Advanta Still Rated Negative

Standard & Poor’s ratings of Advanta Corp. and its subsidiaries still remain on CreditWatch with negative implications. The senior bank notes, subordinated notes, and CD’s of Advanta National Bank remain on CreditWatch with developing implications following the announcement of a proposed transfer of its credit card business to a Fleet Financial Group subsidiary. Following a more detailed review of the company’s sub prime mortgage business as well as its small business leasing operations, Standard & Poor’s believes that the senior debt and counterparty ratings of Advanta Corp. should go no lower than single-‘B’-plus and the senior bank notes of Advanta National Bank should go no lower than double-‘B’ minus. The transaction is anticipated to close by late 1997 or early 1998, Standard & Poor’s.

Advanta Corp.
Senior unsecured debt BB
Preferred stock B+
Long-term counterparty BB
Short-term counterparty B
Advanta National Bank
Long- term counterparty BB+
Short-term counterparty B
Advanta Capital Trust I
Preferred stock B+
Advanta National Bank
Senior Bank Notes BB+/B
Subordinated Bank Notes BB-/B


Another Holiday Projection

Holiday sales should be up 3%-4% this year acording to a study released this weekend by the International Mass Retail Association. The ‘1997 IMRA Holiday Shopping Study’ indicates 58% of consumers expect to spend the same as last year or about $813 per family. Three-fourths of consumers say they will make Christmas purchases at discount department stores. The VISA-sponsored IMRA study says this year’s hot toy products will include the Interactive Barney, Sleep and Snore Ernie, Holiday Barbie, Hot Wheels and Star Wars collectibles.


SpeedPass Upshifts

The ‘Mobil SpeedPass’ program will expand to New York and Baltimore this morning. Mobil also announced today it will introduce the next generation of ‘SpeedPass’ technology for some of its current markets. Announced one year, ‘Mobil SpeedPass’ was introduced as contactless payment system using a key tag transponder attached to the driver’s key chain. Beggining today drivers in New England and Washington, DC will also be offered a car tag transponder which attached to the rear windshield which immediately activates the pump. To enroll in ‘SpeedPass’ consumers simply designate a credit card for payment and complete an enrollment form via a toll-free 800#, Mobil’s Web Site or from take-ones at participating service stations. Mobil does not charge a usage fee.


Advanced Call Center

Scopus Technology unveiled its new call center solution today, staking the claim as the world’s first call center solution speciallfy tailroed to adress the customer acquisition and retentio challenges faced by financial services organizations. ‘Scopus Finance Central’ is a pre-packaged suite of customer care applications including automated workflow, seamless intetgration and intelligent call guides. The package also incorporates best practices and relationship-centric sales processes. Scopus says ‘Finance Central’ builds on its current customer care systems experience with VISA, Bank of America, Fleet, ABN Amro, Bank of Indonesia and Nedcor.


Outer Space Card Transactions

What’s more important than voting from outer space at this time of year? Shopping. While circling the world at approximately 17,000 mph and 200 miles above Earth, Flight Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov got a head start on filling their families’ holiday wish lists. With the help of Virtual Emporium and Mission Control near Moscow, the Cosmonauts have selected everything from Gateway computers to Chicago Bulls Sportswear with their Visa bank card account.

“Our mission is to make shopping easy for everyone, no matter where they are,” said Tuck Rickards, founder and CEO of Virtual Emporium, a pioneer in online shopping. “If you can vote from outer space, you ought to be able to shop from outer space.”

The Cosmonauts have been in orbit for more than 90 days, and will not return until mid-February. The Mir core capsule was launched in 1986, and this is the first time that Cosmonauts onboard ever have selected products to send to loved ones for the holidays.

Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov said, “The opportunity to personally select holiday gifts myself brings our loved ones closer and is especially meaningful to us, and it is much better than shopping on a cold Moscow day.”

Using Virtual Emporium’s online Personal Shopper application, the Mir Cosmonauts have selected a Gateway personal computer, a Nordic Track exercise machine, Barbie dolls, telephones, and Chicago Bulls sportswear, to name a few.

At 12:30pm est. Virtual Emporium expects to receive confirmation of their requests electronically at its NYC Store via Energia LTD and Mission Control. At that time, these items will be purchased through Virtual Emporium’s shopping service at using the Cosmonauts’ Visa bank card account. The Cosmonauts will also become permanent members of the Virtual Emporium community by registering for Firefly Passports. Virtual Emporium will be using Firefly’s Passport Office software to offer customers unique, personalized shopping experiences.

“We are grateful to Virtual Emporium for bringing the holiday spirit to the space station, but can you help my family get my presents to me?” said Flight Commander Anatoly Solovyev.

Virtual Emporium, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass., is a leading online shopping community that packages cutting-edge, consumer-oriented technologies with links to the best secure Web merchants. Its online shopping service at and its flagship store at 412 Columbus Avenue in New York City allows consumers to access the top 250 online merchants using a revolutionary shopping interface with a price comparison tool, gift finder, merchandise showcases, and shopping news.

RSC Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia, ) is Russia’s oldest space organization. RSC Energia operates the Mir space station, manufactures the Proton booster’s Block D upper stage and maintains other support facilities for the Russian Space Agency. The Company is also the prime contractor for the Russian segment of the International Space Station.


First Annapolis Hires Risk Expert

Daniel Kreis has joined First Annapolis Consulting as a Senior Associate. Mr. Kreil will head the consumer and small business risk management services of First Annapolis Consulting. He will specialize in target marketing, loan fulfillment, credit underwriting, decision systems and account management strategies.

Mr. Kreis has 15 years of risk and operations management experience. He has worked with clients in the credit card, installment load, leasing, retail, utility and finance industries. His experience includes risk management responsibility for the credit card portfolios of First National Bank of Maryland and PNC. Previously, he was the regional director of the Mid-Atlantic and Mexican markets for Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc.

Fred White, President, states “We are delighted to have Dan join our team, and expect that the credit and risk management experience that he brings will be of great value to our clients.” Mr. Kreis is a published author and frequent speaker on risk management topics. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Finance from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

First Annapolis Consulting is a full-service, general management consulting firm specializing in financial services, specifically credit card issuing, merchant acquiring, private label card, commercial card, electronic banking and mortgage banking. The company offers a variety of services including planning, financial analysis and management, marketing strategy and research, operations planning and re-engineering, and general management advisory services. Our subsidiary corporation, First Annapolis Capital, privides merger and acquisition advisory services related to credit cards, ATMs, and other electronic banking businesses.


NationsBank Direct Launched

NationsBank announced today the formation of a new Internet-based transaction and information network, NationsBank Direct(SM), that lays the groundwork for the most dynamic interaction ever imagined between corporations and NationsBank. This new network uses standard, open Internet technologies and intelligent communications logic that enable corporations to manage their financial activity in one of the most secure and intuitive ways ever. Companies can choose to access NationsBank Direct through the Internet or a private network connection.

“NationsBank Direct will integrate a host of interactive communications technologies to make it easier for companies to get the right information to the right people at the right time,” says Nick Alex, NationsBank Global Treasury & Trade Product Division executive. Alex notes that NationsBank Direct will combine the latest communications technology with rules-based logic to notify companies of critical events by pager, telephone, e-mail, file transfer and facsimile, in addition to the proactive desktop notification provided today. Alex states that NationsBank Direct will page a corporation’s cash manager when their account has been credited with an important payment, or place a telephone call to the treasurer when their account balance reaches a certain level so the treasurer can make key investment decisions.

“NationsBank has believed for several years that the Internet would become the ‘network of networks’ that would facilitate all businesses in the future,” Alex states. “We’ve been preparing for the day when companies would use Internet technologies to connect to their customers, suppliers and banks as easily as they connect to internal colleagues,” he continues. “Customers will find that NationsBank Direct makes it as easy to monitor lockbox receipts or initiate a wire payment as it is to share a spreadsheet with a co-worker down the hall. And, all that companies need to use NationsBank Direct is Internet access and a web browser.”

The first release of NationsBank Direct, which is currently being piloted, incorporates several payment and receipt services and builds on the expertise that NationsBank derived in developing two existing Intranet transaction and reporting services introduced last year.

According to Alex, the Internet technologies at the foundation of NationsBank Direct translate into real efficiencies and bottom-line benefits for companies, not the least of which is the user’s ability to navigate through the network in a more logical and intuitive fashion. “For example, with NationsBank Direct, a customer can receive desktop notification of a potentially fraudulent check, then click on a link to view an image of the front and back of the check, and then click on another link to send a pay or return notification to NationsBank — all in a matter of seconds,” he says.

Intuitive user interfaces, which are an integral part of the NationsBank Direct network, provide a common look and feel for all services and makes it easier to train new staff in day-to-day functions. And since no NationsBank Direct software resides on a company’s PC, users don’t have to worry about downloading or installing new releases when they become available. In addition, standardized technology makes it simpler to integrate data throughout a corporation, across corporate departments and into back office processing systems, says Alex.

Future releases of NationsBank Direct will include the full range of US dollar and foreign currency payments, receipts, treasury management, foreign exchange, trade finance, investments and borrowing capabilities. “The beauty of the technology employed by NationsBank Direct is the ability to respond quickly to customer needs,” according to Alex. He notes that the open, standard components of these technologies enable NationsBank to swiftly develop capabilities inhouse based on customer input, and rapidly bring new capabilities to market. “We have worked closely with our customers to define NationsBank Direct functionality, and we’re excited that we can almost immediately translate customer preferences into usable features thanks to the rapid development this technology supports,” says Alex.

NationsBank is utilizing digital certificates, 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and firewalls to secure electronic transactions and communications through NationsBank Direct. “The multiple layers of security in NationsBank Direct represent the most advanced methods available for securing corporate Internet banking activity, and far exceeds the security in place on bank transaction platforms today,” says Alex.

A new component of NationsBank Direct is Payments Direct which is making its debut at the annual Treasury Management Association Conference being held November 9-12 in San Francisco. Companies can use Payments Direct to monitor the status of payments, handle positive pay functions, view digital check images and manage account reconciliation. In addition, NationsBank Receipts On-Line is available on NationsBank Direct, providing companies with Internet access to search and reporting capabilities on their current day and previous day lockbox remittances. Additional payments, receipts and treasury management components will be added to NationsBank Direct in the first and second quarters of 1998. “The technological superiority and flexibility of NationsBank Direct will continue to grow with each enhancement,” Alex states.

NationsBank, offers a comprehensive range of treasury management and trade finance solutions to businesses worldwide. NationsBank is the fifth-largest U.S. banking company, with $242 billion in assets as of September 30, 1997. NationsBank Corporation (NYSE: NB) provides financial products and services nationally and internationally to individuals, businesses, corporations, institutional investors and government agencies.


Venture Market East Underway Today

The founders of UbiQ Inc., an emerging software firm focused in the smart card industry, will present the firm’s business plan and strategy to key members of the investment and finance community on Monday in Cambridge, Mass. UbiQ is the only Minnesota firm presenting.

The event, sponsored by The Red Herring Magazine, a business and technology publication, is being held November 10 and 11 at the Charles Hotel. It will be attended by more than 1000 venture capitalists, investment bankers, business development executives, technology company executives, and leading members of the technology and business press. Additional event sponsors include Arthur Andersen, Nasdaq, and Silicon Valley Bank.

Billed as an event that “brings the key players together” and “puts presenting companies on the map in the investment community,” Venture Market East will feature several prominent speakers, including James Cramer of and George Colony, president of Forrester Research. It will also include a “Going Public” workshop and a keynote panel on “The Role of Research Universities and Incubators in Venture Capital.”

The main format of the conference is CEOs of emerging private technology companies, selected by the editors of The Red Herring, presenting their financial and marketing strategies. Each company presentation is followed by a breakout session for one-on-one, informal conversation. Presenting for UbiQ, at 2:15 p.m. Eastern on Monday, November 10, will be both of the company’s co-founders: David Tushie, President, and John Stearns, Chairman. The Red Herring is published monthly and is based in San Francisco.

Additional information about Venture Market East is available on the World Wide Web at .

UbiQ Inc. () is a privately held software firm founded in 1994 by smart card industry veterans and based in Minneapolis, Minn. (The company’s name is short for “ubiquitous,” a reference to the rapid proliferation of smart cards in our society.) UbiQ’s mission is to be the highest value integrator in the smart card issuance process, reducing the time and cost necessary for secure, faultless “mass” card issuance. The company’s worldwide customers include smart card issuers such as American Express and member institutions of the Visa, Mastercard, and Mondex networks. In addition, it has relationships with card service bureaus, smart card manufacturers, and card personalization and printing equipment manufacturers. Market segments targeted by UbiQ include electronic commerce/Internet, travel and entertainment, credit/debit/e-cash cards, pay phone, digital wireless/GSM, national ID cards, and healthcare.

The Red Herring is a monthly publication covering the business of technology. Focused on high-growth markets of emerging technologies, The Red Herring delivers information to a worldwide audience of market leaders, technology executives and top level investors. Herring Communications, a San Francisco-based media company, also produces high-level industry conferences and daily news and analysis from Red Herring Online. More information about The Red Herring can be found at .


GLOW Acquires Processor Wolf Key

Global Communications Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: GLOW) announced today several steps in its expanded Strategic Acquisition Program which is already in full implementation.

Global’s recent and pending acquisitions give it a compelling array of commercial and merchant services for the Internet. Marketing on a city-by-city basis, Global can now offer a full village of merchant products and services to consumers on the Internet. A unique capability attached to this Internet commerce strategy is the ability to process credit card purchases on a third-party basis to protect both the consumer and the merchant.

WOLF KEY HOLDINGS LIMITED. This acquisition announced as a letter of intent on October 10, was consummated on October 24, 1997. Wolf Key is in operation in Toronto, Canada with the first Internet Commercial Village providing full credit card processing service. WOlf Key’s projected 1998 revenues are $18 million with much greater volume possible from additional credit card processing contracts.

INTEGRATED CONSUMER ENTERTAINMENT, LTD (ICE). On October 20, 1997, Global announced the letter of intent to acquire this dating service company. This acquisition is scheduled to close today. Global has initiated negotiations with several dating services and expects to sign a letter of intent with one of them within a week.

ICE provides dating services in major metropolitan cities. Its 1997 revenue and gross profit are anticipated at U.S. $2.5 million and $400,000 respectively, with a 70% increase expected in 1998. This will become one of the categories of services on the Commercial Village program. Additional acquisitions of dating services which have the capability to grow exponentially and have current sales of $1 million will be considered. Such acquisitions will benefit from economies of scale in purchasing advertising marketing materials and communications services.

Global will focus on consolidating the electronic commerce processing industry in the 900 telephone business. Global will expand its 900 service business and provide the equivalent of 900 service on the Internet.

OTHER ACQUISITIONS. Global has identified and initiated negotiations for eight additional acquisitions to broaden its service offerings on the Commercial Village. Global plans to franchise its Commercial Village in major cities very soon.

Global’s initial business, bingo and lotto wagering on the Internet outside the U.S. will be able to expand much more aggressively with the credit card processing provided by Wolf Key. It anticipates $100 million in revenue in 1998. Global is projecting over $0.50 per share in earnings in 1998.


MedPlus Signs Columbia/HCA

MedPlus Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: MDPL), a Health Finance organization located in Colorado Springs, Colo., is pleased to announce that is has reached an agreement with The Health Care Advantage Network, a division of Columbia/HCA based in Dallas, Texas.

The Health Care Advantage Network is a national preferred provider (PPO) network consisting of more than 200,000 physicians and 2,500 hospitals. The agreement calls for the endorsement and enrollment of the providers to utilize the MedPlus Benefits Card and the MedPlus Advantage Program. The MedPlus Benefits Card is a private label patient finance credit card that is non-recourse to the health care provider; The MedPlus Advantage Program operates on a credit card platform, providing recourse for hospitals and large clinic accounts receivable financing. The implementation plan calls for an immediate roll-out with priority enrollment in the state of Texas and expanding regionally to a national program over the next year.

“This is a perfect situation for MedPlus. This gives us access to a significant national network while allowing us to fill in network coverage with regional PPO networks like our existing relationship with R.J. and Associates with its network Health Payor Organization in Texas,” stated Tim DeHerrera, President of MedPlus.

MedPlus now plans to convert the existing Employee Benefit Administrators and Benefit Management Administrators Letters of Intent to contracts. Both companies are third party administrators based in San Antonio, Texas. These Letters of Intent call for the issuance of the MedPlus Benefits Card to the 100,000 insured administered by Employee Benefit Administrators and Benefits Management Administrators who expect growth to 200,000 by the end of 1998.

DeHerrera further stated that “these situations alone advance us by a couple of years into our business plan. They give us cardholders and a huge network for the insureds to utilize these cards.”

This press release contains forward-looking statements. The actual results might differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to materially differ from those in forward-looking statements is contained in MedPlus Corporation’s SEC filings, including periodic reports under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, copies of which are available upon request from the MedPlus investor relations department.


Microsoft vs Intuit

Microsoft scored some major points yesterday in its battle with Intuit over the delivery of credit card statements via personal financial software. Yesterday Microsoft announced that users of its ‘Money 98’ or ‘Money 98 Financial Suite’ can now connect directly with American Express, Discover and the Private Issue Card for electronic statement information. With Thursday’s announcement Microsoft will now have a total of 40 credit card providers offering direct access for account information via MS ‘Money’. Among other participating issuers: Chase Manhattan, First Chicago, First Union, Mellon, Norwest, U.S. Bank and Zions Bank. Intuit’s ‘Quicken 98’ provides direct access to 25 major issuers. Microsoft says ‘Money 98’ enables more than 75 million cardholders to now download credit card statements.