Double Points

American Express announced yesterday it will award double points in its reward programs to cardholders using AmEx cards for spending at supermarkets and gas stations this summer. Between now and August 31, AmEx cardholders enrolled in its ‘Membership Rewards’ program or who carry the AmEx Delta, Golf, Hilton, NY Knicks or NY Rangers card will receive double points for routine purchases. Hilton Optima cardholders will receive triple points since they ordinarily earn two ‘HiltonHonors’ points per dollar charged. AmEx says its ‘Everyday Spending Index’ shows 56% of consumers used credit cards for gas purchases last year and that 28% used a credit card to purchase groceries during 1997. AmEx says it will promote the campaign through TV ads showing Jerry Seinfeld at various gas stations and supermarkets.


InteliData Names Key Execs

InteliData Technologies Corp. announced Friday that two new key executives are joining the Company’s home banking business.

Allen Hardin was announced as general manager responsible for sales, marketing, engineering and professional services.  “Allen brings over 25 years of experience selling leading-edge technology products to financial institutions,” said InteliData President and CEO John C. Backus.  “He has held senior executive positions at EDS and as an entrepreneur at both Infoware and Ampersand, the latter of which was purchased by EDS.  Allen has spent the last two months as a consultant with our Company, helping us focus our sales efforts and win new business.  During that short period, he has helped build an increasing backlog of business, including our first Interpose OFX implementation,” added Backus.

InteliData also announced that Tom Oxendine will join the company on June 23 as vice president of technical services, responsible for all engineering and professional services.  Oxendine is a seasoned professional with over 20 years experience in technology positions.  Most recently, he was executive vice president of Banking Systems for Olivetti North America where he was responsible for sales, marketing and delivery of integrated systems and services for U.S. financial institutions.  He also directed product development and marketing for Ericsson Information Systems’ U.S. banking software operations.  “Tom’s technical knowledge combined with his keen business sense makes him an ideal fit for our growing home banking business,” said Backus.

Mr. Hardin holds BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Finance from the University of Virginia.  Mr. Oxendine holds a BS in Mathematics from East Tennessee State University.

InteliData, with headquarters in Herndon, Va., is a leading supplier of home banking software to over 20 of the top 100 U.S. financial institutions and financial service providers as customers.  The Company’s products include the Interpose Financial Engine, Interpose Payment Warehouse, Interpose OFX, Interpose EBMS, and MoneyClip, the smart card-based Internet security solution.  For more information, visit the InteliData web site at .


IDRC Names SVP of Customer Care

International Data Response Corporation (IDRC), one of the largest and fastest growing telemarketing and customer service outsourcing firms, has made a strategic management hire by appointing David Figgat senior vice president of U.S. customer care operations, effective immediately. With 17 years of experience in the teleservices and call center industry, Figgat will manage all IDRC USA inbound operations at its call centers in San Diego and Buffalo, overseeing call center management, quality assurance, administration and facilities.

Figgat’s experience includes advanced work in managing inbound operations and working with multiple call centers, call center technologies, applications and product lines. He formerly headed the Western region operatons for Teletech, one of the largest outsourcing, customer care and tech support facilities in the world. During his five years at Teletech, he supervised all company call center operations west of Denver, Colorado, and managed all inbound and outbound operations, strategic planning and forecasting. He also developed, planned and launched Teletech’s new call center in Van Nuys, California. Before joining Teletech, Figgat worked at American Express as the director of operations for the financial and communication services business unit, overseeing the customer care center among his other responsibilities.

“I joined IDRC for the chance to be part of a very different teleservices management team. This particular group is a product of some of the strongest business experience and discipline I’ve ever seen in the industry. Typically a lot of senior management comes from within, but IDRC has created a very good mix of industry experience and great business savvy,” Figgat said. He will report directly to Jill Ward, president of IDRC USA inbound, and work closely with IDRC chairman and CEO Jeff Stiefler, former president of American Express. “Jeff Stiefler and his team have a track record of successfully building and managing large, rapidly growing enterprises. They have a clear and compelling growth strategy for IDRC and the skills and experience required to form long-term strategic relationships with senior executives at leading companies.”

“I am happy to make such a strong addition to our management team,” Ward said. “David has years of experience and knowledge in teleservices that will not only benefit our clients, but the growth of our organization as well. The leadership experience he gained at his former companies, including American Express, has laid the foundation for David to play a critically important role here at IDRC.”

IDRC is one of the world’s leading telemarketing and customer service outsourcing firms. The company’s strategy is to help its business partners use the telephone and Internet to acquire the right customers and develop deep, long-lasting, highly profitable relationships with them. IDRC employs nearly 6,800 professionals and operates nearly 4,500 workstations in 31 locations throughout the United States and Canada.


Credit Store Buys Bad Debt

The Credit Store, Inc. said Friday that it had purchased at a substantial discount a new portfolio of charged-off consumer credit card debt. The $522 million gross principal portfolio was acquired from a major U.S financial institution within the last week, the Company said.

The transaction increases The Credit Store’s total inventory of non-performing consumer debt by more than 25 percent. The Company now has acquired approximately $2.5 billion total gross principal of non-performing consumer debt, the Company’s ‘raw material’, since its inception in October, 1996.

The Credit Store is a nationwide financial services company that markets credit cards to consumers who previously had an interruption in the repayment of their debts. The Company uses sophisticated methods to analyze, value and purchase portfolios of non-performing debt at substantial discounts. The Company then uses its direct marketing expertise to contact and negotiate settlements with consumers, most of the time placing the settlements on new unsecured credit cards offered through The Credit Store.



The number of banking institutions has dropped 21% over the past five years according to a study released this weekend by SNL Securities’ ‘BankINVESTOR’ service. ‘BankINVESTOR’ found that the number of banks, defined as top tier commercial banks and bank holding companies, fell to 7,233 from 8,868, while the number of thrifts, defined as top tier savings banks and savings institutions, fell to 1,665 from 2,368 in 1992. Meanwhile the industry’s aggregate assets jumped an astonishing 31.70% to $6.09 trillion. If this trend continues at its current pace, the number of banking institutions will shrink to approximately 5,900 in the next five years. This year, M&A activity remains strong with 209 whole bank and thrift deals announced thus far. However SNL says there are signs that the rate of consolidation may begin to slow due in part to the Year 2000 issue. Last year was a record year for consolidation in the bank credit card industry.


True Failure

American Express decision to pull the plug on its ‘Optima True Grace’ credit card was driven by low usage and the failure to attract enough balance revolvers, according to a new study by Atlanta-based Brittain Associates. Brittain found only 50% of ‘True Grace’ cardholders revolved balances and that cardholders averaged only 15 transactions per year. The study says 40% of ‘True Grace ‘ cardholders used the card in the month prior to the survey and only charged $119 on average. Brittain has been tracking all of AmEx’s co-branded and affinity cards for the past three years.


New Wachovia Card Center

Wachovia Bank Card Services will open its new credit card customer service center in Chesapeake, Va. this morning at 11 a.m. The recently renovated 50,000-square-foot building currently employs 75 customer service representatives. Among those participating in this morning’s ceremonies: Beverly Wells, executive vice president of consumer credit and emerging businesses, and Charles Hegarty, president of Wachovia Bank Card Services.


BT Joins GCA

The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA)’s ranks have grown again with the announcement that global telecommunications provider, British Telecommunications plc., has become a member.  BT, the GCA’s 27th member, joins other smart card leaders from a diverse industry cross-section, to create an oif> infrastructure for chip cards and to create global if>interoperability for multiple application smart cards.![][1]

“BT’s decision to join the Global Chipcard Alliance again demonstrates the broad support for the GCA’s efforts to achieve worldwide smart card interoperability,” said David Anastasi, GCA President and Vice President and General Manager U S WEST Public Access Solutions & Smart Card Division.  “We depend on the diversity of our members to provide an open environment where smart/chip card advancement can flourish.  British Telecommunications plc. will be an asset to the existing body of dedicated industry players.”

BT has significant experience of the development of Eurochip Smartcards used in public payphones and will bring this world-renowned development expertise to the GCA.

“Companies like BT understand the importance for those heavily invested in the industry to join forces, and they recognize the value of the Global Chipcard Alliance,” added Gerard Ketelaar, Vice President of the GCA and Manager of the InterActive Services Group KPN (formerly PTT Telecom Netherlands).

“BT plans to be at the center of smart card developments in the UK and across the globe.  At the same time, we have a commitment to the evolution of global open systems and standards and this has made membership of the Global Chipcard Alliance a natural step forward,” said Jon Collinson, Head of SmartCard Business Development at BT.

“Smart cards are a key enabler for all kinds of exciting new applications which our customers will really value.  We fully share the GCA’s vision of a global compatibility in smart card technology, so that these customers can use their cards anywhere in the world.  We are currently putting plans in place to develop the infrastructure and secure processing platform required to handle this new generation of multi-application smart cards.  But, we can only make it happen if it is based on globally accepted standards,” Collinson emphasized.

Underlying the global acceptance efforts, the Global Chipcard Alliance is committed to making strides in interoperability.  In April, the Global Chipcard Alliance and the Smart Card Forum (SCF) agreed to create a joint interoperability program of panels to explore and seek solutions to the interoperability issue.  The panels are a first step in cooperative efforts, setting the pace for the importance of cross-industry cooperation in critical areas, not only for companies, but also for key industry bodies. The first panel will be delivered at the SCF Annual Meeting in September, the second at GCA’s Member Meeting in November.

About British Telecommunications plc

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of telecommunications services. Its principal activity is the supply of local, long distance and international telecommunications services and equipment in the UK, serving 27 million exchange lines.  International direct-dial telephone service is available to more than 200 countries and other overseas territories – covering 99 per cent of the world’s 800 million telephones.  BT is expanding its presence overseas rapidly and has operations in more than 30 countries worldwide, with joint ventures in France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and India. In addition, BT entered into a US$1 billion joint venture three years ago with MCI, the second largest carrier in the US, to form Concert and create a global network for multi- national companies; the Concert network currently has 6,000 access points round the world and provides managed network services to more than 800 cities in 50 countries.

About the Global Chipcard Alliance

The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA) was established in 1996 and is now 27 member companies strong.  The GCA’s mission is to create an environment which accelerates the development of multi-functional smart/chip technology and related applications through business alliances that have a commitment to: 1) worldwide open interoperable networks, 2) public advocacy, 3) endorsing of standards and specifications, and 4) advancement of cross industry multiapplications and solutions, electronic commerce, and communications- enabled applications and solutions.  For more information on the Global Chipcard Alliance visit its Website at .

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Datastrip All-In-One ID Card System

ID cards based on Datastrip’s low-cost machine-readable 2D symbology can now be designed and produced using the all-in-one FreezeFrame system from ESP-Systex. This system combines all the elements needed to design and produce cards – PC, camera, card and code generation software, and colour printer – in one low-cost desktop unit which is similar in size to an office printer.  As standard it comes with a video camera for capturing facial images, but it may also be supplied with optional signature and/or fingerprint capture peripherals for biometric-based applications.

The FreezeFrame-Datastrip system provides a ready-to-use solution for ID card applications which is so convenient and simple to use, that organizations can design and start printing cards for their user base within one hour of installation!

The new system is ideal for Datastrip’s target customer base which ranges from secure ID cards for authorizing financial and banking transactions, to ID, access control and membership cards for commercial and government applications.  It also includes a switchable power supply which allows it to be used almost anywhere in the world, with 110, 220 or 240V mains electricity supplies.

FreezeFrame speeds the card generation process thanks to a unique design package called Gen-Frame which provides users with a WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) function.  This allows users to position all the required elements – such as text, organisation logo, background patterns and the printed Datastrip – exactly where required on the card to create the custom ID token.  Once the layout is ready, card production can begin straight away.

The built-in computer handles all the data acquisition and code generation tasks needed to produce individual, personalized cards, presenting two simple on-screen forms to obtain the text for the individual’s text record, and any associated photo image or biometric data.  This process is so simple that an individual’s photo card can typically be produced in 45-60 seconds.  The built-in database provides local storage for around 200,000 ID records and associated photo images/templates, in an industry-standard xBase format which simplifies integration with other IT applications.

The key advantage of Datastrip’s card technology is its combination of storage capacity and low cost.  Datastrip’s printed symbology provides around an order of magnitude greater machine-readable storage capacity than the typical magnetic-stripe card – at the same kind of cost – or comparable memory to a smart card at perhaps a tenth of the price. This equates to around 1kbyte of capacity for a Datastrip which can be printed onto a typical plastic card format, enough for a photo and text, or a biometric template for a fingerprint or signature.

Additionally, unlike other 2D symbologies, Datastrip’s code system is proprietary and is not in the public domain.  Coupled with security features built into the code, this makes the system very secure.  Licenses to use the code are included with every FreezeFrame-Datastrip system, allowing unlimited card printing for each application.

A range of complementary card readers and peripherals are available for Datastrip-based ID systems, which allow users to perform automated or manual checks, or both.  The company  offers a unique product for manual verification applications called the DSView240T.  This automatic card reader has its own miniature LCD allowing data to be viewed manually, making is ideal for standalone ID applications.  At a bank teller’s desk for example, or a security gate, cards could utilize the Datastrip for storing a photo, confidential text and biometric data such as a signature, for secure verification without access to on-line resources.



Dale M. Gregory, a recognized pioneer in the telecommuni-cations industry with more than 25 years of telecommunications experience, has been elected President and Chief Executive Officer of iTELSA, Inc., a leading provider of telephone network and prepaid calling-card services.

A member of iTELSA’s board of directors since January 1998, Gregory served most recently as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Frontier Corporation. He previously was President and Chief Executive Officer of Microtel, Inc., and President and Chief Operating Officer of Advanced Telecommunications Corporation.

iTELSA Chairman Albert Weintraub expressed confidence in Gregory, commending him for his professional insight and leadership. Weintraub, who founded Microtel in 1981, said Gregory has demonstrated a talent for recognizing the direction and potential of newly emerging technologies.

“When we worked together at Microtel, Dale and I kept the company on the leading edge of the growing long-distance industry,” Weintraub said. “Now we face a similar challenge with iTELSA, as we blaze new trails in the international telephone calling-card industry.”

iTELSA is a premiere provider of prepaid calling-card solutions and resale of least-cost network services in the United States and internationally. Based in Miami, iTELSA is located on the World Wide Web at .