Fleet Renews Ski & Save

Fleet Financial Group, New England’s largest bank, announced its 1997-98 “Ski and Save” program for savings at 55 ski areas throughout the ski season. The special offer is valid from December through April and includes lift tickets, ski and snowboard equipment rentals, and lessons. The discounts are available with no restrictions on ski periods, including holidays, weekends and school vacations.

Now in its second season, Fleet’s “Ski and Save” program is a special offer for purchases made with a Fleet Select(R) Card, Fleet MasterCard(R) or Fleet Visa(R) credit card, accompanied by a certificate. Certificates are available at no cost and without restrictions at any Fleet branch or by calling 1-800-841-4000. There is no limit on the number of times a customer may take advantage of the savings. Savings include $5 off lift tickets, $5 off ski and snowboard equipment rentals, and $10 off Learn-to-Ski and Learn-to-Snowboard packages.

“`Ski and Save’ is a terrific program for families who like to ski. Fleet customers can enjoy many savings at some of the finest ski areas in the Northeast,” said Anne Finucane, director of corporate marketing and communications at Fleet. “Fleet’s program offers the most significant ski discount at the greatest number of ski areas in the region — just one more example of how Fleet is working harder to offer added value to our customers.”

Fleet has partnered with the New England Ski Areas Council (NESAC) and the Ski Areas of New York, Inc. to provide the “Ski and Save” program. Last year more than 20,000 individual visits were recorded over a period of three months at 30 resorts.

According to NESAC president Tom Cottrill, “we’re always pleased to see these promotional partnerships pay out the benefits that both sides anticipated. Last year’s pilot program success really paved the way for this year’s expansion. With the addition of the Ski Areas of New York, Fleet has filled out its market coverage while our trade associations continue to build awareness of skiing and snowboarding.”

Participating resorts include Mount Southington, Powder Ridge and Woodbury Ski Area in Connecticut; Berkshire East, Blue Hills, Bousquet, Brodie Mountain, Butternut Basin, Catamount, Klein Innsbruck, Mt. Tom, Otis Ridge, Pine Ridge, Ski Ward, and Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts; Black Mountain of Maine, Camden Snow Bowl, Saddleback, and Ski Mt. Abram in Maine; Balsams/Wilderness, Black Mountain, Cannon Mountain, Gunstock, King Pine, Mt. Sunapee, Pats Peak, Ragged Mt., Tenney Mountain, and Whaleback in New Hampshire; Belle Mountain and Campgaw Mountain in New Jersey; Big Tupper Ski Area, Brantling Ski Slopes, Dry Hill, Four Seasons, Holiday Mountain, Mt. Peter, Mt. Pisgah, Scotch Valley, Shu-maker Mountain, Ski Plattekill, Snow Ridge, Thunder Ridge, Toggenburg Ski Center and Willard Mountain in New York; Shawnee Mountain and Ski Big Bear in Pennsylvania; and Ascutney Mountain, Bolton Ski Area, Burke Mountain, Jay Peak, Mad River Glen, Middlebury College Snow Bowl, Quechee Lakes Ski Area and Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont.

The New England Ski Areas Council is the exclusive non-profit trade association for all Alpine Ski Areas in New England. For nearly 30 years it has served ski resorts, skiers and media by providing ski condition reports and working with corporations to create promotions designed to take advantage of common demographics while motivating skiers and snowboarders to visit mountains in the New England area.

The Ski Areas of New York is a statewide trade association representing the collective interests of the ski areas in New York.

Fleet Financial Group, headquartered in Boston, is an $83.6 billion diversified financial services company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FLT). The nation’s sixth largest commercial lender and New England’s leading small business lender, Fleet’s lines of business include consumer banking, government banking, mortgage banking, corporate finance, commercial real estate lending, insurance services, discount brokerage services, equipment leasing and asset-based lending. Fleet also provides investment management services for both individuals and institutional clients and currently has $75 billion in assets under management. With more than 1,200 branches and over 2,300 ATMs, Fleet also provides 24-hour telephone banking as well as electronic banking services through the Fleet PC Banking Center.

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VISA Racks Up $36 Billion

Visa U.S.A. reported today that holiday shoppers in the United States rang up more than $35.5 billion in retail purchases on Visa payment cards from the day after Thanksgiving through Sun., Dec. 28.

The retail amount charged was 16 percent higher than the $31.1 billion recorded for the same period last year.

Visa reported a day of record-breaking volume Dec. 23. On that day alone, consumers used Visa payment cards for more than $1.6 billion in retail purchases, making it the biggest retail in Visa’s history. The company also reported that on Dec. 23, total Visa spending in all merchant categories surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time.

Visa, the nation’s leading consumer payment system, with more than 50 percent of the payment card market, said that, during the holiday shopping season, consumers used Visa credit and debit cards for more than 541 million retail transactions, a 17 percent increase over the 463 million transactions in the same period of 1996. Total U.S. Visa sales in all merchant categories for this period reached $43.7 billion, up 15 percent.

“We’re pleased with these strong numbers, which have been consistently solid throughout the holiday shopping season,” said Carl F. Pascarella, president and chief executive officer, Visa U.S.A. “They reflect the success of our seasonal promotions, increased usage of Visa products and an overall strong economy. More importantly, these numbers are proof that consumers value Visa credit and debit cards as the most convenient ways to make their holiday purchases.”

STRONG YEAR-OVER-YEAR GROWTH NATIONWIDE

All regions of the United States enjoyed double-digit increases in the use of Visa for retail spending this holiday season. The northeast region led all other regions in retail spending growth with $7.8 billion in Visa retail purchases as of Dec. 28, an increase of 18 percent. Visa volume in other U.S. regions was as follows:

Southeast, $7.6 billion, up 15 percent; Pacific, $6.8 billion, up 15 percent; Great Lakes, $5.9 billion, up 13 percent; Southwest, $3.1 billion, up 14 percent; Great Plains, $2.3 billion, up 16.3 percent; Mountain, $2.3 billion, up 14 percent.

Visa’s SpendTrak® analysis of consumer spending is based on authorization data for Visa payment cards used at more than 3.6 million locations in the United States where Visa is accepted.

During peak periods of the holiday season, Visa estimated it processed at a rate of 3,000 transactions per second. One of the highest volume transaction-processing systems in the world, Visa’s global telecommunications network can process upwards of 100 million transactions per day.

Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 380,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com][1].

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

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Canadian Transactions Average $90

Canadians are expected to swipe their debit and credit cards at a record pace today according to Bank of Montreal’s Electronic Banking Services Division.

“The last few days before Christmas typically make or break the entire year for large and small retailers,” said Wendy Porter, Vice-President, Merchant Services, Bank of Montreal. “We’re expecting retailers equipped with our terminals to make approximately 115 credit and debit card transactions per second at some point in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, as last-minute shoppers flock to the stores in search of that perfect gift.”

Ms. Porter noted that Bank of Montreal is expecting to process close to 43 million debit card transactions this month, an increase of 40 per cent over the monthly average. On the credit card side, she estimated over 33 million transactions, nearly one-third more than the monthly average.

As of December 22, Bank of Montreal processed more than 32 million debit card transactions for the month and close to 25 million credit card transactions.

According to Ms. Porter, the average debit card transaction is estimated at about $50; the average credit card transaction is estimated at just over $90. Bank of Montreal operates 50,000 debit point-of-sale terminals across Canada.

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Not So Merry Christmas

Based on checkwriting, which represents about one-third of all retail spending, shoppers continue to hold back and remain value conscious. For the 24 shopping days of the 27-day holiday shopping period American consumers are spending about 50 basis points more this year than 1996. The data are based on same-store sales as reported this morning by TeleCheck Services. TeleCheck says the Northeast leads with a 4.4% gain while spending is off 2.1% in the Southwest.

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Natl Data Sets Record Dec 22

A record of more than 500 transactions per second was set yesterday on its Atlanta network by National Data Corporation (NYSE: NDC) (NDC).

“This new record is a reflection of a significant increase in demand for our services … in Atlanta as well as in other NDC centers,” said Robert A. Yellowlees, NDC chairman and chief executive officer. “It underscores the capacity and reliability of our network and is a tribute to our people who design, maintain and operate it.”

National Data Corporation is a leading provider of health information services and payment systems solutions that add value to its customers’ operations.

When used in this report, press releases and elsewhere by management or the Company from time to time, the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements concerning the Company’s operations, economic performance and financial condition, including in particular, the likelihood of the Company’s success in developing and expanding its business. These statements are based on a number of assumptions and estimates which are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond the control of the Company, and reflect future business decisions which are subject to change. A variety of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the Company’s forward-looking statements, some of which include competition in the market for the Company’s services, continued expansion of the Company’s processing and payment systems markets, successfully completing and integrating acquisitions in existing and new markets and other risk factors that are discussed from time to time in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) reports and other filings. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligations to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or thereof, as the case may be, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

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Revere Comm to Expand Phone Cards

Revere has begun negotiations with several companies to create a North American distribution base both at the retail/ mass consumer and corporate level for prepaid phone cards. With these strategic alliances, Revere expects to increase its penetration both in the Prepaid calling markets and enhanced Long Distance product sales. Pierre Van Neste, Revere’s VP of Sales and Marketing, expects positive returns on these potential alliances:

“It is important for Revere to be one step ahead of it’s competition both in aggressive posturing and market awareness. By maximizing Revere’s distribution potential in the North American market place, we are able to proliferate Revere branded calling programs as well as provide direct to market support for North American Corporate initiatives.

Revere is currently completing it’s preliminary implementation of it’s Montreal and Toronto direct to market strategy. This is part of Revere’s plan to ensure a National presence in the major centres across Canada. Expansion is expected to continue through 1998 in the Canadian, US and International market place.

Revere is pleased to announce the appointment of Rick Villanueva as Special Projects Manager. Mr. Villanueva has a wealth of experience in the Prepaid Calling Card industry and brings with him a host of key industry contacts as well as, expertise in managing and implementing new clients and “Value Added” mechanisms.

Revere has positioned itself in the market place with respects to fundraising initiatives both in the 1-900/ 1-800 and Prepaid Calling Card realms for registered Canadian Charities. The Kidney Foundation of BC, The Victorian Hospice Society, The Father/ Mother Equal Rights Society and the Kinsmen Foundation Rehabilitation in support of the 1-900-565-MOMS donation drive, are new additions to Revere’s fund raising relationships. The Kinsmen project is expected to be a year round donation platform with concentration in March 1998 for the Kinsmen’s Mother’s March of Dimes.

Revere waives all set up charges for registered Canadian Charities.

Revere is in process of investigating the implementation of an Investor Relations firm that will complement the aggressive posturing Revere is taking with respects to maximizing return on investment to the shareholders. Revere is currently investigating several options and expects to have this component in place no later than January 12, 1998.

The Alberta Stock Exchange has neither approved or disapproved of the information contained herein.

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FDC & Wells Fargo

First Data Enterprises and Wells Fargo inked a 10-year bankcard processing agreement yesterday. First Data will provide data processing and other card portfolio management services to more than 3.4 million credit cards and more than 3.5 million debit cards. At the end of the third quarter Wells held $7.4 billion in card receivables with a YTD card charge volume of $7.7 billion, according to Bankcard Barometer. Wells was also the first partner to join First Data’s ‘Merchant Bank Alliance’.

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Card Industry’s Pulse

American cardholders are paying about 6% more in basic pricing and about 33% more in punitive pricing according to data released this morning and gathered by CardData for Bankcard Barometer. On a weighted-to-outstandings basis, most consumers are paying an annual percentage interest rate of nearly 19%, and if an annual fee is involved, it will average about $18. The average card APR has been driven higher this year by the proliferation of high-risk APRs. The highest tier rates now range from 21.4% to 32.6%. The most dramatic pricing change this year has been late fees and over-limit fees. Meanwhile the growth in delinquency and chargeoffs continues to outpace the rise in core pricing.

1997 YEAREND SNAPSHOT
DEC 97 DEC 96 CHANGE
Standard APR 18.81% 17.68% +6%
Standard Ann Fee $17.82 $16.70 +7%
Gold APR 17.93% 16.91% +6%
Gold Ann Fee $35.28 $34.39 +3%
Late Fee $19.24 $14.21 +35%
Over-limit Fee $18.44 $13.94 +32%
Delinquency 5.36% 4.89% +10%
Charge-Offs 5.63% 4.85% +16%
Bankruptcy 42.2% 41.1% +3%
Attrition 8.14% 8.35% -3%
Fraud 0.10% 0.18% -44%
Yields 13.35% 13.39% -0.2%
Note: for definitions/methodology see Bankcard Barometer, Dec 97 issue

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CT Bank Intros WisePay Next Week

Tolland Bank announced today that it will introduce WisePay — its complete telephone bill payment service — on December 29, 1997. This expanded telephone banking service allows retail customers to pay any bill by phone through a toll free number … including rent/mortgage, car payments, credit cards, and utilities. Customers will be able to pay bills to virtually any company they choose. In addition, customers will have the opportunity to pay bills 24 hours a day 7 days a week from home, the office, even on the road — anywhere there’s a phone!

Joseph Rossi, President/CE0 said, “Tolland Bank is committed to keeping up with the rapidly changing world of technology and offering electronic products, that give people added convenience and ultimately more time to enjoy life.”

For a demonstration of WisePay, the new telephone bill pay service, call 800-374-6502. Information on WisePay is available at the Bank’s website: [www.tollandbank.com][1], all seven Tolland Bank offices, or by calling 860-875- 2500 or 800-326-5984.

Tolland Bank is a Connecticut-chartered savings bank with offices in Vernon, Tolland, Ellington, Coventry, Stafford Springs, and Willington. Tolland Bank is the subsidiary of Alliance Bancorp of New England, Inc. which is traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol ANE.

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

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NBS Picks CMA

NBS Card Technology has selected Creative Marketing Alliance as its marketing communications agency of record.

Based in Princetion Juncion, N.J., CMA will handle public relations, advertising and other marketing communications for NBS Card Technology, a business of NBS Technologies, Inc. headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

“CMA has exceptional exceptional expertise and experience in marketing communications and PR that includes a proven track record in the card industry,” NBS Card Technology Vice President of Marketing Martin Chu says. “To meet our marketing communications goals, we needed someone who first understood them, and then could address them – CMA has that ability.”

“We’re excited to partner with NBS Card Technology,” CMA President Jeffery Barnhart says. “As a key player in an expanding technology, NBS CArd Technology has enormous potential to grow as a leader in marketplace. We look forward to helping them attian and maintain that postion.”

NBS Card Technology Corporation, a division of NBS Technologies Inc., is a world leader in the manufacturing of card personalization systems. NBS Card Technology offers a full line of card personalizaiton solutions to the financial, healthcare, telecommunications, transportation and retail markets, as well as government agencies and the education community. The company’s products are sold and serviced worldwide.

NBS Technologies, Inc. is a Toronto-based information technology company with offices in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. NBS specializes in providing card technology, transaction automation and digital imaging identification-based systems and solutions.

Creative Marketing Alliance is a single-source resource for strategic marketing counsel and creative communications. Through its four strategic business groups: strategic marketing, public relations, advertising/creative services and association management/event planning, clients receive strategic soluitons for building their business.

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