MasterCard pulled the plug at the last minute for a new ‘Priceless’ spot that was to air on this week’s Grammy Awards. The new spot was to show a young boy smashing a brand new guitar with the tag line “Rock and Roll: Priceless”. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, MasterCard pulled the ad because of technical issues after creating the commercial in less than two weeks. Ads for the Grammys run between $400,000 and $500,000 for 30 seconds and reach 27 million viewers. MasterCard launched its highly successful “Priceless’ campaign in 1997.Details
VIPdesk, the fast-growing Internet concierge and personal services provider, this week announced that Maria Izurieta joins VIPdesk as chief financial officer and Maureen Stevens as vice president of marketing.
VIPdesk also announced today the promotion of Sally Hurley as chief strategy officer, and Kelly Christiano as senior vice president of sales.
Maria Izurieta comes to VIPdesk after consulting to several early stage companies as the chief financial officer and from CyberCash, Inc. Izurieta assisted and directed the strategic and financial development of each start-up enterprise and will lead the implementation of internal financial structures for VIPdesk.
Izurieta has an impressive track record for achieving profitability and high growth in tech-related businesses.
“I am truly excited to be joining VIPdesk’s executive management team”, stated Izurieta. “In this company I see unique opportunities for innovation and explosive growth, as well as a high regard for teamwork. I am eager to direct and organize VIPdesk’s financial and strategic planning as well as to create new company efficiencies, tools and processes to drive revenue and increase profitability for VIPdesk.”
Maureen Stevens, formerly the vice president of marketing for YellowBrix and Infodata Systems, brings 16 years of experience in market research, marketing communications, product management and business development. Stevens excels in developing and executing strategic and tactical marketing plans in start-ups and high-growth environments much like VIPdesk.
“VIPdesk provides a personal assistant platform to complete daily tasks and manage the busy lives of client customers and employees,” stated Stevens. “I look forward to working alongside our blue-chip clients to promote this valuable time-saving service and help them build loyalty among their customers and employees.”
Sally Hurley, formerly vice president of strategic development, will now provide direction to VIPdesk in the areas of B2B marketing, partnerships, technological development and product evolution as the chief strategy officer. Kelly Christiano, now senior vice president of sales, will see that VIPdesk continues to grow exponentially in terms of sales and overall end-users.
About VIPdesk ([www.vipdesk.com])
VIPdesk is the leading provider of Web-enabled coordination of personal and convenience services to help busy people get things done. VIPdesk provides clients with a virtual personal assistant platform that offers live online concierge services for their employees and customers.
This innovative technology and centralized infrastructure of local concierges acts as a powerful retention and productivity tool that currently serves 5.8 million users.
Founded in 1997 by Mary Naylor, a 14-year veteran of the concierge industry, this personal assistant infrastructure platform serves clients including America Online’s Digital City, Freddie Mac, MasterCard, Citibank, e-Tenants.com and Diners Club.
Electronic Clearing House, Inc. announced the signing of an agreement with Mesilla Valley Bank, Las Cruces, New Mexico, to provide credit card processing services for the Bank’s merchants under ECHO’s Agent Bank Program.
Mesilla Valley Bank, established in October, 2000, will market merchants for credit card processing in the greater Las Cruces area. “We believe local banks will continue to be desired over the large national banks by the communities they serve,” stated Jack Wilson, vice president of Bank Services at ECHO. “ECHO’s combined transaction services of credit, debit and check processing provide local banks with the ability to competitively price such services and effectively compete with the national banks in their area.”
Electronic Clearing House provides debit and credit card processing, check guarantee, check verification, check conversion, and inventory tracking to over 58,000 retail merchants and U-Haul dealers across the nation.Details
Three leaders in the smart card industry, Gemplus, Oberthur Card Systems and Schlumberger revealed this week that they have been working together in collaboration with Sun Microsystems to develop completely interoperable SIM cards based on the Java Card technology 2.1 specifications.
! Since its inception, the Java platform has been adopted across the technology industry faster than any other new technology in history. Due to its flexibility, security, ease and increased speed of development, Java technology has been adopted as a leading open standard for the smart card industry particularly within the mobile communications sphere.
! Java Card technology 2.1 is a readily available open platform card on the market today. Differences in SIM card implementations by the various hardware and software providers resulted in the need for common work between SIM card suppliers to realize complete interoperability.
Based upon the recent ETSI and Sun Microsystems specifications, Gemplus, Oberthur and Schlumberger have worked closely to reach a standard implementation for Java Card technology 2.1 on SIM cards, thereby realizing complete interoperability across all Java technology based cards produced for the wireless industry. A common standard based on Java Card technology 2.1 provides complete interoperability, while still allowing developers to provide operator-specific solutions.
Mobile operators need fully compliant and interoperable SIM cards based upon the Java Card technology 2.1. In a direct response to this the three most advanced Java Card technology 2.1 suppliers to the GSM market: Gemplus, Oberthur and Schlumberger took the lead to achieve this with the intention that the common work will be made available to the SIMalliance1.
This co-operation by Gemplus, Oberthur and Schlumberger in collaboration with Sun Microsystems ensures that operators can experience the benefits of Java technology’s Write Once, Run Anywhere(tm) promise.
Interoperability between cards from all three manufacturers is being demonstrated on Sun’s booths # D2, D4 & D6 in Hall 1, Gemplus’ booth #C49, Oberthur’s booth # E5-E7 and Schlumberger’s booth # A19.
“We view Java Card technology as a leading open technology for SIM Cards and expect tremendous growth in this segment in the coming years” comments Gemplus’ Michel Canitrot, Vice-President, GSM & Public Telephony, “Complete interoperability is a crucial goal to achieve and now the hard work has been carried out, our customers can roll out bigger, better services in record time. In turn, this strengthens the position of the SIM Card as the preferred platform for mobile services.”
“With the deployment of new technologies, mobile operators are searching to maximize on their heavy investments and launch a host of value-added services to gain competitive advantage, with this in mind the issue of interoperability becomes paramount, ” explains Stephane Mousse, Head of Marketing for Mobile Communications at Oberthur Card Systems. “For a long time, the smart card industry has sought after complete interoperability, this move to work together to reach a common interpretation of existing standards is the start of the dream becoming reality for both existing and new generation networks.”
“Schlumberger is pleased to demonstrate true interoperability of Java SIM cards, which is the result of our continuous efforts to make our vision of open operating systems for smart cards a reality” comments Xavier Chanay, Vice President Mobile Communications, Smart Cards Products at Schlumberger. “Mobile operators now have an open and secure SIM platform to deliver new services quicker, at a time when the data channel is contributing more and more to their profitability.”
Gemplus ([www.gemplus.com]) is the world’s number one provider of smart card based solutions for security, wireless and e-business applications. Offering consulting services, design, software, hardware, personalization and full implementation, Gemplus works with its customers around the world to deliver comprehensive, integrated and tailor-made smart card based systems.
The Group’s customers use Gemplus memory and microprocessor smart cards, smart contactless cards, electronic tags, smart objects and magnetic stripe cards to simplify and secure a wide range of applications. From Web based and mobile commerce to financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education healthcare, identity, pay TV and physical and logical access control, Gemplus provides intelligent end-to-end solutions that bring security, convenience and ease-of-use to millions of people worldwide.
Founded in 1988, Gemplus had sales of over 767 millions of Euro ($US 817 millions) in 1999, and employs almost 6,300 people in 17 manufacturing facilities, 7 R&D centers and 44 sales and marketing offices located in more than 37 countries.
PA-based NCO Group and MD-based Creditrust Corporation have completed a merger to form NCO Portfolio Management Inc. CreditTrust is an information-based purchaser of delinquent VISA and MasterCard debt which filed for reorganization under the bankruptcy code. Approximately 63% of NCOP will be owned by NCOG and legacy shareholders of CRDT will own approximately 11%. Joseph K. Rensin, outgoing Chairman and CEO of CRDT, has purchased $1.0 million of common stock from NCOP. Mr. Rensin has also entered into a 3 year consulting agreement with NCOP. NCOP is expected to have an initial net book value of approximately $43.0 million consisting primarily of previously purchased portfolios of delinquent accounts receivable contributed by NCOPF and CRDT, as well as the proceeds from the sale of common stock.Details
The weak economic picture coupled with eroding consumer confidence may contribute to slight performance deterioration in credit quality and receivables growth for the credit card industry. Chargeoffs registered a big jump in December and personal bankruptcy filings are climbing. The Fitch ‘Credit Card Index’ reported its largest one-month increase since April 1997, increasing 28 bps to 5.40% during the December collection period. The monthly payment rates also dropped by 41 bps to 15.01% in December, its third consecutive month-to-month decline. Meanwhile personal bankruptcy filings totaled 1,212,006 for 2000, or 3.87% below 1999’s 1,260,796. For 2001, Fitch projects filings to increase 4.5% from the 2000 tally. Fitch noted that current evidence suggests that consumers have begun to curb their spending and lenders have tightened their underwriting standards. However the underlying trends in income and spending are pointing to a slower economy whereby consumers may need to finance their spending through credit cards.Details
MerchantOnline.com said yesterday it is delaying the filing of its Annual Report on Form 10-KSB. The Company previously announced that revenues for the fourth fiscal quarter ended Oct 31, more than doubled from the third quarter, while general and administrative expenses increased as the Company ramped up operations towards widespread commercial distribution of ‘PC Pay’ and ‘NewCash’. The net loss is expected to increase slightly from the third quarter. Founded in December 1997, MerchantOnline provides a secure transaction network that enables business and consumers to use one payment system for both their real world and virtual world needs utilizing credit cards, ATM/debit cards and other payment programs.Details
Schlumberger Test & Transactions, a business segment of Schlumberger Limited announced yesterday it has won the coveted Advanced Card Award for the “Best Loyalty Implementation” with its Advantage Card powered by Egg. Based on the Schlumberger EMV-compliant e-Galleon card, the Advantage Card combines loyalty points and credit capabilities on one secure smart card – turning the potential of multi-application card technology into practical reality.
The Advanced Card Awards, now in its third year, recognises excellence in smart card innovation and achievement, and has earned its place as the UK’s premier Award scheme in this dynamic and innovative arena.
Accepting the award, Bertrand Knopf, Schlumberger vice president e-Payment Europe said: “Great technology isn’t enough on its own, you have to be able to deliver it into the consumer’s pocket as a working solution. This Award recognises the achievement of everyone in Schlumberger who worked so hard all along the supply chain, to help our partners Egg and Boots the Chemist bring this innovative co-branding retail scheme to market.”
With the Advantage Card powered by Egg already in the pockets of consumers throughout the UK, Schlumberger has put the potential of multi-application smart cards into practice. This is Europe’s first live multi-application smart card-based service, supporting the innovative linking of the Internet bank Egg with the high street Boots the Chemist retailer.
The success of the project is not simply down to the quality of the cards, however. Schlumberger handles the whole supply chain – including data integration, personalisation and delivery services – required to turn an internet-entered request into the card in the customer’s hand. It’s a unique “from request to fulfilment” service.
Schlumberger Test & Transactions provides consulting, integration and products for smart card-based transactions; IP (Internet Protocol) network, security and wireless services; and testing and measurement of semiconductor devices. With 2000 revenue of $1.4 billion and over 8,000 employees in more than 40 countries, it is a business segment of Schlumberger Limited (NYSE: SLB), a global technology services company with 2000 revenue of $9.6 billion. More information is available at [www.slb.com]
First Data Corp. announced its formation of Nihon Card Processing Co. Ltd., the
in Japan to provide third-party credit card processing outsourcing services to
the world’s second largest credit card market.
The new company was formed by First Data and its joint venture partners,
NTT DATA, the data processing subsidiary of Japan’s leading telecommunications
company, NTT Corp.; DC Card, the fourth largest bankcard issuer and acquirer
in Japan and an affiliate of the Mitsubishi-Bank of Tokyo; and Diamond
Computer Service Co. (DCS), a large-scale information systems provider with
expertise in credit card and finance operations.
The Nihon Card Processing platform will use First Data’s advanced U.S.
credit card processing expertise, and the credit card processing systems and
information systems developed by DC Card and DCS combined with NTT Data’s
information technology to provide large-scale, low-cost credit card processing
Nihon’s first customer, DC Card, has a credit card portfolio of more than
8 million Visa(R) and MasterCard credit cards and initially provided the
processing infrastructure for the joint venture.
Leveraging First Data’s expertise in providing third-party outsourcing,
the new company will bring significant cost savings to Japanese card issuers
and the flexible functionality that today allows U.S. issuers to customize
credit card offerings according to customer need. Nihon Card Processing will
provide advanced services to accommodate the changing payments market,
including Internet and smart card technology.
“Working with our joint venture partners, we are bringing First Data’s
expertise to the Japanese card market as a way to decrease costs, increase
efficiencies and add flexibility for Japan’s card issuers,” said Ric Duques,
chairman and chief executive officer of First Data Corp.
As the company builds the next-generation outsourcing platform, Nihon will
invite all credit card companies in Japan to participate in a consortium to be
launched this summer.
“The consortium will help the joint venture ensure that the system
provides what Japanese card issuers need to produce the most cost savings and
best enhanced services,” Duques said.
About First Data
Atlanta-based First Data Corp. (NYSE FDC) helps move the world’s money.
As the leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves
more than two million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of
consumers, making it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses
to buy goods and services using virtually any form of payment. With more than
27,000 employees worldwide, the company provides credit, debit and stored-
value card issuing and merchant transaction processing services; Internet
commerce solutions; money transfers and money orders; and check processing and
verification services throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Australia,
Mexico, Spain and Germany. In addition, its Western Union(R) network includes
approximately 101,000 agent locations with operations in 186 countries and
territories. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at
About NTT DATA
NTT DATA Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is Japan’s leading
information systems and computer networking company with $5.8 billion turnover
in 1999 fiscal year. NTT DATA has been offering large-scale IT services since
1967, when it was Data Communications Bureau in the nationally owned telephone
company (NTT). NTT DATA provides outsourcing services in various forms
strategic consulting, systems planning, systems design and development,
systems operation and management, and systems support. NTT DATA has a wide
range of expertise in IT, especially in data communications networking, large-
scale systems development, and computer systems management. NTT DATA also
runs CAFIS, Japan’s leading merchant authorization network. For more
information, visit http//www.nttdata.co.jp .
About DC Card
DC Card is a credi
t card business arm of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. DC
Card has helped grow Japanese credit card business for the last 30 years, and
is now the fourth largest credit card company. It offers card issuing service
and serves more than 8.3 million cardholders. It also renders acquiring
service and has valued relationships with 1.3 million merchants. With 33
franchisees, many of which are credit card subsidiaries of major regional
banks, DC Card has the strongest business base in Japan. DC Card has been a
leader in the application of new technology to credit card business.
It took initiatives to conduct “IC Card” pilot project in Shibuya area in
Tokyo in 1997, and is active in using “Internet Commerce” for credit card
service both for issuing and acquiring business.
DCS is a full service business solutions company listed on the Tokyo Stock
Exchange (Second Section). The company provides its clients with data
processing to computer system development, operation and maintenance, to
system integration, to network services. In addition, DCS’s technical
expertise is complemented with a wealth of practical know-how in a wide range
of business fields, most notably banking and finance, a legacy that dates back
to its former days as a division of Mitsubishi Bank (now Bank of Tokyo-
Mitsubishi). The benefit of state-of-the-art information infrastructure, the
core of which is the newly completed Chiba Computer Center, is also offered to
the clients. Whatever its client’s information processing needs, DCS has the
Paymentech announced this week it has added three currencies to its international electronic payment menu for direct marketers and Internet businesses that want to accept secure payments without foreign exchange exposure. With the inclusion of the Singapore dollar, South African rand and Greek drachma, the nation’s largest card-not-present payment processor now can authorize and settle 25 currencies on five continents. Paymentech’s international payment program enables non-face-to-face merchants to maintain the transaction in the local currency through settlement. Multinational retailers price products, bill consumers and get paid in multiple currencies. Paymentech processes MasterCard, Visa and American Express transactions in 25 currencies. Paymentech was the first merchant processor to offer the United Kingdom’s private label SWITCH and Solo cards, the most frequently used debit cards in the UK. Paymentech was also the first U.S.-based processor to acquire and settle JCB credit card transactions in Japanese yen.Details
AutoBranch Technologies Inc. of Toronto,
Ontario and Charlotte, North Carolina, together with Rogers Video of Richmond,
British Columbia, announced today that they have signed an agreement to launch
Dynamic Branding automated bank machines in Rogers Video stores.
Rogers Video becomes the first major Canadian retailer to benefit from
ATMs with Dynamic Branding. The patent-pending technology, developed in
Canada, allows multiple financial institutions to share a single network of
ATMs while also enabling retailers to use the ATMs as a valuable channel to
strengthen relationships with their customers.
“We are very excited to be working with a market leader like Rogers
Video”, said John Sinton, President and CEO of AutoBranch Technologies, Inc.
“Rogers has the sophistication and vision to fully leverage the potential of
this technology. By offering portfolios of products and services through our
Dynamic Branding(TM) ATMs, Rogers can build even stronger loyalties with its
customers. At the same time, our bank partners’ cardholders can do their ATM
banking transactions without surcharge in a safe, convenient and pleasant
environment that they know and trust.”
“This is clearly not an ordinary ATM,” said Pierre Robichaud, Vice
President of Business Development at Rogers Video, “When a customer walks up
to this machine, the world of Rogers products and services will be available
to them. They will be able to enroll in the Rogers VIP program, reserve the
latest DVD release, and view and pay their Rogers AT&T wireless services bill
all via the ATM. And ultimately, we’ll be able to present each customer with
unique content based on his or her profile. The possibilities are endless.”
In the first phase of this program, Rogers Video will house AutoBranch
Dynamic Branding(TM) ATMs in six stores across the GTA. Initially, customers
can learn about upcoming releases, in store promotions, Rogers AT&T wireless
services as well as trying their hand at movie trivia. The roll out is on a
fast track, with the first locations planned to go live in March 2001. The
agreement also includes provisions that could extend the Dynamic Branding(TM)
ATM network to Rogers Video locations across Canada.
Dynamic Branding(TM) ATMs allow participating financial institutions to
define and deliver its own services, provide relevant marketing messages, and
present its distinctive “look and feel” from the time their customer puts
their card into the ATM until the card is removed — just as though it owned
the ATM. There is no longer any advantage for banks in owning proprietary
ATMs. As financial institutions join the AutoBranch network, retail partners
like Rogers will gain additional benefit as cardholders seek out their
convenient and trusted locations.
Consumers will benefit from the new shared ATM network at Rogers Video,
since it allows very convenient access to a wider choice of financial
institutions — and cardholders of participating financial institutions avoid
the ‘convenience fees’ common in retail locations. Financial institutions are
embracing the new network, because the shared network allows them to reach
consumers at much lower costs than they can achieve with old-fashioned
proprietary ATM networks.
About Rogers Video
Rogers Video was founded in 1988 and is the largest Canadian owned and
operated Video Specialty Retailer in the country. With stores located in
Ontario, Atlantic Canada, the 4 Western Provinces and the Yukon, Rogers Video
rents over 700,000 movies and games to its customers each week. Head Office
is based in Richmond, BC with the distribution centre in Calgary, AB and a
Regional Office in Toronto, Ontario.
Smart Chip Technologies Inc. Thursday announced the launching of its multi-platform Smart Chip Loyalty Application.
The next generation of SCTN’s patent-protected Smart Chip Loyalty offering, e-llegiance, establishes a common platform for loyalty and payment integration.
Designed to run on any Global Platform or Visa Open Platform compliant Point-of-Sale device, the detailed Design and Technical Specifications were published last week.
e-llegiance, will allow program managers to deliver a multitude of loyalty options to merchants and consumers simply by selecting user-friendly parameters that define loyalty programs at all levels of retail, whether physical store locations or on the Internet. Merchants can create programs based on customer buying habits and on their own marketing objectives.
Program Bonuses and Restrictions are designed to assist merchants in refining loyalty programs to maximize their effectiveness. These program parameters are tracked electronically, reducing the administration of specific loyalty programs. Loyalty program sponsors will no longer need to manually track loyalty program start and end dates.
Merchants benefit by increased profitability and customer retention through heightened understanding of customer usage and demographics.
The first implementation of the new software is scheduled for deployment by the Seattle-based Merchant Service Group in late 2001. Powered by a rules-based engine that allows a virtually unlimited combination of loyalty program parameters, e-llegiance(TM) supports loyalty programs for multiple merchants in multiple merchant groupings, limited only by the amount of memory in the smart chip.
Program Bonuses and Restrictions can apply to individual merchants with proprietary loyalty programs, specific merchants in a group loyalty program, or to all participating merchants in a common loyalty program, all managed within the SCTN patent-protected technology.
The software enables a base device to interact with electronic purses and other unique software applications on a smart chip to electronically allocate and allow consumers to instantly redeem rewards and incentives.
Tender-independent, the common loyalty platform can process loyalty credits originating from magnetic stripe, stored-value, cash, check, or smart chip-based credit/debit transactions, fully supporting the international banking and credit industry migration to smart chip-based payments.
e-llegiance(TM) offers click-and-mortar merchants maximum flexibility in managing customer incentive programs, establishing business continuity between the physical and virtual worlds.
The flexible program architecture also supports Consumer Rewards programs combined with Cause Marketing, where participating merchants designate per transaction charitable contributions to causes of their choice or those designated by consumers. The SCTN Educational Funding Program, currently in operation and raising funds for education, is the longest running smart card loyalty program in the United States.
SCTN’s back-end transaction host is the LoyaltyCentral(TM) clearing operation, powered by a robust DB2 database co-developed with IBM. Just as ACH is the payments engine for electronic payments clearing, LoyaltyCentral(TM) handles the reconciliation and distribution of loyalty from an unlimited number of sources.
e-llegiance(TM) can operate as a stand-alone smart card loyalty program, offer a fully integrated smart loyalty/payment card solution, or add significant value to multi-application smart cards issued alongside programs such as transit, security, ID or government benefits issuance.
Discussions are underway with smart card issuers, banks, device manufacturers, and payment services to develop e-llegiance(TM) on additional platforms.
About Smart Chip Technologies (SCTN)
Smart Chip Technologies Inc. ([www.sctn.com]), based in Salt Lake City, is a smart card application service provider specializing in end-to-end loyalty and cause marketing solutions.
The technology-independent, business methodology patents, entitled “Method and System of Allocating and Redeeming Incentive Credits between a Portable Device and a Base Device,” are issued in the United States, Australia, and Mexico and are pending in Canada and Japan.
The patent-protected loyalty methodology promotes a common platform for all loyalty applications, encompassing any and all loyalty programs utilizing customer carried portable devices, such as smart cards, cell phones, personal digital assistants, TV set-top boxes, or laptop computers.
Further information can be accessed via the corporate web site, [www.sctn.com], by contacting SCTN at 801/685-7676 or by writing InvestorRelations@sctn.com or Marketing@sctn.com.