E/I-Billing

Atlanta-based Southern Company, the largest producer of electricity in the U.S., and CheckFree announced Monday an agreement whereby Southern Company will offer customers the option to receive and pay their utility bill via the Internet. As part of the CheckFree ‘E-Bill’ implementation process, Southern Company will conduct an internal testing program to allow its employees the opportunity to visit the Southern Company Web site to both view and pay bills electronically using their PCs. The service will be rolled out to Southern Company’s nearly 11 million customers in most of Georgia and Alabama, southeastern Mississippi and the Florida panhandle.

One-By-One Software

Paragren Technologies today announced the forthcoming release of version 2.5 of its One-By-One® suite of marketing software for customer-centric, one-to-one marketing. One-By-One is an integrated suite of applications designed for the tactical and strategic marketing needs of Fortune 1000 organizations in a variety of highly competitive industries such as communications, financial services, retail and energy. Scheduled for a 1Q99 release, One-By-One v.2.5 gives businesses enhanced capabilities to discover, establish and grow profitable customer relationships through optimized relationship marketing.

“Higher costs and increased competition are fueling a heightened focus on gaining better insight and the real-time intelligence that can have a dramatic impact on marketing programs,” explains Dan Lackner, Paragren’s chief operating officer. “Companies are asking for relationship marketing solutions that offer increased flexibility and power. We’ve responded to this need by providing leading-edge, high-performance tools that let users further automate the marketing process for optimal results.”

Paragren’s One-By-One suite of marketing applications empowers marketers to execute targeted customer acquisition, expansion and retention strategies. The suite comprises Data Discoverer for integrating exploration, analysis and data mining; Campaign Manager for planning and designing customer acquisition and retention programs; and Interactive Marketer for real-time, one-to-one marketing execution.

Version 2.5 provides users with more options to explore, analyze and model customer data from within the Data Discoverer module. Users will now have access to an increased number of statistical and data mining packages. Using Data Discoverer, marketers can select data from the customer data warehouse using a variety of techniques (random, every Nth, etc.), create a list and automatically load the information into the data analysis tool of choice for further exploration. With version 2.5, users can build predictive models using programs such as SAS or SPSS, and then use those models to score the database either on a scheduled basis, or dynamically in real-time. These scores can then be used for sophisticated customer analysis, as well as for creating segments for marketing campaigns designed within the Campaign Manager module.

Automatically scoring and deploying predictive models in real-time within a campaign significantly reduces the time and effort required for marketers to implement campaigns, tailor marketing efforts for specific customers, and adjust strategies to respond to changing market conditions. In addition, by scoring the database dynamically, users can use less storage space and avoid the lost processing time and inconvenience involved in accessing scores stored in the database.

One-By-One v.2.5 empowers businesses to implement enterprise-wide customer contact strategies that are consistent with the overall corporate strategy. By coordinating contact attempts for the same customer across different groups in the organization, businesses can avoid customer fatigue, prevent contradictory messages and leverage controlled, focused contacts to optimize the customer relationship and improve the bottom line.

“Consumers are being inundated with marketing messages through a variety of channels…direct mail, telemarketing, and now the Web,” continues Lackner. “Unfortunately, many of the messages perpetuate existing bad habits, like over investment in unprofitable segments. Even worse, many messages are contradictory. Enterprise-wide contact planning enables marketers to intelligently plan their investment in consumers ahead of time, and execute a stream of contacts designed to maximize overall corporate objectives.”

With version 2.5, users can set contact quotas, determine the expected benefit from each customer contact and then prioritize individual marketing campaigns based on those quotas and expected benefits. Also, One-By-One v.2.5 provides users with increased power and flexibility to plan, create and deploy automated longitudinal, or cascading, campaigns in which the next promotion depends on response to a prior promotion. Users can use decision tree logic to specify the base offer and all subsequent cascading offers. The offers can depend upon elapsed time, response or non-response to the base offer, past customer behavior/attributes as well as unexpected events. By establishing an enterprise-wide customer contact strategy and developing automated cascading campaigns to support that strategy, marketers can gain greater control over the marketing process while addressing each individual customer’s needs. Because the process is automated, marketers can run campaigns more efficiently and with minimal effort, knowing that each contact within the campaign is designed to optimize the customer relationship while respecting the individual.

One-By-One v.2.5 provides users with a visual diagram that maps a campaign’s structure. Users can create campaigns within the visual view using point-and-click and drag-and-drop technology to assemble the components, of a campaign. In addition, users can use the visual view to look at previously created campaigns. Because users can see a campaign in a diagram format, they can quickly and easily check the logical flow and structure of a marketing effort and make immediate corrections using the drag and drop features, thereby improving the campaign planning process and reducing the time and effort involved in setting up a campaign.

One-By-One v.2.5 includes new reporting capabilities that allow users easily view all campaign activity in one chart. Users can view campaigns that are scheduled to run on a yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily basis. Also, a report specifying all properties of a campaign, such as offers, segments, seed names, kick-off/close dates and waves, will be available. For more information send e-mail to [email protected], or call 888-420-4213 or 703-995-1878.

About Paragren…

Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Paragren Technologies, Inc. is the leader in Enterprise Relationship Marketing, helping businesses discover, establish and grow profitable customer relationships. By integrating innovative software, customer and market intelligence, and real world expertise, Paragren provides an optimized relationship marketing solution. The One-By-One® software suite, enhanced with professional services and unique consumer purchasing data, empowers marketers to execute complex marketing programs — quickly and easily. Paragren is a wholly owned subsidiary of APAC Customer Services. Additional information is available at [www.paragren.com.][1]

Founded in 1973 and headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois, with corporate offices located nationally and internationally, APAC Customer Services provides clients with end-to-end solutions for one-to-one success. Today with 87 customer contact centers with more than 20,000 employees, APAC is one of the largest and most technologically advanced providers of customer acquisition and customer care services. The company’s Web site address is [www.apaccustomerservices.com][2]

[1]: http://www.paragren.com
[2]: http://www.apaccustomerservices.com

Fee Frenzy

While promotional credit card pricing continues to reach historical lows, card issuers are continuing to jack-up back-end fees and pump-up punitive interest rates. Other yield tweaking includes the use of the two-cycle interest calculation method, the use of a daily periodic rate to compound interest charges, shortening of grace periods and the creation of new fees. According to the upcoming January issue of CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]), credit card fee income has grown 79% over the past two years while interest income has only increased by 9.8%. The growth in fee income is linked to higher late fees and over-limit fees. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) late payment fees have soared 58% over the past 24 months, from an average of $13.88 to $21.94. Among the top ten issuers late payment fees now average $26.10. Industry-wide, over-limit fees now average $21.02, up 53% since Nov. 96. Among the top 10 issuers, over-limit fees now average $25.70. Some issuers are imposing fees for closing an account, not using an account for at least six months and for customer service.

     FEE  INCOME                    INTEREST INCOME 
1998:  $17.9B  (+20.9%)          1998:  $57.4B   (+8.0%)
1997:  $14.8B  (+48.0%)          1997:  $53.1B   (+1.5%)
1996:  $10.0B  (+20.5%)          1996:  $52.3B  (+23.9%)
1995:  $ 8.3B  (+13.7%)          1995:  $42.2B  (+21.3%)
1994   $ 7.3B      NA            1994:  $34.8B      NA
  Source: CardTrak (www.cardtrak.com) and CardData
   (www.carddata.com) both services of CardWeb, Inc.

[1]: http://www.cardtrak.com
[2]: http://www.carddata.com

Greeting/Phone Card

Delta Three, a subsidiary of RSL Communications, Ltd. is giving Internet users a new version of the popular e-greeting card.

Delta Three is offering 12 different animated Internet holiday e-greeting cards with a free 10 minute virtual calling card attached. By clicking on a link in the greeting card, the card recipient will automatically access Delta Three’s PC-to-Phone service and will be able to talk from a PC to the regular telephone of the sender. The e-greeting cards are available at [www.deltathree.com][1].

The unique electronic greeting card, “Friendship Rings(TM)” is made possible by Delta Three’s PC-to-Phone product developed by Ericsson for Delta Three.

“Our e-greetings demonstrate just one possible use of the unique communications opportunity presented by Voice over Internet Protocol,” said Elie Wurtman, CEO of Delta Three. “By giving people an opportunity to try PC-to-Phone, they will see how easy it is to use, and how clear the voice quality is.”

The cards are also available as part of Delta Three’s marketing relationship with theglobe.com at [www.theglobe.com.][2]

Delta Three is a wholly owned subsidiary of global communications provider RSL Communications Ltd.. Established in 1996, Delta Three was the first company to launch Phone-to-Phone Internet Telephony services. Today, Delta Three operates the world’s largest global managed IP Telephony network, with 37 points of presence in 29 countries. Together with RSL COM, Delta Three offers service to customers in every country in the world. ![][3]

[1]: http://www.deltathree.com
[2]: http://www.theglobe.com
[3]: /graphic/deltathree/cards.gif

Fuelman/GasCard Expansion

ARCO and Fuelman/Gascard Network signed a marketing agreement Monday that will enable more than 20,000 of the fleet card’s customers to purchase gasoline at  more than 1,500 ARCO retail outlets in California, Arizona, Washington, Utah and Nevada. ARCO will combine the ‘Fuelman/Gascard’ product with its own recently launched fuel card program, ‘GasPRO Plus’. The company launched ‘GasPRO Plus’ last summer in the six western states in which it sells gasoline, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. ‘GasPRO Plus’ customers use their fleet cards to make a debit card-type transaction. with all accounts automatically debited monthly from the fleet operator’s designated business bank account. Customers set daily limits on the number of transactions and purchase amount, per card. ARCO said yesterday the move is driven by new state and federal underground storage tank laws, taking effect at the end of this year, that will force fleet management groups to replace or phase out their existing onsite fuel storage tanks. The company estimates West Coast fleet gasoline retail market will climb to more than 2.3 billion gallons in 1999.

Clarus E-Procurement

Clarus Corporation, formerly SQL Financials International, Inc., has been selected by The Container Store to provide electronic procurement, financial and HRMS applications for the growing retail chain.

The Container Store will use the Clarus solution to serve more than 1,500 employees at both its Dallas corporate office and at 19 stores throughout the U.S.

The Container Store plans to use Clarus(tm) E-Procurement to establish controls, automate requests and track usage of maintenance, repair and operational (MRO) supplies for its multiple locations. By leveraging the power of the Internet, Clarus E-Procurement will enable corporate users to electronically place supply orders with vendors and distribute these items to stores. Clarus E-Procurement reduces process costs and streamlines the supplier base to maximize contracted discount rates.

Store managers will use Clarus E-Procurement to electronically request specific supplies from the corporate office. For instance, managers will be able to order the correct quantities of store necessities such as The Container Store’s signature shopping totes, office supplies, forms, catalogs and even the light bulbs required to properly illuminate and merchandise the store’s array of products. With items such as light bulbs costing up to $20,000 every month, retailers recognize the significance of maintaining controls over MRO inventory.

Keath Hance, vice president of finance and information systems for The Container Store, explains, “Clarus has been successfully supporting our organization’s backoffice finance and human resource needs. Clarus will also be providing us with a comprehensive `procure-to-pay’ solution that offers purchasing control, online procurement and accounts payable for supplies that support our operations. We expect these solutions to help us gain control over inventory and realize cost and tax savings.”

“The electronic procurement system is ideal for retail because it allows each individual store manager to order only the quantities he or she needs to effectively run the operation. It will help accurately forecast and plan for purchasing requirements,” said Hance. “With this new solution, we can track each store’s history of supplies, monitor store needs and accurately manage the volume of equipment and supplies shipped to each store. Since stores are not designed to hold bulk MRO supplies, the new system will help us avoid having stockpiled inventory.”

Said Steve Hornyak, vice president of marketing at Clarus, “Clarus E-Procurement will provide a collaborative purchasing solution for The Container Store, giving both corporate managers and retail store managers an efficient solution to manage their operational supply needs. The comprehensive system provides a very intuitive user interface, direct access to corporate and supplier catalogs, and improved accounting controls.”

A residual effect of electronic procurement is the tracking of usage tax for supplies ordered by stores in different states. By using Clarus E-Procurement, The Container Store can track and take advantage of tax credits for which it may be eligible.

Using world-class applications that make efficient use of time and people resources, The Container Store continues to profit. The Container Store is a prime example of the type of value buyer that is such a good fit for the Clarus solution. The retail chain is growing at a steady pace and needs reliable software that can be implemented efficiently and will effectively complement its strategic objectives. In 1997, The Container Store’s year-end sales reached $140 million, with projections for FY98 to be $170 million.

The Clarus solution consists of financial, human resource, and corporate service applications; Graphical Architects(R) modules; the Clarus Methodology; Clarus Professional Services for customer implementation; and Clarus TotalCare services for on-going customer support. The Clarus solution is targeted for mid- to large-sized companies that need robust administrative applications with minimal resource requirements for implementation, maintenance and upgrades.

Atlanta-based Clarus Corporation [www.claruscorp.com][1], formerly SQL Financials International, Inc., is the provider of Clarus, a comprehensive suite of world-class financial and human resource backoffice solutions and Web-based corporate service applications designed specifically for mid- to large-sized companies. Founded in 1991, the company’s applications create high lifetime value by delivering sophisticated functionality while substantially reducing the time required for implementation, maintenance and upgrades. Clarus serves such customers as First Data Corporation, MasterCard International, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Investment Technology Group, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Toronto Dominion Bank, The Container Store, HD Vest, Amtrak and Chartwell Re Holdings Corp.

[1]: http://www.claruscorp.com

Gemplus Milestone

Gemplus is celebrating the delivery of its 20th million ‘MultiApplication Payment Chip Operating System’ (MPCOS) card since its introduction in 1994. The recipient of the 20th million card was the Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), Singapore’s electronic banking services and financial payments service provider owned by seven local banks.  While Asia has traditionally been the most important market for ‘MPCOS’ cards, the product range is used by more than 200 customers globally for a wide range of applications. The NETS ‘CashCard’, an e-purse smart card, currently has 1.5 million cardholders.

GE  –  FUSA

GE Capital and Bank One/First USA unveiled plans Monday to form a joint venture for private-label cards, complete a VISA/MasterCard credit card portfolio transaction and enter into a co-brand partnership. The private-label credit card joint venture will have approximately $2.6 billion in private-label credit card receivables: $1.6 billion from Bank One private-label accounts managed from Dayton, OH and $1 billion from GE private-label accounts. GE Capital will act as managing partner of the joint venture with each party owning 50%. The sale of $2.2 billion of GE Capital’s VISA/MasterCard receivables to First USA represents about half of GE’s bank credit card business. The portfolio includes mostly accounts from the ‘GE Rewards MasterCard’ and ‘Exxon MasterCard’  programs. It is estimated that First USA is paying a 10% to 11% premium for the VISA/MasterCard accounts. GE will retain its corporate card business based in Utah and continue to build its international bank credit card programs. Both companies also will enter a co-brand partnership under which for First USA will market and issue VISA and MasterCard credit cards featuring the GE brand. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of this month. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) yesterday’s transaction will solidify Bank One’s number one position among the top ten bank credit card issuers. GE Capital will drop from the nation’s 17th largest issuer to 21st.

TOP  10  SCOREBOARD  (based on current receivables)
1. Bank One/FUSA     $65.8 billion
2. Citibank:                $63.8 billion
3. MBNA                    $50.7 billion
4. Discover                 $34.3 billion
5. Chase                    $31.7 billion
6. Bank of America     $20.7 billion
7. Household          $15.9 billion
8. Fleet                    $14.9 billion
9. Capital One            $13.8 billion
10.Providian               $10.1 billion

Source: CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) data as of 12/15/98

[1]: http://www.carddata.com
[2]: http://www.carddata.com

On-Line Internet Banking

BancBoston Robertson Stephens senior electronic commerce research analyst Gary Craft has issued a research report titled “On-Line Internet Banking in the U.S.”  In this report, Craft discusses the five principal on-line banks in the U.S:  Compubank, [email protected], NextCard, Security First Network Bank and [email protected] Financial Corporation.

“In aggregate, these five banks hold $2.5 billion in assets and approximately half that amount in consumer deposits,” said Craft.  “These assets and deposits represent only a sliver of the industry’s $3 trillion, plus in assets, yet rich veins of deposits are often found below even the slightest cataract.  The point of our research and investment thesis is simple:  the modest cataract now characterizing the Internet banking industry runs very deep and when explored, should yield very high rewards.”

Craft feels that the five current Internet banks discussed in the report represent a colorful palette of corporate strategies.  “They range from traditional banking retrofitted for the Internet, to low-cost delivery/customer pass-through savings,” said Craft.  “The Internet is lowering the cost of funding for banks, and combined with the branch-less, low-cost banking platform, these banks are able to offer superior rates compared to the traditional brick and mortar bank.”

In the report, Craft also reiterates BancBoston Robertson Stephens Strong Buy rating on [email protected] (Nasdaq: TBFC).  “We believe that [email protected] is a direct play on the on-line banking and Internet phenomenon.  The company now reports that 48 percent of its customers and prospective clients interact with the bank through the Internet,” said Craft.

BancBoston Robertson Stephens is a leading international investment-banking firm focused on emerging growth companies.  The firm’s 55 senior research analysts cover over 575 companies.  The information contained herein is not a complete analysis of every material fact respecting any company, industry or security.  Although opinions and estimates expressed herein reflect the current judgment of BancBoston Robertson Stephens, the information upon which such opinions and estimates are based is not necessarily updated on a regular basis; when it is, the date of the change in estimate will be noted.  In addition, opinions and estimates are subject to change without notice.  This Report contains forward-looking statements, which involve risks and uncertainties.  Actual results may differ significantly from the results described in the forward-looking statements.  Factors that might cause such a difference include, but are not limited to, those discussed in “Investment Risks.”  BancBoston Robertson Stephens from time to time performs corporate finance or other services for some companies described herein and may occasionally possess material, nonpublic information regarding such companies.  This information is not used in the preparation of the opinions and estimates herein.  While the information contained in this Report and the opinions contained herein are based on sources believed to be reliable, BancBoston Robertson Stephens has not independently verified the facts, assumptions and estimates contained in this Report.  Accordingly, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to, and no reliance should be placed on, the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information and opinions contained in this Report.  BancBoston Robertson Stephens, its managing directors, its affiliates, and/or its employees may have an interest in the securities of the issue(s) described and may make purchases or sales while this report is in circulation.  BancBoston Robertson Stephens International Ltd. is regulated by the Securities and Futures Authority in the United Kingdom.  This publication is not meant for private customers.  The securities discussed herein are not FDIC insured, are not deposits or other obligations or guarantees of BankBoston N.A., and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of any principal amount invested.

Betting Inc. Comes Out

Betting Inc. has announced that the company has generated first revenues by acting as a gaming transaction facilitator for Goldmine Casino.

Using their credit cards and freely located terminal kiosks, consumers have opened gaming accounts with Goldmine Casino, an Internet casino ([www.goldmine.com][1]). The Betting Inc. service provides the player with a secure transaction bypass of the Internet with both credit card information and personal address information.

Betting Inc. has generated service fees for facilitating this transaction between the players who are opening gaming accounts though the usage of the publicly placed terminals, and Goldmine Casino. No actual gaming is occurring.

Betting Inc. is focused on updating its service to accept same-as-cash ATM cards with PIN for online debit by early 1999.

[1]: http://www.goldmine.com

Credit Ed

United College Marketing Services announced Friday it will donate $6 million to be spent on credit educating young adults between 18 to 24. UCMS says it hopes to reach 25 million young adults through the program. As part of its ‘Credit Education Plan for 1999’ UCMS will produce live campus credit seminars to student groups such as fraternities, sororities, resume related activities, dorm housing, and pre-professional organizations. Students will also be given a year’s supply of transaction recorders.  These recorders are made of Tyvek and slip on over a credit card.  Students record purchases and can keep track of balances so that overspending is minimized. UCMS holds the patent to the transaction recorder. UCMS says the $6 million charge will be in calendar year 1999 but split up between fiscal years 97, 98 and 99. Last year the firm had gross sales of about $14 million.