Capital One has launched a new mail solicitation that directs recipients to a special Internet address to apply. The unique direct mail package for Cap One’s ‘Gold MasterCard’ includes a plastic ‘Pre-Selection Card’ which is attached to the front of the lead page. A toll-free number and a Web address are embossed on the attached card, according to CardWatch (cardwatch.com). The ‘getmycard.com’ Web site prompts the visitor to enter his ‘Reservation’ number and ‘Access Code’. After entering the tracking information, the applicant is taken to a brief online application which prompts for SSN and DOB. The ‘Gold MasterCard’ offer includes a 0% APR for new purchases through the Sept billing period, followed by an on-going rate of prime +10.3%. Cap One is charging a $72 annual fee for the Gold MasterCard, billed monthly.Details
Now moviegoers can bypass long lines at the ticket sales and will-call counters, and breeze into theaters and other facilities with the new WavePass Internet movie ticketing system announced by AmaTech USA, Inc., a world leader in contactless smart-card development and manufacturing. The WavePass System represents a major technological advance for online ticketing venues, which had been searching for a truly seamless interface between their online sites and the bricks-and-mortar world of the theaters they represent.
“National Amusements has always been a leader and an innovator in adopting technologies that enhance the movie-going experience for our customers,” said William Towey, Senior Vice President, National Amusements, Inc. (a founding partner in MovieTickets.com). “The WavePass System would allow us to provide yet another enhancement to the convenience patrons experience at our cinemas. Customers arrive at the theatre with their WavePass card in hand and can go directly to the concessions stands and to their seats without stopping at the boxoffice, or even at an automatic ticket kiosk. We also feel that our patrons’ ability to download cash for concessions and other purchases onto the same WavePass card is yet another plus service we can provide to them.”
The controversy has been whether or not online ticketing would revolutionize the industry or fade into the background as a mere marketing gimmick. Online ticketing venues have been finding it harder than expected to get visitors to their websites to take that extra step and click through to actually buy tickets on-line. There hasn’t been sufficient motivation to get people to actually buy tickets on line in enough volume to guarantee the industry’s success.
“Research has shown that many Web surfers are content to simply surf, and don’t make the connection from the Web to the brick-and-mortar economy,” said Dennis Ryan President of AmaTech USA, Inc. “There simply isn’t that much difference between buying a ticket online and then going to the theater to wait in line at the will-call window or kiosk, and simply waiting in line at the box office. And surveys have shown that even though moviegoers love their movies, they generally hate waiting in line. Until now existing online ticketing methods haven’t been able to successfully resolve this problem.”
“The WavePass system makes it a whole different game,” added Ryan. It forms the bridge between the Internet to the real world. Because of the added convenience and possible promotional tie-ins, it encourages the web surfer to make the connection — to actually buy the ticket online, load the ticket onto his WavePass card at home and go to the theater with little or no waiting when he gets there. There is really nothing else like the WavePass system. From the level of interest we are receiving, we expect the system to be in common use by the end of the year.”
The most visible element in the system is the WavePass smart card itself, the prepaid pass that customers need only move through the air near the WaveThru reader as they breeze into the theater. It is based on broadly used contactless smart-card technology pioneered by AmaTech, and found in mass transit systems, toll bridges, e-payment systems (Shell(R) and Mobil(R) service stations), access control, and other applications.
A contactless smart card contains an inexpensive microchip that receives, processes, evaluates and stores data (much like a personal computer) with a small antenna forming a transponder (a device which picks up and responds to radio waves). Because they use radio waves, WavePass cards never need to touch the reader — they are simply passed within a few inches of it; WavePass cards even get their power through radio waves from the reader/writer, no batteries to change — ever. And since mechanical contact with a reader is not required they can actually be manufactured into any form — key fobs, bracelets, pendants, etc., in addition to the standard credit-card shape and size.
With the WavePass System, before the moviegoer goes to the theater he selects the movie on the Internet and downloads tickets onto his WavePass smart card using a small WavePort(TM) reader/writer attached to his PC. Or, he could use a kiosk located at the theater or any convenient public area. It’s like having tickets delivered into your hand at home. The customer can also prepay for concessions at the same time by loading “electronic cash” on to the WavePass card. To enter the theater, the customer simply waves the card past a WaveThru(TM) point-of-sale reader and the ticket is deducted from the card. At the concession stand, the WavePass holder chooses movie treats and pays with the e-cash at another WaveThru point-of-sale terminal — reducing or eliminating another long line. Having a loaded WavePass card is like having a ticket in your hand, with prepaid concessions added in.
“This is proven technology already being used every day by tens of millions of people in Europe and Asia in mass transit. It’s a familiar technology!” said Alicia Espericueta, Director of Marketing for AmaTech USA. “A WavePass card is just like any credit card that you keep in your wallet, but now instead of taking out your credit card to buy a ticket (after waiting in line) your card is your ticket. And it’s contactless so there’s no stopping to fumble with the card; no ‘insert here’; no swipe; no slap. Simply pass it by the reader and skip the line.
“All around Asia, merchants surrounding transit stations (where smart-card use first took off) began accepting smart cards to pay for newspapers, food, and other sundry items. These merchants began accepting smart cards because their customers wanted to use them. Smart cards are cool, and people like to use them! Movie tickets online is simply the next natural step for this technology,” she added.
The WavePass package that theaters provide their customers contains a WavePass contactless smart card, a WavePort reader/writer for the home PC, installation software, and a purchase rebate coupon. When the customer signs up for the service online, the one-time registration process requires a credit card number and a password. The rebate value is loaded onto the card. Registration information goes to a secure database for transactions and for collection of demographic data (updated every time the moviegoer buys a ticket). With the customer’s permission, individualized promotions can be emailed that are based on the moviegoer’s tastes. Amatech’s expertise and manufacturing capabilities have turned this state-of-the art technology into an economical system that enhances the theater-going experience, and boosts the theater owner’s bottom line at the same time.
AmaTech USA, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AmaTech AG, (Security Code Number – WKN 519 280), the world leader in the volume production of radio frequency identification (RFID) systems and components such as contactless smart cards, smart labels, tags and readers as well as application software and system solutions. This globally operating company holds 72 worldwide patents on products, machines and manufacturing processes in the identification technology sector; an additional 89 patents are still pending, including the patent applied for on the WavePass system. AmaTech USA’s Product Development, Customer Service and Corporate Sales Offices are located at 460 Benson Lane, Suite 12, Chandler, AZ 85224. You can reach the company by phone at 480-726-8800, or via the Internet at [http://www.amatech.com], [http://www.amatechusa.com] and [http://www.justwaveit.com].
ACI Worldwide announced this morning the launch of its second-generation software for electronic statement delivery and electronic bill delivery and payment. ‘M-Statement’ and ‘M-Bill’ enables companies to create, track and securely deliver content-rich statements and bills directly to their customers via e-mail and other delivery channels. Customers can electronically pay the billing company from within the bills they receive using payment types accepted around the world. Billers using ‘M-Bill’ can continue to accept the same methods of payment, clear payments via the corporate bank or payment-clearing provider they already use, and utilize existing payment infrastructures and national payment clearing services.Details
MasterCard International today announced the selection of the “Are You Credit Wise?” class of 2001, a group of outstanding peer-educators who will execute this award-winning financial education initiative. These individuals will lead a semester-long, campus-wide effort to educate their fellow students about fundamental money management skills, from basic budgeting to bill payment, to responsible use of credit and debit.
Developed in 1999 with the support of national student leaders, MasterCard’s “Are You Credit Wise?” is designed to train students to become peer-educators and help the student body, especially college freshmen, in understanding key financial concepts.
“Student focus groups and campus pilot projects have demonstrated to us that there is strong value in equipping college students to deliver financial facts to their peers,” said Catherine Cummings, MasterCard’s vice president of consumer affairs. “In many ways, students are better able to communicate in a variety of campus environments, without lecturing, and they understand the financial challenges and other pressures of campus life,” she said.
In 2001, students attending University of Georgia, Oklahoma State University, San Diego State University, Florida State University, Duke University, University of Virginia, Rutgers University, Howard University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and others will lead “Are You Credit Wise?” programs on these campuses. Over the last two years, students at dozens of other selected schools have distributed these educational materials.
Recognizing that money is a critical issue for most undergraduate students, the program seeks every available opportunity to offer smart money management tips. The peer-educators typically hold campus workshops, host informal financial presentations, distribute informational fliers and hang posters around campus. Also, they coordinate with professors, deans, orientation directors, resident advisors and campus organizations to identify additional opportunities.
Cummings continued, “Once we explain that our consumer education information contains no sales or marketing messages, campus officials have been eager to help us spread the word because they understand, as we do at MasterCard, that many students are managing money full time, for the first time. While we all experience a degree of trial and error, we don’t want that process to be the only education college students receive on their finances,” she said.
When students need more in-depth information, the peer-educators refer them to MasterCard’s non-commercial, education web site, www.creditalk.com, which offers a glossary of financial terms and interactive features that help students establish a workable budget and calculate credit charges. The web site also provides links to additional resources and credit counseling organizations.
“Are You Credit Wise?” is one of several MasterCard education programs for the college consumer. Another is the Money Talks initiative, cosponsored by College Parents of America. The Money Talks brochure and on-campus seminars are designed to encourage and support parents so that they can teach the financial facts of life to their high school and college students. Since its initial printing, more than 75,000 copies of Money Talks have been distributed directly to parents, or to colleges for their parent orientation programs. The Money Talks brochure also can be viewed online at .
MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. More than 1 billion MasterCardÂ®, CirrusÂ® and MaestroÂ® logos are present on credit, charge and debit cards in circulation today. An association comprised of more than 20,000 member financial institutions, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses, both large and small, in 210 countries and territories. MasterCard is the leader in quality and innovation, offering a wide range of payment solutions in the virtual and traditional worlds. With more than 19 million acceptance locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard Card. In 1999, gross dollar volume exceeded US$725 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at .Details
FleetBoston Financial announced it is expanding its foreign language capabilities and functionality at ATMs throughout its Northeast network of 3,400 ATMs. Former Summit Bancorp ATMs will expand their foreign language access following systems conversions scheduled later this summer, bringing the total Fleet ATM network to more than 3,800 machines.
Today’s announcement also introduces a new language preset option, a feature that enables ATM users to select the language they prefer to use in all future transactions. Once selected, this language automatically appears each time the customer accesses a Fleet ATM.
Dramatically expanding its repertoire of foreign language capabilities, Fleet ATMs can now provide screen instructions in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese or French depending on market needs. Russian will be added by early July, 2001. The languages available on particular ATMs will vary based on the region.
“Today we are again demonstrating our commitment to serving the diverse needs of our customers. Whether it’s through our ATMs, branches, call centers, or web banking, we continue to set the benchmark for our entire industry for inclusive community outreach. We want to ensure that all sectors of our society can share in the benefits of today’s financial mainstream,” said Robert B. Hedges, Jr., Managing Director of Retail Distribution at Fleet.
Last month, Fleet announced plans to introduce 1,420 “talking ATMs” for visually impaired ATM users during the next two years throughout its Northeast retail service area, from Maine to Pennsylvania. Fleet is investigating now with manufacturers the feasibility of meeting the foreign language needs of the visually impaired for future use.
Language Preset Option Also Introduced
As an added enhancement, all ATM users are also now able to select a one-time preset option to indicate a preferred language for future transactions, thereby bypassing the screen that currently asks users to select a language at the beginning of each new transaction. “We are listening and responding to our customers’ interests in the customized, efficient delivery of our services. Wherever and whenever possible, we want our customers to enjoy sophisticated yet highly personalized services that are easy to use,” said Hedges.
Fleet made its determination to introduce the language preset option based on research among its customers. Both English-speaking and foreign-language customers indicated strong preferences for the option. “Our research told us that our customers appreciated this option as a user-friendly and time-saving convenience. It is a small, but telling, step in our progress to make Fleet the bank of choice in every market we serve,” said Nandita Bakhshi, director of Fleet’s ATM/Self-Service Banking group. Today’s ATM technology can accommodate up to four foreign languages per machine. Approximately 75% of Fleet’s 3,400 ATMs now offer four languages. Spanish and Chinese are the most frequently installed second languages, now available in all machines accommodating four languages, or nearly 2,600 Fleet ATMs; Korean follows, in nearly 2,400 ATMs at Fleet. Where particularly diverse communities require more than four languages at a single locale, Fleet will offer additional alternative languages at nearby machines.
Fleet first introduced a second language in select ATMs — Spanish — beginning in 1991. It added French in 1993. It later introduced Chinese and Korean in 1994. Portuguese was added in 2000. Russian will be added this summer. Today’s announcement means that over 3,000 Fleet ATMs now offer a minimum of two languages at each machine. Based on 1990 Census data, nearly six million residents 18 or older speak non-English at home, representing about 20% of the population, within Fleet’s Northeast market.
FleetBoston Financial is the seventh-largest financial holding company in the United States. A diversified financial services company with assets exceeding $200 billion, Fleet offers a comprehensive array of innovative financial solutions to 20 million customers in more than 20 countries and territories. Among the company’s key lines of business are: retail banking, with nearly 1,700 branches and more than 3,800 ATMs in the Northeast; commercial banking, including capital markets/investment banking and commercial finance; investment services, including discount brokerage; and full-service banking through more than 250 offices in Latin America. FleetBoston Financial is headquartered in Boston and listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FBF) and the Boston Stock Exchange (BSE: FBF).Details
There are rumors circulating this morning that Citigroup and Discover are mulling a potential purchase of American Express. This week’s issue of Businessweek says AmEx could fetch between $50 and $70 per share. AmEx is trading, in the pre-market this morning, at $38.50. American Express’ stock traded at nearly $63 per share in late September. AmEx has assets of $155 billion and a market capitalization of $53 billion. Citigroup has assets of $900 billion and a market value of $230 billion. Last summer, AmEx CEO Kenneth Chenault revealed details of a previous merger attempt with Citibank during his testimony in the DOJ antitrust trial against VISA and MasterCard. (CF Library 6/30/00)Details
MasterCard released data yesterday showing its gross dollar volume in the USA soared by 20.2% last year to $423 billion. The nation’s second largest payment card association also showed an explosion in cards issued during 2000. The number of MasterCard-branded cards issued in the USA jumped 16% last year, more than five times the 1999 growth rate of 2.8%. The surge in cards-issued is attributable to the increase in card solicitations for MasterCard-branded products. BAI Global says MasterCard had a 57% U.S. bankcard mailshare last year compared to 45% for 1999. Also the nation’s two largest issuers, Citibank and MBNA, are squarely in MasterCard’s court. MasterCard ended 2000 with 235.1 million cards-in-force and $212.7 billion in outstandings in the USA. Globally, MasterCard-branded products generated $857 billion in gross dollar volume, a 21.5% increase over 1999. Global purchasing volume (excluding cash transactions) rose 17.3% to $633.5 billion for 2000. In Canada, the gross dollar volume increased 16.6% to CDN $37 billion. For complete details on MasterCard’s international data visit RAM Research Group ([http://www.ramresearch.com]). For historical details on MasterCard’s USA data visit CardData ([http://www.carddata.com]).
A national survey released Thursday revealed that the cost of using another bank’s ATM machine has nearly tripled over the past five years. In 1996 consumers paid only a single foreign ATM fee to their own bank, averaging $1.01, to use another bank’s ATM. The new study shows consumers pay both a foreign fee plus a surcharge that, combined, average $2.86 in 2001. The new U.S. Public Interest Research Group survey says the nation’s biggest banks charge the highest combined ATM transaction fees and are leading the way in charging a new annual ATM card fee. Nationally, 94% of all banks surveyed imposed surcharges averaging $1.47. Average foreign fees were $1.39. Big bank ATM fees averaged $3.07. Nationally, 97% of big banks charged surcharges averaging $1.55. Big bank foreign fees averaged $1.52. Ohio banks charged the highest combined fees of $3.49. The report also found that 18% of all banks imposed annual card rental fees averaging $13.76 on either ATM card or ATM debit card holders or both. The U.S. PIRG used the report to attack the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. PRIG says the OCC has a long history of preempting state low-cost lifeline banking laws and ATM surcharge bans, even when Congress tells it not to do so.Details
As American Express is gearing up for the transfer of Bank of Hawaii VISA cards to AmEx cards, the company announced yesterday a series of philanthropic and marketing activities in support of the Hawai’i Nature Center. To start, AmEx is making a $100,000 grant to support a new coastal curriculum and field program for fifth graders that will serve approximately 3,500 additional students each year. AmEx is also hosting the ‘Chip for Charity Challenge’ to raise additional funds. The ‘Challenge’ centers around a short chip shot –complete with sand trap and water hazard on which participants can take their best shot at a hole-in-one. For everyone who succeeds, American Express will donate $100 to the Nature Center, up to a total of $10,000. The third component of the campaign in support of the Nature Center is a cause-related spending program that will begin in the second quarter of this year. AmEx will make a donation to the Hawai’i Nature Center for every American Express transaction that a cardholders makes at any merchant location in Hawaii, up to $100,000. AmEx is acquiring the $226 million BOH VISA credit card portfolio. (CF Library 12/21/00)Details
Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp., and Publix Super Markets, Inc., one of the nation’s top 10 supermarkets, announced they have signed a multi-year agreement to offer the Western Union Money Transfer service at the nearly 650 Publix locations throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The addition of these locations significantly expands Western Union’s presence throughout the Southeastern United States.
! The five-year agreement comes on the heels of a successful pilot program in 16 Publix store locations in Atlanta and Miami. Publix, which had not previously offered money transfer services, received excellent customer response to the pilot and will be rolling out the Western Union Money Transfer service at the rest of its locations over the next several months.
“Publix has always sought to provide our customers with a premier shopping experience. That means supplying products and services of the highest quality and value,” says Publix spokesperson Lee Brunson. “The positive response to our pilot program tells us that our customers find money transfer a significant added value and that Western Union is a name they know and trust.”
“The addition of Publix to the Western Union agent network will provide customers with even more convenient locations to conduct money transfers,” said Mike Yerington, president, Western Union North America. “This partnership is a definite win-win proposition. Western Union services have the proven ability to attract repeat customers, giving Publix an opportunity to increase store traffic, and the addition of nearly 650 premium locations will significantly grow our agent network in the Southeast.”
About Western Union
Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC), is a worldwide leader in consumer money transfer services. Consumers can quickly, safely and reliably transfer money at approximately 101,000 agent locations in more than 185 countries and territories using the Western Union and Orlandi Valuta money transfer networks. Famous for its pioneering telegraph service, the original Western Union dates back to 1851 and introduced electronic money transfer service in 1871. Western Union is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2001. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.westernunion.com].
About First Data Corp.
Atlanta-based First Data Corp. is a global leader in electronic commerce and payment services. Serving more than two million merchant locations, more than 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data makes it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, stored-value card or check at the point-of-sale, over the Internet or by money transfer. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.firstdata.com].
About Publix Super Markets, Inc.
Publix is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the country, with 2000 sales of $14.6 billion. Currently Publix has 648 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. It has been named one of America’s top 10 places to work in the book, “The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” as well as one of the top companies in Fortune’s recent list of best workplaces. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.Publix.com].
The U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, Thursday, dismissed the shareholders class action suit against bankrate.com in its entirety with prejudice. The lawsuit was filed against the Company on March 28, 2000. FL-based Bankrate.com has been trying to reduce its cash burn rate as it seeks profitability. Last year, the online personal finance web site lost $12.4 million, cut staff, and pulled the plug on its previous acquisitions. The company also changed its name and stock symbol to bolster investor interest. This year, the Web site lost its NASDAQ listing and now trades on the OTCBB around 50 cents per share. (CF Library 11/9/00; 12/22/00; 1/29/01)Details
USA Technologies Inc. announced it had negotiated an OEM agreement to supply its unique e-Port embedded systems technology to Automated Merchandising Systems, one of the Nation’s premier glass front merchandising equipment manufacturers supplying the global vending industry.
The AMS alliance is USA Technologies’ first OEM agreement for e-Port and has the potential of generating $5 million in sales for the Wayne-based Technology Company over the next five years.
The agreement comes within a week of USA Technologies announcing a multi-million dollar Intelligent Vending strategic alliance with global communications giant, Marconi Online Systems.
The alliance is to convert traditional vending machines dispensing beverage and packaged snacks into intelligent “store fronts”, connected to the Internet, and capable of communicating operational data to operators, conducting cashless transactions and providing interactive media at point of sale.
Stephen P. Herbert, President and COO of USA Technologies, said the OEM contract with a leading vending machine manufacturer such as AMS, was an important milestone and endorsement for the USA Technologies/Marconi Alliance.
“Vending machine manufacturers, suppliers and dealers the world over are recognizing the potential of e-Port. Our goal is to assist partners like AMS in providing greater value to their customers,” Mr. Herbert said. “This latest agreement will see our e-Port built into the AMS product on the assembly line.”
AMS considers the inclusion of e-Port in their products as a differentiator from their competition, and could provide AMS distributors with a point of difference in the marketplace.
“AMS is an innovator in the vending industry and it’s our objective to constantly bring to our customers the latest technologies that will add value and satisfaction to their offerings,” said Sharon Shull, President, AMS. “e-Port, with its ability to collect supply chain-or-‘route’ data, allow consumers to make purchases with a credit card, and to view interactive media such as news, sports and weather, will not only improve the value we bring to AMS customers, but will help generate greater revenue for AMS through increased sales of our vending machines.”
e-Port is the world’s first non-PC e-commerce device that can be embedded into vending machines, gas pumps, office equipment and almost any kind of point-of-sale terminal. It comes fitted with an interactive, video screen that features rotating banner advertisements, giving vending machine owners the ability to operate electronic “storefronts” and provide free access to media such as news, sports and weather. e-Port is also a cashless transaction device, allowing consumers to make self service, micro credit card transactions, for as low as $1.00. Marconi’s Intelligent Vending service provides remote monitoring capabilities for vending machines. The service delivers marketing, management and maintenance reports overnight straight to the vending operations’ office. Inventory, cash and damage information is securely transmitted over a wireless network and helps vending operators increase revenue through machines that always are cleaned, filled and working. The combined USA Technologies e-Port/ Marconi Online solution has the potential to fundamentally change the global vending industry.
About USA Technologies
USA Technologies is recognized as a leader in cashless transaction and interactive media technology and associated financial services. USA Technologies provides credit card-activated and other cashless systems, allowing end users, ranging from consumers to business professionals, to communicate, conduct business or make ordinary commerce transactions, outside the home or workplace. USA Technologies is an IBM (NYSE: IBM) Business Partner and an inaugural member of the Sprint Enabling Application Service Provider Program for e-commerce. It also has established relationships with a number of global IT, multimedia and telecommunications companies, including RadiSys Corporation, Double Click, Inc., and Xerox Corporation. Visit the USA Technologies home page at [http://www.usatech.com].
About Automated Merchandising Systems
Automated Merchandising Systems, a premier manufacturer of glass front merchandising vending machines, is a privately held company headquartered in Kearneysville, West Virginia. AMS’s patented SENSIT(R) technology guarantees product delivery, eliminating the product hang-ups and misloading problems — thereby increasing reliability and customer satisfaction. AMS’s rugged, temperature controlled machines are cost-effective solutions for vending a wide range of products.