SCA Signs CA Dept Store

Valley Department Store, a single-unit retailer of plus-size apparel for men and women, has tapped Shoppers Charge Accounts Co. of Mahwah, NJ to develop and administer its private label credit card program.

The Ontario, CA retailer sells moderately priced clothing, sportswear and accessories. Its women’s business accounts for approximately 60% of overall sales volume.

“Valley Department Store has, during its 36 years in business, developed and maintained a very loyal customer base by tailoring its merchandise mix to ideally suit its clientele,” said Ed Fechner, senior vice president at SCA. “A private label credit card, with all of its marketing opportunities, is a perfect complement to this strategy.”

SCA services brick-and-mortar and catalog retailers throughout the U.S. The company acquires retailers’ receivables or will develop private label credit card programs for merchants who currently don’t offer a house charge. In both situations, SCA assumes responsibility for generating customers’ billing statements; managing credit, collection, and lockbox functions; and creating customized marketing programs.

Ranked among the nation’s largest private label credit card companies, SCA is a division of Hudson United Bank, a subsidiary of Hudson United Bancorp (NYSE: HU).

Hudson United Bancorp is a $6.7 billion asset company with over 200 branch offices in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Hudson United Bancorp’s subsidiaries offer a full array of innovative products and services to commercial and retail accounts, including imaged checking accounts, 24-hour telephone and Internet banking, loans by phone, alternative investment products, insurance products, private label credit cards programs and a wide variety of commercial loans and services including asset based loans, SBA loans, international services and cash management services. Wealth management services are also provided to individuals and businesses. Public sector products and services are provided to local and state governments, municipalities, educational institutions, civic and not-for-profit organizations.

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Upgrade Signs CRH

Daniel Bland, President and Chief Executive Officer of Upgrade International announced Wednesday that the Board of Directors has appointed C. Rowland Hanson to its Board of Directors.

Additionally, Mr. Bland and Mr. Hanson announced that Upgrade and CRH & Associates have entered into a consulting agreement whereby CRH & Associates will oversee Corporate Communications and Branding Strategies on behalf of Upgrade and its subsidiaries.

Hanson is the President of CRH & Associates (www.crh-associates.com), a consulting firm based in Redmond, Washington, specializing in strategic planning, marketing and corporate communications for a wide range of industries. Prior to founding CRH, Hanson served as Vice President of Corporate Communications for Microsoft Corporation. At Microsoft, he developed and executed the company’s branding strategy which included the naming and launch of such products as Microsoft Windows.

Prior to Microsoft, Hanson served as Vice President of World-Wide Marketing for Neutrogena Corporation, where he was a member of the team that conceived and developed several new products while expanding the business on a global basis.

Mr. Hanson, also is a member of the Board of Directors of Direct Focus, Inc., one the leading companies in health and fitness. Direct Focus owns and markets several brands of health and fitness equipment including Bowflex, Nautilus, Schwinn Fitness, & StairMaster.

Hanson has a MBA degree from the Wharton School of Business and his bachelor degree in business administration from Loyola – Marymount University.

Daniel Bland commenting on the appointment, “We at Upgrade are very excited that Rowland has joined the Upgrade family. His expertise in brand-name development and corporate communications will add significantly to the Company. His knowledge will be extremely valuable as Upgrade develops its business and its overall corporate communications programs. We are most pleased about our consulting arrangement, however, with Rowland also serving on our Board of Directors we will benefit from his experience as we position the Company as we prepare to bring our products to market.”

ABOUT UPGRADE INTERNATIONAL

Upgrade International Corp. through its ownership interest in UltraCard Inc., Efornet Corp., and cQue Corporation is engaged in the development and commercialization of a patented ultra high capacity portable data storage technology. UltraCard’s patented method for using existing hard disk storage technology provides both highly durable media in a credit card format and an inexpensive read/write device that together will become the next generation in personal portable data storage for a broad range of existing and new markets. Management believes that the UltraCard technology will potentially provide numerous industrial users with a combination of high levels of security and a vastly greater amount of personal transportable data storage at the lowest cost in the industry. In addition the acquisition and development of existing SmartCard solution providers represents a strategic market strategy designed to accelerate the integration of the vastly superior technology inherent in the UltraCard into existing and newly developing markets.

On Behalf of the Board of Directors, Daniel S. BlandM President and Chief Executive Officer

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FoneCash EVP

FoneCash Inc., whose mission is to become the leading producer of low-cost, high quality “transaction automated solutions,” announced Wednesday that Danny Y. Lee has joined the Company as Executive Vice President to pursue the Company’s aggressive growth strategies.

Mr. Lee will be establishing a West Coast Mergers & Acquisitions office in San Francisco, California that will also serve as our gateway to the Pacific.

“Danny has proven over and again his ability to identify and provide strategic expansion guidance and creative capital solutions for the most innovative corporations,” stated Daniel E. Charboneau, Chairman and CEO of FoneCash Inc. “In addition, we are pleased that Danny will take on the challenge during this important stage in our growth. His Wall Street background along with his past Presidential leaderships of both private and public companies, uniquely qualifies him to spearhead our move to the next level as well as coordination of our next capital raise.”

“FoneCash is at an exciting time in its growth and development,” stated Danny Y. Lee, Executive Vice President of FoneCash Inc. “Combining my Wall Street connections with my operational expertise with FoneCash’s existing infrastructure provides for a strong platform to quickly move to the next level as well as serve as the springboard for enhancing shareholder value.”

Mr. Lee brings 18 years of senior level and investment industry experiences to FoneCash, having been President & Chief Consulting Strategist for A. G. Spencer Corporation, a global strategy-consulting firm, where his clientele ranged from network provider to Asian import/export conglomerate and from e-commerce distributor to commercial real estate development. He was also President & COO of The Majestic Companies, Ltd. (OTC Bulletin Board: MJXC), First Vice President — Investments of Sutro & Company, Inc., Managing Director — Investments of Piper Jaffray, Inc. and Senior Vice President — Investments of Kemper Securities Group, Inc.

Over the years, many honors have been bestowed upon Mr. Lee, including Outstanding Lion, Chairman’s Circle of Excellence & Eagle’s Loft awards. He served on the Board of Managers of the San Francisco Chinatown YMCA and the Board of Directors of the Chinatown Lions Club. He has also been the subject of many special features, including a cover story & feature article entitled “Capitalizing on the Corporate Treasure Trove” in Research magazine. In addition, Mr. Lee was featured as “Asian Man of the Month” in Transpacific magazine. He holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento. Mr. Lee was registered with the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) as a Register Representative (Series 8 — Sales Supervisor) along with the Commodity Exchanges.

About FoneCash Inc.

Under an exclusive licensing agreement, FoneCash, Inc. designs, develops and manufactures electronic terminals for processing credit and debit cards of all the major banks issuers whose cards are accepted for payment by merchants worldwide. The Company’s products includes software and proprietary processing services that provide end-to-end support of electronic financial transactions, utilizing wired and wireless networks for the transmission of data. The Company intends to market a complete processing system that is high quality and simple to operate. Revenues will be generated from sales/rentals of the terminals and from transaction charges.

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PROVIDIAN SALE

Barclays PLC announces that Barclays Bank has signed a conditional agreement to acquire the UK credit card operation of Providian Financial Corporation.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year, will be conditional upon clearance from the appropriate regulatory authorities.

The announcement comes just days after Barclays announced divisional operating profits for Barclaycard of ?555 million for 2001, up 20 per cent against the previous year, within the overall Barclays Group results. Barclaycard has previous experience of integrating credit card portfolios having recently incorporated the Woolwich credit card business.

The move underlines Barclaycard’s stated strategy to grow its core UK credit card business and gives Barclaycard ?395 million in receivables and ?10 million other net assets from the American-owned business’s approximately 500,000 customers in the UK*.

Providian is regarded as a leader in customer data management and customer acquisition which will complement Barclaycard’s own existing expertise in this area and its experience in assessing and managing customer value and risk.

Commenting on the deal, Barclaycard Chief Executive Gary Hoffman said: “This is a major development for our business and underlines our position as the UK’s leading credit card brand.

“The acquisition of Providian will extend our customer base and provide us with additional expertise in key areas including information based customer management.

“Providian’s expertise will help us move forward significantly in targeting products more specifically to customers’ needs.

“As a result of this deal, there will be the opportunity to provide Providian customers with access to a broader range of financial products which come with the Barclaycard brand.”

* Prepared under US GAAP; not audited

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ENTOURAGE CONCIERGE SERVICES

According to the terms of an agreement signed
recently, Sigma Assistel has become the provider of Travel Assistance and
Business Concierge Services for two of the new CIBC entourage American Express
cards issued by CIBC.

“Research indicates that our customers really value the type of
assistance services offered on our new line of entourage credit cards, said
Cheryl Longo, Senior Vice President, CIBC Card Products Division. These
services give our cards added value, making them stand out from the rest in a
very competitive market.”

Travel Assistance Service is available to entourage Business and
entourage Smart Chip cardholders. Wherever they may be in the world, these
cardholders can arrange to receive forgotten documents from home or the
office, have prescriptions filled, find lost luggage or send messages.

In addition, CIBC entourage Business cardholders benefit from the
Business Concierge Service, which provides them with a wide array of services
that make business travel easier. Services include information on cultural
customs and weather; business hours; hotel, restaurant, conference room and
golf course reservations; access to entertainment and special events;
forwarding of documents in the event of loss or theft, etc.

“This service agreement with CIBC – a major player with widespread
financial services – will increase our presence across Canada,” said Louise
Des Ormeaux, General Manager, Sigma Assistel.

CIBC launched its new line of entourage American Express cards on
Jan. 9, 2002. This credit card line includes the first smart chip credit card
available nationally in Canada, as well as the business card and an exclusive
Platinum offer. CIBC is the first Canadian bank to issue American Express
credit cards in Canada.

CIBC (www.cibc.com) is Canada’s leading credit card issuer and offers a
broad range of choice and value. One of the largest financial institutions in
North America, the CIBC provides a complete range of products and services to
some eight million individual customers.

One of the largest assistance companies in Canada, Sigma Assistel
(www.assistel.com) has been providing expert travel assistance and a wide
range of other assistance services for some fifteen years from its call centre
in Montreal.

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SMART ID CARDS

The Thai Cabinet has approved an Interior Ministry proposal in regard to smart cards for identification. The Interior Ministry said the card will include information on social security and health records. The launch will cost 143 million baht during the first year and 1.813 billion baht over three years to become fully operational with connection to 6,745 district offices across the country. The project is slated to get underway in July.

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SCA Buys Mansour’s Cards

Upscale family apparel retailer Mansour’s has retained Shoppers Charge Accounts Co. to administer its private label credit card program.

Under terms of the agreement, the Mahwah, N.J.-headquartered SCA acquired the receivables in Mansour’s portfolio and will manage all facets of the private label program on an ongoing basis.

Based in LaGrange, Ga., Mansour’s has been in business since 1917 and currently operates five specialty stores in central and western Georgia. Its merchandise mix is targeted to middle- to higher-income consumers and includes men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, as well as jewelry and furs. Stores range in size from 25,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet.

“One way Mansour’s distinguishes itself from competing national, regional and local retailers is by designing its locations to portray the image of ‘neighborhood’ family stores,'” said Edward Fechner, SCA senior vice president. “The private label credit card program, which accounts for over 40% of total sales, has long been an integral part of Mansour’s efforts to maintain a competitive edge.”

SCA services brick-and-mortar and catalog retailers throughout the U.S. The company acquires retailers’ receivables or will develop private label credit card programs for merchants who currently don’t offer a house charge. In both situations, SCA assumes responsibility for generating customers’ billing statements; managing credit, collection, and lockbox functions; and creating customized marketing programs.

Ranked among the nation’s largest private label credit card companies, SCA is a division of Hudson United Bank, a subsidiary of Hudson United Bancorp (NYSE: HU).

Hudson United Bancorp is a $6.7 billion asset company with over 200 branch offices in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Hudson United Bancorp’s subsidiaries offer a full array of innovative products and services to commercial and retail accounts, including imaged checking accounts, 24-hour telephone and Internet banking, loans by phone, alternative investment products, insurance products, private label credit cards programs and a wide variety of commercial loans and services including asset based loans, SBA loans, international services and cash management services. Wealth management services are also provided to individuals and businesses. Public sector products and services are provided to local and state governments, municipalities, educational institutions, civic and not-for-profit organizations.

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VOICE SMART CARDS

SchlumbergerSema,
a business unit of Schlumberger Limited, and Domain Dynamics Limited, the UK
voice and signal specialist, announced a security breakthrough for
mobile phones which safeguards access to handsets by means of voice
authentication. Unlike previous attempts at introducing biometric
technology for this application, the new system runs on a SIM (subscriber
identity module) card and requires no additional hardware, making it cost
effective and simple to introduce.

The technology ensures that only legitimate users can access a phone — or
its resources, such as phonebooks — by using a locking mechanism, which
operates in the familiar fashion of a PIN code. Authentication simply
requires the user to speak a phrase or word as the phone is switched on,
which is compared in real-time with a reference voiceprint stored inside the
tamper-proof SIM card’s memory.

This unique voice authentication system provides an ideal solution for the
current problem of mobile handset and service theft. It also serves as a
secure safeguard for industry -advancements, as higher bandwidths start to
allow mobile phones to be employed for m-commerce and confidential
transactions.

“Voice authentication is the most natural method of introducing state of the
art security into the mobile phone marketplace,” said Jorgen Rasmussen,
president, Cards at SchlumbergerSema. “By basing the solution on the
standardized SIM platform, it becomes cost effective and simple, providing a
highly flexible mechanism for operators to address the widespread public
concern over privacy and security.”

The new system has been developed through a partnership between
SchlumbergerSema, which provides the SIM ToolKit applet, Domain Dynamics
Ltd, which provides the voice authentication algorithm, and Mitsubishi
Electric Telecom, which has implemented the technology on the Trium Mondo
GSM/GPRS PDA phone.

The system is provided as a SIM ToolKit applet, which may be loaded onto any
standard Java Card( SIM. Leveraging the unique nature of the signal
processing algorithm designed by Domain Dynamics Ltd, and the lean nature of
the man-machine interface program, the applet is extremely small —
requiring just 2.5 Kbytes of memory in total.

This tiny memory usage includes everything required for the deployment and
use of voice authentication – from the enrollment process which lets a user
enter his or her voiceprint by repeating a chosen word or phrase three
times, through the generation of the reference biometric template which
stores the key characteristics of the voice, to the sign-on and comparison
procedure for daily use.

About SchlumbergerSema

SchlumbergerSema is a leading information technology services company
providing consulting, systems integration, managed services, and products to
the telecommunications, energy and utilities, finance, transport, and public
sector markets. With nearly 30,000 employees serving customers in 65
countries, SchlumbergerSema is one of two business segments of Schlumberger
Limited, a global technology services company. For more information about
SchlumbergerSema, visit http://www.slb.com.

About Domain Dynamics

Domain Dynamics Ltd, the voice and signal specialist, provides powerful,
compact and cost-efficient solutions for word recognition, voice
authentication biometrics, signal processing, and machinery condition
monitoring. Now moved to new headquarters in Reading, the company is
focusing primarily on solutions to applications in noisy or restricted
environments such as are encountered in mobile telephony, smart cards,
e-commerce, transportation, condition monitoring, and toys and games.

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VISA LAC PRESIDENT

Mr. Eduardo Erana has been selected as the new President of Visa International, Latin America and Caribbean Region. The announcement was made following the latest meeting of the Visa LAC Regional Board of Directors held in Salt Lake City this week and was confirmed by Visa International President and CEO Malcolm Williamson.

“Eduardo has the experience and knowledge required to lead Visa’s efforts and achieve growth in Latin America and the countries of the Caribbean Basin,” Williamson said. “The relationships and contacts Eduardo has developed during his entire professional career in the financial industry throughout the Region will be instrumental for the success of our strategy to advance, expand and lead at the global level.”

As President of Visa Mexico until very recently, he actively promoted payment system modernization in that country, and is now assuming responsibility for an extremely dynamic market offering significant opportunities for vast development in all areas, including debit and commercial products. In fact, the LAC Region is currently one of the fastest-growing Visa regions in terms of sales volume.

Erana has a long track record in the banking industry. He joined Visa in 1984 as Executive Vice President. For 17 years prior to that, he led various strategic business areas at Bancomer, one of the largest banking institutions in Mexico. Erana was a member of the Visa International Board of Directors for the Latin America and Caribbean Region, and he also represented the Region on the International Board of Directors.

Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and the largest payment system worldwide. Visa-branded cards generate US$2 trillion in annual volume and are accepted at over 22 million merchant locations worldwide. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is the leading payment system on the Internet and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce or universal commerce, the ability to make purchases any time, anywhere, using any device. Visa, Latin America and Caribbean Region’s Internet address is
www.visalatam.com.

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LML REPS

LML Payment Systems Inc. is pleased to
announce that 7-Eleven Inc. has commenced the roll-out of its new check
authorization system featuring LML’s proprietary retail electronic processing
system transaction software “REPS” to approximately 5,000 newly activated NCR
integrated cash registers located in approximately 2,400 7-Eleven stores.

Each NCR integrated cash register will communicate with LML’s processing
center in Scottsdale Arizona via a private wide area network effectively
reducing current transaction time from 10 to 3 seconds. Utilizing a national
negative database and a newly designed 7-Eleven-specific positive database
featuring powerful consumer identification cross-referencing characteristics,
the fully functional REPS authorization option will allow 7-Eleven management
to view and adjust authorization parameters and risk criteria on a chain
basis, division basis, store basis or individual cash register basis, as they
choose, all in real-time. The REPS system will also allow management to view
on-line real-time transactions and reports on a chain, division, store or cash
register basis.

The front-end authorization system is designed to work seamlessly with
both LML’s electronic check re-presentment (RCK) and electronic check
conversion (ECC) systems, both of which are also driven by REPS software and
designed to effectively create an “end-to-end” check authorization and
processing solution which includes electronic recovery of returned paper or
electronic check items. The REPS authorization system was piloted in 7-Eleven
stores located in Texas, California and Florida over the last three months.

“We are impressed with LML and their ability to bring a combination of
customer service, management and technical expertise to our check program,”
said Scot Lins, 7-Eleven’s Corporate Loss Prevention Director. “We were
introduced to electronic checking through a very successful RCK program
provided by LML. It’s well known that LML is a pioneer in the ECC process
where checks are converted to electronic transactions at the point-of-sale.
Once we have this project completely rolled out, ECC is a technology we expect
to be transitioning to in the near future,” continued Lins.

“We believe the combination of full REPS functionality driving both the
front-end authorization process and the back-end electronic check
re-presentment process provide a risk avoidance and recovery solution
previously unavailable to 7-Eleven. Naturally, robust authorization and
recovery solutions working seamlessly together, play important roles in the
successful electronification of checks including point-of-sale check
conversion,” said LML Payment Systems Corp.’s Vice-President of Payment
Processing, Pete Stenhjem.

The Corporation, through its subsidiary LML Payment Systems Corp., is a
financial payment processor providing check processing solutions including
electronic check authorization, electronic check conversion (ECC) and primary
and secondary check collection including electronic check re-presentment (RCK)
to national, regional and local retailers. We also provide selective routing
of debit, credit and EBT transactions to third party processors and banks for
authorization and settlement. The Corporation’s intellectual property estate,
owned by subsidiary LML Patent Corp, includes U.S. Patent No. 6,283,366, No.
6,164,528 and No. 5,484,988 which describe electronic check processing
methods. Also included in our intellectual property estate is a recently
received Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark
Office for a new patent also related to electronic check processing methods.

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Palmera Fingerprints

SchlumbergerSema and Precise Biometrics have teamed to integrate Precise Biometrics ‘Match-on-Card’ technology with the SchlumbergerSema ‘Cyberflex Access’ and ‘Cyberflex Palmera’ smart cards. The integration provides smart cards that use the card-owner’s fingerprint as identification authentication instead of, or in addition to, a PIN. Precise Biometrics’ fingerprint authentication system embeds the biometric profile and the calculations inside the smart card. This allows the authentication capability to be directly accessed via the cards API. SchlumbergerSema offers the ‘Cyberflex Access’ card for IT applications, and the ‘Cyberflex Palmera’ card for banking applications.

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Bankruptcy 4Q/01

Personal bankruptcy filings set a new record last year with 1,452,030 filings, a 19.2% increase over 2000. Chapter 7 filings were up 22.8% during 2001, with a record 1,054,925 filings processed. Stalled, but anticipated, bankruptcy reform legislation may have driven the record number of Chapter 7 filings. For the quarter ending Dec. 31st, 364,921 business and non-business filings were processed, a 17.7% increase over the same period one year ago, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. California continued to lead the country in personal bankruptcy filings, as a record 148,421 filings were made during 2001. However personal filings in California grew less than half the national rate. Ohio, Illinois, and Georgia handled more filings than the State of New York. Filings in Ohio grew more than 30% last year. For complete details on the latest and previous bankruptcy stats visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

TOP STATES FOR PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY FILINGS
STATE 2001 2000 INCREASE
California: 148,421 138,124 +7.45%
Florida: 85,216 71,284 +19.5%
Texas: 73,866 59,529 +24.1%
Illinois: 73,036 59,892 +21.9%
Ohio: 69,292 52,713 +31.5%
Georgia: 68,933 58,915 +17.0%
New York: 66,628 57,207 +16.5%
(Source: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)

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

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