MeT Initiative

The MeT Initiative, whose initiators are Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia, announced this week that they will cooperate with MasterCard International’s Global Mobile Commerce Forum, a cross-industry initiative focusing on the development of secure mobile payments over a variety of technology platforms. The Forum, which now has more than 200 participants, was established last November to foster knowledge exchange between MasterCard’s member financial institutions, network operators and leading mobile technology companies.


Irish Card War

American credit card issuers are coming under heavy fire in Ireland this week. Yesterday, The Bank of Ireland attacked the MBNA and Prudential credit cards. BOI says Prudential’s ‘Egg VISA’ and MBNA’s ‘VISA’ are misleading consumers with low teaser rates and high penalty fees. For example, the ‘Egg VISA’ currently offers a six-month 4.7% APR for balance transfers and charges 20 pounds for going over the credit limit or making a late payment. BOI also attacked the co-branded ‘Tesco VISA’ card issued by The Royal Bank of Scotland. The ‘Tesco VISA’ offers a 4.9% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers thru January 2001. RBS also charges 12 pounds for a late payment or going over-limit on the ‘Tesco VISA’. BOI says it does not impose any such fees for late payments or exceeding the credit limit. BOI also says its best credit card rate of 12.9% tops the 15.9% go-to rate charged Tesco and 18.9% go-to rate charged by MBNA.

Egg VISA 4.7% 10.9% None
Tesco VISA 4.9% 14.9% None
MBNA VISA 5.9% 17.9% None
Goldfish MC 4.9% 18.9% None
Bank of Ireland GMC NA 18.9% 20 pounds
Bank of Ireland VISA NA 19.3% None
Barclaycard VISA NA 19.9% 10 pounds
NatWest MC 13.9% 21.4% 12 pounds

Source: CardPlanet (


Teen Power

A survey released this morning confirmed that teenagers frequently access the Internet, spend a significant amount of time online, and hold sizeable purchasing power. However the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey also found that teens rarely go online to shop. While parental permission and the ability to pay for products online are major barriers to online shopping, 78% of teens’ purchases are paid for using a parent’s credit card. This is bad news for the flock of new payment card companies seeking to develop teen payment systems. The survey results also showed that most teens regularly go online to send or receive e-mail and nearly half indicate that e-mail is the primary reason they go online. While just over one-fourth of online teens cite shopping as a reason for regularly going online, only 2% indicate that shopping is their primary reason for going online. Other primary reasons teens cited for going online: research information 19%; play games 10%; use chat rooms 10%; and download music/video 6%.


Sears Checkmate

IVI Checkmate Corp. announced an agreement with Orchard Supply Hardware of San Jose, CA, naming IVI Checkmate as the preferred supplier of interactive touch screen terminals for payment and value-added consumer program delivery for Orchard Supply Hardware store locations. Orchard Supply Hardware is a division of Sears, Roebuck and Company.

The agreement specifies that IVI Checkmate will supply eN-Touch 1000(TM) customer-interactive touch screen and signature capture terminals for installation at OSH’s checkout lanes. OSH will initially implement the eN- Touch 1000 customer-interactive touch screen and signature capture terminals for consumer-activated credit and online debit payment. OSH will also be implementing BIN management, which allows them to differentiate between a credit card or check card as it is being tendered. Using the eN-Touch 1000’s touch screen capabilities, if a check card is tendered, OSH will have the ability to prompt the customer for their PIN (personal identification number), reducing their per transaction cost. OSH will implement signature capture in a later phase.

“OSH selected IVI Checkmate as its exclusive payment terminal supplier based on our industry leadership in multi-lane payment technology and our connectivity experience,” stated Lloyd Baylard, Senior Vice President of Sales of IVI Checkmate’s Retail Solutions organization. “The selection of IVI Checkmate provides Orchard Supply Hardware with a robust and versatile terminal for consumer payment with which they can expand to include signature capture, electronic couponing, targeted promotional advertising, and many other value-added services,” added Baylard.

About IVI Checkmate

IVI Checkmate is the third largest electronic transaction solutions provider in North America. The Company designs, develops and markets innovative payment and value-added solutions that optimize transaction management at the point-of-service in the retail, financial, hospitality, healthcare and transportation industries. IVI Checkmate’s software, hardware and professional services minimize transaction costs, reduce operational complexity and improve profitability for its customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. For more information on IVI Checkmate, please visit its web site at [][1].



Evolve CRM

First Data rolled out a customer relationship management solution yesterday. FDC’s ‘Evolve Suite’, powered by Pegasystems technology, will be offered as an ‘Application Service Provider’. Issuers will use PC browser technology to access the Evolve applications eliminating the need to purchase and maintain an in-house system. The ‘Evolve’ solution, jointly developed by FDC and Pegasystems, supports and automates process management, account handling, and call management for functions such as processing credit applications, managing collections, and handling customer service queries.



Western Union is picking up some competition. San Antonio, TX-based RapidMoney Corp. announced Thursday that its money transfer service is now available in Texas. The firm recently introduced ‘RapidMoney’ in Arkansas and Missouri. In addition to money transfers within and between countries, RapidMoney Corp. says it will shortly introduce additional prepaid services, such as telephone cards, dial tone and cellular service. The firm currently delivers money transfers throughout Mexico and will expand its service to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Asia.


Phone Scratch Cards

Responding to the trend by mobile operators to promote pre-pay options for their customers, Oberthur Card Systems has launched two new pre-paid mobile phone scratch card features which enhance scratch card security and add value to the pre-paid services of mobile phone operators.

“The pre-paid mobile phone scratch card is yet another example of how we can apply our established security printing heritage to continually develop innovative solutions that serve to enhance consumer choice in increasingly competitive markets,” noted Product Manager Manuel Vergez. “The new scratch cards address our customers need to find solutions that will help reduce the risk of unpaid accounts on a regular billing method.”

The panel cannot be scratched and re-panelled without the use of Oberthur’s highly sophisticated printing technology thus significantly reducing fraud risk. As pioneers in the production of paper scratch cards on paper, Oberthur is the first to develop unique security printing technology that can match the scratch panel and card background by color and pattern.

In addition, OCS incorporates a unique extra scratch panel (optional) for prizes such as additional credit for mobile phone services. This “scratch & win” panel enables operators to add value to their pre-paid services and can provide the incentives to help reduce churn.

These developments reinforce OCS’s international leadership role in developing state-of-the-art security innovations including smart card technology. In addition, OCS enjoys an established position as no.1 worldwide in secure lottery printing on both paper and cardboard. Oberthur printing facilities and expertise enable it to deliver fast, effective innovative new printing solutions that respond directly to consumer and market influences. More’.

New Generation Scratch Cards’ Until recently, most recharge vouchers for GSM had been produced on plastic; however, market trends are reflecting a demand for more cost-effective and versatile solutions given the disposable nature of traditional scratch cards. OCS offers the most complete range of products and services in the pre-paid scratch card business.


Providian CPO

In a move to further safeguard the privacy rights of its customers, Providian Financial announced that Marc Loewenthal, a senior vice president in charge of the company’s customer relations group, has been given the added title and responsibility of Chief Privacy Officer, a newly created position.

Loewenthal, who joined Providian in 1991, will be tasked with ensuring that the company’s practices and operations — both traditional and Internet based — provide its more than 13 million customers with a high standard of privacy protection.

“We have strict privacy controls in place, but this new position underscores Providian’s commitment to safeguard customer information. Consumers should know that Providian will vigorously protect the personal information they entrust to us,” said Shailesh Mehta, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Providian.

The company regularly updates its customer privacy policies to ensure they meet or exceed all applicable regulations. Providian provides these policies in writing to all new customers and also makes them available on the company’s web site, [][1].

“My charter includes ongoing assessment of our marketing initiatives and operations across all business lines to ensure they not only meet or exceed federal and state privacy laws, but also set a high standard of customer protection,” said Loewenthal, who is also an attorney.

Reporting to Chief Public Policy Officer Konrad Alt, Loewenthal spearheads Providian’s customer service excellence. The service excellence program has been highly successful in reducing customer complaints, improving customer retention and helping the company to achieve high customer satisfaction levels as measured by independent researchers.

San Francisco-based Providian Financial Corporation ([][2]) is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the United States and also offers credit cards in the United Kingdom. The sixth largest bankcard issuer in the U.S., Providian Financial was recently named one of America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, and the nation’s top financial institution by US Banker magazine.

Providian serves a broad, diversified market with loan products including credit cards, secured cards, certificates of deposit and membership products. With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian helps customers build or rebuild, protect and responsibly use credit. Providian has more than $27 billion in assets under management and over 13 million customers.



Incurrent CEO

Incurrent Solutions announced Thursday that it has appointed Loren Hulber to the positions of President and Chief Executive Officer, and elected him to the board of directors of the company. Mr. Hulber succeeds company cofounder Mark Betz, who led Incurrent from its inception. Mr. Betz will remain in a key role with the company as Chief Technology Officer, focusing on systems architecture and new development.

“Incurrent has done a marvelous job of seizing the opportunity created by revolutionary changes within the credit banking industry,” said Mr. Hulber. “Our technology leadership and customer list provide us with an impressive foundation for accelerated growth within our core market, and for aggressive expansion into additional markets.” When asked about expansion plans, Mr. Hulber stated that “the company is looking at all strategies, including the potential for synergistic mergers and acquisitions.”

“Loren’s appointment puts us right on plan for implementing the next phase of our strategy, “said Mr. Betz. “Our market, products, and customer base have matured at precisely the right point in Incurrent’s life-cycle, and Loren brings the proven business-building and financial skills we’ll need to achieve the next level of success.”

About Mr. Hulber

Mr. Hulber most recently served as President, Chief Executive, and Chairman of NovaCare Employee Services (now HR Logic), where as founding CEO he took the company from start-up to revenues of $1.3 billion in three years, completing an initial public offering at the end of year one, and ultimately selling the firm to an investment group including Fidelity Ventures, Patricof & Co. and AFLAC, Inc.

Previously Mr. Hulber served as President and Chief Executive of Day-Timers, Inc., where he was responsible for expanding distribution into reseller channels for the first time, generating record results and producing the strongest revenue and profit growth in ten years. He oversaw the expansion of the company into software, acquiring and successfully integrating a leading vendor of time management solutions for PC’s and handhelds. Prior to his experience at Day-Timers, Mr. Hulber was President of Jostens Business Products Group, where he achieved consistent record results in the company’s office products and information packaging businesses.

Mr. Hulber is a member of the Regional Board of Directors of First Union Bank, and served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network. He was nominated to the 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Program.

About Incurrent

Founded in 1997, Incurrent Solutions ([][1]) provides advanced multi-channel customer care services to credit banks, transaction processors, and credit marketing organizations. The company’s flagship CardSite system provides a cutting-edge, web-centric customer service solution that enhances the cardmember experience and cultivates account loyalty. Cardmembers enjoy real-time access to account information, statements, bill presentment, secure email, reports, searches, interactive sessions and other service enhancing tools over web, wireless, and voice channels.

Incurrent currently provides interactive customer care solutions to industry leading card issuers including Alliance Data Systems, NextCard, 1stFinancial Bank USA, and Fleet Credit Card Services. With offices in Parsippany, NJ and Orlando, FL, Incurrent combines its industry leading technology with client-defined operating services, complete creative design, and front office integration services to form a cohesive cardmember solution.



Pathways Acquisition

The Pathways Group, Inc. announced Thursday that is has agreed to acquire Ticket Plus, Inc., a privately held computerized ticketing company headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, through a combined cash payment and stock transfer. Ticket Plus’ vision of automated ticket-buying convenience has revolutionized how entertainment and event tickets are sold in Hawaii. Ticket Plus gives Hawaiian consumers easy access to event tickets locally and overseas through its 50 plus ticket sales outlets throughout the state of Hawaii. Gross commission from sales for January through April totaled $895,000. Projected commission from sales for the 12-month period from May 2000 to May 2001 is $2,450,000. The structure of the marketing partnerships encourages an increase of foot traffic into the outlets, creating a beneficial business climate for all participants.

“Via the vision of Ticket Plus’ founder, Manuel Sanchez, how we purchase tickets for concerts and events around the world is dramatically changing,” stated Carey Daly, founder, President and CEO of The Pathways Group. “Ticket Plus’ forward thinking and commitment to convenience and service through technology captured our attention. This complements our other recent acquisitions and enables us to offer full resort ticketing packages.”

Pathways, its newly acquired subsidiary SmartCard Solutions, Inc. and Ticket Plus have independently demonstrated their expertise in ticketing solutions. While known for its development of smart card-based technologies and transaction processing solutions, Pathways manufactures SPRINTICKET unattended ticketing dispensers. SmartCard Solutions, Inc., acquired by Pathways in early May 2000, provides solutions to destination resorts for point of sale ticketing and season passes, advanced sales, retail and rental purchasing. Ticket Plus provides for automated ticket selling for concerts and events (with future plans to expand into other markets) making the purchase of tickets widely accessible, easy, convenient and efficient for consumers. It is anticipated that the integration of Ticket Plus into Pathways’ family will produce full global resort services.

Manuel Sanchez, founder and President of Ticket Plus, Inc., said, “This is a perfect fit with our dedication to easy and convenient ticket purchasing. Pathways shares this belief and has demonstrated it through its commitment to bringing innovative technology solutions to the marketplace. It also enables us to reach beyond Hawaii — to the continental U.S. and internationally.”

About Ticket Plus, Inc.

Ticket Plus, Inc, was founded in 1983 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the first computerized ticketing system developed in Atlanta. They later opened the first computerized ticketing system in Puerto Rico. Since then offices have been opened in Malaysia (Ticket Express), Philippines, and Hawaii. They have also developed computerized ticketing systems for the Chinese and Philippine governments.

In April 1999, a month after relocating its corporate headquarters to Hawaii, Ticket Plus became the official ticketing agent for the City and County of Honolulu (Blaisdell Center and Arena and Waikiki Shell). Other clients include Honolulu Symphony, Tom Moffatt Productions, Bob Peyton Entertainment, Golden Voice Presents, Bumping Sunset Promotions, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and Hawaii Theatre.

About The Pathways Group

The Pathways Group provides innovative and unique solutions for securely creating, capturing and processing data and electronic transactions using custom application software and hardware systems. Established in 1987, Pathways has evolved into a leader in the development of custom software and hardware for electronic banking, data and transaction processing, and smart card applications.

The Pathways Group is also a transaction processor of payments and electronic benefits in the traditional “brick and mortar” environment as well as for new Internet e-commerce business. It creates both hardware and software solutions for the Company’s transaction-based clients to simplify transition to the latest technology breakthroughs. It will continue to enhance its products through the prudent acquisition of other technologically compatible, entrepreneurial companies.


ProCard Deal Concluded

The parent company of Total System Services, Inc. Synovus Financial Corp announced its successful acquisition of ProCard, a leading provider of software and Internet tools designed to assist organizations with the management of purchasing, travel and fleet card programs. This acquisition offers TSYS the opportunity to further expand its services to ProCard’s clients wanting to build their commercial card portfolios. ProCard will continue to operate in Golden, Co. as a wholly owned subsidiary of Synovus.

The integration of ProCard’s software solutions with TSYS’ processing systems and its suite of products enhances TSYS’ transition to a complete electronic reporting environment for its commercial clients. TSYS can now deliver detailed Level III transaction data through ProCard’s systems, providing corporations with intelligent data via the Internet thereby facilitating better business decisions. TSYS processes 86 percent of the U.S. Visa and MasterCard commercial cards and 100 percent of all bankcards issued to federal government agencies participating in the General Services Administration’s Smart Pay program.

“With the combination of TSYS’ highly-customizable TS2(R) Processing System and ProCard’s software products, Internet tools and robust back-end reconciliation process, our commercial clients will have access to state-of- the-art services from two leaders in the commercial services arena,” said Richard W. Ussery, Chairman of the Board and CEO of TSYS.

“Our team members are excited about joining the family of one of the best places to work in America. Both ProCard and TSYS have been recognized in the financial services industry as leading solution providers both domestically and globally,” said Dale Browning, president and CEO of ProCard. “Joining Synovus and TSYS is a win for our team members, clients and shareholders, and now all these benefits are available to ProCard’s clients. In addition, TSYS’ commercial clients will benefit from ProCard’s expertise.”

About ProCard, Inc.

ProCard is a leader in customized, Internet, Intranet and client/Server software solutions for commercial card management programs. In cooperation with commercial card bank issuers, ProCard technology has been installed and is actively used at corporations, federal, state and local government agencies and major educational institutions. ProCard’s applications serve 93 Fortune 500 companies. See ProCard on the Web at [][1].

About Total System Services, Inc.

TSYS provides global commerce solutions. With more than 181 million accounts on file, TSYS facilitates the payment exchange between buyers and sellers for approximately 253 million consumers. Our systems capture and deliver more of the right information to our clients that allows them to make wiser business decisions, currently yielding portfolio growth more than twice the industry average. TSYS and its family of companies offers a full range of business services, from credit application to collections, allowing our clients to focus on building their brands while we focus on safety, security, ease and convenience. Based in Columbus, Ga., TSYS ([][2]) is an 80.8-percent-owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. ([][3]), No. 5 on FORTUNE magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies To Work For” in 2000.

About Synovus Financial Corp.

Synovus Financial Corp. is a multi-financial services company with more than $13 billion in assets based in Columbus, Ga. Synovus is composed of 38 banks serving communities throughout Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina; an 80.8 percent ownership of Total System Services, Inc., the global solutions provider for commerce; Synovus Trust Company, one of the Southeast’s largest providers of trust services; Synovus Securities, Inc., a full-service brokerage firm; Synovus Mortgage Corp., which offers mortgage services throughout the Southeast; and Synovus Insurance Services. See Synovus on the web at [][4].