True Fixed Rate

Credit card interest rate competition in Britain, spurred by US-based issuers, escalated this morning as The Co-operative Bank unveiled a five-year, fixed rate VISA card. The bold strategy is unprecedented in the US or UK credit card industry. The Co-operative Bank’s new ‘Platinum VISA’ card offers a 9.8% APR, fixed until April 30, 2006. The card has no annual fee and offers cardholders a grace period up to 46 days. The long-term, fixed rate applies to both new purchases and balance transfers. The Co-operative Bank has been a pioneer of bold credit card offers. According to international monitor, RAM Research Group, Co-operative introduced a ‘Free-for-Life VISA Gold’ card in 1991. Co-operative unveiled the first biodegradable credit card in 1997, the ‘Greenpeace VISA’ card. The bank also launched one of the first Internet banks in the UK, ‘smile’, in 1999, which offers a special VISA card with a variable interest rate of 9.9%. Competition in the UK has been aggressive since MBNA, Capital One, Household, Providian, Prudential, People’s Bank and other US issuers have come ashore. Last week, MBNA Europe announced the acquisition of Abbey National’s credit card portfolio of 550,000 cardholders for $400 million. (CF Library 3/20/01; 6/2/00; 4/17/00)

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Visa’s McNally

VISA International announced Tuesday the promotion of Caroline McNally from SVP to EVP of global brand management. She formerly held marketing positions at American Express and MasterCard and is a frequent lecturer. McNally joined VISA in 1990 and has held positions including director of international marketing, communications and destination marketing and vice president of global brand marketing. She became senior vice president of global brand management in 1997. As EVP, McNally will be responsible for global brand strategy leadership, including directing VISA’s global brand strategy development; creating new brand expressions and brand communications; establishing and monitoring brand and corporate identity standards worldwide and conducting market intelligence. She is also responsible for measuring and monitoring worldwide brand performance for VISA, evaluating opportunities to expand the VISA brand and building a brand culture within VISA.

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Bank ONE Services

Bank One Corporation, the nation’s fifth-largest bank and the second largest provider of collection products, recently introduced two internet-based services that present bills and collect payments in both the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to- business (B2B) environment.

Called the One Electronic Billing Service and the One Electronic Invoicing Service, Bank One’s new services expand its collection product offerings while continuing to support its strategy of enabling customers to migrate from paper to electronic-based transactions.

By offering both B2C and B2B options, Bank One can provide its customers the optimal electronic presentment and payment solution based on a company’s unique billing and collection needs. Also, both services enable Bank One’s large corporate, middle market and net marketplace customers to experience even greater productivity gains and cost efficiencies in collecting and processing payments while enhancing their emerging e-commerce initiatives.

“In today’s emerging e-commerce environment, we feel it is critical to support our customers’ transactions from end-to-end, for the entire payment or procurement cycle, whether it is initiated by paper, or on-line,” says Bob Wilson, senior vice president of strategy for the bank’s Treasury Management Services. “Adding these two innovative, high quality services to our product portfolio expands the value we bring to our customers in meeting their needs, no matter how far along they are in implementing an e-commerce strategy.”

The One(R) Electronic Billing Service, which supports business-to-consumer transactions, is powered by Billserv, Inc., the leading Internet bill presentment and payment Outsourced Solution Provider. This service enables the bank’s commercial customers to present bills and other documents to consumers on-line through multi-channel distribution, receive payments electronically, decrease the cost of bill and payment processing, support web-based interactive customer service and distribute cross-sell marketing messages.

The One(R) Electronic Invoicing Service, which supports business-to- business transactions, is powered by BCE Emergis, a premier provider of B2B e-commerce services and exchanges. This service enables commercial customers to present invoices online, reduce the float time between sale and payment and decrease the cost of the invoicing, payment processing and customer service delivery. In addition, it enables their customers’ trading partners to view invoices over the internet, dispute entire invoices, sections or line items, download invoice and disbursement information, and interact with their supplier’s customer service and accounts receivable departments.

Bank One Corporation (NYSE: ONE) is the fifth-largest bank holding company in the U.S., with assets of more than $265 billion. Bank One offers a full range of financial services to large corporate and middle market commercial customers and retail consumers. It is the largest Visa credit card issuer, the third largest bank lender to small businesses, and one of the top 25 managers of mutual funds. A leader in the retail market, Bank One operates more than 1,700 banking centers and a nationwide network of ATM’s. Bank One can be found on the Internet at [http://www.bankone.com][1].

Billserv, Inc. (Nasdaq: BLLS) is the leading electronic bill presentment and payment Outsourced Solution Provider that provides billers with a cost- effective outsourcing solution for presenting bills to consumers for payment on the Internet. Billserv, Inc. serves an intermediary role between billers and bill aggregators by consolidating customer billing information from multiple billers, and then securely delivering it to aggregators. Billserv, Inc. has five product offerings: eServSM, Internet billing clearinghouse services for EBPP; ePublishingSM, electronic publishing services for online statement delivery; eCareSM, an interactive customer care center operation, eConsultingSM, professional consulting services for billing organizations offering in-house bill presentment, and ASP Gateway Services, a service that provides billers who already have an in-house EBPP system with limited distribution points, a solution to deliver e-bills to virtually any distribution point across the Internet. Billserv, Inc. also owns bills.com, the first Internet portal dedicated to EBPP, where consumers can pay all their bills electronically.

BCE Emergis (TSE: IFM), a premier B2B e-commerce infrastructure provider, strategically focusing on market leadership in the transaction-intensive eHealth and financial services sectors. By layering technologically advanced e-commerce services on existing Internet-based platforms, Emergis offers its customers increasing value in their e-commerce adoption and ever-increasing levels of sophisticated services. These scalable solutions electronically transform business processes, such as buying, selling, invoicing and payment, and enable companies to succeed in the web-centric, cost-driven, and highly competitive global Internet economy. BCE Emergis’ customers include leading North American banks and insurance companies. The Company’s shares are included in the TSE 100 composite index.

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

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Traffic Data

Broad business method patents continue to stifle competition and hamper the growth of the Internet. Yesterday, NY-based Jupiter Media Metrix drove rival PC Data out-of-business following settlement over a patent-infringement suit. The patent involves the method used to gather data on Internet users. Issuers marketing credit cards on the Internet rely on the traffic measurements to determine ad placements. Following the PC Data settlement, Jupiter filed patent infringement lawsuits against Nielsen NetRatings and Paris-based NetValue. The action also comes on the heels of the discovery of wide variations in the audience measurement data reported by Jupiter Media Metrix. Early this month, DoubleClick and comScore Networks discovered that, based on server logs, actual traffic to most Web sites is substantially higher than has been reported by syndicated ratings services such as Jupiter Media Metrix. For example, Yahoo’s December server log showed 181 million unique worldwide visitors while Media Metrix reported 89.4 million unique worldwide visitors. DoubleClick and comScore Networks introduced the new ‘netScore’ service which it says is more accurate. Meanwhile, NetValue, reported yesterday it has purchased certain assets of PC Data Online, including access to PC Data’s U.S. clients, international affiliates and the possibility of converting PC Data North American panelists to NetValue’s proprietary metering and analysis technology. NetValue also announced an agreement with comScore Networks to offer to service PC Data’s former clients with its new ‘Netscore’ product.

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Smartrip Cards

The Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said this morning it has now issued more than 150,000 contactless smart cards for its mass transportation system. The ‘SmarTrip’ card was the first contactless smart card to be introduced by a major mass transit system in the US. The card was first introduced in the summer of 1999. In September 2000, the WMATA broke the 100,000 card milestone. The ‘SmarTrip’ technology was developed by Cubic Transportation Systems. Cubic also developed WMATA’s magnetic stripe ticketing system which enables Metro riders to use one card for trains and park-and-ride facilities. Cubic also supplied the nation’s second smart card-based mass transit fare collection system, which was rolled out by the Chicago Transit Authority in August last year. Cubic has installed other intelligent fare collection systems in more than 40 major markets in five continents. (CF Library 9/22/00; 9/12/00; 5/19/99)

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NYCE ENP

NYCE Corporation has formed a new Emerging Network Payments group. The new unit will focus exclusively on extending the company’s real-time transaction processing capabilities beyond its current ATM and on-line debit POS core services. Previous extensions of NYCE’s capabilities, from the introduction of on-line debit POS in the `80s to last year’s launch of ‘SafeDebit’, leveraged the Network’s infrastructure and real-time access to DDA accounts for the extension of PIN-secured transactions. Current and future NYCE initiatives pursue the development of “PIN-less” transactions.

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EBPP Study

The finance/banking industry has the highest concentration of electronic bill presentment and payment practitioners, according to a new report by Xplor International, the worldwide electronic document systems association. Released this week, Xplor’s 2000 – 2001 Technology Directions Survey shows that 48 percent of Xplor International members in the finance/banking industry have an active EBPP program in place. The insurance, manufacturing, and government industries round out the top four users of EBPP.

James Shand, EDP, chairman of the board of Xplor International, said, “Xplor members are closely aligned with the technology of electronic bill presentment and payment, since it’s essentially a document technology. Nearly one-third of Xplor member companies are involved in EBPP now and 27 percent more are investigating EBPP.”

Xplor’s Technology Directions Survey offers a glimpse into the minds of today’s top document professionals from around the world, and provides Xplor members and the document industry with a status report on current and future document technology trends. The report surveys both user companies and service providers that are members of Xplor, providing a benchmark for organizations to compare their perceptions of the industry against those of other strategic document specialists. The survey covers trends and organizational decisions relating to e-business, digital printing, outsourcing, effects of the Internet on printing, top current and future investments, document imaging, and more.

This is the second consecutive year the survey indicated the finance/banking industry has the highest number of EBPP practitioners. In 1999, 45 percent of Xplor International member companies in finance/banking already had an EBPP program or pilot program in place.

The survey also showed substantial increases in EBPP adoption rates for the insurance industry, when compared to the 1999 survey. The survey shows that 28 percent of insurance companies have a pilot or full EBPP program in place, compared to only 8 percent last year. Thirty-eight percent of Xplor members in the insurance industry are investigating EBPP, a sign of strong continuing market growth.

To order a copy of Xplor International’s 2000 – 2001 Technology Directions Survey, call the association’s headquarters at +1-310-791-9521, or e-mail info@xplor.org. Xplor International ([http://www.xplor.org][1]) members receive a copy as an exclusive benefit of membership.

Other Survey Highlights:

— There is no consensus among Xplor International members about the effects of EBPP on printing. Nearly equal proportions expect EBPP to increase, decrease, or have no affect at all on the need for printing.

— More than one-half of Xplor International members place customer contact among the top three benefits their organizations realize from web participation.

— Seventy-five percent of Xplor member companies handle e-commerce transactions internally and one-quarter use contractors for EBPP activities.

— Xplor International members expect most new means of creating, accessing, printing, and distributing documents to increase the demand for printing.

About Xplor International

Xplor International is the worldwide association representing more than 5,000 members in more than 2,500 companies which develop and use the technology of the US $125-billion document systems industry. For more information on Xplor International, call +1-310-791-9521, visit [http://www.xplor.org][2], or e-mail info@xplor.org.

[1]: http://www.xplor.org/
[2]: http://www.xplor.org/

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ImageCard Laminator

Datacard Group introduced the ImageCard HiFX laminator, a high-speed system that applies polyester overlays to photo IDs and other plastic cards that require protection from everyday wear and tear.

The ImageCard HiFX laminator gives users the option of applying a clear or holographic polyester overlay to photo IDs and other cards in a fast, single-pass operation. The protective, scratch- and chemical-resistant overlays help extend the life of cards by shielding them from everyday exposure to a variety of threats, such as abrasions caused by swipe readers. Overlays may be applied to one or both sides of a card.

The modular design of the laminator allows Datacard customers to easily integrate it with an existing Datacard ImageCard(R) HiFX(TM) printer — or configure it as a stand-alone unit. The system offers adjustable temperature settings for use with various card stocks. Clear and highly intuitive LED message indicators ensure easy operation.

“Scratches, abrasions and chemical attacks can deteriorate the printed elements of a card,” said Bob Bergquist, HiFX product manager for Datacard. “As a result, card issuers often re-issue cards prematurely, which isn’t cost-effective. Or cardholders end up using inferior cards, which compromises security.

“The new HiFX laminator provides Datacard customers with a strong line of defense against these potential problems,” Bergquist said. “It’s a convenient, cost-effective solution for organizations looking to control costs and preserve the effectiveness of their card programs.”

Datacard Group is a world leader in innovative plastic card personalization and identity management solutions. The company provides its customers with integrated systems for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. A diverse solutions portfolio features a broad range of card-related products and services, including the world’s best-selling card personalization and printing systems. Datacard Group also offers card lifecycle management software, smart card personalization systems and applications, custom solution development and products designed to enhance card issuing operations. Datacard Corporation, doing business as Datacard Group, is privately held and based in Minnetonka, Minn. Datacard Group serves customers in more than 200 countries and provides sales and service in more than 120 countries.

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Publicard 4Q/00

PubliCARD yesterday reported fourth quarter revenues of $1.3 million and a loss of $4.2 million. For 4Q/99 the company had $1.1 million in revenues and an $8.2 million loss. The increase reflects growth in sales of smart card readers. For the year, the loss from continuing operations was $19.7 million compared with $16.7 million in 1999. For complete details on PubliCARD’s past and present performance visit CardData ().

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Card Espionage

The FBI arrested a New York catering company employee last week for trying to sell confidential MasterCard documents to VISA. The employee, who worked as a waiter in MasterCard’s corporate dining room, reportedly attempted to sell documents regarding a major alliance between Disney and MasterCard to VISA. The temporary employee hired by the catering firm Flik International, offered to sell VISA the confidential MasterCard document for $100,000 and also offered additional information from the years 1999 and 2000. VISA reported the theft to the FBI which in turn used an undercover agent posing as a VISA executive to negotiate the purchase of the stolen materials. Fausto Estrada was charged with crimes under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act.

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