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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Priceless Promotion

MasterCard International said yesterday it has created a fourth quarter holiday promotion that, for the first time, will run throughout North America. The “Priceless Holiday Gifts” promotion will award the winning cardholder with five “Priceless” experiences including an African Safari, a visit from a celebrity chef, behind-the-scenes access to the Houston Space Center, enrollment in the Formula One Race and Racing School in Great Britain, and VIP treatment at the My VH-1 Music Awards. MasterCard said more than 140 member institutions are participating in the promotion and 8 of the top 10 MasterCard acquirers have ordered more than 275,000 point-of-purchase displays. To support the campaign MasterCard will roll-out two 30-second and two 15-second TV ads, as well as two print ads.

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FRAMEWORKS

724 Solutions Inc. has announced a reseller agreement with Iletisim
Teknoloji Danismanlik — a leader in speech recognition solutions and
one
of the largest solutions providers in Turkey — to enable ITD to resell 724
Solutions’ 724 FrameWorks (formerly known as the Wireless Internet
Platform) in Turkey, Poland, Romania and Central Asia.

Under the terms of the agreement, Elektronik Sanal Ticaret, a subsidiary
of ITD that focuses on the provision of wired and wireless e-commerce
solutions, can now offer its wide range of customers mobile banking services
enabled by 724 Solutions’ technology. The 724 FrameWorks, together with ITD’s
expertise in speech recognition solutions, will allow users to access account
balances, move money between accounts and pay bills from voice-enabled mobile
devices, simply by inputting their account information and passwords in the
most natural way — using speech.

“This relationship underscores our strategy to develop commanding distribution
partnerships with specialized partners in key markets worldwide. We will blend
ITD’s extensive local market knowledge and experience with 724 Solution’s
award-winning mobile transaction technologies and solutions,” remarked John
Sims, Chief Executive Officer, 724 Solutions. “Reseller partners represent a
critical component to our success in our goal to establish 724 Solutions as a
global leader in the wireless industry and ITD fits the bill perfectly.”
Beginning with the implementation of Turkey’s first interactive voice response
system and continuing with more recent ventures into smart card technology,
ITD
(http://www.itd.com.tr/english/in
dex.asp) has positioned itself as a regional leader providing technology
solutions to the financial service sector and other business.
“We selected 724 Solutions as our mobile banking solution provider because of
its global reputation and the open structure of the 724 FrameWorks platform.
Most importantly, and perhaps the deciding factor in our choice, was the
synergy between our speech recognition technology and 724 Solutions’
market-leading solutions,” commented Coskun Ural, President and Chairman, ITD
and EST.

The 724 FrameWorks consists of adaptors, gateways, core engine services and an
application framework for powering highly scalable, secure mobile transactions
on different devices, networks and protocols. The award-winning platform has
successfully completed performance testing confirming its capacity to support
10 million customers and handle the demands of 100,000 concurrent users
executing 10,000 transactions per second.

About 724 Solutions Inc.

724 Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq:SVNX)(TSE:SVN) is a leading provider of mobile
Internet infrastructure software and applications. It makes m-business happen
globally by powering the delivery of secure mobile transactions for financial
institutions and mobile operators. With dual headquarters in Toronto, Canada,
and Austin, Texas, the company has development and sales offices around the
world. For more information visit
http://www.724.com.

About ITD

Founded in Istanbul in 1991, ITD (Iletisim Teknoloji Danismanlik Ticaret A.S.)
provides services on payment systems, voice systems and e-business solutions.
Particularly addressing finance, telecommunications and retail industries, ITD
offers solutions on call automation, interactive voice response systems, call
management, speech recognition and customer service automation. The company
provides various services in transaction automation systems ranging from POS
terminals, to end-to-end payment solutions, smart card payment terminals,
Internet payment systems and card management systems. E-business solutions
rendered by ITD help banks, securities houses, finance portals and other
financial institutions to provide fast Internet services. These solutions
allow
customers to execute financial transactions, to obtain personal and market
information on financial status, to pay invoices and to have access to
financial services through Internet integrated tools. For more information
visit
http://www.itd.com.tr

About EST:

A sister company of ITD, EST was founded in 1999, and specializes in Internet
based solutions and products. The company provides a shared e-commerce
infrastructure, preferred by leading financial institutions of Turkey.
Security
Management Systems and Web-based application development are its other main
presence areas. VeriFone and Baltimore Technologies are the main business
partners of EST in Virtual Payment Systems and Internet Security Solutions.
For
more information visit
http://www.est.com.tr

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San Francisco Retreat

The two most innovative credit card issuers of the last few years have unraveled within days of each other. With their stock prices down 90%, both Providian and NextCard have put themselves on the sale block. Yesterday afternoon, Providian announced it has engaged Salomon Smith Barney and Goldman, Sachs to assist the company to explore strategic alternatives. Yesterday morning, NextCard announced it has retained Goldman, Sachs to explore the sale of the company to a better capitalized financial institution. NextCard’s stock dropped from $5.35 to $0.87 per share yesterday, a staggering 84% one-day decline. In January, NextCard was trading at nearly $13 per share as the issuer was predicting profitability by the end of this year. Providian, one of the most productive marketing machines in the industry, closed at $3.89 yesterday compared to a high of $64.06 in January. NextCard was the undisputed pioneer of Internet credit card marketing and was founded in 1997 by former Providian executives. Providian, dogged by consumer lawsuits over its credit card practices, has been re-inventing itself over the past two years, emerging as the biggest cheerleader of smart credit cards in the USA. With $33.5 billion in credit card receivables from the two issuers on the sale block it is inevitable that another major wave of consolidation is underway.

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