First Data & Avco Sign

First Data Retail Management Services, a unit of First Data Corporation, and California-based Avco Financial Services today announced a three-year processing agreement for Avco’s private label card portfolio. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, effective Jan. 1, 1998, First Data will provide cardholder and merchant data processing and other card portfolio management services.

“Continuing our relationship with First Data reflects our belief in their commitment to deliver superior processing services and innovative technology to help us achieve our goals for our customers,” said Mary Sikes, vice president of marketing, Avco Financial Services.

“We are pleased that Avco has selected First Data as a strategic partner for its card processing needs,” said Bill Ott, president, First Data Retail Management Services. “This new agreement is evidence of the confidence Avco has in our ability to deliver innovative technology and new products and services to help our clients grow their private label market share and maximize their profits.”

Avco Financial Services, Inc., based in Costa Mesa, Calif., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., based in Providence, R.I. Avco is dedicated to providing a variety of quality products and services to satisfy the financial and insurance needs of a worldwide audience. Avco has over 1,200 branch offices in 11 countries around the world. The Finance Operation offers secured and unsecured consumer loans, real estate loans and purchases installment contracts offered through retail dealers, such as appliance and furniture stores. This operation also engages in commercial finance programs. The Insurance Operation, Avco Insurance Services, offers credit insurance, auto and renters insurance and other life insurance products to consumers of the Finance Operation and to independent financial institutions. Textron is a $10.5 billion global, multi-industry company with market-leading operations in Aircraft, Automotive, Industrial and Finance.

First Data Retail Management Services delivers specialized credit transaction processing to the private label card industry. It provides retailers and financial institutions clients with innovative, end-to-end solutions that allow them to stimulate and increase sales, enhance revenue and grow market share.

Hackensack, N.J. – based First Data Corporation is a global leader in payment systems, electronic commerce and information management products and services. First Data and its principal operating units process the information that allows millions of consumers to pay for goods and services by credit, debit or stored value card at the point of sale or over the Internet; by check or wire money. For further information about First Data, please visit the Internet at [www.firstdatacorp.com][1].

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

Details

Internet Cardholder Services Released

Incurrent Corp. announced yesterday the general availability of the company’s Internet Cardholder Services package for payment card issuers.

ICS allows card-issuing institutions to move customer service and account management onto the World Wide Web quickly, easily, and with minimal capital investment. The announcement comes in the wake of Bank of America’s unveiling of web-based cardholder services (www.bankamerica.com), and the conclusion recently by Zona Research that card issuers reduce service costs from dollars to pennies per transaction by moving customer service activity onto the Internet.

“BofA recognizes the opportunities presented to payment card issuers by the Internet,” commented Mark Betz, Incurrent’s president and CEO, “and they’ve responded with a feature-rich site that offers useful tools to cardholders. What we have done is to make it possible for any issuer to move cardholder services online for much less than the costs of internal development.”

Previously, the ICS team at Incurrent had built a pioneering cardholder services website for Block Financial Corp.’s WebCard Visa in 1995. “Knowing both sides of the issue, payment cards and technology, gives us a unique perspective,” Betz said, “and we’ve applied that to our products.”

ICS is a complete package including software, the services of top site designers, backoffice integration, and secure 24×7 operations. A central component is CardSite 1.1, Incurrent’s leading-edge website application for cardholder services and account access. Standard features include Cardholder Mailbox, statement browsing with inline expense reports, export of categorized transactions to Money and Quicken, searches and reporting tools, email reminders, and much more. The company maintains a fully operational ICS installation for demonstration purposes. Interested parties can log on at .

“The key benefit of the ICS program is that it allows issuers to move online when it makes business sense to do so, without the risk of new technology development,” noted Betz. Issuers that prefer to operate the site internally can license the software and take advantage of the company’s infrastructure consulting services. Incurrent’s experts will assist in network design, server installation, testing, and staff training, enabling a painless rollout of the issuer’s Internet presence.

Details

Currency Conversion Error

As of February 11, more than 2,000 Disney on Ice customers have received credits to their credit card accounts for purchases of show merchandise that were inadvertently overcharged, according to Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of the Disney on Ice touring shows.

The error occurred when the credit card processor incorrectly converted Canadian dollar purchases as U.S. dollar purchases.  This affected customers of Disney on Ice — The Spirit of Pocahontas in Vancouver and Disney on Ice — Beauty and the Beast in Montreal and Toronto.

“The problem was human error on the part of our credit card processor and we have issued credits back to our credit card customers,” explained Mike Ruch, Chief Financial Officer of Feld Entertainment in Vienna, Va., USA. “We regret any inconvenience this mistake caused our customers.  We also encourage any customer who does not receive the credit within the next seven working days to contact Feld Entertainment at 800-755-1530.”

Details

Falcon 4.0 Released

HNC Software Inc. is introducing a new version of Falcon, the credit card fraud detection system used by a majority of the top 50 U.S. credit card issuers and 16 of the world’s top 25 issuers.

Falcon is a predictive software solution that uses neural networks, expert rules bases, and HNC’s proprietary cardholder behavior profiling technology to analyze card transactions in real time to predict fraud. The new release, Falcon 4.0, is year 2000 compliant, provides greater flexibility in its fraud operations interface, and creates and maintains more detailed cardholder profiles. Most significantly, Falcon 4.0 introduces a new-generation scoring model that yields substantial performance improvement.

Called Model 2000, the new Falcon Consortium model makes use of an innovative advance in HNC’s proprietary profiling technology. Model 2000 employs a variety of scoring methods in conjunction with a more intelligent set of profiles. Using the transaction information and behavioral profiles, Model 2000 selects the best scoring method for a given transaction. This technique provides a dramatic improvement in fraud detection, especially at low false-positive rates, where a real-time referral strategy is most effective.

“We expect Falcon issuers see at least a 30 percent improvement in the Model 2000 performance,” said Krishna Gopinathan, originator of Falcon and vice president of Advanced Projects at HNC Software. “Our fraud models have always been outstanding performers, so there really has to be a big performance increase for us to be this enthusiastic. Under some circumstances, the average U.S. client might see as much as an 80 percent increase in dollars saved.”

Gopinathan added that fraud model performance must be measured within the context of actual operations. “The 80 percent savings could be achieved by someone using a strategy of referring real-time transactions at a 3-to-1 false-positive rate and working cases at 40-to-1 false-positive rate.”

HNC has localized Falcon to a variety of different countries and optimized its performance with regional or country-specific models. Many of the techniques used in Model 2000 are already employed in the latest international models.

A workshop on Falcon 4.0 enhancements and the best strategies to use to maximize the benefits of Model 2000 will be presented at HNC’s Financial Technology Conference, March 1-4, in San Diego. Installation of Falcon 4.0 is currently being scheduled by HNC Software Client Services.

With headquarters in San Diego, HNC Software Inc. (NASDAQHNCS) is a world leader in the development and delivery of predictive software solutions in client/server environments. HNC provides innovative predictive software systems in the financial services, retail, insurance information, and electronic commerce markets. For more information, see [www.hnc.com][1] or contact Patsy Campbell, director of Marketing, HNC Software Inc., 5930 Cornerstone Court West, San Diego, CA 92121, (619) 546-8877. For investor relations hotline, call (800) 396-8052.

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

Details

Priority One Sets Record

Randall King, President of Priority One Electronic Commerce Corp. announced that each of the past 4 months has set new sales records for Priority One.

Processing transactions in January 1998 were five (5) times larger than the number processed a year ago in January 1997.  Mr. King went on to say “We expect a 35% increase in February 1998 over the number of transactions processed in January 1998.

Priority One is a privately held company that has developed a proprietary system called BILL COLLECT(TM) that allows client companies to improve cash flow by collecting their receivables on the due date instead of waiting weeks or months for their customers to mail remittance checks.

While studies show that it costs companies from $2 to $5 to collect a single payment, Priority One does this for less than the cost of a postage stamp per payment. This has  the effect of reducing operating costs and increasing bottom line.

Randall King of Walnut Creek, Ca.  was elected President of Priority One last month.  He joins Priority after having been President of Quadron Software and Premenos Technology in its formative years.

Priority One has a strategic partnership agreement with CITX Corp. of Quakertown, Pa. who developed the Intrapay system of doing electronic commerce over the Internet and secure intranets hosted by CITX.

CITX recently announced the signing OF a strategic partnership agreement with NCR Corp. of Dayton, Ohio under which they will work with NCR to integrate the NCR Top End software with the CITX Intrapay system and expand electronic commerce opportunities around the world.

Priority One provides the processing for payment transactions that arise from these electronic commerce transactions over the CITX Intrapay system.

Priority One’s corporate e-mail newsletter “ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS” is available free on request at Priorityone@fast.net.

Details

Advanced PIN Pad

Hypercom unveiled the ‘ICE’ or “Interactive Customer Equipment” Peripheral this morning at the London Smart Card ’98 show. The ‘ICE’ peripheral is an advanced PIN Pad for Hypercom’s ‘T7’ series terminals providing a POS touch screen solution for retailers. Hypercom also introduced a portable version of ‘ICE’ called ‘ICE Portable’ offering the industry’s first battery- powered, apron-pocket-size, wireless solution for restaurants and other mobile merchants. Hypercom says the ‘ICE Portable’ will ship within the next two to three months.

Details

Wayne Johnson Moves On

UCI Medical Affiliates, Inc. announced Friday that it has executed an Acquisition Agreement in which UCI will acquire the assets of MainStreet Healthcare Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia for a combination of cash, UCI stock and debt assumption. The closing is expected to occur on or about March 3l,1998.  MainStreet, with annualized revenues of approximately $7 million and with approximately 100 employees, owns and operates nine primary care medical offices in the Atlanta, Georgia area and two primary care medical offices in Knoxville, Tennessee.

With this acquisition, Columbia, S.C. based UCI will operate 51 freestanding, primary care focused medical centers in South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.  “This expansion into neighboring states fits perfectly into our core business plan of enhancing our influence as a primary care based physician group which negotiates with insurance payors for fair rates and which is committed to quality, affordable and accessible care for our patients,” said M. F. McFarland, III, M.D., UCI’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

A. Wayne Johnson, MainStreet’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will join UCI’s Board of Directors concurrent with the closing of the acquisition. Mr. Johnson brings to the UCI Board added expertise in the areas of investment banking and multi-state development.  Prior to co-founding MainStreet, Mr. Johnson was President of one of the operating subsidiaries of First Data Corporation, was an Executive Vice President of Visa USA and was a partner in the consulting division of Deloitte & Touche LLP.

The Company also announced that revenue for the first quarter of the fiscal year ending September 30, 1998 increased by 25% to $8,078,000 from $6,488,000 for the first quarter of the fiscal year ended September 30, 1997. Revenue growth is attributed to both same center increases in patient visits and patient charges at established centers and to the expansion in the number of centers UCI operates.

Patient encounters increased to 115,000 in the first quarter of fiscal year 1998 from 96,000 in the first quarter of fiscal year 1997.

The Company reported a net loss of $877,000 or $.15 per share for the first quarter of fiscal year 1998, as compared to a profit of $30,000 or $.01 per share for the first quarter of fiscal year 1997.  “Recent losses are attributable in part to assimilation issues related to recent acquisitions, and in part to the Company continuing to invest heavily in the information systems and infrastructure necessary to support continued expansion by practice acquisitions (such as MainStreet), so that it can position itself to successfully operate in the rapidly changing primary care market place,” said Jerry F, Wells, Jr., CPA, UCI’s Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

The Company’s December 31, 1997 balance sheet reflects an increase in total assets to $22,961,000, as compared to $16,549,000 at December 31, 1996, while stockholders’ equity at December 31, 1997 increased to $9,441,000 from $7,852,000 at December 31, 1996.

UCI Medical Affiliates, Inc., provides nonmedical management and administrative services for freestanding medical centers which operate as Doctor’s Care urgent care centers, Doctor’s Surgical Group, Doctor’s Orthopedic Group, the UCI Division of Family Medicine and Progressive Therapy Services.

This press release contains forward-looking statements subject to the safe harbor created by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  The Company cautions readers of this press release that such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward- looking statements.  Although the Company’s management believes that their expectations of future performance are based on reasonable assumptions within the bounds of their knowledge of their business and operations, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from their expectations.  Factors which could cause actual results to differ from expectations include, among other things, the difficulty in controlling the Company’s cost of providing healthcare and administering its network of Centers; the possible negative effects from changes in reimbursement and capitation payment levels and payment practices by insurance companies, healthcare plans, government payors and other payment sources; the difficulty of attracting primary care physicians; the increasing competition for patients among healthcare providers; possible government regulations in multiple jurisdictions negatively impacting the existing organizational structure of the Company; the possible negative effects of prospective healthcare reform; the challenges and uncertainties in the implementation of the Company’s expansion and development strategy; the dependence on key personnel, and other factors described in other reports filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Details

ABI Battle Heats Up

The battle for credit card insurance king American Bankers Insurance Group is heating up as Cendant Corp, formerly HFS and CUC International, filed suit Friday against AIG for canceling its ‘D&O’ insurance. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Cendant obtained a “Directors & Officers” insurance policy from AIG subsidiary National Union Fire Insurance Company effective Dec. 17. The policy was canceled under questionable circumstances on Jan. 21 for alleged non-payment. Last week AIG claimed to state regulators that Cendant was not experienced at running an insurance concern and is highly leveraged. AIG has offered $2.2 billion while Cendant has offered $2.7 billion for American Bankers.

Details

Hypercom Hungarian Pilot

Hypercom Corporation is helping MOL Company, Hungary’s largest oil and gas firm, launch a newly implemented smart card loyalty program throughout Hungary. The program rollout, the result of a previous agreement, uses Hypercom’s point-of-sale terminals and software upgraded by Hypercom.

Hypercom is the world’s largest independent provider of payment transaction solutions, including point-of-sale terminals, peripherals, networking equipment and software. MOL Company handles all processes from exploration through processing and sales.

A trial program of the MOL customer loyalty system was launched February 4 with 45 Hypercom point-of-sale terminals at 40 of MOL’s filling stations in the Budapest area. The trial program is now scheduled to run through May.

“The introduction of smart cards by MOL required only a relatively simple software upgrade to the Hypercom terminals and PC cash registers. We expect to do the same for electronic purse functionality later this year. By purchasing Hypercom equipment, MOL Company ‘future proofed’ its systems,” said Lajos Kecskemeti, country manager for Hypercom Hungary.

“We have been using Hypercom terminals in 330 of our petrol stations since 1995. We are delighted that it has proven so easy to introduce smart card functionality to our existing Hypercom system,” said Dr. Janos Gyorfi, general manager of MOL’s Filling Stations Division.

Concurrent with the trial program, MOL Company is updating its cash registers in its filling stations outside the Budapest area. MOL’s nationwide system is scheduled to rollout in May with 500 terminals at 330 filling stations.

The system uses personal computer-based cash registers attached to Hypercom T-7P terminals with Hypercom’s S7SC pin pads and smart card reader.     The MOL program is designed to introduce a loyalty program for the company’s regular customers. The aim of the MOL program is to increase market share and average transaction values.

Using smart cards with Hypercom point-of-sale terminals, cardholders can earn points by purchasing fuel or other goods at MOL Company filing stations. The loyalty program rewards customers for higher margin non-fuel purchases in addition to fuel. Cardholders earn one point per liter of fuel and one point per 100 forints spent on non-fuel goods and services.

The system is offline and points are stored on the smart cards. Cardholders can then either redeem their points for discounts of goods available at MOL Company filing stations or from an exclusive MOL catalogue.

MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Company is among the largest companies in Central Europe. It is active at all levels in the oil industry. MOL Co. gives high priority providing superior service, primary through its nationwide network of 330 filling stations. MOL Co. is currently upgrading its station network to become of the most modern and environmentally-friendly in Europe.

Hypercom Corporation (NYSEHYC) is the world’s leading independent supplier of point-of-sale technology. The company also supplies Internet-based payment processing solutions. Hypercom provides innovative solutions for delivering and processing secure electronic payments and the infrastructure to quickly and cost-effectively integrate and deploy new payment applications.

Hypercom’s end-to-end product family of terminals, peripherals, POS network products and software enables merchants and service providers to automate credit, debit and other electronic payment transactions with seamless integration, scalability and interoperability.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products in more than 50 countries through a global network of offices and affiliates in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com][1].

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

Details

UK Competition

Sun Banking Corporation, a subsidiary of Sun Life of Canada, announced today it will enter the credit card business in the UK. Sun will compete against the likes of Capital One, MBNA America, Household’s Hamilton Direct, and Bank of Scotland’s Capital Bank. According to this morning’s London Daily Mail, U.S. based People’s Bank offers the best long term pricing in the UK with a 15.9% rate on standard and 14.9% rate on gold cards without annual fees.

Details

VISA Fraud

VISA announced yesterday its card fraud rate has dropped to an unprecedented eight basis points of total volume or about $400 million. VISA says fraud has been dropping each year since 1993 primarily due to programs aimed at ‘not received issued’ cards, identity fraud and suspicious purchase patterns. According to VISA stats, 1996 fraud was eleven basis points of volume (approx. $450 million) while 1993 fraud stood at nineteen basis points (approx $385 million).

Details