Wachovia and TransPoint announced this morning that Wachovia Bank will pilot the ‘TransPoint’ Internet bill delivery and payment system. The pilot will enable a small group of Wachovia customers to receive and pay their bills at Wachovia’s online banking Web site. TransPoint, formerly MSFDC, is the joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and First Data Corp., with Citibank as a minority equity investor.
First Virginia Banks agreed to sell its credit card portfolio to MBNA yesterday. Under terms of the agreement MBNA will acquire First Virginia’s $103 million portfolio with an expected closing date of Mar. 31. First Virginia expects to recognize a net after-tax gain of approximately $11 million. As part of the agreement, First Virginia will enter into an agent relationship with MBNA to continue offering credit cards under First Virginia’s existing brand names. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com]) First Virginia has approximately 200,000 gross accounts, 105,000 active accounts and 231,000 cards-in-force at the end of 1998.
Paragren today announced the launch of its new Data Management Division. Under the direction of Tammy Jaffer, vice president of data management solutions, the division will develop, manage and support turnkey Customer Relationship marketing (CRM) programs for paragren clients. In additional to building in-house expertise, the new division will develop strategic alliances with industry leaders to offer Paragren clients a full complement of best-of-breed CRM programs, including data capture, database creation and management, list management, campaign management and marketing services, mail processing, list management, e-commerce, telemarketing and fulfillment. Paragren’s turnkey CRM programs are based on open systems technology and are offered on both a shore- and long-term basis, allowing companies to easily migrate their programs back in-house.
Dan Lackner, chief operating officer of Paragren said. In today’s competitive environment, companies require business partners who share a common vision of providing customers the complete turnkey solutions they desire. The establishment of a data management division permits Paragren to address this growing demand for relationship marketing solutions. Paragren’s new data management offering in combination with the company’s leading-edge software and market intelligence services is the ideal solution for clients that wish to achieve the full results of effective relationship marketing but lack the internal resources to do so.’
‘Providing data management support capability for its clients is a logical progression for Paragren. In today’s marketplace companies are dealing with a multitude or operational issues. Many businesses, for example, are dealing with Year 2000 challenges and are unable to divert resources to implement marketing initiatives. Still other want to focus internal resources on their core competencies and business objectives. Implementing a customer relationship marketing system presents its own challenges, and businesses don’t necessary have the desire or relationship marketing system presents its own challenges, and businesses don’t necessarily have the desire or resource to do everything in house,’ said Jaffer. ‘We are tremendous opportunity to integrate a data management capability with existing core competencies high performance marketing software, professional services and unmatched market intelligence services to provide program management expertise and flawless execution.’
One-By-One includes One-By-One Data Discoverer, for integrating exploration, analysis and data mining. One-By-One Campaign Manager, for developing and deploying complex marketing campaigns, and One-By-One Interactive Marketer, for real-time, one-to-one marketing execution. All One-By-One applications are powered by One-By-One Application Server, a powerful engine that rapidly organizes data, regardless of its source, into a unified, logical, customer-centric framework. One-By-One is based on an open, flexible and scaleable architecture that is platform independent and enhances existing investments in data warehouse, data mining and statistical analysis technology. 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 business 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 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].
Founded in 1973 and headquartered in 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].
Wachovia Corporation announced Thursday the formation of a Wachovia Digital Financial Services Division to focus on the delivery of Internet and electronic services for consumers.
“The new division demonstrates a commitment by Wachovia to Internet and related electronic consumer financial services that customers increasingly are using and demanding,” said Lawrence G. Baxter, executive vice president and head of the new division. “It will integrate and align existing Internet services and traditional financial services for electronic delivery through computers, laptops and TVs (with Internet access), as well as ATMs, debit and smart cards, and interactive kiosks.”
The division has responsibility for product management for the Internet and digital access devices, Internet alliances and marketing, and continued development of technology that supports Wachovia’s Internet presence and employee intranet. The division also will focus on web functionality, customer personalization, e-mail, privacy and security issues.
Wachovia’s Internet web site at http://www.wachovia.com, which includes Wachovia PC Access Online Banking and Online Investing, has been recognized by PC publications as among the leading financial services sites on the World Wide Web. Wachovia has more than 1,300 ATMs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The company also is a leader in banking and debit card services and has been among the pilot providers of stored-value cards.
Wachovia Corporation is an interstate bank holding company with headquarters in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C. At December 31, 1998, Wachovia Corporation had assets of $64.1 billion. Wachovia Bank, N.A., the principal banking subsidiary, has more than 750 offices in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Wachovia PC Access is a registered service mark of Wachovia Corporation.
APCC Services, Inc. and Data Net Systems, LLC have filed two more lawsuits in Federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, against switch-based resellers and prepaid calling card issuers who have failed to pay payphone service providers compensation for the use of their payphones, as mandated by Federal Communications Commission regulations. These lawsuits, the second and third in a series of suits APCC Services and Data Net will be filing, name Business Telecom, Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina and EconoPhone, Inc. of Paramus, New Jersey.
According to Vincent R. Sandusky, President of APCC Services, “Business Telecom and EconoPhone, like PT-1 Communications which was named in the first suit we filed, have not responded to our bills and demands for payment. They have flagrantly violated their legal obligations under the Federal Communications Commission regulations and have caused considerable hardship to independent payphone service providers and misled consumers by failing to make their required payments. These lawsuits seek not only the amounts owed for compensable calls since the regulations took effect in October 1997, but also interest, punitive damages and attorneys fees.” Federal Communications Commission regulations require these long distance carriers to track and pay per call compensation at $.284 per call for the period in question.
Sandusky also noted that there will be more lawsuits filed in the coming weeks against other resellers and prepaid calling card issuers that continue to disregard their payment obligations. “We are vigorously pursuing these collection actions, but we are also in negotiations with several companies that have indicated a desire to resolve these disputes without the need for litigation,” he said. Sandusky said “carriers who come forward now without the need for litigation may be able to avoid punitive damages.”
APCC Services, Inc. and Data Net Systems, LLC are duly authorized billing and collection agents for over 2,000 payphone service providers for purposes of collecting payphone compensation from carriers such as Business Telecom, Inc. and EconoPhone, Inc.
The boards of directors of HONOR Technologies Inc. and Star System Inc. Monday announced that they have completed the business combination of the two companies, creating the largest electronic funds transfer network in the country.
This action follows the unanimous consent of the shareholders of the two companies approving the transaction. The transaction creates a new, for-profit corporation, H&S Holding Co. (H&S). HONOR and STAR will operate as wholly owned subsidiaries. The ownership of H&S Holding Co. will consist of the financial institutions that owned the former HONOR and STAR organizations.
“This new company will be the premier electronic payments network in the U.S.,” said Ronald V. Congemi, H&S president and CEO. “Our company will lead the industry in quality service, with a focus on the needs of our participating organizations. Through the strong relationships forged by HONOR and STAR, the new company will be well positioned to bring further product integration to this industry.” Congemi is the former president and CEO of Star System Inc.
The new company will serve more than 3,700 financial institution members and their 79 million ATM/debit cardholders via more than 70,000 ATMs and 400,000 merchant point-of-sale (POS) locations, processing an average of 185 million transactions per month. In addition to network services, the company will offer financial institutions offline debit processing, card production, ATM services and gateway access to home banking and national network services.
T.O. Bennion, the former president and CEO of HONOR, will retire from day-to-day responsibilities and will serve as one of the new company’s vice chairmen. “This transaction was a culmination of a long-term effort to expand the products and services available to member financial institutions. H&S will possess the strongest characteristics of both organizations. Being involved with the creation of this partnership is a high point in my career,” said Bennion.
“The combination marks a new era in electronic funds transfer, creating opportunities for technological advances and even broader EFT-related services,” added Congemi.
Headquartered in Maitland, the new company will be organized in divisions reflecting both geographical and functional responsibilities. A transitional management team has been formed to manage the operations of the new company. Robert A. Hunter will serve as chief operating officer of the eastern division, and James McCarthy will head up the western division. Thomas McHugh will serve as chief technology officer, and E. Miles Kilburn will be chief financial officer. The key senior officers leading integration efforts, in addition to the aforementioned, are Nikki Waters, Mary McDuffie, Curtis Fish and Paul Schmelzer. The company will retain its offices in California, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and Virginia. Congemi and Kilburn will relocate to the Maitland headquarters.
At this time, no immediate changes in operations, processing, or branding and signage will occur. “We will address these issues as we develop operational plans through 1999 to integrate the new company,” said Congemi. “Board decisions regarding these important issues will be announced over the course of the coming year.”
More information about HONOR and STAR can be found at the following Web sites: [www.HONOR.com] and [www.star-system.com]
Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher announced yesterday that Pennsylvania and 14 other states have reached a settlement with a Texas-based company accused of using deceptive tactics to enroll thousands of consumers across the country in a telephone “calling card” program.
Fisher said his Bureau of Consumer Protection reached the agreement with RRV Enterprises, Inc., of Houston, Texas, doing business as Consumer Access, a long distance telephone reseller. The “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” agreement resolves alleged violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
According to the Attorneys General, Consumer Access in 1997 and 1998 held contests to give away a car or a significant cash prize. Consumer complaints revealed that many had entered the contest without realizing they had enrolled in the telephone “calling card” program, which resulted in monthly service charges being billed to their home telephone.
“This alleged practice is known as `cramming,'” Fisher said. “We contend that in this particular case thousands of consumers believed they were entering a contest, not buying a calling card. In the majority of complaints my office received, consumers said they first learned about the `calling card’ program when the initial fee or service charges appeared on their phone bill.”
Fisher said the $4.96 activation fee and $4.06 minimum monthly service charge appeared on consumers’ telephone bills without explanation. In some cases, he said, these charges went undetected for several months.
“We believe the agreement will change the way this `calling card’ service is promoted,” Fisher said. “As a result, the alleged practice of billing for unauthorized services will stop.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Consumer Access does not admit to any wrongdoing and agrees to:
— pay a full refund to consumers who were billed for services within the last year but denied signing the entry form or authorizing the service.
— refund the activation fee and one month’s charges for consumers who claim they were unaware they had signed up for the “calling card” when entering the contest.
— refrain from billing any consumers in the future without first obtaining the proper authorization.
— create two-part forms that allow consumers to enter a contest without enrolling in any program for goods or services.
— clearly and conspicuously disclose the nature of the solicitation.
— send consumers a confirmation letter prior to billing.
Consumers who suspect they are eligible for a refund should contact Fisher’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 to file a complaint. Complaint forms can also be obtained by visiting the Attorney General’s website at .
The company will also pay $490,000 to the states for the costs of investigation and public protection purposes. Pennsylvania’s share will be $35,000.
The 14 other states participating in the settlement include: Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The agreement was negotiated by Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Barry Creany of Fisher’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in Ebensburg.
Following Capital One’s opening of its first operations center in Europe, the non-bank card issuer announced Tuesday it plans to create 300 additional jobs by the end of 2000. Capital One now plans to recruit 900 people by the end of this year, a year ahead of schedule, following the firm’s UK growth rate, which has exceeded expectations. It also plans to recruit an additional 300 people by the end of 2000, resulting in a total of 1,200 jobs.
American Express has upgraded the telecommunications network for its POS terminals in the UK and Europe. Transaction Network Services Limited was awarded the contract. The new system enables American Express to monitor all transaction statistics from its UK authorization center in Brighton, while providing detailed management data on each transaction passing through the network.
Capital One announced Tuesday major expansion plans for its Virginia operations. This year Cap One projects it will hire more than 3,000 associates and will add more than 500,000 square feet of real estate in its four separate Virginia locations. Last year the top issuer expanded by 5,000 employees and now has a total worldwide workforce of more than 10,000. About 7,000 employees are based in Richmond. Two weeks ago Cap One announced its plans to open a West Coast facility near Seattle.
One of the largest on-line marketing deals was sealed yesterday between America Online and First USA. The five-year agreement is anticipated to generate up to $500 million if expected thresholds are met, and contains significant guaranteed revenue to AOL and significant marketing commitments to First USA. With yesterday’s agreement, First USA becomes the exclusive marketer of credit card products and services on AOL, the CompuServe service, AOL.COM and AOL Instant Messenger in the U.S. and Canada, and will also market products and services on a non-exclusive basis within AOL’s Digital City. Wednesday’s agreement extends the AOL/FUSA relationship that began in 1996 with the introduction of the ‘AOL VISA’ card. America Online has more than 15 million paying subscribers and CompuServe has about 2 million paying members. Based on current industry intelligence AOL attracts about 31 million on-line visitors each month.
WEB TRAFFIC LEADERS
Internet Firm Monthly Visitors
America Online: 30.9 million
Microsoft 27.7 million
Yahoo 27.2 million
Lycos 25.6 million
Netscape 17.2 million
Excite 17.1 million
Source: BlueJag’s WebStuff
OH-based Huntington National Bank introduced its smart card program during a mass carding event held on the University of Central Florida campus. The event attracted more than 18,000 students, faculty and staff who lined up to be one of the first to receive the new ‘UCF Card’. In addition to serving as an identification and library card, other functions include purchases at campus vending machines and photocopiers and pre-paid long distance phone service. It also serves as the users’ ATM card for their Huntington checking account. To date, the bank has issued 24,000 ‘UCF’ cards and opened 2,500 UCF accounts.