ACE Cash Express announced today it has signed a new wire transfer agreement with Travelers Express Company. The agreement will replace ACE’s current contract that expires Dec. 31, 2000. Under the new seven-year deal, ACE will exclusively offer Travelers Express’ ‘MoneyGram’ wire transfer services and Travelers Express will pay a $12,500,000 incentive to ACE over the seven-year term of the contract. In fiscal 1999, ACE sold over 14 million money orders with a face amount of over $1.9 billion. ACE currently has a network of 1,041 stores, consisting of 885 company-owned stores and 156 franchised stores in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
VISA U.S.A. announced PartnerAdvantage, a new program created exclusively for Visa Business cardholders.
PartnerAdvantage brings even greater buying power and value to its over four million Visa Business cardholders through alliances with top companies in industries that small businesses count on to succeed, such as computers, mailing and direct marketing services, business insurance, payroll services, automobile services and hotels. By simply using the Visa Business card, cardholders will receive ongoing benefits and savings from premier companies that provide products and services that address small business needs.
Visa has teamed up with major industry leaders from Compaq, Maintenance Warehouse; a Home Depot Company, Choice Hotels International, Pep Boys, American Automobile Association (AAA), eWausau.com; a business unit of Wausau Insurance Companies, PitneyWorks.com, a division of Pitney Bowes Inc. and Powerpay.com; a Ceridian Company, to provide Visa Business cardholders with resources and savings that give them a competitive edge in running their businesses.
“We’re excited to introduce PartnerAdvantage to current and new Visa Business cardholders and offer exclusive, ongoing advantages to small business owners and entrepreneurs,” said Michael Souza, Vice President of Small Business Products and Services, Visa U.S.A.
“Through this program, every Visa Business Cardholder now has access to special benefits and savings from the most popular and respected companies in the world simply by owning and using a Visa Business card. This program reinforces Visa’s commitment to the small business marketplace by forming strategic partnerships to better address small business needs. More importantly, this program highlights yet another reason to carry and use a Visa Business card as the preferred business tool and payment solution.”
Current cardholders and potential customers alike can learn more about the program and keep abreast of the most current Visa small business partners by visiting [www.visa.com/partneradvantage.com].
BMW Financial Services announced Monday the launch of two ‘BMW VISA’ credit cards. The new cards will be offered through the BMW Bank of North America, an Industrial Loan Corp. in the state of Utah. BMW will offer two VISA credit cards: the ‘BMW Ultimate Card’ and the ‘BMW Card’. The ‘BMW Ultimate Card’, a ‘VISA Signature’ card, awards points with every purchase that can be redeemed for rewards designed specifically for BMW drivers such as rebates on future vehicle loans or leases, additional miles on a vehicle lease, or a variety of BMW merchandise. ‘Ultimate’ cardholders receive an initial bonus of 5,000 points and then one point for each dollar charged thereafter. Cardholders can earn a maximum of 10,000 points in a single month, and no more than 100,000 points in a one year period. Unredeemed points expire after three years. The ‘Ultimate BMW/VISA Signature’ card carries a $100 annual fee and a Prime +9% APR. The ‘BMW Card’, a ‘VISA Platinum’ card, has no annual fee and a Prime +7% APR. The ‘BMW/VISA Platinum’ card does not offer the same rewards program as the ‘Ultimate’ version but does offer a points program redeemable for free BMW merchandise. BMW estimates there are 1.5 million BMW drivers in the USA. BMW Financial Services was established in 1993 and finances over half of the BMW’s sold or leased in the USA.
Credit card enhancement pioneer Steve Halmos has returned to the game with the launch of ‘SteveCredit’. Halmos will serve as chairman of the new company he co-founded with NYC-based incubator, Iron Street Labs. In 1969, Halmos co-founded SafeCard Services (now Cendant and also formerly known as Ideon and CUC International), one of the first companies to offer high-margin, credit card enhancement services. He also currently heads The Reunion Group, a credit card services membership firm co-founded with former SafeCard executives. For $19 per year, ‘SteveCredit’ allows a card issuers’ customers to register all of their credit, debit, retail store, ATM, gas and travel cards on the ‘SteveCredit’ Web site for protection services, then enables cardholders to manage all their cards remotely through the Internet, Web-enabled wireless devices, and via telephone. ‘SteveCredit’ also offers optional services such as an online credit report alert service. For an additional fee consumers get a full annual review of their credit history to check credit status and review all credit notations including their payment history and all third-party credit inquiries. Credit alerts notify customers about any inquiries made and any negative information appearing on their credit report. Card issuers in turn receive up to 20% of the fee revenue paid by consumers, amounting to $10 – $25 per active account. Halmos was involved in a series of lawsuits with SafeCard after his departure as chairman in 1990 and as a consultant in 1992. One of the lawsuits was settled in Halmos favor in June 1997 for about $70 million. In June 1998 Halmos teamed up with American Express to develop cardholder products. In Aug 1998 Halmos sold a significant portion of The Reunion Group’s assets to dining card pioneer, Transmedia Network. (See CF Library 6/19/97; 6/3/98; 8/7/98)
LML Payment Systems Inc. announced the acquisition of Phoenix EPS, Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona. Phoenix EPS engineers and markets electronic payment system software solutions to the retail industry. Established in 1996, Phoenix EPS markets host-based software products that provide a centralized gateway for electronic payment authorization and settlement traffic between store registers, authorization networks and financial institutions. Clients include supermarkets, mulit-lane mass merchandisers and retail merchants ranging in size from $2 million to over $20 billion in sales.
A recent major accomplishment of Phoenix EPS was the successful completion of testing with VISA’s Check Electronification program. Phoenix EPS also has Licensing/Consulting Agreements with a wide range of clients, including: ABCO Markets Inc. (a subsidiary of Fleming Companies Inc.), Stater Bros. Markets, Fred Meyer Inc. (a Kroger company) and The Pep Boys – Manny, Moe and Jack.
“Frankly, we were astounded by the built-in functionality and on-line or real-time features of the REPS system,” said Corporation President and CEO, Patrick Gaines. “The marriage of Phoenix EPS services with our suite of intellectual property and vertically integrated services and companies, propels us to the next stage of development in our strategic plan. First, it will allow us to offer our integrated solutions on a single and well-proven platform and second, our product offerings can be made side by side with credit cards, debit cards, EBT cards (food stamps) and other electronic payment methods. We are very excited about this potential to offer a one-stop shop for retail electronic payments for any size retailer.”
Phoenix EPS’ flagship product, REPS (Retail Electronic Payment System), is a comprehensive and complete electronic payment system that provides transaction and routing management for check authorizations, debit cards, credit cards and EBT cards. REPS operates on IBM OS/390 mainframe architecture. This combination is one of the most advanced, reliable and serviceable hardware and software platforms available. The architecture is fully scalable to support almost any electronic payment transaction volume desired. REPS software development was a result of a retailer initiated study to locate a solution to EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) processing control problems and was engineered by retailers and information technology personnel whose combined 50 years of retail experience now forms Phoenix EPS’ unique management team.
“Designed by retailers for retailers, the processing capabilities of REPS are completely scalable, flexible and potentially unlimited. Most significantly, the retailer can maintain control of their own systems, including daily audit and central check collection functions. REPS and its real-time features behave as if the retailer was running the software from their own corporate office,” explained continuing Phoenix EPS president Robert E. Peyton. “These capabilities should give LML significant competitive advantages over other industry participants. We are thrilled to bring this important infrastructure potential to the LML group of companies,” continued Mr. Peyton. “We were searching for ways to leverage our knowledge of electronic payments in the retail environment and realize the full potential of REPS, which is why we chose to do this transaction with LML.”
“We feel we now have one of the best foundations on which to take advantage of our Patent protection regarding Electronic Check Conversion in both the brick-and-mortar world and over the Internet,” said Gaines. “I can’t stress enough the importance of this acquisition. We’re now in an entirely different league.”
LML Payment Systems is a financial payment processor specializing in providing end-to-end check processing solutions for national, regional and local retail merchants. The company’s processing services include traditional check verification and collection along with electronic processing services including Electronic Check Re-presentment (whereby returned paper checks are represented for payment electronically) and Electronic Check Conversion (whereby paper checks are converted into electronic transactions right at the point of sale). The Company’s intellectual property estate will include a recently allowed patent application regarding internet checking transactions, in addition to U.S. Patent No. 5,484,988. U.S. Patent No. 5,484,988, describes a “Checkwriting point of sale system,” which, through a centralized database and authorization system, is capable of providing and administering various electronic payment services for customers and businesses.
plaNet Consulting and Cardholder Management Services, a CardWorks subsidiary, have formed an alliance to provide bill presentment and payment to CMS client banks and their cardholders via the Internet. Under the terms of the arrangement, plaNet will provide the ability for CMS clients and their cardholders to access credit card statements and related transaction data electronically via the Internet and standard Internet browsers. plaNet will lease its ‘Intelligent Commerce’ products to CMS. The agreement calls for plaNet to develop, install and host the software at its data center in Omaha, NE, on behalf of CMS. CardWorks was formed in 1999 as a holding company to capitalize on opportunities in the non-prime credit card business and is now the largest privately held servicer of MasterCard and VISA cards, providing third-party customer service, collections, risk management and portfolio management for more than 1.5 million credit card accounts for approximately 50 financial institutions.
NCR Corporation named William (Bill) J. Amelio to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Retail and Financial Group, reporting to NCR chairman and CEO Lars Nyberg. Amelio will be responsible for driving the performance of four of NCR’s five businesses — Retail Solutions, Financial Solutions, Worldwide Customer Services and Systemedia — and will focus on strengthening the company’s leadership in store automation, automated teller machines, service delivery, and consumable and media products.
NCR’s fifth business — Teradata Solutions, the global leader in data warehouses over one Terabyte in size — will continue to be led by Mark Hurd, reporting to NCR chairman and CEO Lars Nyberg. Hurd is promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Teradata Division.
“With two very strong leaders focused on the distinct operational needs of our different businesses, we will enhance our ability to execute better and faster, and to capitalize on our strengths as a solutions provider,” said Lars Nyberg, chairman and CEO of NCR. “By grouping together those businesses with similar operational requirements, while allowing the data warehousing business to focus on its needs, we are refining our model to enhance the ability of all NCR businesses to win in the marketplace.”
To illustrate the different needs of those businesses in NCR’s Retail and Financial Group versus the Teradata Division, Nyberg added, “When ATMs were first introduced, it was a race for market leadership. We have done very well in that regard, but as the market matures the race for our Financial Solutions business changes to one of productivity efficiency and service leadership. This also is true for our Retail Solutions, Worldwide Customer Services and Systemedia businesses. However, the race for NCR in data warehousing is one of market penetration and awareness, which requires a different set of operating principles.”
Amelio joins NCR from Honeywell, where he was president and CEO of the Transportation and Power Systems Divisions with revenues of over $2 billion. Preceding this, he had responsibility for the Turbocharging Systems business at AlliedSignal, prior to its merger with Honeywell. Amelio was responsible for developing and implementing the strategy that turned this business into one of the company’s fastest growing and most profitable businesses.
His career also includes 18 years with IBM in a variety of progressively senior engineering and technical leadership roles, including responsibility for worldwide engineering and manufacturing operations for IBM’s personal computer business. Amelio holds a M.S. in management from Stanford University, and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Lehigh University. He also holds eight U.S. patents for various technology innovations.
“Bill has proven ability developing and executing new strategies that change the dynamics of a market, and will be a strong addition to NCR’s senior management team. I’m confident his business leadership, experience and personal drive will help move NCR to the next level,” said Nyberg.
Hurd joined NCR in 1980 and has held increasingly responsible management positions in professional services and marketing. Prior to assuming leadership of NCR’s data warehousing business in 1999, he was vice president of worldwide marketing and Americas region sales for the National Accounts Solutions Group, which focused on data warehousing solutions for all industries except retail and financial.
“Mark has been a leading force in driving all measures of growth in data warehousing at NCR, a business we expect to deliver revenue growth of 25 percent this year,” said Nyberg.
About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a US$6.2 billion leader in providing Relationship Technology(TM) solutions to customers worldwide in the retail, financial, communications, travel and transportation, and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include privacy-enabled Teradata(R) warehouses and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, store automation and automated teller machines (ATMs). The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and leading edge hardware technology. NCR employs 32,000 in 130 countries, and is a component stock of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. More information about NCR and its solutions may be found at [http://www.ncr.com].
“Even failing dot-coms must abide by their promise to protect the privacy rights of their customers,” said Chairman Robert Pitofsky. “The FTC seeks to ensure these promises are kept.”
That policy states that:
Personal information, voluntarily submitted by visitors to our site, such as name, address, billing information and shopping preferences, is never shared with a third party.
The policy continues:
When you register with toysmart.com, you can rest assured that your information will never be shared with a third party.
Toysmart’s creditors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, Eastern Division, on June 9, 2000; Toysmart filed its assent to the bankruptcy petition on June 23, 2000. In light of the company’s bankruptcy case, FTC staff may file a notice of appearance and a notice of pending action in the Bankruptcy Court. The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0.
Sybase and Ericsson officially announced a global partnership to develop and deliver the mobile banking solutions. Sybase plans to establish a test center in Sweden, with twenty employees, for joint development of m-business applications powered by Sybase’s ‘iAnywhere Wireless Server’ targeting Ericsson ‘Epoc’-based mobile phones. Ericsson and Sybase plan to co-develop and deliver mobile banking and trading applications based on WAP. The software developed is expected to hit the market one year from now. Both firms declined to reveal their investments in the joint venture.
Specialty jewelry retailer Zale Corp. confirmed this morning it has sold its private label credit card portfolio to Associates First Capital. Under the terms of the agreement, Associates will acquire Zale’s portfolio of approximately $620 million in credit card receivables and nearly 840,000 active accounts. The Associates will also assume responsibility for all operations, including the credit card servicing facilities in San Marcos, TX; Clearwater, FL; Tempe, AZ; and San Juan, PR. Zale and The Associates have also entered into a ten-year agreement for Zale’s ongoing credit card business. Associates Commerce Solutions will manage the private label portfolio, including customer service, billing and other functions. Zale operates 1,360 specialty retail jewelry stores throughout the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico. The deal is expected to close at the end of this month.
Greenland Corporation announced that it has signed systems development and work agreements with ACS’ Retail Solutions division to provide Greenland’s proprietary back office check cashing software and processing capabilities for over 200 ACS retail customer sites to be installed beginning later this year. Having earlier announced an ACS hardware distribution agreement with Greenland, these agreements are the next step towards providing the most economical and user friendly self-service check cashing solution available in this exciting emerging market today. Long-term, joint work contracts are currently under final negotiations and are expected to be complete by mid-July. Upon consummation of the final contracts, retail locations, hardware identification, team members and customer identifications will be announced.
In support of ACS customer initiatives, Greenland has been developing unique thin-client Java software that will connect approximately 200 check cashing stores with Greenland’s Oceanside, California support center and with ACS Retail Solutions Technical Assistance Center [A-TAC(TM)] in Dallas, Texas. Greenland will be providing its state-of-the-art communication technology and check cashing service center technology to transport and process in real time all check cashing transactions.
In addition, Greenland is providing its call center technologies to virtually duplicate the Greenland Oceanside processing center in the A-TAC facility in Dallas, Texas. Using the latest Cisco Systems intelligent routing capabilities, ACS will become Greenland’s mirror processor providing call center load balancing, help desk support services and, eventually full disaster recovery in case of business interruption at the Oceanside facility. Plus, as the number of customer transactions grow from both Greenland supplied machines and/or other check cashing services clients, Greenland will use ACS’ call center expertise and capabilities to process an increasing number of transactions through the A-TAC facility.
Dr. Louis T. Montulli, Chairman and CEO of Greenland Corporation stated, “The fact that ACS chose Greenland’s proprietary state-of-the-art technology to accomplish this major check cashing services introduction is the most important single event in the history of Greenland Corporation. The selection of Greenland acknowledges the significant accomplishments made by Greenland to bring the best that Internet technology has to offer to the emerging self-service financial transactions market. The Greenland solution has been identified as the best in the industry and we are extremely pleased to join with ACS Retail Solutions as a part of this exciting new program. We look forward to providing the best check cashing services possible to the customers using these 200-plus self-service locations.”
Mr. T. A. “Kip” Hyde, Jr., Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ACS Retail Solutions stated, “After a thorough search for the best-of-breed in self-service check cashing technology, and after two months of intense teamwork, we are exceptionally pleased to have Greenland as a check cashing services partner. By adding ACS’ core competencies in help desk and customer support to Greenland’s outstanding web-based technologies, we are creating a check cashing services provider second-to-none. We look forward to the launch of the first locations this fall and to a long and successful relationship with Greenland.”
About Greenland Corporation
Greenland Corporation is a developer and manufacturer of automated payroll check-cashing machines with full ATM functionality, phone card sales, money order dispensing and payday advance services. The Company’s automated financial services machines are being developed to provide dispensing of travelers checks, wire transfers, bill paying and electronic benefit transfers in addition to cashing payroll and government checks. The company’s common stock trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol “GLCP”. Visit Greenland Corporation on the Internet at [http://www.greenlandcorp.com].
About Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
ACS is a Fortune 1000 company providing technology solutions to commercial and government clients worldwide. The company delivers e-solutions; consulting and systems integration services; and complete technology and business process outsourcing solutions to a diverse base of clients and industries. ACS solutions are designed to promote value and enhance business performance and are delivered by more than 17,000 people in 20 countries. The company’s Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ACS”. ACS makes technology work for out clients. Visit ACS on the Internet at [http://www.acs-inc.com].
Wachovia announced this morning it soon will begin piloting interactive wireless financial services for both retail and commercial banking customers. Wachovia has teamed up with Toronto-based 724 Solutions for the test. Wachovia’s wireless retail banking service is being developed to enable customers to access real-time account information, transfer funds between accounts, pay bills and track performance of selected stocks on an array of Internet-enabled devices such as digital mobile phones, pagers and personal digital assistants. The wireless commercial banking service is being customized to enable businesses to manage time-sensitive financial activity any time from virtually anywhere. The functionality is expected to allow corporate banking customers to gain access to a wide range of treasury functions such as balance and transaction reporting, payment approvals and account notification. Wachovia expects to begin piloting the first of its retail and commercial banking wireless services in third quarter 2000 and to start rolling them out to businesses in fourth quarter 2000 and consumers by first quarter 2001.