First Union Sale

First Union announced late Monday it has signed an agreement for MBNA to acquire its consumer and commercial revolving credit businesses. The deal involves a consumer revolving credit portfolio of $5.3 billion in loans and more than 3 million accounts, and a commercial credit card portfolio of $215 million in loans and approximately 300,000 accounts. As a result of this transaction, First Union expects to record a gain of approximately $1.0 billion before taxes and expenses. The deal also includes an agent relationship whereby MBNA will market personal, business, corporate, and purchasing cards to First Union’s 16 million customers. MBNA says the acquisition will give it a 22% penetration of the eligible market in the twelve East Coast states and Washington, D.C.. MBNA said it is paying for the deal by selling 50 million shares of newly issued common stock to Goldman, Sachs at $32.50 per share less a fee. The transaction enables MBNA to increase its capital ratios by raising common equity in excess of the amount required by this portfolio purchase without altering its non-dilution policy. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter. According to CardData (www.carddata.com) MBNA had $61,141,000,000 in card receivables as of June 30.

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ComSense Card

A new Internet payment card was unveiled Monday that uses ultrasonic technology for secure transactions and account access. The new ‘ComSense’ card is equipped with technology known as ‘Comdot’. ‘Comdot’ is the world’s first bankcard technology that does not require a card reader, because it uses sound, a capability that is highly standardized and pervasive on PCs. Pressing the flat ‘Comdot’ button, which is identified by a printed logo on the card, causes the Internet card to talk with a PC. Cardholders simply browse to a ‘Comdot’-ready Web site that automatically equips a multimedia PC to communicate with the cards. The ComSense technology is not limited to access and security, since each Web page can carry different instructions that are activated when the consumer clicks the ‘Comdot’ button. One of the first implementations of ‘Comdot’ technology will be for use with credit cards. The company says it is working with VISA to explore opportunities for its member banks and their cardholders. Towards that end, ComSense also announced Monday that VISA International president/CEO, Malcolm Williamson, has joined its board of directors as non-executive chairman. ComSense says it plans to place bankcard association approved cards into circulation with its first set of major credit card issuers during the fourth quarter of 2000. Founded in mid-1998, ComSense Technologies has its international headquarters in New York City, with research and development at its home office in Tel Aviv, Israel, and manufacturing in San Jose, CA.

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[1]: /graphic/comsense/comsense.gif

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OPC’s New CFO

Official Payments Corporation announced the appointment of Edward J. Dimaria, CPA as the firm’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Dimaria is expected to commence his employment with Official Payments Corporation in late August.

“Ed Dimaria has an outstanding skill set and background for the job. We were deliberate in our search and selection of a CFO,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Official Payments. “Ed Dimaria’s hands-on experience, fiscal skill-set and communications acumen are precisely what we need to lead and manage our finance operations. Moreover, Ed’s drive, dynamic personality and entrepreneurial spirit fit very well with our corporate culture. Two criteria were paramount: skill-set and personality. We have hired the ideal candidate,” Mr. Evans added.

Prior to his appointment at Official Payments Mr. Dimaria was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Best Friends Pet Care, Inc, a venture-backed consumer service company. In that position Mr. Dimaria was in-charge of all financial operations including the marketing, negotiation and close of $42 Million in private equity capital. During his tenure Mr. Dimaria managed a cost-containment program that resulted in an annual cost-savings of $2.7 million and turned Best Friends Pet Care, Inc. profitable.

Earlier in his career Mr. Dimaria was Controller and Director of accounting for a regional airline, Business Express, Inc. and was Controller & Treasurer of Advanced Network & Services, Inc a high speed Internet service provider. Previously, Mr. Dimaria served in a variety of positions over a five-year period at KPMG Peat Marwick. There he gained extensive experience in SEC reporting and compliance, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and financial auditing. Mr. Dimaria is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Pace University, Pleasantville, NY from which he holds Bachelor of Business Administration/Certified Public Account Degree.

About Official Payments Corp.

Official Payments Corp. is a 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 Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Oklahoma; and over 550 municipal and county entities, in which it collects property taxes, real estate taxes, parking fines and other government fees by credit card over the telephone and the Internet. 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.

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Curious George – Priceless

MasterCard launched a new advertising spot in the highly successful ‘Priceless’ campaign that features the popular children’s storybook character Curious George. The new creative debut last night as a 30-second television spot during ABC’s broadcast of “Monday Night Football.” The new spot promotes automatic and recurring payments. The spot, created by McCann-Erickson, opens with an animated Curious George jumping onto the roof of a moving bus with a voice-over of “Commuting: 82 dollars every month.” The next scene captures Curious George entering a gym and features him swinging from a trapeze with a voice-over “Health club: 54 dollars every month.” A sequence of shots shows Curious George on the side of a building cleaning windows with a squeegee. The sequence appears with voice-over of “Insurance: 62 dollars every month.” The animation then dissolves into live-action, where in a quiet rooftop-garden setting, a mother is reading to her daughter from a Curious George storybook with a voice-over “Trading a check book for a story book….priceless.” In the final sequence, an animated Curious George is shown riding a bicycle over a check, which then curls up into the MasterCard logo with a voice-over of “Use MasterCard instead of checks to pay monthly bills automatically.” To review credit card related print and TV ads visit CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]).

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

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NCR Direct

NCR Systemedia Division, a developer of world-class consumables, announced the launch of [www.ncr-direct.com][1], the first e-commerce Web site in its industry dedicated to providing one-stop consumables shopping to niche-focused financial institutions.

Oxford Associates, a leader in channel integration for Fortune 500 companies, named NCR-Direct.com a best-in-class catalog site. “NCR-Direct’s catalog, pricing and ordering capabilities are comparable to nationally recognized shopping Web sites, such as Dell’s online store or Hewlett-Packard’s shopping site,” said Oxford Associates Vice President Scott Gillum.

Specifically developed for community banks, credit unions and savings and loans, NCR-Direct.com enables customers to purchase products specific to their needs, such as specialty business documents, self-service ATM supplies, teller forms and payment systems transaction processing consumables. In addition, banking markets can purchase targeted marketing media including custom printed ATM rolls, signs and magnetic media. Since the site’s inception in April, Systemedia has nearly doubled the products, services and information available with the click of the mouse.

Supported by NCR’s Financial Solutions Division, the Web site is an additional resource for banking institutions to obtain the latest information and specifications about NCR ATMs and Item Processing equipment ranging from low-end to high-end systems.

NCR-Direct.com incorporates cutting edge e-commerce technology to provide customers with advanced shopping cart functionality, the latest encryption security for processing credit card orders, and complete customized product packages and solutions at affordable prices. Offering comprehensive billing options, online customers who do not use credit or procurement cards can take advantage of flexible open accounts with Systemedia.

Orders placed by noon are shipped the same day — the best-in-class fulfillment commitment in the consumables industry. In addition, as an introductory benefit, shipping is free of charge.

“By partnering with the Financial Solutions Division we are combining the strength of our NCR product offering with leading edge e-business technology and the delivery infrastructure required to fulfill the needs of this dynamic market,” said Keith Taylor, vice president of NCR’s Systemedia Division. “This is just the beginning. Over the next several months we will be adding new industries, a broader offering and a great deal of increased functionality.”

NCR will continue to support and enhance its traditional channels of distribution. NCR’s distribution partners will benefit from increased exposure for the NCR brand. Additionally, the company plans to develop new products for all industry segments the Web site supports, resulting in richer product portfolios for all channels. In future phases of development the Web site also will direct customers to distribution partners that carry further NCR consumables that are not available on the Web.

NCR Systemedia Division is an industry leader in Internet-based solutions, enabling large customers to place secure orders, obtain up-to-the-minute order status information and create real-time inventory and usage reports through NCR On-Line, an Internet-based order entry and inventory management tool. With the addition of NCR-Direct.com, NCR will now provide financial institutions with customized product packages and solutions targeted to their needs, with the convenience of ordering online.

NCR Systemedia Division develops world-class consumables designed to maximize system uptime, minimize the total cost of ownership and enhance system capabilities. Backed by world-class technology and more than 100 years of experience, Systemedia specializes in consumables for the financial, retail and manufacturing industries, as well as the small and home office environment. For more information, contact NCR Systemedia Division on the World Wide Web at [http://www.ncr.com/sorters/ supplies_sorter.asp][2].

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE:NCR) is a US$6.2 billion leader in providing Relationship Technology(TM) solutions to customers worldwide in the retail, financial, communications, travel and transportation, and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include privacy-enabled Teradata(R) warehouses and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, store automation and automated teller machines (ATMs). The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and leading edge hardware technology. NCR employs 32,000 in 130 countries, and is a component stock of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. More information about NCR and its solutions may be found at [www.ncr.com][3].

[1]: http://www.ncr-direct.com/
[2]: http://www.ncr.com/sorters/supplies_sorter.asp
[3]: http://www.ncr.com/

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Financial Sites

Web sites of the business and financial genre command the highest ad rates on the Internet. According to the Media Metrix AdRelevance service, business and finance related Web sites have an average CPM of $41.75 compared to $37.23 for general news sites and $25.00 for search engine sites. Highly focused financial sites can deliver profitable results to advertisers at CPMs exceeding $90. For example, bankrate.com receives a CPM in the $70 to $90 CPM range. Last week, CardWeb.com attracted 114,071 unique visitors and delivered a click-thru-rate of 4.70% at a comparable CPM. Ad Relevance says vertical sites can demand the highest rates since they offer advertisers the opportunity to target a defined demographic.

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WAM! Expands

WAM! Loyalty.com, the creator and marketer of WAM!, America’s Other Money, announced signed contracts with The Daily Oklahoman and The Providence Journal, agreements that will place WAM! cards in the hands of more than 600,000 people in Oklahoma City, and Providence, R.I. These contracts give WAM! Loyalty a coast-to-coast presence.

Both programs will roll out as early as November 2000, with more than 200,000 households subscribing to The Daily Oklahoman and 100,000 selected subscribers to The Providence Journal. Each household will receive two WAM! cards. The new cardholders can immediately start earning and spending WAM! at more than 500 merchants in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas and more than 300 in the Providence area.

“We believe WAM! will add to our subscriber’s value of receiving The Daily Oklahoman, and that it will build our retention rate,” said Gerald Beattie, circulation director for The Daily Oklahoman.

As a former Press Pass user, Beattie knows a good loyalty program can be vital to a newspaper’s subscriber base. He said the previous program was truly beneficial, but he is sold on the fact that WAM! will change the face of the way loyalty programs are done.

“With WAM!, we will have the ability to measure transactions and prove traffic,” Beattie said. “It will also be better for our subscribers, because they will have a better mix of locations to use the card other than just restaurants.”

These contracts mark two of six partnerships formed with major newspapers since WAM!’s beginning in January 2000. Since the company’s formation in January 2000, WAM! has signed contracts with The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Daily Breeze, Tulsa World, and The Star-Telegram.

WAM! is the first program to offer consumers a true points currency that works wherever people may shop, and it’s the only loyalty program to develop proprietary technology to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping.

WAM! is not tied to a credit card or contingent upon a consumer having access to the Internet, which broadens its consumer appeal.

About WAM!

WAM! is America’s Other Money(TM). WAM!’s card technology pays consumers every time they shop, empowering them to collect and spend WAM! offline and online through a national network of independent restaurants, small businesses and nationally branded retailers locally and on the Internet.

WAM! is “minted” and administered by WAM! Loyalty.com, which evolved from a la Carte International, and is headquartered in San Diego. In 1992, a la Carte created the Press Pass program, now one of the nation’s most successful loyalty and customer retention flash card programs with deep penetration in the newspaper and broadcast media markets.

WAM! applies newly developed, proprietary technology with advanced functionality to leverage a la Carte’s existing marketing, merchant recruitment, customer acquisition and retention expertise across new market segments, with dynamic results. The company has also positioned itself in the local communities by donating a portion of each transaction to non-profit organizations. To find out more about WAM!, log on to [www.go2wam.com][1].

[1]: http://www.go2wam.com/

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Beindorff Moves Up

PlanetRx.com, Inc. , a leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content, and community, announced that Michael Beindorff has been appointed Chairman of the Board by the Company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Beindorff was elected to the Board of Directors of PlanetRx.com in April 2000 and will retain his duties as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Beindorff, 48, joined PlanetRx.com as executive vice president and COO in September 1999, and has been president since February 2000. He has more than 20 years of strategic, high-profile brand development and management experience. Most recently Mr. Beindorff was with Visa, where he served as president and chief “e” officer of eVisa, Visa’s Internet and electronic commerce division. Before that, he served for four and a half years as Visa USA’s executive vice president of marketing and product management. Prior to joining Visa, he spent 15 years with the Coca-Cola Company, where he held a variety of positions including vice president, director of marketing, and vice president, director of advertising for Coca-Cola USA. Mr. Beindorff has been named one of the “Power 50 Marketers in America” by Advertising Age the past four years in a row.

About PlanetRx.com

PlanetRx.com, Inc., a leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content, and community, delivers a convenient, personalized, and informed health and beauty shopping experience. With products ranging from prescriptions to personal-care items to the latest medical information, PlanetRx.com gives consumers the ability to manage their own healthcare in a convenient and secure environment. PlanetRx.com is one of five online pharmacies to have received the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal of approval from The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Headquartered in South San Francisco, Calif., the company operates its own pharmacy and distribution center, in Memphis, Tenn., to ensure the highest quality customer care.

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PubliCARD 2Q Losses

PubliCARD, Inc. reported financial results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 2000.

Revenues for the quarter were $1.1 million, compared with $71,000 a year ago. The comparison reflects the company’s discontinuation of several non-core businesses earlier this year, as well as the acquisition of its Campus Network Solutions subsidiary in November 1999. As a result of continuing substantial investments in product development, sales and marketing to support the company’s core growth businesses in the smart card/chip infrastructure for the broadband arena, PubliCARD reported a loss from continuing operations of $5.5 million, or $0.24 per share, compared with $2.9 million, or $0.15 per share, a year ago. The loss includes non-cash items — goodwill amortization and stock compensation expense — of $843,000 and $707,000 in 2000 and 1999, respectively.

For the first six months of 2000, total revenues were $2.6 million, up significantly from $78,000 in the corresponding period last year. The loss from continuing operations was $10.3 million, or $0.45 per share, compared with $5.8 million, or $0.32 per share. The loss includes non-cash items — goodwill amortization and stock compensation expense — of $1.9 million and $1.5 million in 2000 and 1999, respectively. As of June 30, 2000, stockholders’ equity was $22.9 million, and cash and short-term investments totaled $25.0 million.

During the second quarter, PubliCARD essentially completed the restructuring program announced in March, achieved several significant strategic milestones, recruited additional key executives, and unified its ongoing broadband businesses under the Infineer name. In June this year, the sale of Greenwald Industries and Greenwald Intellicard, closed with a sale price of $22.5 million. The company also announced separate agreements with two News Corporation affiliates; it is developing the first-ever eCoupon pilot program with SoftCARD Systems Inc., and agreed to integrate NDS Group’s conditional access technology into Infineer’s Point of Deployment modules.

Jan-Erik Rottinghuis, President and CEO, commented, “We are investing prudently in technology development and marketing programs that should generate significant returns as the ‘smart carding of broadband’ materializes fully over the next few years. We continue to make good progress in leveraging our intellectual property and engineering/design expertise in smart card-based security, access and transaction solutions, as well as our strong relationships with a number of key global players.”

About PubliCARD, Inc.

Headquartered in New York, NY, PubliCARD, through its Infineer subsidiaries, recently repositioned itself to leverage its core competencies in patented smart card/chip technology and to focus its leadership in interactive security and conditional access in the broadband arena. The Company has relationships with major cable component manufacturers, set-top box original equipment manufacturers and smart card promotion distributors, including Motorola’s Broadband Communications Sector, formerly known as General Instrument Corp., and SoftCARD Systems Inc., a company owned in part by News America Marketing. More information about the Company can be found on its web site, [http://www.infineer.com][1].

For details on PubliCARD’s 2Q/00 data please visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

[1]: http://www.infineer.com/
[2]: http://www.carddata.com

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Discover Dine-Out

Discover Financial Services announced Friday the launch of its second annual ‘Dine Out with Discover Card’ program. Under the program all participating restaurants that are enrolled receive a full rebate of their ‘Discover Card’ discount fees for the month of August along with complimentary check presenters, wait staff books and tip trays. Participating restaurants have also agreed to use the check presenters, wait staff books and/or tip trays. Discover says about 4,500 new merchant partners have signed on to the program since its inauguration a year ago, increasing the number of participating restaurant locations from 42,000 last year to a total of 64,000 this year. Among new restaurants participating: The Cheesecake Factory and Cracker Barrel.

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