AmEx Portfolio Buy

American Express has signed an agreement to purchase the $11 million credit card portfolio of Binghamton, NY-based BSB Bank & Trust Company. This is the third bank credit card portfolio purchased by AmEx in the past fifteen months. In December AmEx signed a deal to purchase the $226 million VISA credit card portfolio of Bank of Hawaii. In August 2000, NJ-based Valley National Bank signed a definitive contract to sell its cobranded ‘ShopRite MasterCard’ credit card portfolio to AmEx. The ShopRite deal closed in the first quarter of this year and the BoH purchase closed in the second quarter of this year. As of September 30, BSB had a total of 11,792 accounts of which 7,720 were active, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). (CF Library 8/23/00; 12/21/00)

BSB B&T PORTFOLIO SNAPSHOT
4Q/00 1Q/01 2Q/01 3Q/01
RECV $11.6m 11.0m 11.3m 11.0m
Q VOL $ 7.3m 5.6m 6.1m 5.8m
ACCTS 12,067 12,080 11,861 11,792
ACTIVES 7,883 7,764 7,775 7,720
CARDS 13,968 13,822 13,585 13,522
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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PERSONAS 73E

NCR Corporation announced that it has significantly increased the
currency-handling capacity
of its popular bunch-cash-accepting automated teller machine, the NCR
Personas 73.

The solution provided by the new NCR Personas 73e validates currency and
enables a bank to offer real-time credit for cash deposits or bill payments
at
a Self-Service TouchPoint. Such transactions can be carried out at any
time of day in an unattended environment.

The cash-deposit ATM has proved very popular with personal and small
business users, creating a need for the machines to be serviced over
weekends.

In response to this high level of customer usage, NCR has significantly
increased the machine’s deposit-handling capacity. The NCR Personas 73e has a
scaleable capacity of 8,000 bills and represents a fourfold increase in
storage.

Demand for the NCR Personas 73 has been particularly strong in Asia,
though NCR is offering this solution across the world. First introduced in
September 1999, it forms an integral part of NCR’s deposit automation
offering, enabling banks to better utilize their Self-Service TouchPoints to
reduce costs and increase revenue-generating opportunities.
As well as offering fast, secure bunch-cash deposit, the NCR Personas 73e
enables multi currency deposit with sorting capabilities. It utilizes NCR’s
APTRA(TM) software solutions, which can open up new revenue streams through
personalization and increased customer loyalty, advertising and other
non-cash
revenue opportunities.

Marcus Haley, vice president of ATM Solutions at NCR’s Financial Solutions
Division, welcomed the enhanced capacity unit.
“The original Personas 73 has proved very popular with bank customers who
know
they can trust it to accept and accurately process their cash deposits. It is
this popularity which has led to the need for greater capacity, and we are
happy to respond to customer demand with the introduction of the Personas
73e,” said Haley.

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a leader in providing Relationship
Technology(TM) solutions to customers worldwide. NCR’s Relationship
Technology solutions include the Teradata(R) database and analytical
applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) and demand chain
management, store automation systems 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 32,900 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
http://www.ncr.com.

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Deceptive Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission testified yesterday to the House Subcommittee on Consumer Credit that it is aggressively taking action against deceptive negative option marketing programs, bogus credit card offers, and fraudulent credit card loss protection services. Two weeks ago the FTC filed nine cases, most of which involved the alleged deceptive telemarketing of “guaranteed loans,” worthless credit card protection services, and “protection” from identity theft, and the deceptive telemarketing of major credit cards. The FTC said “negative option marketing” is particularly troubling, citing the Commission’s recent crackdown against a group of buying clubs, including Triad Discount Buying Service, Inc.

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INDIGO-SQUARE OPENS

Barclaycard, Europe’s leading internet card services company, predicts a
significant growth in e-commerce in the UK following the launch of its
new online shopping mall,
http://www.indigosquare.com. IndigoSquare from
Barclaycard, the result of a £30 million joint venture with Nomura
International plc, the international investment bank, aims to boost consumer
confidence in internet shopping in time to make 2000 the busiest Christmas yet
online.

The new portal, which is targeted at all UK consumers, differs from existing
online shopping malls, in providing a combination of the most comprehensive
choice, greatest ease-of-use, a customer promise guaranteeing retailer
standards and unique 24-hour, seven day-a-week customer service, all backed by
the Barclaycard brand. It will be supported by £10m of advertising and
marketing in the first 12 months alone.

Mark Shea, newly appointed Chief Executive of IndigoSquare says, “IndigoSquare
signals the real arrival of the new economy as a part of everyone’s’
daily
shopping experience. Of the 17.5 million people on the internet in the UK,
almost three and a half million are already shopping online*; IndigoSquare has
been designed to attract those shopping online now and to persuade the
other 14
million to join them. IndigoSquare’s choice, convenience and service,
coupled with our unique customer promise and the reassurance of the
Barclaycard
brand, will provide people with the confidence to consider the internet as
shopping-as-usual. IndigoSquare is designed to provide the most
comprehensive and easy-to-use online shopping facility. Its range of choice
competes with the largest high street and out-of-town shopping centres, with
over one million products on offer from more than 50 retailers at launch and
100 by Christmas.

Emmanuel Roubinowitz, a director in Nomura’s Communications & Technology
Group,
commented, “Our investment in IndigoSquare is based on a number offactors;
Barclaycard is a well known brand and has an impressive customer base. We will
also give guidance on financial and structural decisions, as well as on
industry developments, using the skill and expertise of our dedicated research
analysts.”

Consumers will be able to buy from an exhaustive selection of familiar
brand-name goods and services from both existing leading retailers, as well as
from newer online shops. The variety of products extends from a £275,000 wine
collection to worms for your garden. By the end of next year, IndigoSquare has
a target of five million products, 350 retailers and 500,000 users.
Shoppers will enjoy the most advanced search facility available, which has
been
created to appeal to novices and experienced internet users alike.

IndigoSquare
features a simple &£8216;foyer&£8217; entrance that separates participating
retailers into product categories, so that consumers can browse quickly and
easily around their chosen area. Further searches can be made for products and
services, retailers, brand names and manufacturers, with full price
comparisons. Unlike competing portals, IndigoSquare is supported by a
round-the-clock helpline every day of the week, a unique feature aimed
particularly at those who shop online infrequently.

IndigoSquare also provides its shoppers with a customer promise that all
retailers meet exacting minimum standards. Namely, that each one is genuine
and
has been vetted and approved; that all will provide secure payment to ensure
card numbers are safe and a reference number to confirm each order; and that
every shop has clear delivery and contact details within its site.
Consumers do not have to pay with a Barclaycard to shop at IndigoSquare.
However, those that do will benefit from Barclaycard&£8217;s online guarantee,
which promises that its cardholders will not be liable for fraudulent
transactions on their account.

Online shopping in the UK was valued at almost £600m in 1999, is predicted to
have doubled by the end of 2000 and to reach £12.5 billion in 2005, according
to Verdict.

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GCS Signs Casino ATM Clients

Sixteen gaming properties have recently signed contracts to use the innovative products and services of Global Cash Access. GCA is the leading supplier of cash access, financial management and customer relationship marketing technologies to the gaming industry.

Among the products and services offered by GCA are an array of guest development marketing services that assist casinos in understanding their customers and increase traffic to the gaming floor and special events. GCA also offers the latest ATMs in the gaming industry, including the Automated Cashier Machine and Casino Cash Plus 3-in-1 ATM. The ACM is a “smart ATM” that uses Internet and facial biometric technology to offer patrons a quick way to access multiple cash access services and other entertainment needs in a single stop – without the need of cage operator assistance. GCA’s Casino Cash Plus 3-in-1 ATM has become widely accepted due to its convenience to casino patrons and proven profitability to casino operators. Statistics show that a significant percentage of standard ATM cash request transactions at gaming properties are denied because of bad PIN numbers, exceeded limits or insufficient funds. The Casino Cash Plus 3-in-1 ATM eliminates such denials with a patented roll-over feature, which gives patrons the option of obtaining funds via a POS debit transaction or a pinless credit card cash advance.

“The gaming industry’s demand for GCA’s newest products and services including the ACM, QCP Web, and guest development marketing services has been incredible,” said Diran Kludjian, executive vice president of North American and International sales for GCA. “These products are making a positive impact on casinos’ efficiency of operation and revenues.

Properties that signed agreements with GCA are:

— Beanos Casino – Las Vegas — Blue Diamond Saloon – Las Vegas — Bully’s Sports Bar & Grill No.4 – Carson City, Nev. — Casino Magic – Biloxi, Miss. — Club Cal Neva – Reno, Nev. — Decatur Express – Las Vegas — El Cortez Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas — Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas — O’Sheas Casino – Las Vegas — Rainbow Casino – Las Vegas — Pompano Park – Pompano, Fla. — Sheraton Casino – Robinsonville, Miss. — Smoke Ranch Junction – Las Vegas — St. Jo Frontier Casino – St. Joseph, Mo. — Travel Centers of America – Las Vegas — Vacation Village Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas

About Global Cash Access

Global Cash Access was formed in 1998 and is a joint venture of First Data Corp. and M&C International, Inc. Providing access to the gaming industry’s largest patron database, Global Cash Access uses Internet technologies to deliver funds transfer, financial management and customer relationship marketing services to more than 1,000 gaming properties nationwide. More information on the company is available at [www.globalcashaccess.com][1].

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

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Economic Impact

The government’s employment report, released this morning, shows the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.4% in October from 4.9% in September, the highest jump in 21 years. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that consumer spending dropped 1.8% during September, the largest decline since January 1987. While a portion of the decline was directly attributable to the events of September 11th, the steady erosion of consumer confidence and rising unemployment during the summer were the underlying factors. Earlier this week, The Conference Board reported that consumer confidence in October sank to its lowest level since 1994. Some analysts are predicting credit card chargeoffs may top 8% next year. Considering the travel pullback, fourth quarter charge volume may be off by more than 2% compared to last year’s activity.

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NAMM Alliance Pays Off

First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha and one of the nation’s leading acquiring banks and NAMM-International Music Products Association, a proven international provider of diversified services for merchants in the music industry for over 100 years, recently announced the one year anniversary of their relationship in the card processing industry. In the past year alone, over 1,000 music related merchants have chosen to benefit from NAMM membership, by taking advantage of the diversified card processing products and superior customer service First of Omaha(R) has to offer.

PG Guitars in West Monroe, LA was the 1,000th NAMM member-company to sign with the NAMM bankcard program. Matt Minchow, Vice President of Business Development at First of Omaha, had this to say regarding the strength and mutually beneficial relationship with NAMM; “We feel that the program’s success is attributed to both NAMM and First of Omaha’s ability to provide superior service to members. It is refreshing in this day and age to work with an organization that has 100% of its efforts dedicated to helping their members. Through our partnership with NAMM, one of the strongest associations in the country, First of Omaha has been able to develop an exclusive program for NAMM members. This program has been able to provide savings to over 1000 NAMM members who have joined in the First of Omaha credit card processing program. This is a milestone for NAMM and First of Omaha to have had so many members from one organization accept a program so quickly. We are extremely excited that NAMM has recently endorsed us to provide a check guarantee and verification program for its’ members which will provide additional benefits to its’ members.”

“We encourage participation in this program because we believe First of Omaha not only has excellent rates, but more importantly they have high service levels and a respect for the special needs of association members. They understand that each member who participates in the program is part of a greater group, and in NAMM’s case the group just happens to be a $7 billion dollar industry,” stated Judy Bohlim, NAMM’s Director of Membership Services. “Every member who joins the program contributes to the overall negotiating power of the group. That’s what NAMM business programs are all about.”

About First of Omaha Merchant Processing

First of Omaha Merchant Processing is a premier payment processor specializing in providing service to both the traditional and Internet direct marketing industry, as well as the traditional face-to-face card acceptance market. First of Omaha provides financial management and payment processing solutions for independent sales organizations, large and small retailers, restaurants, lodging merchants, petroleum marketers, associations/franchise groups and banks in both the business to consumer and business to business marketplaces. Known for their superior customer service, First of Omaha specializes in providing clients the latest in card processing technologies. Through development of a diversified product line, First of Omaha has become a leader in the merchant processing industry, assisting clients in the reduction of chargebacks and fraud. First of Omaha is a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha and is one of the few remaining in-house bank processors. First National Bank of Omaha, founded in 1863, is the 32nd oldest nationally chartered bank in existence. First of Omaha’s Internet address is [www.foomp.com][1].

About NAMM

The International Music Products Association (NAMM), founded in 1901, is the preeminent global association serving the music products industry. As the 7,700-member international association celebrates its centennial this year, the organization welcomes Joe Lamond as its new President and CEO. A not-for-profit, full-service, member-driven organization, NAMM’s mission is to unify, lead, and strengthen the global music products industry and to increase active participation in music making.

NAMM’s members represent every aspect of musical instrument manufacturing and retailing. The success of NAMM relies on the strong and productive relationships it holds with its members, but the organization also understands the vital role of the consumer and sees music makers as an extension of the NAMM family, forming the foundation of the industry. Two of NAMM’s most important annual events are the trade shows held in January in Southern California and in July in Nashville. These two conventions, open only to NAMM members and the trade, attract literally tens of thousands of attendees who want to see new innovations and developments in music making. They also meet to discuss issues of importance to the organization, to the industry and to the public. To find out more about the NAMM merchant bankcard processing program, contact Melanie Ripley at 800-767-6266 extension 166.

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

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VISA & priceline.com Expand

Visa U.S.A. and priceline.com announced new marketing and security initiatives as the companies expand a relationship that has been in place since priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price service launched in 1998.

To offer its customers state-of-the-art online transaction protection, priceline.com is the first provider of online travel services to implement Verified by Visa, a password-based authentication system for Visa cardholders. Priceline.com will make Verified by Visa available to users of its airline ticket, hotel room, rental car and long distance calling services. The companies are also putting into place new marketing initiatives. For the first time, priceline.com will display advertisements promoting Visa.

Financial terms of the multi-year agreement were not disclosed, but priceline.com said they will contribute positively to priceline.com’s results. “Priceline.com is pleased to broaden our relationship with Visa U.S.A., which has been a strong supporter and partner since our inception,” said priceline.com Chairman and CEO Richard S. Braddock. “We applaud Visa’s work to advance online payment security and we welcome the opportunity to support Verified by Visa.”

“Strengthening payment security is an important step in building consumer confidence online,” said Carl F. Pascarella, President & CEO of Visa U.S.A, “Today’s agreement underscores the shared commitment of Visa and priceline.com to provide customers with a safe, hassle-free online shopping experience.” Visa cardholders can register for Verified by Visa through their card Issuers’ Web sites. The personalized passwords become their online “signatures” for Web purchases. Then, each time a cardholder makes a purchase at priceline.com, or other participating e-merchants, a Verified by Visa window will ask for the password to authenticate the cardholder.

About Visa U.S.A.

Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with the best way to pay and be paid. More than 14,000 U.S. financial institutions rely on Visa’s processing system, VisaNet, to facilitate over $810 billion in annual transaction volume – including more than half of all Internet payments – with virtually 100 percent reliability. U.S. consumers carry more than 353 million Visa-branded smart, credit, commercial, stored value and check cards, accepted at approximately 22 million locations worldwide. Visa has long led the industry in developing payment security standards, and has been named the most trusted payment brand online. Visa’s people, partnerships, brand and payment technology are helping to create universal commerce – the ability to safely conduct transactions anytime, anywhere and by any device. Please visit [http://www.visa.com][1] for additional information.

About Priceline.com

Priceline.com is the Name Your Own Price(sm) Internet service that offers products for sale in four categories: a travel service that offers leisure airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars; a personal finance service that offers home mortgages, refinancing and home equity loans through an independent licensee; an automotive service that offers new cars; and a telecommunications service that offers long distance calling services. Priceline.com licenses its business model to independent licensees, including pricelinemortgage and certain international licensees. In these arrangements, priceline.com generally receives royalties for licensing its intellectual property. Priceline.com also holds securities carrying the right to purchase a significant equity stake in the licensees under certain conditions. Unless those rights are exercised, the results of licensee operations will not be included in priceline.com’s financial statements.

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

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Smart-J Platform Chip

NCT Group, Inc. announced that STMicroelectronics has introduced the ST22WJ64 smart card chip, developed from the Smart-J 32-bit RISC platform created by Advancel Logic Corp., a subsidiary of NCTI. Samples of this chip, which executes Java code, will be available at the end of 2001. Volume quantities, for which NCTI will receive per unit royalties, will be available in the first quarter of 2002.

The ST22WJ64 chip is built around a 32-bit RISC core which ST is now combining with its unrivalled security know-how and advanced 0.18 micron process technology, making it the ideal chip on which to develop multi-application solutions, open platforms and high-powered e-business and m-commerce applications. The move to 0.18 micron technology allows ST to provide smart card chips with higher memory capacities, smaller die sizes, more enhanced features and significant performance gains.

The ST smart card advanced development platform is especially valuable because it allows Java(TM) applications to be developed quickly and easily. “Of all its royalty-bearing license agreements to date, we believe this agreement with ST represents the largest revenue generation opportunity for NCTI, due to the current size and forecasted growth of the smart card market,” said Michael Parrella, chairman and CEO, NCTI. “It is especially gratifying to see our technology complete the cycle from concept to market introduction with STMicroelectronics, the recognized world leader in smart cards.”

According to published market data, shipments of smart cards grew 27% in the year 2000, to reach 1.8 billion units. Continued double-digit growth is expected for 2001, driven largely by wireless applications.

A smart card contains an embedded integrated circuit that can process information on the card once inserted and powered by a card reader. Examples of microcontroller smart cards are the electronic purse credit/debit card functions, ID cards that provide authorized access to networks and subscriber identification modules (SIM) that secure certain PCS cellular phones against fraud. The emergence of multi-function/multi-application needs in various application fields requires higher complexity, larger memory sizes and higher performance chip architectures.

About STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics is the world’s third largest independent semiconductor company. The Company shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, on Euronext Paris and on the Milan Stock Exchange. The Company designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete devices used in a wide variety of microelectronics applications, including telecommunications systems, computer systems, consumer products and industrial automation, automotive products and control systems. In 2000, the Company’s net revenues were $7,813.2 million and net earnings were $1,452.1 million. Further information on STMicroelectronics can be found at [www.st.com][1].

About Advancel

Advancel Logic Corporation, a subsidiary of NCT Group, Inc., is a developer of algorithm-specific microprocessor cores with native Java(TM) execution. In May 2000, Advancel granted exclusive rights to create, make, market, sell and license products and intellectual property based upon the company’s Java Turbo-J(TM) technology to Infinite Technology Corporation, a semiconductor original publishing enterprise, specializing in the design, manufacturing and marketing of DSP solutions to create system-on-chip products. For more information, refer to [www.infinite-tech.com][2], or call 972/437-7800.

About NCT Group, Inc.

NCT Group, Inc. is a publicly traded, high-tech company with an extensive portfolio of proprietary algorithms and a wide variety of product offerings for consumer, commercial and industrial applications. NCTI’s strong technology base of using sound and signal waves to electronically reduce noise, improve signal-to-noise ratio and enhance sound quality, drives leading edge technological innovations. For more information refer to [http://www.nctgroupinc.com][3].

[1]: http://www.st.com/
[2]: http://www.infinite-tech.com/
[3]: http://www.nctgroupinc.com/

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Card Complaints

About 1,000 of the 2,400 complaints processed last year by the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs were complaints about credit cards. The complaint data on state-chartered banks regulated by the FRB and released Thursday, shows that about 60% of the credit card complaints fall into three categories. The categories include: disputes about billing errors; concerns about penalty charges and other fees (such as late fees, over-the-limit fees, and annual fees); and disputes involving alleged errors in reporting consumers’ payment history and the denial of requests for credit cards due to erroneous credit reports. The FRB says another survey showed about 60% of respondents found solicitations offering a low introductory rate to be confusing. However two-thirds of consumers in the survey who had bank credit cards said that obtaining information on credit terms was “easy”.

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OPC Expands in Kentucky

Official Payments Corporation, the leading provider of electronic payment options to more than 1,000 government entities in all 50 states, announced today that Louisville/Jefferson County Revenue Commission has signed a service agreement with the company.

This agreement will enable taxpayers of Louisville and Jefferson County, to pay withholding, net profit, insurance premium, transient room, and delinquent City of Louisville real estate tax obligations over the Internet by visiting [http://www.officialpayments.com][1], or via telephone by calling toll-free 1-800-2PAY-TAX. The programs will commence in mid-November. Official Payments has similar agreements with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 1000 local government entities to enable payment of various taxes, fees, and fines by credit card over Internet and telephone. The Louisville metropolitan area is home to over one million people. Jefferson County is the largest of 120 counties in the state of Kentucky. Last year, Louisville/Jefferson County Revenue Commission collected over $370 million in withholding, net profit, insurance premium, transient room, and delinquent City of Louisville real estate taxes filed by over 115,000 taxpayers.

“We are excited about this new business development in Kentucky. We are confident that other cities and counties in the state will follow Louisville/Jefferson County Revenue Commission’s lead and bring the convenience of electronic payments to their citizens,” stated Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & CEO of Official Payments.

“We continue to strive to provide taxpayers with the most innovative and efficient service available,” stated Tom Stocker, Secretary-Treasurer. “This Internet and telephone payment service will give citizens the flexibility and convenience of paying taxes by credit card, and will help our office increase its efficiency,” added Mr. Stocker.

Official Payments charges taxpayers a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. The fee schedule can be found on the Internet at . For example, a taxpayer who owed $800 and charged their taxes would find a total of $825 on their credit card statement: $800 for the tax bill and $25 for the convenience fee. American Express(R), MasterCard(R), Discover(R) and VISA(R) are the credit cards accepted by the program. Depending on their credit card program, taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs may be eligible to earn rewards points, cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles in return for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corporation

Founded in 1996, Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to more than 1,000 government entities in all 50 states. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. Official Payments has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 1,000 county and municipal governments across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state and local government payments. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market.

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

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