Universal Studios Card

Universal Studios and NOVUS Services introduced the new “Universal Studios Card”. For every dollar spent in purchases on the new Universal Studios Card, Cardmembers earn StudioPoints toward entertainment rewards from Universal Studios, including free admission to its theme parks, movie and concert tickets, limited-edition merchandise and even the opportunity to play a walk-on part in a music video or television production. The Universal Studios Card features include: no annual fee, a 7.9 percent introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers for up to six months, a 25-day interest-free grace period on purchases and the ability to get cash advances.

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Losses Uptick Again

Chargeoffs reported in October for the September collection period increased slightly to 6.65% according to the Fitch Credit Card Performance Index. Master trusts reporting the largest increases in chargeoffs for the September collection period were: Advanta, BankAmerica, Discover, First Chicago and Sears. Meanwhile, Standard & Poor says charge-offs ticked up modestly in September 1997 to 6.7%. S&P says the increase in September’s index was largely attributable to two major trusts, Discover and First Chicago. Losses fell sharply in Banc One’s master trust to 7.1% from over 9% in June, July, and August, and First USA’s ratio declined to 5.9%, reflecting normalization of its ratio following a change in its charge-off policy.

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Equifax On The Move

Equifax Inc. announced yesterday it will build a new global headquarters building near its current site at 1600 Peachtree Street and move 550 additional employees from its Information Service Center in Cobb County to Midtown.

Equifax is a world leader in providing financial information and processing solutions, with global operation in consumer and commercial credit information services, payment services, software, modeling, analytics and consulting and direct-to-consumer services.

CEO Daniel W. McGlaughlin said the new headquarters will be constructed at the corner of Peachtree and Spring streets next to Rhodes Hall.

“We are happy in Midtown, and it was easy for us to remain committed to this vital, growing Atlanta neighborhood,” said President Thomas F. Chapman. “The designs we are considering will be a plus for the area. Our building will fit in well with the historical neighborhood of Ansley Park and with Rhodes Hall.”

While the site is zoned C4 (for an office tower up to 650,000 square feet), Equifax’s building will be no more than eight stories high and 150,000 square feet.

“Upon completion, you will see a building and landscaping as inviting on the outside as the technological advances and pleasing, open environment are on the inside,” Mr. McGlaughlin said.

Susan Mendheim, president and CEO of Midtown Alliance, said: “All aspects of the Equifax project are exactly in sync with Blueprint Midtown and the community’s vision of what Midtown ought to become. It is a fabulous synergy, blending old and new buildings to enhance the gateway to Midtown.”

Street-level parking for the new building will be at a minimum, with a full parking garage developed underneath the structure. And between the building and the street, there will be a heavily landscaped buffer of trees.

The Equifax Information Service Center, currently located in Cobb County, will be relocated to an existing 90,000 square foot structure at Equifax’s current site. The Service Center, which communicates directly with consumers regarding their credit information and profiles, will serve 5.5 million customers this year, a figure which has doubled since 1993.

Unaffected by the new headquarters building and relocation are other Equifax locations throughout the metro Atlanta area including the company’s information technology center in north Fulton County and its risk management unit, located near the interchange of 1-85 and 1-285 in DeKalb County.

The company is reviewing architectural proposals for the headquarters building and has yet to choose a construction contractor. Construction is slated to begin by the end of this year and should take about 18 months, with the company moving in the new headquarters building in the spring of 1999 — Equifax’s 100th anniversary.

Equifax serves many industries on a global basis, including banking, finance, retail, credit card, telecommunications and utilities, and health care. Equifax was founded in 1899 in Atlanta and today has more than 10,000 employees around the world. It operates globally in 17 countries, with sales in 40 countries. Equifax revenues for the 12 months ended June 30, 1997, were just under 1.3 billion. The current Equifax headquarters building opened in 1956.

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TSYS Makes Honor Roll

Judged on return on equity, sales, earnings growth and net income, Total System Services, Inc.(R) has been named, for the tenth consecutive year, as one of the 200 Best Small Companies in America by Forbes, earning distinction as a member of Forbes’ Honor Roll. According to the November 3 issue of Forbes, the criteria for Honor Roll members are superior financial returns, long-term staying power, and stock gains. In addition, TSYS is one of only two companies who has made Forbes’ listing consecutively. The list began in 1979.

According to Forbes authors Ben Pappas and Ronald Boone, Jr. in the article Best of the Best, “Not all hot small companies have staying power. We think those on the Honor Roll have a good chance of remaining, if not hot, at least warm for a long time to come.” The authors continued, “Take star performer Total System Services, Inc. which appeared on our Honor Roll in 1992. A $10,000 investment in Total System in 1992 would be worth almost $70,000 today.”

Patrick Reynolds, Director of Investor Relations for TSYS, further elaborated on the value of TSYS’ stock, “Since our initial public offering in 1983, TSYS has had six stock splits, so if someone had invested that same $10,000 when TSYS had its IP0, the value of that investment would be worth $573,122. If they invested $10,000 in 1988 when we first appeared on Forbes’ list, it would be worth $103,265.”

“Three of the 14 Honor Roll companies — Fastenal, Nature’s Sunshine Products, and Total System Services — have been on the 200 Best list ten times. All first qualified when they were tiny and then kept growing at a pace that got them back on the list nine more times. In fact, they are growing right off our list,” Pappas and Boone said.

TSYS Chairman of the Board and CEO Richard W. Ussery, said, “Being named to Forbes’ nationally renowned list for ten consecutive years is an affirmation of the hard work and dedication our team members put into creating superior products and services for our customers and outstanding value for our shareholders. This honor is the icing on the cake for our team during our week-long celebration, Team Appreciation Week, which honors our employees. I’m proud of our track record and proud to be a part of this dynamic team effort. We look forward to an exciting future.”

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 located throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico, representing more than 90 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) (), a $9.0 billion asset, multi- financial services company that 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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Amex Forms Hospitality Alliance

Sulcus Hospitality Technologies Corp., American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. and Horwath International today announced that they entered into a letter of intent to form a strategic business alliance which will design, develop and provide products and services within the hospitality industry.

Through new products and services, the new partnership will be capable of supplying the hospitality industry with information previously unavailable, allowing the end user to know more about their guests, know more about their business and to create marketing programs in order to increase their penetration within their markets.

Each alliance partner brings maximum expertise in their specialized areas:

American Express, in the area of database management and the creation and implementation of marketing programs; Horwath’s expertise in consulting and accounting; Sulcus, through its “legacy solution,” the technology necessary to accomplish the goals of the alliance. In addition, Sulcus will have the overall project management responsibility within the alliance.

As part of their efforts, American Express, Sulcus, and Horwath will jointly create, market and brand software products designed to address the financial, operational and marketing needs of hospitality clients.

“We are proud to be part of the alliance with American Express and Horwath International. In conjunction with the technological solutions and support provided by Sulcus the alliance will establish new standards in the hospitality industry,” stated Sulcus’ CEO, Leon Harris.

Commenting on this new alliance, Werner Rotach, CEO of Horwath International, stated, “This alliance allows us to deliver a unique product within the hospitality market. Each of our areas of expertise come together to form a partnership capable of revolutionizing the hospitality industry.”

“American Express is very excited about this unique partnership with Horwath and Sulcus. This opportunity will allow us to help our hospitality merchants manage and grow their business,” stated Tim Bush, Vice President, Merchant Information Services.

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Express Company — a diversified worldwide travel and financial services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

Horwath International (HI) is an international network of independent management consulting and accounting firms with over 300 offices throughout the world providing a broad spectrum of professional services including accounting, auditing, tax and consulting. Horwath International member firms have earned a worldwide reputation as advisors to the Travel & Tourism industry; Family and Owner Managed Businesses and in International Structuring and Tax Planning.

Sulcus Hospitality Technologies Corp. is a global leader in the design, development and marketing of technology solutions that are used in the hospitality and tourism market to improve the management of business-critical information and data. The Company is headquartered in Greensburg, Pennsylvania with offices, distributors and agents worldwide.

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NEC Becomes Personix

NEC Card Services announced today the company has changed its name to Personix and will soon move into a new 121,000-square-foot facility in the Houston suburb of Stafford. The building, slated for a late November move-in, will house one of the largest plastic card production operations in the country serving the telecommunications, health care, and financial services industries. Personix, which gets its name from a combination of the words “personalization,” “electronic,” and “sonic,” employs more than 300 people in Houston and another 400 at facilities in Indianapolis. The new plant will allow Personix to add another 55 employees in Stafford in 1998 to accommodate a quickly growing book of business. The new company combines the operations of NEC Card Services and Adminastar Communications, an Indianapolis-based high-speed printing, electronic publishing and mailing operation. Personix is a unit of Fiserv Inc., a financial data processing and information management company based in Brookfield, Wis. “Personix is the ideal choice in name and imagery to take this company to the next level in offering our clients leading-edge card issuance, business communications, and electronic publishing solutions and unsurpassed customer service,” said Jorge M. Diaz, president of Personix. “As we bring our new production facility on-line, we anticipate continued growth both in new business opportunities for the company and new job positions.” The new facility is in the Freeport/Southwest Business Park in Stafford. The structure will be the first building in the business park being developed by The Midway Companies, a Houston-based construction and development company. The Midway Companies also designed and is building the Personix plant, a facility that features many high-end finishes that facilitate the production flow of electronically transmitted data through sophisticated processing equipment. “Security and workflow efficiency are two cornerstones that went into the design and development of this new building,” said Diaz, who has seen the company outgrow its current 60,000-square-foot facility in less than two years. “We are excited about making the move and expanding our services as we grow and diversify.” Personix also operates two production facilities in Indianapolis that handle a variety of business communications and electronic publishing functions, and additional card services production. Fiserv Inc. is an independent provider of financial data processing systems and related information management services and products to more than 5,000 banks, credit unions, mortgage firms and savings institutions worldwide. A publicly held company headquartered in Brookfield, Fiserv is traded on the NASDAQ over-the-counter market under the symbol FISV.

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3Q Update Continues

Among other major issuers releasing third quarter data to CardData yesterday: First Chicago NBD, Fleet Financial and BankBoston. FCC/NBD and Fleet experienced further erosion in their card base while BankBoston continues its steady growth passing the $1.5 billion mark.

ISSUER RECV 3QVOL YTDVOL ACCTS ACTV CIF
FCC/NBD $17.3b $11.9b $34.0b 14.8m 8.4m 21.2m
Fleet $2.7b $856m $2.5b 2..3m 1.4m 2.9m
BankBoston $1.5b $494m $1.3b 1..3m 0.7m 1.3m
recv-receivables; vol-volume; accts-accounts; actvs-actives;
cif-cards-in-force
Source: CardWeb, Inc.’s Bankcard Update/CardData

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Chase Beefs Up Call Centers

Broadway & Seymour announced today that the Chase Manhattan Bank has selected its TouchPoint software as the desktop and client server application for retail customer call centers within Chase’s TriState Regional Bank. Chase is in the midst of a multi-year project to renew all its call center technology.

TouchPoint’s distributed architecture will provide the enabling technology to consolidate customer data from existing legacy systems and present the information on a universal workstation to customer service and sales representatives. Key criteria for Chase in selecting TouchPoint were its flexibility and ease of customization that enables it to be implemented across a variety of call centers with diverse business needs.

Chase is piloting TouchPoint in October at ServiceLine, the bank’s 1,300-seat call center facility in Jericho, New York and will begin rolling it out by year-end. Initially, the key benefit will be quicker access to basic account information. As the system is implemented throughout all Chase TriState Regional Bank call centers, additional relationship information will become available. When complete, customers will be able to call one customer service representative for information on all their Chase accounts.

“As the centerpiece to our customer service workstation, TouchPoint exemplifies the kind of leading-edge technology Chase is using to maintain consistently high levels of customer service and improve our operating efficiency,” said Randall Lee, senior vice president, The Chase Manhattan Bank. “Chase is a recognized leader in call center operations, due in no small part to earlier technology decisions. Today’s efforts to renew that technology will continue to add value to the Chase brand and reinforce our customer relationships.”

“Chase has consistently taken a lead role in deploying best- of-breed solutions to meet customer needs,” said David A. Finley, Executive Vice President and interim CEO of Broadway & Seymour. “TouchPoint will enable Chase to provide outstanding customer sales and service across a wide range of delivery channels.”

Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Broadway & Seymour (NASDAQ: BSIS) is an information technology company that provides integrated solutions to financial and professional services markets. These solutions include customer relationship management software for the financial services industry and time and practice management solutions provided by its Elite Information Systems subsidiary for the legal and professional services industries.

With $366 billion in assets, The Chase Manhattan Corporation (NYSE: CMB) is the largest banking company in the United States. In retail banking, Chase has leading positions in credit cards, mortgage banking, consumer finance, mutual funds, and electronic banking. Domestically, Chase has offices in 39 states and relationships with more than 25 million households coast to coast. The bank’s retail call centers handle more than 98 million calls annually.

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FV Secures $5 Million

First Virtual Holdings Incorporated a leader in advanced communications and messaging systems for Internet commerce, announced today that it has completed a private placement of securities to a New York-based investment group, with gross proceeds to First Virtual of $5.0 million.

The securities sold in the private placement consisted of 1,000 shares of First Virtual Series A Convertible Preferred Stock, and warrants to purchase up to 850,000 shares of First Virtual Common Stock at $5.75 per share. The Series A Convertible Preferred Stock is convertible into First Virtual Common Stock at the option of the investors at a per share conversion price equal to the lesser of $5.50 or 80 percent of the average closing bid price of the Common Stock for the prior ten trading days. The Series A Convertible Preferred Stock is redeemable for cash by the investors under certain circumstances, and carries an annual dividend of seven percent payable in cash or shares of Common Stock.

Lee Stein, chairman and chief executive officer of First Virtual commented, “I am very pleased that this financing has been completed so that we can continue to focus our efforts on developing and delivering the Company’s Interactive Messaging Platform and its applications.”

About First Virtual Holdings

Founded in 1994, First Virtual Holdings develops and markets leading interactive messaging services for electronic commerce that integrates secure payment processing with intelligent messaging and interactive transactional advertisements. Through the power of e-mail, this platform enables companies to conduct relationship marketing using a sophisticated messaging system that includes interactive transactional advertising banners, special transactional offers, and creative interactive messaging.

The company has its headquarters in San Diego, with research facilities in Ann Arbor, Mich., and data center facilities in Dallas and San Diego. First Virtual Holdings has strategic relationships with First Data Corporation, First USA Paymentech and GE Capital Corporation.

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People’s Tops $3 Billion

flash () Bridgeport, CT-based People’s Bank will shortly place among the nation’s “Top 25” bank credit card issuers as card loans have increased 32% during the past year. People’s $3.3 billion portfolio is largely built on a low fixed rate/fee-based offering. The issuer has been active in the U.K., where it holds $138 million in receivables, and also on the Internet, via CardWeb, Inc.’s CardWeb advertising program. At the end of the third quarter, People’s U.S. portfolio held $3,104,340,976 in receivables among 2,693,254 cardholders, according to data released this morning to CardData. Year-to-date volume logged in at $3,794,198,307. About 63% of People’s accounts are active, 2,202,888 gross accounts with 1,388,921 active. Among other People’s 3Q stats: delinquencies 3.25%; chargeoffs 4.10% (% of avg recv); net interest margin 4.11%; and yield 10.42%.

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Lebanese Sentenced for Card Fraud

A Lebanese national was sentenced yesterday to one year and three months in prison on federal charges relating to a credit card scheme.

United States Attorney Donald K. Stern announced today that ABDO KOUBA, 37, 7 Montvale Street, Roslindale, MA, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner on a 15-count indictment charging KOUBA with conspiracy, deceptive use of a Social Security number, credit card fraud and credit application fraud.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Gertner ordered KOUBA to pay over $312,000 in restitution to the numerous banks and credit card companies he defrauded.

At an earlier hearing, a federal prosecutor told the judge that ABDO and ILHAM EL KOUBA, brother and sister, planned an elaborate scheme to defraud banks and credit card companies by applying for and obtaining numerous credit cards and credit lines in their own names and the names of family members who are in Lebanon. One object of the scheme was to purchase used cars, on credit, for shipment to Lebanon. Once the credit card and credit line limits were reached, the KOUBAS intended to return to Lebanon, leaving the debt behind. In applying for numerous credit cards in the name of “Rita Kouba,” the defendants used a Social Security number which was not assigned to her. The credit card applications contained numerous other falsehoods, including the applicants’ residence and their source and amount of income.

By March 31, 1997, the KOUBAS had amassed an outstanding credit balance on some 49 credit cards totalling over $200,000. They also owed Bank of Boston almost $75,000 on personal, unsecured credit lines. Between November 1996 and March 1997, the KOUBAS purchased and shipped 29 used cars to Lebanon. In early March, ILHAM KOUBA, who had been employed as a manicurist/esthetician in Roslindale, left the United States to return to Lebanon.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Social Security Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne M. Kempthorne, Deputy Chief of Stern’s Economic Crimes Unit.

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