CheckFree Update

CheckFree Corp. said Thursday that the recent TransPoint merger will add approximately $0.5 million in incremental revenue. Approximately 30 of the billers previously committed to using TransPoint’s electronic billing and payment system will be net new billers to CheckFree. These join CheckFree’s base of 157 billers, for a total of almost 190 billers committed to EBPP using CheckFree’s end-to-end integrated billing and payment services. The company also announced its intention to be able to deliver the majority of the average consumer’s recurring bills by the end of fiscal 2001, through a combination of CheckFree and TransPoint billers, as well as bills obtained or scraped from biller web sites. CheckFree’s subscriber count of 3.5 million will not be materially changed by the addition of TransPoint subscribers.


X-Rated Ripoff

The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday it has won a $37.5 million verdict against a California-based adult Web site operation the FTC charged with operating an illegal credit card billing scam. The agency alleged the defendants repeatedly placed charges on consumers’ credit and debit cards for X-rated Internet visits they had not made and services they didn’t order. The FTC noted that thousands of those billed for visiting the Web sites did not own computers. According to the FTC, the defendants had purchased access to a database of three million credit card numbers provided by Charter Pacific Bank of Agoura Hills, CA. The FTC says the defendants illegally used the account numbers to place charges on the accounts and that 90.8% of the company’s $49 million a year in sales were actually unauthorized charges. At trial, the FTC showed that the defendants used at least five different merchant accounts and four fictitious business names. The court concluded that the defendants had processed bogus charges totaling more than $43 million. The $37.5 million damages verdict represents the illegal charges minus the amounts that consumers already received through chargebacks and credits. The FTC has identified in excess of $20 million in defendant’s assets. The defendants included Kenneth and Teresa Taves, and Dennis Rappaport and their businesses J.K. Publications, Inc., MJD Service Corp., Herbal Care, Inc., and Discreet Bill, Inc. Two other defendants in this case, Gary Mittman and Adult Banc, Inc., settled FTC charges in June 1999.


MBNA IT Funding

Prometric announced Thursday its Training Funds Program for 2000.

Prometric is partnering with MBNA America Bank, N.A., in this new venture. The Training Funds Program is offered through participating Authorized Prometric Testing Centers to provide funding for students seeking information technology certifications. Prometric provides certification testing for numerous companies, including Microsoft, Novell, Lotus, CompTIA, Cisco Systems, and Oracle.

The Training Funds Program can also be used to acquire pilot certifications through participating flight schools.

Prometric, which launched its initial program in 1996, was the first company to offer financing for IT training, and Prometric continues to lead the field in IT training and funding. The Training Funds Program was designed with IT professionals in mind and incorporates the features most desirable to an IT audience.

MBNA’s lending philosophy combines sophisticated technology with individualized credit review. The Training Funds Program will be delivered instantly to customers through the Prometric site and through the APTCs. The online, paperless application process provides an immediate credit decision and access to funds.

Annual percentage rates vary, depending on the creditworthiness of the applicant, and there are no origination fees associated with the new program.



MBNA and AAA have teamed up to offer a suite of stored value cards. The new prepaid VISA cards include: ‘AAA Global Currency’, ‘AAA EveryDay Funds’, and the ‘AAA Gift Card’. The ‘EveryDay Funds’ and ‘Global Currency’ offer prepaid denominations from $5 up to $9,999 and can be accessed at 600,000 Interlink merchants in the U.S. and 625,000 ATMs worldwide. The ‘EveryDay Funds’ and ‘Gift Card’ also can be used at all VISA merchant locations. The ‘Gift Card’ can be purchased with any denominations from $25 up to $2,000. The ‘Global Currency’ card is available free at participating AAA club locations to AAA members with a minimum initial balance of $300 or more, or for $3 per card to non-members. The cards also can be obtained by paying a $2.95 shipping and handling fee via the Internet or by calling the toll-free order center. The new AAA stored value cards will be issued by MBNA and processed by WildCard Systems.


Positive Card Stats

More U.S. consumers are paying their credit card bills on time and fewer are defaulting than in any period since early 1996. Chargeoffs should hold in the sub-6% level through year-end as the favorable economic conditions persist and bankruptcies remain in check. The conclusions are based on the latest stats from credit card asset-backed securities tracked by Fitch IBCA. Fitch’s chargeoff index fell nine basis points to 5.11%. Seriously late payments on card portfolios also fell to their lowest level in four years, with Fitch’s delinquency index dropping to 2.79% from May’s 2.89%. Despite slight monthly declines, portfolio yields and monthly payment rates remain healthy on a historical basis. Fitch’s yield index, which tracks finance charge and fee income paid each month, fell to 19.05% from 19.40% last month. The MPR index for July fell nineteen bps to 16.46%, yet edged past their year-earlier mark of 16.44%.



MasterCard International and TradeCard yesterday announced an agreement to develop and pilot a new online payment system for B2B purchases. The new MasterCard-TradeCard payment solution will be the first ever to allow businesses to seamlessly complete B2B e-commerce transactions through a single mechanism. Using TradeCard’s compliance and transaction workflow technology, and MasterCard’s brand, purchasing card platform and global reach, the companies will offer an online payment solution that enables businesses to complete transactions whether large or small, domestic or cross-border, in multiple currencies. Businesses will be able to pay for spot transactions, or track larger, more complicated corporate purchase orders through their transaction cycle and then pay for them when the contract terms have been satisfied. Companies will be able to receive integrated payment information, including transaction-level detail via secure web access. Pilot transactions for the new payment solution are scheduled for the fourth quarter.



Schlumberger Test & Transactions, a business segment of Schlumberger Limited announced it has teamed with PCS Innovations, to jointly create a high-speed content distribution platform to be offered by Schlumberger as the OASYS solution. The solution is based upon the PCSI mobileMAGIC software platform and incorporates the features and security systems inherent in the Schlumberger Simera subscriber identity module (SIM) card. The OASYS solution enables operators to optimally deliver value-added services to Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) wireless customers.

‘The mobileMAGIC platform gives Simera card users the high-speed software platform and interface required to efficiently integrate our SIM card-based, value-added services with our clients’ wireless networks,’ said Ed Jacobsen, vice president, Mobile Communications, Schlumberger. ‘It is critical for our customers to deliver content at a high speed. The OASYS solution and Simera card enable us to provide them with that significant capability.’

‘Simera cards represent a very flexible, multiapplication architecture that can be tailored to meet specific market and security requirements,’ reports Martin Hebert, president of PCS Innovations. ‘With our mobileMAGIC platform, we are able to provide a high-speed gateway to Schlumberger that enables their clients to efficiently deliver value-added services to millions of subscribers.’

The OASYS solution enhances wireless operator networks with its high-speed content delivery capability using Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology. Its robust features enable scalable capacity based upon individual customer requirements and business growth. The OASYS offering will be available in the fourth quarter of 2000 on Windows NT and in the first quarter of 2001 on Sun Solaris servers.

About Schlumberger Test & Transactions

Schlumberger Test & Transactions provides consulting, integration and products for testing and measurement of semiconductor devices, smart card-based transactions, IP (Internet protocol) network security and wireless services. With 1999 revenue of $1.2 billion and over 7000 employees in more than 40 countries, it is a business segment of Schlumberger Limited [NYSE: SLB], a global technology services company with 1999 revenue of $8.4 billion. More information is available at [][1].

About PCS Innovations

PCS Innovations (PCSI) is a pioneer in the development of wireless software technologies connecting the mobile Internet to the world. Through the company’s flagship product, mobileMAGIC, and professional services, PCS Innovations enables enterprises and service providers to rapidly develop, launch and manage their own wireless applications. Formed in 1996, PCS Innovations’ diverse group of industry-leading international clients includes Ericsson, National Bank of Canada, Nokia, and TD Waterhouse. PCS Innovations is a founding member of the newly created Wireless Advertising Association and a participating member in the Personal Communications Industry Association; the WAP Forum; the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association; the Global Mobile Commerce Forum; and the Internet Advertising Bureau. For more information, please visit [][2].



AmEx & Comerica

American Express announced it has entered into a strategic alliance with Comerica Securities. The two companies will build and distribute annuities through more than 300 Comerica bank branches.

As part of its Value Package, American Enterprise Life, a division of American Express, is providing all Comerica banks with annuity products, training for Comerica investment consultants, financial planning software, and marketing support and training.

“American Express is helping Comerica with what American Express Financial Advisors does best, and that’s financial planning,” said Jan Breyer, senior vice president, Third Party Distribution. “We are excited about this alliance. Establishing solid and productive relationships with respected third parties like Comerica is part of our goal at American Express.”

“Comerica Securities is pleased to link its services with the highly-regarded American Express brand,” said John Irwin, president, Comerica Securities. “In addition to adding the annuities issued by American Enterprise Life, this alliance includes valuable support services and comprehensive financial planning tools that our investment consultants can offer to customers.

Comerica Securities, Inc. is a full-service broker-dealer that offers stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities to individual investors, along with investment banking services. It is an investment services affiliate of Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA), a multi-state financial services provider headquartered in Detroit, with banking subsidiaries in Michigan, California and Texas, banking operations in Florida, and businesses in several other states. Comerica also operates banking subsidiaries in Canada and Mexico.

American Enterprise Life Insurance Company is a subsidiary of IDS Life Insurance Company, which is one of the largest providers of individual annuities and variable life insurance in the United States, with more than $70 billion in assets under management.

AEL annuities are backed by the strength of IDS Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of American Express Financial Corporation. IDS Life, the 14th largest life insurance company, is the second largest issuer of non-qualified fixed annuities in the country. For more complete information about this annuity including fees and expense, please call 1-800-333-3437 for a prospectus. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

American Express Financial Advisors has been in operation in the U.S. for more than a century, with assets owned or managed exceeding $289 billion. The company’s products and services are distributed through a nationwide network of more than 10,000 advisors, third party relationships with major financial institutions, insurance agencies, broker/dealers, and an institutional business that provides 401(k) and defined benefit plans to companies.

American Express Financial Advisors Inc., the principal underwriter for the insurance and annuities member NASD. Insurance and annuities are made available through AEL, or in New York, through American Centurion Life Assurance Company. American Express company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.


Open Text & PSIGate

b2bScene, a division of Open Text Corporation announced that it has partnered with PSiGate to provide advanced payment solutions for its online business-to-business services. b2bScene has integrated PSiGate’s services for real-time payment collection and financial transaction processing within its business-to-business portal site and hosted application services.

PSiGate handles the processing of payments from purchase to deposit. The PSiGate merchant engine obtains the credit authorization, screens for fraud, deposits the funds and provides b2bScene clients with tracking and reporting of transactions, all implemented with SSL encryption for secure transmission via the Internet.

b2bScene is working with PSiGate to deliver these services to b2bScene’s hosted corporate extranet customers, along with other PSiGate management services such as automated tax and shipping calculations, fraud screening, and financial account reporting. b2bScene joins the growing list of PSiGate’s network of platform partners that includes, First Data Merchant Services and BCE Emergis.

“b2bScene is pleased to announce this partnership with PSiGate to deliver a key component of our integrated business-to-business marketplace services,” says Dan Latendre, VP Business Development and Marketing. “PSiGate offers b2bScene ‘best of breed’ payment services that meet the advanced security, performance and reliability requirements of our hosted services.” “PSiGate is extremely excited to work with b2bScene on making the promise of collaborative commerce a reality,” says James Mundle, President of PSiGate. “Our proven payment services can facilitate the volume of transactions driven by business-to-business interaction at b2bScene.” “This partnership marks the true beginning of collaborative commerce as it pertains to more upstream supply chain issues, such as product development, negotiation and other collaborative exchanges that involve both transaction, dialogue and content,” said John Balla, Senior Analyst with Doculabs. “Indeed, b2bScene is far ahead in this space and has effectively begun to bridge the distinction between transaction-centric Web applications and collaborative ones, which is what ebusiness truly should be.”

About b2bScene

b2bScene has created the first e-Business Community Platform for delivering business-to-business solutions on a hosting infrastructure. b2bScene’s premier online solutions stimulate and promote successful business-to-business interaction and collaboration between an organization’s partners, customers and employees within public and private online business communities. A collection of integrated content, collaboration and commerce services help b2bScene’s customers improve the quality and efficiency of each transaction, process and interaction, resulting in faster time to market, lower costs and greater competitive advantage.

About PSiGate

PSiGate empowers businesses on the Internet by providing secure, cost-effective and trusted eCommerce solutions. PSiGate provides an easy and seamless interface to new or existing online commerce enterprise, offering a reliable means of real-time payment collection and financial transaction processing. In addition, our management services include automated shipping calculations, fraud screening, and financial account reporting. PSiGate also provides Internet Merchant Accounts for VISA, Master Card and American Express for Canadian based Internet Merchants.

About Open Text

Open Text has pioneered the development of innovative intranet and extranet ebusiness applications. Since creating one of the first search engines to index the World Wide Web, the Company has remained at the forefront of Internet-based technologies. Its product family called Livelink enables individuals, teams, organizations, and global trading communities to collaborate on e-business applications that facilitate e-commerce and other transactions among Global 2000 organizations. Open Text has become one of the largest providers of Web based collaboration for e-business applications for e-communities of all types from intranets to extranets and public groups. The Livelink product family has over 4 million users in over 4,000 installations in 31 countries, speaking 12 languages throughout the world. For more information, visit .

About Livelink

Livelink is a highly scaleable e-business application. Its richly-featured enterprise services include virtual team collaboration, business process automation, enterprise group scheduling and information retrieval services, all tightly integrated into a solution that is easily customized and extended. Livelink is essential to the effective management and development of communities of interest that span organizations and industries. For everything from the creation of complex e-community relationships to the automation of simple e-business processes, Livelink delivers true dynamic collaboration between individuals, organizations, and large trading communities. Livelink servers are fully Web-based and open-architected to ensure rapid deployment and easy access to its full functionality through a standard Web browser.


OPC Stats

Official Payments Corp. reported Wednesday that it has collected and processed over $575 million in federal income tax payments by credit card on behalf of the IRS so far this year. OPC also announced the beginning in January 2001 it will add an Internet tax payment service for the IRS to its existing telephone-based credit card payment service. OPC also reported yesterday that it collected $32 million in quarterly tax payments due April 15 and $39 million in quarterly tax payments due June 15.


Card Cons

The FTC said yesterday the first group of payday loan cons it has gone after were “especially contemptible” with no intention of delivering the credit and cash advances they promised consumers. The FTC action effectively puts an end to the ‘MoneyMarketCard’ marketed by Las Vegas-based Consumer Money Markets and Continental Direct Services. The FTC alleges the two firms, as well as other individuals and firms connected to the companies, violated the FTC Act, the TSR, and the TILA by making false claims in regard to advance loan fees, payday loans and credit cards. CMM launched the ‘MoneyMarketCard’ in the summer of 1996. In solicitations, consumers were told they would receive a credit line of $5,500 at 14.99% interest, regardless of their previous credit history in exchange for a $169.95 membership fee. CMM implied that consumers could use the credit line for general shopping but the company failed to disclose that, in fact, they could only use the credit line for CMM catalog shopping. CMM required that consumers put down 30% on the purchase of all goods. Also, the initial loan amount was only $20, and instead of being on revolving credit, it had to be entirely repaid to Interstate Check Services, Inc., CMM’s cash-loan affiliate, in 30 days. ICS charged $6 for each $20 loan or 360% per annum. Continental Direct Services purchased CMM’s assets in July of 1999. Under terms of Wednesday’s proposed settlements both firms will be required to disgorge $350,000 in profits they received from consumers and forgive an additional $1.6 million in outstanding consumer debts. Between August 1996 to July 1999, the companies collected card membership fees totaling more than $12 million from 80,000 customers.