RPM Deployment

InnoVentry Corp., which is developing the next generation of fee-based financial services and information access machines for the mass market by leveraging Internet and biometric technologies, announced that it will deploy its RPM cash management machines in 22 Albertson’s supermarkets and 3 Osco Drug stores in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

The RPM machines offer secure check cashing, utilizing advanced facial recognition technology to identify the customer, eliminating the need for cards or personal identification numbers (PINs). This technology extends the 24/7 convenience of traditional ATMs to the 40 million Americans who choose to cash checks outside of banks. The RPMs are touch screen activated for easy, intuitive interaction, and include a multimedia second screen that can deliver customized educational and promotional messages in English and Spanish. The machines are designed to eventually provide a complete range of financial services including traditional ATM functionality, money orders, money transfers and electronic bill-payment.

“We’re excited to enter into a relationship with one of the nation’s leading retail grocers,” said Jeff Rubin, president, retail division, at InnoVentry. “Albertson’s decision to install RPM machines in their stores is further evidence of their commitment to provide customer’s with one-stop shopping convenience making their lives easier.”

“We have been looking for a kiosk based provider of broad range financial services for years,” said Pat Steele, Albertson’s executive vice president of information systems and technology. “We believe InnoVentry’s RPM machines will be an excellent customer service tool and we’re pleased to have entered into this agreement with them.”

The initial installation of the RPM machines in Albertson’s and Osco are scheduled for October 2000, and pending the success of these machines, a larger roll-out of RPMs Nationwide is expected within the next four years. The Albertson’s installations will bring the current number of RPMs located in retail locations in the Phoenix area to more than 100.

About Albertson’s

Albertson’s, Inc. is one of the largest retail food and drug companies in the United States. Based in Boise, Idaho, the Company currently operates over 2,500 retail stores in 36 states across the United States. Albertson’s also owns and operates the Osco Drug store chain. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at [www.albertsons.com][1].

About InnoVentry

Backed by the wholesale bank of Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) and by Cash America International, Inc. (NYSE:PWN), InnoVentry combines Internet and face-recognition technologies to bring advanced cash-management and information-access machines to market. InnoVentry distributes these machines under the RPM(TM) brand to leading retail-store networks across the nation. Since its launch in 1998, InnoVentry has enrolled more than 760,000 customers, cashed over two million checks and established relationships with many of the nation’s leading retailers. The company is based in San Francisco.

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


AmEx Travel Group

American Express Corporate Services announced that it is expanding its business travel services with the establishment of a new business unit, the Interactive Travel Group, to market online travel fulfillment and end-to-end interactive travel services to corporations and travel technology providers. This group will deliver a full range of online reservations capabilities, called Business Travel Interactive Services, including American Express’ proprietary booking products (CTO, AXI Travel, and RezPort) and low-cost ticketing fulfillment to companies that use any interactive travel product.

American Express has signed agreements with over 60 corporations and 1,000 small companies for centralized online ticketing fulfillment and has begun servicing many of those clients through new dedicated offices in Miami and Phoenix; additional centers are being planned.

These companies can expect to save 50-70% over their current transaction costs by using the back-office service provided by this new American Express unit.

“We have provided low-cost online fulfillment services for small and mid-sized companies since 1997. Building on this experience, we are scaling up to handle the growing number of large corporations that want to slash their ticket servicing fees by broadly implementing online booking — a lower-cost option,” said Rich Miller, Vice President and General Manager, Interactive Travel Group. “Our centralized fulfillment service can cut ticket transaction costs by about two-thirds and deliver the specialized servicing that has been lacking in the online environment.”

Honeywell, headquartered in Morristown, NJ, has already begun using the service, which American Express began offering in a pilot phase for large customers two months ago. Honeywell, which has used incentives to encourage travelers to book online, currently has 70% of its $135 million annual airfare budget handled through this online channel. “As a Six Sigma company, we’re very conscious of process improvement and increased productivity, which this new American Express service offers,” said Patrick O’Halleran, Manager, Travel Reporting and Communication. “We’re confident that this e-fulfillment process will help us significantly lower our travel transaction costs. We’ve seen evidence of this already.”

Another company with a high usage of online travel reservations is Jones Lang LaSalle, Chicago, IL, which books about 76% of its $18 million annual travel budget through American Express One’s RezPort+. Vicki Evers, Vice President Office Services, said, “We’ve been using American Express’ interactive fulfillment services for three and a half months and we’ve seen significant savings versus traditional reservations costs. And when employees need help, American Express’ specially trained customer service people can handle both technical and travel-related questions.”

In addition, TRW Inc. and The Thomson Corporation, as well as several other major corporations, are currently in the planning stages of implementing the centralized fulfillment service.

Support for Any Online Travel System

Additionally, this online fulfillment service will be offered to all the major third-party booking engines as a low-cost ticketing alternative for their customers using a travel agency other than American Express. GetThere, Inc., will offer American Express interactive fulfillment services including back-office support, automated file-finishing and agent services for online tickets. Companies that rely on one of these booking engines can receive American Express’ 24-hour customer service, which includes “navigation assistance” to travelers using the online systems.

American Express, which launched its first interactive booking system in 1997, understands the full scope of online travel fulfillment for businesses, according to Miller. “An online reservation does not end when the customer hits the ‘book it’ button. There is a substantial amount of back-office work and complex configuration of the automated file finishing tools supporting ticketing, and it’s critical that a company use an agency with the experience to provide a high-quality, low-cost booking process for these unique transactions. Customers are now understanding that these transactions are different from traditional travel transactions.”

In the aftermath of multiple airline commission cuts, the pricing of travel agency services has changed dramatically, with the majority of companies now paying agencies a transaction fee on each ticket. American Express offers clients a range of services, with the lowest cost associated with reservations made through its online channels.

“As companies implement an online travel system, they should expect to see their transaction costs come down,” said Miller. “Our online fulfillment service ensures that companies reap the savings from this technology and be confident that their travelers will receive help — at the office and on the road — from a worldwide travel leader.”

About American Express Corporate Services

American Express Company ([http://www.americanexpress.com][1]) (NYSE: AXP) is the leading global provider of commercial cards and one of the world’s largest travel agencies. Through its Corporate Services group, formed in 1982, the company counts more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500, along with tens of thousands of small and mid-sized companies, as customers of its Business Travel, Corporate Card, Corporate Purchasing Card and Consulting Services.

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

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


Fingerprint Cards

Sweden’s Fingerprint Cards and Litronic are joining up to develop a new authentication solution combining fingerprint biometrics and smart card based digital signatures on the Microsoft ‘Windows Powered Smart Card’ platform. The new system will comply with the ‘FIPS 140-1′ security standard. To comply with requirements on this level of security, all management of security credentials must take place independently of any host PC or other computer system. This is achieved by using Fingerprint Cards’ patented, two-chip, fingerprint authentication technology, where the sensor and processor chips are integrated into the Litronic smart card reader. Comparison between the stored and the presented finger patterns takes place inside the smart card, thereby opening up the digital signature and associated personal credentials. These cards will be used in systems for e-commerce between government entities and commercial business, for computer access and for physical access to buildings, etc.


$60 eCashPad to Ship

eConnect announced that the company will now accept eCashPad orders via check or money order.

“We have started the inventory planning process for November and December eCashPad deliveries, and are now accepting payments by check or money order for $59.95, not including shipping,” eConnect spokesperson said.

The eCashPad is a simple and common sense approach to Internet commerce security. The eCashPad enables consumers to use their financial cards and prevents the card data from being seen or stored at the merchant’s web site. These are called Bank Eyes Only(TM) transactions.

Additionally, the usage of the eCashPad with the ATM card with PIN entry will enable real-time cash payments over the Internet.

“eCashPad users will enjoy a 10% discount savings at Artaste.com., which will be eCashPad compliant in November,” said Thomas S. Hughes, founder, chairman and CEO of eConnect, describing the company’s soon-to-launch art-auction site. “We have also had early indications that other companies may be inclined to offer a cash incentive discount to consumers electing to pay with an ATM card with PIN cash payment.”

Orders should be sent with check or money order to:

eConnect 2500 Via Cabrillo Marina San Pedro, CA 90731 Attention: eCashPad Orders Department.


OPC Signs VA

Official Payments Corporation announced Monday the company has signed an agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide a service which will enable Virginia citizens to make balance-due tax payments, by credit card, via the Internet or telephone. Taxpayers in Virginia will be able to make these payments by visiting [www.officialpayments.com][1] on the Internet or by calling toll-free 1-800-2PAY-TAX(sm). These new payment channels for tax year 2000 are expected to go live early next year. Virginia will publish information about the service in tax instruction booklets which will be mailed to taxpayers in January. The new contract with Virginia represents the company’s 15th state client. Official Payments provides a variety of tax payment services to the Internal Revenue Service, the District of Columbia, and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington.

“We have all the bases covered in Virginia, as we collect federal, local and now state taxes. We are very pleased with our progress and momentum,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman and CEO of Official Payments, Corp. “Our systems process tax payments for over 50 counties and municipalities in Virginia . In our Federal program during the 1999 tax season, we collected over $18.5 million in Individual Income tax payments from over 6,000 Virginia taxpayers. Now those same citizens will be able to use our systems to make their state tax payments,” Mr. Evans added.

“This new payment method is part of our on-going effort to provide our citizens with a high level of service,” said Danny M. Payne, Virginia’s Tax Commissioner. “These Internet and telephone payment channels will give Virginia citizens an additional payment choice and the ability to make their tax payments to the Commonwealth 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week from the comfort of their home or business,” added Payne.

Official Payments will charge Virginia taxpayers a convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. The fee schedule can be found at [www.officialpayments.com][2]. For example, a taxpayer who owed Virginia $900.00 and charged their taxes would find a total of $922.50 on their credit card statement: $900.00 for the tax bill and $22.50 for the convenience fee. American Express, Discover Card, and MasterCard are the credit cards accepted by the program. 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.

About Official Payments Corporation.

Official Payments Corporation is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company enables consumers to pay government fees and taxes via telephone or the Internet, using their credit cards. The company has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service; several state governments, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma And Washington state; and over 550 municipal and county entities, in which it collects income taxes, property taxes, real estate taxes, parking fines, sales and use taxes and other government fees by credit card over the telephone and the Internet. In the 1999 tax year, Official Payments collected and processed over $575 million in federal income tax payments on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. The company is publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol OPAY. Official Payments Corp. is committed to making payments to the government go fast, smart and safe.

[1]: http://www.officialpayments.com/
[2]: http://www.officialpayments.com/


Xmas Card War

Competition among the industry’s top players remains very strong during the 2000 pre-Christmas solicitation period according to CardWatch. At least four major issuers are dangling short-term 0% intro APRs in front of U.S.consumers while other issuers are offering low single digit APRs for 9 months or more. The new Fleet ‘Fusion smart VISA’ offers a six month 0% APR for new purchases only. Providian’s ‘Platinum VISA’ offers a 0% intro rate on new purchases and a 2.99% intro rate for balance transfers. Discover recently cut its ‘Platinum Discover’ intro APR offer from 2.9% to 0% for purchases and 5.9% for balance transfers. Capital One’s brand new ‘Kmart MasterCard’ is offering a six month 0% rate on Kmart purchases only. Despite a marketing pullback this year, First USA is hitting mailboxes with a new ‘Titanium VISA’ offer with a 1.9% intro APR that requires a balance transfer and a 3% balance transfer fee. The Citigroup ‘Universal Platinum MasterCard’ is also alive and well with a 2.9% intro, good thru July, for balance transfers of more than $3,500, otherwise a 3.9% intro rate for balance transfer applies. Chase is offering a nine month intro rate of 2.99% on its ‘Platinum MasterCard’ that applies only to balance transfers. Affinity card king, MBNA is heavily promoting its ‘L.L. Bean Platinum VISA’ this season with a 3.9% intro APR that applies to cash advance check transactions or balance transfers. CT-based People’s Bank is offering a six month 4.9% intro APR on its ‘Platinum MasterCard’ that applies to new purchases and balance transfers. Finally, Bank of America’s ‘Platinum VISA’ is promoting an 8.9% intro rate that applies to balance transfers until paid in-full and to new purchases for six months.

1. Fleet Fusion smart VISA 0% 6 mos. f11.99%
2. Providian Platinum VISA 0% 3 mos. P+5.49%
3. Discover Platinum 0% 4/01 f14.99%
4. Capital One Kmart MasterCard 0% 6 mos P+10.3%
5. First USA Titanium VISA 1.9% 5/01 P+5.90%
6. Citigroup Universal Platinum MC 2.9% 7/01 P+5.99%
7. Chase Platinum MC 2.99% 9 mos P+5.49^
8. MBNA L.L. Bean Platinum VISA 3.9% 2/01 f16.99%
9. People’s Bank Platinum MasterCard 4.9% 6mos. f13.90%
10. Bank of America Platinum VISA 8.9% 6 mos P+7.9%

f-fixed; mos.-months; P-Prime Rate
Source: CardWatch


MICRImage Reader

Mag-Tek, an internationally known manufacturer of MICR check readers and magnetic stripe card readers, introduced MICRImage, a highly accurate MICR check reader and image scanner. MICRImage is designed to facilitate check conversion and reduce costs associated with check processing in all point-of-sale environments ranging from a single-lane store to multi-lane retailers. The MICRImage, backed with years of renowned Mag-Tek expertise in MICR check reading technology, has image scanning capabilities to instantly capture the image of a check for electronic processing.

In a typical check conversion application, a check is fed through the MICRImage, enabling MICR data to be captured while the check is scanned and imaged. The customer simply signs an acknowledgment that the transaction will be processed electronically, and the check is handed back to the customer. The entire check transaction is then processed electronically, eliminating all handling, sorting and processing, while reducing risk by capturing important customer information to aid the collection process of returned checks. “The design of the MICRImage has been well received,” said Tom McGeary, president of Mag-Tek. “The progressive design is not only attractive, but it provides visual cues to enhance ease-of-use for the cashier. The ergonomic shape of the MICRImage provides optimum functionality for the POS environment.”

An innovative feature allows the user to slide the case out for cleaning the check path and scanner, if needed.

The MICRImage provides multiple interfaces, including Ethernet to easily network multiple units on a LAN. The design also incorporates smart cable management, integrating the data and power functions through a single locking connector on the unit. The MICRImage is fully programmable, easy to integrate and priced very competitively, making imaging technology readily accessible at the point of sale.

Mag-Tek Inc. ([www.magtek.com][1]) manufacturers an ever-expanding line of MICR check readers, magnetic stripe and smart card readers and encoders for financial institutions, retailers and OEMs. Mag-Tek also offers comprehensive solutions for card issuance, customer selected PIN and ATM/Debit card activation. Mag-Tek is headquartered in Carson, CA with sales offices throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, along with an international distribution network in over 40 countries. Mag-Tek technology is used in millions of financial and POS transactions utilizing checks, debit cards and credit cards; at retail checkouts, banks and other financial businesses, automated gas pumps, kiosks, pay phones and airplane seat phones throughout the world. For more information on Mag-Tek and Mag-Tek products, call 888/624-8350 or visit [http://www.magtek.com][2].

[1]: http://www.magtek.com/
[2]: http://www.magtek.com/


PSiGate Restructure

Payment Services Interactive Gateway Corp., formerly Corona Investments Inc., announced Friday it has completed its acquisition of Payment Services Interactive Gateway Inc., known as PSiGate Inc. PSiGate Inc. is now a wholly owned subsidiary of PSiGate Corp. Prior to the ompletion of the transaction, a settlement was reached between PSiGate Inc. and Spinnaker Capital Corp. whereby the Corporation agreed to issue to Spinnaker stand alone options. PSiGate Corp. is a Mississauga, Ontario-based company that specializes in the integration and deployment of Internet-based, e-commerce solutions that enable the automated, secure exchange and transmission of electronic data for the purpose of fulfilling orders and payments and obtaining credit card or cyber wallet payment authorizations.


Sprint Kiosks

Sprint has awarded NCR Corp. a $5 million contract to install bill payment kiosks in Sprint PCS retail stores nationwide. The ‘Automated Payment Center’, expected to start deployment in the fourth quarter, includes the NCR Web Kiosk, integrated scanner and receipt printer, and accepts cash, check and credit cards for Sprint PCS customers’ airtime bill payments. Web-enabled kiosks can be programmed to perform myriad services in addition to bill payment, such as helping consumers locate products, check product availability, access product information and receive relevant promotions.


Citigroup Hires Medina

Citigroup announced the appointment of David Medina as Director of Global Compliance for Citigroup. In this role, Mr. Medina will have responsibility for coordination of the compliance function throughout Citigroup.

“As a world leader in financial services, it is critically important that we strive to continually strengthen our compliance infrastructure. We are looking to David to provide important leadership in helping the many compliance professionals in Citigroup to work together as a dynamic and innovative team. During his years in government, David has demonstrated his management talent and his commitment to the highest standards of integrity in compliance. I am confident he will be able to lead our efforts,” said Charles Prince, Citigroup’s Corporate Secretary and General Counsel.

For the last 6 years, Mr. Medina has worked in a series of senior positions at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, DC. Since 1997, he has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Policy, with responsibility for compliance, oversight, policy development and management of the U.S. Treasury Department’s enforcement mission. Prior to this position, Mr. Medina was the Director of the Office of Enforcement Policy Development as well as a Policy Advisor to the Under Secretary for Enforcement, focusing on such issues as money laundering and financial crime. Before joining the Treasury Department, he worked as a litigation attorney in the private sector where his clients included large banks and financial institutions. Mr. Medina received a Bachelor’s degree in Government cum laude in 1985 from Harvard College and went on to receive his J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law in 1988. Citigroup (NYSE:C), the most global financial services company, provides some 100 million consumers, corporations, governments and institutions in over 100 countries with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage and asset management The 1998 merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group brought together such brand names as Citibank, Travelers, Salomon Smith Barney, CitiFinancial and Primerica under Citigroup’s trademark red umbrella. Additional information may be found at [www.citigroup.com][1]

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


3Q/00 Issuer Stats

Growth in receivables during the third quarter appears much stronger than 2Q/00, according to CardData. Portfolio results coming in Friday show growth in active accounts to be flat for 3Q/00 but a solid increase in both receivables and volume. Average balance per active account for Pentagon Federal Credit Union hit $2,930 for 3Q compared to First National Nebraska’s $2,114. Meanwhile Arkansas-based low-rate specialist Simmons First National posted an average balance per active account of $1,482 compared to Intrust Bank’s $1,772 and Suncoast Schools Credit Union’s $1,682. Results from major players are expected this week in CardData’s 3Q/00 Portfolio Survey of 350 top U.S. issuers.


Frst Natl NE $3,367,262,000 1,592,599
Pentagon FCU $ 434,878,573 148,429
Simmons Frst $ 185,656,789 125,287
Intrust Bank $ 162,854,829 91,916
Suncoast Sch. FCU $ 108,768,908 64,659

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)


BannerDirect Promotes Maus

Today, BannerDirect announced that Trudy Maus has been promoted to creative director, spearheading the creative department in Wilmington, NC, effective October 10, 2000. Ms. Maus will be reporting directly to Christine Fontana, president of BannerDirect. “Trudy has worked with BannerDirect for years as a production manager; we were already impressed with her excellent work and are very excited that she has been promoted to head the creative team as well,” says Ms. Fontana.

Based in Wilmington, NC, Ms. Maus will be responsible for managing the creative development of all direct marketing campaigns for BannerDirect’s clients, from direct mail packages, print ads, logo and card design to email messaging and web site copy and design. Ms. Maus will also manage the company’s in-house creative department as well as its outside creative alliances that include art directors, graphic designers, copywriters, illustrators and photographers.

“Her years at BannerDirect, her input into the creative aspect of our programs, her direct mail knowledge and her organizational abilities all make Trudy the right choice for the position,” says Ms. Fontana.

Having originally joined BannerDirect over eight years ago, Trudy Maus’s prior positions in the company include production manager, senior production manager, and production director, a position she will hold concurrently with her new position. She attended the University of North Carolina in Wilmington where she received her BS in Marketing in 1991 and her MBA in 1997. Ms. Maus currently resides in Wilmington, NC, with her husband, Marc.

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. A recognized leader in card marketing, BannerDirect is headquartered in New York City; production, creative coordination and fulfillment are managed from BannerDirect’s Wilmington (NC) office, with sales offices in New York City, Milwaukee (WI), Carson City (NV), Charlotte (NC) and Brightwaters (NY).