High Tech Parking

Schlumberger and Webraska Mobile Technologies announced a partnership to combine data on parking place occupancy, whether on-street or in car parks, with real-time traffic information, maps and route guidance, to enable motorists with WAP mobile phones to obtain up-to-the-minute information on parking availability at their destination. The parking terminals and management systems of Schlumberger will transmit current occupancy rates data across GSM, Mobitex, PSTN or Internet networks to the open-interface ‘Parking Information Server’. Webraska is a provider of value-added real-time traffic information, maps, and navigation services on mobile Internet phones, turning phones into co-pilots.


Next Gen Fleet Cards

A new fleet card is hitting the market that combines credit, debit and purchasing card capabilities. MasterCard, AmSouth Bank, and Comdata Corp. have teamed to offer the unique all-in-one fleet card. The new card eliminates the need for separate vehicle and purchasing charge cards. It is also the first U.S. credit card with debit capabilities allowing the user to access personal funds. Issued by AmSouth Bank, the ‘Comchek MasterCard Corporate Fleet Card’ will be accepted at all MasterCard merchants as well as 10,000 truck stops that honor ‘Comdata’s Comchek Card’, essentially covering every fuel station, service station and auto parts supplier in the USA. The new, advanced fleet card is fully customizable by the fleet program manager. With card level controls, the fleet manager can limit access and purchases by its employees. There are two ‘Corporate Fleet Cards’: driver cards and vehicle cards. The vehicle card allows a company to effectively manage its assets by restricting the authorized use of the card to fuel and maintenance functions for the identified vehicle. Driver cards provide the basic functionality of the vehicle card with expanded flexibility. Additionally, the Driver card can allow users access to core Comchek functions, including long-distance telephone service, ATM access and expense reimbursement capabilities. Comprehensive and flexible reporting on one invoice for all related expenses provides all the information without the hassle of managing receipts. The MasterCard/AmSouth/Comdata team is set to initially roll-out more than 150,000 cards.


FTC Appeal

Trans Union said Thursday it will appeal a ruling by the FTC that orders it to stop selling certain target marketing lists and demographic models available from its target marketing business. TU says the lists and models offered by ‘PerformanceData’ do not reveal confidential credit information about consumers. They consist only of names, addresses, and types of credit held by consumers, and do not disclose any details about consumers’ credit status and payment history. In addition, TU says consumers are given the choice to have their names removed from all lists provided for target marketing.



Japan’s new ‘J-Debit’ program will leapfrog with a national expansion to more than 100,000 merchant locations next week. The program was launched in January by the postal savings system and seven financial institutions. The seven financial institutions are Fuji Bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Sanwa Bank, Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank, Towa Bank, Tokyo Sowa Bank and Johnan Shinkin Bank. The Japan Debit Card Promotion Association said the service was initially available at some 10,000 retail outlets run by eight companies. The eight companies initially involved include Seibu Department Stores Ltd., JTB Inc., Lawson Inc., Cosmo Oil Co., Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. and Daiwa Securities Co. So far more than 900 financial institutions have joined the new ‘J-Debit’ program.


Online Card Fraud

Internet travel agency, Expedia, announced this week it is setting aside $4 to $6 million to cover fraudulent transactions. The company says the fraud was committed by professional criminals who illegally obtained credit cards from non-Expedia.com sources and used those stolen cards to purchase travel online. The charge represents the company’s estimate of unreserved fraudulent activity to date and is less than one half of one percent of tickets sold. The gross bookings to date on the Expedia.com site total over $1 billion, and the company’s net revenues total over $85 million.


OPC Ad Campaign

Official Payments Corporation announced Thursday the company has launched a concentrated national consumer advertising campaign that will run in the weeks prior to the April 17 tax day, marketing to consumers the company’s 1-888-2PAY-TAX credit card tax payment service.

The seven-week campaign, which is budgeted for up to $5 Million, will run in national newspapers and on network and local radio. The theme of the campaign centers on the convenience, cash management and credit card rewards attributes of the company’s 1-888-2-PAY-TAX(SM) service.

Official Payments has contracts with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide a service that enables taxpayers to pay their 1999 balance due payments, 1999 tax year extension and estimated tax payments for tax year 2000 by credit card. This is the first full-blown year of the credit card payment program. The IRS and Official Payments, Corp. tested a pilot version of the program last year. In addition to the IRS, Official Payments has similar contracts with the District of Columbia, and the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oklahoma

“The IRS, our partners at the credit card companies and Official Payments are all conducting an integrated consumer marketing effort to build awareness of the e-file and 1-888-2-PAY-TAX(SM) program,” said Thomas R. Evans, Chairman and CEO of Official Payments Corporation. “We are being both strategic and tactical in our campaign by deploying our resources at the height of the tax-season. When you overlay Official Payments’ efforts with those of the IRS and the credit card companies, the combined targeting, frequency and reach represents a truly impressive awareness campaign,” Mr. Evans added.

During the seven-week campaign, Official Payments will run national ads in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The seven-week flight of radio spots will air on national radio networks, augmented by spot radio in major metropolitan areas in the states that accept credit card payment for state income taxes.

The IRS has included the 1-888-2-PAY-TAX(SM) credit card option in creative print executions and radio spots for its own e-file national advertising campaign and information on the 1-888-2-PAY-TAX(SM) was included in 140 million 1040 instructions provided by the IRS to taxpayers. Additionally the program is being supported by independent marketing efforts by American Express, MasterCard and Discover.

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 the Internet or telephone, using their credit cards. The Company has partnered with the United States Internal Revenue Service, several state governments, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, Oklahoma, the District of Columbia and over 450 municipal and county entities, in which it collects property taxes, real estate taxes, traffic fines and other government fees by credit card over the Internet and the telephone. The Company does business in 23 states and is publicly listed on Nasdaq under the symbol OPAY. Official Payments Corp. is committed to making payments to the government go fast, smart and safe.


Global Payment Solutions

Western Union International Commercial Services Division pinpointed a problem for international businesses: receiving payments from business partners and customers conveniently and on-time. In response to this need, ICS developed two Global Payment Solutions, Western Union Quick Pay and Quick Cash, which allow businesses to receive or send faster, easier and 100% secure international payments.

The Quick Pay service is free to businesses and enables their clients to go to any Western Union Agent location to make an easy payment in cash, paying a low fixed fee for the transaction. Quick Cash gives businesses the capability to send cash just about anywhere in the world at a low-cost per transaction from an office PC, with the funds available for pickup at any Western Union Agent location.

“Our Global Payment Solutions touched a nerve within the international business community,” said Frank Angrisani, Senior Vice President, Western Union, ICS. “It spurred us to find more ways to use the Western Union platform to enhance business funds transfers throughout the world.” Based on the success of Quick Pay and Quick Cash, he announced six additional services, including products for business-to-business transactions; government agency benefits payouts and cash disbursements by banks and other lending institutions. The following is a description of the division’s new Global Payment Solutions that will help revolutionize business payments in the Year 2000. More details are available on the Western Union International Commercial Services website at [www.payment-solutions.com][1] or email Fran Falino at ffalino@intl.westernunion.com.

— Western Union Direct Pay takes the hassle out of global commerce. Now companies can transfer payments directly to and from business partners internationally and much faster, safer and easier than conventional payment methods like bank wires or foreign checks. The sending company uses Western Union software installed on an office PC and pays a low, fixed fee per payment transaction. The company receiving the payment is notified electronically that the funds have been transferred to their designated bank account.

— Western Union Signature Services is customized for financial institutions, which can now disburse funds anywhere in the world. And, they may market the service by co-branding and leveraging Western Union’s worldwide name recognition. Financial institutions, insurance companies and businesses can now issue payouts or dividends to clients globally. It’s one of the fastest, safest ways to disburse funds, which may be picked up in cash at any of 80,000-plus Western Union Agent locations.

— Western Union Easy Loan makes it possible for any bank or other financial institution to reach their customers anywhere in the world. This remarkably fast, 100% secure service allows lenders to send funds of all types to recipients utilizing the Western Union platform. In addition, Western Union Easy Loan may be used to transfer credit card cash advances. The recipient may pick up the cash at any one of Western Union’s Agent locations worldwide or designate another recipient such as a friend or family member.

— Western Union Benefits Quick Cash enables government agencies to instantly issue benefits payments directly from the agency. Benefits, social security, civil service annuity and other cash payouts may be sent to recipients worldwide with a greater level of ease and secure. The recipient simply picks up the funds at any Western Union Agent location. Or, the recipient may choose Western Union Benefits Direct and have the funds direct-deposited into their designated bank account. Benefits Direct offers speed, convenience and the peace of mind of direct-deposit.

— Western Union Global Cash Management Services provide banks with an alternative for global cash management that enables them to disburse funds for corporate clients, using the 80,000-plus Western Union Agent locations worldwide. With Western Union Global Cash Management Services, banks have the ability to collect or distribute funds for corporate clients securely and easily.

[1]: http://www.payment-solutions.com/


Real Estate Card Ends

Bank Plus Corporation today reported that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Fidelity Federal Bank, FSB has taken the following actions with regards to its real estate secured credit card program with First Alliance Mortgage Company, a subsidiary of First Alliance Corporation:

Delivered to FAMCO formal notice that the agreements pertaining to the Program have expired and that Fidelity will not be extending the terms of these agreements. The notice also demands that FAMCO fulfill all of its obligations required under the agreements upon and after termination, including an obligation to purchase, or cause a designee to purchase, from Fidelity, at par, all of the outstanding accounts and related receivables generated under the program.

Delivered to FAMCO formal notice to terminate the agreement under which FAMCO services the accounts under the Program. The termination of servicing pursuant to this notice will be effective in 180 days. Because FAMCO refused to permit Fidelity to inspect FAMCO’s books and records as required under the Program servicing agreement, Fidelity also delivered to FAMCO formal notice of a breach of the agreement and notice that unless the breach is cured within 30 days, Fidelity may terminate the agreement for cause.

Filed with the American Arbitration Association and delivered to FAMCO a formal demand for arbitration seeking declaratory relief as to the rights and duties of Fidelity and FAMCO under certain terms of the expired agreements pertaining to the Program. The demand for arbitration alleges that a dispute exists between the parties, because FAMCO contends that it has no obligation to purchase, or cause a designee to purchase from Fidelity, at par, all of the outstanding accounts and related receivables generated under the program.

In February 2000, FAMCO filed a complaint against Fidelity along with an application for a temporary restraining order in the Superior Court in Orange County, California under which FAMCO sought a court order to restrain Fidelity from converting funds held by Fidelity in a cash collateral account and a court order compelling Fidelity to release the cash collateral funds to FAMCO. The court, after argument, denied FAMCO’s application.

Fidelity entered into the Program agreements with FAMCO in February 1997. Under the agreements, Fidelity served as issuer and owner of the Program accounts and is responsible for the risk management associated with the extension of credit. FAMCO is responsible for marketing and processing applications and servicing the accounts originated under the Program. FAMCO also provides credit enhancements to guarantee full repayment of the Program receivables in the event of cardholder defaults and, in exchange, has the right to purchase the outstanding receivables at par and receives all revenues, net of expenses and funding costs paid to Fidelity, from the program. FAMCO is required to fund a cash collateral account as part of the credit enhancement. As of January 31, 2000, total receivables outstanding under the Program totaled $17.3 million and the balance of the cash collateral account was $2.7 million.

Bank Plus Corporation is the holding company for Fidelity Federal Bank, FSB, which offers a broad range of consumer financial services, including demand and time deposits and mortgage loans. In addition, through its affiliate Gateway Investment Services, Inc., a NASD-registered broker/dealer, Fidelity provides customers of the Bank with investment products, including mutual funds, annuities and insurance. Fidelity operates through 36 full-service branches, 35 of which are located in Southern California, principally in Los Angeles and Orange counties.


Visa Board

VISA USA named three new members to its Board of Directors and also named a new EVP of emerging markets and technology. James Dixon, BankofAmerica.com Executive at Bank of America; G. Kennedy Thompson, President of First Union; and, G. Joseph Prendergast, President and COO of Wachovia were added to the VISA Board. Yesterday’s board appointments are effective immediately, and bring the total number of VISA U.S.A. directors to 13. VISA USA also named Paul Vessey as EVP of emerging markets and technology. Vessey joins VISA from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, where he was a senior EVP overseeing card products, payment products and insurance.Vessey is also the former chairman of the Visa Canada Association and the former vice chairman of VISA International.


Citgo Deal Completed

Associates First Capital completed its agreement to acquire and manage the proprietary credit card program of CITGO. The Associates has acquired $130 million in receivables and approximately 1.2 million active consumer accounts. The acquisition does not affect CITGO’s commercial or fleet credit card accounts. Associates says it will employ 112 additional customer service and collections people in its Des Moines, IA credit card facility to manage the new accounts. The Associates and CITGO began their relationship in 1986 when they launched a co-branded bank credit card program. With the acquisition, The Associates becomes the largest provider of oil private label credit cards to the US oil industry with $2.2 billion in receivables and 11 million active accounts. In 1999, The Associates handled 423 million transactions for oil card customers, supporting $7.7 billion in sales for the oil companies.


Watson Terminal

Diebold unveiled a self-service concept that allows access to real-time, Internet-based information and services on a terminal that adapts to the physical needs of the user. ‘Watson’ utilizes biometric technology to identify consumers as they approach the terminal. Accessing pre-registered data, the terminal automatically adjusts to the user’s physical needs. For example, for an exceptionally tall user, the interface raises and the monitor tilts back for easier viewing. For shorter users or even those in a wheel chair, the interface lowers and the monitor tilts forward to become nearly vertical. Using Diebold’s ‘OPTinet’ software, the interface provides Internet access to allow the user to retrieve real-time personalized information from any on-line agency or financial service provider. A built-in color laser printer enables the printing of items such as financial statements, local information or event tickets. The card dispenser allows other items of value to be dispensed such as phone cards, transit cards and smart cards.