Hits Keep Coming

Credit card issuers advertising on CardWeb’s consumer channels have apparently discovered a gold mine of traffic. According to official Internet traffic statistics released last week, a record 4.4 million page views were delivered during January. One major card issuer revealed card application rates exceeded target by 147% and approvals hit 112% of the goal. All advertising slots for CardWeb’s consumer channels are currently booked under one year minimum contracts. Current participants include: Capital One, First USA, NationsBank, Chase Manhattan, AFBA, Wachovia, Commerce Bank, NextCard, People’s Bank and Arkansas National Bank. Harriet Bailey, CardWeb’s national sales manager, says the higher than average application and approval rates are due to a simple format, whereby consumers seeking info about the best credit card deals from CardWeb, do so without having to reveal any personal data. CardWeb’s high traffic is driven by many elements including its long-term credibility with the national news media. For example this past weekend CardWeb was cited to consumers by Parade magazine as the sole source of objective credit card information. Yesterday, Robert McKinley, president of CardWeb, announced after the firm’s annual board meeting in the Florida Keys, that CardWeb’s flagship consumer publication, CardTrak, will be switching this year to a not-for-profit structure.

PULSE 30%+

The Pulse EFT Association reported yesterday it processed more than 341 million transactions in 1998, representing an increase of more than 30% over 1997 volume. POS transaction volume through ‘PULSE PAY’  increased more than 50% in 1998, posting in excess of 131 million transactions. More than 115,000 merchants currently participate in the ‘PULSE PAY’ program. Pulse now has more than 2,000 members representing approximately 20 million cardholders. The network includes more than 30,000 ATMs and 160,000 ‘PULSE PAY’ POS terminals across nine states.

WSBA & USPI

U.S. Processing (USPI), an EFT processor based in Wisconsin, and Western States Bankcard Association (WSBA), a California not-for-profit organization serving the financial industry, have entered into a marketing agreement to offer WSBA members USPI’s ATM and online card authorization options.

The agreement provides WSBA members who use First Data Resources debit card platform with an alternative transaction authorization option. When a purchase is made, USPI will request a current, real-time cardholder balance from the card issuer’s deposit system or balance file and route it to First Data through a direct link. Members gain added control and fraud reduction from this type of authorization.

In addition, USPI supports all popular ATM models with advanced functionality and all major protocols. Reliable, around-the-clock monitoring is included. USPI also installs, certifies, and maintains links to all major regional and national networks for transaction routing.

Based in Richmond, California, WSBA offers credit and debit card processing and support services for both issuers and acquirers in the western United States. It has over 100 member financial institutions and has specialized in turnkey card management programs for over three decades.

“We are very excited about our relationship with U.S. Processing, as it provides us with a means to offer our members debit processing services utilizing the direct link to First Data Corporation and provide them with an integrated option for ATM processing,” said Barbara Kelly, Vice President at WSBA.

PriVest Bank of Costa Mesa, California, was the first WSBA member to sign up for USPI’s transaction processing service.

USPI is a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. (Nasdaq: TSAI), a leading provider of electronic funds software around the world. USPI provides transaction processing services for the electronic funds transfer (EFT) industry. The company drives and supports all popular ATM models and offers a comprehensive package of related services, including single point settlement, monitoring of an organization’s ATM environment, authorization, network access and card management services. USPI uses BASE24® and TRANS24® software solutions in combination with the latest Compaq and IBM hardware offerings for its processing operations.

Mall Sales Off

Sales at mall specialty stores decreased 0.7% during the third full week of the holiday shopping season, compared with the same period last year, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported yesterday. The group says this has been an unusual shopping season. Despite positive economic indicators, it appears the unseasonably warm weather as well as dramatic domestic and international political events have distracted shoppers.

PULSE Board

The board of directors of PULSE EFT Association has announced the election of Robert Vontur of San Antonio as vice chairman of the board.

Vontur, senior vice president of Frost National Bank, has been involved with PULSE for almost 16 years, 13 of those as a member of the board and its executive committee. Currently a member of PULSE’s Audit Committee, he also has served on its Operations Committee and its Point-of-Sale (POS) Product Development Subcommittee.

A veteran of 28 years with Frost, Vontur currently serves as the bank’s manager of electronic banking systems. He is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, where he received his B.S. in mathematics.

“Over the years, PULSE has benefitted enormously from the knowledge and participation of very active directors such as Robert Vontur,” said Stan Paur, president and CEO of PULSE. “With his extensive experience both in the industry and with PULSE, Robert will be an even greater asset to our organization in his new role.”

PULSE is a not-for-profit, shared electronic funds transfer network comprising nearly 2,000 banks, credit unions and savings and loans in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The network includes more than 30,000 ATMs, 156,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals and more than 20,000,000 cardholders. For more information, visit the PULSE Web site at [www.pulse-eft.com][1].

[1]: http://www.pulse-eft.com

Diebold Award

The American Telemarketing Association awarded its ‘TELO’ Award for excellence in telemarketing to Diebold. Diebold earned the honor for its successful “Over-the- Phone” ATM marketing program. In the OTP direct marketing concept, associates at Diebold’s Green, Ohio-based call center market ATMs to customers who can’t be reached through traditional sales channels.  The TELO award was presented to Diebold to recognize the innovation and success of the company’s ‘TeleAdvantage’ program, which provides comprehensive telemarketing services to various Diebold customers. Diebold’s telemarketing expertise was also recognized with an ‘ACCE Gold Award’ presented by TeleProfessional magazine in September.

BMW Card

MBNA America and the BMW Car Club of America teamed up late last week to issue an affinity credit card to more than 47,000 BMW members. MBNA says more than 1.5 million customers have chosen an MBNA credit card connected to the more than 300 motorsports groups that endorse MBNA, including NASCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the National Hot Rod Association.  MBNA offers more than 70 credit card programs designed for automotive enthusiasts and car club members.

E-Commerce Ed

A pioneering effort to help build industry consensus around new ways to charge for digital information delivery was announced last week by University of Massachusetts researchers.

The Internet Information Payments Collaborative ([IIPC.NET][1]) is part of a broader electronic-commerce research center formed by computer science, business and economics faculty, researchers say.

“Internet development is a group effort, and we think public- private collaboration among academic and business researchers is to everyone’s advantage,” says Dr. Leslie D. Ball, a professor at the Isenberg School of Management who is co-directing both initiatives.

The info-payments effort is the first of a broader research initiative at UMass called the Interdisciplinary Center for Electronic Commerce (ICEC). International Business Machines Corp. has contributed “significant hardware and software resources” to the ICEC, Ball added.

“Publishers are confused by the array of unproved options for managing and selling information on the Internet,” says Stephen C. Mott, IIPC’s other co-director. “We provide a way to pool research- and-development around finding a common infrastructure for on-demand purchase of digital information, including words, sounds and pictures.”

The payments collaborative plans a summit conference Feb. 28- March 2. (See: [www.iipc.net/conference/][2]). It will also study and market-test information-payment technologies, including one offered by a Massachusetts-based startup, Clickshare Service Corp., which is an IIPC technology collaborator.

Both Mott and Ball said they saw the need for the IIPC emerging from the failure of several pioneering information-payment protocols to gain a critical-mass of commercial adoption.

They said it is clear the market for information sales needs a forum for developing consensus on an operating structure. The network operating structure needs to support competitive yet interoperable marketing and pricing beyond subscriptions and advertising sales, they added.

Ball says the collaborative plans an initial budget of $400,000 derived from a three-tiered corporate sponsorship structure. It will assess after a nine-month research-and-trial program whether to disband, continue or merge with an existing standards body.

Ball joined UMass in September after more than a decade with Computer Sciences Corp., most recently running a multi-million dollar practice group within the El Segundo, Calif.-based information-technology consultant.

Mott is a consultant and former senior vice president for electronic commerce with MasterCard International Corp. who preceding his business career with a stint in journalism at Dallas and Washington, D.C. dailies. He is also a director of Clickshare.

Clickshare has provided initial resources to help establish the IIPC but the company will not control IIPC’s research or recommendations, and relationships with other technology partners are likely, said Ball. He said publishers, banks, telcos and ISPs are among potential sponsors expressing interest in joining the collaborative.

An established, not-for-profit technology-transfer organization chartered and controlled by UMass faculty will manage IIPC’s technical work at the direction of IIPC’s member steering committee. The Applied Computing Systems Institute of Massachusetts Inc. (ACSIOM), is based adjacent to the Amherst campus.

The Internet Information Payments Collaborative c/o The Applied Computing Systems Institute of Massachusetts Inc. Massachusetts Venture Center 100 Venture Way Hadley MA 01035 (413) 587-2180 [[email protected]][3]

[1]: http://www.iipc.net
[2]: http://www.iipc.net/conference
[3]: mailto:[email protected]

ATM Outlook

EFT networks, NYCE, PULSE and STAR jointly announced the release of the “1999 ATM Deployer Study” last week. The survey, prepared by Dove Associates, describes the evolution of the ATM industry to date and predicts that the next three years will be characterized by slower ATM deployment, declining revenue and profitability for ATM owners, and more intense competition for all industry participants. Among the study’s strategic findings: the average monthly operating cost for an off-premise ATM is $1,090, with depreciation and first line maintenance the largest components; major cost differences exist by type of deployer, with ISOs averaging a monthly cost of $703 per ATM; 76% of ATM deployers currently surcharge, with an average convenience fee of $1.36 per foreign cash withdrawal; and deployers plan to grow their ATM bases by 29% over the next three years, versus an actual expansion of 126% between 1996 and 1998.

PULSE Oct Record

The number of electronic banking transactions  processed by PULSE EFT Association hit an all-time high of more than 31 million in October, demonstrating that the public continues to take advantage of alternate banking and payment options.    Transactions processed through the PULSE network in October totaled 31,068,270. This figure includes transactions at both automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) terminals operated by merchants. POS transactions also hit a record high of 12,001,678, more than 38 percent of the total volume for the month.

“The continued strong growth in PULSE’s transaction volume confirms that the public is increasingly embracing self-service banking and electronic payment services,” said Stan Paur, president and chief executive officer of PULSE.

“As more and more merchants accept the ATM card as a form of payment for goods and services, PULSE expects the POS component of the EFT network will continue to experience above-average growth throughout the remainder of the decade,” Paur added. He predicts that more than 130 million POS transactions will be processed by the network in 1998.

PULSE is a not-for-profit, shared electronic funds transfer network comprising nearly 2,000 banks, credit unions, and savings and loans in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The network features more than 30,000 ATMs and more than 156,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals.

PULSE – Chase Renew

The PULSE EFT Association has renewed its contract with Chase Bank of Texas to provide the network’s technical operation for the next five years. The new agreement calls for Chase Bank to continue to provide operation of the hardware and software associated with the PULSE system. In addition, Chase is responsible for management of the on-line functions of the network.

In making the announcement, Stan Paur, PULSE president and CEO, noted, “Over the years, Chase has done an extraordinary job in providing the technical services necessary to maintain the highest levels of service for PULSE member financial institutions and their customers. This agreement will ensure the continued high level of uninterrupted service that PULSE provides. The levels of support provided by Chase are essential as the use of electronic banking services through PULSE continues to expand.”

Tom Vicknair, executive vice president at Chase, commented, “Our organization is delighted at PULSE’s decision to extend the switch agreement. We are committed to maintaining the highest levels of service. In fact, over a 26-month period, the PULSE switch has experienced zero minutes of unscheduled down time.”

Chase Bank of Texas, N.A. has 123 branches throughout the state and market leadership positions in retail, corporate and commercial banking and community development lending. Chase Texas is a unit of The Chase Manhattan Corporation, one of the world’s largest financial institutions with $367 billion in assets.

PULSE is a not-for-profit, shared electronic funds transfer network comprising nearly 2,000 banks, credit unions, and savings and loans in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The network includes more than 30,000 ATMs and 122,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals.