eFORCE, a Silicon Valley-based information technology solution integrator with offices in North America, Europe and India, has been selected by Visa U.S.A. to provide technical consulting and application development for Visa Direct Exchange, the world’s largest private financial payments network using Internet technologies.

![][1] Direct Exchange creates an enabling service and networking infrastructure based on secure, open technologies. The new infrastructure will quickly impact product release cycle times, enabling Visa and its member banks to introduce sophisticated new services to merchants and cardholders. The scalable, highly reliable solution infrastructure is based on open technology standards supplied by Visa U.S.A., Sun Microsystems and Cisco. Visa U.S.A. expects a strong return on investment and access to a wider array of cost-effective, non-proprietary technologies.

“This network realizes Visa U.S.A.’s vision of integrating the benefits of open technology standards with the power of the largest payment clearing system in the world to support universal forms of commerce (‘u-commerce’),” said Sara Garrison, senior vice-president, Technology Development, Visa U.S.A. “eFORCE’s industry knowledge and advanced applications development skills will help Visa U.S.A. achieve our objectives.”

eFORCE is extensively involved in the applications development arm of the initiative, which plans to deploy an extensive array of applications on the new infrastructure. The eFORCE personnel involved provide strategic management, technical development and implementation support, including the use of the solution integrator’s robust information technology deployment methodology, eBRIDGE(TM) (eBusiness Rapid Implementation and Deployment for Global Enterprises). Its components include the UML/Rational Unified Process; Grove Visual Facilitation Process; phased, value-driven delivery; blended client and consultant teams; security and network infrastructure expertise; high performance architecture expertise; and tight integration with the firm’s global Centers Of Excellence, supporting training and development.

The global Financial Services Practice operated by eFORCE from Centers Of Excellence in San Francisco, Boston, New York, London, and Calcutta, has helped leading financial institutions in the banking, mutual funds and insurance industries leverage the power of e-business technologies to gain increased customer satisfaction, operational efficiencies and strategic market advantage.

The Visa U.S.A. Direct Exchange network incorporates Sun’s highly scalable, reliable and secure computing platform and Cisco’s intelligent routing technologies to create one of the most powerful payments processing systems in the world. Visa U.S.A. Direct Exchange will be capable of processing all U.S. issued Visa U.S.A. credit and debit cards, along with all other forms of electronic payment. It will process $60 million in payments an hour per day, surpassing $1 trillion in payments annually. The network will be able to accommodate a volume of 10,000 messages per second with capabilities for exponential growth — more than 100 billion transactions annually, which is more than double today’s volume.

Visa U.S.A. Direct Exchange enables member banks to quickly and easily launch new payment technologies that enable u-commerce, such as mobile commerce, smart cards, business-to-business e-commerce, person-to-person e-commerce and electronic check conversions, with high levels of security, unmatched speed, 100 percent reliability and mass customization capabilities. Visa U.S.A. Direct Exchange also provides members and merchants with easier access to existing and future payment services.

“Our partnership will enable Visa U.S.A. to leverage eFORCE’s financial service industry experience, commitment to open systems, and integration skills to realize its aggressive business-to-business goals,” said Nat Natraj, chief executive officer at eFORCE.

About Visa U.S.A.

Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest 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 $765 billion in annual transaction volume — including more than half of all Internet payments — with virtually 100 percent reliability. U.S. consumers carry more than 345 million Visa-branded smart, credit, commercial, stored value and check cards, accepted at approximately 21 million locations worldwide. Visa has long led the industry in developing payment 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.

About eFORCE

eFORCE, a leading provider of strategic solutions in all areas of the Enterprise Value Chain — eBusiness, eCRM, EAI, Corporate Portals and Business Intelligence — was identified by the IT analyst and research opinion leader, IDC (International Data Corporation), as one of the Top Solution Integrators of the 21st Century. Combining expertise in business architecture, technical architecture, design, deployment and maintenance with its uniquely rigorous, comprehensive eBRIDGE(TM) implementation methodology (eBusiness Rapid Implementation and Deployment for Global Enterprises), eFORCE delivers production-scale enterprise solutions in Internet time. eFORCE customers include Global 1000 organizations such as Alcatel, Avaya, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Compaq, DHL, GE Capital, FedEx, Intel, The Hartford, Janus, Johnson Controls, Merrill Lynch, Mitsubishi Motors, Nortel Networks, Visa USA, and Wells Fargo. eFORCE delivers solutions based on best-in-class enabling technologies such as ATG, BEA, Epicentric, E.piphany, HP, IBM, Interwoven, iPlanet, Kana, Microsoft, Oracle, SeeBeyond, Siebel, Sun, TIBCO, Vignette, and webMethods. eFORCE ([][2]) is headquartered in Silicon Valley and has additional Centers of Excellence in North America, Europe and India.

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Reform Revived

Bankruptcy reform is alive and well, despite predictions that a Democratic takeover of the Senate would potentially kill the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) announced Friday he wants a conference committee between the Senate and House to resolve differences on the bankruptcy legislation. Daschle also is meeting this week with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to review the assignment of conferees. Reportedly lobbyists representing the credit industry have been aggressively promoting the bankruptcy reform legislation since the recent shift of power in the Senate. The bankruptcy bill has been stalled because House Republican leaders could not decide on the makeup of the conference committee to handle the compromise between S. 420 and H.R. 333. The Republicans went so far as to urge House members to consider passing the Senate version. Among major differences to be resolved is the $125,000 cap on the home equity exemption and a provision to exclude legal judgements from abortion clinic violence. There is still a remote chance the reform bill could be killed in committee. However the legislation has been closely linked to campaign contributions to both parties by major providers of consumer credit. President Bush has already indicated he will sign the bankruptcy reform legislation, however it comes out of the Congress.


Card Mail

Credit card solicitations continue to soar at a record pace as more than 4.0 billion direct mail pieces have hit mailboxes across the country over the past twelve months. However issuers continue to indicate that response rates have stagnated while online response rates grow. The surge in first quarter mailings even surpassed the fourth quarter mailings according to data tracked by BAIGlobal and reported by Thomson Financial Media. Compared to last year, 475.6 million more direct mail pieces went out in 1Q/01 compared to 1Q/00. For the first quarter 2001 BAI reported slightly more than 1.1 billion solicitations. Response rates for direct mail continues to hover at 0.6%. Online response rates have climbed to as high as 5%, but have been averaging around 3% this year on major personal financial web sites.

1Q/01 1105.0m 0.6%
4Q/00 1030.8m 0.6%
3Q/00 888.0m 0.6%
2Q/00 991.8m 0.4%
1Q/00 629.4m 0.7%
4Q/99 510.2m 0.7%
3Q/99 710.3m 0.9%
m-millions Source: BAIGlobal, Inc.



Oakland, CA-based ValueStar Corp. has signed another card services firm for its local merchant rating service. West Coast Merchant Services has agreed to enroll qualified merchants in the ‘ValueStar Customer-Rated’ program. The program drives ValueStar registered cardholders to participating merchants. Through the program, ValueStar rates the merchant based upon a verification of their license, insurance, state compliance, legal and financial statuses, and, if qualified, enrolls the merchant in the ‘ValueStar Customer-Rated’ program, which includes ‘Real-Time Ratings’. ValueStar then promotes these selected merchants to cardholders through a variety of media. First National Bank Omaha, the first card issuer to join the ValueStar program, launched the program in the San Francisco Bay Area last month. Sanwa Merchant Services and First Virginia Merchant Services also joined the ‘ValueStar Customer-Rated’ program in May. (CF Library 5/16/01; 5/30/01)



Dallas-based Alliance Data Systems began trading Friday on the NYSE, closing at $14 per share after opening at $12.50. The company filed its IPO in March 2000 and intended to offer 20 million shares in the price range of $14 to $16 per share. However market conditions forced the company to trim back its offer to 13 million shares priced at $12 per share. The $182 million raised involved Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and CS First Boston. ADS had $181 million in first quarter revenue, up from $165.5 million in 1Q/00. ADS is a provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services, including one of the largest loyalty programs in Canada.


Precis & Capella

Precis Smart Card Systems, Inc. announced that its annual shareholders meeting was held on June 8, 2001 at the Precis corporate offices in Norman, Oklahoma. All proposals before the shareholders were passed.

Among the matters that were approved by the shareholders was the merger with The Capella Group, Inc., a national healthcare solutions provider, with corporate offices in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.

The Capella Group, Inc., under the name Care Entree, markets a national healthcare membership program that provides its members with significant savings on physicians, hospitals, dentists, prescription drugs, vision care, hearing and chiropractic services. The program is targeted as an affordable solution to the over 120 million Americans who do not have health insurance or are underinsured due to high cost or pre-existing conditions. The Care Entree program is sold nationwide through an expanding network-marketing program. Sales in year 2000 exceeded $5.6 million — an increase of 337% over 1999 revenues.

The shareholders also approved the election of the board of directors, as well as the amendment of Precis’ Certificate of Incorporation to change its name to Precis, Inc.

Precis is a national membership marketing solutions company. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Foresight, Inc., the company provides product enhancements in the form of club benefits to financial institutions, rental purchase dealers, consumer finance companies, retail outlets, employee groups and member-based associations. For more information on Precis, its subsidiaries Foresight, Inc., or Care Entree, visit [][1], [][2] and [][3], respectively.





Atlanta-based Global Payments has signed a deal with PA-based to provide an eCommerce enabling product for small and mid-sized merchants. The product offers a guided, template-based package to enable merchants to quickly build an e-Commerce Web site with credit card processing through Global Payments’ network. Merchants will also be offered patented marketing and sales tools to target buyers via e-mail messages., founded in 1995, is owned and operated by EVS Holding Company.

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Bankcard Management Program

First Data Resources Learning and Education Services has announced the rollout of a customized, regional bankcard management program. FDR has partnered with Risk Management Resources (RMR) and the American Bankers Association (ABA) to deliver two high-impact bankcard programs this summer.

These customized management programs will be offered in Omaha, NE on July 31 – August 2, 2001 and in Wilmington, DE on August 7-9, 2001. The registration fee is $1,495.

The curriculum is specifically designed to provide in-depth knowledge and a real-world insight into critical cause-and-effect relationships regarding: * Acquiring New Accounts

* Managing Existing Accounts

* Marketing

* Risk Management

* Scoring

* Collections

* Customer Satisfaction

* Revenue Components

* VISA/MasterCard

* Third-Party Processors

You’ll learn from world-class instructors using a blend of lectures, case studies and simulations that will take your understanding of the bankcard business to the next level.

Space is limited and registrations will be accepted on a first-come basis.

Look for additional details about this unique opportunity on the First Data Client Web Site soon, or call Heather Hain at (402) 777-6552 (e-mail:


OPC & FL Fees

Official Payments Corporation announced a new business award with Volusia County, FL. Under the agreement, Official Payments Corp. will provide Volusia County with a service where taxpayers can pay their Occupational License Fees by credit card over the Internet or over the telephone system. The new Internet and telephone option for paying occupational license fees adds to Official Payments existing telephone credit card tax and fee payment service. The company also announced the launch of its new Spanish-language option to the existing English-language telephone credit card payment system. Now any county taxpayer can pay their real-estate taxes and occupational license fees in either Spanish or English by calling 1-877-587-6057 or in English over the Internet at The Spanish-language service is the first of it’s kind in Central Florida. “The addition of paying occupational license fees over the Internet or telephone and the Spanish selection on the telephone system gives taxpayers new options for paying their taxes and occupational licenses. These innovative services will make paying taxes and fees for occupational licenses as convenient as possible,” stated Revenue Director Bernard Kane.

Official Payments Corp. processes credit card payments for over 800 counties and municipalities and operates in 45 states. The company has contracts with eighteen state governments, the District of Columbia, as well as the Internal Revenue Service to collect income tax by credit card over the Internet and telephone. The convenience fee varies depending on the amount of the transaction. Official Payments Corp. 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 Volusia County $1,000.00 in Real Estate taxes would find a total of $1,035.00 on their credit card statement. $1,000.00 for the tax bill and $35.00 for the convenience fee. Another example would be if a citizen owed $30.00 in fees for an Occupational License. They would find a total of $33.00 indicated on their credit card statement: $30.00 for the tax bill and $3.00 for the convenience fee. American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa are the credit cards accepted by the program. Taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back on airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. 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. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. 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 800 county and municipal governments in 45 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state and local government payments. Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. 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. The company has experienced rapid and sustained growth over the past seven reported quarters in revenue, new client acquisition, and addition of incremental services to existing clients. The company’s success can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.



BlueSuit, Inc., a national provider of brokerage and related financial services to community financial institutions, announced that STAR Financial Network, is now operational and open to accept accounts from the public.

BlueSuit licensed the exclusive use of the STAR brand from Star Systems, Inc. within the United States to create and deliver online financial services via the STARfn platform at “The Web site is functioning; the Investment Center is staffed with fully trained and licensed representatives to take customer calls; the interactive voice recognition (IVR) is operational; Investec is ready to accept and fill orders; and our back office accounting system and operations group is trained, equipped and ready to support activity,” said William Alberth, president of BlueSuit Securities, a business unit of BlueSuit, Inc. “Everyone without exception has invested substantially of themselves for STARfn and we take great pride in our collective accomplishment.”

![][1] STARfn provides community-focused financial institutions the ability to offer customers investment products, extending the institution’s brand and service offering. The first STARfn deliverable is Internet-based brokerage and investment services. Benefits of STARfn include high quality, competitive offerings, fee income sources, turnkey marketing and superior service.

STARfn provides STAR member institutions the ability to add to their line of product and service capabilities, thereby enhancing customer relationships. STARfn online delivery facilitates expanded product and service offerings in a complete solution that encompasses marketing and technology. “Customers want simplicity, choice, and access to local, friendly support,” said Ryan Lanham, CEO of BlueSuit. “They want to be able to understand their financial world and make their own decisions. They want their money to be safe and have access to cash and credit when they need it. They want to get out of the call center maze that every life decision seems to demand. We realize that these are reasonable demands, and we have the solution to meet them through STARfn.”

“BlueSuit is providing an outstanding solution to consumers in a time where other online brokerage firms are closing up shop,” said Bob Vosburgh, president of BlueSuit Sales and Marketing, a business unit of BlueSuit, Inc. “It is imperative for the financial industry to realize that consumers look to trusted financial institutions, now more than ever, for convenience and personal service, and by expanding a product line through STARfn, an institution further establishes itself as that trusted partner. The STAR name evokes a sense of trust and security, and now through STARfn, institutions can further leverage that same trust beyond the ATM and point-of-sale.” Alberth added, “Now bring on the public!”

About STAR Financial Network(SM)

The STAR(SM) Network processes more than two billion transactions a year, through nearly 600,000 participating ATMs and retailer locations such as grocery stores, gas stations and discount stores. Its primary service area encompasses the District of Columbia and 22 states coast-to-coast. The Concord EFS/STAR merger added another eight states to the primary service area from the MAC primary network. STAR is an innovative market leader in electronic payments, real-time transaction services and other services including fraud protection, online check verification, online check electronification and e-commerce payments. STARfn is a wholly owned subsidiary of BlueSuit, Inc. STARfn is a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), and the Securities Investors Protection Corp. (SIPC). BlueSuit and STARfn receive support from Star Systems, Inc., Headstrong and Kemper Mutual Insurance Company. For more information on STARfn online brokerage or questions regarding business-to-business or business-to-consumer, call BlueSuit Sales and Marketing at 1-877-482-8338, visit the Web site at or e-mail If you are interested in signing up directly please call the ISC number at 1-888-527-9922.

About BlueSuit, Inc.

Founded in 2000, BlueSuit, Inc. partners with community financial institutions to offer brokerage and related financial services online. Through its partnership with STAR Systems, Inc. (STAR)(SM) and its acquisition of Minneapolis-based Online Brokerage Solutions (OBS), BlueSuit enables financial institutions to extend their brand(s) to attract, retain and optimize customer relationships without making a significant investment in infrastructure, technology or marketing. BlueSuit markets this offering both directly and through value-added resellers (VARs). For more information about BlueSuit VARs, contact Bob Vosburgh at (952) 746-5910. If your institution is interested in signing up for the STARfn solution via financial institutions with implementation time of under 30 days, contact Ron Commins at (952) 746-5914 or at For more information about BlueSuit, Inc. visit the company’s web site at [][2].

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Low Cost Debit Card

GLOBAL Communication Technologies, Inc., a software application developer focusing on prepaid services, and CML Versatel, a manufacturer of next-generation programmable switches for application developers, have announced a partnering agreement to integrate GLOBAL’s debit card application software with CML Versatel’s TotalAgility Services Convergence Switch, the SCS4000.

GLOBAL’s prepaid application provides service providers with a full set of customizable debit card features, while CML Versatel’s switch provides a fully open and programmable converged services switch. The partnership provides an evolutionary path for traditional services to be seamlessly migrated onto the converged network.

![][1] “In the changing telecom environment, we need to provide our customers with a very flexible, low cost, carrier-grade alternative for implementing prepaid services,” said Paul Lewis, Vice President of GLOBAL. “Our alliance with CML Versatel is the key step to providing extremely cost-effective, scalable solutions for customers who wish to port their applications to a next generation infrastructure programmable switch. By migrating our current switching applications onto CML Versatel’s platform, we are now able to offer a very competitive solution to our customers using a platform that leverages “best-of-breed” technology.”

CML Versatel’s TotalAgility(TM) Platform is a fully open, carrier-grade, highly scalable, programmable switch. Unlike traditional proprietary solutions, CML Versatel’s standards-based system provides a user-friendly application development environment combined with the latest industry advancements which speeds time-to-market for application developers.

Housed in a standard cPCI chassis, the SCS4000 integrates 3rd party “best- of-breed” components in a single platform for delivering enhanced services for both TDM and VoIP networks. The TotalAgility(TM) Platform has a no single point of failure architecture and features high-density cards, such as the Sweet16 T1 card with 16 T1s per card and the SweetIP processor card with 512 VoIP channels per card, for extremely powerful and versatile solutions.

GLOBAL’s debit card application can be rapidly deployed and integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructures and equipment, minimizing service providers’ capital investment payback periods. It also allows for quick configuration changes and has the programmability to support service differentiation. Features include a powerful web system management tool for remote manipulation of debit balances, rate tables, recharges, expiration dates, call history routing and switch provisioning.

“We are impressed with GLOBAL’s s layered software approach, which provides insulation to higher layers from the details of the lower layer. This allows them to quickly develop applications by extending the relevant layers,” said Eric Jobidon, General Manager of CML Versatel’s newly opened “Expert Solution” Center in Plano. “This is a very similar approach to our middleware. Our middleware insulates application developers from the details of signaling and call control thereby simplifying the development process.”

GLOBAL’s prepaid application will be showcased this week at Supercomm 2001 in CML Versatel’s booth No. 1750.

About CML Versatel Inc.

CML Versatel, Inc. is a spin-off from CML Technologies Inc., a leading supplier of telecom switching systems for more than 20 years for the Enhanced 9-1-1, Mobile Radio Dispatch and Air Traffic Control markets. CML Versatel was formed in 1998 to address the growing worldwide market for open programmable switching platforms.

The TotalAgilitya SCS4000 is a fully open, carrier-grade, highly scalable programmable switching platform based on CompactPCI technology. The platform was developed specifically to address the needs of application developers, OEM suppliers, systems integrators and service providers in the worldwide AIN and CTI telecom markets. TotalAgility(TM) is built for next-generation telephony applications that require extremely versatile, reliable, and open platforms.

For more information on CML Versatel and its products, visit the web site at [][2] , call 1-877-CML-VERS, or e-mail us at

About GLOBAL Technologies Communications, Inc.

GLOBAL Communications Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a full-service, turnkey developer and solutions provider of Tandem and Call Center telecommunications products and services. The GLOBAL family of switching system (GSS) platforms also include mission critical international gateway platforms which provide basic CLEC functionality, debit card and international callback services along with SNMP management within the same platforms.

For more information on GLOBAL Communications Technologies and its products and services, visit the web site at [][3].

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