New Secured Card

Telecommunications marketer Quintel Entertainment of Pearl River, NY announced Thursday it has signed agreements to offer and issue a secured credit card on behalf of Merrick Bancorp of Salt Lake City. Quintel says its expertise with check debiting and clearing technology in conjunction with its direct marketing techniques makes the secured card program a natural extension. Quintel has a database of 30 million consumers.

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Allied Collection Expands Dialer Systems

With the recent installation of two additional System 7000 dialer packages at the Allied Bond & Collection Agency call center, EIS International Inc., a leading provider of call center software, is now the sole supplier of dialer systems for Allied’s 280 agent stations.

“We looked at every major manufacturer in the industry and decided on EIS,” said Richard Strahm, manager of predictive dialer technology at Allied. “The finalists were EIS and Mosaix,” he added. The 93 agent stations provisioned by these  System 7000s were previously supported by older installed Mosaix systems, according to Strahm.

“The reason we selected EIS,” Strahm said, “is EIS’ continued responsiveness to our growing and ever-changing requirements, as well as their true partnership approach and commitment to our relationship, whether we are in a current buying cycle or not. In addition, I believe no other vendor can out-perform EIS’ openness, flexibility and responsiveness.”

The two additional System 7000s bring Allied’s total to five, according to Rhine Morgan, EIS vice president of collections/industry applications. “Many of the nation’s largest collections agencies, retailers, credit card issuers and telephone companies use System 7000 to execute their calling strategies,” Morgan said. “It is designed to manage the unique productivity challenges experienced by these types of organizations,” he explained.

System 7000 is a flexible call automation system designed to meet the unique needs of the collections industry and includes such features as

* Digital Announcement to Answering Machines — a digital messaging feature that can play messages to connected calls identified as answering machines without the intervention of an agent;

* Diligence — the ability to record information (time, date, action result code, phone number attempted, session name and agent ID) about the attempts made to contact the debtor as part of the patron record; and

* Skip Tracing + Add New Number — in addition to providing the ability to locate and dial a series of numbers or parties related to a particular debtor, the “Add New Number” feature permits the agent to add a new number to the record and direct the system to call the number.

In addition, System 7000’s EIS-patented call-pacing algorithm — SmartPace(TM) — dynamically adjusts the dialing speed to maximize the number of contacts while producing fewer no-contact or abandoned calls. With this function, users can set a target abandon rate that allows them to meet state and federal regulations. The system then automatically maintains that rate for the duration of a campaign, keeping agents as busy as possible within the target abandon rate.

Allied Bond & Collection Agency, headquartered in the Philadelphia suburb of Trevose, Pennsylvania, is a major supplier of accounts receivable, collections and call center outsourcing. Allied is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Outsourcing Solutions Inc. (OSI) of St. Louis, Missouri.

EIS International Inc., headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, is a leading provider of advanced solutions for outbound and integrated inbound/outbound applications for the call center industry. With more than 1,460 systems and more than 80,000 workstations installed worldwide, EIS provides systems for telemarketing, customer service, fund-raising, market research and collections to increase productivity, enhance operational efficiency and improve agent effectiveness in the call center. A member of the Object Management Group (OMG), EIS recently adopted CORBA(TM) (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) as a platform for future products. Additional information about EIS is available by calling 800-274-5676 or by visiting the company’s Web site at .

Cautionary Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements (statements that are not historical facts) that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including references to customer and marketplace acceptance of new and existing products and services. Investors are cautioned that all forward- looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, competitive factors, general economic conditions, customer relations, technological change, product/service introductions and acceptance, distribution networks, changes in industry practices, one-time events and other factors described herein and under the heading “Factors Affecting Future Results” in EIS’ quarterly Form 10-Q and annual Form 10-K reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, copies of which are available from EIS. Should any of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any underlying assumptions prove inaccurate, eventual outcomes may vary materially from those anticipated.

EIS International is a registered trademark of EIS International Inc. System 7000 and SmartPace are trademarks of EIS International Inc. CORBA is a trademark of the Object Management Group.

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NCR-EDS New Zealand Deal

NCR Corporation today announced that is has signed a multimillion dollar agreement with EDS New Zealand to supply ImageMarkTM – its state-of-the-art image item processing solution – for use withing EDS’ Item Image Processing Service.

Under the agreement – one of the largest orders for the ImageMark suite of solutions since its launch last year – NCR will provide the ImageMark Proff of Delivery (POD) and Image Archive and Delivery solutions to EDS New Zealand to implement a distributed cheque capture and storage facility on a multi-bank basis.

“ImageMark is one of NCR’s flagship solutions and we are delighted that EDS has decided to work with NCR to provide this innovative technology to banks in the New Zealand market. We are also proud of the fact that this solution is the first to be implemented with a seven-year storage capacity,” said Brenda Hemphill, NCR’s Payments solutions team leader for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The ImageMark suite of solutions enables the processing of a cheque image – rather than the traditional physical paper cheque – eliminating the need for paper storage and presents the opportunity for substantial cost savings for the banks. In addition, a bank can use the information stored within the image to increase its knowledge of their customers’ banking activities, to allow them to offer products and services tailored to individual customers’ specific needs.

“ImageMark allows retail banks to reduce the time and cost of processing cheques presented by consumers and business customers, as well as the ability to provide revenue-generating products and services tailored to meet customers’ individual and specific needs,” added Ms. Hemphil. “It is a Year 2000 compliant cheque-processing solution that retains the data integrity requirements of each institution – and their customers – while reducing the financial burden imposed by implementing multiple cheque-processing solutions across the industry”.

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Frst Tenn Signs 3 State Groups

Three state hospitality-industry associations have begun credit card discount programs through First Tennessee Merchant Services Inc., a subsidiary of First Tennessee Bank National Assoc. Members of the Alabama Restaurant Assoc., the Iowa Hospitality Assoc., and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Assoc. can receive very beneficial rates for processing of VISA and MasterCard purchases through First Tennessee Merchant Services. The results could save individual members thousands of dollars each year.

“These are very exciting, new relationships that further expand First Tennessee Merchant Services’ leading role in serving the hospitality industry,” said Ronald R. Nation, president of First Tennessee Merchant Services. “We will help restaurants, bars associated vendors and suppliers in these three states reduce their processing costs while providing them with the same top-notch service that ensures that First Tennessee Merchant Services remains one of the leading credit card providers in the nation.”

First Tennessee Merchant Services’ service includes detailed reports to ensure accurate review and analysis. Payments of deposits may also be faster than with other processors.

The Alabama Restaurant Assoc. has more than 700 members, the Iowa Hospitality Assoc. has more than 600 members, and the 80-year-old New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Assoc. has more than 800 members.

First Tennessee National Corp., parent company of First Tennessee Bank National Assoc., headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a nationwide, diversified financial services institution and one of the 50 largest bank holding companies in the United States in market capitalization and asset size. Banking and other financial services are provided through the regional banking group and three national lines of business FT Mortgage Companies, First Tennessee Capital Markets and transaction processing. Transaction processing includes credit card merchant processing, MONEY BELT (automated teller machine network), First Express (nationwide check clearing), and transaction-oriented cash management products. The corporation’s common stock is traded over the counter on the Nasdaq Stock Market’s national market system under the symbol FTEN. It is listed in the financial section of most newspapers as FstTN Ntl and is included in the Standard & Poor’s MidCap 400 index. More information is available at First Tennessee’s Web site at [www.ftb.com][1].

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

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Polish Banks Go BASE24 & CO-ach

Applied Communications, Inc. , a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc., announces the licensing of an integrated suite of BASE24 software and CO-ach high-volume payments processing software to Bank Gospodarki Zywnosciowej Spolka Akcyjna , the third largest bank in Poland.  BGZ SA will use BASE24-atm, BASE24-pos and BASE24 Remote Banking products operating on a Tandem NonStop computer server to integrate and upgrade its retail banking services.  BGZ SA also will use ACI’s CO-ach multi-institution payment clearing and settlement system to automate clearing, settlement and distribution of electronic debit and credit transactions for its more than 1,200 branches and affiliate members.

“Our customers want the same anywhere-anytime financial services enjoyed by bank customers around the world,” said Adam Kapica, managing director of BGZ SA’s Development and Strategy Office.  “In response to our customers’ needs, we initiated ‘Automation of the Bank’ — a project designed to automate and upgrade our processing capabilities.  BASE24 and CO-ach will help us modernize our operation with a proven system that delivers around the clock availability and reliability.”

Migration to the integrated BASE24 platform offers BGZ SA the ability to consolidate retail delivery processing while increasing performance.  BASE24’s scaleable, modular design enables the bank to integrate its current ATM and POS processing onto a single platform — and add Remote Banking services– while handling ever-increasing transaction volumes.  The BASE24 applications chosen by BGZ SA share the same customer account information and communication links to third-party networks, giving the bank the ability to offer its customers consistent account information from a variety of access points.  The BASE24 system also gives BGZ SA the flexibility to add emerging technologies like smart cards and Internet banking to its processing platform as needed.

BGZ SA will use CO-ach to establish a clearing center that provides online, automated clearing and settlement for its branches and corporate banking customers.  CO-ach gives BGZ SA the ability to process, track, settle and clear demanding transaction volumes under the control of a highly sophisticated risk management function.

“BGZ SA joins more than 600 financial institutions, processors, switches and retailers around the world using ACI solutions to meet never-ending demand for convenient, around-the-clock financial services,” said Tom Boje, managing director of ACI’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Operation, based in the United Kingdom.  “Whether the need is to process EFT transactions from retail banking or corporate banking sources, our customers enjoy high performance, availability and reliability every minute of every day.”

Applied Communications, Inc. is a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. (Nasdaq TSAI).  Transaction Systems’ software facilitates electronic payments and electronic commerce by providing consumers and companies access to their money.  The company’s products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, home banking services, checks, wire transfers and automated clearing and settlement.  Its solutions are used on more than 2,800 product systems in 69 countries on six continents.  Visit TSA and ACI on the World Wide Web at .

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Principal Bank

The Principal Financial Group launched a nationwide pilot of a virtual bank yesterday that initially offers checking accounts with ATM access and will eventually offer electronic bill payment and credit cards. Based in Des Moines, the Principal Bank, began testing its service with employees of The Principal and a limited number of outside customers. The branch-less, virtual bank will open to the general public April 1. During the testing period participants will be able to open checking accounts or savings accounts and purchase CDs. When the bank’s doors open April 1 the service will be expanded to include telephone banking, transfer of funds between accounts, and consumer loans. Principal Bank says it will introduce bill payment and credit cards on July 1.

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Card-to-Card License

VISA International has secured exclusive, worldwide, patent and technology rights for smart card-to-smart card value transfers. WA-based Net 1 U.E.P.S. Technologies, Inc. announced the licensing agreement Thursday. VISA is utilizing the technology in its ‘COPAC’ or ‘chip, off-line pre-authorized card’, which was launched in Russia last year. Net 1 says it will continue to offer other systems based on the technology including the company’s ‘Universal Electronic Payment System’ which provides for secure non-cash payments on an off-line basis while maintaining a full audit trail for all transactions.

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MasterCard Platform

MasterCard and Toronto-based Oasis Technology are joining together to develop an on-line transaction processing system that can process and route financial transactions locally. Initially the project will be limited to Australia, supporting the migration of MasterCard’s system to an open and adaptable client-server environment. The Oasis ‘IST Foundation’ software enables MasterCard to build proprietary solutions offering unique functional requirements within EFT, ATM and POS applications.

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ICT – IMA Alliance

ICT Group, Inc. announced that it has signed a strategic alliance agreement with Information Management Associates, Inc. (IMA) of Shelton, CT. The agreement is for ICT Group and IMA to offer each other’s call center products and services in conjunction with their own products and services with the objective of providing single source solutions to existing and prospective customers.

“This agreement with IMA underscores ICT Group’s commitment to align ourselves with significant information technology outsourcing partners to better service our targeted markets,” says John Brennan, chairman and CEO of ICT Group. “This is a continuation of our corporate strategy that we believe will enhance our client offerings and promote the growth of the company.”

IMA is a recognized leader in providing advanced software products and consulting services designed to meet the customer care systems needs of global companies in major vertical markets, such as financial services, insurance, telecommunications and utilites. IMA supplies a full-range of software supporting the call center industry that includes EDGE®, a suite of client server applications and tools that enhance account management, telesales, telemarketing, customer service support and other business activities.

Al Subbloie, president and CEO of IMA, says, “We view ICT Group as a key strategic partner. Through this alliance agreement both companies will be able to leverage the other’s expertise and extend the value of our respective products and services.” This agreement presents an opportunity for IMA’s more than 225 client companies and 30,000 users worldwide to take advantage of the call center services and expertise of ICT Group.

ICT Group previously announced and alliance with ALLTEL Corporation to provide customer support services for the financial services industry and with SCT Corporation to provide call center and telemarketing services supporting SCT’s SinglePoint SolutionsTM clients in the utility industry. Similarly to what it has done for financial services and utilities, ICT Group is pursuing strategic relationships with systems integration and marketing services companies active in its other targeted markets of insurance, telecommunications, health care and information media.

ICT Group, an independent provider of call center teleservices for sales, marketing and customer care, employs more than 300 professionals in management, sales, systems and operations and approximately 3,750 telephone sales and service representatives and research interviewers. The company manages 29 call centers in 10 states, Europe and Canada, from which it supports outbound and inbound calling for domestic and multinational corporations and institutions, primarily in the financial, insurance, telecommunications, health care, information media, energy and hospitality industries.

In addition to its corporate staff, ICT Group’s sales and marketing divisions as well as its market research division are headquartered in Langhome, PA. ICT Group has sales offices in Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Stamford, CT; Scattle, WA; Amherst, NY; London, England, and Dublin, Ireland. Facilities conducting international operations are located in Miami, FL; Dublin, Ireland; London, England, and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

To learn more about ICT Group, visit its web site at [www.ictgroup.com][1]. ICT Group is traded on Nasdaq:ICTG. For more information on IMA, visit its web site at [www.ima-inc.com][2]. IMA is traded on Nasdaq:IMAA.

[1]: http://www.ictgroup.com
[2]: http://www.ima-inc.com

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Frst of Omaha Snags NE Contract

The State of Nebraska will accept payment by credit card for a variety of fees and services, beginning this month with the University of Nebraska system and the Game and Parks Commission, according to State Treasurer David Heineman and Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak.  The announcement came during a joint news conference Thursday at which First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a division of First National Bank of Omaha, was named as the official credit card processor for the State.

“The primary benefits of this expanded service are the flexibility and convenience it will provide to Nebraska consumers and small businesses.  In addition, the State will see reduced administrative costs plus increased cash flow which ultimately will benefit the taxpayer,” said Heineman.

Examples of transactions that may be covered under the new arrangement include payments for tuition, licensing fees and accommodations at Mahoney State Park.

“The State is responding to the needs of Nebraska citizens who have been requesting the ease and convenience of making payments via credit cards,” Heineman said.

Robak and Heineman agreed that the effort to bring this service to Nebraskans was a cooperative effort between the Department of Administrative Services and the Treasurer’s Office, designed to meet the needs of today’s fast-paced society.

“This step forward dovetails very nicely with other efforts in state government to increase public accessibility through the Internet and will ultimately lead to other improvements as the State of Nebraska strives to become more efficient,” said Robak.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing was chosen as the credit card processor from among five financial institutions from around the country responding to the State’s request for proposal.  The agreement with the State is expected to generate more than 3 million credit and debit card transactions annually, with an estimated annual volume of $152.8 million, said Elias Eliopoulos, president, First of Omaha Merchant Processing.  Initially, Visa and MasterCard will be the only credit cards accepted by state agencies, he said.

“Municipal and county government will maintain local control and determine which cards will be accepted and to what degree,” Robak said.

Prior to this agreement, the University of Nebraska, Chadron State College, Peru State College, Wayne State College, the Game and Parks Commission and the Military Department (Camp Ashland) had each negotiated credit card processing contracts with several different processors. Converting to First of Omaha Merchant Processing will save the University of Nebraska 15 percent — approximately $35,000 — in credit card costs annually, said Heineman.

“The Game and Parks Commission is expected to reduce credit card costs by roughly 30 percent, or about $8,500 annually,” he added.

“First of Omaha is committed to providing more value to the State of Nebraska,” said Eliopoulos.  “Leveraging automation, service and competitive pricing will reward state constituencies with annual savings by reducing overall operating expense.”

Nebraska is one of only a handful of states to authorize credit card payments throughout all state agencies.  LB70, which authorized the establishment of this service, also provides cities, counties and other political subdivisions the option of participating in the State’s contract. Participants would receive the State’s discount rate for processing but would maintain local control over the use and operation of credit cards.     Grand Island, Kearney and North Platte, plus the Cornhusker Public Power District have expressed interest in the State’s contract with First National Bank.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha, contracts with merchants to process credit, debit and other forms of payment.  First of Omaha authorizes and settles transactions and pays merchants for these sales.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing ranks 6th as a national credit card processor and is the 2nd largest in-house bank processor in the country. Serving over 92,000 locations in all 50 states, First of Omaha has experienced an average yearly increase in credit card sales volume of 28% since 1987. Credit card sales volume in 1997 was $16.7 billion, representing 235 million credit card transactions.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing operates out of seven major cities in addition to its national headquarters in Omaha  Atlanta, Dallas, Naples, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Houston.

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Hispanic Focus

Central Financial Acceptance Corp. announced it will expand its consumer financing services for the low-income Hispanic community in Southern California by acquiring Mission Savings & Loan of Riverside, CA. CFAC says the acquisition will accelerate the growth of CFAC’s ‘Efectiva’ credit card. Since May of last year CFAC has issued about 90,000 ‘Efectiva’ cards, which provide customers with the ability to access a credit line by withdrawing cash from CFAC cash dispensing machines deployed in Kmarts throughout Southern California.

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Starting Gate

Yesterday’s GSA announcement of the awarding of payment card contracts to six suppliers (see CardFlash 2/11) is seen as a boon by existing contractors, despite the increased competition from new suppliers. American Express, which has held a GSA travel card contact since 1993, says the addition of contracts to also provide purchase cards and fleet cards represents a “multi-billion dollar opportunity for the company”. Currently AmEx has 1.5 million federal employee cardholders using its travel card for official travel, generating about $3.5 billion in annual charge volume. Last year AmEx teamed up with Wright Express, the current government fleet card provider, to offer a dual branded fleet card solution. AmEx recently won a contract to provide charge card and ‘Travelers Cheque’ services to 80,000 employees of the Canadian Federal Government.

Meanwhile the existing purchasing card contractor, U.S. Bank, says it will “vigorously expand” its ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card to integrate fleet and travel programs. The ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card program was established in 1989 by a contract between the GSA and Rocky Mountain BankCard, which was later absorbed by U.S. Bank. ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card volume slightly exceeded $5 billion last year.

The new GSA payment card contracts will provide 120 government agencies with payment card choices from six contractors including Citibank, NationsBank, First Chicago, Mellon Bank and the two existing GSA contractors American Express and U.S. Bank. AmEx, U.S. Bank and Citibank are the only suppliers to win contracts in all three categories purchase, travel and fleet.

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