Faster & Smarter

Schlumberger unveiled a new modem option for its ‘MagIC 6000’ POS terminal that provides the retail industry with the fastest connectivity on the market. The new modem provides a choice of 9600 and 14400 baud full-duplex transmission rates in both asynchronous and synchronous operation. Schlumberger has also extended the scope of the ‘MagIC Management System’ with remote maintenance capabilities, giving banks, distributors and maintenance organizations the capability to fine-tune performance while reducing maintenance costs. ‘MagIC terminals’ continually log operational information, which can now be accessed remotely and analyzed. Banks and card issuers can now monitor authorization response times, file transfer times and details of any failed transactions to ensure that terminals continue to deliver fast and efficient transactions for both the card user and retailer. There is also capability for detecting potential problems, such as an increase in the number of swipes required to read a magnetic stripe card. Schlumberger also announced Tuesday it has gained certification for its ‘MagIC 6000’ POS terminals for use in health applications in the next phase of France?s national electronic health card program, ‘Vitale’.

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Citi Invests in Paytrust

Paytrust.com, the service that lets consumers receive, review, pay and organize all of their bills online, announced Tuesday that it will receive an investment from Citigroup’s e-Citi unit, pending regulatory approval. The funds will be used to continue to expand marketing and operations. This private placement brings the total amount of funds raised over the past year by Paytrust.com to nearly $50 million.

The Paytrust.com service harnesses the power and efficiency of the Web to deliver 100 percent of consumers’ bills to a single, secure Web site and direct payments from users’ pre-existing checking accounts. Paytrust customers simply decide which bills they want to receive online and the bank accounts from which they want payments made. Like a personal assistant, Paytrust.com manages a consumer’s bills and payments. Paytrust’s SmartBalance(TM) feature aggregates a customer’s bank account information with Paytrust payment information to automatically balance their checkbook.

“Receiving an investment from one of the world’s leading financial services companies is a testament to the strengths of Paytrust.com,” said Edward G. McLaughlin, CEO of Paytrust.com.

Leveraging proprietary, patent-pending technology, as well as the ability to work with any biller and any bank, Paytrust.com delivers on the promise of consumer-focused electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP). Customers have quick and easy access to Paytrust.com to view and pay all of their bills anytime, anywhere. As an added incentive to try the service, consumers who visit the Paytrust.com site can enroll for a three-month trial period. Following the trial, subscribers simply pay a monthly fee of just $8.95.

About Paytrust.com

Paytrust.com is the flagship service of Paytru$t, Inc., a privately held company based in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in October 1998, the company is financially backed by American Express, AT&T Ventures, GE Equity, SOFTBANK Venture Capital, and Spectrum Equity Investors. More information on the company can be found on its web site located at [http://www.paytrust.com][1] or by calling 1-877-PAYTRUST.

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

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Green Stamps Card

Fleet Credit Card Services and S&H greenpoints.com, Inc. have teamed up to offer co-branded credit card. Incorporated in 1896, S&H introduced ‘Green Stamps’. In early 1999, S&H was re-acquired by a group of investors led by a member of the founding Beinecke family (Sperry) to reinvent the company for the digital economy with the launch of S&H greenpoints.com, Inc. and ‘S&H greenpoints’, a branded digital rewards currency. Under the Fleet deal consumers can earn ‘S&H greenpoints’ in three ways: through any purchase on the S&H greenpoints Fleet co-branded credit card, through an authorized bricks and mortar merchant, and while purchasing online from more than 60 merchants through S&H greenpoint.com’s consumer shopping portal. S&H cardholders can redeem or save these points for rewards like computer and electronic products, retail merchandise, and travel, or donate them to charitable community partners.

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Small Biz Voice

American Express Small Business Services launched a campaign to engage small business owners in a national dialogue about the issues that matter to them most. The year-long ‘Voices From Main Street’ program, began with the airing of a 30-second television advertisement last night. Full page ads appear this morning in the Wall Street Journal and other major papers. Features of the program include: national opinion polls to take the pulse of entrepreneurs on important issues; a print advertising campaign encouraging business owners to speak out; a web site where small business owners can discuss issues, chat with their peers and industry leaders and obtain relevant information on the issues; a nationally broadcast town hall dedicated to small business owners; and regional forums for small business owners to meet with their peers and engage in these discussions on a local level.

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Abrams on PBS

Multimedia Productions, Inc. is proud to announce the appearance of Steve Abrams, senior vice president, Corporate Payment Solutions for MasterCard International, on World Business Review. The weekly television series is hosted by General Alexander Haig, Secretary of State during the Reagan administration. The topic of the discussion is “Redefining the Movement of Money”.

“MasterCard International was selected to appear on the program because its innovative “One-Card” program is helping companies simplify and improve their business practices, while saving both time and money,” said Clayton Haggit, the show’s associate producer.

What started as a product targeted specifically at consumers, the credit card soon became a must in business. Using a business-only credit card, organizations were better able to keep track of expenses, examine trends and retool their practices where needed. Soon, many companies began using a different card for individual expense categories, such as travel & entertainment, office supplies, etc. Today, the business card family has expanded to include fleet cards, which allow companies with large numbers of vehicles (or ships) to more closely track fuel and maintenance expenses, while benefiting from the convenience of a credit card.

For many businesses, the trend has been to return to the days when only one card was used for multiple expenses. This “one card” policy – which integrates purchasing, travel and fleet functions all on one credit card – has allowed many companies to simplify their employees’ lives while streamlining what has become a major portion of their operating expense: accounting.

Abrams says that recent advances in corporate card systems “allow us to provide financial managers with the tools and techniques to effectively control, streamline and simplify routine business expenses, without having to maintain multiple card programs.”

To help organizations keep close tabs on their one-card accounts, MasterCard International maintains a centralized database, which includes all account activity. This database is updated at the end of each business day and the information is the sent to the corporations, “usually within forty-eight hours,” said Abrams, who added that this is the primary characteristic which sets MasterCard apart from others offering a one-card solution.

Although having a single card in your possession for all types of purchases makes logical sense, some financial managers have been reluctant to embrace the one-card philosophy. Indeed, there was little objective evidence in favor of a one-card solution, until Deloitte & Touche LLP studied these programs and looked at the ways they impact a business.

In a field report filmed on location at Deloitte & Touche headquarters in Houston, Texas, World Business Review’s Susan Starnes spoke with L. David Blanc, Senior Manager in the Management Solutions and Services practice, about the study, which was authored by MasterCard International. Blanc said that among other findings, the study revealed that there are relatively few one-card programs in use today, and that they are viewed as “unique and innovative.”

However, said Blanc, those companies that are using such a program have been pleased with the results. And, he added, successful one-card programs can be found in all types of businesses. Said Blanc, “The results reveal that the one-card solution is already in place and considered successful by a wide variety of organizations, and the acceptance of one-card is growing rapidly.”

Deloitte & Touche gathered information from 19 U.S. organizations in industries including financial services; government; healthcare; education; manufacturing; packaged goods; real estate; retail and utilities. Blanc said twelve of the organizations surveyed have a one-card program in place, while the others have separate card programs for T&E, vehicle fleet and/or purchasing. Many of these, he said, are considering a one-card solution.

The main findings from the study indicate that utilizing a one-card program saved a company both time and money, compared to simultaneously managing several credit card programs. An added benefit of using a one-card program, said Abrams, is an overall improvement in the ability to manage information. “Using a one-card program consolidates and generally improves the quality of management information and business process control,” he stated. This finding is in opposition to some deep-seeded beliefs on the part of those charged with managing their company’s credit card program. Blanc said, “The perception among many card program managers of traditional separate card programs is that a single card cannot deliver the same information and control. In fact, our study found that many single card programs can deliver the same information control and compliance benefits as separate card programs, without redundant costs.”

Taped in Washington, D.C., World Business Review currently airs on PBS the Business Channel, and in prime business slots in numerous Public Television markets, including San Francisco, New York, Denver and Miami. The weekly series can also be viewed on TWA, United Airlines, or from any desktop computer via AENTV.

Individual videotapes or continuing education systems (via Indiana State University) are available by calling 1-800-WBR-1032, or by visiting [www.wbrtv.com][1], which showcases feature topics and specific companies’ technology.

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

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ID Theft Soars

The Federal Trade Commission warned a Senate Committee yesterday that identity theft is a serious and growing problem in the US. The FTC says that its newly-installed, toll-free FTC hotline to take identity theft calls is already logging 400 calls a week. The FTC testified it is anticipating the call volume to grow to 200,000 a year. The FTC pointed to other statistics to make its point. The General Accounting Office reports that consumer inquiries to the Trans Union credit bureau’s Fraud Victim Assistance Department increased from 35,235 in 1992 to 522,922 in 1997. The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General conducted 1153 social security number misuse investigations in 1997 compared with 305 in 1996. In 1999, the telephone hotline established by the Social Security Administration Inspector General received reports of almost 39,000 incidents of misuse of Social Security Numbers. The FTC and the Department of Treasury are working together on a National Summit on Identity Theft, scheduled for March 15 and 16.

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MyPoints for Staples VISA

MyPoints.com announced Tuesday that its card services arm, Alliance Development Group, has been chosen by U.S. Bancorp to manage the rewards program for the new Staples Visa Business Card.

Yesterday’s announcement brings the number of credit card rewards programs operated by MyPoints.com on behalf of U.S. Bancorp to three, including programs for the nation’s leading supermarket retailers, Albertsons and the Kroger Co.

“U.S. Bank works with leaders in all areas to provide its clients with the very highest level of service,” said Daniel Frate, president of Payment Systems for U.S. Bancorp. “MyPoints.com’s card services group has the experience we can rely on to operate complex rewards programs for demanding partners, and it continues to be our program manager of choice for high-profile rewards programs such as this.”

“MyPoints.com continues to strengthen its leading position in the substantial market for credit card services both online and offline,” said Frank Pirri, Senior Vice President of Offline Commerce for MyPoints.com. “By working closely with leading partners such as U.S. Bank, MyPoints.com believes the company is well positioned to take advantage of the inevitable integration of commerce, credit cards, loyalty programs and the Internet.

The new Staples Visa Business Card, designed to provide small businesses with the credit they need, is the first such business credit card offered by an office supplies retailer and one of the only business cards to offer rewards with no annual fee. With every dollar charged on the Staples Visa Business Card — at Staples or anywhere else Visa is accepted — cardholders will earn points redeemable for free Staples products and services, free airline tickets, restaurant and movie certificates, hotel accommodations and rental car services. The points are accrued at the company level and can be used by the business or gifted to employees or customers.

About Staples, Inc.

Staples (NYSE: SPLS) is a $7 billion retailer of office supplies, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has over 46,000 employees serving customers through more than 1,100 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business.

About U.S. Bancorp

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, with $82 billion in assets, is the 12th largest bank holding company in the nation and operates approximately 1,000 banking offices in the Midwest and West. The company provides comprehensive banking, trust, investment and payment systems products and services to consumers, businesses and institutions. It operates a network of 5,300 ATMs and provides 24-hour, seven-days-a-week telephone customer service. The company offers full-service brokerage services at approximately 100 offices through U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. The company is the largest provider of Visa corporate and purchasing cards in the world, and is one of the largest providers of corporate trust services in the nation. For further information, please see the U.S. Bancorp web site at [http://www.usbank.com][1].

About MyPoints.com

MyPoints.com is a leading developer of Internet direct marketing services and loyalty infrastructure. The Company’s database-driven direct marketing service, MyPoints(R), enables businesses to identify, acquire and retain customers through a unique program that integrates highly targeted email and Web-based offers with incentive points to respond to those offers both online and offline. MyPoints.com is also a leading developer of Internet loyalty infrastructure, including MyPoints(R) Network and custom-branded rewards programs based on the Company’s proprietary technology platform — the Digital Loyalty Engine(TM). MyPoints.com has sales offices in cities nationwide. For direct marketing and loyalty product information please call toll-free 800-890-9351, 212-699-8050, ext. 7702 from outside North America, or visit them online at .

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

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CyberCash Record Volume

CyberCash, Inc., the world’s leading provider of electronic payment technologies and services, announced Tuesday that the company’s Internet payment processing volumes surpassed eight million transactions in February, tripling the number from the same month last year.

CyberCash also said that hrblock.com, the popular Web site of tax giant H&R Block, led the way among CyberCash’s 20,000 Internet merchants with more than one million transactions processed in February.

“This tripling of transactions in a month that is usually slower than others demonstrates both the success of CyberCash and the phenomenal growth of Internet payment processing,” said Chuck Riegel, executive vice president of worldwide marketing.

“Internet payment volumes are exploding and CyberCash is uniquely positioned to capture this business,” he said. “Internet payment processing is required by all sorts of new businesses, from filing taxes to political contributions to our bread-and-butter business of e-commerce.”

H&R Block is a diversified company with subsidiaries providing a wide range of financial products and services. H&R Block Tax Services Inc. served 18.9 million taxpayers in more than 10,000 offices worldwide in 1999. This year, H&R Block began offering free electronic filing in the majority of its U.S. offices. Block’s Web site, hrblock.com, offers online tax preparation, tax advice, brokerage services, mortgages, insurance and other financial services. Block also publishes the award-winning TaxCut software program.

“We’re pleased with the growth of online tax preparation and sales of our tax software on the Internet,” said Gene Goldenberg, senior vice president for software and e-commerce at H&R Block. “We chose CyberCash to help us handle this business because they offer the speed, reliability and security which are necessary to be competitive on the Web.”

CyberCash has experienced enormous growth as the leading provider of payment processing services to the burgeoning Internet economy. CyberCash doubled its merchant base in less than a year to the current 20,000 that includes ReplayDVD.com, hrblock.com and FatBrain.com. The company experienced a 110 percent increase in Internet revenues between 1998 and the end of 1999. In February of last year, CyberCash processed 2.6 million transactions.

About CyberCash

CyberCash, Inc., the world’s leading provider of Internet payment services and electronic payment technologies, is a pioneer in payment software and solutions spanning both the e-commerce and physical world markets. CyberCash today has more than 20,000 Internet merchant customers, more than 130,000 physical world software products shipped and solutions that are delivered as either software or services. CyberCash offers the broadest reach in the payment industry with a comprehensive distribution network that includes direct and indirect sales as well as marketing partnerships with financial institutions, Internet service providers, application service providers, storefront solution providers and leading independent software vendors.

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AmEx Invests in Respond.com

American Express announced Tuesday that it has made a minority investment in Respond.com, a leading “shop by request” online service that connects buyers with sellers. The two companies also signed a joint marketing agreement in which American Express will promote the Respond.com services on its merchant Web site ([http://www.americanexpress.com/me rchant][1]), and Respond.com will promote American Express services on its Web site. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are delighted to make an investment in Respond.com,” said Pierric Beckert, Senior Vice President of Interactive Investments at American Express. “Consumers and businesses can save time and money with Respond.com’s easy-to- use online shopping service and benefit from the company’s excellent customer service. In addition, merchants of all sizes have a great way to gain new customers at a low monthly fee. We look forward to working with Respond.com to deliver these benefits to our customers.”

Buyers using Respond.com’s free “shop by request” service simply type in a description of the item they want to purchase at [http://www.respond.com][2]. A buyer’s request is forwarded to the Respond.com sellers who have registered for requests in given categories. Sellers respond via email to the buyer, who then chooses which seller to contact directly to negotiate the purchase. Buyers remain anonymous to the sellers throughout the process, only revealing themselves when they are ready to make a purchase.

Buyers can browse through more than 3,000 product and service categories, such as travel, consumer electronics, antiques and office supplies, and use Respond.com’s search feature to find exactly what they’re looking for.

“We are pleased to be aligned with a company like American Express that understands the importance of the buyer-merchant dynamic. This investment and our work with American Express are instrumental to our growth in 2000,” said Will Clemens, CEO of Respond.com. “We are pleased that they share our enthusiasm of providing buyers with a way to ‘shop by request’ online and receive exactly what they are looking for.”

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking. At [http://www.americanexpress.com][3], consumers, small businesses and corporations can choose from a wide range of Internet products and services. American Express is making minority equity investments in emerging Internet companies, as well as building strategic alliances with these organizations by signing marketing and supplier agreements, obtaining exclusive offers for customers, or targeting investment dollars for marketing purposes.

Respond.com(TM) ([http://www.respond.com][4]) is the leading online shopping service that allows buyers to “shop by request” using their own words to request a wide range of products and services. Unlike online auction sites or shopping search engines, Respond.com takes the work out of shopping, saving buyers effort and time. Sellers with Respond.com benefit by receiving highly targeted leads from customers who are ready to buy. Respond.com has partnered with American Express, America Online, Excite@Home and additional online businesses to provide their members access to Respond.com’s community of buyers and sellers. Based in Redwood City, California, the company is funded by The Barksdale Group, Benchmark Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity along with Access Technology Partners, Amerindo Capital Management, Attractor Investments and Index Ventures. Respond.com was founded in 1998.

[1]: http://www.americanexpress.com/merchant
[2]: http://www.respond.com/
[3]: http://www.americanexpress.com/
[4]: http://www.respond.com/

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OPC IRS Contract

Official Payments Corp. announced Monday it has been awarded a new and expanded contract with the Internal Revenue Service. The new award authorizes OPC to accept federal tax payments for tax year 2000 balance-due and extension tax payments, as well as 2001 estimated payments, by credit card over the telephone and Internet. The contract is for one year with an option for a one-year extension. The award of the Internet-based credit card tax payment system is incremental to OPC’s existing IRS contracts which enable taxpayers to pay their 1999 balance due payments, 1999 tax year extension and 2000 estimated tax payments via telephone. OPC also reported yesterday that for the period of January 14 to February 29, year-to-date balance-due tax payment transactions by credit card have increased 336%, while dollar volume has increased by 330% for the same period.

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Membership Rewards

American Express announced its ‘Membership Rewards’ partner line for 2000 yesterday. New retail partners include: Bergdorf Goodman, Brooks Brothers, Callaway Golf, Country Road, Oreck, Richard Petty Driving Experience, THE RIGHT START and Swiss Army Brands. The new ‘Membership Rewards’ travel partners include: Alitalia Airlines, Air Aruba, Disney Cruise Line, Frontier Airlines, Midway Airlines, Omni Hotels, Pro Air, Qantas, South African Airways and Sun Country Airlines. The ‘Membership Rewards Program from American Express’ was first launched in June 1991 under the name ‘Membership Miles’. In 1995, retail and other non-travel rewards were added to the program, and it was re-named the ‘Membership Rewards Program’. In October, 1999, American Express expanded the program by offering two new program levels, ‘Membership Rewards Plus’ designed for frequent travelers and cardholders who accumulate a large number of points and want more rewards flexibility and choice and ‘Membership Rewards Options’ for cardholders who prefer easy to attain awards. ‘Membership Rewards Options’ has a separate list or partners.

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No-Surcharge Link Network

The Co-operative Bank last week told Stephen Byers MP, the Secretary of State for Department of Trade and Industry, in a one-to-one meeting that it will continue to provide free cash machine withdrawals despite moves by other banks to surcharge.

At a breakfast meeting at Lancashire County Cricket Club, in Manchester, the Chief Executive of The Co-operative Bank, Mervyn Pedelty, also confirmed to the Minister that:

·As a founder member of the Link cash machine network, it is fully committed to the idea of one national shared network of cash machines freeto customers.

·It believes the existing interchange fee between banks covers the costs of an ATM transaction and that it is not necessary to levy any additional charges on customers.

·It is installing 350 cash machines in co-op retail stores. This investment is being funded by interchange fees, not charges. Mr Pedelty, also praised the DTI for insisting that banks charging for cash machine withdrawals must warn people at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) before they make the transaction.

He said: “Undoubtedly the Department of Trade and Industry’s intervention has ensured that charges for cash will now be more transparent to customers of banks. There is real confusion amongst the public as to when they are going to be charged.”

The Co-operative Bank also urged the Government to keep a close eye on the charges levied to ensure that they reflect costs. He added: “In a free market, banks have a right to set their own prices for products and services. However, there is a real danger if these prices are simply divorced from the actual cost of delivering the product or service. If banks were to abuse their position, for example, in the way they charge customers for cash machine withdrawals, there would be a legitimate case for Government intervention.”

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