Citi 3Q/00

Citigroup reported this morning a strong 5.3% increase in North American credit card receivables between the second and third quarter. However credit card volume slipped slightly between 2Q/00 and 3Q/00, but remains 17% above last year’s activity. At the end of the third quarter Citigroup held $83.7 billion in North American card receivables compared to $79.5 billion for 2Q/00 and $71.0 billion for 3Q/99. (For the U.S. segment Citi reported 2Q/00 receivables of $79.1 billion according to CardData.) Credit card volume for the North American sector logged in at $48.0 billion compared to $48.7 billion for the prior quarter and $41.2 billion one year ago. (For the U.S. segment Citi reported 2Q/00 volume of $48.4 billion according to CardData.) North American gross accounts hit 43.9 million for 3Q compared to 42.7 million for 2Q and 41.0 million for 1999’s 3Q. (For the U.S. segment Citi reported 2Q/00 gross accounts of 42.1 million according to CardData.) Net chargeoffs declined from 3.96% in 2Q/00 to 3.50% for 3Q/00. However, delinquencies (90+ days) edged up from 1.18% to 1.23%. Internationally Citigroup reported 11.8 million accounts that produced $11.9 billion in receivables and $9.3 billion in 3Q charge volume. For complete details on Citigroup’s 3Q/00 performance as well as historical data visit CardData ([][1]).




Hypercom yesterday rolled out the ‘ePic ICE 7000CE’ payment terminal for the high-end multi-application market. The new terminal is specifically geared to healthcare, government, payments and other industrial-commercial sectors requiring custom applications such as prescription adjudication, interactive e-mail, access to Internet-based services or complex on-line, and advanced server-based applications. The new terminal incorporates a 32-bit processor, 33.6Kbps integrated modem and Microsoft ‘Windows CE’ operating system. The multi-function ‘ePic ICE 7000CE’ features a large 6″, 256-color 1/4 VGA touch graphics and pen input screen. The terminal incorporates the Hitachi 32 bit CPU running at 128MHz, up to 32Mbyte of Flash ROM and up to 32Mbyte of RAM. It incorporates all of the features of Hypercom’s ‘ePic ICE’ terminals including: multi-application operating system with firewalls, EMV chip card compatibility, built-in HTML/HTTP web browser and integrated printer/paper cutter. In addition to its embedded applications, the device supports a range of value-added services including: e-mail, on-screen advertising, interactive electronic coupons, electronic receipt capture, user e-commerce function and cash management reporting through a standard browser, as well as secure credit, debit and smart card payment functions. The ‘ePic ICE 7000CE’ offers communication options including Hypercom’s 9600 bps ‘FastPOS’ dial modem for fast financial transactions, a 10BaseT Ethernet interface and a 33.6Kbps integrated modem. The modem is also backwards compatible with 300/1200/2400 bps POS dial services.


Schlumberger-Convergent Merger

Schlumberger Limited and Convergent Group Corporation announced Monday the execution of a definitive merger agreement whereby Schlumberger has agreed to acquire a majority interest in Convergent Group for cash consideration of $8.00 per share, for approximately $276 million.

The transaction will be structured as a tender offer to be commenced within ten business days from October 13, 2000 for any and all outstanding shares of Convergent Group common stock, followed by a merger cashing out any untendered shares at the same $8.00 per share price. The executive management of Convergent Group and an affiliate of Convergent Group’s largest client Cinergy Corp. (NYSE:CIN), representing approximately 28% of the Convergent Group outstanding shares will become stockholders of the new entity, Convergent Holding Corporation. Glenn E. Montgomery will remain President and Chief Executive Officer of Convergent Group, which will continue to operate as a separate company. The merger agreement and the tender offer were negotiated and approved by a committee of independent directors of Convergent Group.

Before goodwill amortization the effect on Schlumberger 2001 operating income is expected to be slightly accretive. The anticipated effect on 2001 net income and earnings per share is not material.

Convergent Group is a leading builder of digital enterprises, providing business consulting, software engineering, system integration and project management services that enable utility and local government clients to increase operational efficiencies, improve customer service and implement Internet-based business systems.

“Convergent Group’s unique professional services offering and knowledge of the utility industry is a natural fit complementing the Schlumberger value-added solution approach to business in the utility sector,” said Clermont Matton, executive vice president of Schlumberger Resource Management Services. “Convergent Group’s expertise in system integration, combined with CellNet’s fixed-network and data management technologies, positions Schlumberger as a leading provider of business solutions to the increasingly competitive utility sector.”

“We are very excited to be joining forces with Schlumberger,” said Glenn E. Montgomery, chief executive officer of Convergent Group. “The combined services portfolio of Convergent Group and Schlumberger will allow our companies to bring a new level of service and technology to the marketplace and significantly enhance our ability to expand Convergent Group’s presence in the global digital economy.”

About the companies

Schlumberger Limited is a global leader in technical services spanning the oil and gas, utility, semiconductor testing, smart cards, and network and Internet solutions industries. Schlumberger revenue was $8.4 billion in 1999. Additional information is available from Realtime [[][1]], the Schlumberger corporate website.

Convergent Group, founded in 1985, is a leading end-to-end business transformation provider for utilities and local government. The company engineers, builds and manages digital business solutions that allow utilities and local governments to transform their organizations into digital business enterprises where employees, contractors and customers can transact business on a real-time basis using the Internet. The company has offices in Denver, Boston, London and Brisbane. Visit Convergent Group on the World Wide Web at [][2].




Beenz is branching out into the offline market. announced Monday the launch of ‘beenzCodes’, following the acquisition of a patent that provides beenz with the exclusive right to place alphanumeric codes on or inside product packaging in conjunction with the purchaser earning beenz by submitting that code through a website. ‘BeenzCodes’ are simple-to-enter codes issued inside product packaging by manufacturers or given to the purchaser at point of sale. They may also be used in direct mail to increase response rates or in print media to track performance. Each code is unique and allows the merchant to track the product from its point of manufacture to its purchase by the ultimate consumer. The purchaser enters a code at a specified website, along with personal information that might be requested by the manufacturer, to earn beenz. The beenz earned by the consumer can be spent on products and/or services offered by the manufacturer, in online stores worldwide that form part of the beenz network, or transferred to the consumer’s ‘beenz rewardzcard MasterCard’.


MBNA ShopSafe

MBNA America introduced a new Internet-based security feature that generates a substitute card number when cardholders purchase online. The new MBNA ‘ShopSafe’ service mirrors the American Express ‘Private Payments’ security program and the pseudo account number systems available from third parties such as Cyota. However, MBNA Customers will have even more control over any online purchase by setting a specific dollar amount and time limit for the substitute credit card number. Under the MBNA program the customer’s actual credit card number is never revealed and never travels on the Internet, eliminating any threat that the credit card account could be compromised either during a transaction or while residing in an e-merchant database. The new security service will be available to MBNA Customers this fall. The ‘MBNA ShopSafe’ service is offered under a licensing agreement with Orbiscom.


Customized eFalcon

Paymentech, the largest processor of credit card payments for direct response marketers, has launched a proprietary, customized version of the eFalcon fraud detection system from HNC Financial Solutions, a division of HNC Software Inc., to further protect its direct marketing and e-tailing clients from payment card fraud. Paymentech adds the leading, real-time fraud detection solution to its suite of risk management techniques and tools geared specifically to non-face-to-face merchants. This tailored offering can significantly reduce credit card fraud losses. The company announced the fraud reduction service at the Direct Marketing Association 83rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

While utilizing the core eFalcon solution, Paymentech has developed an exclusive deployment manner that fully integrates it with the merchant’s normal processing data stream. This offering appreciably trims a retailer’s development time and costs, and simplifies the flow of the online transaction and reporting. The unique implementation will assist a broad base of direct marketing and Internet merchants in lowering credit card fraud losses particular to their operations.

eFalcon uses sophisticated neural networks, scores, and rules to distinguish legitimate shoppers from fraudulent purchasers. eFalcon employs the world’s largest consortium of payment transactions to predict the likelihood of fraud. The consortium is made up of 80 billion payment transactions, 100 million of which are online transactions.

“Online fraud presents serious challenges to direct marketers. Our experience with Paymentech gave us confidence in exploring this service,” said Gary Flaks, controller for Seta Corporation. Founded in 1955, Seta Corporation has been a worldwide leader in providing individualized promotional opportunities to a host of syndicated partners. SETA’s Palm Beach Jewelry Catalogs and websites ([][1]) are available for clients’ personalized promotions.

“With minimal technical changes, Seta can integrate eFalcon with current detection methods. Paymentech makes it easy to incorporate this product into our normal course of business,” said Flaks. “They add Seta’s payment transaction history with eFalcon to create risk categories expressly for us. This can reduce false-positives while assimilating all data into our existing processing stream.”

“Ease of implementation and broader application sets apart our offering,” said Larry Bouchard, group manager for Paymentech’s direct response product development. “Card-not-present merchants take orders via mail, Internet, and telephone. A customized fraud reduction service must protect multiple channels and provide comprehensive, consolidated reporting. We translate a general application into a specific merchant’s processing ‘language.’ The merchant avoids laborious programming for new message formats and data.”

“This addition to Paymentech’s risk management arsenal increases the client’s confidence in taking orders,” said Bouchard. “Because Internet and direct marketing merchants absorb the costs of fraudulent transactions, they often abandon legitimate sales due to perceived risk.” Paymentech’s direct response unit decreases the fraud control burden for clients by embedding services in the payment process.

Traditional direct marketing research indicates that over $100 million is lost through fraudulent consumer credit card transactions. In 1999, e-merchants lost an estimated $1 billion dollars, roughly 5% of online sales. (GartnerGroup) Meridian Research projects annual online fraud to rise to $9 billion by 2001.

“We’re pleased that one of the nation’s premier payment processors has selected our proven eFalcon solution as part of its end-to-end offering,” said Walter Lee, vice president of risk management for HNC Financial Solutions. “Integrating eFalcon with Paymentech’s processes offers its multi-channel, card-not-present merchants cost savings through lower chargeback fees and reduced fraud investigations.”

HNC Financial Solutions is a leader in the development of intelligent customer value management software solutions for the financial services and e-commerce industries. Its powerful suite of real-time decision platforms and predictive business solutions allows firms to automate new account decisioning, optimize marketing efforts, detect fraud, predict profitability, and manage the customer lifecycle. HNC Financial Solutions supports this suite of solutions with a full range of consulting services. The company is a unit of San Diego-based HNC Software Inc., a leading provider of predictive software solutions for the services industry, including financial, telecommunications, insurance and e-commerce.

Dallas-based Paymentech

([][2]), founded in 1985, is the leading provider of full-service electronic payment solutions to the direct response industry (Internet, catalogue, direct sale, etc.). Paymentech is the largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States, annually processing approximately 3 billion bankcard transactions and $93 billion in bankcard sales volume.



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 [][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.



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 ([][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.



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, 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 [][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 [][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.



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