Norwegian Cruise Lines VISA

MBNA announced that Norwegian Cruise Line has endorsed MBNA’s credit card products and services for NCL’s customers.

Issued through MBNA America Bank, N.A., the Norwegian Cruise Line VISA will be available in late fall. Customers will enjoy no annual fee, the highest credit lines in the industry, rebates of 3% on all purchases and 4% on all purchases of NCL products, and the opportunity to redeem rebates for stateroom upgrades or “good-as-cash” cruise certificate credits with all the brands in the Star Cruises Group — NCL, Orient Lines and Star.

“We selected MBNA because of their solid reputation and outstanding track record with credit card partnerships,” said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL. “We feel MBNA is the best structured credit card company to effectively handle NCL’s rewards program, which will better serve our customers. The rewards program on this card is the most comprehensive of any in the cruise industry, enabling cardholders to sail free on any of our three brands to more than 300 destinations spanning all seven continents.”

“MBNA is pleased to be partnering with NCL to offer credit card services to NCL’s customers,” said John R. Cochran, MBNA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We look forward to providing Norwegian’s customers with products and services that exceed their expectations.”

About Norwegian Cruise Line

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line is an international cruise company and industry innovator that currently operates a fleet of nine ships sailing to more than 200 ports around the world. NCL took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Sun, in August 2001. NCL is currently building two additional ships: Norwegian Star, a 2,200-passenger ship that will be NCL’s largest (delivery in October 2001), and Norwegian Dawn, a 2,200-passenger sister ship to Norwegian Star (delivery in December 2002).

About MBNA

MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $92.6 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan and insurance products.

Hooters Cards

Paymentech and Hooters of America have teamed to offer a gift card program during the upcoming holiday season. Hooters customers will be able to choose from 10 collectable cards featuring the ‘Hooters Girls’. Hooters electronic gift cards can be used at any location for all restaurant charges and will include a pre-paid amount of credit. The gift cards will be processed through the Micros interface, so Hooters can process through the same terminal used for traditional credit and debit cards. Atlanta-based Hooters of America is an operator and franchiser of over 280 Hooters locations in 41 states and twelve countries.

VISA & E*TRADE

E*Trade Bank has signed exclusive agreements with VISA U.S.A. and VISA DPS. Under terms of the deal, E*Trade will be able to issue a single card that can be used by all its customers for access to E*Trade Bank and E*Trade Securities. E*Trade says it is developing next-generation functionality in partnership with VISA DPS to create the industry’s first card that will provide customers with consolidated ATM access. Customers using selected E*Trade ATMs will have the ability to make withdrawals, request balance inquiries and transfer funds from and between E*Trade Bank and E*Trade Securities accounts. E*Trade anticipates upgrading approximately half of its ATM network with this advanced functionality in the next twelve to eighteen months.

September Sales

Same-store retail sales climbed 90 basis point for September based on check writing data. According to First Data’s TeleCheck Services, the Southeast region led the nation, followed by the Southwest, the Midwest, the West, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. The index is based on a year-over-year, same-store comparison of the dollar volume of checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 272,000 subscribing locations. Checks account for about one-third of retail spending and remain second only to cash as the most popular method of payment.

Ruling Impact

Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Barbara Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that VISA’s and MasterCard’s exclusionary rules are anti-competitive may have little effect on the industry in both the short-term and the long-term. Both VISA and MasterCard indicated yesterday that an appeal may be forthcoming which could delay any lifting of VISA’s bylaw ‘210(e)’ and MasterCard’s ‘Competitive Programs Policy’ for two or three years. Furthermore the consolidation underway in the credit card industry may accelerate further in the face of declining profitability produced by the recession and the impending “war economy”. This will limit the number of significant players that may consider issuing an American Express or Discover card to some or all of their customers. With the recent collapse of the travel industry it is even less likely banks will seek to develop travel-related card products that could include AmEx cards. The most likely scenario is that AmEx or Discover will be acquired by a bank seeking the total branding power of a closed network in addition to offering VISA or MasterCard products.

Ruling Response

Discover said yesterday it looks forward to the “additional consumer choice that will result from the elimination of all VISA and MasterCard anti-competitive rules and practices, which have been selectively applied only to Discover and American Express but not to each other or to Citibank’s ‘Diners Club'”. Melvin Schwarz, who was lead trial counsel in the antitrust case before re-joining the Dechert law firm, says the ruling is a “significant and groundbreaking decision because the court condemns the use of market power by owners of nominally not-for-profit joint venture associations to tilt the competitive playing field against their competitors, regardless of whether those competitors are corporate, for-profit ventures or those competitors have some other means of sales distribution to consumers.” Schwarz also noted that the Court’s rejection of the Government’s effort to end dual governance was now of far less competitive concern because, as Judge Jones noted, dual governance has been virtually ended as result of steps taken by the associations since the Government’s suit was filed.

UATP Signs 3 Airlines

Universal Air Travel Plan, Inc. announced the addition of three airlines as acceptors (“Ticketors”) of the UATP corporate payment system. European Air Express, Royal Tongan Airlines and Solomon Airlines have joined the UATP acceptance network, which boasts membership of over 180 other airlines worldwide.

Michael Patzer, UATP Vice President of Marketing and Industry Affairs, said, “UATP works with airlines of all sizes and geographic locations, in an effort to relay our direct, cost-saving and relationship-building corporate payment solution to airlines worldwide.”

Universal Air Travel Plan Inc., formerly known as Air Travel Card(R), is the world’s first business travel payment system. Founded in 1936, UATP was an innovator in the charge card industry, developing such standards as the magnetic strip and lodged accounts. With annual global billings over USD 8 billion, UATP is owned and operated by each card-issuing airline and accepted by virtually every airline in the world. UATP offers the most complete data and lowest administrative cost of any charge product and is the industry’s own solution to combat rising credit card costs. Multi-national corporations, including over 70 percent of the Top 100 Global, utilize UATP to better manage travel expenses. Airlines currently issuing UATP accounts include Aer Lingus, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, American Airlines (NYSE: AMR), Austrian Airlines, British Airways (NYSE: BAB), Continental (NYSE: CAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL), Japan Airlines (Nasdaq: JAPNY), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (NYSE: KLM), Lufthansa German Airlines, QANTAS, Scandinavian Airlines System, TWA Airlines, LLC, United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) and US Airways (NYSE: U). For more information, visit [uatp.com][1].

[1]: http://uatp.com

Economic Confidence

Nearly three quarters of Americans are confident that a strong economy will return next year. About 75% say they are acting on President Bush’s request to return to normal and maintain their past spending patterns, and that they view this as part of their patriotic duty. The findings come from a post-Sept 11th survey conducted by BIGresearch. With regard to the holiday shopping season, 70% of the survey respondents plan to spend about the same as last year on their holiday purchases. However, the survey did find that respondents’ recent worries about the economy and their own financial situation appear to be impacting their store choices. Roughly one-third of respondents say they have spent less money in upscale specialty stores since September 11. About one in five are shopping less at the traditional types of department stores.

MIST II CERTIFICATION

MIST Inc., a leader in
wireless transaction technology, applications and other information management
technologies, announced its MIST Freedom II wireless point-of-sale
terminal now has received certification with Paymentech.
Paymentech is a full-service provider of secure and reliable electronic payment
solutions.

The MIST Freedom II is certified on Paymentech’s point-of-sale processing
network and Paymentech Network Services. The certification will fully support
and help continue Paymentech’s goal of offering a variety of wireless POS
options to its vast merchant and client base.

“At Paymentech, we have a history of providing comprehensive services and value
to our merchants,” explains Paymentech’s George Wilcox, Group Executive Product
Management. “Certifying the MIST Freedom II POS terminal is another way we can
enhance both the quality and selection of products in the evolving wireless
transaction market.”

MIST’s Freedom II terminal is a secure, interactive, hand-held portable device
that allows users to complete debit and credit card transactions. Because MIST
Freedom II is wireless with its own built-in printer, it allows users to
maximize their roaming and sales capabilities, enhancing the appeal and overall
convenience for debit and credit card customers.

“We are very pleased that Paymentech, one of the leading payment processors,
has certified the MIST Freedom II wireless terminal,” says Cathy Kenworthy,
vice president, U.S. sales of MIST Inc. “The MIST Freedom II’s technology and
ergonomic design offers merchants speed, reliability and security along with
the ability to operate using extensive coverage. With certification from
Paymentech, MIST continues to showcase its full commitment to the American
marketplace.”

MIST Freedom II accommodates a variety of geographical locations and coverage
areas and also is compatible with MIST’s new gateway technology known as
FreedomGate(TM).

About MIST Inc.

MIST Inc., a leading global provider of wireless, transaction-enabling
technologies, designs, manufactures and distributes wireless and wired
point-of-sale solutions. The MIST “Freedom family” of wireless transaction
terminals was developed to complement its range of existing products. The MIST
FreedomGate provides gateway services with value-added options such as
messaging, time and attendance and e-commerce. With facilities in Canada, the
United States and Japan, MIST’s clients include North American and
international banks, financial institutions, credit and debit card processors,
as well as retail, hotel, restaurant, healthcare and loyalty customers. For
more information, visit www.mistwireless.com
Investors may contact
inve[email protected]

About Paymentech

Dallas-based Paymentech, the payment solutions company(TM), delivers secure and
reliable electronic payment services in merchant acquiring and point-of-sale
transaction processing. Paymentech
(www.paymentech.com) processed approximately
3.4 billion transactions and $109 billion in bankcard sales volume in 2000.
Founded in 1985, Paymentech is the nation’s premier processor and acquirer of
credit card transactions.

OPC Enters Long Island & New Orleans

Official Payments Corporation announced this week that the Towns of East Hampton and Shelter Island, New York, have signed service agreements with the company. These towns represent the company’s first clients on Long Island. These agreements will enable citizens to pay real estate tax obligations over the Internet by visiting [http://www.officialpayments.com][1], or via telephone by calling toll- free 1-800-2PAY-TAX. The programs will commence at the end of November.

The Towns of East Hampton and Shelter Island collected over $170 million in real estate taxes last year. Bills are due in East Hampton on December 1, 2001 and January 10, 2002 and are due in Shelter Island on January 10, 2002 and May 31, 2002. American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa are the cards accepted by the programs.

“We are pleased to be doing business with the Towns of East Hampton and Shelter Island. We have now established a foothold in Long Island,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments Corp. “We have experienced significant growth of local clients around the nation and think we can repeat our success with other affluent communities on Long Island,” Mr. Evans, added Official Payments has similar agreements with over 900 government entities within 49 states across the country. The company has contacts with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, and the District of Columbia to collect taxes, fees, and fines by credit card over the Internet and telephone. Official Payments charges taxpayers a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. The fee schedule can be found on the Internet at [http://www.officialpayments.com][2]. For example, a taxpayer who owed $5,000 in real estate taxes and charged their taxes would find a total of $5,133 on their credit card statement: $5,000 for the tax bill and $133 for the convenience fee. Depending on their credit card program, taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs may be eligible to earn rewards points, cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles in return for paying their taxes.

Official Payments Corporation also announced this week that the Traffic Court of New Orleans, LA has signed new service agreements with the company. The agreements will enable motorists to pay citations for moving and parking violations by visiting [www.officialpayments.com][3] or by calling 800/2PAY-TAX. The new services will be available in the beginning of November. The Traffic Court of New Orleans adjudicated more than 250,000 citations last year, with an average payment of $50. American Express(R), Discover Card(R), MasterCard(R) and Visa(R) are the cards accepted by the program. Official Payments is a leading provider of electronic payment options and has similar agreements with over 900 government entities across the country. The Company has contracts with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments and the District of Columbia to collect a variety of taxes, fees, and fines by credit card over the Internet and telephone. “The Traffic Court of New Orleans joins San Francisco, CA; Atlanta, GA; and Raleigh, NC and others in offering our ticket payment service to area citizens,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments Corp. “Processing traffic citations payments is an important part of our growing business. We have over 300 citation clients now, and the category shows strong margins and growth potential,” Mr. Evans added. Official Payments charges citizens a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. The fee schedule can be found on the Internet at [www.officialpayments.com][4]. For example, a citizen who owed a payment of $50.00 for a parking citation would find a total of $54.95 on their credit card statement: $50.00 for the tax bill and $4.95 for the convenience fee. Taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back on airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 900 county and municipal governments in 49 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state and local government payments.

Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company’s success in new client acquisition, increasing business with its existing clients and in building consumer awareness can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.

[1]: http://www.officialpayments.com/
[2]: http://www.officialpayments.com/
[3]: http://www.officialpayments.com/
[4]: http://www.officialpayments.com/

LG CARD IPO

LG Card said it is postponing its plans to list on the Korea Stock Exchange South in the wake of concerns over the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan which could lead to a war. The IPO was initially set for next week. The IPO would have been the first credit card IPO on the KSE this year. LG Card, formerly LG Capital Service Corp, has 12 million cardholders.

AAA/CarsDirect.com VISA Gift Card

AAA announced it has formed an alliance with CarsDirect.com so the auto club’s 4 million members in Northern California and Nevada can research and buy new cars through aaa.com. “Buying a new car online is gaining in popularity because people want an easy and hassle-free way to get the best price without haggling over it,” said Don Felts, AAA’s Corporate Vice President of eBusiness and Automotive Services. “We want aaa.com to be the car buying destination for our members, providing access to the best information, the best research tools, best prices and best services on the Internet,” Felts said.

AAA’s newly redesigned website offers help with virtually every aspect of owning a car, from buying and selling a vehicle to financing, insurance, gas prices, maps, trip planning and routing, tips on maintenance and how to find a good mechanic.

With CarsDirect, aaa.com visitors get research tools that help narrow the search for the right car by manufacturer, price range, and vehicle type. They also get a side-by-side comparison option to evaluate up to four styles, and a “how much can I afford” calculator to help narrow the decision further. A price guarantee ensures that CarsDirect customers get the lowest possible price when purchasing a new car or truck: If a customer finds a lower purchase price for the same vehicle identically equipped, (within three days of purchase) CarsDirect.com will refund the difference between the price paid and the lower price advertised or offered in writing by another dealer. As an added membership benefit, AAA members who purchase a car through the program will receive a $50 prepaid Visa gift card.

CarsDirect, a pioneer online car buying service based in Los Angeles, also announced today that it has signed with three other AAA clubs, gaining Net access to a combined total of 9.5 million members in Northern California, Nevada, New York, Michigan, Chicago, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Washington.