m-Commerce Projections

Boston-based Aberdeen Group released a report this morning projecting that by 2004 there will be 74 million users of m-Commerce. Aberdeen says users want portable, localized information and personalized services and the demand for anytime, anywhere access to the Internet, declining wireless tariffs, and new mobile applications is driving the m-Commerce market. The report, entitled “Mobile Electronic Commerce: The New Economy on the Move,” examines the emerging trends, technologies, and challenges in the m-Commerce market. Suppliers profiled in the report, among many others, include Palm, MasterCard, Nokia, E-Trade, Microsoft, and Motorola.

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FUSA Lawsuit

A U.S. federal judge yesterday certified a nationwide class of over 10 million First USA Bank credit card holders in a lawsuit over First USA’s credit card practices. Attorneys for the plaintiffs estimate potential damages in this case could exceed $1 billion. In the case of Rosted v. First USA Bank, no. C97-1482L, pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the plaintiffs allege First USA Bank defrauded them by offering them a credit card with a “fixed APR”, but raised their APR considerably higher shortly after it was to be “fixed.” Lead counsel for the class include: John Bright of Keller, Rohrback in Seattle; Marc Stanley of Stanley, Mandel & Iola in Dallas; Andrew Kierstead of Huron Zieve & Kierstead in Portland; Timothy Eble of Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richard & Poole in Charleston; and Richard Freese of Langston Sweet & Freese in Birmingham.

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Latin American SET

ePagos.com, an e-business solutions enabler, was chosen by Globeset, the leading global supplier of secure ePayments infrastructure services and products, as an OEM of SET (Secure Electronic Transactions) in Latin America and the Caribbean, leveling the “playing field” for small and medium sized merchants.

As an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or reseller of SET, ePagos will enable businesses in Latin America to transact using the recognized emerging standard for secure payment card purchases over the Internet. Visa and MasterCard and their technology partners, including Globeset, developed the protocol.

SET utilizes cryptography to prevent interception of cardholder account numbers, expiration dates and payment information providing confidentiality of information, ensure payment integrity, and identity authentication. The standard calls for authentication of all parties to the transaction, including the cardholder, merchant, as well as the processing and issuing banks through the use of digital certificates. These digital certificates attest that an entity or individual is whom they claim to be and are issued by a certificate authority (CA). The CA is a trusted third party organization responsible for guaranteeing that individuals or entities who granted a digital certificate are in fact whom they claim to be.

“ePagos and Globeset are bringing the world of secure electronic commerce closer to small and medium sized businesses in the region allowing them to compete with the major players,” said Marco Zeledon, executive vice president of ePagos.com. “The alliance combines ePagos’ solutions to assist merchants with every facet of creating an e-commerce site, including but not limited to registering a domain name, Web hosting, design, calculating sales tax and shipping to accepting and clearing credit cards online with Globeset’s ePayments infrastructure.”

Additionally, Globeset has certified ePagos to serve as the OEM to financial institutions in the region providing issuing and acquiring banks a low maintenance purchasing application as well as allowing them to transact with merchants on the Internet.

“We consider this to be a key strategic relationship in expanding Globeset technology into the Latin American market. By incorporating the Globeset payment engine into its service, ePagos can make low cost, real time, and safe eCommerce a reality,” said Dale Howe, senior vice president, worldwide field operations, Globeset.

About ePagos.com

Headquartered in Miami, Florida, ePagos.com, is an affordable e-business solutions enabler to over 4,000 small to medium sized businesses in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market, including Web hosting, design, online credit card acceptance and clearing capabilities. ePagos’ cost effective and user-friendly solutions in Spanish, Portuguese and English allows small to medium sized businesses to be a part of the Internet revolution. For more information, please visit our Web site at [http://www.epagos.com][1].

About Globeset

Globeset is the leading global supplier of secure ePayments infrastructure services and products for buyers, sellers and financial-service providers. The Globeset ePayments infrastructure provides a globally consistent and secure connection — anytime, anywhere — among financial-service providers, electronic exchanges, buyers and sellers. This infrastructure simplifies process flows and reduces costs associated with ePayments. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at: [http://www.globeset.com][2].

[1]: http://www.epagos.com/
[2]: http://www.globeset.com/

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M2 Card Management

M2card, Inc., a technology-based provider of online, offline and wireless financial solutions for teens and young adults, announced its senior management team. A leading innovator in the teen and young adult financial services space, co-founder Junehee Cho serves as M2’s Chief Executive Officer, guiding the overall strategic direction of the Company, forming key partnerships and developing new business initiatives.

Junehee’s dedicated leadership led to a successful round of initial seed funding from strategic investors including Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE: TSS), a global transaction processing leader, and partners from Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., a leading private equity firm with significant media, telecommunications and Internet holdings.

Formerly a member of the Derivatives Group within the Fixed Income Division of Goldman, Sachs & Co., where she advised industry leaders such as The Walt Disney Company and Eli Lilly & Co., Junehee brings to M2 over nine years of expertise in risk management and corporate finance, specializing in the retail and financial institutions sectors. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in East Asian Studies and Economics from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Felix Huang, M2’s co-founder and Chief Financial Officer, brings nearly a decade of investment and merchant banking experience to the Company. Felix oversees all financial and administrative functions at M2, including finance, treasury, accounting and human resources. Most recently, Felix served as a Vice President in the Merchant Banking Group of Paribas, a leading international investment bank. While at Paribas, Felix focused on investing in growth companies, leveraged buildups, leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations. Felix’s debt and equity investment experience covers numerous industries, including technology, consumer products, food products, media, healthcare and business-to-business services. Prior to Paribas, Felix was responsible for rating private placements, public corporate debt and high yield issues in the financial institutions sector with Fitch Investors. Prior to Fitch, Felix worked in the Financial Institutions Group of Chase Manhattan Bank, focusing on mergers and acquisitions assignments. He holds a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University.

Don Wood, M2’s Chief Technology Officer, is responsible for guiding the overall technological growth of the Company, including directing and managing all technology and development initiatives and integrating with strategic partners and third-party providers. Don brings more than 15 years of financial service technology expertise to the Company, with a keen ability to organize and manage large technology teams. Previously, Don served as Chief Technology Officer and member of the Board of Directors for IQ Financial, a leading international provider of software and services to financial institutions. In this role, he developed and implemented all technology directives and managed a team of more than 150 technology professionals in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Ronald Urquhart, M2’s Vice President of Card Operations, brings more than 35 years of successful domestic and international experience in credit card operations, marketing, customer service and management. He is responsible for developing and executing upon M2’s card-based relationships including Total System Services, Inc., VISA USA, Inc. and current and future bank partners. Prior to joining M2, Ron served as Senior Vice President at People’s Bank, where he established fully operational low cost credit card operations in both the United States and the United Kingdom. As a leading credit card professional, Ron has served on the VISA USA, Inc. Risk Advisors Committee, the MasterCard Marketing Committee and the Consumer Credit Counseling Board of Connecticut. He received his BS and MBA degrees from University of New Haven and is active in various community organizations.

About M2card, Inc.

M2card, Inc. (“M2”) is a technology-based provider of online, offline and wireless financial solutions for today’s teens and young adults. Founded in 1999 and based in New York City, the Company offers an array of innovative financial services, including the M2card(sm), a safe and convenient pre-funded money card that is welcomed at over 19 million online and offline merchants worldwide that accept VISA. M2 provides revolutionary technological advantages, including wireless and person-to-person transaction capabilities, flexible funding options from multiple sources (parents, friends and relatives), real-time account balances and exclusive membership privileges. Cardmembers gain financial empowerment and responsibility without the risk of incurring debt, while parents attain peace of mind from the financial security and involvement offered by M2. M2 will launch its initial product in the fall of 2000. For more information on M2, please visit [www.M2card.com][1], or email info@M2card.com.

[1]: http://www.m2card.com/

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Exiting Sub-Prime Card

Dallas-based UICI, a sub-prime specialist, confirmed Monday it has executed a definitive agreement to sell substantially all of the assets associated with its United CreditServ credit card business to an undisclosed financial services firm. The deal involves the credit card receivables portfolios and its Sioux Falls, SD servicing operations. Under terms of the deal, UICI will receive a cash purchase price at closing of approximately $134 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of September. In connection with the proposed sale, UICI or its subsidiaries will retain substantially all liabilities associated with its credit card business, including liability for payment of all certificates of deposit issued by United Credit National Bank, merchant holdback liabilities, liabilities associated with pending litigation and other contingencies. UICI’s United CreditServ launched the sub-prime ‘ACE VISA’ credit card program in 1999. Under the ‘ACE VISA’ program applicants are offered a $400 minimum credit line in exchange for charging a $300 personal finance educational program, a $19.00 processing fee and a $49.00 annual fee. According to CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]) the required $300 personal finance educational program consists of five booklets and two videotapes produced by a UICI under the name: American Credit Educators.

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

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Financial-Settlement-Matrix.com

Citigroup, Enron Broadband Services, i2 Technologies, S1 Corp., and Wells Fargo announced Monday they have formed a new company to streamline buying, selling and facilitating payments in B2B e-commerce. The new company, FinancialSettlementMatrix.com, Inc., will connect buyers and sellers in e-marketplaces with payment processing, credit and other services through multiple participating banks and financial services companies. The new firm intends to offer a complete and open payments system to B2B e-marketplaces that will allow buyers and sellers to access services provided by any of the participating banks or financial services companies. The system will enable financial institutions to provide financing and process transactions for companies via trusted participant qualification, identification and selling, whether they have an existing relationship with each other or not. Other planned capabilities include letter-of-credit management, escrow handling, EDI interfaces and electronic funds transfer support, and short-term trade finance.

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Stratcom Hires Miller

Carrie Miller, formerly Market Research Specialist at First USA Bank, has been tapped as Marketing Analyst for Stratcom, a market intelligence firm with the De Novo family of companies. Her responsibilities involve conducting database retrieval analyses, helping manage quantitative research projects, developing and implementing a business building strategy for Stratcom, a market intelligence firm with the De Novo family of companies.

Carrie Miller brings with her solid working experience with large organizations, such as First USA Bank, and Bank of New York. She was a member of a market intelligence task force responsible for tracking, documenting, and analyzing all new offers of competitor credit card companies. She has also developed corporate Intranet programs to distribute industry news to employees. In addition, she assisted in focus groups and conducted training sessions for newly hired personnel.

“I am looking forward to leveraging my prior marketing experience to help expand Stratcom’s research capabilities,” said Ms. Miller.

Carrie Miller received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, with a minor in Theater, from the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.

About De Novo Corporation:

De Novo Corporation is an integrated advertising and consulting holding company, consisting of Stratcom, a business and consumer intelligence company; Convergence Group, an international management consultancy; Owen/Holloway Group, a brand building and strategic advertising agency; and Creative Solutions International, an integrated direct response advertising agency.

De Novo Corporation offers a broad range of integrated marketing communications services to Fortune 1000 companies throughout the world. It currently has offices in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Ontario (Canada). Currently a private company, De Novo Corporation is intending to conduct an initial public offering in early 2002.

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Delaney to Leapfrog

Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. announced Monday it has appointed four new members, including Thomas Delaney, Michael Williams, Kevin Guy and James Dustin, to its Sales and Marketing department. Mr. Delaney joins Leapfrog following a key business development role in the ground breaking launch of the highly successful “Blue from American Express” card, a smart credit card providing a secure channel to make purchases over the Internet. Prior to his work with American Express, Mr. Delaney enjoyed a career with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, managing various technology and business facets of the highly successful Automated Fare Collection (MetroCard) system. Mr. Delaney also has experience in the financial arena, having worked in retail and institutional investing for the Bankers Trust Company.

Michael Williams joins Leapfrog after holding a position at CyberMark, the nation’s largest Smart card system integrator serving colleges, universities and corporate campuses throughout North and South America and providing complete solutions including e-purse, loyalty and data storage and management. Mr. Williams designed and implemented the Quality Assurance and Testing unit, provided technical and operations consulting for CyberMark’s SmartWorld platform to existing clients and managed the extensive network of Vendors, which included GemPlus, Verifone, Debitek (IVI Checkmate), PTI, Tritheim and ITC. Prior to working with CyberMark, Mr. Williams served as Director of Operations for a start-up telecommunications consulting company, TelRite, Inc. Kevin Guy joins Leapfrog after working several years for Opus Biometric Technologies, a leading Canadian biometric technology company. While with Opus, Kevin was responsible for the business development of biometric technology to O.E.Ms, Distributor and Dealers of security-related devices and applications. Prior to this position, Kevin was the Director of Sales & Marketing for a large security firm based in Vancouver and primarily focused on the sale of access and revenue control products for commercial and parking applications. Jim Dustin joins Leapfrog from a recent post as Strategy Director with Creative Change, Inc. of Hartford CT, an Internet consultant on distance learning, healthcare Web sites and corporate business simulation games for clients ranging from PriceWaterhouse Coopers, GM and the school of Engineering at Cornell University. Prior to that post, Jim designed the marketing and corporate identification efforts for Yale University startup and Mirror Worlds Technologies, founded by noted computer scientists, Dr. David Gelernter and Dr. Eric Freeman. Mr. Dustin also managed design and marketing initiatives in e-Commerce strategy and Mondex Smart cards with AT&T Universal Card. Dale Grogan, President of Leapfrog Smart Products, commented, “These four world class additions provide Leapfrog with a deep well of combined knowledge and expertise, in both sales and marketing. We are excited to add the talents of Mr. Delaney, Mr. Williams, Mr. Guy and Mr. Dustin to our team and are confident their presence will create an added edge for Leapfrog, as we tap into both established and emerging markets to provide Smart card development.”

About Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc.

Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. is a world-class leader in Smart card software development and system solution integration. Located in Maitland, Florida, Leapfrog is one of a small group of companies dedicated to creating applications for Smart cards. Smart cards are credit card-sized pieces of plastic with a computer microprocessor embedded within. Current applications of Smart card software include personal identification, e-purse transactions, loyalty points storage, physical and logical access, as well as portable storage of medical records. Leapfrog, through its General Services Administration (GSA) master contract, is also certified as a contractor with the United States Federal government. Leapfrog Smart Products, Inc. is a publicly traded company, trading under the symbol FROG.

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West Marine Launches Card

West Marine, Inc., the nation’s largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and services, has announced the launch of a new credit card program that offers its customers the option of deferring payments on qualifying purchases. In announcing the program, West Marine CEO John Edmondson said, “We believe that this program offers a tremendous benefit to many of our customers because it enables them to outfit their boat at the beginning of the season, without having to pay for everything all at once.” According to Edmondson, the West Marine program is unique in the boating supply industry and has proven to be extremely popular in pre-launch testing, especially with customers making major purchases.

“In conjunction with our West Advantage customer benefit program, our new credit card program affirms West Marine’s commitment to finding innovative ways to serve our customers better,” Edmondson said. The company recently announced that over 500,000 customers had joined the West Advantage program since it was launched in March of this year.

In addition to providing customers with a package of discounts on a variety of merchandise and services, the West Advantage program enables customers to earn $10 in credit on future purchases for every $250 they spend at the company’s 233 stores, through its mail-order catalogs or at its online store at [www.westmarine.com][1].

“For convenience, our customers will have the option of having their West Advantage program number printed right on their new credit card if they so choose,” said Edmondson. Customers can apply for the card or join the West Advantage program in person at any West Marine store or online at the company’s website.

West Marine is publicly owned and traded on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol WMAR. The Company sells through 233 specialty retail stores, the Internet, catalogs, and a wholesale division, Port Supply. The Company’s on-line store, press releases and financial information are also available at [www.westmarine.com][2].

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

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Keyware on Litton’s Team

Keyware, the world’s leading provider of biometric identification solutions, announced Monday they are a partner on Litton PRC, Inc.’s core team to provide smart card technology to all agencies of the U.S. government. Litton PRC, a subsidiary of Litton Industries, was one of five prime vendors selected by the General Services Administration for its government-wide Smart Access Common ID program. The GSA program has an estimated total value of $1.5 billion over a 10-year period of performance.

Keyware’s layered biometric solutions, mixing traditional authentication tools with one or more biometric elements, will offer agencies both high security and convenience. The focus initially will be to provide employee identification and building access, as well as computer network access to federal agencies. Biometrics is the technology of identifying an individual by their personal characteristics, such as fingerprint, face and voice. “Keyware’s biometric smart card technology will be an integral part of helping us bring advanced security offerings to federal agencies,” said Barry L. Rhine, president of Litton PRC. “Litton PRC is honored to have been chosen for this ground-breaking program.” “We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring the benefits of biometric technology to the U.S. government,” said Danny Chu, managing director of Keyware. “As smart cards grow in popularity it’s vital that appropriate security measures be included to assure their proper usage. The government is playing a leading role by securing smart cards with biometric technology such as Keyware’s.”

About Keyware

Founded in 1996, Keyware Technologies is a pioneer in the field of biometrics, the technology of verifying an individual’s identity by means of personal characteristics such as voice, face and fingerprints. Co-headquartered in Belgium and Woburn, Mass., Keyware is the world’s leading provider of intelligent biometric solutions for real world business applications. The solutions optimize security and convenience for physical locations, e-commerce, network and telecommunications applications. Keyware’s award-winning technology is sold globally through an extended network of OEMs, system integrators and VARs. For more information, please visit our web site at [www.keyware.com][1].

About Litton PRC

Litton PRC is a leading provider of scientific, engineering, and information technology-based solutions for public sector clients. Litton PRC is one of the divisions that comprise Litton’s Information Systems Group (ISG). Litton PRC has achieved the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) capability maturity model (CMM) Level 5 rating, the highest software development process improvement level a company can earn. This rating indicates that Litton PRC has achieved an “optimizing” level of maturity, which translates to reduced risk for their customers. Litton ISG, headquartered in Woodland Hills, California, employs more than 9,200 in 150 offices nationwide, and is ranked as one of the Federal government’s top 10 Information Technology contractors. For more information, visit Litton PRC’s web site at [http://www.littonprc.com][2].

Litton is one of the nation’s leading shipbuilders for the U.S. Navy and the largest builder of non-nuclear ships. Litton designs, builds, and overhauls surface ships for government and commercial customers, worldwide. The company is a leading information technology (IT) contractor to the U.S. government and provides specialized IT services to commercial customers and government customers in local/foreign jurisdictions. Litton provides defense and commercial electronics technology, components, and materials for customers, worldwide. Headquartered in Woodland Hills, California, the company has more than 40,000 employees, and is expected to have more than $5 billion revenue. For more information, visit Litton’s web site at [http://www.litton.com][3].

[1]: http://www.keyware.com/
[2]: http://www.littonprc.com/
[3]: http://www.litton.com/

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Delinquency Edges Up

After declining steadily for most this year, credit card delinquency has turned up slightly during July. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) overall delinquency (30+ days) now stands at 4.74% compared to 4.86% in February.

PERCENTAGE OF CARD RECEIVABLES PAST-DUE
MONTH 30+DAYS 60+DAYS 90+DAYS 120+DAYS TOTAL
Jan00 2.06% 1.15% 0.72% 0.88% 4.81%
Feb00 2.08% 1.16% 0.73% 0.89% 4.86%
Mar00 2.04% 1.12% 0.71% 0.88% 4.75%
Apr00 2.06% 1.14% 0.72% 0.89% 4.81%
May00 2.05% 1.14% 0.72% 0.89% 4.80%
Jun00 2.02% 1.12% 0.71% 0.88% 4.73%
Jul00 2.03% 1.12% 0.71% 0.88% 4.74%

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Citi Picks Fallon

Citigroup announced it has named Fallon Minneapolis its agency of record for Citibank’s U.S. consumer business, including retail banking and credit cards. Six agencies, including the incumbent agency of record, competed for the U.S. brand campaign and Citibank’s U.S. consumer advertising.

“We undertook this process to find an idea with the magnitude to help build Citi into a stronger consumer brand. We wanted advertising that would communicate our expanded capabilities and our focus on providing consumer solutions,” said Marge Magner, senior executive vice president for Citigroup’s Global Consumer Group. “The best agencies in the business were involved in the process. We saw very good work. Fallon presented the most comprehensive idea and exciting ways to integrate the diversity of our product offerings with the power of the Citi brand.”

“This is a hugely significant, momentous win for us against some excellent agencies. This win speaks to our history of developing big brand ideas that come from deep consumer truths, stand out creatively and get results,” said Pat Fallon, chairman of Fallon Worldwide. “In the end, it came down to the right strategy, the right people and the right creative approach; a three-pronged victory for our organization. We are very proud to be Citibank’s partner.” While more than 80 Fallon staffers contributed to the winning presentation, the agency was represented by Pat Fallon and Mark Goldstein, chief marketing officer; David Lubars, Fallon Minneapolis president/creative director; Anne Bologna, director of planning; Maggie Shea, account group director; and Lisa Seward, media director.

Citibank is a member of Citigroup (NYSE:C), the premier financial services company, which provides some 100 million consumers, corporations, governments and institutions in 100 countries with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage and asset management. Additional information can be found at: [www.citi.com][1].

Fallon Minneapolis manages the consumer voice of some of the world’s leading brands. With billings of approximately $575 million, the agency’s clients include BMW of North America, drugstore.com, EDS, Holiday Inn, International Truck and Engine Corp., The Lee Company, Nordstrom, Nuveen Investments, PBS, Ralston Purina, Starbucks Coffee Company, Timex and United Airlines. Fallon Worldwide is the newly formed second global network of Publicis Group, based in Paris. Additional information can be found at: [www.fallon.com][2].

[1]: http://www.citi.com/
[2]: http://www.fallon.com/

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