The $60 personal Internet credit/debit card payment terminal developed by eConnect is picking up some support. Kanakaris Wireless yesterday announced plans to develop software and hardware enhancements which will enable the eConnect ‘eCashPad’ terminal to read checks electronically from home. The proposed ‘AKPay’ system will expand the usage of the ‘eCashPad’ beyond Internet card present credit card ‘Bank Eyes Only’ transactions, PIN entered ATM card instant Internet merchant cash payments, and smart card Internet micro payments. The ‘eCashPad’ sells for $59.95 and attaches to any desktop computer. Montreal-based First American Payment Systems also announced Tuesday it is purchasing an initial 10,000 ‘eCashPads’ as part of its ‘Member Money Exchange Center’ program. MMEC is a full-service online cash transfer system specializing in online gaming and is set to launch in July 2001. eConnect also signed deals with CA-based Mediatechnics Systems and Zimmerman’s Toyland to sell the ‘eCashPad’ to the general public. he home payment terminal was released late last year. (CF Library 11/2/00; 4/18/01; 5/9/01)Details
Trintech Group PLC reported that revenue grew by 93% to $17 million for the fiscal quarter of 2002 that ended April 30. One year ago Trintech logged $8.8 million for the quarter. The growth in revenue resulted from continued solid demand for Trintech’s secure payment infrastructure solutions. This demand drove first quarter software license revenue to $7.6 million, an increase of 83% over first quarter license revenue last year of $4.1 million. Product revenue increased 47% to $6.0 million for the quarter. Service revenue rose 489% from $0.6 million for the first quarter last year to $3.4 million for the first quarter ended April 30, 2001.Details
ValueStar Corporation, a leading rating organization of local service businesses, announced that Sanwa Merchant Services has signed up for the ValueStar Customer-Rated program.
Sanwa Merchant Services can now enroll their qualified merchants in the ValueStar Customer-Rated program, which enables merchants to differentiate themselves from local competition by highlighting quality service. In addition, the program drives ValueStar registered cardholders to participating merchants. The ValueStar Customer-Rated-program is open to all local service merchants, such as auto repair shops, plumbers, pool maintenance companies, dentists, etc.
! Through this 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 such as the ValueStar Report, direct mailings, in-store signage, and quality brand placement on the ValueStar Web site. Participating merchants agree to: adhere to the ValueStar “Customer Bill of Rights,” participate in the mediation process, allow ValueStar to publicly post their customer satisfaction score, and must keep their customer satisfaction score above 70 on a 100 scale. “We are pleased with the results of the program as it has been well received by the merchant community,” said Jim Stein, CEO of ValueStar. “Sanwa Merchant Services is opening the door to approximately 1800 additional service merchants that could benefit from this program.”
“Sanwa Merchant Services is always looking for ways to differentiate itself in the marketplace. The ValueStar proposition provides us with the competitive edge to distinguish our products and services from that of our competitors. ValueStar is a great way for us to help grow the consumer business of our service merchant base,” said Saeed Heshmatpour, Vice President and General Manager, for Sanwa Merchant Services. “The ValueStar Customer-Rated program validates local service merchants as quality service providers and improves customer loyalty and increases referrals by matching quality seeking consumers with quality conscious merchants.”
Card issuers offering the ValueStar Customer-Rated program to their cardholders can increase their cardholder loyalty, retention and stimulate card usage. By choosing service merchants that have earned this quality seal of approval, consumers can have confidence in their decision, and will gain access to various program benefits not typically offered in the service business sector.
How the Customer-Rated Program Works
ValueStar first verifies license, insurance, legal and financial statuses of local service merchants. Sanwa Merchant Services will match up transactions paid for with a qualified credit card made with qualified merchants. Consumers are then presented with an online or offline survey that, once processed, updates each local service merchant’s rating score in real time. Because only verified transactions are used, the ratings reflect only actual customer ratings. Customers who rate their satisfaction are also eligible for ValueStar Benefits, which currently include complaint resolution services, a money-back satisfaction guarantee of up to $500 and ValueStar Rating Points redeemable for products, charitable donations, services and travel. To use ValueStar, interested consumers can go to www.valuestar.com or to a participating card issuer Web site. Once on the site, consumers search by merchant name or industry and geographic region. Consumers can then browse lists of rated merchants or see if the merchant they plan to do business with has earned the ValueStar Customer-Rated seal.
ValueStar(R) Corporation (OTCBB:VLST) is both a pioneer and a leading provider of customer satisfaction ratings of local service companies. Founded in 1992, ValueStar’s mission is to improve the local marketplace by providing knowledge, power and assurance. To accomplish this mission, ValueStar is expanding its branded ratings to the six million local service companies in America by introducing multi-tiered rating designations and adding additional brand content. It has developed the ValueStar Customer-Rated program which enables, matches, rates and rewards local service transactions both online and offline. It currently operates the ValueStar Customer-Rated Program in San Francisco; Los Angeles; Seattle; Chicago; Dallas; Philadelphia; Washington D.C. and Atlanta. Based in Oakland, CA, ValueStar has partnerships or alliances with First Data Corp., First National Bank Omaha, Netcentives, Experian, BellSouth RealPages.com, OurHouse.com, Info USA, Foodscape.com, and e-Attorney. Key investors include eCompanies, Rustic Canyon Ventures, Seacoast Capital and Hull Capital. For more information, visit ValueStar at www.valuestar.com or call 800-310-6661.
Credit Card Solutions Inc., leaders in the field of purchasing card software, Wednesday announced that it has been awarded a General Services Administration schedule contract for its Intranet and client/server Purchasing Card (P-Card) software products and related professional services. Granted under the Information Technology Products and Services Schedule, this contract (No. GS-35F-0359L) enables federal agencies, and many state & local government entities, to purchase products and services from CCSi using pre-negotiated pricing and terms.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has become the first federal agency to make a purchase under the new GSA contract. NASA’s Integrated Financial Management Program (IFMP) Core Financial Project selected CCSi’s Web-based/Intranet software, The P-Card Web Solution, to meet its credit card program needs.
During the next several weeks CCSi will configure the software to integrate with NASA’s credit card provider and with selected internal systems, such as their SAP financial system. A primary goal of NASA is to create a simplified end-to-end credit card solution. The P-Card Web Solution will help NASA meet its goals of assisting over 4,500 cardholders and approving officials in managing their credit card related workload, and dealing with problems related to budget execution, reconciliation, and cost distribution.
“The public sector is a natural fit for CCSi,” said Jim Carroll, interim chief executive officer at CCSi. “Resolving the challenges inherent with spending federal funds on P-Cards was a critical requirement when our software was initially developed.” CCSi has been successfully serving federal contractors and state & local government entities since 1995.
Headquartered in Richland, CCSi was founded in 1995 to provide its customers with tailored P-Card software. CCSi’s products are used by major corporations, universities, and state & federal agencies nationwide. A partial list of CCSi’s customers include Arthur Andersen, ARCO, Bechtel, The California Institute of Technology, Cities of Topeka and Las Vegas, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, State of Alaska, Univ. of Texas at Houston HSC and Warner Bros. For more information contact CCSi at 509/943-7998, via e-mail at email@example.com or online at [www.p-card.com]. The P-Card Solution is a registered trademark of CCSi. The P-Card Web Solution is a trademark of CCSi. Other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
The San Diego-based Institute for Consumer Financial Education launched a new initiative this month to help consumers control credit card usage. The ICFE is offering ‘Credit Card Warnings Labels’. There are three versions of the labels: “Can I Afford It?”; “Should I Charge It?”; and “If You Can Eat It, Drink It, or Wear It . . . It is NOT an EMERGENCY”. Consumers may order an assortment of ten labels for $2. The nonprofit ICFE is the successor to the National Center for Financial Education. Ten years ago the NCFE offered ‘Credit Card Condoms’ (small, credit card size, spun-bonded olefin envelopes) to consumers “afflicted with unsafe spending habits”, according to CardTrak (www.cardtrak.com). The “Credit Card Condom” came with “Instructions for Use and Preventing Debt.” The ‘Credit Card Condoms’ were part of NCFE’s ‘Safe Charge Kit’.Details
American Express has introduced a new pricing structure that reduces discount fees on larger transactions for most merchants. The new ‘$10,000 Threshold Pricing’ shaves 50 basis points off all individual transactions that are $10,000 or larger. Most retail merchants pay 3.00% to accept AmEx while ‘Corporate Purchasing Card’ suppliers generally pay a base rate of 2.50%. The average discount rate for American Express at the end of the first quarter was 2.68%, compared to 2.72% one year ago. AmEx says under the new policy, large ticket transactions will automatically be priced at the lower discount rate.Details
A new “Chameleon Contactless Smart Card Upgrade System” introduced by SuperCom Smart Cards, Inc., converts any conventional card into a contactless smart card in less than one-minute, it was announced by Danny Gilboa, CEO, here.
The new system employs a desktop press that inserts and securely seals a contactless microchip into any magnetic stripe card, contact card, or “dumb” graphics-only card, which is then personalized with up to 2Kilo Bits of secure data using a contactless smart card reader/writer.
“Any user can now boost the capabilities of his or her conventional cards more than 1000-fold, and benefit from the same secured memory and functionality offered by manufactured contactless smart cards, minus the initial production delays and card printing costs,” said Gilboa, adding, “The Chameleon system can also serve as a stepping stone to custom manufactured contactless smart cards, making the transition to a new generation of technology simple, fast and affordable, as well as seamless to the cardholder.”
He says the entire conversion process is easily accomplished in less than one minute by personnel having no technical background or training.
The Chameleon conversion system is comprised of the desktop press, secured memory chips, chip capsules and contactless smart card reader/writer.
SuperCom Smart Cards Inc., a Subsidiary of SuperCom Ltd., markets contactless smart cards, readers/writers, interface software and contactless smart card manufacturing equipment for commercial and governmental uses including: time and attendence, access control, personal identification, electronic purse, e-commerce security, ticketing, medical status, loyalty, licenses, maintenance records, etc.Details
NextCard released the April eCommerce Index, the premier metric of monthly online consumer spending. The NextCard eCommerce Index is the only resource that reflects actual consumer e-commerce spending based on online credit card transactions.
“We continue to see more traditional retailers replace Internet startups in consumers’ online spending habits,” said Scott Lascelles, group vice president of marketing at NextCard. “Michigan Bulbs, a traditional catalog retailer, increased transaction volume 886 percent, benefiting from consumers’ preference for established offline brands. By contrast last spring, Internet start-up MySeasons.com was among the top movers,” said Lascelles.
“Traditional brands such as Sharper Image, FTD, 1-800-Flowers, Gap and Old Navy continue to increase transaction volume as consumers turn to those trusted offline brands,” he said. “While traditional retailers are gaining popularity online, Amazon is still the premier online retailer,” said Lascelles. “Since we launched the Index in May 1999, Amazon has been the top retailer, generating the largest number of transactions by NextCard cardholders.”
“As we saw last year, sites such as TurboTax experience a surge in transaction volume during the spring tax season, as evidenced by its increase of five spots on the Index last month,” he said. “Similarly, Priceline.com rose four spots to No. 7 and Travelocity.com transaction volume rose 269 percent in April, ushering in the beginning of the summer vacation travel period.”
Top 30 Online Merchants in April 2001
The NextCard eCommerce Index is a monthly listing of the top Web sites based on the number of online transactions by more than 880,000 NextCard cardholders.
Rank Change Merchant Rank Change Merchant
1. — Amazon.com 16. +8 HomeShoppingNetwork.com
2. +1 EBay.com 17. — AOL Long Distance
3. -1 Half.com 18. — Egghead.com
4. — Ubid.com 19. — Keen.com
5. +1 Netflix.com 20. +2 Vistaprint.com
6. -1 BarnesandNoble.com 21. -7 BigZoo.com
7. +4 Priceline.com 22. +17 FTD.com
8. -1 Stamps.com 23. -8 AOL Shopping
9. -1 CyberRebate.com 24. +12 Gap.com
10. +3 1-800-Flowers.com 25. +42 FreeCDSoftware.com
11. +5 TurboTax.com 26. +3 Classmates.com
12. -3 Buy.com 27. +39 Proflowers.com
13. +15 Equifax.com 28. -1 Snapfish.com
14. -4 CDNow.com 29. -3 eDiets.com
15. -3 Drugstore.com 30. +11 OldNavy.com
April eCommerce Movers
The NextCard eCommerce Movers(SM) is a monthly listing of the top online
merchants that experience the largest percentage change in transaction
volume from the previous month.
10 Biggest Gainers 5 Biggest Losers
1. MichiganBulb.com 886% 1. MusicToday.com -83%
2. Travelocity.com 269% 2. Cityspree.com -69%
3. Essential.com 252% 3. Kozmo.com -66%
4. SharperImage.com 248% 4. NetJewels.com -56%
5. Vitacost.com 216% 5. Textileshop.com -54%
6. Cooking.com 204%
7. Reflect.com 188%
8. FreeCDSoftware.com 157%
9. Bluefly.com 152%
10. Proflowers.com 135%
About The NextCard eCommerce Index
The NextCard eCommerce Index is a monthly listing of the top 30 online merchants, top 10 gainers and top five losers based on the number of online purchase transactions by approximately 880,000 NextCard cardholders. The NextCard eCommerce Index combines two critical components to accurately reflect online transaction activity: 1) a large cardholder base of active online purchasers and 2) data-mining technology that tracks online credit card transactions. NextCard customers are some of the most sophisticated online consumers and make online purchases approximately five times more often than the average online credit card user. As a result, the NextCard eCommerce Index not only provides valuable information about where online consumers are actually buying, but it also reflects the ability of merchants to convert Web visitors to buyers, and buyers to repeat customers. The Index can be found on the Internet at www.nextcard.com/indexes/indexes_frame.html.
NextCard, Inc. (www.nextcard.com) is considered the leading issuer of consumer credit on the Internet. Launched in 1997, the Company was the first to offer instant online credit card approval, a choice of customized credit card offers, and exceptional online customer service. NextCard is committed to providing the most robust consumer shopping experience on the Internet and has continued to innovate with its NextCard Concierge(SM) online shopping service, online bill payment services, and comprehensive rewards program. NextCard is also one of the leading direct marketers on the Internet, operates a network of more than 90,000 online affiliates, and has exclusive card relationships with leading online brands, including Amazon.com and MyPoints.com. The Company also owns minority stakes in Flooz.com, the premier online gift currency and Paytrust.com, the leader in online bill payment.
NextCard was named the No. 1 Internet credit card by Gomez. According to the 2001 Brittain Associates “Credit Cards on the Net” study, NextCard leads the online credit card market with a 26 percent share. NextCard was nominated for a 2000 Webby Award in the finance category. NextCard, Inc. issues credit cards through NextBank N.A., a wholly owned subsidiary.Details
MBNA has boosted its cap on cash advance fees and is gearing up to extend such fees to balance transfers and person-to-person money transfers. MBNA recently increased its $30 maximum cash advance fee to $40, according to CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com). Effective July 1, MBNA will extend its 3% cash advance fee to balance transfers. MBNA will also treat person-to-person money transfers, such as Paypal, as a cash equivalent and subject the transactions to the cash advance fee. The revised pricing has already been incorporated in new card offers. Most of the nation’s top issuers have removed caps on cash advance fees, charge 3%+, and have boosted the minimum CAF. MBNA, a leader in higher credit limit accounts, is one of few major issuers retaining limits on cash advance fees. Most major issuers also charge a higher interest rate for cash advances than for purchases. For example, the popular ‘American Express Blue Card’ charges interest rates ranging from 10.99% to 14.99% for purchases, while the interest rate for cash advances is 20.99%.
RANK MOST COMMON
ISSUER CASH ADVANCE FEE
1. Citibank 3% with $5 minimum
2. MBNA 3% with $5 minimum, $40 maximum
3. First USA 2% with $10 minimum
4. Discover 3% with $5 minimum
5. Chase 3% with $5 minimum
6. Providian 5% with $3 minimum
7. Bank of America 3%-4% with $5.00 minimum and $20 maximum
8. Capital One 3% with $5 minimum
9. Household 4% with $5 minimum; GM Card- 3% with $15 minimum
10.Fleet 4% with $5 minimum
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com )
National Processing Company announced today that Trader’s Joes has renewed its agreement with NPC and signed a multi-year contract for merchant processing services. Under the terms of the agreement, NPC will provide settlement for all Trader Joe’s VISA and MasterCard transactions.
Trader Joe’s owns and operates 156 stores in fourteen states providing a different approach to grocery store shopping — products are unique, many exclusively designed for Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s currently offers more than 800 private label grocery items confirming their mission to bring the best food and beverage values anywhere to their customers and to provide the information necessary to make informed buying decisions.
“NPC is pleased to renew its relationship with Trader Joe’s,” said Mark Pyke, executive vice president of Merchant Services for NPC. “Like Trader Joe’s, NPC strives to offer superior products and outstanding service to our customers. We do this by leveraging our economies-of-scale, coupled with our economies-of-skill; i.e. having one of the most experienced groups of industry professionals on staff. This formula translates to a win-win relationship for NPC, and our clients.”
! About Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s began in 1958 as a chain of convenience stores in the Los Angeles area, and has grown to become a prestigious retailer offering over 800 unique grocery items, as well as hard-to-find boutique (domestic and imported) wines and gourmet food items, at outstanding prices. Still privately held and company-operated, Trader Joe’s operates 156 stores in fourteen states. Customers enjoy the combination of great prices, intriguing food and friendly service – creating a fun place to shop. Additional information regarding Trader Joe’s can be obtained at [www.traderjoes.com] .
About National Processing, Inc.
National Processing, Inc. through its wholly owned operating subsidiary, National Processing Company (NPC(R)) is a leading provider of merchant credit card processing. National Processing is 87 percent owned by National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC) ( http://www.nationalcity.com ), a Cleveland based $91 billion financial holding company. NPC supports over 500,000 merchant locations, representing nearly one out of every five Visa(R) and MasterCard(R) transactions processed nationally. NPC’s card processing solutions offer superior levels of service and performance and assist merchants in lowering their total cost of card acceptance through our world-class people, technology and service. Additional information regarding National Processing can be obtained at [www.npc.net] .
Newtek Capital, Inc., a specialist in acquiring, developing and operating early stage high growth businesses, announced a major investment in Universal Processing Services, a full service integrator of electronic processing systems and solutions.
The $3.6 million investment was made through Newtek’s New York-based certified capital company. UPS offers credit card processing, debit and check card processing, smart card acceptance, customized gift card programs, electronic benefits transfers, check guarantee and conversion and automated teller machines. Ken Baldo, President of UPS, stated: “We make it our business to consult with every merchant to understand their needs and to demonstrate how our services can support their daily business critical operational requirements. As our industry changes, technology advances and competition increases, UPS and our processing specialists remain committed to offering the highest caliber of personalized services utilizing our state-of-the-art True Price Processing system.” Universal, headquartered in New York City, recently signed a contract to acquire a portfolio of high-end retail and restaurant accounts and expects to close in June. The funding by Newtek is expected to support the expansion of Universal’s marketing programs, corporate infrastructure and the hiring of key employees. Newtek received a 60% ownership interest along with 3 of 5 board seats for its investment.
About Newtek Capital
Newtek Capital, Inc. (www.newtekcapital.com) creates significant non-dilutive capital through the operation of seven CAPCOs in four states. Since 1998, Newtek has raised more than $119 million of certified capital and has made investments in 25 companies, 11 majority-owned or primarily controlled partner companies and investments in 14 other businesses. It operates as a holding company for a network of partner companies in a collaborative and coordinated effort to develop successful businesses in a number of emerging and technological areas.Details
Vital Processing Services, a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services, announced the appointments of two individuals to new leadership roles. Keith Smith was named executive vice president of sales and marketing and Denise Lewis was named executive vice president of product development.
Smith, formerly president and CEO of Vital Merchant Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vital Processing Services, will lead sales and marketing for both Vital Processing Services and Vital Merchant Services. Vital Merchant Services is an industry leading terminal management and point of sale support services company. Smith will continue to serve on Vital’s Management Committee and report to Jonathan Palmer, president and CEO of Vital Processing Services.
“Integrating sales and marketing in this way will help Vital focus on our clients. Under Keith’s leadership, our sales consultants will bring the full benefit of every Vital offering to every one of our clients,” said Palmer.
“I look forward to the opportunity to coordinate and lead Vital’s sales and marketing functions. Vital is client focused and market-driven; our success is measured by our clients’ success. I am more excited than ever about Vital’s future,” added Smith.
Denise Lewis has been named executive vice president of product development. In this role, Denise will be responsible for Vital’s product development and product management functions. Additionally, Denise will serve as a member of Vital’s Management Committee and will report to Palmer.
“Vital is committed to excellence in the breadth and strength of the products and services we deliver to our clients. I look forward to Denise providing dynamic leadership to our very capable Product Team,” said Palmer.
Lewis joins Vital with more than 20 years of diversified financial services industry experience, largely focused in retail delivery and payments.
Most recently, Lewis served as executive vice president and chief information and technology officer at Electronic Payment Services, Inc. (EPS), which is now part of Concord EFS. Before her stint at EPS, Lewis spent several years at BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world. Her last position at BP was general manager, National Credit Card Center, where she was responsible for all of the company’s credit card marketing, processing and collections activities.
Lewis commented, “I am eager to share my expertise and experience with the talented team at Vital. My objective is to help Vital differentiate itself in the market on the strength of its products. We aim to help our clients, the country’s leading merchant acquirers, win!”
About Vital Processing Services (http://www.vitalps.com )
Arizona-based Vital Processing Services(R) (Vital(R)) is a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services. Vital’s clients include acquirers and merchant service providers that offer electronic payment processing services to merchants, such as POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; VirtualNet(TM) Internet-commerce services; clearing, settlement and exception processing; accounting, billing and reporting; risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) USA and TSYS(R) (NYSE: TSS). For more information, contact Vital Processing Services’ Sales Department at (480) 333-7799.
About Vital Merchant Services
Headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., Vital Merchant Services is a leader in terminal management and point of sale support services. The variety of POS support services includes terminal equipment procurement and deployment, inventory management, replacement and repair services, merchant training and installation, merchant supplies replenishment and world-class help desk support. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vital Processing Services. For more information, contact Vital Merchant Services’ Sales Department at (800) 686-1999.Details