Visa International announced that “Racing With the Dolphins” by Sun-ik Kim from Korea was named as the Grand Prizewinner of the Visa Olympics of the Imagination 23-nation youth art competition. Sun-ik and one of his parents will attend the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Utah, USA, as guests of Visa.

Visa Olympics of the Imagination challenged school children, ages 9-13, to use their imaginations to create an original piece of art that represented what the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” meant to them. The program ran in from late 1999 through June 2000 in most countries. Over 400,000 entries were received.

Sun-ik was selected by renowned Australian artist Ken Done, VOI’s special Ambassador and Artist-in-Residence during the Olympic Games. “I had seen VOI before and I was really struck by the high quality and joy of it,” said Ken. “This piece of artwork reminds people of the absolute ideals of the Games.” His selection was announced at the Awards Ceremony at the VOI Exhibit which is located just outside the IMAX Theatre in Darling Harbour. The children’s winning art will be on display during the entire Olympic Games, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily.

The medals were awarded to the children by IOC president Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, Olympians Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner. Olympians Prince Albert of Monaco, Kip Janvrin, Deng Ya Ping, and the Olympic Mascots were also in attendance. A number of Ambassadors, Consuls and other VIP guests attended to congratulate the children.

“The selection of the grand prizewinner was very challenging because all of the artwork is superb,” said P. Scot Smythe, Visa International’s Vice President of Event Marketing. “The exhibit, containing the 33 pieces of artwork, is extremely impressive and it reinforces our belief in the talent and awareness of today’s children in not only the Olympic Movement, but the world they live in. Visa is proud to exhibit to Olympic visitors the talent of our winners.”

Sydney Activities

The winners of the program and a parent or guardian are attending the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as the guests of Visa in Sydney, Australia, and will be here until September 19. The winners will attend three Olympic events, Men’s Gymnastics, Men’s Basketball and Women’s Beach Volleyball, as well as receive special tours of Sydney, the Taronga Zoo, and the Sydney Aquarium. Additionally, the winners will have the opportunity to put their artistic talents to use when they paint Olympic Athletes on September 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Doltone Reception Centre at Darling Island, Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, adjacent to the Sydney Media Centre. A number of Olympic athletes will model for the children and will be available to answer any questions the children may have.

VOI winners were selected from Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Czech Republic, Curacao, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, United States and Uruguay.

Photos of the winning artwork can be viewed by accessing the VOI Web site . Artwork of past winners and periodic updates on Sydney activities can also be viewed through the Web site. Eighty-two young artists from 28 countries already have attended Olympic Summer and Winter Games as guests of Visa over the past three Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway; Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Nagano, Japan. Visa received more than 400,000 entries for the 2000 Olympic Games program. Judging was based on originality, imagination, artistic merit, and how well their art captured the ideals of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

VOI History

Originally, the Olympic Games were as much a matter of art as athleticism, with poets, musicians, painters and sculptors competing for medals alongside athletes. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, was keen to revive the link and in 1906 awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for five artistic competitions. Because of the two world wars, these contests were held only sporadically until 1949, when they were dropped altogether and replaced by Olympic cultural programs. Visa began its Olympic Games sponsorship in 1986 and since then has sponsored three Olympic Summer Games (Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta) and four Olympic Winter Games (Calgary, Albertville Lillehammer, and Nagano). In Sydney, Visa continues its Olympic sponsorship role as a Worldwide Partner as the exclusive card and the official payment system for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.


Pathways Acquisition

Upgrade International Corp. has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire ownership of The Pathways Group, Inc. The Pathways Group Inc provides turn key solutions in the smart card arena as a full service hardware integrator, software developer and backroom transactions processor. Upgrade International said today the Pathways acquisition will mark the beginning of the transformation of Upgrade from research and development to a revenue generating group of companies, for the first time since 1998, when it acquired a stake in UltraCard Inc. Pathways said it decided to embrace Upgrade and the UltraCard technology, because it expects ‘UltraCard’ to replace other microprocessor-based technologies.


Dovetail Expansion

NJ-based Dovetail Systems has signed a joint marketing agreement with Sun Microsystems to target the solution requirements of Tier 1 and Tier 2 financial institutions, primarily in North America and in the UK. Using open Internet standards based on Java technology and architected on the Java 2 Platform, the Dovetail Payments System has been designed for Tier 1 and Tier 2 financial institutions to handle all inter-bank payments and funds transfer types, including new standards such as CLS, S.W.I.F.T. MT103, and those emerging from global e-commerce. Dovetail Systems also announced it has agreed to acquire Rule Financial, a London-based specialist IT consultancy. Rule Financial will operate as the European division of Dovetail Systems and be responsible for promoting, implementing and supporting the Dovetail Payments System product set in the UK and the rest of Europe. Rule Financial was founded in 1997 by a group of senior IT staff drawn from leading Investment Banks and IT consultancies.


Celebrity PhoneCards

NYC-based 9278 Communications is launching a new phone card that features names and images of hundreds of top celebrities as well as daily entertainment news updates from MTV Networks. The ‘Access Live Phonecard Plus’ will also offer domestic long distance rates as low as 1.9 cents per minute. First edition ‘Access Live Phonecards’ will feature NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Tupac Shakur, and Pamela Anderson. Each phonecard from the ‘Access Live’ music series will allow callers access to voice prompts with daily music news from MTV. 9278 Communications currently has a network of over 400 master distributors, retailing over 140 different prepaid card products primarily in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut markets.


Fry’s Food VISA

U.S. Bank has teamed up with Fry’s Food Stores in Phoenix, Ariz. to offer the Fry’s Visa card. This new credit card will reward customers with points toward free gifts every time the card is used. The Fry’s Visa card is available to customers in Arizona starting September 18.

Here’s how the Fry’s Visa card works. Customers who use the Fry’s Visa card will earn points for each dollar charged on the card. Every time the card is used at a Fry’s store, the cardholder earns two points per dollar charged. For all other purchases, cardholders receive one point for each dollar charged at any of the other 18 million locations where Visa is accepted. There is no annual fee if the card is used three times in a twelve-month period. The points are redeemable for various items including $50 Fry’s gift certificates, American Airline tickets, restaurant gift certificates at any Macayo’s, Red Lobster or Olive Garden nationwide, and tickets to both local and national attractions including AMC Theatres, Blockbuster, Durango Mountain Resort, Castles n’ Coasters and the Flandrau Science Center among others.

“We are constantly striving to offer our customers new and unique services and ways to save,” stated Michael Donnelly, president of Fry’s. “The Fry’s Visa card is one way for us to both thank and reward our customers by offerings points toward free groceries and other items.”

“This is one credit card that every Fry’s customers should carry,” said Daniel Frate, president of payment systems for U.S. Bancorp. “The interest rates are very competitive with other credit cards, but the Fry’s Visa card provides the extra incentive of very generous rewards for the cardholder. It’s really a good offer for Fry’s customers.”

Applications for the card are available at all Fry’s stores. U.S. Bank, a Fry’s partner and one of the largest issuers of credit cards in the nation, issues the Fry’s Visa card. The rewards program was developed and will be managed by MyPoints Offline Services, a division of (Nasdaq: MYPT).

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $86 billion in assets, is the 10th largest financial services holding company in the nation and operates approximately 1,000 banking offices in the Midwest and West. The company provides comprehensive banking, trust, investment and payment systems products and services to consumers, businesses and institutions. It operates a network of 5,000 ATMs and provides 24-hour, seven-days-a-week telephone customer service. The company offers full-service brokerage services at approximately 100 offices through U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. The company is the largest provider of Visa corporate and purchasing cards in the world, and is one of the largest providers of corporate trust services in the nation. For further information, please see the U.S. Bancorp web site at [][1]

Fry’s is a division of Kroger Company, which was founded in 1883 by Barney H. Kroger in Cincinnati. Today, Kroger is the nation’s largest supermarket operator with nearly 2,200 retail locations and sales of $43 billion. The Phoenix-based Fry’s division is one of the largest in the Kroger organization, serving approximately 4 million Arizona customers in an average week.



NACHA Names Chair

The members of NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association have elected a new Board of Directors under its recently approved reorganization plan. Janet C. Boyst, Senior Vice President and Group Executive at Wachovia Bank, was elected Chair of the Board.

“This Board represents a new way of doing business at NACHA,” said Boyst. “With a streamlined Board, NACHA can be proactive in preparing the electronic payments system for the future. In addition, with community banks, credit unions and NACHA’s industry councils specifically represented on the Board for the first time, NACHA is in a better position to serve all users of the payments system.”

The new Board of Directors consists of 19 directors representing the entire membership. In addition to Boyst, the officers elected are John C. Kline of Union Savings Bank in Connecticut as Vice Chair, and Phillip C. Ahwesh of Mellon Bank as Secretary/Treasurer.

Representing regional payments associations on the Board are Ann-Marie Bartels of the Mid-America Payments Exchange, Charles B. Bretz of Compass Bank, Ronald L. Burniske of Chartway Federal Credit Union, Ward H. Gailey, Jr. of SunTrust Bank, John Kephart of Commerce Bank of Washington, Francis Lee of Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union, Keith K. Theisen of Wells Fargo Bank, George F. Thomas of the Electronic Payments Network, and Dennis Toda of Western Corporate Federal Credit Union.

Representing direct financial institution members are Marcie Haitema of Chase Bank, Mark J. Havlik of First Union Bank, and Leonard J. Heckwolf of Bank One.

Representing NACHA’s industry councils are Richard S. Jenkins of SHAZAM, Fred Laing, II of the Upper Midwest ACH Association, Nolan L. North of T. Rowe Price, and Jane Wallace of Bank of America.

Two non-voting members of the Board are Elliott C. McEntee, President and Chief Executive Officer of NACHA, and Harold J. Piotrowski, Past Chair of the Board.

The reorganization plan announced on June 19, 2000 streamlined the governance of the association, established new voting rights for financial institutions on the operating rules for the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network, and established direct membership in NACHA for financial institutions.

“The goal of the reorganization is to further NACHA’s pursuit of its mission to be the leader in the development, promotion and use of electronic solutions to improve the payments system,” said McEntee. “As the payments industry embraces a changing landscape, NACHA must continue to evolve in order to remain an effective organization.”

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 its 33 regional payments associations, and 700 organizations through its six industry councils and corporate Affiliate Membership Program. NACHA facilitates the development of operating rules and standards 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, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) and student lending. Visit NACHA on the Internet at [][1].



DataCard Supplier

Datacard Group announced the formation of a strategic alliance that will enhance the company’s portfolio of card personalization supplies. Under the agreement, Maple Roll Leaf and Coding Products–which are both divisions of Illinois Tool Works, Inc – will be the exclusive manufacture of topping foils, UltraGrafix(R) print ribbons, indent ribbons, cleaning tapes, clear topcoats and card stickers for Datacard Group and their card personalization products. For their part, Datacard will have exclusive global distribution of these products, and will continue to sell, distribute and support their complete portfolio of card personalization supply products on a worldwide basis.

“We believe this alliance will benefit Datacard customers on a number of fronts,” said Paul Schroeder, senior vice president and general manager for Datacard’s Secure Issuance Division. “Our customers will get the great service and support they’ve come to expect from Datacard, plus exceptional quality and value in the supplies they buy from us.

“Maple Roll Leaf and Coding Products both have strong reputations for manufacturing high-quality, high-reliability products,” Schroeder said. “Their commitment to quality, combined with our rigorous internal testing procedures, will result in superior supply products for Datacard customers.”

Datacard will collaborate with the two companies to develop new products and enhance the performance of existing supply items. “Our joint development efforts, coupled with their vast manufacturing capacity, will improve both product selection and availability for Datacard customers,” Schroeder said.

Datacard Group is a world leader in card production, card issuance and identity management solutions. The company provides its customers with integrated systems for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. A diverse solutions portfolio the world’s best-selling card personalization, card printing and digital identity systems. Datacard Group also offers a full range of smart card solutions, including application development tools, card issuance systems and card life cycle management systems. Datacard Corporation, doing business as Datacard Group, is privately held and based in Minnetonka, Minn. Datacard Group employs more than 1,800 people worldwide and serves customers in more than 120 countries. ([][1])

ITW is a $9.3 billion manufacturer of highly engineered components and industrial systems. The company consists of more than 500 decentralized operations (such as Maple Roll Leaf and Coding Products) in 40 countries and employs more than 52,000 people.



eConnect Returns

San Pedro, CA-based eConnect confirmed this morning that it expects the first commercially-ready models of the ‘eCashPad’, the Company’s first secure electronic payment product, to be delivered to affiliate National Data Funding Corp. on Sept. 25. eConnect has placed an initial order to manufacture 100,000 ‘eCashPads’ with Asia Pacific Micro Devices Inc., of Oakland, CA. With its proprietary software, the ‘eCashPad’ will enable users to swipe ATM card-with-PIN as well as credit and smart cards, routing account numbers exclusively to authorizing financial institutions for secure, ‘Bank Eyes Only’ e-commerce transactions. NDFC of Chico, CA has agreed in principle to be acquired by eConnect. Trading in the stock of eConnect was briefly suspended in March amidst allegations of fraud. A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of stockholders. The complaint alleges that eConnect Iinflated its relationship with Palm Computing and made other false claims. (See CF 3/21/00)


5 Star Strategy

AFBA Bank, the nation’s 65th largest issuer and prominent issuer of low APR/no fee credit cards, has acquired the portfolio of the pioneer of secured bank credit cards. MD-based Key Bank & Trust sold its portfolio to AFBA for just under $35 million. In 1982 Key Bank & Trust became the first bank institution to enter the secured VISA and MasterCard market. AFBA says half of the acquired portfolio is secured cards, which represent a new area for the bank. After the portfolio is assimilated, AFBA hopes to market its own secured card program. AFBA says the acquisition represents a broadening of its product offering and, over the next three to four years, it hopes to triple the size of the card portfolio. According to CardData ([][1]) AFBA had approximately $95 million in receivables at mid-year. AFBA also says it is expanding into other services. The bank is aiming to act as a servicer to small issuers. AFBA says it is not trying to supplant FDR or TSYS but rather wants to be the back office for smaller issuers that want to avoid the expense and requirements of building their own call center, etc. Beginning in November they will be able to take on clients. AFBA is also contemplating a re-branding of its card product. AFBA Financial Services offers a family of mutual funds under the name of AFBA Five Star Funds. In the credit card portfolio transaction, R.K. Hammer of Thousand Oaks, CA, served as the advisor for Key Bank.



NACS & Diebold Deal

The National Association of College Stores announced yesterday it will partner with Diebold as an ATM franchise broker. NACS said the availability of ATMs in college stores should also help retailers reduce NSF checks, credit card fees and checkout times. As a ‘Franchise Broker’, NACS will be endorsing and providing information about the franchise program to its member stores. By participating in the program, NACS’ members will lease space to Diebold for the installation, and operation of a Diebold cash dispenser. Participating stores will pay Diebold a nominal monthly fee of $84 to operate and service the ATM machine. In return, NACS member stores may receive a revenue share for each surchargeable cash withdrawal transaction, based upon the monthly transaction level. Diebold says the franchise program has been specifically designed to address the two critical success factors involved in every ATM deployment: economic viability and continuity. NACS predicts that up to 125 stores will join by the end of the year.


IPO Withdrawal

Transaction Systems Architects announced Thursday it is postponing the IPO of Insession Technologies, Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary. TSA says the move was necessary due to unfavorable market conditions. The proposed offering was announced in June of this year. TSA’s software facilitates electronic payments by providing consumers and companies access to their money. Its products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, and home banking services, checks, wire transfers as well as automated clearing and settlement. TSA’s solutions are used on more than 3,600 product systems in 79 countries on six continents.


ORC Stats

Online Resources & Communications Corp. announced that its annualized transaction run rate is now more than 30 million and that the number of end users enrolled for its service has reached 275,000 consumers.

Matthew P. Lawlor, chairman and chief executive officer of Online Resources, said, “Because our business model is based on recurring user fees spread over relatively fixed costs, continuing strong transaction and user growth are measurable indicators of Online Resource’s accelerating progress toward sustainable profitability and increased shareholder value.”

The company reported 275,000 end-users compared to approximately 100,000 at this time last year. Approximately 55 percent of these users subscribe to the company’s bill payment processing services.

In August, the company processed 2.8 million transactions, a 166 percent increase over August 1999 and a 26 percent increase over the monthly average for the second quarter 2000 (2Q00). On an annualized basis, the company processed 33 million transactions versus a 12 million run-rate the prior year.

Transactions in the month of August included:

1.3 million banking transactions, an increase of 164 percent year-to-year and 25 percent over 2Q00

550,000 bill payment transactions, an increase of 155 percent year-to-year and 24 percent over 2Q00

200,000 customer care contacts, an increase of 153 percent year-to-year and 29 percent over 2Q00

750,000 other transactions, an increase of 183 percent year-to-year and 28 percent over 2Q00

Banking transactions include balance inquiries, account statement reviews, and transfers. Bill payments are processed and settled by the company. Customer care includes contacts with the company’s call center and emails (of which 72 percent were requests for service expansion). Other transactions include EFT authentications and other e-finance services.

Online Resources & Communications Corporation ([][1]), a leading Internet application service provider, offers a comprehensive suite of e-financial services. The company provides its Quotiensm Internet banking, bill payment, customer care and other Web-based financial services to over 450 financial institutions with over 275,000 end-users. An integrated database enables seamless user support, targeted marketing, and personalization. Clients and users benefit from a simple yet powerful Internet solution, backed by an end-to-end service quality guarantee and bundled pricing advantages. Online Resources was founded in 1989 and has 400 employees.