The Consumer Federation of America released a report yesterday crying foul over the credit card industry’s pushing of bankruptcy reform while at the same time pushing big credit lines to consumers. The CFA says data from Veribanc shows unused lines of credit on credit cards stood at $2.4 trillion at the end of 3Q/00 and that total consumer credit is growing 13% annually. The report also noted research from BAI Global which shows American consumers were hit with 2.5 billion credit card solicitations in the first nine months of 2000. The CFA also pointed to figures compiled by R.K. Hammer which shows credit card profits at a five year high. The CFA concludes that bankruptcy reform is the wrong bill at the wrong time. The report was released just as the U.S. House is gearing up for vote on bankruptcy reform. The vote may come on Thursday. The U.S. Senate is set to vote on the legislation next week.
Catalina Marketing Corporation this week announced the election of Anne MacDonald, Managing Director of Global Marketing at Citibank, to its Board of Directors.
MacDonald joined Citibank, a division of Citigroup, in 1997 as Managing Director of Global Branding and Communication, moving to her current position in September 1999. Prior to joining Citibank, she spent five years with PepsiCo, where she was Vice President, Brand Marketing, for the Pizza Hut division. From 1983 through 1993, MacDonald worked for N.W. Ayer, Inc., a privately held advertising agency. At N.W. Ayer, she served in various senior management capacities and became the first woman elected to the Board of Directors. Prior to N.W. Ayer, MacDonald worked in the international division of Grey Advertising in New York. She began her advertising career in London, where she worked at Saatchi & Saatchi.
MacDonald received an undergraduate degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from Bath University in England.
Daniel D. Granger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are extremely pleased to add Anne to our Board of Directors. Her vast marketing, advertising and brand management experience is a perfect complement to Catalina Marketing’s Board, and she will provide us with valuable strategic insight as we pursue our goal to be the unmatched leader in targeted marketing.”
Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Catalina Marketing Corporation ([http://www.catalinamarketing.com]) provides a wide range of strategic, targeted marketing solutions for consumer goods companies and retailers. The targeted marketing services of the company are provided by interrelated operating groups that strive to influence the purchasing behavior of consumers wherever and whenever they make purchase decisions. Through these operating groups, Catalina Marketing is able to reach consumers internationally and domestically — in-store, using incentives, loyalty programs, sampling and advertising messages; at home, through direct mailings; and online. Personally identifiable data that may be collected from the company’s targeted marketing programs, as well as its research programs will not be sold or given to any outside party without the express permission of the consumer.
20/20 Web Design announced that it had executed a letter of intent to merge with Newport Beach based Smart-e-Card developer BentleyTel.com Inc., a majority owned subsidiary of Global TeleMedia International.
The merger will change the development stage status of 20/20 Web Design to a fully operational multi-national corporation with fully operating subsidiaries in Australia, Philippines and Malaysia. The Company will also change its name to BentleyTel.com. In Australia, BentleyTel has the first VoIP/VPN/ISP and ITSP national frame relay network with POP’s (switches) in every capital city, offering Internet, Virtual Private Networks and Internet Telephony through its private network. BentleyTel is also a consortium partner with Cable & Wireless-Optus, Compaq, NEC and Nielsen in a 5-year $100 million contract to host the Australian Northern Territory Government Internet platform, offering ITSP, ISP and technical support. The contract, which has commenced on December 1st 2000, is generating revenues of approximately $1 million per year and plans to increase as more services come on line.
BentleyTel.com ([http://www.bentleytel.com]) is also the developer and distributor of the Smart-e-Card, Global Connexion Card ([http://www.smart-e-card.net]). These cards have advanced financial platform capabilities and operate as a stored value card/ATM/real-time International e-funds transfer/global unified messaging and information retrieval card. The BentleyTel-AcSys Card also carries the face recognition HNeT security technology which is patented in 20 countries. BentleyTel Australia also has a 3-year agreement with Ericsson to develop advanced billing and other advanced software. Under the agreement BentleyTel will have co-ownership of the software and products developed with Ericsson.
BentleyTel Philippines operates GSM wireless TeleCenters in the Philippines and is the only or dominant telephony provider to towns with a combined population of almost 2 million people. In Malaysia, BentleyTel offers Advanced IT training and computer sales.
BentleyTel.com has Smart-e-Card and Smart-e-Cash machine national sales and distribution agreements with Nico Communications, Universal Express Inc. and AcSys Biometrics USA.
The proposed merger, of course, is subject to reciprocal due diligence, applicable corporate approvals and the successful negotiation and execution of a definitive merger agreement.
Sears Canada yesterday announced a new partnership with Pharmasave, Canada’s fastest growing independent retail drugstore chain. Now, Sears Cardholders can use their card for their health and beauty essentials while earning valuable Sears Club points.
“At Sears Canada, we are constantly seeking new alliances to benefit our customers and better address their daily needs,” announced Ray Bird, Senior Vice-President, Credit, Sears Canada. “This exciting new partnership offers increased value and convenience for our more than 9.1 million Cardholders, and gives Pharmasave customers another payment option for their prescriptions and other health and beauty purchases.”
“Pharmasave is deeply committed to the communities it serves,” said Brad Bond, CEO, Pharmasave Drugs (National) Ltd. “We are proud to have forged an alliance with Sears, a company that shares our philosophy of community stewardship and we welcome Sears Cardholders.”
Sears Cardholders will earn one Sears Club point for almost every dollar they spend on their Sears Card at Pharmasave locations across Canada. Sears Club members can redeem their points and use them toward products offered through all Sears stores and catalogues and Sears services including travel. They can even donate their points to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
The Sears Card is the number one credit card in Canada with more card- carrying customers than any other single retail, bank or specialty card issuer in the country. More than 80 per cent of Canadian households are Sears Club members.
Since its inception in 1986, Sears Club has rapidly expanded its range of earning opportunities and rewards through alliances with Bell World, Ticketmaster Canada Ltd., Sympatico, Shell Canada, Choice Hotels Canada, AMJ Campbell Van Lines, and All-Purpose Realty, Roots and IBM.
Sears is a multi-channel retailer with a network that encompasses 118 Sears department stores, seven urban Eatons department stores and 33 furniture and appliances stores. The Company publishes Canada’s only general merchandise catalogue and has over 2,000 catalogue selling locations. Additionally, Sears has 128 dealer stores, 15 outlet stores, 34 floor covering centres, 66 auto centres and 107 Sears Travel branches and offers shopping online at [www.sears.ca and www.eatons.com].
Pharmasave Drugs (National) Ltd. was started in 1981 when a visionary group of pharmacists formed a new association with a dream of independence under a strong new banner. Now celebrating 20 years of growth Pharmasave has approximately 290 drug stores in Canada – a vibrant independent family that stretches proudly from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. Pharmasave is a member- governed organization.
The purveyors of a well-organized scheme designed to defraud consumers through the sale of credit card protection insurance and debt consolidation programs were nailed yesterday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Federal Trade Commission. A TRO and an asset freeze were placed against Mark E. Wilson, the sole owner of all eight corporate entities used in the alleged fraud. The FTC contends that the defendants, when marketing credit card protection services, misrepresented their identity to imply an affiliation with consumers’ credit card issuers and used scare tactics to market their programs, telling consumers that their credit card numbers were accessible to criminals via the Internet, and that unless they purchased protection services, they could be held liable for unauthorized charges if thieves gained access to this information. The defendants typically charged $299 for their protection services. When marketing debt consolidation services, the defendants allegedly told consumers that for $397 they would obtain a low-interest loan that could be used to consolidate their credit card debt. In reality, all consumers received was a list of banks offering low-interest credit card loans.The eight corporations used for the alleged fraud included three Canadian based entities: OPCO International Agencies, Inc., Fraud Watch Services, Inc.; and Central Corporate Services. The other five entities were based in Nevada and include: American Fraud Watch Services, Inc.; Customer Services International Nevada, Inc.; Debt Services International, Inc; and Global Horizons, Inc.
MasterCard International launched a program that offers a web-based ratings system to foster trust between buyers and sellers in e-marketplaces and corporate exchanges. Through ‘Buyer Insight’, a co-developed solution from Open Ratings and Dun & Bradstreet, the ‘MasterSource’ program helps businesses using any MasterCard ‘Corporate Payment Solution’ to make informed e-procurement decisions. The program also provides access to detailed business and financial information about suppliers within a participating exchange network. For MasterCard ‘Corporate Payment Solutions’ cardholders, the fee to access this new program is waived.
The bank of the future may carry milk, bread, and coffee as well as cash checks and issue payment cards. The world’s largest convenience store chain is introducing a web-enabled, integrated financial services kiosk that merges the capabilities of an ATM with the benefits of the Internet. Initially, 7-Eleven’s ‘V.com’ project will provide conventional ATM services as well as money orders, money transfers and check cashing. In the future, 7-Eleven anticipates that customers will be able to have touch-screen access to services such as bill payment, deposit capability, event ticketing, travel directions and road maps. ‘V.com’ has been designed to allow customers online shopping and fulfillment options using 7-Eleven’s daily distribution infrastructure. Yesterday, 7-Eleven signed a seven-year exclusive agreement with Western Union Financial Services and Integrated Payment Systems for money transfer and money order services. Under the agreements, 7-Eleven will begin offering Western Union ‘Money Transfer’ services through its ‘V.com’ units and continue to sell Western Union ‘Money Order’ services. Additionally, Western Union will rollout their ATM-based money transfer service to ATMs in 7-Eleven stores across the country. Late last year, American Express signed a pact with 7-Eleven to offer a reloadable, prepaid gift card and an Internet shopping card. (CF Library 2/6/01)
Spectrum EBP, a bank-owned payment system utility that routes electronic bills and payments between billers and consumers, Tuesday announced the addition of two key professionals to its senior management team including Spectrum Chief Technology Officer, Timothy W. Barnett, formerly CTO and CIO at NOVA Information Systems, and Spectrum Director of Operations, Bobbie P. Dozier, formerly Senior Vice President and the Internal Consultant for Electronic Banking at AmSouth Bank.
“As we continue to grow, it’s imperative that we put the best, most qualified management team in place. With Tim and Bobbie’s extensive financial backgrounds and prior management experience, both will be valuable assets to proving our company’s continued success,” said John M. Perry, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Spectrum EBP. “We are pleased that they have joined Spectrum and look forward to working toward future growth opportunities.”
As chief technology officer, Tim Barnett brings a wealth of transaction processing experience to Spectrum. Prior to Spectrum, Barnett served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer at NOVA Information Systems, the third-largest transaction processing company in the nation. Barnett spearheaded NOVA’s product development and transaction network–building real-time, scalable, highly-available transactional systems and software. Prior to that, he spent nine years with the National Security Agency, in Maryland, Germany and England, and three years with The MITRE Corporation, a federally funded R&D company.
As director of operations, Bobbie Dozier brings more than 30 years of bank operations experience to Spectrum. Prior to joining the company, Dozier served five years in consumer lending operations at SunTrust Bank and four years in Retail Banking at Bank of America and Frost Bank. When ATM machines were in their infancy, Dozier moved into the operations at Bank of America, and managed electronic banking for the state of Tennessee for fourteen years. She was an early member of the Cirrus Operations Committee, where she served as chairman of the Rules and Steering Committees for eight years and vice chairman of the Operations Committee for eight years. Dozier also served as a member of the MasterCard Global Debit Committee for seven years. Dozier gained Merchant Processing experience as Vice President of Product Development at Concord EFS for two years. Before coming to Spectrum, Dozier was a Senior Vice President and the Internal Consultant for Electronic Banking at AmSouth Bank for seven years, where she assisted on Internet Banking and Bill Payment Systems development.
LabMorgan, the e-finance unit of JP MorganChase, First Union and Wells Fargo formed Spectrum in 1999 to fill a significant gap in the electronic bill presentment market. Spectrum functions like a hub, allowing participants to route electronic bills through a single connection to other participants. By bringing together a critical mass of consumers and billers, as well as promoting interoperable standards, Spectrum plans to accelerate the adoption of electronic bill presentment and fuel market growth.
Spectrum is an independent company fully owned by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM)([www.jpmorganchase.com].), First Union Corporation (NYSE: FTU) and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC). Formed to facilitate the exchange of electronic bills and payments, Spectrum’s mission is to provide a secure, open and interoperable infrastructure to electronically link consumer and biller service providers. Additionally, Spectrum seeks to provide value to its participants by providing superior service and reducing overall bill presentment and payment costs. Spectrum does not host any bills directly, nor does it retain any bill details. Including the three founders, 24 financial institutions currently belong to the Spectrum network or have signed letters of intent to participate in the network. More information on Spectrum can be found at [www.spectrumebp.com].
With the recent reductions in general interest rates, several of the nation’s top issuers have renewed solicitations for bank credit cards with 0% intro APRs and no-annual-fee. This week Capital One and Citibank unleashed cut-throat “zero-zero” offers. Capital One is now offering a 0% intro APR and no-fee on its ‘VISA Business Platinum’ card. According to CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com), the 0% APR runs through the August billing cycle and is followed by a fixed 9.9% interest rate on Cap One’s ‘Platinum I’ business card. ‘Platinum II’ business cards carry a fixed 15.9% APR while the regular Cap One ‘VISA Business’ card carries a fixed 19.8% APR with $29 annual fee. Meanwhile Citibank has mail dropped offers this week for a ‘Mellon Platinum MasterCard’ featuring a six-month 0% APR on purchases and no-annual-fee, according to CardWatch. Citi is charging a go-to interest rate of prime +5.99% for ‘Platinum’ accounts and prime +7.99% for ‘Standard’ accounts. The 0% APRs offered by Cap One and Citi apply only to new purchases. For balance transfers Cap One offers a rate as low as 9.9% while Citi is offering a six-month fixed 8.99% rate. In early February Discover also launched a “zero-zero” offer with the introduction of its new ‘Discover Gold Card’. (CF Library 1/23/01)
The smart card age began in earnest for Total System Services, Inc. when the company began issuing Visa Smart Debit/Credit cards for Providian Bank of San Francisco, one of the first U.S. financial institutions to issue smart cards.
TSYS worked closely with Datacard Group for the past several months to prepare for the program. Smart card experts from thE two companies collaborated to implement a robust, reliable and highly secure smart card issuance infrastructure.
! Both Providian and TSYS quickly deemed the smart card issuance process a success. One of the keys to that success is a new smart card scripting process, defined by GlobalPlatform, which greatly simplifies the smart card personalization process.
“Smart card issuance is far more complex than simple magstripe card issuance, with formidable security and data handling considerations,” said Richard Cogar, director of smart card services for TSYS. “But the card personalization solution Datacard provided made the process fast and easy.”
The smart card architecture includes Datacard’s Smart Card Personalization Manager (SCPM), an integrated Personalization Preparation Process (P3) from Zaxus, and card personalization systems equipped with secure, high-speed smart card modules. The most critical element of the new infrastructure is the Datacard(R) Personalization Solution for Open Platform cards–a scripting process used for smart card personalization and data generation.
The Datacard solution is based on standards for Open Platform cards established by GlobalPlatform, an association comprised of executives and technical experts from cross-industry smart card organizations of which Visa, Datacard and TSYS are all members.
Prior to Datacard’s implementation of GlobalPlatform’s Card Configurator and Script Builder process, smart card issuers were required to create unique technology dependent solutions for each smart card and application portfolio personalized. For service bureaus and card issuers, this created a significant obstacle in terms of cost and production time.
“We’re thrilled that TSYS’ efforts were productive, secure and successful right out of the gate, because this is the first commercial implementation of GlobalPlatform Card Configurator and Script Builder Process,” said Bob Beer, vice president of Datacard’s smart card solutions group. “We’ve seen excellent results in other beta tests, and we were expecting great things from the TSYS installation, but we’re still tremendously excited to see the solution perform so well.”
“The time and cost savings we get from this generic personalization process makes smart card issuance a profitable business proposition for us and our clients,” Cogar said. “Our clients expect us to get cards to market quickly, affordably and securely, and this solution enables us to meet those expectations.”
“Smart cards hold tremendous promise for consumers, card issuers and application providers. They offer a new world of power, flexibility and security,” said Steve Brown, chairman of GlobalPlatform’s board. “I believe we’ll see rapid, worldwide adoption of smart cards as companies such as Datacard, TSYS, and Providian continue to rally around consistent, global standards.”
Bill Buchanan, senior vice president of Providian Financial sees similar opportunity. “We’re delighted with the success of the program and the efforts of both TSYS and Datacard,” Buchanan said. “Providian is committed to delivering products that offer great value and superior functionality, and smart cards will be a central part of that strategy.”
The Datacard solution offers a flexible, modular design that will allow TSYS to quickly expand its smart card capabilities, according to Cogar.
“Datacard has removed time and cost from the smart card issuance process,” Cogar said. “This solution and the experience of launching a successful smart card program positions us to help more of our clients implement their smart card strategies. It’s an exciting time for us.”
Datacard Group is a world leader in innovative plastic card personalization and identity management solutions. The company provides its customers with integrated systems for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. A diverse solutions portfolio features a broad range of card-related products and services, including the world’s best-selling card personalization and printing systems. Datacard Group also offers smart card life cycle management software, smart card personalization systems and applications, custom solution development and products designed to enhance card issuing operations. Datacard Corporation, doing business as Datacard Group, is privately held and based in Minnetonka, Minn. Datacard Group serves customers in more than 120 countries. ([www.datacard.com])
TSYS provides global commerce solutions. With more than 195 million accounts on file, TSYS facilitates the payment exchange between buyers and sellers. TSYS and its family of companies offer a full range of acquiring and issuing business services from accepting electronic payments for goods and services to credit applications and collections for credit, debit, commercial, stored value, retail and chip accounts. TSYS has offices in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada and Japan, and processes in 21 countries and 11 currencies. Based in Columbus, Ga., TSYS (NYSE: “TSS”) ([www.totalsystem.com]) is an 80.8 percent-owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE: “SNV”) ([www.synovus.com]), No. 8 on FORTUNE magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies To Work For” in 2001. For more information, contact [email protected]
PNC Bank and BillingZone, LLC Tuesday announced the addition of The Procter & Gamble Distributing Company (P&G) as a new customer on the BillingZone business-to-business electronic bill presentment and payment service. Through BillingZone, P&G will now offer online presentment of its invoices using the Internet, while at the same time offering its customers electronic payment ability.
Ranked 23 among Fortune 500 companies, P&G contracted with PNC Bank, piloting first in the United States and potentially expanding to other P&G markets after completing a successful pilot.
BillingZone, a joint venture formed by PNC Bank and Perot Systems Corporation, was launched in March 2000. Its business-to-business electronic bill presentment and payment services are marketed to PNC’s business customers as well as to customers of other banks.
“PNC Bank and BillingZone are a winning combination steeped in experience with and an understanding of the complexities of business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce,” said Craig Brinkman, global accounts receivables manager of P&G. “This offering is aligned with P&G’s goal of providing additional solutions to our customers leveraging the power of the web. We believe we can reduce our cost-per-invoice, improve cash flow and enhance customer satisfaction via online tracking of inquiries and disputes. P&G customers will also benefit from the ability to schedule payments, automate the dispute process and better manage cash flow.”
“Electronic bill presentment and payment is designed to achieve the same benefits as EDI (electronic data interchange), sharing electronic data and information between companies while limiting up-front investments and infrastructure costs,” said Francine Miltenberger, executive vice president and division executive, PNC Bank Treasury Management. “Even customers with no e-commerce experience can now benefit from efficiencies gained through offerings such as EBPP.”
BillingZone is the only B2B EBPP consolidator model, providing payers the ability to view and to pay bills from multiple billers through one online site. Through the BillingZone service, businesses can issue invoices and receive payments as well as track the status of these transactions from multiple vendors or customers that are also BillingZone participants.
PNC Bank is one of the top ten Treasury Management providers nationwide and has a long history with P&G that dates back at least six decades and includes a wide range of receivables and payables services.
“Corporations such as P&G are searching for new opportunities to improve operating efficiencies, to transform critical receivables processes and to enhance customer service,” said Miltenberger. “To meet the needs of our customers, we committed the past 12 months and more than $50 million to pioneer several advanced receivables solutions. One of these efforts was our investment in BillingZone and its EBPP solution.”
“BillingZone is delighted that such a global, prominent company as P&G has selected us as its solution for B2B EBPP,” said Eric Smith, chief executive officer of BillingZone. “Given Procter & Gamble’s reputation for focusing on its customers, we believe that this relationship will significantly accelerate the adoption of B2B EBPP by business payers. In addition, we are excited to see the momentum building with our bank channel partners as they bring their customer base to BillingZone.”
About PNC Bank Treasury Management
PNC Bank Treasury Management is a business unit of PNC Bank, which is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. PNC Bank is one of the top ten treasury management providers in the nation, maintaining its position as an industry leader with a diverse mix of advanced products and services. PNC Bank Treasury Management helps companies manage their finances by integrating their receivables, payables, investment and information reporting activities into one streamlined system.
Over the past year, PNC Bank Treasury Management has introduced several industry-leading innovations. These include: A/R Advantage, state-of-the art receivables imaging technology; Internet Service Center, an expanding portal to online customer service and treasury management services; Digital Community Settlement Service, an online payment and settlement solution that supports the B2B e-commerce community; and BillingZone, a joint venture between PNC Bank and Perot Systems Corporation that offers a business-to-business electronic bill presentment and payment service, providing businesses with a consolidator model for presenting and paying invoices on the Internet. For more information, visit PNC Bank Treasury Management on the Web at [http://www.treasury.pncbank.com].
About The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing regional banking, corporate banking, real estate finance, asset-based lending, wealth management, asset management and global fund services.
About BillingZone, LLC
BillingZone, LLC offers a business-to-business electronic bill presentment and payment service that provides businesses a consolidator model for presenting and paying invoices on the Internet. The service is expressly designed to meet the needs of corporate billers and payers and provides to payers the convenience of paying multiple bills from participating billers at one site. BillingZone helps companies streamline the complexity of invoicing and payment processes, realize significant cost savings by eliminating paper and manual processes, and speed up the communication between companies and their customers. BillingZone, LLC is a joint venture of two industry leaders, PNC Bank, N.A., a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), and Perot Systems Corporation (NYSE: PER). For more information, contact BillingZone, LLC at 412-705-3000 or via e-mail at [email protected] Additional information is available on the company’s web site at [http://www.billingzone.com].
BillingZone, BillingZone.com and the BillingZone logo are trademarks of BillingZone, LLC.
About Procter & Gamble
Established in 1837, Procter & Gamble markets approximately 300 brands to nearly five billion consumers in over 140 countries. These brands include Tide(R), Ariel(R), Crest(R), Pantene Pro-V(R), Always(R), Whisper(R), Pringles(R), Pampers(R), Olay(R), Iams(R) and Vicks(R). Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, P&G has on-the-ground operations in over 70 countries and employs more than 110,000 people worldwide.
Acquirer Merchant Services, Inc., has awarded Hypercom with a contract valued at more than $6.8 million. Under the terms of Tuesday’s deal, Merchant Services will provide Hypercom’s card payment terminals and peripherals to 60,000 merchants in the retail, hospitality and emerging market sectors. The roll out is expected to be completed within the next 12 months. In conjunction with this roll out, Merchant Services will deploy Hypercom’s ‘ePic ICE’ family of touch-screen card payment terminals. The deployment of screen-based ‘ICE’ terminals is the first phase in embracing Hypercom’s ‘ePOS-infocommerce’ framework, a point-of-sale payment and Internet delivery platform.