Despite the trend of reining in credit card rewards program, a new program has emerged that gives cardholders maximum redemption options, extra points for interest charges, and MasterCard’s top card product. Citibank USA and Travelocity.com have launched the ‘Travelocity.com World MasterCard’. The new card enables cardholders to earn ‘Travelocity Rewards’, points redeemable for any travel product available on Travelocity with no advanced purchase rules, for more than 400 airlines, more than 50,000 hotels and more than 50 car rental companies. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent and three additional points for every dollar accumulated in finance charges. Cardholders also receive 4,000 points with their first purchase or a balance transfer. For every 8,000 points earned, a $100 reward certificate is issued. Citibank is charging a prime +8.4% APR and no annual fee.Details
Official Payments Corporation announced the company has launched an Internet credit card tax payment service for the State of Kansas to collect individual income tax payments and retailer’s sales tax. Taxpayers in Kansas will be able to make these payments with their credit cards on the Internet by visiting [www.officialpayments.com]. The service is authorized by a contract with the state of Kansas. Official Payments provides similar services to the Internal Revenue Service, 17 state governments and over 700 counties and municipalities across the United States.
The new payment service for tax year 2000 is now live and accepting payments. In 2001, Kansas taxpayers can use the American Express Card, Discover Card, and MasterCard to make their tax year 2000 balance due, tax year 2000 extension, and tax year 2001 estimated and retailer’s sales tax payments by visiting [www.officialpayments.com] on the Internet. Official Payments will charge taxpayers a convenience fee of 2.5% of their tax payment for the service. For example, a taxpayer who makes a $500 tax payment would be charged a total of $512.50; $500 for the tax payment, and a 2.5% fee, or $12.50, to cover the cost of the service. As a bonus, taxpayers using credit cards with bonus rewards programs can, depending on their card’s program, earn rewards, points, and cash-back or airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.
“For tax year 2000, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to conveniently make his or her tax payments, 24 hours a day, from either home or business,” said Stephen S. Richards, Kansas Secretary of Revenue. “The Internet payment service will be available to taxpayers who file either paper or electronic tax returns. The service is part of our sustained effort to provide the highest level of service to our citizens, while engaging in safe and sound financial practices,” Richards added.
Last year, more than 600,000 taxpayers in Kansas made balance-due income tax payments with an average obligation of $890 to the state treasury. Nearly 460,000 quarterly estimated payments were made, representing $219 million. The Kansas Department of Revenue collects nearly $5.2 billion for the state.
In addition to the service for the state of Kansas Taxpayers can now make their Federal Form 1040 Balance Due Payments, Form 4868 Extension of Time to File, and Form 1040ES Estimated Payments (beginning March 1) by credit card, on the Internet [www.officialpayments.com] or by calling 1-800-2PAYTAX . Official Payments charges a flat 2.5% fee (minimum payment of $1.00), which the lowest price available from the two companies that are listed in IRS instructions as providing credit card tax payment services to taxpayers
About Official Payments Corporation
Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments is the incumbent in contracts with the Internal Revenue Service, 17 state governments, and well over 700 county and municipal governments in 41 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state, and local government payments.
Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company has experienced rapid and sustained growth over the past six reported quarters in revenue, new client acquisition, and addition of incremental services to existing clients. The company’s success can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.
Competition in the UK market is heating up again with a shift away from the APR battle to reward cards. Halifax and ipoints have introduced the first Internet credit card in the UK market that enables cardholders to earn points towards free rewards. The new program aims squarely at the ‘NatWest/Airmiles’ and ‘Barclaycard’ credit cards. Under the program, cardholders earn one percent of all card purchases charged online or offline, and bonus points with purchases charged from more than 50 ipoints partners. Customers who apply online will also receive 100 bonus ipoints upon activation. ipoints.co.uk is the UK’s largest Internet reward program and has over 30 different reward categories covering over 2 million items for online shoppers to choose from. The new ‘Halifax/ipoints VISA’ offers a five month 3.9% intro APR followed by a 17.9% rate for purchases. The ‘NatWest/Airmiles’ credit card charges a 7.9% intro rate with a 19.4% go-to APR. ‘Barclaycard’ charges a 5.9% APR for balance transfers followed by an 18.9% go-to rate.Details
NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association estimates that 32 million paper checks were converted into electronic checks at retail locations in 2000. Electronic checks are processed through the Automated Clearing House Network, an electronic payments system commonly used for Direct Deposit and Direct Payment.
“Electronic check volume is higher than what was expected,” said Stephen A. Schutze, Chairman of NACHA’s Electronic Check Council and Director of eStrategies at the American Bankers Association. “Previously the Electronic Check Council predicted that 25 million checks would be converted in 2000. NACHA’s estimate shows that retailers are beginning to take advantage of the savings and efficiencies inherent in electronic payments rather than paper processing, and that this method of check conversion is growing rapidly.”
In an electronic check transaction, a consumer presents a merchant with a check. The merchant runs the check through an electronic reader, capturing the bank account number and routing information on the check as well as the check serial number. The merchant then returns the check to the consumer marked or stamped “Void,” or similar language.
The consumer signs a receipt authorizing the electronic transaction and keeps a copy as a record of the purchase. The merchant uses the check information, along with the transaction amount, to initiate an ACH debit, which is processed electronically through the ACH Network. A complete description of the transaction appears on the consumer’s monthly statement.
The estimate for electronic check volume in 2000 is based on a survey conducted by the Electronic Check Council as well as an actual count of transactions processed by ACH Operators for the 4th quarter of the year, the first period for which statistics are available.
In related news, NACHA statistics also show that 3,125,627 re-presented check (RCK) entries were processed through the ACH Network during the 4th quarter 2000. An RCK entry is a returned consumer check that is re-presented for payment electronically rather than through the paper check collection system.
NACHA publications are available to help retailers implement both electronic check and re-presented check programs. Visit NACHA’s online publications catalog at [http://www.nacha.org] , or call NACHA at 800-487-9180.
About NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association
NACHA is the leading organization in developing electronic solutions to improve the payments system. NACHA represents more than 12,000 financial institutions through direct memberships and a network of regional payments associations, and 600 organizations through its six industry councils. NACHA develops operating rules and business practices for the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network and for electronic payments in the areas of Internet commerce, electronic bill payment and presentment (EBPP), financial electronic data interchange (EDI), international payments, electronic checks, and electronic benefits transfer (EBT).
MS-based Triton has released a new version of its software that enables managers to control their Triton ATMs remotely. The new ‘Triton Connect 3.3’ allows managers to automate many maintenance tasks from an offsite PC. The application also allows preset notification, for service needs, to an alphanumeric pager or by email. The new software maintains ATM programming records and has a terminal status feature which allows managers to track messages, downtime, and status history from a central location. Changes can be made for individual ATMs or for groups. To meet new international needs, ‘Triton Connect 3.3’ supports UK surcharge screens, as well as Euro and Rand currency symbols. It also supports multiple time zones. Triton is the largest manufacturer of off-premise ATMs with more than 50,000 installations in over 15 countries worldwide.Details
CA-based MIPS Technologies introduced a new smart card architecture and has joined with Gemplus to introduce a new processor based on the new technology. The new ‘SmartMIPS’ architecture is based on 32-bit chips. MIPS also introduced the new ‘MIPS32 4KSc’ smart card core, a high-performance embedded 32-bit processor, jointly defined with Gemplus, that implements the new ‘SmartMIPS’ architecture for ultra-low power advanced smart card applications.The introduction of the ‘MIPS32 4KSc’ smart card core follows the July 2000 announcement by MIPS Technologies and Gemplus to create an architectural standard for next-generation smart card chips. As such, the ‘SmartMIPS’ architecture is optimized for open operating system platforms such as Sun Microsystems’ Java Card technology and Microsoft’s ‘Windows for Smart Card’.Details
Stored Value Systems, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Comdata Corporation, announced it has successfully developed an electronic cash card program for Fort Worth, Texas- based Pier 1 Imports, the nation’s largest specialty home furnishings retailer, with over 800 stores in 48 states and Canada. The multi-year partnership establishes SVS as the exclusive cash card provider for the retailer, representing Pier 1’s entrance into the rapidly growing retail gift card arena.
In September 2000, the Pier 1 electronic cash card became the first card of its kind developed to automatically calculate Canadian and United States currency equivalents in real time, at the point of sale. This feature allows Canadian Pier 1 customers to shop for items in U.S. stores, and vice versa, without time-consuming steps for conversion at the check out.
“We’re very excited to have Pier 1 in the SVS retailer family,” said SVS senior vice president Wayne Chatham. “It’s clear that shoppers all across America are comfortable using electronic cash as a means of gift giving and receiving in-store credit for merchandise returns. Pier 1 shoppers have now officially joined the paperless economy with a personal and convenient way to purchase items.”
“Pier 1 is glad to offer our customers more convenient ways to celebrate events throughout the year; the electronic cash card is the perfect way to give,” said Hank Williamson, Pier 1’s vice president of sales and store support. “Since the card’s launch a couple of months ago, we have sold over 450,000 gift cards. It has been received well by our customers.”
SVS pioneered the electronic cash card product in 1995 and now counts some of the nation’s largest and most recognizable names in the retail industry among its list of clientele. Among others, SVS clients include Target, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, BP Oil, Citgo, Exxon/Mobil, and Lowe’s.
SVS cash cards are used primarily as replacements for paper gift certificates. Some retailers, like Pier 1, also use their electronic cash cards for corporate incentive programs. Pier 1 gift cards are available for purchase in any of the company’s U.S. or Canadian stores, as well as their online store ([http://www.pier1.com] ).
Pier 1 card values can be added to at any time, and shoppers can check their balances at any Pier 1 location or by dialing the toll-free number printed on the back of the card. Callers will be directed to a call center designed to handle merchant and shopper inquiries for all SVS retailers; an arrangement that allows merchants to private label their cash card-based customer care with a team completely dedicated to enhancing the shopping experience in their stores.
About Stored Value Systems (SVS):
Stored Value Systems, Inc. (SVS) is the nation’s leading provider of retail cash card services and chip card programs. Retailers across America rely on SVS to create customer loyalty, increase transaction volumes and strengthen their competitive position in the retailer marketplace. The people of SVS are the experts at building retail brands and keeping satisfied shoppers in stores. Headquartered in Louisville, KY, Stored Value Systems is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Comdata Corporation.
Comdata Corporation ([http://www.comdata.com] ) is redefining the movement of money and information through technology for businesses, customers and employees. A leading provider of transaction and information services, Comdata has been an industry innovator since the company was founded in 1969. Comdata provides Comchek(R) credit and debit processing and reporting for commercial fleets and merchants, electronic cash and gift card services for retailers, chip card programs for governmental agencies and fuel management systems. Headquartered in Brentwood, TN, Comdata employs nearly 2,000 people throughout the United States and Canada. Comdata is a business unit of Minneapolis-based Ceridian Corporation (NYSE: CEN).
About Pier 1:
Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is North America’s largest specialty retailer of imported decorative home furnishings, gifts and related items with over 800 stores in 48 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan. Additional company and product information is located at [pier1.com].
NCR Corporation, the company that introduced the world to point-of-sale automation, announced it will unveil the latest in self-checkout technology at the Food Marketing Institute’s MarkeTechnics show in New Orleans this week. Applying its checkout expertise to this growing market, NCR is equipping its award-winning self- checkout solution, known as “SCOT,” with:
– Fingerprint recognition that expedites the payment process and saves shoppers the hassle of using a debit or credit card by enabling them to pay by “touch”;
– Radio-frequency, wireless handheld scanners that save shoppers the task of lifting large, heavy “bottom-of-the-cart” items such as charcoal and dog food;
– Integrated surveillance software that facilitates the checkout experience by deactivating anti-theft tags;
– Video technology capable of running promotions, specials or other customer information.
“NCR is a world leader in self-service solutions, from ATMs to Web Kiosks to Self-Checkout. With an estimated 20 billion self-service transactions conducted on NCR systems each year, NCR is committed to helping consumers help themselves, and to meeting all the needs of retailers at the point of service,” said NCR Canada President, Brian Sullivan.
Microsoft has honored NCR for innovation in the self-checkout and growing Web kiosk markets; The Nilson Report has recognized NCR as the leader in ATM shipments; and Venture Data Corporation has ranked NCR number-one in bar code scanners. NCR is also the first and only company to offer a “convertible” self- checkout system, which can be easily converted from self-service to assisted service during peak traffic hours.
“We don’t believe one size fits all,” said Sullivan. “By offering a flexible and configurable self-checkout solution, we can maximize a retailer’s front-end productivity while delivering greater customer satisfaction.”
About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a leader in providing Relationship Technology(TM) solutions to customers worldwide in the retail, financial, communications, manufacturing, travel and transportation, and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include privacy-enabled Teradata(TM) warehouses and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, store automation and automated teller machines (ATMs). The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long- established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and leading edge hardware technology. NCR employs 32,900 in more than 100 countries, and is a component stock of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. More information about NCR and its solutions may be found at [www.ncr.com].
PreNet Corporation, an electronic cash transaction company, and First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha and one of the nation’s leading credit card processors, announced Friday the national availability of the PreCash Express Terminal, a point-of-sale terminal that makes it easier for retailers to process prepaid wireless transactions.
A customized Dassault AT Talento, the PreCash Express Terminal enables retailers to process PreCash transactions, thus adding minutes to a customer’s wireless phone account. The PreCash Express Terminal can also be used to process a full range of credit card transactions if the retailer so desires.
PreCash is an electronic payment card that links customers to their wireless account, enabling them to easily “refill” or make payments to their accounts at any PreCash refill location. PreCash Cards use existing bankcard networks, and can either be processed on a retailer’s existing POS device or on the new PreCash Express Terminal. PreCash retailers enjoy the benefits of increased foot traffic into their stores while minimizing inventory issues, such as fraud and shrinkage, associated with traditional prepaid phone cards.
“The PreCash Express Terminal is ideal for smaller retailers with just a few locations,” said Richard Dietz, president of PreNet Corporation. “It’s easy to set-up and can be used immediately to process PreCash transactions. And, it uses First of Omaha’s leading payment processing network, ensuring no hassles for the retailer.”
Nick Baxter, president of First of Omaha(R), commented, “We see the market for processing payments for prepaid and stored-value products growing rapidly, particularly in the wireless industry. We’re proud to work with PreNet to offer a comprehensive solution to enable retailers to process PreCash transactions using our full range of processing services.”
About the PreCash Express Terminal
The PreCash Express Terminal is a stand-alone solution enabling retailers to process PreCash transactions. Its slim design allows it to fit anywhere, making it flexible with the retailer’s counter display. It displays graphics on the terminal screen and even has an integrated seven line per second printer so it’s fast and easy to read. All retailers need to get started is a source of electricity and access to an analog phone line.
About First of Omaha Merchant Processing
First of Omaha Merchant Processing is a premier payment processor specializing in providing service to both the traditional and Internet marketing industry, as well as the traditional face to face card acceptance market. First of Omaha provides financial management and payment processing solutions for large and small retailers, restaurants, lodging merchants, petroleum marketers, associations/franchise groups and banks in both the business to consumer and business to business marketplaces. Known for superior customer service, First of Omaha specializes in providing clients the latest in card processing technologies. Through development of a diversified product line, First of Omaha has become a leader in the merchant processing industry, assisting clients in the reduction of chargebacks and fraud. First of Omaha Merchant Processing is a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha and is one of the few remaining in-house bank processors. First National Bank of Omaha, founded in 1863, is the 32nd oldest nationally chartered bank in existence.
About PreNet Corporation
With headquarters in Portland, Ore. and offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., Dallas and London, PreNet Corporation provides wireless carriers, service providers and stored-value platform providers a cash-loading acceptance mark for loading value onto stored-value products, including prepaid wireless, at select retail locations nationwide. Using existing credit card infrastructure, PreNet’s PreCash has created a new standard for enabling the conversion of cash into electronic currency. As The Next Generation of Cash(TM), PreCash offers consumers simple, secure and convenient cash payment options for the New Economy. For more information about PreNet and PreCash, please visit [http://www.precash.com].
Incurrent Solutions, Inc., the leading provider of Internet-based account acquisition and Cardmember Relationship Management solutions for the payment card industry, announced the expansion of their staff with the appointments of Francis Albin and Jim Teters to its sales team. Albin and Teters will join Dan Cone, head of Business Development in the Orlando, Florida office.
Albin and Teters will focus on assisting card issuers to enhance relationships with the growing number of consumers that desire to access, service and manage their credit card accounts via the Internet and wireless channels.
About Francis Albin
Francis Albin most recently served as Managing Director of EMEA operations during a six-year tenure at PaySys International. Previously, he managed domestic sales territories and global partner relationships for PaySys. Prior to his experience at PaySys, Mr. Albin was on the sales force of BancTec, a provider of Tandem based merchant acquiring switch solutions.
About Jim Teters
Jim Teters joins Incurrent with over eleven years of sales and marketing experience in the financial services sector, working predominantly in various positions with Fiserv, a leading provider of software and outsourcing services for the banking industry. During his tenure there Mr. Teters marketed the Fiserv core banking solution to top 200 US banks, worked with strategic account acquisition and most recently marketed Fiserv’s data warehouse services. Additionally, Mr. Teters assisted Phoenix International, a leading NT software provider to the banking industry, as Director of Business Development previous to his most recent position with Fiserv.
About Incurrent Solutions
Founded in 1997, Incurrent Solutions ([www.incurrent.com]) provides advanced Internet and wireless services to leading card-issuing banks and transaction processors. Incurrent has seen the volume of its clients’ total cardmember base grow from 15 million to 100 million accounts over the last twelve months alone, reflecting rapid adoption of Incurrent’s CardSite’ services.
CardSite’, an on-line Cardmember Relationship ManagementSM solution, is delivered under a comprehensive application service provider (ASP) model. Incurrent combines its industry-leading CardSite with client-defined operating services and complete creative design and integration services to form a cohesive Internet and wireless cardholder solution.
BannerDirect announced that Patricia Kelly has been named Vice President, Account Management & Strategic Planning, effective immediately, just shy of Ms. Kelly’s one year anniversary. Based in New York, Ms. Kelly will be responsible for spearheading strategic management and client services to position BannerDirect as a leading direct response marketing agency. In addition, Ms. Kelly will head up the sales and marketing departments of the company to foster existing client relationships as well as build new ones.
“In less than a year, it’s become apparent that Patricia is a vital asset to BannerDirect in expanding its strategic marketing expertise,” said Christine Fontana, President, to whom Ms. Kelly will be reporting directly. “Her meteoric rise through the corporate hierarchy reflects the confidence the entire staff has in her abilities.”
Patricia Kelly’s prior positions include Regional Account Manager for Northeast Territory in BannerDirect; Vice President for Chase Manhattan Bank’s Credit Card Services division and Vice President and Marketing Director for European American Bank. Pat has also held senior marketing positions at First Data Corp and Chemical Bank. She received a Master of Arts degree in Business Education and a B.S. in Business Administration from Hofstra University. Ms. Kelly and her husband James Peck currently reside in Brightwaters, NY with their two-year-old daughter, Alexandra.
BannerDirect is a full-service direct marketing agency recognized for the development and execution of direct response marketing programs for clients in the financial, entertainment, telecommunications, association, retail and medical industries. Its services and expertise include comprehensive marketing strategy and planning; creative development; production management; list procurement; list processing; and, data analysis. BannerDirect is headquartered in New York City; production coordination and fulfillment are managed from BannerDirect’s Wilmington (NC) office. BannerDirect has sales offices in New York City, Milwaukee (WI), Carson City (NV), Charlotte (NC) and Brightwaters (NY).Details