard, announced this morning it has successfully completed a $14 million round of financing through its parent, Internet Access Financial Corporation . The San Francisco-based firm says it will use the proceeds to expand its customer base and add a thrift charter to support its direct banking business model. The company currently markets through a strategic relationship with Heritage Bank of Commerce in San Jose, CA. Since its introduction early this year, more than 100,000 consumers have applied for the ‘NextCard Internet VISA’. NextCard’s Internet-focused business model includes an online credit approval process, the ability to let customers interact in real time to design their own card, online statements, online customer service, and introductory rates as low as 2.9%. NextCard joined CardWeb’s (or RAM Research’s) consumer Web advertising program in March and achieved such a successful hit rate it promptly expanded its long term advertising agreement to include a second CardWeb advertising slot.

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Free VFW Phone Cards

Operation Uplink, the VFW program that provides free pre-paid phone cards to active duty troops and hospitalized veterans, announced plans this weekend for a major effort to provide Operation Uplink cards in the Washington D.C. area over Independence Day weekend.

According to organizers, the program will be hosting distributions at six Washington area military bases with at least one additional event specifically for hospitalized veterans. Together, the effort is expected to provide some 25,000 phone cards to area troops and hospitalized veterans during just that weekend alone. Some 15,000 of the phone cards planned for distribution are gifts from IDT Corporation, a telecommunications company based in Hackensack, NJ.

“There is no more appropriate time to honor those individuals who serve — or have served — in our Armed Forces than Independence Day,” said John E. Moon, VFW Commander-in-Chief. “After all, these are the people who have protected our very way of life, and I can think of nothing they would like better than to contact those most important to them on this patriotic day.”

Operation Uplink was developed to help ease the hardship of the more than 2,000,000 hospitalized veterans and active duty military personnel who face the day-to-day struggles of being far away from home.  Even worse, the cost of long distance phone calls can create a severe strain on military families or veterans whose finances are already depleted.

The events are organized and hosted by VFW Posts and Departments and made possible through the generous donations of time and financial contributions of VFW members and supporters.

Started almost two years ago, Operation Uplink has already distributed nearly 70,000 pre-paid phone cards to hospitalized veterans and active duty military personnel around the world.

Since its inception, the program has received tremendous recognition. In fact, over the 1997 holidays, President Clinton distributed 400 Operation Uplink cards to young Americans serving on peacekeeping forces.

This past year, Operation Uplink was also recognized from the Senate floor. Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV, Committee on Veterans Affairs) noted, “We all realize that a phone is more than a modern convenience; it is a lifeline to the outside world for a sick veteran … this project is a tribute to the many veterans who believed in the principles of freedom and democracy strongly enough to risk their lives in the name of freedom.”

The VFW, founded in 1899, is America’s oldest major veterans organization. More than 2 million members served overseas during World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti, as well as in many smaller occupation and expeditionary actions.

To learn more about Operation Uplink, write to: Operation Uplink, VFW National Headquarters, 406 W. 34th Street, Suite 219, Kansas City, MO 64111, call 1-800-479-5228 or visit VFW’s website at .

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SSL Breach

Following last week’s discovery of potential vulnerability in secure web communications, RSA Data Security announced Friday it is working with a group of leading Internet software vendors on pre-emptive countermeasures to thwart the newly-discovered potential attack against secure Web communications. The countermeasures will enhance the security of several software products based on the SSL protocol.  Several firms, including C2Net Software, announed the availability of a patch to enable customers to defend against the new potential attack. These countermeasures address a potential vulnerability discovered by the Secure Systems Research Department of Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies. Bell Labs identified a cryptanalytic vulnerability that could potentially be used to discover the key for a particular encrypted session through a process of repeatedly sending on the order of one million carefully constructed messages to a target server and observing the server’s response.

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Intl Sub-Prime

AIC Worldwide announced Friday it is holding the first comprehensive, multi-industry event in the U.K. that focuses specifically on sub-prime lending. AIC says the red hot, sub-prime lending industry is quickly entering the international arena and now is the prime time to test the sub-prime waters of the U.K.. The conference producer says the U.K. is just beginning to lend to credit-challenged borrowers and has a huge untapped, potentially lucrative, customer base. The ‘Consumer Lending ’98’ conference will be held Oct 26-28 at The Parklane Hotel in London. For reservations call 212-714-1444. CardFlash is among the sponsoring publications for the international event.

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Macy’s Gets Serious

Federated Department Stores announced this morning it is establishing Macys.Com as a separate, free-standing subsidiary of the corporation. Federated becomes the nation’s first traditional department store retailer to create a separate subsidiary dedicated to capitalizing on Internet commerce opportunities. Macys.Com was launched by Macy’s West in early 1996 as an informational site, and began experimenting with online selling later that year. The company said Friday that the new Macys.Com site, expected to be launched in October, will focus on creating a true cyber-shopping experience for the customer, with more than 250,000 SKUs immediately available for purchase in a cyber environment that mirrors the department store in merchandise presentations and product offerings. Additionally, Macys.Com will offer its online customers the ability to make merchandise exchanges or returns at any of Macy’s 188 department stores nationwide. Among partners of the upgraded web site will be IBM and Left Field LLC, a San Francisco-based advertising and Internet marketing firm.

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NB’s Military Platform

Security First Technologies (S1), a wholly owned subsidiary of Security First Network Bank announced Friday that NationsBank Military Banking has signed a letter of intent to use S1’s Internet-based technology platform to offer financial services worldwide to U.S. military personnel.

In addition, NationsBank Military Banking’s Internet transactions will be processed by the S1 Data Center located in Atlanta, Georgia.

NationsBank Military Banking plans to use two applications from Virtual Financial Manager, S1’s suite of financial services software. Because the service is Internet-based, NationsBank Military Banking’s customers can review their bank accounts from any personal computer or other Internet-capable device.

Virtual Bank Manager will enable military personnel around the world 24-hour access to their bank accounts to pay bills online, open new accounts or view current ones, transfer funds between accounts and review 24 months of stored financial data.

Virtual Credit Card Manager will provide customers a view of their credit card statements online and the ability to pay their bill from their regular or money market account.

“It was extremely important to NationsBank Military Banking to adopt a technology that allows us to offer virtually all of our services to military personnel anywhere around the world,” said Jerry Reavis, NationsBank Military Banking president.  “S1 technology provides us effective web-banking solutions and enhances our overall level of services by adding Internet capabilities. Our customers now are able to bank with us by mail, telephone, visiting a banking center or ATM and soon with any Internet-connected PC.”

“The S1 technology platform will give NationsBank Military Banking customers enhanced personal account access and an opportunity to take advantage of new services over the Internet,” said James S. Mahan, III, chief executive officer of Security First Technologies.  “Virtual Financial Manager is a perfect solution for institutions serving customers around the world.”

More than three dozen financial institutions now offer Internet services using S1’s software applications.  Some have licensed the software for in-house use, others process through the S1 Data Center, or have access to S1’s applications through their relationships with third party data processors.

NationsBank Military Banking, headquartered at the Fort Sam Houston banking center in San Antonio, began providing banking services to military personnel and their families in 1920.  Today, the unit serves more than 85,000 customers worldwide, offering specialized products and services tailored for active duty or retired military personnel.

NationsBank Corporation, with $315 billion in total assets, is the third largest U.S. bank with full-service operations in 16 states and the District of Columbia.  NationsBank provides financial products and services to more than 18 million households and one million businesses as well as institutional investors and government agencies in 46 states and in major markets around the world.  The company’s shares (NB) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Security First Technologies (S1) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the world’s first Internet bank, Security First Network Bank. Security First Technologies develops integrated, brandable Internet applications that enable financial institutions to offer products, services and transactions over the Internet in a secure environment.  S1 also offers strategic marketing support, training, product integration, and customer and data service center outsourcing.  Security First Technologies, through direct sales and channel partnerships, has agreed to provide software applications and technology to 81 financial entities, including 14 of the top 100 U.S. financial institutions.

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Electron in Asia

VISA International said this weekend it is seeking to tap into 15% of Indonesia’s 60 million banking depositors with its ‘Electron’ debit card. VISA ‘Electron’ will be offered through six commercial banks: Bank Bali, Bank Duta, Bank Lippo, Bank Mashill, BNI and Bank PosVisa. The Jakarta Post reported this weekend that Indonesia and Thailand are the first two countries on VISA’s Electron marketing scope in Asia-Pacific, with Japan and India to follow shortly. VISA reportedly projected it will issue about 25 million Electron cards in Asia-Pacific in the next twelve months.

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E*Trade Card

CA-based E*Trade said Friday it is aiming for total cash management, online, with the launch of a new ‘Classic’ and ‘Platinum VISA’ card to compliment its Web site for online investing services. E*Trade and First USA are joining up to offer the co-branded VISA cards to about 400,000 E*Trade users. The program will feature First USA’s current, primary pricing of a fixed interest rate of 9.99% and no-annual-fee. E*Trade said it intends to offer a complete array of future enhancements such as online bill presentment and payment from existing E*TRADE accounts, along with various incentive offerings and loyalty programs.

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Accelerated Thermal Printer

Vital Processing Services said Thursday it is uniquely positioned to support acquirers and their merchants with hotel, restaurant and retail applications that now operate on Hypercom’s ‘T7P’ terminal with an integrated, high-speed thermal printer.  Vital added it is the only processor to offer this capability today. Hypercom’s accelerated thermal printer allows the printing of customer receipts to occur in less than 4 seconds, which is five times faster than the friction printer commonly used at retail, hotel and restaurant locations today.  Acquirers utilizing Vital’s ‘VisaNet POS’ services and product line can now offer their merchant customers access to this fast printer. The ‘T7P’ supports draft capture, debit, check and proprietary card processing. Other ‘T7P’ benefits include: a 256K standard memory, a 35-key keyboard and a high visibility 2 x 20 back-lit LCD display.

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Privacy Invasion Will Worsen

With the Commerce Department’s Internet Privacy report due at the White House next month, leading privacy advocates and consumer groups are warning Americans that their privacy remains dangerously unprotected by industry and government. In a joint statement released yesterday, advocates told the U.S. Department of Commerce meeting on Internet Privacy that industry proposals for self-regulation have failed. They have called for privacy laws and urge consumers to take steps to protect their personal data online and off.

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LEO Smart Cards

ORGA’s new ‘LEO’ smart card toolbox is being used for the first time to create personalized smart cards for refugee benefits in Berlin. ‘LEO’ enables local systems integrators to develop their own systems for closed applications in retail.  The smart card-based system is aimed primarily at smaller to mid-sized companies that want to individually design and implement a corresponding system.  Low investment and operating costs even make systems with 1,000 customer cards and five terminals profitable. Infra Card Abrechnungssysteme GmbH is issuing two thousand refugees personalized smart cards on which the benefits are stored.  Using these cards, refugees can purchase everyday items at approximately 70 retail outlets in Berlin which are connected to the ‘Infra Card’ system.

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