Vital Chief Resigns

Last week’s board of directors meeting for Vital Processing Services apparently ruffed up enough feathers to send its president and CEO out the door. Widely respected industry veteran Fred O. Gumbel abruptly resigned from his post Thursday. Vital, a joint venture of TSYS and VISA, released a statement Friday simply saying Gumbel left to “pursue other interests”. There were apparently differences over Vital’s future direction as the company also said Friday it “will move quickly to fill the position with an executive committed to Vital’s strategic vision”. The Vital board appointed TSYS president Philip Tomlinson to act as interim president and CEO.

Sig & PIN Debit

VISA made it official yesterday that it plans to introduce a new ‘VISA Check Card’ this fall that will offer both on-line and off-line capabilities. The new, dual function product will be optional for ‘VISA Check Card’ issuers. VISA says the card will carry a new merchant rate for PIN-based or on-line transactions that is lower than the current off-line or signature-based ‘VISA Check Card’ merchant transaction rate. The upgraded card, to be available October 1, was created in response to the growing number of PIN pad terminals for debit POS at certain types of merchant locations. VISA estimated there are now 1.3 million such terminals in the U.S. with new installations growing 70% annually. VISA insists the new on-line option is superior to competing on-line POS systems because of VISA’s extensive package of consumer protections, including VISA’s $0 liability policy for unauthorized transactions.

Vital Honored

Vital Processing Services was honored with the Commitment to Caring Award by the Valley of the Sun United Way and the Gold Award by the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, Georgia.

Vital was one of three organizations honored with the Commitment to Caring Award at a recent Valley of the Sun United Way Awards Ceremony held at the world-renown Phoenician Resort. The Awards Ceremony is an annual event held to recognize organizations that significantly contributed to the yearly campaign. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to fund one of 300 charities or programs in the metro-Phoenix community.

This year, the Valley of the Sun United Way raised a record-breaking $35 million, a 16 percent increase from 1996.  These results catapulted the Valley of the Sun chapter to one of the top five United Ways in the country. Vital was key to that success, contributing an increase of 216 percent over its 1996 campaign.

One of Vital’s more popular fundraisers is an annual Golf Tournament where its clients, local celebrities and athletes, friends, employees and their families teed off to raise more than $14,000 this year.  In addition, Vital’s employee donations grew 444 percent over its 1996 campaign.

“Vital has always been a responsible and active corporate citizen, and the United Way is a perfect example of our commitment.  We are proud to receive the United Way’s prestigious awards.  Our employees look forward to making an even greater contribution to the Phoenix and Columbus communities next year,” said Fred Gumbel, president and CEO of Vital.

For Vital’s contribution to this year’s campaign in Columbus, Dick Hagan, vice president and campaign director for the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley, presented Fred Gumbel with one of the United Way’s highest awards, the Gold Award, at a recent Vital employee forum.  Vital increased its contribution by 473 percent over last year.

Out of 250 companies, Vital was one of 34 companies to achieve the Gold Award.  The criteria for the receiving the Gold Award is that a company has more than 60 percent employee participation, more than 10 percent increase in employee per capita giving, a minimum of $100. donation per employee with one or more employees making a $1,000. or more donation.

The United Way of America, the national office, is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.  There are approximately 2,000 community-based United Way organizations.  Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers.  The system began in 1887 in Denver and was once known as “Community Chest.”

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company.  Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers.  Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business.  Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service.  Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(TSYS(R)) ([http://www.totalsystem.com][1]).  Vital’s Internet address is [http://www.vitalps.com][2].

[1]: http://www.totalsystem.com/
[2]: http://www.vitalps.com/

First Citizens – Vital Sign

Vital Processing Services (Vital), a leading, full-service merchant services provider, announced the signing of a long-term merchant processing agreement with Raleigh, N.C.-based First Citizens Bank.

First Citizens will consolidate all of its acquiring activities with Vital, utilizing Vital’s entire product line including merchant point-of-sale (POS) products and portfolio management services.

A long-term user of Vital’s authorization and capture services, First Citizens currently has 75 percent of its merchant POS business with Vital. Approximately 8,000 merchant accounts also will be converted to Vital’s clearing and settlement merchant processing system by October, 1998.

“First Citizens’ decision to consolidate our acquiring business with one processor signifies our confidence in Vital as a lasting entity in the merchant processing marketplace. We selected Vital because of its keen understanding of our needs and because it is 100 percent behind our strategic direction,” said Wayne Duncan, executive vice president of retail lending at First Citizens Bank.

“The trend towards single-source processing relationships continues. We are delighted First Citizens chose us to be its merchant processing solution,” said Fred Gumbel, CEO and president of Vital.

With more than $9 billion in assets, Raleigh, N.C.-based First Citizens Bank operates 335 branches serving nearly 200 towns and cities in North Carolina and Virginia. First Citizens offers a complete line of financial services to individuals, families, and small to mid-sized businesses. Products and services offered include mortgage, personal and commercial loans, commercial leases, trust and investor services, savings accounts and checking accounts. The bank was founded in 1898 in Smithfield, N.C. Its World Wide Web page is located at .

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company. Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business. Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (NYSE: TSS) (TSYS(R)) (). Vital’s Internet address is .

GPS Signs Frst Chicago

Global Payment Systems announced Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to provide a wide variety of end-to-end payment solutions for First Chicago NBD Corp.  Under the terms of the agreement, Global will provide a range of services, including credit and debit card processing as well as check authorization.  Additionally, Global will provide the bank with merchant accounting, charge back and retrieval processing, and point-of-sale terminal deployment services.  These services will allow First Chicago NBD to offer its clients unique products, services and reporting in virtually every market.

DAMARK Proc Deal

Paymentech, the largest processor of credit card payments for direct marketers, announced the implementation of an electronic payment program for DAMARK International, Inc. DAMARK is a major integrated relationship marketer providing consumers with a wide range of tailored programs, products and services through direct mail and telemarketing channels.

In addition to credit card processing, DAMARK utilizes Paymentech’s electronic check processing (ECP) verification services and receives all merchant reporting via the processor’s recently launched E-mail reporting service. With Paymentech’s “Email Reporting,” DAMARK simply opens E-mail to retrieve merchant reports that arrive every morning. The service, requiring only standard E-mail and PGP encryption software, replaces mailed or faxed reports.

“Paymentech’s direct response unit delivers strong customer service and outstanding product offerings,” said Mark A. Cohn, DAMARK’s president. “No other processor has developed such a robust menu of products geared to the special payment needs of direct response marketers.”

Paymentech, the nation’s third largest electronic payment solutions provider, expects to process over seven million credit card transactions annually for approximately $500 million in sales volume for DAMARK.

According to Kim H. Plahn, vice president of finance for DAMARK, the company also benefits from Paymentech’s specialized chargeback and retrieval program. “This enables DAMARK to focus on customer operations while allowing Paymentech to manage chargeback issues and retrieval requests related to credit card purchases. Paymentech does the work for us and then provides the information we need to proactively resolve a consumer’s issue,” said Plahn.

Paymentech’s automated chargeback management system shields the merchant from this administrative burden. A dedicated chargeback specialist develops a customized solution for direct merchants and manages compliance and arbitration of chargebacks on the merchant’s behalf. Paymentech fulfills all retrieval requests within 24 hours of receipt, maintains an on-line order history database, and fully protects the merchant’s chargeback rights. In 1997 Paymentech customers enjoyed an overall chargeback rate lower than the industry average.

DAMARK International, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, is an integrated relationship marketer providing consumers with a range of tailored programs, products and services through direct mail and telemarketing channels. DAMARK offers a variety of membership clubs which provide members with discounts on numerous lifestyle and convenience products. Almost 1.4 million consumers belonged to a DAMARK-managed membership program at the start of 1998. Brand-name, value-priced merchandise is also sold through catalogs in six broad categories: computers, home office, consumer electronics, home decor, home improvements and sports/fitness.

Paymentech , founded in 1985, is the leading provider of full-service electronic payment solutions to the direct response industry. Paymentech () is the third largest processor of bankcard transactions and a leading issuer of commercial cards in the United States.

ECHOLink

Electronic Clearing House Inc. introduced ‘ECHOLink’ service Friday, a secure Internet-based transaction and statement presentment service that enables ECHO’s base of merchants to use the power of the Internet to not only review and download their daily credit card transactions from ECHO, but also to easily access historical information based on a date or a particular customer. The ‘ECHOLink’ program allows unlimited retrieval of detailed transaction data for a set monthly access fee that is based upon the size of the merchant transaction file.

Vital Record

Vital Processing Services announced it has installed the 5,000th merchant POS-partner PC system.  Power of ease is exactly what this desktop payment system provides to its end-users, merchants who have the power to manage their payments business with tremendous flexibility because POS-partner is Windows-based.

POS-partner easily accommodates the unique industry requirements of merchants across the United States, and was designed with retailers, restaurateurs, hotels, direct marketers and billers in mind.  Vital launched POS-partner in June of 1996, and the current software demand is approximately 500-600 merchant systems per month.  Currently, Vital has a total of 139 financial institutions utilizing POS-partner, including U.S. Bancorp and Harris Bank.

Supporting credit and ATM cards, POS-partner is tailored for mid-sized to higher-end merchants.  This software system operates on a personal computer, as a stand-alone authorization and settlement unit, in a local area network (LAN) of PCs, or with dial terminals linked throughout the merchant’s property (HUB).  It has the power to support every type of card payment transaction, including full point-of-sale, for Visa(R), MasterCard(R), Discover(R)/ NOVUS(sm), Diners Club(R), American Express(R), JCB(R) and private-label transactions.  In addition to taking advantage of standard dial technologies at speeds of up to 9600bps, POS-partner can take advantage of newer technologies such as ISDN and asynchronous lease lines.

“We are excited POS-partner is in such high demand among merchants and is bringing efficiencies to our financial institutions and their merchants,” said Fred Gumbel, president and CEO of Vital.  “Tailored for retailers, restaurants, hotels, direct marketers and billers, POS-partner has proven to provide outstanding service, control and flexibility to all merchants.  This product reinforces our position in the marketplace of understanding merchants’ most pressing business challenges and proactively providing the innovative technology solution.”

Linda DeLude, product manager at U.S. Bancorp said, “POS-partner offers us the first all-in-one, windows-based product for our merchants, and the fact it can be used as a stand alone PC as well as in a HUB or LAN environment creates a huge advantage over other systems available to us.  Merchants like the ease of installation and the flexibility POS-partner provides, including the dedicated POS-partner help desk access.  Equally as important is the comfort level merchants have knowing that Vital and U.S. Bancorp will update them with any future regulatory changes.”

Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, one of the preferred hotels in the world, was involved in Vital’s POS-partner pilot program, and has been using POS-partner since 1995.  Windsor Court Hotel is a merchant of Harris Bank, one of Vital’s largest clients and distributors of POS-partner.

“POS-partner has had a major impact on streamlining our payment operations.  It provides superior speed and accuracy for the transmission of our data.  We were literally a day behind with our old system,” said Alledia Tubbs, assistant comptroller for Windsor Court Hotel.  “Integrating and automating our systems by linking them into a central PC significantly decreases the amount of time our night audit staff would have normally spent manually reporting and submitting transaction data.  In addition, it helps curb the level of fraudulent activity.  Vital knows our needs and satisfies them with exceptional customer service.”

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE USB), is the result of a merger between First Bank System, Inc. of Minneapolis and U.S. Bancorp, formerly headquartered in Portland, Oregon.  With $72 billion in assets, USB is the 14th largest bank holding company in the nation operating more than 1,000 banking offices in 17 states Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Nevada, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa, Illinois, Utah, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Wyoming.  The company provides comprehensive banking, trust, investment and payment systems products and services to consumers, businesses and institutions.  It operates a network of 4,500 ATMs throughout the U.S. and 24 hour, seven days a week telephone customer service centers.  The company is the largest provider of Visa corporate and purchasing cards in the world and one of the largest providers of corporate trust services in the U.S.

The Harris Bank provides banking, trust and investment services to individuals, small and mid-market businesses and not-for-profit and government entities within Chicago and surrounding communities.  With $21.5 billion in assets, Harris is a leading provider of corporate banking services, primarily in the Midwest, and trust, cash management, investment management, private banking and credit card services throughout the U.S.  Harris Bank is wholly owned by the Bank of Montreal, Canada’s oldest and one of North America’s largest banks.  With 140 locations open, Harris is one of Chicago’s largest community bank networks and its third largest banking organization.

Windsor Court Hotel is owned by Orient-Express Hotels, based in London, England.  It is part of a luxury group of hotels, restaurants, trains, and cruises.  As members of both Leading Hotels of the World and Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Windsor Court Hotel has twice been named the number one hotel in America by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company.  Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers.  Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business.  Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service.  Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (NYSE TSS) (TSYS(R)) ().  Vital’s Internet address is .

Vital Promotion

Vital Processing Services , announced today it has promoted Vicki McKee to vice president of corporate education, Jann McMahan to vice president of conversions and client training and Gene Walter to vice president of systems support.

Vicki McKee, Vice President, Corporate Education

As vice president of corporate education, Vicki McKee is responsible for the education efforts for both internal and external employees and clients. She will train clients on Vital’s products, their features and benefits. Specifically, McKee will be charged with a 1998 corporate initiative focusing on computer-based training for new internal and client programs.

McKee’s career began with a 13-year tenure at GE Capital.  She served in a variety of positions in collections, sales, and finally as credit manager. McKee left GE Capital to join Providian as training manager in the dispute resolution area, then accepted a position at Visa as a Member education trainer.  McKee joined Vital in 1996 as Director of Corporate Education.

Jann McMahan, Vice President, Conversions and Client Training

Jann McMahan’s current responsibilities as vice president of conversions and client training include the conversion of existing merchant and start-up portfolios onto the Vital merchant system.  On the training side, McMahan manages the Client Training Department which educates financial institutions and Independent Sales Organizations (ISO’s) on how to use the system.  McMahan operates out of the Columbus, Ga. facility.

McMahan began her career in the banking/credit card business in 1974 with Columbus Bank and Trust, Citizens and Southern National Bank, and American Express.  At Total System Services, Inc.(sm), one of Vital’s parent companies, she worked for eight years as a merchant system client trainer, project manager, and held the title of assistant vice president.  McMahan moved to Vital in 1996 as director of client training and documentation.

Gene Walter, Vice President, Support Services

Keeping Vital on the cutting edge of telecommunications, Gene Walter’s responsibility as vice president of systems support is building services, telecommunications services and complex technical support.

Walter began his career with AT&T and has worked in virtually all aspects of the telecommunications business, from installation, operations and marketing.  After 31 years of service, he accepted a job with Fireman’s Fund as director of telecommunications.  In 1994, Walter moved to Visa International to manage the Visa Voice Network.  Walter joined the Visa MAC in preparation for the formation of Vital, serving as the director of systems support.

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company.  Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers.  Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business.  Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service.  Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (NYSE TSS) (TSYS(R)) ().  Vital’s Internet address is .

Paymentech’s Box Office Success

Paymentech, Inc. announced several new customers that expanded the credit card processor’s presence in the ticketing industry during 1997. The announcement was made during the International Ticketing Association’s (INTIX) 19th Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

The nation’s third largest electronic payment processor also showcased SE Workstation at the INTIX exhibition. SE Workstation is the first PC based application that enables merchants to electronically access both American Express and bankcard financial reporting.

Paymentech signed several prestigious organizations including The New York Philaharmonic at Lincoln Center and Disney’s New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square. Paymentech will provide credit card payment processing and settlement for the two organizations. With the addition of The New York Philaharmonic, Paymentech now processes credit card ticket sales for all regularly performing groups at Lincoln Center.

“Paymentech had the experience and familiarity with the box office ticketing environment that we desired in a credit card processor,” said Pamela Katz, controller for The New York Philaharmonic.

“We program a variety of dial-up terminal products to be compatible with the different ticketing systems,” said Gary T. Staub, group executive for business development at Paymentech. “This supports our strong customer base in the ticketing industry.” Staub cited such clients as the New York and Los Angeles Nederlander Theaters, Carnegie Hall, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta’s High Museum and Alliance Theatre, and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Paymentech also introduced the enhanced version of SE Workstation to the ticketing industry, particularly appropriate for high volume sites such as stadiums and arenas. Developed by American Express and Paymentech, this Windows-based programs allows merchants to receive and respond on-line to cardholder inquiries.

SE Workstation is unique in that it allows box office administration to look up both American Express and bankcard transactions from the same program. “Adding bankcard data access will improve a merchant’s ability to quickly handle chargeback issues,” said Staub.

Paymentech, Inc. founded in 1985, provides full-service electronic payment solutions for direct merchant clients as well as third-party transaction processing. Paymentech also offers complete commercial card payment and information solutions. Paymentech is the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States and a leading issuer of commercial cards.

Credit Card Email Reporting

Paymentech, the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the nation, launched an industry-leading electronic merchant reporting system today. The new service, “Email Reporting,” uses secured E-mail to send merchant statements to its direct marketing customers.

With Paymentech’s Email Reporting, customers simply open their existing E-mail to retreive merchant reports that are waiting first thing every morning. The service only requires standard E-mail and PGP encryption software.

Paymentech is the largest processor of electronic payments for the direct response industry, which includes cataloguers, telemarketers, response television marketers, on-line service providers and other such merchants.

“Paymentech merchants can now replace their mailed or faxed reports with these electronic statements,” said Larry Bouchard, group manager for Paymentech’s direct response product management. “E-mail reports are in ASCII format and can be viewed with a word processing program or easily imported into an existing spreadsheet software for additional for additional analysis of credit card activity.”

“We chose an E-mail solution over a web site download for greater customer convenience,” said Bouchard. “Issues of browser capability, web access, downloading needs and other potential customer headaches are avoided.”

There are no additional fees to the merchant for E-mail distribution. Email Reporting is the lartest addition to the credit card processor’s full menu of customer service, reporting, and information management tools tailored tot eh direct response industry.

One of the first Paymentech customers to go live with Email Reporting was America Online. “Email Reporting is much faster and more accurate,” said Ralph Gentile, revenue analyst. “We import the electronic statement data via a macro directly into spreadsheets, and can view the data, and start our analysis within a minute. When done manually from paper, the process took substantially longer. Electronic statements also eliminate potential document storage and retrieval problems.”

At Lands’ End, Email Reporting will also be used for international payment processing reports that are sent to offices in other countries. “Paymentech’s Email Reporting will be more reliable than faxes or post,” said Terry R. James, treasurer for Land’s End. “Regardless of what office or country, electronic statements can be quickly directed to the appropriate individuals within our organization.”

A number of Paymentech’s merchant activity statements are now available via Email Reporting, including daily, weekly and monthly summary and detail transaction activity reports. During the first quarter of 1998, Paymentech expects to add chargeback, electronic check processing and retrieval activity reports.

Paymentech, founded in 1985, is the leading provider of full-service electronic payment solutions to the direct response industry. The company also provides third-party transaction processing and complete commercial card payment programs to businesses and other entities. Paymentech is the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States and a leading issuer of commercial cards.

Vital Goes Wireless

Vital Processing Services announced a full production service offering with Metricom, Inc. Metricom’s Ricochet wireless technology that will enable transactions, such as credit card verification, to be processed in 3 – 4 seconds, without the use of traditional phone lines.

“This is an example of how we proactively respond to our customers’ needs by providing them with value-added products. Our goal is to help our clients operate more efficiently, and this partnership with Metricom will translate into increased productivity at the merchant point-of-sale,” said Fred Gumbel, chairman and chief executive officer of Vital.

“In the near future, customers everywhere will expect lightning-fast credit card verification regardless of their location,” said Don Wood, Metricom president. “The Ricochet wireless technology meets that requirement by enabling merchants and bank institutions to perform real-time transactions quickly, affordably and from places that, traditionally, have been inconvenient or impossible. Now, with Ricochet, delivery services, taxi drivers, street vendors and others will be able to take full advantage of Vital’s processing services from wherever they are within a Ricochet coverage area.”

The Ricochet network uses spread-spectrum, packet radio technology and Metricom’s patented frequency-hopping mesh architecture to transmit wireless signals to the Internet, intranets and dial-up services. Ricochet modems send and receive data at speeds of up to 28.8 kilobits per second, which is comparable to conventional telephone modems. With Ricochet, merchants will experience a 3 – 4 second response time for transactions processed through Vital’s VisaNet POS Network.

For the transaction processing industry, the Ricochet modem attaches to the VeriFone TRANZ 380 terminal via a connective device called the VeriFone TRANZport 232. The Ricochet modem also attaches to the serial port of laptop and desktop computers, handheld PCs or personal digital assistants, and is compatible with most hardware platforms and communications software.

Metricom has completed its first initial roll-out phase and has service available in Seattle, the greater San Francisco Bay area, and Washington, D.C. Other metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles, are planned for the near future.

Metricom, Inc. is the leading provider of wide-area, portable wireless data services. The company’s Ricochet Products and Services division, headquartered in Los Gratos, Calif., provides portable and desktop computer users with high-performance, cost-effective wireless access to the Internet, LANs, e-mail and other online services. Ricochet service is currently available in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., on corporate and university campuses, and ten major U.S. airports. Metricom’s Industrial Communications division provides both private networks and communications services to the electric, gas, oil and water industries. For more information, call 1-800 Go-Wireless or visit Metricom’s Web site at .

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company. Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business. Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (NYSE: TSS) (TSYS(R)) (). Vital’s Internet address is .