Upping the Ante

The value of American Bankers Insurance Group grew to $3.1 billion or by 16% yesterday as Cendant Corp. made a new offer of $67 per share. The latest development comes two weeks after rival bidder American International Group upped its offer from $47 per share to $58 per share. Cendant, formerly HFS Inc and CUC International, estimated yesterday ABIG could add $140 million in pretax income to its books by the year 2000.


Nestor Up 41%

Nestor, Inc. reported revenues of $782,000 for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 1997, an increase of 41% compared to revenues of $555,000 for the fourth quarter of 1996.  The Company also reported a significantly lower net loss in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 1997 of $324,000, or ($0.05) per share, compared to a net loss of $571,000, or ($0.08) per share, for the fourth quarter of 1996.

For the year ended December 31, 1997, revenues rose 26% to $5,681,000 from $4,508,000 in 1996.  The net loss for 1997 was $295,000, ($0.08) per share, compared to a net loss of $199,000, ($0.09) per share, in 1996.  Revenue and net income in 1996 include $2,099,000 and $1,127,000, respectively, from product sales and an initial fee related to the exclusive license of Nestor’s intelligent character recognition (ICR) product line to National Computer Systems, Inc. in June 1996.  Excluding the ICR product sales and initial license fee, 1997 revenue grew 129% over 1996 ($5,681,000 vs. $2,477,000), and 1996 to 1997 losses were decreased by 77% (from $1,288,000 to $295,000).

“Our two primary goals for 1997 were to replace last year’s ICR income with current-product income, and to achieve overall profitability for the year.  We met the first goal and narrowly missed the second as some sales slipped from the fourth quarter into 1998.  Revenue growth was fueled by the expansion of our PRISM product line, where 1997 revenues of $5,232,000 represented a growth of 218% over 1996 PRISM revenues of $1,645,000. Incremental PRISM revenues more then replaced ICR revenues, with contributions from both direct sales and from strategic-partners such as Applied Communications, Inc. (ACI), CSK, Europay International and Total System Services (TSYS),” stated David Fox, President and CEO at Nestor, Inc.

Several new PRISM licenses were announced in the fourth quarter. Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia), a leading credit card issuer in Canada, will use PRISM to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions among its credit card portfolios.  In addition, Nestor’s relationship with ACI yielded two new PRISM licenses in 1997, including HONOR Technologies and, in 1998, Marshall & Iseley, Inc. (M&I Data Services).  The two U.S.-based electronic fund transfer (EFT) organizations will offer PRISM, marketed by ACI under the brand name PRM (Predictive Risk Management), to their financial and banking clients.

“Our net loss for 1997, $295,000, while a considerable improvement over 1996, excluding ICR, was short of our goal.  TrafficVision, Nestor’s video traffic-monitoring product, experienced order slippage in late 1997 but realized the orders in early 1998.  Our initial traffic-operations center installation in Rhode Island, monitoring Interstate 95, was officially opened in February 1998.  Other early 1998 installations are located in Virginia, Connecticut and Texas.  These TrafficVision installations should lead to an acceleration of orders both in the U.S. and abroad.  InterSite, our Web personalization product, also has begun to show real promise.  Two beta sites, Lycos, Inc. and Edward Jones, are scheduled for completion this quarter.  Both TrafficVision and InterSite should begin to contribute meaningfully to Nestor’s revenues in 1998,” concluded Mr. Fox.

Certain information in this press release may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21 E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Although the Company believes that the expectations are based upon reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that such expectations will be achieved.

Nestor, Inc. is a leading provider of intelligent-decision-support solutions.  Nestor’s client/server products incorporate innovative pattern- recognition technologies ideally suited for data-intensive, mission-critical decision applications in real-time environments.  The Company’s principal clients are financial institutions where it supports credit, debit, retail and corporate fraud detection and case management, merchant fraud; database marketing; and Internet customer personalization applications.  Nestor’s patented technology is also being applied to intelligent-decision applications for a variety of other markets, including real-time traffic management, and intelligent character recognition.  More information can be obtained via the Company’s web site at .

                                 NESTOR, INC.
                    Consolidated Statements of Operations
                 (in Thousands, except for per share amounts)

                                    Three Months Ended     Twelve Months Ended
                                    12/31/97   12/31/96    12/31/97   12/31/96

    Revenues                           $782       $555      $5,681     $4,508

    Net (Loss) After Taxes            $(324)     $(571)      $(295)     $(199)

    Net (Loss) Per Common Share      $(0.05)    $(0.08)     $(0.08)    $(0.09)

    Average Shares Outstanding        9,336      8,888       9,244      8,376


Top 25 Leaders

The nation’s twenty-five largest bank credit card issuers added four percentage points to marketshare last year, driven largely by acquisitions. According to Bankcard Barometer, outstandings for the Top 25 increased 9.8% or 50% more than the industry as a whole. As a result, marketshare, based on outstandings, grew from 82% to 86%.

      LEADERS                           LAGGARDS  
      Direct Merchants       +125.0%    Advanta          -11.8%
      PNC Natl Bank          +35.7%     First Union      -6.1%
      Chase Manhattan        +29.0%     Household        -4.0%
      MBNA America           +26.1%     Chevy Chase      -3.9%
      BancOne/FUSA           +19.5%     Wells Fargo      -1.4%


Power Pizza

A major pizza chain will begin accepting American Express cards today in its Utah market. Little Caesars Pizza, with 41 restaurants in Utah, will now accept AmEx cards for both carryout and delivery orders. Besides print advertising pieces and in-store signage, Little Caesars said Friday it will send 70,000 postcards to Utah residents. If successful the acceptance will be expanded nationwide.


PaySys Moves Hdqtrs

PaySys International, Inc.announced last week that the company had moved its international headquarters from Orlando, Fla., to Atlanta.

The privately held company, which posted revenues of $33 million in 1997, employs more than 400 people worldwide and operates offices and support centers in Columbus, Ohio; Singapore; Melbourne, Australia; Dublin, Ireland; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Costa Rica.

The new PaySys headquarters is located at One Meca Way in Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, which is one of the fastest growing high-tech areas in the country. Approximately 60 people are based at the Atlanta facility, which houses the company’s human resource department, finance, marketing, and new product development groups.

The company’s support, sales, training, and current product development efforts will remain centered in Orlando where some 325 employees are based.

“We selected metro Atlanta for our headquarters and for our new product development efforts because of the city’s large pool of technology professionals and resources, as well as Atlanta’s position as a Southern hub for software developers and hardware manufacturers,” said Stephen B. Grubb, CEO/president.

“PaySys is a dominant force in the credit card marketplace because we employ such a large number of credit card and financial experts. And since over 300 of those experts work in our Orlando office, our office there will remain critical to our overall operations,” Grubb said.

PaySys’ customers are familiar with the Orlando office, where the in-house training classes, new product demonstrations, and the company’s annual client conference, EXTRA, take place. The office is located in another fast-growing technological center in Maitland, a suburb of Orlando.

PaySys International, founded in 1981, pioneered credit card management software, and today has installations running in 28 countries on six continents. PaySys systems process more credit card accounts daily than any other card systems, and PaySys solutions are used more than any other comparable product by banks and retail establishments worldwide.

PaySys developed the legendary CardPac for banks, the best-selling VISION21 for retailers, and its latest product VisionPLUS(TM), which combines bankcard, private label, and loan processing all in one.

For more information, call the PaySys sales office at 407-660-0343 or visit the company’s web site at [www.paysys.com][1].

[1]: http://www.paysys.com


Credit Card El Nino

Card delinquencies are heating up again and it could spell trouble ahead for card issuers throughout the Spring. Fitch IBCA said Friday the recent uptick in delinquencies could point to an upswing in charge-offs for the April reporting period, just prior to the seasonally high summer months when holiday purchases come of age. Fitch IBCA, a card bond tracker, says while the magnitude of the impact remains uncertain it does warrant attention.

Meanwhile the March issue of Bankcard Barometer, released this morning, shows delinquency rose sharply, industry-wide, from 5.30% in January to 5.41% for February. However 30+ day delinquency dropped slightly from 2.34% to 2.33%. Outstandings more than 60 days past due increased from 1.27% to 1.31%, 90-plus days past due jumped from 0.77% to 0.85% and outstandings more than 120 days delinquent increased from 0.92% to 0.95%. Bankcard Barometer reports charge-offs for the same period declined from 5.61% to 5.54%.



Investment research house, Progressive Strategies said last week the granting of three new patents to software manufacturer Open Market will have a far-reaching and profound impact on the growth of Internet commerce. Open Market’s first patent covers secure, real-time credit/debit processing and authorization over the Internet. The second patent covers the use of electronic shopping carts and digital coupons and the third covers Web-based advertising and marketing. PS says the patents give Open Market a potential stranglehold on e-commerce akin to Microsoft’s monopoly over PC operating systems.


ICOMS Hires MC Exec

ICOMS announced the appointment of John Gould, formerly Vice President of Electronic Commerce at MasterCard International, to the position of Vice President of Business Development. In his new role, Gould will develop strategic alliances with the financial services industry, enabling financial institutions to market ICOMS services, such as order management and credit card processing, to their merchant customers who want to conduct electronic commerce on the Web. Gould brings seventeen years of experience in financial services, including creating, negotiating, and implementing international credit card security standards and developing Internet-based and other global network financial services.

“John is widely recognized as one of the foremost pioneers of electronic commerce, particularly in the area of security,” said Cliff Conneighton, CEO of ICOMS. “The leadership he has demonstrated with the largest banks and card associations throughout his career will prove enormously valuable to ICOMS and to our customers.”

At MasterCard International, Gould served as a visionary and strategist in the use of technologies such as the Internet and SmartCards to create new markets and business opportunities. As VP of Electronic Commerce, Gould led the technical development and drove negotiations with VISA to create the SET (Secure Electronic Transmission) standard for securing credit cards transactions over the Internet. He also identified the opportunity, business case, and requirements for MasterCard and its member banks to become the certificate authorities in support of electronic commerce. As head of MasterCard’s Research and Development unit, Gould developed MasterCard’s SmartCard strategy and business plan, resulting in microprocessor-based SmartCards that can store electronic cash and can track purchases up to the minute. Representing both ADP and later MasterCard on the ISO international working group, Gould helped write ISO8583, the standard for BankCard Interchange, used globally for all credit and debit card ATM and POS transactions.

“The ICOMS management team possesses the vision, experience, and technology needed to offer companies a fast, easy, and cost-effective road map to successful migration into the new world of electronic commerce,” stated John Gould. “Being part of this enterprise is the most exciting endeavor of my career. Our satisfaction will come not only from building a successful business at ICOMS, but from watching our efforts help other businesses be equally successful in this new digital world.”

Internet Commerce Services Corp. (ICOMS) is the world’s leading provider of Internet commerce transaction services to Internet service providers, web hosters, web developers, financial institutions, and web merchants. ICOMS’ services help merchants sell goods and services securely over the Internet without incurring the cost of acquiring, developing, staffing, and operating their own commerce transaction systems. ICOMS’ flagship MerchantTrax(tm) service enables merchants to manage customers, accept orders, conduct custom pricing, authorize and process payments in a variety of currencies, manage subscriptions, deliver digital goods, and integrate with logistics suppliers. ICOMS operates its high-availability service center in Nashua, New Hampshire, which does not tax the sale of goods or services over the Internet. The company utilizes triple redundant Internet connections from the leading service providers, operates high-availability systems with diesel generators for back-up power, and provides personalized customer service and 7×24 technical support. For more information, see the ICOMS Web site at [www.icoms.com][1] or call 603-598-6500.

[1]: http://www.icoms.com


NYC CityAccess Kiosks Expand

New Yorkers can use credit cards to obtain copies of birth certificates, and to renew, purchase, and apply for dog licenses as part of the expanded services offered on ObjectSoft CityAccess kiosks, the company announced Friday.

“No more waiting in line for key government services. The SmartStreet CityAccess kiosks are now fully automated,” said ObjectSoft Chairman David E. Y. Sarna. “The addition of credit card transactions combined with search capabilities makes getting information and services faster and easier than ever.”

While SmartStreet offers thousands of pages of information and services available through CityAccess, program improvements allow users to find what they need in seconds just be typing in a key word or phrase such as “dog” or “Chinese food-Upper East Side.”

Using Microsoft SiteBuilder, and its own software, ObjectSoft’s has made it easier for City agencies to commerce-enable, update or make additions to their own kiosk information directly from their own offices.

“Thanks to Microsoft SiteBuilder and the City’s Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications and the cooperation of other City agencies, we are able to provide the most up-to-date information to kiosk users,” said ObjectSoft Co-CEO and President George Febish.

“This cooperation between public and private sector information providers benefits the government and its citizens,” Febish added.

The addition of these services marks the successful completion of ObjectSoft’s development contract with the City of New York at the budget allotted by the City. The City has advised the Company of its intention to extend the contract through the end of its next Fiscal Year 1999. The Company says it will shift its focus to deployment of kiosks in additional locations. The first site is the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park of Columbia University where ObjectSoft will deploy its new SmartSign kiosk with Interactive Public Access Terminal. ObjectSoft also expects to deploy at least 10 more within the area.

ObjectSoft also has released, for the first time, comprehensive page usage of the six kiosks it maintains for the City. On average, more than 3,000 people a week use the kiosks for a total of about 250,000 users since they were installed in August of 1996. The average visit is about 2 1/2 minutes long, for about 7.5 pages accessed per each user for a total of around 22,500 pages accessed per week. The most popular services accessed are maps, directions and tourist information. A close second is Department of Health Information, especially that which deals with AIDS and other sensitive issues where users are more comfortable seeking information by computer rather than in person.

As a part of a New York City Kiosk Demonstration Project, ObjectSoft currently maintains SmartStreet(TM) Kiosks at busy municipal government sites in each borough 125 Worth St. in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens Municipal Buildings, the St. George Terminal in Staten Island and the New York Hall of Science in Queens.

SmartStreet(TM) kiosks also provide extensive restaurant, travel and tourism information, including customized maps with directions. An overhead video screen provides a message from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and an introduction to the SmartStreet(TM) program from actor Tony Randall.

Through CityAccess, the kiosks also provide information from the Health Department and the Department of Buildings mainframe computer. Users can get detailed information on city services, including printouts listing publications and locations of hospitals, libraries and other facilities. Recently, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ MSFT) gave this application an award for Best BackOffice Server Suite Solution.

Separately, ObjectSoft announced that it had completed all of the requirements for its initial contract with King County in Seattle, and has turned the kiosks over to the County, which has accepted them.

About ObjectSoft

Founded in 1990, ObjectSoft is a leader in providing information and Internet-based services and has pioneered secure credit card processing of electronic commerce. ObjectSoft is a publicly held company listed on NASDAQ. For more information on ObjectSoft, visit their website at .

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements concerning ObjectSoft which are subject to a number of known and unknown risks that could cause actual results, performance and achievements to differ materially from those described or implied in the forward-looking statements. Among such risks are those discussed in the Company’s Registration Statement on Form SB-2 and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-QSB and include, but are not limited to, limited operating history, recent establishment of new business divisions, dependence on new and untested product, risks related to technological factors and potential manufacturing difficulties.


Cold Fusion Card Processing

Allaire Corporation and ICVERIFY Thursday announced that Allaire has acquired software components from a third party that link Allaire’s popular Cold Fusion Web application development system with electronic commerce software from ICVERIFY, allowing developers to rapidly create electronic commerce applications.

The software components were previously available from Allaire’s Website for a fee.  The NetVERIFY components are now available to developers at no charge from the Allaire Tag Gallery .  The tags provide immediate integration between Cold Fusion applications and NetVERIFY, ICVERIFY’s web commerce software package.

Cold Fusion provides developers with the tools to rapidly integrate database, server and browser technologies into sophisticated applications on intranets, extranets and the Internet.  The product has been adopted by thousands of major corporations, government agencies and universities worldwide to create a range of collaborative, commerce and business systems on the Web.  Cold Fusion custom tags are custom markup language elements that allow developers to build reusable components that can easily be inserted into dynamic Web applications.

NetVERIFY offers the sophisticated transaction processing and management functionality that Internet merchants demand.  NetVERIFY can process transactions for all major credit card brands, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card, Diners Club, Carte Blanche, JCB and private- label cards as well.  ICVERIFY maintains more than 250 financial processor certifications enabling NetVERIFY to communicate with merchant accounts at 99% of U.S. banks, a majority in Canada, and an increasing number in Europe as well.

“Cold Fusion is an extremely popular development system among Web professionals,” said Karen Tate, director of Internet markets for ICVERIFY. “These custom tags make it especially easy for Cold Fusion developers to commerce-enable their sites with NetVERIFY.”

“As companies accelerate their efforts to develop electronic commerce applications, it is critical that the Cold Fusion development system supports the best solutions,” said Joe Baker, director of business development for Allaire.  “This link between Cold Fusion and NetVERIFY provides Web developers with additional industry-leading technology for creating sophisticated commerce applications, and is part of our overall strategy to make Cold Fusion the best platform for on-line commerce.”

NetVERIFY is garnering attention from Internet service providers (ISP’s) and commerce service providers because a single copy of the software can be licensed to control commerce for multiple merchants.  Additionally, NetVERIFY includes a Web interface that enables merchants to manage their own payment processing from a Web browser over the Internet or across a corporate intranet. Allaire acquired the NetVERIFY tags from veteran Web developer Elliott Rudisill, founder of  two regional ISPs Inter-Mountain Access and New York Internet.  Both services have used the tags to facilitate Web commerce for their own operations, as well as the businesses they host.

“As a professional developer, I choose the best available tools,” Rudisill said.  “Cold Fusion gives me a rich and flexible Web development environment. NetVERIFY is the most robust and easy-to-use real-time commerce software.  A recent survey indicated that leading barriers to developing electronic commerce applications are time and development costs.  Allaire’s decision to purchase these tags addresses these barriers.”

Rudisill’s custom tags previously have been used to support commerce applications for numerous Web businesses, including US Internet, a national ISP providing comprehensive Internet and Web services.

“The integration between Cold Fusion and NetVERIFY is an incredibly reliable, scalable, customizable approach to doing real-time commerce on the Web,” said Travis Carter, vice president for technology at US Internet Corporation


ICVERIFY Inc. is a privately held, venture capital-funded corporation with U.S. headquarters in Oakland, California, and European headquarters in Munich, Germany.  Founded in 1988, the company is the leading provider of software solutions for authorizing credit card, purchasing card, debit/ATM card and check transactions for merchants.  More than a quarter-million points-of-sale including web commerce sites, Internet service providers, retail stores and catalog companies use ICVERIFY’s software products. For more information about ICVERIFY, visit or call 800-666-5777.

About Allaire     Allaire Corporation, founded in 1995 and based in Cambridge, Mass., is a leading Internet software company dedicated to providing developers with tools that maximize the potential of the Web as a platform for business computing. The company’s products are Cold Fusion, HomeSite and Forums.  Allaire can be reached at 617-761-2000, by  e-mail at info@allaire.com, or via the Web at .


Signature Group’s New CEO

Montgomery Ward & Co., Incorporated announced that Worthington Linen has been named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Signature Group, its wholly-owned direct marketing subsidiary. Linen, 47, formerly Senior Consultant to BMG Entertainment and Bertelsmann A.G., the international media and entertainment company, will join the company effective in April 1998.

“We are pleased to have an executive of Worth’s caliber leading The Signature Group,” Roger Goddu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Montgomery Ward, said.  “The Signature Group is a premier direct marketer noted for its quality service and innovative marketing ideas.  The appointment of an industry expert like Worth emphasizes our commitment to build on Signature’s strengths and maximize its value.”

From 1991 to 1996, Linen served as President and Chief Executive Officer of BMG Direct, Bertelsmann’s direct marketing subsidiary and the parent company of the BMG Music Service with almost nine million members.  While at BMG Direct, he was responsible for a dramatic turnaround in the business which resulted in more than a three-fold increase in membership, revenues and profitability.

Before Bertelsmann, Worth held positions as Vice Chairman of Wunderman Worldwide, a direct marketing subsidiary of Young & Rubicam and as Executive Vice President of Wunderman, Ricotta, Kline.  During his 15 years at Wunderman, he was involved with direct marketing businesses ranging from AT&T’s Opportunity Calling and L.L. Bean to Time Life Books, Ford/Lincoln Mercury, General Foods and Readers’ Digest.

“I am very excited about joining The Signature Group, one of the premier direct marketing companies in America,” Linen said.  “Signature’s skill sets are such that it has tremendous growth potential in the rapidly expanding fields of both data-driven marketing and loyalty marketing.  I look forward to working with Signature’s strong team of professionals to quickly capitalize on these growth opportunities.”

Beyond Linen’s experience managing various direct marketing businesses, he has been very active in the direct marketing industry.  Currently, he serves on the executive committee of the Direct Marketing Association Board of Directors and also has served as the Chairman of the DMA Government Affairs Program.  Linen also serves on the Board of Directors for Dearfield Associates, one of the nation’s leading telemarketing services, and on the Advisory Board of Intellipost, a web-based advertising company.

The Signature Group, headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., is a $870 million a year market leader in providing value-driven consumer products and services through direct response marketing.  The company provides a complete array of growing consumer clubs and services, including Dining a la Card, Auto Clubs, Dental and Legal Services Plans, as well as supplemental insurance products. For three consecutive years, The Signature Group has been ranked the number one service agency by Telemarketing Magazine, it is the top outbound telemarketer for the credit card industry, and was a winner of The International Customer Service Association Award of Excellence.  Principal clients include banks, independent credit card companies, airlines, major retailers and oil companies.

Wards is one of the largest privately held retailers in the United States and operates 294 full-line stores in 37 states.