Last Minute Tips from NFCC

Time is running out. For those who have not completed their holiday shopping, just a few precious days are left. However, the shopping decisions made between now and the holidays will determine whether or not we will be paying off 1997’s holiday bills well into 1998.

“When we’re in a time crunch, we’re likely to shop with our heart rather than with our head,” says Durant Abernethy, president of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC). “But, by keeping the season in perspective, consumers can avoid the overspending that comes with last-minute shopping.” To help holiday shoppers, NFCC is offering a four-part series called: Holiday Spending: A Plan for the Season. Parts one through three covered budgeting, inexpensive gift ideas and smart shopping strategies. This final installment offers advice for last minute shopping.

Part Four: Last Minute Tips

• Review your budget. How much have you spent already this holiday season? Add up what you’ve spent to date. Subtract this amount from the money you had allocated for holiday spending. Refine your gift list and other holiday spending to stay within your overall budget. And remember, if you overspend on one item or another, you don’t have to throw the whole budget out. Simply readjust the rest of your spending. If you don’t have a budget, devise one now.

• Think twice before you buy. Before buying a gift, ask yourself if the gift will be both appropriate for the recipient and within your price range. Don’t buy the gift just to have something, and watch the extra impulse gifts. Plan to pay for gift purchased with a credit card within 90 days. A $20 sweater bought on credit could end up costing $30 if not paid off promptly.

• Use presentation to dress up inexpensive gifts. We all love to receive beautiful packages. Put home-made cookies in a decorative basket or hand paint a photo frame. Make your own wrapping paper with butcher paper, glitter and stamps.

• Put off some gift giving until after the holidays. You may agree in advance with family and friends to exchange gifts after the holidays. This way you cn take advantage of the after-Christmas sales and you can shop leisurely.

• Take time for yourself. Make room in your schedule for a trip to the gym or a long, hot bath. This will enable you to relax and rejuvenate. After you are rested, then tackle your remaining shopping and chores. This approach should help you from overspending simply because you are stressed.

To learn more about budgeting and using credit or to receive confidential money management counseling, contact a local NFCC member agency. The National Foundation for Consumer Credit is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization providing education and conseling services on budgeting and credit. NFCC members, located in 1,300 offices across the United States, Puero Rico, and Canada can be identified by the NFCC member seal. This seal signifies standards that include agency accreditation, counselor certification, and policies that ensure confidential services that are free or low-cost. Many members operate under the name Consumer Credit Counseling Services. To locate the closest NFCC member office, call toll-free, 24 hours a day 1-800-388-2227 or visit the NFCC Home Page at [www.nfcc.org][1]. Spanish speaking consumers can call 1-800-682-9832.

[1]: http://www.nfcc.org

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CyberCash Names Global Exec

CyberCash, Inc. appointed Steve Crispinelli to Vice President, Global Business Development. Crispinelli, 50, will oversee all strategic relationships and business development outside the US, expanding CyberCash’s reach in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The new role builds on his success helping to establish CyberCash’s presence in Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.

“This new position reflects CyberCash’s increasing leadership in global electronic commerce, as well as our continued expansion abroad,” said Bruce Wilson, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development. “Steve’s charter is to forge new relationships with merchants, key strategic alliance partners, and financial institutions. He has already helped develop some of our strongest relationships within the international banking community and significantly expanded our overseas merchant base.”

As CyberCash’s Director of Global Business Development, Mr. Crispinelli built joint ventures and strategic alliances with major leading financial institutions including Sumitomo Bank and Softbank in Japan, Dresdner Bank and Sachsen LB in Germany, Barclays Bank in the UK, and Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Canada.

Mr. Crispinelli joined CyberCash in 1996 and has over 15 years of international business and management experience. He launched, ITSI, a data security company based in Europe while living in the UK. Upon returning to the US, Mr. Crispinelli established a consultancy to develop sales and marketing programs for newly formed companies including Wireless Transactions Inc. Prior to this, he held a number of senior positions including director of international sales and marketing at Diebold, a world leader in manufacturing ATM’s and security systems, and national and regional sales manager at Northern Telecom, and Olivetti. He holds a bachelor of science in business from Fordham University and a masters in English Literature from City University.

About CyberCash

CyberCash, Inc., of Reston, Virginia, is a technology-driven company that provides software and services to enable secure financial transactions on the Internet. The Company offers a complete suite of Internet payment services, including a credit card service, which handles payments using major credit cards; an innovative micropayment service, which enables cash transactions; and a secure electronic check service, which allows consumer-to-business payments from a bank account. CyberCash is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol CYCH. CyberCash’s web address is

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TSYS Signs Royal Bank

Total System Services, Inc. announced the signing of a multi-year agreement to provide consumer cardholder processing services to Royal Bank of Canada. With the signing of Royal Bank, TSYS now processes for seven of the leading financial institutions in Canada. This contract gives TSYS its second major signing in the Canadian region behind the recently announced, multi-year Canadian Tire Acceptance, Limited card processing agreement.

Royal Bank’s cardholder portfolio totaling more than five million accounts will be converted to TSYS’ state-of-the-art, Year 2000 compliant TS2(R) Cardholder System. The bank, which previously processed their consumer cards in-house, has been a commercial card customer of TSYS since 1995.

TSYS President Philip W. Tomlinson said, “Royal Bank has a sterling reputation in the industry. We are honored that Royal Bank has chosen TSYS as its processor of choice. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship based on the innovative solutions provided by our TS2 Cardholder System.”

TS2 is the complete rewrite of TSYS’ Cardholder System. The card processing system offers exceptional levels of service and performance beyond any application in today’s card processing domain.

Executive Vice President Mark K. Tonnesen of Royal Bank of Canada said, “We went through an exhaustive research and evaluation process before choosing TSYS. This partnership creates a win-win situation for Royal Bank, our clients and TSYS. It will enhance our ability to offer our cardholders new and innovative products in a timely manner.”

TSYS’ processing agreement with Royal Bank is conditional upon receipt of regulatory approval from Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ga., TSYS is one of the world’s largest credit, debit, commercial and private-label card processing companies, serving card- issuing institutions throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, representing more than 91 million cardholder accounts. TSYS provides a comprehensive on-line system of data processing services marketed as THE TOTAL SYSTEM(R). In 1996, TSYS formed a joint venture with Visa(R) U.S.A. to create Vital Processing Services L.L.C. (), a leading full-service merchant services provider. TSYS’ 1996 revenues totaled $311.6 million; the company is an 80.7 percent owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE: “SNV”) (http://www.synovus.com), a $9.0 billion asset, multi-financial services company and a component of the Standard and Poors 500 Index. Synovus also includes 34 banking affiliates in four Southeastern states, a full- service brokerage firm, a comprehensive trust services provider and a mortgage services company. TSYS’ Internet address is .

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Saturation or Maturation

Unless the card industry posts an usually strong fourth quarter 1997 will go down as a very sluggish year. Between Jan 1 and Sept 30 receivables have grown a mere 2.8%, the number of gross accounts is only up 60 basis points and the number of cards-in- force has only inched up by 1.7%. The data are based on Bankcard Update/CardData’s quarterly portfolio surveys of 315 issuers, updated monthly. The number of active accounts declined 2.8% this year with the percentage of active accounts vs. gross accounts dropping from 68% to 66%, on average. Historically the industry posts a strong fourth quarter but holiday retail sales have sagged again this year. Last year industry receivables grew 3.4% and the number of accounts increased by 2.4% during the fourth quarter. Despite the weak financials for the industry, this year will go down as the year of platinum cards and of mergers/acquisitions. Some surveys are pointing to a five fold increase in platinum cards this year, from two million to ten million. Completed and pending mergers/acquisitions have topped $50 billion in receivables.

BANK CREDIT CARD INDUSTRY YTD SNAPSHOT
97-3 97-2 97-1 96-4

Receivables $416.2b 404.5b 392.7b 404.7b
Volume $207.2b 197.7b 169.8b 195.2b
Gross Accts 313.0m 309.9m 308.1m 311.1m
Actives Accts 205.9m 206.3m 209.8m 211.9m
Cards 450.9m 451.4m 449.2m 443.3m
Volume includes purchases and cash advances but excludes debit; Cards
excludes debit and business cards; Source: Bankcard Update/CardData

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AmEx Exits Phone Cards

American Express agreed yesterday to sell its American Express Telecom unit to SmartTalk Teleservices, Inc. for $44 million. As part of the agreement SmarTalk will become the exclusive provider of a co-branded calling card for American Express. AmEx says it still believes prepaid phone cards have significant potential but the company has decided to focus its efforts on the marketing and distribution aspects of the business. American Express Telecom has been no slouch as it established a distribution network of 14,000 locations. AmEx’s most successful phone card is the ‘FirstClass PhoneCards’ sold through the U.S. Postal Service.

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Cap One Hits Targets

Capital One Financial Corporation announced Monday that it expects earnings to exceed analysts’ expectations for the fourth quarter of 1997 and the year ending December 31, 1997.

For the full year, the Company now expects to report earnings 20 percent higher than the 1996 earnings of $2.30 per share. This is above the 15 percent increase indicated by the Company in September of this year. The 1997 earnings growth performance will mark the third consecutive year of 20 percent earnings growth for Capital One, since its spin-off from Signet Bank at the end of 1994. The Company also announced that it has reaffirmed its targets of 20% earnings growth and return on equity (ROE) for 1998.

Richard D. Fairbank, Capital One’s Chairman and CEO, said, “The improved earnings outlook is due to the success of our marketing innovations as well as a more positive credit outlook. We are happy to achieve another consecutive year of 20 percent earnings growth, and the outlook for sustaining this growth trajectory is very positive.”

Appointment of New Stock Transfer Agent

The Company is also very pleased to announce that First Chicago Trust Company of New York has assumed the duties of Stock Transfer Agent and Registrar as of December 15, 1997. As the new Stock Transfer Agent and Registrar, First Chicago will also act as the administrator of the Company’s Dividend Reinvestment and Stock Purchase Plan and as the Rights Agent for the Company’s Shareholder Rights Plan. Stockholders may contact First Chicago with any questions about their accounts at 1-800-446-2617.

The Company cautions that its current expectations for earnings are forward-looking statements and actual results could differ materially from current expectations due to a number of factors, including the number of delinquent accounts and the dollar amount of charge-offs actually experienced by the Company’s credit card portfolio.

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation () is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer financial products and services to consumers. Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 10.7 million customers as of September 30, 1997, and are among the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the United States.

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Parting Company

Barnett Banks, NationsBank and Household Credit Services made it official yesterday: they are terminating the alliance in which Household managed the credit card business of Barnett. The relationship will end next week as $1.2 billion in card loans will revert back to Barnett and then to NationsBank in January as the two banks merge. Household agreed to handle the servicing and marketing of Barnett’s cardholders in Florida and Georgia following Household’s October 1996 acquisition of Barnett accounts located outside those two states.

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NFCC Post Holiday Tips

Dread opening the mail to find holiday bills that need to be paid? If you are in this situation after the holidays this year, the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC) can help. “Take a step in the right direction and make a commitment to pay off holiday bills,” says Durant Abernethy, president NFCC. “With some planning and adjustment of spending patterns you can decrease holiday debt and begin to save for you financial goals.”

To help consumers tackle their holiday debt NFCC suggests taking these five steps:

Step #1 Track your spending. Write down everything you spend including the $2 for coffee and a Danish in the morning, the $1 for a soda and snack at the vending machine and the $5 for a child’s school field trip. After tracking your spending for a month you will have a good idea how and where you money is being spent.

Step #2 Create a budget. A budget includes categories for spending such as housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation. Have room in your budget for savings; no matter how small an amount, regular saving should be a goal.

Step #3 Reduce expenses. After determining your budget, look at the areas where you can trim expenses. Give up bottled water; use your public library instead of the local book store; consider dropping cable television. Also, cut back on day-to-day spending; taking your lunch instead of buying could quickly save you $25 a week.

Step #4 Decrease debt. Determine how much you owe and commit to paying off your debt as quickly as possible. You may need to make some temporary sacrifices to accomplish this goal. Do not charge anything new until your debt is paid. If you do charge, have a plan to pay it off within 90 days.

Step #5 Increase saving. A savings plan is the best way to achieve financial stability. Save for emergencies, major household repairs, taxes or holiday expenses to help you avoid incurring additional debt.

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Banc One Deploys 1000+ Cash Dispensers

Diebold, Incorporated today announced that Banc One Corporation has purchased more than 1,000 of its 1064i cash dispensers as part of an ongoing plan to boost installation of cash dispensers at retail locations nationwide.

The machines, which feature a thermal printer able to print high- resolution graphics and a color monitor, are being installed in Circle K convenience stores in the southern and western portions of the United States. About half of the machines are already installed and the remainder will be in place by the end of 1997.

“This order represents the latest step in our ongoing partnership with Banc One,” says Thomas J. McBride, director of worldwide product marketing for Diebold. “Diebold continues to provide innovative self-service solutions to support our customers’ strategic initiatives.”

Over the last several months, Banc One has been increasing its network of Rapid Cash automated cash dispensing machines through contracts with major retailers. With the expansion of their ATM program, Circle K joins several other large retailers in adding the cash dispensers in their stores.

“By partnering with a significant number of retailers, we can provide convenient access to cash for consumers and small business owners throughout the United States,” said Gregory L. Ford, convenience banking manager for Banc One Corporation.

The Circle K branded convenience stores are marketed by Tosco Marketing Company, the retail marketing division of Tosco Corporation (NYSE: TOS). Tosco Corporation is the nation’s largest operator of company owned convenience stores across the country.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Banc One Corporation is a $113 billion bank holding company that operates 1,200 bank branches in 12 states. Common equity in the company was $9.9 billion at the end of September 1997.

Diebold, Incorporated (pronounced DEE-bold), headquartered in Canton, Ohio, is a global leader in providing card-based transaction systems, security and service solutions to the financial, education and healthcare industries. Founded in 1859, the company develops, manufactures, sells and services automated teller machines, electronic and physical security equipment, automated medication dispensing systems, software, supplies and integrated systems solutions.

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Largest E-Commerce Expo

The fourth annual Internet & Electronic Commerce Conference & Exposition (iEC) will focus its 1998 event exclusively on electronic commerce solutions. Returning for its fourth year, the GartnerGroup leads iEC with its high-level conference focusing on strategies for senior-level executives and decision makers. For the first time, GartnerGroup will be joined by the National Computer Security Association (NCSA), covering security issues; Forbes magazine, focusing on electronic commerce initiatives for small businesses and entrepreneurs; and VISA presenting its EC product strategy in a day-long workshop. In addition, iEC will launch the first technical skills conference for MIS and IT managers responsible for EC implementation, produced by Advanstar, the event’s organizer.

With more than 200 exhibits and 80 conference sessions, iEC is the nation’s largest event dedicated to electronic commerce. iEC will be held at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on April 27-29, 1998 and is expected to attract well over 10,000 technology decision makers from around the world.

“With electronic commerce growing as never before, companies are changing the focus of their marketing strategies. With all the Internet events in the market, there is a need for one that clearly addresses the question `How do I make money through this EC thing?’ iEC is totally committed to answering that question — and answering it at all levels of the enterprise,” comments Rich Westerfield, show director for Advanstar, producer of the iEC event.

“The four conference programs individually target the key functions essential to electronic commerce implementation: the corporate team that provides the site funding and strategy; the marketing executives who integrate the commerce strategy into their mix; the MIS professionals responsible for network and transaction security and for overseeing network infrastructure; and of course, the Web site developers who wrap it all together in a user-friendly interface,” added Westerfield.

Industry leaders and analysts will offer their predictions, statistics and forecasts for the world of electronic commerce through an educational platform that caters to all corporate executives involved with the decision making and implementation of EC solutions.

– A strategic conference, conducted by GartnerGroup, will target senior-level executives and their role in electronic commerce. Panel discussions and keynote speakers will offer real-world practical analysis and visionary insights on a solid array of topics to help corporate decision-makers. Tracks will include Industry Electronic Commerce Case Studies, EC Over the Internet, Interactive Marketing and Online Financial Services.

– The iEC technical conference is designed to present middle managers and technology implementors with the information they need to make informed, educated choices, when choosing software solutions, hardware, and applications. iEC’s technical conference brings accessible, timely and useful information for IT managers who are responsible for implementing electronic commerce strategy within their companies. Topics will include “Server Operating Environments – Technical Choices,” “Web Hosting: Providing E-Commerce Added Value to ISP Customers,” “Java in Internet Commerce,” “WebEnabling R/3 Applications,” and “Voice/Video Over IP Networks: Theory and Practice.” The technical conference will also offer case studies including insight from E*Trade, U.S. Office Products, Bally Gamemaker, and the Wall Street Journal Interactive.

– The National Computer Security Association (which will be known as the International Computer Security Association effective on January 1, 1998) is conducting a conference dedicated to computer security issues. This interactive conference is structured as a practical complement to both the technical and strategic conference and will address the types of due diligence and care required for corporations to ensure the proper steps are taken to protect information. Aimed at technical MIS managers and implementors, this educational program will inform corporations of the dangers that lurk in new technology and how to avoid security problems.

“We believe that a company needs to develop an Internet security strategy as one of the key elements in their electronic commerce initiative,” explained Dr. Mich Kabay, director of education for the NCSA. “The conference sessions that we will offer at iEC will outline all of the areas that executives need to be looking at when choosing security measures including applications, cryptography, site certification, vendors and product manufacturers.”

– Forbes magazine will offer the fourth program focusing on how-to sessions on the best methods of implementing electronic commerce strategy for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

– VISA will also be holding a day-long conference to present its electronic commerce product strategy. More information on this conference will be forthcoming.

All conference attendees will be invited to hear four high-profile keynote speakers, Halsey Minor, chairman and CEO of CNET: The Computer Network; Jim McCann, president of 1-800-FLOWERS, Inc.; David Boyles, vice president of Smart Cards and Interactive Services at American Express Co., Inc.; and Michael S. Dell, chairman and chief executive officer for Dell Computer Corporation, all of whom are prepared to offer their insight into how to make conducting business on the Internet more profitable.

In addition to the conference sessions, attendees to iEC will be able to see the technologies discussed in the seminars on the trade show floor with over 200 vendors including sponsors AT&T, GE Information Services, IBM, KPMG, Manugistics, Mastercard, Peat Marwick, and UUNET, which will offer all of the latest products and services in a range of exhibits, from hardware manufacturers, to software developers and business integrators that can customize real-life solutions.

GartnerGroup, Inc. is the world’s leading independent advisor to business professionals making information technology (IT) decisions. It provides research, analysis and advice on strategies for users, purchasers and vendors of IT products and services with more than 450 analysts in 75 locations worldwide. GartnerGroup provides its more than 8,300 clients organizations and over 30,000 clients around the world with timely, strategic advice on the application, management, measurement, market research and direction of IT, and training on IT. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at

Expocon, a division of Advanstar Communications, is a major producer of both domestic and international trade and consumer expositions and conferences as well as publisher of related industry directories. Expocon events cover a variety of industries including printing, electronics, publishing, entertainment, medical/health, computer, merchandising, licensing and advertising. In addition to iEC, Expocon produces other leading IT events, including iEC B2B, On Demand, and On Demand West. For more information about iEC contact Kit Hamilton, director of marketing for Expocon, at 203/256-4700 ext. 112. Or visit our Web site at

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Card Debt Not Affecting Sales

High levels of consumer debt are not cutting into holiday sales for the overwhelming majority of Michigan retailers.

Seventy-five percent of retailers say high consumer credit card debt is not hurting their sales so far this season, according to a survey conducted by the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The monthly survey is used to compile the monthly Michigan Retail Index. For November the Index confirmed a good start to the holiday shopping season with 56 percent of the state’s retailers reporting higher sales than the same month last year. Another 17 percent said sales were the same as last year, meaning 73 percent recorded sales as good or better than the previous year.

“November was the fifth consecutive month that a majority of the state’s retailers recorded higher year-to-year sales,” said Larry Meyer, CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association and former director of the Michigan Department of Commerce. “The momentum of late summer and fall continued into the holiday season.”

He added, “Record consumer debt does not appear to be hurting sales. Consumers continue to use plastic because they are confident about the economy and their ability to increase their income in the coming year.”

According to the Federal Reserve, total consumer debt stood at a record $1.23 trillion in October, with revolving credit rising to an estimated $530 billion.

For November, gift retailers led Michigan’s retail industry, with 73 percent reporting sales increases. They were followed by jewelers, at 63 percent.

The Michigan Retailers Association is the unified voice of retailing in Michigan and the nation’s largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers. MRA’s 4,600 retail business members operate more than 9,000 stores across the state.

Michigan Retailers Association/Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Michigan Retail Index
November 1997 results

November Activity
(numbers in parentheses indicate October results)
% Increased % Decreased % No Change Responses
Sales 56(58) 27(27) 17(15) 289(290)
Inventory 49(49) 18(19) 33(32) 289(290)
Prices 16(15) 8 (8) 76(77) 288(290)
Promotions 36(31) 6 (5) 58(64) 288(289)
Hiring 14(18) 5 (6) 81(76) 288(289)

Expectations for Next 3 Months
(numbers in parenthesis indicate October results)
% Increased % Decreased % No Change Responses
Sales 54(73) 20(12) 26(15) 289(272)
Inventory 21(40) 41(25) 38(35) 288(270)
Prices 22(23) 10(4) 68(73) 288(270)
Promotions 32(51) 10(6) 58(43) 288(269)
Hiring 8(17) 7 (4) 85(79) 288(270)

November Sales Activity by Region
& Expectations for next Three Months
(numbers in parenthesis indicate expectations for next three months)
% Increased % Decreased % No Change
North 54(42) 29(31) 17(27)
West 69(53) 13(16) 18(31)
Central 39(46) 35(19) 26(35)
East 69(56) 25(19) 6(25)
Southeast 55(65) 28(18) 17(17)

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iCat Goes SET

iCat Corporation announced Monday it will support Secure Electronic Transaction 1.0, the standard protocol for safeguarding credit card purchases made over the Internet. Unique to the industry, iCat is working with three of the SET frontrunners, IBM, VeriFone, and Outreach Communications, to offer merchants SET technology on a wide range of server platforms, including NT and Sun Solaris, as well as HP in the future. Merchants will choose from three different set-enabled ‘cash registers,’ including IBM’s CommercePOINT eTill, VeriFone’s vPOS, and Outreach’s SET cash register, giving them access to the broadest selection of financial institutions and processing firms in Europe, Asia, Canada, and the United States for secure credit card clearing.

“By making CommercePOINT eTill available to iCat and its customers, IBM provides a way to secure electronic commerce payments using the SET protocol. IBM is delighted at the opportunity to work with iCat in making the Internet more secure for e-business,” said Mark Greene, vice president of electronic payments and certification at IBM.

“SET represents another milestone in the development of e-commerce, and iCat is proud to be the only Internet catalog software vendor supporting these three SET leaders,” said Craig Danuloff, CEO and president of iCat. “IBM, VeriFone, and Outreach have been the pioneers in implementing the SET initiative, and have more than seventy-five percent of all the SET trials underway. We have also put in place educational programs and hardware agreements to help our ISP partners prepare for the demands of SET. With this strategy, merchants and hosts for the first time can choose the solution that best fits their existing infrastructure and financial relationships with our SET portfolio.”

“VeriFone is pleased that market leader iCat is including VeriFone’s vPOS as an integral part of its SET 1.0 enabled electronic commerce offerings,” said Dana Gauthier, VeriFone’s Director Sales, Americas. “This turnkey solution provides a complete, secure e-commerce system which will surely garner the confidence of consumers and merchants alike.”

Robert Lynch, CEO and president of Outreach Communications added, “Outreach’s focus, like iCat’s, is on the merchant. Outreach’s cash register includes a sophisticated Internet fraud protection module to further the safety for merchants conducting commerce over the Internet. That, coupled with an easy-to-use GUI, makes the iCat-Outreach combination a compelling solution for merchants.”

To further round out iCat’s SET strategy of integrating the payment software into the next version of iCat Electronic Commerce Suite, iCat has also teamed with server accelerator manufacturer, nCipher, and leading Internet Certification Authority, VeriSign.

VeriSign and iCat have inked a joint marketing agreement to promote and educate merchants on the issues surrounding SET, including authenticating consumers and managing digital certificates involved in electronic transactions.

On the hardware side, nCipher’s nFast is one of the first line of products on the market to provide flexible, scalable and cost-effective acceleration of cryptographic key processing for commerce and transaction servers. “By attaching one of nCipher’s cryptographic accelerators to the transaction server, shoppers in an iCat catalog will have much faster credit card processing,” said Alex van Someren, president of nCipher. “Our nFast accelerators will help online vendors adopt the highest levels of cryptographic security without having their servers bogged down processing cryptographic keys. By partnering with a leader like iCat, online businesses can have the confidence in the security of online transactions.”

In addition to the SET options, merchants who have built iCat catalogs can choose from many transaction option methods, including CyberCash, First USA Paymentech Inc., Open Market, First Virtual, InternetSecure, Atos, Tellan Software, and Kleline. The company has also partnered with 45 additional complementary technology vendors that add advanced functionality to the Web catalog, including order processing and fulfillment, accounting, and tax and shipping. For more information on the payment processing solutions as well as a complete list of the third party technologies integrated into iCat’s Suite, visit .

About iCat Corporation

iCat Corporation, founded in 1993 and based in Seattle, Washington, is solely dedicated to providing corporations and merchants with the most complete, powerful, and flexible solution for creating Web catalogs with secure transaction processing. The privately held company has technology and marketing relationships with over 350 companies including UPS, Compaq, HP, EDS, and GTE. Its flagship Electronic Commerce Suite has won more than twenty industry awards, including PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice Award” for electronic storefront software in November 1997. The software is available in the US, Canada, France, Germany and Japan from any of iCat’s business partners, leading distributors such as TechData, Ingram Micro, MicroAge, and Trans Cosmos Incorporated, and resellers such as Software Spectrum. For more information, visit the iCat Web site at , or call 888-BUY-ICAT.

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