Segmenting Internet Users

The Yankee Group formally released NetMigration, what the first is calling the first Internet segmentation that both accounts for consumers’ evolving use of the Internet, and attaches an economic value to each phase of their evolution. Browsers, Engagers, Private Transactors, and Engaged Transactors. Engaged Transactors account for roughly 6% of the United States’ 44 million PC households, and represents the most valuable on-0line customer, with expected monthly revenues form advertising and commerce as much as four times that of the other segments. The segments are defined by a consumer’s current on-line states, their predisposition to offer information about themselves for gain, and their use of “value-centric” applications such as shopping, on-line trading, home banking, and on-line travel booking.

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Intl Cash Tips

When traveling overseas, don’t forget to pack the cash. Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc., America’s leading travel authority, offers tips on traveling with foreign currency.

“Many travelers are so used to relying on plastic or travelers checks that they forget there are important reasons to also bring along cash,” said Bonnie Ammer, president and publisher of Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc. “You’ll want to have a little cash for tips, cabs, buses and other incidental expenses. Local currency is especially helpful for trips to small towns or off the beaten path. Also, if your credit card is stolen or lost — or you can’t find an ATM when you need it — having a little foreign currency is probably the smartest way to avoid problems.”

Preparing For Your Trip

— Become familiar with the foreign currency denominations before you go, that way you’ll know if you’re receiving the correct change for your transactions and not tipping the cab driver $20 for a $2.00 ride.

— Having foreign currency when you arrive saves time and avoids inconveniences. Airport ATM’s often have long lines, the local exchange booths may be closed for the day, and local holidays can close banks or delay replenishing ATM machines.

— Check your local bank to see if they have a currency exchange program. Or consider an exchange service like International Currency Express, Thomas Cook Currency Services or Chase “Currency to Go”.

When You Arrive

— Check the newspaper in the country you’re visiting to find out the exchange rate,

— Banks typically give more favorable exchange rates than hotels, railway stations, airports, currency kiosks and retail stores. Look for a bank that doesn’t levy a charge in addition to the normal conversion fee.

— ATM’s are a convenient way to get “quick” cash and are becoming commonplace even in developing countries. Local bank cards may not work overseas. Remember to get a four-digit PIN before you leave the country — some pins may need to be re-programmed for international travel.

On The Road

— Avoid converting one foreign currency to another if you’re traveling to several countries. Each time you convert, you lose buying power.

— Separate each country’s currency in zippered plastic bags so you don’t confuse the currency. Use the plastic bags to hold receipts from the local purchases, facilitating your return through Customs.

— Left over currency can make a great souvenir for kids.

Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc., a division of Random House, Inc., is the largest English-language travel guidebook publisher in the world. With more than 230 titles in print, Fodor’s publishes nearly 5.5 million guidebooks annually. Fodor’s is the only travel publisher endorsed by The American Society of Travel Agents; other broad range marketing partnerships include Rand McNally, American Airlines, Discovery/Learning Channel and General Motors. The Fodor’s Travel Show is a weekly call-in radio program on WOR-710 AM talk and information radio station in New York and is syndicated in more than 80 markets nationwide. Fodor’s is located on the World Wide Web at .

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Chargeoffs Up Again

Rising delinquencies caught up with chargeoffs last month, sending the Fitch IBCA Credit Card Chargeoff Index noticeably higher for the first time in 10 months. The decline in delinquencies was the first in six months and, coupled with the rise in chargeoffs, indicates a shakeout of problem credits. Taken with first quarter-end bankruptcy figures, the results project a return to chargeoff stability in the coming months. Compiled using data reported in March for the February collection period, Fitch IBCA’s Chargeoff Index rose 17 basis points to 6.69% while delinquency index dropped to 3.50% from March’s record 3.73%. The chargeoff rise was the index’s first significant increase since peaking last May. Higher chargeoffs were widespread throughout the index’s universe, with more than two-thirds of the master trusts tracked posting worse results. Capital One, Citibank, First USA and Discover master trusts reported the largest chargeoff increases over the month-earlier period. Countering the trends with improved results were Fleet II, Chase and Household Affinity.

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Surcharge Suit

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association files a class action in Tennessee, against the Flying J. Inc., and Pilot Corporation truck stop chains and EFS National Bank for the improper imposition of surcharges upon credit card purchases of diesel fuel by truck operators. OOIDA alleges that the Flying J and Pilot truck stop chains charge a higher price for diesel fuel when the driver’s credit card is used to pay for diesel fuel. OOIDA also alleges that EFS National Bank, the bank that processes these credit card fuel purchases, is violating its obligation to VISA, MasterCard and other credit card companies to enforce the no-surcharge promise. OOIDA estimates that several thousand credit card users are being overcharged through surcharges on fuel purchases on a daily basis. OOIDA is seeking both monetary damages and injunctive relief on behalf of a class who uses credit cards to purchase diesel fuel at truck stops. Founded in 1973, OOIDA is comprised of over 40,000 owner-operators, professional drivers, and small business truckers from all 50 states and Canada.

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Triton SmartPay

Triton PCS Inc. and Triton Cellular Partners announced Wednesday the selection of National Telemanagement Corp.’s SmartPay Wireless prepaid billing system for its cellular and personal communications service markets. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. Under the agreement, Triton Cellular will offer its customers a prepaid billing option, beginning in May. Triton PCS will introduce the SmartPay service when it launches services late this year. To initiate SmartPay service, customers simply establish a permanent prepaid billing account with Triton with cash, bank draft or credit card. From that point on, the customer simply places and receives calls as usual with no need to enter a PIN number or debit-card authorization code. The SmartPay equipment is installed at the switch, which eliminates the need and expense of backhauling each call. All calls including roaming calls are processed on site.

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Breakthrough

Breakthrough Software, Inc. and Cardservice International have created the industry’s first simplified merchant account process for small to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. Breakthrough Software will be offering its ISP partners the ability to sign their end-user customers up for a merchant account, enabling ISP to offer a valuable and efficient service. Breakthrough also gains access to Cardservice’s nationwide network of agents to distribute its product line.

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SmartPoints

Leapfrog Smart Products Inc., an Orlando-based Smart card development company, was awarded a contract with Chambers Benefits Inc., a subsidiary of the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce, to develop and supply a Smart card Membership and Loyalty program for the Chamber’s members called SmartPoints. All of the Chamber’s 5000+ members will be issued a personalized Smart card that will be used for access to Chamber events, store loyalty points and be used as an electronic purse at events. Giesecke & Devrient America Inc will be supplying Leapfrog the cards for SmartPoint. Leapfrog will also be utilizing Giesecke & Devrient’s proprietary STARCOIN purse.

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Intrapay TE

CitX Corporation of Quakertown, Pa, and NCR Corporation of Dayton, Ohio announced their alliance to deploy unique Internet-based document publishing, manufacturing, and delivery services, via the CitX fee-for-use Web-enabled payment platform called Intrapay TE. The Intrapay TE platform was developed by CitX and its strategic partner, NCR Corporation of Dayton, OH to facilitate business-to-business and business-to-consumer Internet-based EC solutions, via the Internet. Plans are in place to launch the first series of services into several beta test sites, in the nest 6 to 8 weeks.

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Citibank Bonds Rated

Citibank Credit Card Master Trust I’s (CCIMT I) $750 million 5.85% class A credit card participation certificates, series 1998-6, are expected to be rated ‘AAA’ by Fitch IBCA. The corresponding $48 million 6.00% class B certificates are expected to be rated ‘A+’. In addition, Fitch IBCA expects to affirm its master trust ratings, indicating the issuance of series 1998-6 will not result in a reduction or withdrawal of current ratings assigned to outstanding trust certificates.

The expected ratings reflect the quality of the receivables generated from Visa and MasterCard credit card accounts, the available credit enhancement, the servicing expertise of Citibank (South Dakota) and the transaction’s sound legal and financial structures.

Class A’s enhancement, equal to 11% of the total initial invested amount, is derived from a 5% shared cash collateral account (CCA) and the subordination of the 6% class B certificates. The shared CCA will first support class A then class B, covering losses not paid by excess finance charge collections. Class B’s enhancement, equal to 7% of the total initial invested amount, is derived from a 2% CCA dedicated just to class B along with the 5% shared CCA.

Credit enhancement levels were determined by stressing portfolio steady state yield and payment rate assumptions to determine the level of defaults the enhancement could sustain. Class A is able to support a 35% decrease in yield, payment rates dropping in half and defaults increasing to a level above 30%, and still make full and timely payments to investors. Class B can sustain a 25% decrease in yield, along with a decline in payment rates by more than 40% and defaults increasing to a level above 25%, while meeting all investor principal and interest obligations.

Class A and B investors will receive semiannual interest payments at the aforementioned rates throughout the revolving and accumulation periods and on the scheduled final payment date. If an early payout occurs, class A and B investors will receive principal on an accelerated schedule along with monthly interest payments. Following the variable accumulation period, principal is expected to be paid to class A and class B certificateholders on the April 2001 distribution date. Series termination is set in April 2003’s distribution date.

Series 1998-6’s terms contain an accelerated payout feature to protect investors from deteriorating collateral or a servicer default. If certain triggers are breached, the amounts available in the 5% shared CCA will be drawn upon and immediately distributed to class A investors. In addition, the 2% CCA dedicated solely to class B will be drawn upon and immediately distributed to class B investors.

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#3 ATM Firm

Triton Systems Inc., for the third consecutive year, was ranked among the “Big Three” U.S. ATM manufacturers. Triton sold 7,767 machines in 1997, up from 5,582 in 1996, reflecting a 39 percent jump over last year. Triton fueled its expansion through distributor partnerships, international market penetration, continued product innovation and by adding sales of off-premise ATMs to banks. In partnership with its distributors, Triton entered key new markets and implemented innovative solutions for customers. For example, Portland, Oregon-based Card Capture Services, Inc. worked with Triton to develop an exclusive cutting-edge multimedia ATM solution that has been deployed at more than 300 AMF Bowling Centers around the U.S. Using customized Triton ATMs, the CCS MediaPak offers on-screen advertising and dispenses coupons, enabling AMF Bowling Centers to leverage its ATM network to market products and services.

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IVI Penetrates US

International Verifact Inc. announced today that it has recently appointed TASQ Technology, Inc., as an IVI Master Distributor.

“The appointment of TASQ Technology as a Master Distributor goes a long way to improving our distribution and service to customers and market areas previously not economical for IVI to cover directly,” said William McKiever, Executive Vice President and General Manager, IVI USA. “We spent considerable time selecting our first Master Distributor and believe that TASQ will prove to be a strong distribution partner in the future.”

IVI’s recently introduced CheckManager 3000 stand-alone dial checkreader, as well as other IVI point-of-sale (POS) products, will be carried by TASQ.

Ron Chaisson, President of TASQ Technology, was quoted saying, “IVI’s new CheckManager 3000 is a product right on target. It will ease the installation of check authorization technology and cut support costs significantly. The CheckManager fits our corporate philosophy of providing high quality, no fault solutions at an efficient cost.”

One of IVI’s 1998 stated goals is to create new distribution channels in the U.S. marketplace. “We have taken a strategic approach to building distribution in the U.S., in keeping with the dynamics of the marketplace,” said L. Barry Thomson, President and CEO, IVI.

TASQ Technology is located in Rocklin, California, just outside of Sacramento. TASQ is the largest outsourcing provider of information systems, inventory management services and Internet solutions to the credit card processing industry in the United States.

IVI is engaged in the design, development and sale of electronic payment solutions for retailers, financial institutions, governments and other businesses. IVI’s hardware and software products include point-of-sale debit/credit/EFT/EBT terminals, check readers, smart card readers, POS printers and secure PIN entry devices. Additional Company information is available on the IVI website at .

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Gold & OFX Specs Coming

The Banking Industry Technology Secretariat announced yesterday that a new open framework for the exchange of financial data and instructions, covering the Integrion Financial Network’s GOLD and the Open Financial Exchange specifications, will be published in August 1998. Related announcements on the product plans and migration roadmaps for current OFX and Gold users will be made later this year. The draft specification will be make available to service providers for a preliminary review in June 1998. BITS is facilitating the convergence of one open specification for financial industry applications and moving the ongoing maintenance of the new specification into an open standard-setting body to allow for broad, worldwide participation. The specification is being developed as a cooperative industry effort to benefit financial services companies, service providers and information technology companies and their customers in the business and consumer markets.

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