Cards Pulled

The FDIC has begun notifying Net 1st MasterCard cardholders that their accounts are being closed. As a result, CO-based Equitex and its FL-based subsidiary, Key Financial Systems, said this morning they will not be able to transfer the portfolio, which holds about $5 million in secured card deposits, to a successor financial institution. However, the companies say that they are in active discussions with a number of current credit card issuers for a potentially new “Pay-As-You-Go” credit card program to be marketed and serviced by Key.

FL-based Net First National Bank was closed March 1st by the OCC with the FDIC named as receiver. The bulk of the assets were taken over by Bank Leumi USA. Net First and Key, issued the “Net 1st MasterCard,” under which consumers receive a credit card with a $500 balance. Cardholders make a $15 monthly payment, of which $8 is applied to the monthly fee and $7 is deposited with the bank as a useable or refundable credit. Atlanta-based Impulse Marketing says more than 500,000 consumers signed up for the sub-prime MasterCard. The OCC said Net First National Bank failed to comply with 19 of the 20 articles in a enforcement action taken 18 months ago. The enforcement action required the bank to stop marketing its “Pay-As-You-Go” or “Net 1st MasterCard” credit card product until it proved the program was in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws, including consumer protection laws. However the OCC said last week that Net First complied only with Article 8 of the consent order which prohibited new written or oral contracts or commitments with third parties to perform services or provide products that directly or indirectly obligated the bank to pay on an annualized basis an amount equal to or exceeding $10,000. (CF Library 3/4/02; 3/5/02)

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MBNA Selling

Three top MBNA executives have filed with the SEC, announcing their intention to sell about $28 million worth of company stock. President Charles Cawley is selling $15.7 million in stock, EVP Richard Struthers is selling $10.7 million, and director Stuart Markowitz plans to unload $1.8 million in stock. Cawley is exercising stock options granted under MBNA’s 1997 long-term incentive plan. Struthers is exercising options granted under MBNA’s 1991 plan. Markowitz is selling shares he acquired on the open market between 1993 and 1998. According to SEC documents Charles Cawley sold 353,928 in February at 35.00 per share. MBNA is currently trading near its 52-week high of $39 per share.

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e-Port Hollywood

USA Technologies and Virtual Concepts have teamed to launch an intelligent credit-card based vending machine that dispenses everything from DVDs, CDs, and video games. The CineMachine utilizes e-Port, designed by USA Technologies. The e-Port cashless system allows consumers to make purchases from vending machines or any type of point-of-sale terminal with the swipe of a credit card, smart card or hotel room key, cellular phone, PDA, or through dial-a-vend. e-Port also comes equipped with a liquid display screen that allows suppliers and the vending machine or owner of the POS to advertise additional product, as well as allow the customer to make add on purchases. Both companies plan to target movie theaters and the theater patrons with CineMachine.

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CREDIT CARD FALLOUT

The South Korean Financial Supervisory Commission announced its plans to
promote debit card use over credit card use following “irregularities” with
credit card activity. The FSC says credit cards have produced more theft and
bankruptcy. The FSC is seeking to set the tax exemption rate and user limits
higher for debit cards than credit cards. Debit card users have been entitled
to a 20% tax exemption and a cash withdrawal limit of 500,000 won per use
and 1
million won per day. Debit card volume was 106.4 billion won in 2000 compared
to credit card volume of 79.5 trillion won in 2000. The FSC blames the credit
card problems on poor risk magnagement.

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Verizon SmarTouch

Verizon Long Distance customers in Washington now can buy their long-distance service in advance, giving them complete control over what they spend.

SmartTouch, an innovative service option from Verizon Long Distance, enables consumers to know exactly how much they are spending on long-distance calls. Customers establish a SmartTouch home telephone account using a credit card or a Visa- or MasterCard-branded check or debit card. Calling time is deposited in the customer’s account, using spending levels selected by the customer.

“SmartTouch puts customers in charge when it comes to managing their long-distance spending,” says Jill Wagner, vice president – marketing for Verizon Retail Markets. “Plus, we are giving customers a great rate with no hidden fees. It doesn’t get any simpler.”

Customers know exactly what they are paying for each long-distance call. SmartTouch customers pay a low flat rate of 8 cents per minute for state-to-state, direct-dialed calls made from home. There are no monthly plan fees. Long-distance calls within the state of Washington are 9 cents per minute. Domestic directory assistance calls for out-of-state numbers are 50 cents. These rates include all government-required taxes and surcharges, including state sales tax and federal universal service fees.

There are no extra digits to dial, such as for 10-10 dial-around services or prepaid calling cards.

How SmartTouch Works

Once the customer’s account is established, a voice prompt at the beginning of each long-distance call informs the customer exactly how much money is in the customer’s SmartTouch account and the number of minutes available for the call. Another voice prompt at the end of the call informs the customer of the remaining balance. If the account balance is getting low during a call, a voice prompt will alert the customer. Only the customer hears the account status information on the call.

From their home phones, customers can dial “0-0” or a special toll-free number to get the account balance, add additional time and check call activity anytime, day or night. Customers also can check their account balance, verify call activity and manage their account with Internet access on the Internet at [http://www.mysmarttouch.com][1]. All purchases are posted to the customer’s account immediately, so balances can be checked before making the next call. Verizon customers can also access their SmartTouch accounts away from home and at pay phones by dialing a separate toll-free number and using their unique PIN (personal identification number).

State-to-state, direct-dialed calls made while customers are away from home are 25 cents per minute. Unlike other major long-distance companies, Verizon Long Distance does not add a per-call service charge to its away-from-home feature and there are no special fees to access the account from a pay phone.

SmartTouch Makes Account Management Easy

At the customer’s option, Verizon Long Distance also can automatically add time to the customer’s account using their check card or credit card account by using the SmartTouch Rapid Recharge program.

Customers have two Rapid Recharge options. Verizon can replenish the SmartTouch account every time the account reaches a level set by the customer. Customers select the threshold and the amount they want Verizon to add to the account in advance. When the account reaches the threshold, the pre-determined amount is added to the account. Customers also can have a fixed amount added to the account each month on a day they select. Unused minutes carry over from month to month, so any money placed in the account stays there until the customer uses it.

SmartTouch Has International Appeal

SmartTouch offers Verizon long-distance customers some of the lowest international rates on direct-dialed calls with no monthly fees. For direct-dialed calls to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, the rate is the same as that for domestic calls: 8 cents per minute, 24 hours a day with no monthly fees. Like the domestic rates, SmartTouch international rates include all government-required fees and taxes.

Using SmartTouch is simpler than prepaid calling cards or 10-10 dial around services. SmartTouch customers can simply pick up the telephone and dial “011,” the country code, plus the number to make calls from home. In addition to English, SmartTouch voice prompts are available in Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.

If customers make calls when they are away from home and in a state where Verizon Long Distance cannot yet offer service, calls will be carried USAN, Inc., a long-distance company, and customers will pay USAN rates. Also, USAN charges a $1 surcharge for “away-from-home” calls made to locations outside the continental U.S. In addition to Washington, SmartTouch from Verizon is also available to residents in 27 states.

To get more information about SmartTouch visit Verizon Long Distance’s award-winning Web site at [http://www.getsmarttouch.com][2].

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 132.1 million access line equivalents and 29.4 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with more than $67 billion in annual revenues and approximately 247,000 employees, Verizon’s global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit [http://www.verizon.com][3].

[1]: http://www.mysmarttouch.com/
[2]: http://www.getsmarttouch.com/
[3]: http://www.verizon.com/

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NextCard Nasdaq

Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts, will become a component of the Nasdaq Financial-100 Index effective at the beginning of trading Thursday, March 14, 2002. Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc. will replace NextCard, Inc., which is being removed from the Index due to its extended trading halt.

With a market capitalization of $567 million, Boston Private Financial Holdings offers a full range of financial planning, investment management, and private banking services to its domestic and international clientele through its six operating companies: Boston Private Bank & Trust Company, Borel Private Bank and Trust Company, Westfield Capital Management, RINET Company, Sand Hill Advisors, and Boston Private Value Investors.

The Nasdaq Stock Market lists more than 4,000 companies and trades more shares per day than any other U.S. market. For more information about Nasdaq, visit the Nasdaq Web site at [http://www.nasdaq.com][1] or the Nasdaq Newsroom(SM) at .

[1]: http://www.nasdaq.com/

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ORCC Signs Major CU

Online Resources Corp., a leading outsourcer of e-financial services, announced the launch of its Quotien Internet Bill Payment Service to Citizen’s Equity First Credit Union, the thirteenth largest credit union in the country with $2.2 billion in assets and over 200,000 members.

“We are eager to see the results of the recent launch of this service to CEFCU’s membership,” said Paul Fager, vice president of EFT at CEFCU. “CEFCU has not offered an electronic bill payment program in the past. However, we expect the program will be very well received and members will quickly adopt it.”

About CEFCU

With assets totaling over $2.2 billion, CEFCU is the thirteenth largest credit union in the United States and the largest financial institution in Central Illinois. CEFCU serves over 216,000 member/owners through 19 Member Centers and the Money Center 24 ATM Network.

About Online Resources

Online Resources (Nasdaq:ORCC – [www.orcc.com][1]) is a leading outsourcer of e-financial services, with over 500 bank and credit union clients. The company’s comprehensive QuotienSM suite of services provides Internet banking, electronic bill payment-presentment, and other consumer and small business. e-finance applications. The company performs 24×7 customer care and consumer marketing services, giving clients the benefit of a single, integrated solution, backed by a unique end-to-end service guarantee and real-time transaction capabilities. Online Resources processes approximately 70 million transactions annually, including $3.5 billion in consumer bill payments.

[1]: http://www.orcc.com/

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GE Profits

GE Card Services reported a 32% increase in net earnings during 2001, from $495 million in 2000 to $654 million last year. The data were released Friday in GE’s 2001 annual report which included significantly more detail than previous disclosures. During 2001, GE Card Services racked up $3.95 billion in revenues, a 1.4% increase over 2000. Between 1999 and 2000, GE Card Services revenues surged by 57% while profits soared by 153%. GE Card Services revenues for 1999 were $2.5 billion and $3.9 billion for 2000. Net earnings for 2000 were $196 million compared to $495 million for 2000. GE also reported it had $9.47 billion in securitized credit card receivables for 2001 compared to $6.17 billion for 2000. For complete details on GE’s annual report and quarterly reports visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com/

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AmEx Treasurer

American Express Company announced that it had named Walter S. Berman as senior vice president, corporate treasurer, effective immediately. Mr. Berman currently serves as acting chief financial officer at American Express Financial Advisors , a role he will maintain on an interim basis until a replacement is named. As treasurer, Mr. Berman succeeds Kim Rosenberg, who is retiring. Mr. Rosenberg will stay with the company until the end of the month to ensure a smooth transition.

Mr. Berman worked at American Express from 1965 to 1996, holding a number of senior finance positions, including CFO of American Express Travel Related Services and treasurer of American Express. After leaving the company, he joined IBM and served as treasurer from 1999 to 2000. Mr. Berman returned to American Express in April of last year as senior vice president, finance.

As treasurer, Mr. Berman will be responsible for the company’s global treasury operations, including short- and long-term funding, asset securitization, market risk management, cash management and capital structure. He will report to the company’s executive vice president and CFO, Gary Crittenden.

Mr. Rosenberg joined American Express in 1997 from Citicorp, where he had been managing director of the Market Risk Policy Committee.

American Express Company ([http://www.americanexpress.com][1]), founded in 1850, is a global travel, financial and network services provider.

[1]: http://www.americanexpress.com/

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MicroPass

One of the nation’s fasting growing all new-construction hotel brands, Microtel Inns & Suites, has launched the much anticipated all new frequent guest program – MicroPass. The new program will offer MicroPass members one night free for every nine qualifying nights they stay at any of the more than 250 Microtel Inns & Suites around the world. Since the program was introduced to the hotels in mid- January, more than 15,000 guests have become members and have booked approximately 4,400 stays at Microtels across the country. “We have found that once a guest experiences Microtel’s value and consistency they want to return,” says Jon Leven, senior vice president of brand marketing for Microtel. “This new program is one more way that frequent travelers can get more for their money without sacrificing quality. Microtel is proud to be one of the few budget chains to truly reward our frequent guests.” Frequent Microtel guests can utilitize the MicroPass web site to review account history including credits earned, free nights earned and free nights redeemed. Members will need their MicroPass identification number and password to access account information. A complete set of rules is available on the MicroPass web site at [http://www.micro-pass.com][1].

Members are required to present their MicroPass card number upon arrival to receive credit for the stay. Travelers can become MicroPass members by visiting a Microtel, calling member services at 1-888-373-0092 or by registering online. Microtel Inns & Suites are all newly constructed, interior corridor, budget/economy hotels. Microtel is one of the fastest growing hotel brands in the U.S. As of Dec. 31, 2001, there were 265 Microtel branded hotels open or under construction worldwide. For reservations, contact 1-888-771-7171 toll- free, or visit Microtel online at [http://www.microtel.com][2] to access information and make reservations instantly. All Microtel Inns & Suites are independently owned and operated.

[1]: http://www.micro-pass.com/
[2]: http://www.microtel.com/

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Online Index

Jupiter Media Metrix last week introduced the financial services industry’s first index based entirely on online consumer behavior and performance metrics. The Jupiter Composite Rating of Online Effectiveness Index is made up of individual scores relating to unique visitors, usage intensity (time), usage frequency (number of visits per month), customer loyalty or transition (the ability to migrate off-line customers online). BankofAmerica.com, WellsFargo.com and KeyBank.com lead the Jupiter Banking CORE.

Top 10 Online Banks with CORE Index
1. BankofAmerica.com 100
2. WellsFargo.com 99
3. KeyBank.com 88
4. BankOne.com 81
5. Chase.com 73
6. HSBC.com 70
7. Washington Mutual 66
8. Citigroup Banking Sites 65
9. Fleet.com 65
10. SunTrust.com 64
Source: Jupiter Media Metrix

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EDS IT DEAL

Bank of Queensland Limited
and EDS announced a 10-year, US$250 million contract for EDS
to outsource and upgrade the Bank’s information technology infrastructure
and back office processes.

The agreement — in line with the Queensland Government’s Smart State
drive — will produce estimated savings of US$52 million of prospective costs
over the life of the contract for the Bank while also underpinning its
aggressive growth plans and improving efficiency.

Bank of Queensland Managing Director David Liddy said: “Partnering with
EDS lets us concentrate efficiently on areas where we create value: our
unfaltering commitment to customer service and broadening our reach through
improving our business and identifying opportunities.

“This initiative is a key part of the Bank’s wider strategy to double our
marketshare in Queensland and our network coverage of the State. It will
underpin our efforts to dramatically improve our efficiency, reduce our cost
to income ratio and open 34 new branches around the State by August 2004.

“The agreement paves the way for us to continually expand the business we
write without a corresponding increase in costs. It also allows the Bank to
pursue organic or inorganic growth strategies and improves our ability to
provide products and services more quickly, accurately and consistently to our
customers.”

Full spectrum of business and IT services

Under the terms of the agreement, EDS will provide a comprehensive range
of business and IT services to support the Bank’s operations. EDS will:

— manage all of Bank of Queensland’s IT operations, including upgrading
its overall IT environment;

— deliver a new Internet banking capability for launch in the first half
of this year; and

— manage back office credit card, loan and mortgage processing and call
centre operations.

“This agreement demonstrates the full breadth of EDS’ capabilities across
IT infrastructure, applications development and support, business process
management and e-commerce solutions, combining to provide maximum value and
services to Bank of Queensland,” said EDS Australia Managing Director Don
Easter.

Significant milestone for EDS Australia in Queensland

The Bank of Queensland agreement marks a significant milestone for EDS in
Australia, according to Easter.

“This agreement with Bank of Queensland signals a major foray into the
Queensland market for EDS, and is our first regional banking client,
consolidating EDS’ strong position in the financial services sector in this
dynamic region,” Easter said. “We look forward to establishing a strong
association with Bank of Queensland as we seek to support its growth ambitions
and offer new opportunities to those staff transitioning to EDS.”

Both organisations expect the 220 Bank of Queensland employees involved
will transition to EDS on terms comparable to their current employment,
increasing EDS’ workforce in Australia to approximately 7,000.

EDS, a leading provider of business and technology services in Australia,
has signed several large-scale outsourcing contracts with clients including
the South Australian Government, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac,
Australian Taxation Office and Telstra.

About Bank of Queensland

Bank of Queensland is one of Australia’s most rapidly growing retail
banks. In October 2001 the Bank reported net profit after tax and significant
items of $24.1 million for the full year to 31 August 2001 — an increase of
8 per cent on the previous year. It achieved record sales volumes with
lending approvals up 29 per cent to $2.8 billion and assets under management
increasing 19 per cent to $4.2 billion for the year. Established in 1874, it
is a publicly listed company traded on the Australian Stock Exchange (BOQ)
since 1971. Find out more at
http://www.boq.com.au.

About EDS

EDS, the leading global services company, provides strategy,
implementation and hosting for clients managing the business and technology
complexities of the digital economy. EDS brings together the world’s best
technologies to address critical client business imperatives. It helps
clients eliminate boundaries, collaborate in new ways, establish their
customers’ trust and continuously seek improvement. EDS, with its management
consulting subsidiary, A.T. Kearney, serves the world’s leading companies and
governments in 58 countries. EDS reported revenues of $21.5 billion in 2001.
The company’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the London
Stock Exchange.

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