Web Site Addiction

Major financial Web sites, such as CardWeb.com, Schwab.com, and Bankrate.com, took the #1 spot as the most addictive online destination at-home and at-work in January according to a top Internet audience measurement service. Nielsen//NetRatings found more than 44% of the active Web population visited a finance Web site last month, attracting nearly 51.6 million unique visitors. On average, surfers spent more than 21 minutes browsing finance and investment sites, with males comprising 53% of the total audience. Nielsen//NetRatings says financial Web sites attract serious and engaged consumers who go beyond casual Internet activity. CardWeb.com served more than 250,000 user sessions in January.

Most Addictive Web Categories
(Time Per Person and Unique Audience)
1. Finance & Investment – 21.5 minutes and 51,586,000 visitors
2. News & Information – 15,8 minutes and 64,822,000 visitors
3. Family & Lifestyles – 14.5 minutes and 45,922,000 visitors
4. Search Engines/Portals & Communities – 13.5 minutes and 110,673,000
visitors

5. Travel – 12.0 minutes and 41,523,000 visitors
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, January 2002

Details

EMV PRIME

Gemplus announced the launch of its “EMV Prime” suite of solutions. “EMV
Prime”
comprises a suite of solutions catered towards financial institutions in
various geographies and segments. It aims to provide a simple and cost-
effective path for achieving EMV compliance. Solutions include best-practice
implementation methodology, optimization tools, pre-integrated hardware and
software, smart cards and card issuing services.

EMV migration is a given, a mandate that must be fulfilled. While the
need for compliance is clear, financial institutions have repeatedly expressed
concerns in defining an optimal migration path to EMV. Since the EMV standard
was created in 1996, very few financial institutions have implemented it.
However, considering the payment associations’ mandate timelines, the time has
come for choosing a migration strategy and the right partner to work with.
Gemplus’ “EMV Prime” is aimed at addressing these upcoming challenges and
concerns.

Leveraging its experience of EMV projects over the past three years,
Gemplus has designed “EMV Prime” to reduce total cost of migration by up to
25%. Solutions are crafted to meet the repeated customer requests for
packaged products and services that reduce migration complexity, limit
operational risks and reduce time to market. In addition, it paves the way
for the delivery of high-value, differentiating services to cardholders. As a
result, this enables financial institutions to make a step beyond EMV to
extend their marketing reach, increase brand affinity and generate higher
revenue.

“By working closely with our customers and sharing with them our
competencies and knowledge, Gemplus is able to fine-tune its offering at each
step of the migration, from solution discovery to deployment,” said Gilles
Michel, Gemplus VP Financial and Security Services. “This enables us to
continuously enrich `EMV Prime’ with new features, acknowledging the diversity
of our customers’ needs and drivers.”

“EMV Prime” optimizes each solution with the combination of its own proven
technology bricks with components from other key industry players. “EMV
Easy”, an EMV migration solution developed with ACI Worldwide and Compaq to
provide a comprehensive package of products and services targets medium sized
financial institutions, and marks the significant first step in providing EMV
solutions to the market. EMV solutions targeted all remaining tiers of banks
will be announced over the next few months.

GEMPLUS: the world’s number one provider of solutions empowered by Smart
Cards

Gemplus helps its clients offer an exceptional range of portable,
personalized solutions that bring security and convenience to people’s lives.
These include mobile Internet access, inter-operable banking facilities,
e-commerce and a wealth of other applications. Gemplus is the only completely
dedicated, truly global player in the Smart Card industry, with the largest
R&D team, unrivalled experience, and an outstanding track record of
technological innovation. Gemplus trades its shares on Euronext Paris S.A.
First Market and on the Nasdaq Stock Market as GEMP in the form of ADSs. Its
revenue in 2000 was 1.205 Billion Euros. It employs 6721 people in
37 countries throughout the world.

Details

Semtek Nails Harrington

Semtek Innovative Solutions Corporation, a manufacturer of magnetic card stripe readers, announced the hiring of Don Harrington as national sales manager.

Semtek has recently developed card-swipe readers for handheld devices including the Compaq Ipaq, the Casio CASSIEOPIA EG-800 and several of the Palm handheld computers. Targeting industries requiring m-commerce, age/ID verification, mobile point of sale, or lead retrieval, these devices are a cost-effective solution for large and small organizations alike. Industries with specific applications for these devices include restaurants/bars, professional consumer services, law enforcement and healthcare among others. “Semtek represents an excellent opportunity because of the promise behind the company’s products,” Don said. “Semtek is positioned nicely in the handheld market with products for both the Palm and Pocket PC models. What I find exciting is that the handheld market as a whole grew nearly 20 percent in 2001, while the much of the broader market declined. The future will only get better from here.”

Previously, Don was the executive vice president of the Wholesale Division of the National Bankcard Association for 12 years. The National Bankcard Association specializes in electronic credit card processing and payment systems and ATM processing services. Prior to the National Bankcard Association, Don served as the regional vice president of sales for Hypercom, which provides electronic payment solutions.

“We are delighted to have someone of Don’s background and expertise on board,” said Dennis Mos, Semtek’s director of sales and marketing. “Don has many contacts in the bank and credit card industry, which is an area that we anticipate a tremendous amount of growth in the next few years.”

About Semtek Innovative Solutions Corporation

Founded in 1998, Semtek Innovative Solutions Corporation is a developer and manufacturer of magnetic stripe and smart card readers and terminals. The company’s mission is to bring new technology into the card reader market to support the growing e-commerce and financial transaction markets. In 1999, Semtek introduced a family of magnetic card readers that works with all standard digital interfaces and protocols. Available to OEMs and VARs, these readers are available in single reader or hybrid magnetic card and smart card configurations. Semtek’s competitive advantage: its products are cost effective and easily customizable. The company recently made its first foray into the wireless & handheld arena with its PDA Swipe(TM), a card reader that works with Palm Powered(TM) handheld devices. For more information call 858-278-6003, or visit [http://www.semtek.com][1].

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

Details

CYOTA ENTERS MARKET

Cyota, a leading payment
security company, is expanding its global reach and announced a new
distribution partnership with Intelligent Wave Inc., the largest
software
developers and system integrators for credit card authorization in Japan, with
more than 70% share of that market. The agreement will allow Cyota to quickly
and effectively penetrate the Japanese market, using IWI’s market position and
reach. The first products to be jointly marketed are Cyota’s Verified by Visa
product Cyota SecureVbV and the Cyota SecureSuite platform. Triangle
Technologies Ltd., a leading business development advisory firm for
non-Japanese firms in the Japanese market, played a key role in developing the
partnership agreement.

Cyota recently launched SecureSuite at First USA, Bank of America and TSYS.
Cyota is delivering SecureVbV, a certified Verified by Visa solution, as the
first part of SecureSuite to their clients. SecureSuite is an integrated
online
payment security platform designed to seamlessly integrate a wide range of
authentication and credit card security products including Verified by Visa,
MasterCard SPA and Cyota’s surrogate number solution called SecureClick into a
single user experience. SecureSuite allows banks, with a single backend
integration, to offer consumers a unified front end that supports association
standards, payment security and transaction products. This risk-free approach
helps issuers start a payment initiative without any integration efforts or IT
investment in equipment.

“We view Cyota as a best-of-breed technology company. The SecureSuite platform
is unmatched in the industry. IWI focuses on partnerships with leading
technology companies and we believe Cyota completes our product offerings for
our leading customers,” said Mr. Kazuhiko Adachi, Chairman of IWI.

“IWI is well regarded as the leading credit card software services vendor in
Japan, and we have been impressed with their technical leadership and market
dominance. SecureSuite is a perfect fit for IWI’s customers and
representatives
and we are pleased to be working such a well regarded firm,” said Naftali
Bennett, Cyota President & CEO. “We look forward to bringing our market
leadership experience in the US to the Japanese market.”

“The Japanese Internet commerce market has been growing rapidly, but one of
the inhibitors has been the lack of security with which consumers can make
online payments,” commented Yoshinori Oikawa, Vice-President of Triangle
Technologies. “Cyota’s market leadership in payment security is viewed very
positively by Japanese credit card issuers, and we believe that it will help
stimulate the further growth of e-commerce.”

About Cyota

Cyota
(http://www.cyota.com) is a leading payment security
company that is dedicated to helping financial institutions strengthen their
customer relationships through reliable, flexible, easy to use online
security,
payment and transaction products. Cyota SecureSuite is a revolutionary
platform
designed to serve as the backbone for integrating numerous e-payment
initiatives. Cyota services multiple clients in North America and worldwide.
Founded in 1999 by leading card and security industry experts, Cyota is
headquartered in New York with offices worldwide. Cyota is led by a respected
management team with extensive experience in the security, Internet and
banking
industry and is supported by an international Advisory Board comprised of
world-renowned financial and security experts.

About IWI

IWI is a leading software developer and related systems provider with
dominance
in on-line credit authorization systems, enjoying more than 70% share among
major card issuers in Japan.
IWI has gained an impressive customer base by value-added, “best of breed”
solutions over the past 17 years. IWI supplies software and professional
services to a number of industries including banks, bank-affiliated companies,
large-scale retailers, credit companies, non-financial institutions,
information processing centers, electronic commerce, world cashing services,
consumer finance companies, securities businesses, telecommunications and so
forth.

About Triangle Technologies

Triangle Technologies is a leading business development firm specializing in
the Japanese market. Headed by Dr. Daniel Isenberg (1981-1988 on the
faculty of
the Harvard Business School) with a professional team of 14 people in and out
of Japan, Triangle Technologies has facilitated over 80 technology related
deals between Japanese and non-Japanese companies. Triangle Technologies helps
non-Japanese clients build strategic alliances, raise capital and create new
ventures. For more information please visit our website at
http://www.triangletech.com.

Details

SSP DoD Deal

SSP-Litronic, the government enterprise division of data security provider SSP Solutions Inc., announced it will provide an estimated $2.3 million in smart card and digital certificate management software and engineering services as a core technology provider to the General Dynamics C4 Systems KMI Team on a Department of Defense contract to implement the secure Key Management Infrastructure, a significant element of the DoD’s long-term roadmap for an in-depth information assurance strategy. SSP-Litronic has a long history of developing public key infrastructure technology and open, interoperable security products for the government sector and has been chosen to be a subcontractor to General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics and the winning prime contractor awarded the $24.4 million contract from the National Security Agency’s Maryland Procurement Office.

This contract, known as KMI CI-1, encompasses the first capability increment of the DoD’s KMI and includes the development and fielding of a system for providing high-assurance digital certificates to DoD and other government agency users for critical online identification and authentication in electronic commerce and data exchange.

SSP Profile Manager, a comprehensive smart card and digital certificate issuance and lifecycle management application, will be used to satisfy certificate and token management requirements, as the DoD’s high-grade digital certificates have strict criteria for the distribution and use of certificates, protection and recovery of keys, and stringent auditing requirements. SSP-Litronic will also provide commercial off the shelf (COTS) PKI client toolkits based upon the SSP NetSign PKI Client product to meet the KMI requirements. The client toolkit enables PKI services for third-party applications, allowing easier development and integration of secure, PKI-based applications and includes an open token interface that will smart card-enable DoD applications for the Target Class 4 token, the DoD’s next generation high assurance PKI smart card.

In addition, SSP-Litronic will provide engineering services as a member of the General Dynamics KMI Development Team under contract to General Dynamics. Acting as member of the General Dynamics KMI Team, SSP-Litronic will support requirements definition, interface design, systems design, software development, integration and test in areas where SSP-Litronic expertise relating to government and commercial PKI products and technology can be applied to the overall benefit of the KMI program.

As part of the General Dynamics team, SSP-Litronic will also be partnered with Booz-Allen & Hamilton (BAH), SRA International and Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP). CTP and SSP-Litronic will provide commercial best-practices based on their Internet-related experience, while BAH will provide systems and security engineering and SRA will support Global Directories Services (GDS) integration.

This contract is the first in the incremental plan that is intended to provide the foundation for achieving the DoD’s Key Management target architecture. Work to be completed includes the development and fielding of a Class 4 PKI certification management system that integrates multiple Certificate Authorities (CA). The DoD’s published roadmap and policy memorandum has established an aggressive timetable for its PKI evolution — carefully structured to allow adjustment in implementation features and provide a transparent transition.

About SSP Solutions Inc.

SSP Solutions develops and distributes the SSP(TM) Solution Suite of services, hardware, software and embedded security products designed as the Trusted Symbol of the Digital Economy(TM). The company’s SSP-Litronic Division, based in Reston, Va., has a 30-year history of leading-edge technology and data security solutions for government communications. SSP products embed security and trust throughout the transaction chain, protecting electronic communications and financial transactions, physical and electronic access, and the exchange of copyrighted digital content. By combining its own technology with a range of partners’ technologies and intellectual properties, SSP products represent the first open embedded security architecture simultaneously supporting public key infrastructure (PKI) and multiple standards of digital rights management. SSP’s custom-made enterprise security solutions address digital rights management, financial services, government, entertainment, health care and education. For additional company information, visit [http://www.sspsolutions.com][1] or call 949/851-1085.

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

Details

Fee Income

![][1] Fee income among credit card specialists grew three times faster during 2001 than overall fee income for banks. CA-based R. K. Hammer says fee income last year comprised 31% of total income for credit card companies, compared to 50% for banks. In the year 2000, bank fee income was 49% of total income. Fee income among credit card companies in 2000 was 28% of total income. During 2001, late payment fees, the major consumer fee revenue stream, rose 4.4%, from an average of $27.10 to $28.29, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]). Over-limit fees rose 3.4%, from an average of $25.99 to $26.88.

FEE INCOME (as a % of total income)
BANKS CC COMPANIES
1995: 35% 18%
1996: 36% 19%
1997: 38% 21%
1998: 41% 23%
1999: 45% 24%
2000: 49% 28%
2001: 50% 31%
Source: R.K Hammer Investment Bankers (Thousand Oaks, CA)

[1]: /graphic/carddata/carddatamoving_good.gif
[2]: http://www.carddata.com

Details

Hypercom Milestone

Hypercom Corp. confirmed this morning the company has shipped its 5 millionth POS information and transaction terminal. The ‘ICE 5500’ terminal was shipped to the Europe’s alphyra Group. Hypercom’s ‘epic ICE’ terminals are compact, high-performance, touch screen information and transaction platforms. ‘ICE’ terminals integrate firewall-protected, multi-tasking, multi-applications functionality, along with EMV chip card capability, a secure PIN pad, secure software downloading, built-in HTML/HTTP Web browser, and integrated receipt printer. The ‘ICE’ platforms also support electronic signature and receipt capture, e-mail, on-screen advertising, interactive electronic coupons, and cash management reporting through a standard browser.

Details

Trintech 4Q/01

Ireland-based Trintech Group reported this morning that revenues for the quarter ending 1/31/02 remained flat at $15.5 million compared to the corresponding quarter last year, and that its quarterly net loss declined from $7.9 million one year ago to $3.1 million for the latest quarter. Trintech also announced that Cyril McGuire has been appointed CEO and John McGuire has been appointed President. Cyril McGuire will continue to serve as Executive Chairman. Trintech noted that it recorded an impairment write off of acquisition related goodwill and certain purchased intangible assets during the quarter amounting to $38.1 million. The impact of the market retreating for technology companies and the performance of the related acquisitions led the Company to write these assets down to their fair value. Trintech also announced today that it will incur a restructuring charge of $3.5 million in the current quarter. The Company expects that the restructuring will improve the performance of the organization by reducing costs, consolidating locations and combining operations and other activities. Trintech, founded in 1987, offers a wide range of payment software products for credit, debit, commercial and procurement card applications. For complete details on Trintech’s latest results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: /cardata/main.html

Details

Instant Marketing Response

Australia’s Optus has partnered with Columbia TriStar, MasterCard, games developer Two Way TV, and design studio TVMates to offer a range of new services to participants in their ‘iTV’ trials in Sydney. Optus selected the ‘Liberate TV Platform’ software suite to deliver the services over its hybrid fibre coaxial networks. During the current Australian summer (Dec-Mar), Optus offers a direct response advertising campaign with MasterCard International that offered viewers in the trial an escape to a dream vacation. MasterCard cardholders who registered their MasterCard purchases got the opportunity to win a week on Daydream Island with nine friends plus weekly chances to win weekend getaways to a tropical location. Through synchronized broadcasting technology, viewers who clicked on a button during a MasterCard commercial were taken directly to a MasterCard web site to register for the promotion.

Details

Gelco Multi Card

MasterCard International and Gelco Information Network, a leading travel expense management company, announced an alliance to help support MasterCard’s public sector and middle market payment solutions.

Through the alliance, MasterCard issuers and their public sector and mid-sized business customers will be able to fully automate expense processing by using MasterCard’s Multi Card program and Gelco’s expense management solutions. “MasterCard’s alliance with Gelco allows member financial institutions and their customers the ability to fully automate expense processing by combining the power of MasterCard’s Multi Card program with a leading web-based expense management system,” said Philip Philliou, vice president, e-Business and Emerging Technologies (eB2B), MasterCard International. “With Gelco’s unmatched expertise in travel expense management and MasterCard’s state-of-the-art Central Data Repository, we can offer comprehensive solutions that combine efficiency with more control over an organization’s expense-related data.”

Public Sector

Combining MasterCard’s suite of public sector payment solutions, including the MasterCard Public Sector Multi Card, with Gelco Travel Manager(R) will provide public sector companies with timely and accurate expense management information to gain increased controls. Furthermore, the combined solution will assist in identifying spending trends, realizing potential cost savings and enabling customers to make better financial decisions. Gelco Travel Manager, an enterprise expense management solution, is the recognized industry standard for public sector organizations including federal, state and local governments, universities and government contractors.

By implementing the Gelco/MasterCard solution, these organizations can:

— Improve cost reduction and policy compliance

— Drive savings through supplier negotiation

— Enforce supplier contracts and discounts

— Maximize their card program

— Focus strategic resources

Benefits to MasterCard issuers include improved speed to pay, centralized aggregated payments, reduced delinquencies, and when bundled with other card offerings, opportunities to grow sales. It also simplifies the charge process and has the potential to increase card spend.

Mid-Sized Businesses

For mid-sized businesses, Gelco ExpenseLink(R) offers a complete, outsourced end-to-end expense management solution for cost-effectively automating expense processing, auditing, reimbursement, and expense analysis. ExpenseLink empowers organizations to harness true expense processing expertise, gain economies of scale by outsourcing, leverage a demonstrated technology infrastructure and provide business travelers with an easy-to-use responsive system. Gelco’s expense management services coupled with MasterCard’s suite of corporate programs offers commercial customers an immediate, measurable and sustainable return-on-investment by:

— Realizing savings in total travel expenditures

— Improving supplier negotiations, savings and performance

— Reducing administrative costs and gaining efficiencies

— Improving cash management

“Gelco is committed to providing its customers with the resources and tools they need to manage expenses,” said Jon Klem, president and CEO, Gelco Expense Management. “Working with MasterCard, we can deliver a powerful combination of global payment solutions and e-business efficiencies to our public sector and corporate customers. The Gelco and MasterCard alliance increases traveler and back office productivity while enhanced data provides clearer travel spending trends and improved card program compliance.”

MasterCard is at the forefront of today’s e-Business initiatives, and is a leading provider of purchasing, fleet, and travel payment solutions for public sector and middle market entities. Using leading-edge technology, the MasterCard Multi Card has the ability to combine purchasing, fleet and T&E data on one payment platform. The new alliance with Gelco builds on MasterCard’s long history of innovation. MasterCard was the first payment solutions provider to launch a purchasing card program, the only organization to offer a fuel and maintenance fleet card solution, as well as offering the only true “one card” solution in the market.

About MasterCard

MasterCard International is a leader in global e-business. The association is focused on providing its member financial institutions with customized, meaningful global e-business solutions that connect them to their accountholders. Through its investment in industry innovation, participation in standards development and business alliances, MasterCard is staying in the forefront of technology integration to enable anytime, anywhere payments across multiple channels and various devices. MasterCard’s global e-business solutions include Internet security, smart cards, mobile commerce/wireless, business to business electronic commerce, and numerous emerging technologies.

MasterCard International has a comprehensive portfolio of well-known, widely accepted payment brands including MasterCard(R), Cirrus(R) and Maestro(R). 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(R) 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 dollar volume exceeded US$704 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [http://www.mastercard.com][1].

About Gelco

Gelco Information Network is the largest and most experienced provider of e-business expense management and reimbursement programs. Since 1896, Gelco has been providing a comprehensive expense management solutions to help organizations realize travel and expense cost savings by enforcing policy compliance, gaining processing efficiencies, and capturing comprehensive travel data for enhanced supplier negotiations and spending analysis. The Gelco solution empowers organizations, federal agencies along with state and local governments with a complete suite of services for cost effective web-based expense reporting, auditing, reimbursement, and analysis services. In 2000, Gelco processed over $11 billion in expense payments and serviced over 1200 organizations with 1.2 million users. For more information, visit [http://www.gelcoexpense.com][2].

[1]: http://www.mastercard.com/
[2]: http://www.gelcoexpense.com/

Details

Cap One Training Rank

For the second year in a row, Capital One Financial Corporation ranked as one of the best companies in America for training and developing its employees according to Training magazine’s listing of the Training Top 100. Capital One ranked second this year after topping the list in 2001. This honor comes on the heels of Capital One’s fourth consecutive year in Fortune’s listing of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.”

“In large measure, we owe our success at Capital One to our ability to hire talented people, give them challenging work in an entrepreneurial environment, and constantly push them to reach beyond their limits,” said Dennis Liberson, Executive Vice President for Human Resources.

The Training Top 100 ranks companies according to their level of investment in workforce development. The ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative data including financial investment in employee development, the type and scope of training and development programs provided to employees, the quality of these programs and how closely such development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.

“Even in these less-than-stellar economic times, Capital One is among those select companies that has raised the bar with its training initiatives,” said Tammy Galvin, executive editor of Training magazine. “Capital One has embraced training and workforce development as a mission-critical strategy, and accordingly, has dedicated significant resources to its training efforts.”

Capital One employs more than 20,000 associates worldwide. Among the programs that differentiate the company from other employers are the associate selection process; a number of ongoing training and development courses; outstanding benefits, including three weeks vacation; and performance-driven entrepreneurial compensation.

Capital One has operations in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Falls Church, Virginia; Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Federal Way, Washington; Boise, Idaho; San Francisco, California; and Boston, Massachusetts; as well as London and Nottingham, United Kingdom and Paris, France.

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation ([http://www.capitalone.com][1]) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products. Capital One’s subsidiaries collectively had 43.8 million customers and $45.3 billion in managed loans outstanding as of December 31, 2001. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 500 index.

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

Details

Priceless Edge

MasterCard International has created a cutting-edge internship program, “Priceless Edge,” designed to give college students the chance for real-life work experience in the highly competitive music industry. The internship promotion, open to college students 18-25, will feature the opportunity to be selected for an industry-specific curriculum and real-world experiences for select candidates. MasterCard has aligned with Fearless Entertainment on the 2002 “Priceless Edge” program to create an entertainment business-based curriculum, featuring an internship with the production company’s “Music In High Places” series, which airs on MTV and DirecTV.

Select candidates will have the opportunity to work at the Music In High Places production office in Los Angeles in several disciplines, including production, business affairs, artist relations and management. Interns will focus on a specific production of “Music In High Places” and travel with the production team to the taping of the episode, scheduled for Yellowstone National Park.

“The youth market segment is an important audience for MasterCard, because we see it as the first opportunity to develop a life-long relationship with our brand,” said Larry Flanagan, chief marketing officer, MasterCard. “The values of these young consumers fits right in line with those of the MasterCard brand. They work hard to establish themselves and with ‘Priceless Edge,’ we can provide them with an opportunity to win a real-life experience that can put them on the road to establishing a solid career, and ultimately, financial independence.”

From March 1 to April 23, students can go to MasterCard.com and click on the “Priceless Edge” icon to participate in the first phase of the program, an optional online distance-learning course developed in conjunction with the Grammy Foundation and the Leonard Bernstein Center for Learning. As part of the online offering, students will have the opportunity to apply for the “Priceless Edge” program by completing an online essay question.

At the conclusion of the entry period, a panel will select 50 eligible students for Phase II of the program: a five-week course on business entertainment held at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities (homes of the prestigious Blair School of Music and Mike Curb School of Music Business, respectively) in Nashville, TN. Course instructors will review all facets of the entertainment industry, including business affairs, production, A&R, entertainment law, etc. Students will receive a free tuition, as well as all transportation, room and board and classroom costs.

Following the five-week course, the ‘hands-on’ phase of the program begins as a panel of instructors will select 12 of the students to participate in the on-site Fearless Entertainment internship program, based in Los Angeles. This two-week, real-world work experience will begin in early August and culminate with the live production of “Music In High Places” at Yellowstone.

“This is a particularly challenging time for college students — economic uncertainty has magnified the obstacles students face as they take steps to start their careers,” said Larry Lieberman, president, Fearless Entertainment. “MasterCard has taken the initiative with ‘Priceless Edge’ to help some of the most creative and motivated students take those first steps in the business of entertainment.”

Marketing Support

MasterCard will roll-out an extensive integrated marketing campaign to support “Priceless Edge.” Among the components will be:

— A :30 TV ad, scheduled to debut during the February 27th CBS telecast of the Grammy Awards

— Print and radio advertising

— A dedicated “Priceless Edge” web page, accessed via MasterCard.com Online banner advertising

— Grass-roots local advertising

— Student-focused public relations campaign

“We wanted to create a program that was both meaningful and relevant to college students, creating an environment where our brand can not only interact with our audience but can impact their lives,” said Flanagan. “‘Priceless Edge’ is all about empowerment. This unique learning experience can provide ‘real-world’ opportunities for students to gain practical knowledge in their specific field of interest. Fearless Entertainment provides the ideal program venue for students wanting to gain actual value from their internships. They’ll be on the front lines, doing and learning.”

About Music In High Places and Fearless Entertainment

Music in High Places is an international television and Internet series that bridges the new Millennium — bringing top recording artists to the most ancient sites on Earth, marrying great music and adventure with the wonders of lost civilizations. The show is designed to be the ultimate music and travel adventure, a “National Geographic Explorer for the MTV & VH1 generations” — capturing each artist’s unique journey to these rarely seen areas of the world with acoustic performances at each site. Music in High Places is and Earth Escapes Production. Contact: Larry Lieberman, Fearless Entertainment, 212/475-7551, press@fearless-entertainment.com.

About MasterCard

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 dollar volume exceeded US$704 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [http://www.mastercard.com][1].

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

Details