Customer Voice

MA-based TowerGroup has launched a new research service focused on U.S. consumers and small businesses. The new ‘Voice of the Customer’ research service will provide in-depth insight into how these customer groups conduct-and plan to conduct-their financial services business, with a particular focus on technology adoption and usage. Topics to be covered in 2001 will range from consumers’ views on cyberbanking, to small businesses’ concerns regarding electronic bill presentment/payment and employee benefits, to how financial services firms can better serve the fast-growing wealth market. Research will be based on a sample of approximately 8,000 US households and 1,000 small businesses, as well as 1,000 members of the small office/home office segment. TowerGroup’s ‘Voice of the Customer’ service will encompass three products: ‘Consumer Financial Services’; ‘Commercial Financial Services’; and the ‘Wealth Market’.


Graphicard Sold

American shoppers may soon be filing customer loyalty cards designed by New Zealanders among their credit cards and driver’s licences as a result of a multimillion-dollar deal by Auckland-based card technology company Visible Results.

The $14.4 million buy-up of Kansas-based Graphicard will make Visible Results the world’s largest provider of rewritable loyalty card programmes and earn the company US$30 million (NZ$67.8 million) a year for business done in the United States alone.

New Zealanders will be most familiar with the work of Visible Results in the form of Mobil Max cards.

Though the acquisition means 80 per cent of Visible Results’ revenue will now come from overseas, management says it has no plans to move overseas.


Rate Chopper

The recent Fed action to lower interest rates has caught at least one issuer off guard. In direct mail solicitations printed up in December, MBNA is now scratching out, via a buck slip, the 2.7% intro APR originally offered, replacing it with a 1.7% promo rate. According to CardWatch, the special rate is being offered this month on MBNA’s ‘Platinum Plus MasterCard’ and also on ‘Preferred’ MBNA card accounts. The promo rate runs through the June billing cycle and applies to both purchases and cash advances. The 1.7% rate has given MBNA a marketing edge as three major issuers continue to pound mailboxes with a 1.9% intro APR. CardWatch ([][1]) found Citibank ‘Platinum’, Discover ‘Gold’, and First USA ‘Titanium’ are marketing a 1.9% intro rate this month. Capital One and Providian continue to battle it out with a 0% intro rate.





Plug ‘N Pay

Plug’ N Pay Technologies signed an agreement this week to offer TeleCheck’s ‘Internet Check Acceptance’ service to its e-commerce clients through its payment gateway. The TeleCheck ‘ICA’ service offers a real-time means for consumers to pay by check over the Internet. After completing an online payment form, the check data is encrypted and transmitted to TeleCheck where the payment information is matched against TeleCheck’s positive and negative databases and evaluated for fraud. The funds are guaranteed. Plug’ N Pay Technologies, Inc. provides online credit card and electronic check processing services to more than 4,000 businesses.


Juniper Info Management

Ascential Software, Inc. announced that Juniper Bank, an online and wireless consumer financial services company and a division of Columbus Bank and Trust Company, is using DataStage to quickly access, consolidate and transform customer data into valuable business intelligence. DataStage helps Juniper Bank track customer activity data to quickly provide personalized customer service and products.

![][1] Juniper Bank came to Ascential Software looking for an enterprise business intelligence infrastructure platform to manage and integrate massive amounts of information assets for a comprehensive view of customer activity including, but not limited to, click-stream and Web traffic data. DataStage allows Juniper Bank to organize all customer records and individual account information, speeding transaction time and refining services to tailor customized offerings for individual preferences.

“Our goal is to make banking easier for our customers by offering innovative products and services that simplify their financial lives, and Datastage provides us with the business intelligence we need to achieve this goal,” said Robert Goodman, director of data warehousing at Juniper Financial Corp. “DataStage enables us to collect and process information that is critical to tracking the performance of our marketing initiatives and implementing our proactive customer notifications, affiliate programs and other services.”

DataStage, the industry’s leading set of integrated components for transforming, verifying and unifying the diverse structured and unstructured data dispersed throughout an enterprise for competitive advantage. Companies such as Juniper Bank rely on DataStage’s powerful data integration capabilities to extract, transform and integrate enterprise data into their data warehouses, analytical applications, and e-Business solutions. Ascential Software’s relationship with Juniper Bank continues to demonstrate its strategic vision to offer customers open solutions that easily integrate with complementary products in distinct vertical markets, including financial services, telecommunications, wireless and several others planned for 2001.

“Forward-thinking companies such as Juniper Bank understand the value of collecting raw customer data and converting it into information assets to increase the speed of customer service and product development. DataStage enables Juniper Bank to use their customer information to provide innovative new services,” said Mike Wipperfeld, vice president of marketing, Ascential Software. “We are proud to welcome Juniper Bank to our roster of financial services clients.”

About Juniper Bank

Juniper Financial Corporation, a privately held company headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, operates Juniper Bank as a division of Columbus Bank and Trust Company of Columbus, Georgia. With the aim of creating a bank that empowers consumers with greater flexibility and control over their finances, Juniper offers a wide array of financial products and services and the ability for consumers to access account information, transfer funds and pay bills via the Internet, phone or wireless devices. The company has received more than $114 million in funding from such investors as Benchmark Capital, J&W Seligman, Sonera Corporation, Total Technology Ventures, Aether Systems, Fifth Third Bancorp and others. Additional information about the company, its products and services, and employment opportunities can be found online at [][2].

About Ascential

Ascential Software, Inc. is the leading provider of Information Asset Management solutions to the Global 2000. Customers use Ascential products to turn vast amounts of disparate, unrefined data into reusable information assets that drive business success. Ascential’s unique framework for Information Asset Management enables customers to easily collect, validate, organize, administer and deliver information assets to realize more value from their enterprise data, reduce costs and increase profitability. Headquartered in Westboro, Mass., Ascential has offices worldwide and supports more than 1500 customers, including Fujitsu-Siemens; Towers Perrin; Pfizer, Inc.; and Subaru of America, Inc., in such industries as telecommunications, insurance, financial services, healthcare, media/entertainment and retail. Ascential is an independent operating company of Informix Corporation (NASDAQ: IFMX) and can be found on the Web at [][3].

[1]: /graphic/ascential/ascentialsoftware.gif


eMEMBER Smart Cards

Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. announced that it recently signed a contract with the National Safety Depot of Canada.

The contract guarantees Leapfrog $100,000, and the potential of $250,000 in its first year. Over three years, it will cumulatively be worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

The NSD is the safety training and certification provider to the Maritime Provinces in Canada. The Company has contracted Leapfrog to implement its eMEMBER application. The NSD will use eMEMBER to track the certification status for each piece of equipment its customers’ employees are certified to operate. The Canadian government currently makes random appearances on job sites to perform spot checks of employees’ certification statuses while on the job. Leapfrog’s application will provide the government official with offline readers that check the certification status of an employee’s Smart card and verify their legal ability to operate the piece of machinery currently in use.

The card also tracks employer, certification type, certification status, certification expiration date, annual continuing education status, certification course, course trainer and emergency medical information. In case of the latter, job foremen and managers will have readers to access the protected area in order to provide pertinent information to EMS personnel. The employee retains the card until he changes employers, at which time a new card is issued with current certifications and employment information. Upon installation of eMEMBER, the NSD will also become a reseller of the application to other associations similar to itself throughout Canada.

Vince Ley, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, stated, “I feel our eMEMBER application will greatly aid in the efficiency and reliability with which NSD’s customers can track certification statuses for their employees. We look forward to the opportunity to apply this technology to other associations.”

About Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc.

Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. is a world-class leader in Smart card software development, biometrics and system solutions integration. Located in Maitland, Florida, Leapfrog is dedicated to creating wide sweeping applications for Smart cards. Smart cards are credit card-sized pieces of plastic with a computer microprocessor embedded within. Current applications of Smart card software include personal identification, e-purse transactions, loyalty point storage, physical and logical access, as well as portable storage of medical records. Leapfrog, through its General Services Administration (GSA) master contract, is also certified as a contractor with the United States Federal government. Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. is publicly traded on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board under the symbol “FROG.”


BofA on LendingTree

LendingTree, Inc., the leading online loan marketplace and loan exchange technology provider, today announced that Bank of America will soon be offering credit cards to qualified consumers at [][1]. This agreement increases the scope of the relationship that LendingTree has with Bank of America. Bank of America also uses LendingTree’s loan exchange technology, Lend-X, to power its online mortgage lending channels.


LendingTree currently enables consumers to obtain multiple loan products by visiting the site, filling out one simple loan request form, and comparing multiple loan offers they receive within one business day. To date, more than 80,000 consumers have received credit cards through

Bank of America

One of the world’s leading financial services companies, Bank of America is committed to making banking work for customers like it never has before. Through innovative technologies and the ingenuity of our people, Bank of America provides individuals, small businesses and commercial, corporate and institutional clients across the United States and around the world new and better ways to manage their financial lives. The company enables customers to do their banking and investing whenever, wherever and however they choose through the nation’s largest financial services network, including more than 4,400 domestic offices, 13,000 ATMs, 38 international offices, a telephone banking network that handles more than a half billion calls a year and an Internet Web site that provides online access for more than 3 million customers, more than any other bank.

Bank of America stock (ticker: BAC) is listed on the New York, Pacific and London stock exchanges. The company’s Web site is [][3]. News, speeches and other corporate information may be found at .

About LendingTree, Inc.

LendingTree (Nasdaq: TREE) is the leading online loan marketplace and loan exchange technology provider. LendingTree’s unique loan technology, Lend-X, powers the online loan marketplace at, as well as the online lending resources of other institutions. At qualified consumers may receive multiple loan offers, within one business day, in response to a single loan request for home mortgages, home equity loans, personal loans, automobile loans, and credit cards. The site also provides access to small business loans. More than 100 banks and lenders compete for consumers’ business in the LendingTree loan marketplace at [][4], providing consumers with an unprecedented level of control over the lending process, by enabling them to compare and review multiple loan offers and accept the loan offer that is best for them. The banks and lenders in the LendingTree marketplace generate new business that meets their specific underwriting criteria at reduced acquisition costs. For more information, or for a full listing of the more than 100 banks and lenders in the LendingTree marketplace please go to [][5].

About Lend-X(SM)

Lend-X(SM) is LendingTree’s online loan exchange technology that enables companies to quickly and easily embed a customized private label or co-branded loan marketplace into their site. Lend-X(SM) technology has the flexibility to support a variety of different business models. Lend-X provides a fast, adaptable and reliable online lending solution for lenders and non-lenders alike with valuable access to LendingTree’s online lending exchange with more than 100 banks and lenders. In conjunction with LendingTree’s services, Lend-X can be used to provide access to loans for customers of lenders and non-lenders alike. Lend-X(SM) clients include: Bank of America, Freddie Mac, S1 Corporation,, Sallie Mae,, Home Account, MSN Money Central,, Wachovia, EDS’ Wendover, Fleet Bank, Citizens Bank, and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

[2]: /graphic/lendingtree/lendingtree.gif


Gemplus & Euronet

Gemplus and Euronet inked a deal Monday whereby Gemplus will market and deliver Euronet’s suite of wireless payment solutions to GSM mobile operators around the world. The Euronet solutions include SMS, SIM Toolkit and WAP-based payment and mobile banking solutions and are offered as a completely outsourced, wireless ASP solution to all mobile operators. Gemplus currently provides products and services to over 80% of all GSM operators. The joint services offered will enable prepaid mobile phone subscribers to purchase and recharge additional prepaid airtime over their GSM phone, at a POS terminal, over the Internet, or at an ATM.


MC e-Business News

Northern Light Technology,Inc., an Internet search engine and supplier of information management solutions, has teamed up with MasterCard International to create MasterCard e-Business News (), a state-of-the-art global e-Business information Web site for MasterCard member financial institutions. The site uses the research, information and archival resources of Northern Light to keep MasterCard’s members abreast of industry developments by providing up-to-the-minute news and information on key e- business topics.

The site allows pre-constructed, real-time, in-depth searches on topics such as Smart Cards, Digital Wallets, Internet Security, Consumer Behavior Online, Mobile Commerce and more. The searches are conducted using Northern Light’s Live Query technology, which locates relevant articles and information, and then organizes the results into Custom Search Folders, for easier use. Northern Light also provides Editor’s Picks that list specific articles and Web sites of particular value on selected topics.

The site, accessible only to registered subscribers, also allows users to create their own searches that query both Northern Light’s Web database and their Special Collection, an online business library of more than 7,100 full-text licensed sources. The site’s optional e-mail alert function, based on Northern Light’s Search Alerts, conveniently notifies subscribers when new information about their selected topics becomes available.

“MasterCard’s e-Business News is an advanced communications vehicle that provides convenient one stop shopping for our members’ wide range of e- business information needs,” said Art Kranzley, senior vice president, Global e-Business, MasterCard International. “We worked very closely with Northern Light’s editorial staff to identify topics that would most benefit our members and are thrilled that the site has already been used in more than 25 countries.”

“MasterCard is a world-renowned name in the payments industry and the MasterCard e-Business News site is an example of how a company that clearly understands its industry can provide real value to its members by offering easy-to-use and topical information resources,” said David Seuss, CEO of Northern Light.

About Northern Light

Northern Light Technology, Inc., headquartered in Cambridge, MA, is a leading Internet provider of information solutions for enterprises and individuals. Founded by a seasoned management team of librarians, software engineers, and information professionals, the company’s search engine [[][1]], is among the world’s most comprehensive, indexing more than 330 million Web pages as well as over 50 million pages of business information not generally available on the Web from over 7,100 licensed business and information sources. Northern Light combines the capabilities of Web search providers, licensed third-party business information suppliers, and text-retrieval database software vendors to provide customers and partners with a new generation of custom enterprise information applications. The company has received multiple Editors’ Choice awards for its search capabilities from PC Magazine and was named a 2000 Web business award winner for online excellence by CIO Magazine for its [][2] Web site.

About MasterCard

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. More than 1 billion MasterCard(R), Cirrus(R) and Maestro(R) 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 [][3].



Tax Incentives

American Express announced yesterday it will award double air miles to cardholders charging individual federal taxes this year. AmEx also announced a new third-party payment processor to handle the income tax transactions on its cards. Under a special promotion, holders of ‘Classic’, ‘Gold’ or ‘Platinum’ ‘Delta SkyMiles’ credit cards will earn double ‘SkyMiles’ when they use their card to pay individual federal taxes from Feb 15-Apr 16. Corporate cardholders and holders of the ‘Delta SkyMiles Options’ card will not be eligible for the extra miles. Participants in ‘Membership Rewards’ will likewise not receive bonus points for tax payments. AmEx also announced yesterday it has added a new third party payment processor for credit card tax payments. CT-based PhoneCharge, Inc. will be used for the first time this year by AmEx. Since 1999, AmEx has exclusively used Official Payments Corp. as its third party payment processor. In addition to charging federal tax payments AmEx cards can be used to charge state income taxes in 17 states and the District of Columbia, nearly double the number of states that accepted AmEx cards for tax payments last year.


NestorCommerce Nabs Williams

NestorCommerce, a division of Nestor, Inc., announced that Elizabeth Williams has joined the Company as Director of Business Development. Ms. Williams’ appointment is part of a new business initiative to pursue alliances for the Company’s pattern-recognition technology in emerging, high-growth markets of financial services, telecommunications, Internet commerce and insurance.

“We’re very excited to have Elizabeth on our team,” says Sushmito Ghosh, President of NestorCommerce. “Her wide experience establishing successful business partnerships in North America and Europe will be instrumental in helping us to grow our distribution channels, alliances and resellers in the global marketplace. Elizabeth’s background in analytical modeling solutions will help us to add value to our partners’ offerings and replicate the successes we’ve achieved with our existing partners.”

“I’m delighted to join Nestor at such an exciting time,” Ms. Williams says. “Nestor has a premier reputation in applying its neural network-based fraud prevention solutions in electronic banking, and I look forward to helping to drive further growth in the market through alliance development. At the same time, the wealth of new opportunities that have presented themselves in the telco, e-commerce and insurance verticals are also very exciting, and I look forward to contributing to the Company’s success in these new verticals.”

As Director of Business Development, Ms. Williams is responsible for identifying revenue-generating opportunities for Nestor’s fraud detection and customer loyalty solutions. Prior to joining Nestor, Elizabeth served as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Math Consulting Group AG, based in Zug, Switzerland. In this capacity, Elizabeth helped launch, position, and sell algorithmic-based decision-support software for the fixed income market, as well as seeking out viable partnerships within the European financial community. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Davis, and has earned numerous awards for sales excellence in her professional career.

About NestorCommerce

NestorCommerce is a division of Nestor, Inc., a leading provider of intelligent decision-support solutions for the financial services and e-commerce industries. Nestor’s client/server products incorporate innovative pattern-recognition technologies ideally suited for data-intensive, real-time decision applications. The company’s products provide predictive fraud detection and case management for e-commerce fraud, credit, debit, retail and commercial card fraud, as well as merchant fraud, money laundering and customer relationship management. Nestor products are sold direct and by selected partners worldwide. For more information, call 401-331-9640 or visit [][1].




Toronto-based MIST announced Monday the completion of the sale of NBS Card Services, a Mississauga-based card manufacturing facility, to Metaca Corporation. MIST said it will use the $5.7 million generated from the sale to repay debt and to focus on the development of wireless transaction solutions and payment gateway opportunities. With facilities in Toronto and Montreal, MIST has an installed base of more than 550,000 POS terminals.