Conseco Woes

Private label credit card issuer Conseco lost its CFO yesterday and may face a dramatic cut in its credit ratings as bankruptcy rumors begin to surface. CFO Chuck Chokel abruptly decided to resign Wednesday after serving in the position less than one year. Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday it may cut the company’s credit ratings by two or more notches if it cannot provide assurances to its accountant, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, by the end of this month, that it will be able to generate enough cash to meet its future obligations. The company is struggling with more than $6 billion in debt. Conseco needs to raise about $400 million to make debt payments due in 2002. The company is exploring the sale of its variable-annuity business.Last week, Conseco reported its retail credit unit, which includes its private label card business, ended 2001 with receivables of $2.695 billion compared to $1.776 billion one year ago, a 51.7% increase. Charge-offs rose 47% during the same period from 5.30% for 4/00 to 7.80% for the fourth quarter 2001. Delinquency (60+ day) was up 11.5%, from 3.04% at year-end 2000 to 3.39% at 12/31/01. For complete details on Conseco’s 4Q/01 results visit CardData ([][1]).



FlightFund Expands

America West Airlines and Bank of America this week introduced the FlightFund VISA Business Card. This is BofA’s third co-branded business credit card following the US Airways and Alaska Airlines business cards. The new card product will target small-business owners who have up to $10 million in annual sales and fewer than 100 employees, and enables small-business owners to choose between two mileage-earning options: Company Mileage Option and Individual Mileage Option. The Company Mileage Option enables miles earned from purchases by all employee cardholders to be rolled into one designated FlightFund account. Individual Mileage Option allows the employee cardholder to earn miles from purchases into his or her own individual FlightFund account. FlightFund VISA Business cardholders will receive 5,000 First Purchase Bonus Miles and 1,000 Anniversary Bonus Miles annually. The card carries a $50 company annual fee and $25 annual fee per card.


Lenticular Card

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of NASCAR, NC-based Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse unveiled the first private-label lenticular credit card on Wednesday. The new card, shaped like a biconvex lens, features NASCAR Winston Cup action with moving images of Lowe’s race cars and drivers. Applicants will be able to select between two designs, one featuring the No. 48 Lowe’s car driven by Jimmie Johnson available now and one featuring the No. 24 car driven by Jeff Gordon available in late March. Cardholders will automatically become members of Team Lowe’s Racing fan club. Other card benefits include a subscription to Team Lowe’s Racing quarterly fan club magazine, access to the “Lowe’s Three-Wide Challenge” online fantasy racing game, and special merchandise discounts from Racing Champions. The card carries no annual fee and a 21% APR. Lowe’s is the 14th largest retailer in the U.S. as well as the 30th largest retailer worldwide. On the bank credit card side, MBNA’s NASCAR VISA card has emerged as its largest affinity program, with more than 3.5 million cardholders. MBNA signed 33 new sports-related organizations during 2001 and now has more than 600 total sports-related affinity card programs. More than 7.5 million sports sector cardholders carry $9 billion in loan balances on MBNA products. VISA signed a partnership with NASCAR that took effect January 1, 1999 to become the “Preferred Card of NASCAR.” (CF Library 7/8/98;12/19/01)


HNC Poison Pill

HNC Software Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has adopted a stockholder rights plan designed to protect the long-term value of the company for its stockholders during any future unsolicited acquisition attempt. The plan is designed to provide HNC’s Board of Directors sufficient time to study and respond to an unsolicited tender offer or other attempted acquisition.

Under the rights plan, the Board declared a dividend of one preferred share purchase right for each share of HNC’s common stock outstanding on March 21, 2002 and further directed the issuance of one such right with respect to each share of HNC’s common stock that is issued after that date, except in certain circumstances.

Initially, the rights are attached to HNC’s common stock, will not trade separately, and are not exercisable. If any person or group (an “Acquiring Person”) acquires 20 percent or more of HNC’s common stock, or announces an intention to make a tender offer that could result in the person or group exceeding such 20 percent ownership level, then the rights will become exercisable and certificates representing the rights will be distributed to the holders of the rights. The rights will thereafter trade separately from the common stock.

After becoming exercisable, each right may be exercised for 1/100th of a share of a newly designated Series A Junior Participating Preferred Stock at an exercise price of $125. This preferred stock has been structured so that the value of 1/100th of a share of such preferred stock will approximate the value of one share of common stock.

The rights, when exercisable, provide the holders of the rights (other than any Acquiring Person) the opportunity to acquire shares of HNC’s common stock at a substantially discounted price. Additionally, in the event of a subsequent merger or other acquisition of HNC by an Acquiring Person, the holders of the rights (other than the Acquiring Person) will have the right to receive shares of common stock of the acquiring corporation at a substantially discounted price. From the time that the rights become exercisable until the company is acquired by any person, HNC’s Board of Directors may, at its option, exchange each outstanding right (other than those held by any person or group that has exceeded the 20 percent ownership threshold) for one share of HNC’s common stock.

Prior to the rights becoming exercisable, the Board may redeem outstanding rights at any time at a price of $0.001 per right and the terms of the rights may be amended by the Board without the consent of the holders of the rights. The rights will expire on March 21, 2012, unless earlier redeemed by HNC. HNC (Nasdaq: HNCS) is a leading provider of high-end analytic and decision management software and tools that enable global companies to manage customer interactions by converting data and business experiences into real-time recommendations. HNC’s proven software empowers Global 2000 companies in the financial services, insurance, telecommunications, health care, and other industries and governments to make millions of the right mission-critical customer decisions, and take action in real time, substantially improving financial performance, reducing costs and decreasing risk. For more information, visit [][1].



Minimum Payments

An estimated 47% of Americans who did not pay their credit card balance off in full last month made just the minimum payment due. About 37% of Americans who couldn’t pay off their balances paid less than half the balance outstanding, and 13% of consumers with an outstanding balance could afford to pay more than half the balance last month. The findings are the result of monthly nationwide telephone poll of 1000+ adults conducted by ICR/International Communications Research for the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index. In February, 32% of consumers had taken on more debt while 68% had paid off debt. In March, 15% plan to take on more debt, with 3% planning to take on a lot and 11% planning to take on a little debt.


Certicom & NCR

Certicom, a leading provider of mobile e-business security, today announced the signing of a software licensing agreement with NCR Corporation, to provide advanced security for an electronic payment processing solution called ImageMark ECPIX (Electronic Check Presentment with Image Exchange). NCR will use Certicom’s industry-leading Security Builder® in this customized banking application to allow secure and authenticated exchange of information between banks and clearinghouses.

“NCR’s Payment Solutions business offers the most comprehensive family of image-based solutions and services in the marketplace today and it is critical for our solutions to offer efficient and secure methods for processing transactions,” said Dick Wheeler, marketing director, NCR Payment Solutions. “We chose Certicom’s solution for its superior authentication and encryption technologies to provide state-of-the-art security capabilities to NCR customers.”

The ImageMark ECPIX system is designed to allow banks and clearinghouses to conduct electronic inter-bank clearing and settlement. Whether they are using traditional paper-based transactions (i.e. checks) or electronically-originated payments (e.g. EFT), ImageMark ECPIX can capture, validate, and distribute all necessary data between banks and clearinghouses. This sensitive financial data can include account information, payment amounts, images of checks (for authentication), and all transaction information. Based on regulated privacy and formatting standards, ImageMark ECPIX represents the ultimate financial exchange solution for both paper and electronic payment processing environments.

Certicom’s Security Builder, which features Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) technology, is a standards-based cryptography toolkit that provides application developers with the sophisticated tools and flexibility needed to integrate encryption, digital signatures and other security mechanisms into their applications.

“Certicom is pleased to be working with NCR, a renowned leader in providing image and payment solutions for financial institutions in today’s high tech world,” said Prakash Panjwani, senior vice president of Business Development for Certicom. “Certicom provides strong and efficient security to protect and maintain valuable financial information as it is updated, maintained, and exchanged during critical communications. We look forward to providing NCR with additional advanced security solutions as it continues to set new milestones in the years ahead.”

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a leader in providing Relationship TechnologyTM solutions to customers worldwide in the retail, financial, communications, manufacturing, travel and transportation, and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include privacy-enabled Teradata® warehouses and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, store automation and automated teller machines (ATMs). The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and leading edge hardware technology. NCR employs 31,400 in more than 100 countries, and is a component stock of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. More information about NCR and its solutions may be found at [][1].

About Certicom

Certicom is a leading provider of information security software and services, specializing in solutions for mobile e-business. The company’s products and services are specifically designed to address the challenges imposed by a wireless data environment. Certicom’s solutions incorporate its efficient encryption technology and are based on industry standards for information security that utilize public-key cryptography. Certicom’s products are currently licensed to more than 300 customers including Cisco Systems, Inc., Handspring Inc., Motorola, Inc., Nortel Networks, Openwave Systems, Inc., Palm, Inc., QUALCOMM, Inc., Research In Motion Ltd., Sony International (Europe) GmbH, and Verizon Communications Inc. Certicom’s headquarters and worldwide sales and marketing operations are based in the Silicon Valley in Hayward. For more information, visit Certicom’s Web site at [][2].



VISA Goes Visual

Visual Networks, a leading provider of performance management solutions for communications networks and services, announced that Visa U.S.A. is deploying the Visual Networks Visual UpTime WAN performance management system to enhance monitoring, planning and troubleshooting for its U.S. payment network.

Visual UpTime will provide Visa with a new level of visibility into its U.S. network, enabling the company’s network administrators to closely monitor and analyze bandwidth utilization, network availability and data throughput.

As Visa continues to deploy Visual UpTime in its network, the performance management system will be designed with full redundancy, meaning that each network endpoint — from speeds of 56K to DS3 — will house two Visual UpTime Analysis Service Elements (ASEs), a device that performs detailed data collection. Visa’s administrators will be able to monitor and manage the network from remote locations around the clock.

“Visa continues to maintain optimal performance throughout its network to ensure the highest level of efficiency for thousands of merchants,” said Steve Hindman, Visual Networks’ executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Visual UpTime provides visibility into the network, which can result in improved operational savings and increased customer satisfaction. This same value proposition is also evident in networks that were built with highly redundant connections, such as Visa’s network. Providing performance management across private networking connections, Visual UpTime can offer in- depth traffic capture and protocol analysis regardless of the access technology utilized.”

About Visual UpTime

Visual UpTime integrates expert monitoring capabilities with access equipment to fully automate the collection, interpretation and presentation of performance management data. A series of intuitive applications provide real- time and historical troubleshooting tests that can eliminate the need for remote dispatches, and provide performance monitoring, service level validation and performance reporting for private IP, frame relay, ATM, and private line connections — or combinations of these technologies.

Visual UpTime tracks access line, port and end-to-end circuit statistics, identifies most active users, and measures utilization by protocol type. In addition, Visual UpTime validates SLAs and private IP Class of Service (CoS) throughput at the service boundary.

By continuously measuring second-by-second usage levels for every monitored port and virtual circuit, Visual UpTime can automatically make informed recommendations on bandwidth allocation by specific location with its detailed picture of circuit performance. This enables network managers to create overview reports of the most- and least-utilized ports and virtual circuits across the network, then allocate bandwidth as appropriate — providing sufficient bandwidth to ensure mission-critical applications get through, without over-provisioning bandwidth and exceeding WAN budgets.

About Visual Networks

Visual Networks has the broadest suite of proven performance management solutions for public and private communications networks and services. To find out how the world’s leading service providers and enterprises are using Visual Networks’ products to increase network reliability and revenues, and dramatically reduce operational expenses and lower their total cost of ownership, visit [][1] or call 1-800-240-4010 for sales information.

Visual Networks, Visual UpTime and Visual eWatcher are registered trademarks and Visual IP InSight is a trademark of Visual Networks Technologies, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.




Comdata announced this week the commercial availability of its CabCARD Personal Communication services, a pre-paid service providing truck drivers e-mail, long distance telecommunications, and voice mail capabilities. Funds for e-mail messaging and long-distance telecommunications services may be deducted from the driver’s existing Comdata card through their Express Cash account, or through Comdata card cash advance, credit cards, or prepaid recharge cards sold in select truck stops. The new service was jointly-developed with QUALCOMM. With CabCARD, drivers can send and receive e-mail to and from any Internet address right from the cabs of their trucks for less than the cost of a phone call. More than 100 major fleets have already elected to offer CabCARD services.


MasterCard & Amadeus

MasterCard International announced it has signed an agreement with Amadeus, a global distribution system and travel technology provider, to help organizations maximize the efficiencies of their travel and entertainment procurement processes.

The agreement gives MasterCard Corporate Card cardholders greater access to sophisticated airline and rail itinerary data – including costs, travel dates, destinations, authorization codes, and coupon numbers – from any travel agent or travel service provider in more than 200 markets worldwide using Amadeus’ specialized GDS. The line-item detail is made available electronically and may be exported to internal systems via programs such as MasterCard Smart Data OnLine(TM) (SDOL), a Web-based, multiple-language expense management information system.

Under the agreement, MasterCard will leverage the global network of travel agents and travel service providers of Amadeus, a market leader in Western Europe and Latin America, to deliver companies comprehensive, high quality ticketing data. The arrangement will provide a unique central data feed solution to MasterCard corporate card cardholders, giving access to unparalleled travel data quality versus competitive options.

“The changing economy challenges more and more organizations to search for ways to streamline operations and cut costs – particularly in the area of business travel,” said Steve Abrams, senior vice president, MasterCard Corporate Payment Solutions. “By leveraging Amadeus’ advanced data and MasterCard’s leading-edge reporting system, we will help our corporate card-using organizations better understand how funds are being spent – both domestically and globally – to enable them to evaluate key spending areas and to base critical business decisions.”

The offering will have particular benefits for multinational organizations that struggle with the disparate travel reporting systems of different nations in which their employees conduct business. Amadeus’ strong international presence will help bridge the gap in this service, as well as streamline internal processes for seamless, effective travel management.

MasterCard Smart Data OnLine(TM) is a global Web-based reporting application that helps organizations seamlessly consolidate, analyze and manage financial data, including card and cash transactions.

The MasterCard Corporate Payment Solutions group is dedicated to providing innovative, flexible, end-to-end payment programs to corporations, small businesses and the public sector worldwide. These programs range from corporate cards, including the MasterCard Corporate Card, the MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card, the MasterCard Corporate Fleet Card and the MasterCard Corporate Multi Card, to data management tools such as MasterCard SDOL. For additional information about MasterCard’s corporate programs, visit [][1].

About MasterCard International

MasterCard International has a comprehensive portfolio of well-known, widely accepted payment brands including MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro. More than 1.7 billion MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro logos are present on credit, charge and debit cards in circulation today. An association comprised of more than 20,000 member financial institutions, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses, both large and small, in 210 countries and territories. MasterCard is a leader in quality and innovation, offering a wide range of payment solutions in the virtual and traditional worlds. MasterCard’s award-winning Priceless advertising campaign is now seen in 80 countries and in 40 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. With more than 22 million acceptance locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard Card. At September 30, 2001, gross annual dollar volume exceeded US$704 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [][2].




Trivnet announced that
T-Systems, a Deutsche Telekom company, will use Trivnet’s online payment
infrastructure to develop new applications and value-added services for the
Deutsche Telekom Group.

Trivnet has signed a licensing agreement to supply its advanced payment
infrastructure to T-Systems. The agreement is for an initial three years, with
an extension option. Trivnet’s platform will be demonstrated by Deutsche
Telekom at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany (13th to 20th March).
Trivnet’s modular, scalable and secure payment infrastructure enables carriers
(wireless, fixed-line, and broadband) to take an active role in online
commerce. It enables control over the entire payment value chain, while
addressing specific carrier requirements through its flexible design and

Trivnet’s platform allows purchases to be made easily and securely, regardless
of the access method (WEB, SMS, WAP, IVR). Carriers can automatically enable
their subscribers to perform one-click purchases, without installing software
or pre-registering, thereby charging online purchases to their monthly bills,
credit cards, pre-paid accounts, debit cards, direct debit or any other
billing channel.

Edo Ganot, Trivnet’s VP Strategic Alliances and Marketing, said: “We are very
excited to be working with Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest
company and a pioneer in providing online services. T-Systems’ vast experience
in IT development enables them to build upon our payment platform value added
applications that will generate new revenue streams and strengthen customer
relationships for Deutsche Telekom.”

About Trivnet

Trivnet provides payment platforms for online commerce. Trivnet’s
payment solution allows mobile operators, telcos, ISPs, broadband operators
other service providers to assume an active role in online commerce, by
enabling subscribers to charge online purchases to their monthly service bills
or alternative payment methods. Trivnet’s technology can be easily integrated
with back office systems (such as billing, CRM, ERP), enabling quick and
effective implementation. Trivnet’s customers include mobile operators,
ISPs and system integrators worldwide. Founded in 1997, Trivnet is
headquartered in Israel with a joint venture in Japan. More information:


Voyager SE Clients

Corillian Corp. announced that Sterling Financial Corporation, a $1.8 billion multi-bank holding company located in Lancaster, Pa., and U of C Federal Credit Union, a $400 million credit union based in Boulder Colo., will convert to Corillian Voyager Special Edition to provide enhanced online banking services to their customers and members.

Sterling Financial will replace the Fiserv Internet banking platform with Corillian Voyager SE to provide its retail and small business customers with real-time online access to all of their financial accounts to reconcile account balances, transfer funds and pay bills. Also, customers will have the ability to personalize their financial information through Corillian Personalization Manager, and aggregate all of their financial information into one view through Corillian OneSource Register. The Corillian Business Finance Suite will give Sterling Financial’s small business customers more options in managing their business finances.

“We were looking for a solution that could help us expand the functionality of our online offering to both our retail and small business customers,” said Kathy Phillips, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Sterling Financial Corporation. “With Corillian’s Voyager SE we will be able to significantly enhance our offering with innovative and easy-to-use services that we feel will be of tremendous value to our customers.”

U of C Federal Credit Union chose Corillian Voyager SE to give its more than 64,000 members enhanced Internet banking and bill payment services, and provide integration with the Open Financial Exchange (OFX) data standard to allow members real-time access to their financial information through personal finance management software like Intuit’s Quicken(R) and Microsoft(R) Money. “We were looking for an Internet banking solution that would offer our members new and innovative online banking services and provide access to all of their financial information with a single sign-on,” said Bill Sterner, president and CEO of U of C Federal Credit Union. “Corillian provided all of this and more. With Voyager SE, we feel we have a solution that will allow us to provide great services to our members now and allow us to add additional services in the future.”

Corillian Voyager SE is a subscription-based ASP service that provides financial institutions with eFinance solutions such as Internet banking, bill payment, customer relationship management functions, and integration with the Open Financial Exchange (OFX) data standard to allow customers real-time access to their financial information through personal finance management software. Hosted in Corillian’s state-of-the-art data center, Corillian Voyager SE clients receive the benefit of Corillian’s trained staff of technical support professionals, who perform daily monitoring and maintenance of the Voyager SE platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The breadth of functionality and services that Corillian Voyager SE provides is unmatched in the industry and will be a great asset for financial institutions like Sterling Financial and U of C Federal Credit Union,” said Alex Hart, president of Corillian. “Enhancing their ability to offer more financial services online will increase loyalty and help Sterling Financial and U of C Federal Credit Union grow and prosper in highly competitive markets.”

About Sterling Financial Corporation

Sterling Financial Corporation now operates 51 banking locations in south central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, through its subsidiary banks, Bank of Lancaster County, N.A., Bank of Hanover and Trust Company, First National Bank of North East and Bank of Lebanon County. As of December 31, 2001, total assets of Sterling Financial Corporation were approximately $1.86 billion. Sterling Financial Corporation also owns Sterling Financial Trust Company, which has close to $1 billion in assets under management.

About U of C Federal Credit Union

U of C Federal Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit banking alternative serving Boulder County and the University of Colorado. The Credit Union provides lower fees, better rates and personal service throughout a network of branches, ATMs, the Internet and service centers through the United States. U of C Federal Credit Union serves over 64,000 members and has more than $400 million in assets. Voted “Best Financial Institution” and “Best Employer” by the readers of the Boulder Daily Camera, U of C Federal Credit Union is committed to the financial success of its member-owners and the entire community. To learn more about U of C Federal Credit Union, visit our Web site at [][1].

About Corillian Corporation

Based in Oregon, and with international offices in Europe and Asia, Corillian Corporation is an award-winning provider of eFinance-enabling software for the financial services industry. Built on the Microsoft Windows 2000 platform, Corillian applications support Internet banking, bill delivery and payment, brokerage, customer relationship management, enhanced data aggregation, and small business transactions. Voyager can be deployed on-site at the financial firm or at a secure data center. Corillian technology also enables Open Financial Exchange (OFX) access by finance management software packages such as Quicken(R), QuickBooks(R) and Microsoft(R) Money. For more information about Corillian Corporation, visit the company’s Web site at [][2].