MBNA Signs Virtual Communities

Virtual Communities Inc, provider of turnkey solutions for the development and management of Web-based communities and publisher of online ethnic and affinity communities, and MBNA America Bank, N.A. announced the details of a co-branded credit card and joint marketing program.

MBNA will be the exclusive issuer of credit cards for VCI’s communities, including [www.virtualireland.com][1], [www.virtualitaly.com][2], and [www.virtualindia.com][3]. MBNA will also offer co-branded affinity cards to future online communities published by VCI using VCI’s proprietary Community Management Solution (CMS).

VCI CEO Avi Moskowitz said, “The relationship between VCI and MBNA is a natural fit. MBNA is recognized as a leading credit card provider and as the developer of many innovative and successful co-branded and affinity credit card programs. VCI has members who are actively engaged in their communities and who are seeking a place that reflects their own heritage and values. This alliance with MBNA reaffirms our commitment to providing our current and future members with the highest quality of services available.”

About the Companies

Virtual Communities Inc. markets its proprietary Community Management Solution (CMS) to organizations interested in building their own web-based communities. CMS, developed by VCI after building numerous online communities, offers customers a comprehensive technology and service solution, including scalable content management and publishing software, cutting-edge e-commerce functionality, best-of-breed community retention features, community design and development services, plus ongoing maintenance and 24/7 support. VCI also develops, acquires and operates web-based communities targeted to U.S. ethnic and affinity groups. VCI’s current network of communities includes: virtualjerusalem.com, virtualireland.com, virtualitaly.com, virtualindia.com and virtualholyland.com.

MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has $72.3 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan and insurance products. MBNA has announced a powerful array of Internet services for the company’s Customers. These services provide the MBNA Customer with convenient and secure access to online banking and shopping as well as powerful Web navigation tools. The services include: [http://www.mbnanetaccess.com][4] – where Customers can gain access to their accounts, schedule payments for their accounts, and review statements, [http://www.mbnawallet.com][5] – the best place to find merchandise, compare prices, and make purchases online using a digital wallet to simplify the purchasing process, and [http://www.mbnaoffers.com][6] – a premier shopping site for the best in value, convenience, and security. MBNA’s products are currently marketed on the Web sites of 950 of the organizations that have an endorsement relationship with the company.

[1]: http://www.virtualireland.com/
[2]: http://www.virtualitaly.com/
[3]: http://www.virtualindia.com/
[4]: http://www.mbnanetaccess.com/
[5]: http://www.mbnawallet.com/
[6]: http://www.mbnaoffers.com/

Details

NextCard Signs PlanetRx.com

PlanetRx.com, Inc., a leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content and community, Wednesday announced an Internet marketing and promotional agreement with NextCard, Inc., the leading issuer of credit cards online.

Under the terms of the agreement, PlanetRx.com will exclusively market and promote the NextCard Internet Visa on its Web site. In addition, NextCard will utilize its expertise as a top-five online advertiser to promote PlanetRx.com through aggressive online marketing efforts. The two parties will provide PlanetRx.com branded incentives to encourage online purchases with the NextCard Visa.

“We are confident that NextCard will enhance the shopping experience for our current members, while also bringing new customers to our Web site,” said William J. Razzouk, chairman and CEO of PlanetRx.com. “The relationship between NextCard and PlanetRx.com complements our ongoing commitment to provide consumers with the best products and services available on the Internet.”

PlanetRx.com will promote NextCard’s credit card and e-commerce services to PlanetRx.com members through alternative vehicles such as e-mail, ad placement and mailers. New NextCard cardholders from PlanetRx.com will receive exclusive NextCard privileges, including instant online approval, valuable one-click shopping services with NextCard Concierge, a comprehensive rewards program, and a 100% Safe Online Shopping Guarantee with 24-hour interactive online service and support.

“NextCard continues to aggressively grow its e-commerce initiatives and cardholder base through strategic partnering with category leaders such as PlanetRx.com,” said David Schwartz, vice president of customer acquisition at NextCard. “PlanetRx.com is one of the most trusted healthcare destinations on the Web, so we are pleased to promote their services and collaborate with them to deliver value to our cardholders.”

About PlanetRx.com

PlanetRx.com, Inc. ([http://www.planetrx.com][1]), a leading Internet healthcare destination for commerce, content, and community, delivers a convenient, personalized, and informed health and beauty shopping experience. With products ranging from prescriptions to personal care items to the latest medical information, PlanetRx.com gives consumers the ability to manage their own healthcare in a convenient and secure environment. PlanetRx.com is one of four online pharmacies to have received the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal of approval from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Headquartered in South San Francisco, Calif., the company operates its own pharmacy and distribution center, in Memphis, Tenn., to ensure the highest quality customer care.

About NextCard, Inc.

NextCard, Inc. ([http://www.nextcard.com][2]) is considered the leading issuer of consumer credit on the Internet. Launched in 1997, the company was the first to offer online credit card approval within 30 seconds, a choice of customized credit card offers, personalized PictureCard(SM) design and the 100% Safe Online Shopping Pledge. NextCard is committed to providing the most robust consumer shopping experience on the Internet and continues to innovate with its GoShopping!(SM) site, NextCard Concierge(SM) Web shopping companion, comprehensive rewards program, and exceptional online customer service.

NextCard is consistently a top ten online advertiser, operates a network of over 35,000 affiliates and has exclusive card relationships with leading brands including Amazon.com, priceline.com and DILBERT. The Company publishes the NextCard eCommerce Index(SM), the premier source of online purchase activity, and was named the No.1 credit card brand online consumers would consider for use, according to ZDNet’s BrandIQ research study. NextCard was named a Top 50 Financial Web site by Money magazine, a HOT 100 Company by Upside magazine and one of The Standard 100 most important and influential companies in the Internet economy by The Industry Standard. The Company also owns a minority stake in Flooz.com, the premier online gift currency.

[1]: http://www.planetrx.com/
[2]: http://www.nextcard.com/

Details

CA to Manage NPC Debit Net

Computer Associates International, Inc. announced that National Processing Company, a leading provider of merchant credit card processing services and corporate outsourcing solutions, has selected CA’s Unicenter TNG to manage its debit card authorization network and other mission-critical eBusiness systems. CA Services will provide support for the implementation of Unicenter TNG.

Unicenter TNG will proactively manage and maximize system uptime for a nationwide network of servers, network switches and communications lines integral to NPC facilitating the time-sensitive electronic transfer of funds and information for credit and debit card services. Unicenter TNG provides a single point of control for managing all resources critical to eBusiness availability, including systems, networks, applications, databases, the Internet and more.

“Debit card authorization is a major initiative for us,” said John Brecht, NPC’s chief information officer. “We’re currently authorizing millions of transactions at the point of sale. If a customer’s debit card can’t get authorized, a merchant could lose the sale.”

Maintaining the availability of a 24 x 365 environment is critical to NPC’s debit card business strategy because agreements with national chain stores and other merchants require availability levels at or above 99.5 percent. “Unicenter TNG will help us determine if we are meeting our commitments relative to response times,” said Brecht.

“We can’t afford to have a minute of downtime,” said Brecht. “By taking advantage of Unicenter TNG’s threshold management capabilities, we can see where we’re having problems before the end customer calls. Unicenter TNG’s capacity analysis will help us anticipate if a line is going to exceed the limit we’ve set for utilization, so we’ll have enough time to take corrective action.”

NPC had been using the Advanced Help Desk (AHD) option of Unicenter TNG since 1996. Unicenter TNG will be integrated with AHD so that trouble tickets can be automatically generated and tracked by technicians over NPC’s intranet, according to Brecht. “Since AHD is not application-specific, we can monitor trouble tickets for all systems under the Unicenter TNG umbrella.”

By notifying system technicians about potential problems and by allowing them to track the progress of trouble tickets over the Web, the Advanced Help Desk of Unicenter TNG will save NPC time and resources. “AHD gives us root cause analysis ability and a better fix on the speed with which problems will get solved,” said Brecht. Problems not only get solved faster with AHD but the entire eBusiness infrastructure availability is maximized.

The scalability of Unicenter TNG also figured prominently into NPC’s decision because the Kentucky-based company estimates a three-fold increase in network administration and control requirements over the next five years, with much of the growth stemming from its new debit card business.

Successful upgrades of Unicenter TNG and AHD by CA Services prompted NPC’s senior management to make Unicenter TNG their enterprise-wide standard and integrate other platforms and niche products under Unicenter TNG. In addition to debit card authorization, Unicenter TNG will also oversee NPC’s chargeback services — both functions require quick turnaround and the ability to manage massive amounts of data flowing to and from NPC, banks, merchants and card associations such as Visa and Mastercard.

“It’s extremely critical to our business to provide debit authorization, chargeback and card settlement services in a quality way as well as a timely way,” said Brecht. “Unicenter TNG will play a significant role in our debit authorization and chargeback business.”

Unicenter TNG will oversee a multiplatform environment featuring a fault- tolerant system, a mainframe system and an open system Unix/Oracle environment running on HP servers. It was crucial to NPC that its different systems were able to communicate with each other. AHD’s flexibility will solve that problem by centralizing support for all eBusiness systems. “CA Services gave us detailed technical information,” said Brecht. “There were some skills that we didn’t have in our shop and we were able to get them through Computer Associates.”

NPC is investigating implementing Neugents, CA’s patented neural-network- based technology, throughout its global network to guarantee optimal eBusiness performance. Unicenter TNG Performance Neugents deliver unique predictive management capabilities, further enhancing manageability. Their ability to proactively predict the likelihood of problems provides early warning of unusual system behavior, enabling NPC to correct problems before they occur.

Computer Associates International, Inc. (NYSE: CA), the world’s leading business software company, delivers the end-to-end infrastructure to enable eBusiness through innovative technology, services and education. CA has 18,000 employees worldwide and had revenue of $6.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 1999. For more information, visit [http://www.ca.com][1].

Computer Associates Services has more than 4,000 consultants in 44 countries around the world delivering technology solutions for clients in the areas of enterprise systems management, application development and integration, knowledge management, eBusiness infrastructure, security and visualization. Specific services include business assessment and consulting, implementation, education and outsourcing. For more information on CA Services, please visit .

National Processing, Inc. is a leading provider of merchant credit card processing services and corporate outsourcing solutions. The company is 88 percent owned by National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC). Visit NPC on the Web at [http://www.npc.net][2].

[1]: http://www.ca.com/
[2]: http://www.npc.net/

Details

Czech Smart Cards

MUZO a.s., Europay International, and ACI have completed implementation of the infrastructure to enable all Czech Banks using MUZO’s services to process chip cards by March. The migration is the result of collaboration between Europay International and ACI Worldwide under the umbrella of the ‘Europay/MasterCard Chip Vendor Services Program’. The project in the Czech Republic represents ACI’s third major EMV implementation in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region.

Details

NPC Hires Sonny Martin

Sonny Martin has joined National Processing Inc. as executive vice president of Product Management for the Merchant Services Division. National Processing Inc. is the second largest provider of merchant credit card processing services with over $100 billion in Visa and MasterCard volume for 1999.

Martin previously served as President of Client Merchant Services for First Data Corporation. Martin’s focus was to manage bank relationships for merchant processing. He was also responsible for the conversions of the merchant business before assuming responsibility for client merchant services.

Before working with First Data Corporation, Martin served as executive vice president and general manager of NPC’s Merchant Card business for over 25 years.

“Sonny is legendary in the credit card industry. We are very excited to have someone of Sonny’s caliber driving our product management initiatives and assisting NPC in other strategic endeavors,” said Tom Wimsett, President and CEO of NPC.

During 2000, Martin will primarily be focused on a major initiative to enhance NPC’s on-line reporting capabilities and back office processing functions.

“While NPC has always been a leader in the card business their commitment and focus on its customers and product capabilities are stronger than ever,” said Sonny Martin.

Martin resides in New Albany, IN with his wife Linda. He has two daughters.

About NPC

NPC is the leading provider of merchant credit card processing and outsourcing solutions. NPC supports over 470,000 merchants, representing one out of every six Visa and MasterCard transactions processed nationally. Approximately 88 percent of the company is owned by National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC), a Cleveland based $87 billion bank holding company.

Details

ACS Wins FDIC Card Contract

ACS announced Tuesday that its Government Solutions Group has been awarded the National Credit Card Servicing contract by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This basic ordering agreement includes an initial term of three years and two one- year options.

“We are very pleased with this award decision,” says William A. Woodard, Group President of ACS’ Government Solutions Group. “We have more than 20 years of direct, hands-on experience supporting Government loan programs.”

Work on the NCCS contract is to begin immediately under our ACSessLink(TM) service offering, which includes credit card and debit card servicing supported by state-of-the-art technology. Services include: processing, collecting and recording account payments, charges and credits; automated authorization and clearing advances; “lockbox” interface for collection processing; cardholder statement processing, mailing and PIN initiation; fraud detection; card replacement; and, merchant processing services.

ACS has subcontracted with Fiserv, Inc. of Brookfield, Wisconsin to provide the software and credit card processing. Fiserv, using a leading credit card processing system called VisionPlus, currently supports numerous credit card clients through its data center and operations in Orlando, Florida.

ACS is a Fortune 1000 company based in Dallas, Texas, with operations within North America, Central America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. ACS is an integrated, future-focused company with a rich history of innovative work and long-term relationships. ACS has proven customer retention, broad and vertical expertise, and personalized attention and flexibility. ACS provides the full range of information technology services including business process outsourcing, electronic commerce, technology outsourcing, professional services and systems integration. The company’s Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ACS”. Visit ACS on the Internet at [http://www.acs-inc.com][1].

[1]: http://www.acs-inc.com/

Details

VISA NASCAR

VISA is launching a new integrated marketing program for its NASCAR partnership, under the umbrella theme, “VISA. It’s Everywhere NASCAR Fans Want To Be.” VISA’s NASCAR marketing program will include national television advertising; national consumer sweepstakes; targeted promotions, both on-track and with the automotive aftermarket; and online activities, including a VISA preference program at the NASCAR.com online store. VISA will launch its NASCAR sweepstakes for 2000 on May 1.

Details

Hypercom Promotes Cheung

Hypercom Corporation , a global provider of electronic payment solutions announced the appointment of T.K. Cheung as president, Hypercom Network Systems. Cheung will be directly responsible for managing and directing the operations of this Hypercom division. He will report to George Wallner, president and CEO of Hypercom Corporation. Cheung previously served as vice president of product management. He succeeds Paul Wallner.

“T.K. Cheung is a seasoned professional in the telecommunications and electronic payment industries who has contributed significantly to Hypercom’s innovative and highly popular custom network management solutions,” said George Wallner, president and CEO, Hypercom Corporation. “His appointment is directly in line with our goal of bringing to market the most advanced, value-added electronic payment solutions.”

Cheung is a 22-year veteran of the telecommunications and electronic payments industries. Prior to joining Hypercom in 1991, Cheung served with American Express for 13 years, most recently as telecommunications network consultant. In that position, he was based in Hong Kong and responsible for directing that company’s telecommunications efforts in Asia-Pacific and Australia.

Hypercom Network Systems designs and supplies custom networking solutions to retail and financial enterprises. Hypercom Network Systems products include the IEN foundation, framework and full coverage network management system, IENView(TM).

Hypercom Corporation (NYSE:HYC) is a global provider of end-to-end electronic payment solutions, including card payment systems, peripherals, network products, software and e-commerce payment solutions that add value at the point-of-sale for consumers, merchants and acquirers.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Hypercom markets its products in more than 70 countries through a global network of affiliates and offices in Puerto Rico. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com][1].

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

Details

PaySys Hires FDC’s Robida

PaySys International Inc., a global leader in financial transaction processing applications, announced that it has appointed Rick Robida as executive vice president and general manager of the Vision Systems Group. Robida will be responsible for leading the growth of the company’s consumer-based products and services division.

“We are excited that Rick Robida has joined PaySys, as his extensive experience in credit card processing management will be a valuable asset as we grow the company in new directions,” said Stephen B. Grubb, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Previously, Robida served as executive vice president of First Data Corporation. He directed the international business development of First Data Resources, the company’s card processing business unit, and oversaw marketing and sales, internal and external communications, and strategic planning.

Prior to joining First Data, Robida was president of Speer & Associates, Inc. (S&A), an Atlanta-based financial services consulting firm. In his 10 years with S&A, Robida managed consulting engagements for major financial institutions as well as for national and regional networks and bankcard associations. This included evaluation of strategic business plans and retail delivery systems, as well as operational and financial assessments involving branch operations, credit card, debit card, retail lending and ATM activities.

Prior to joining Speer & Associates, Inc., Robida was general manager of card products for the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto. He was responsible for all credit and debit card activities, including the merchant and private label programs, as well as ATM and shared networks.

Previously, Robida was chairman of the board of VISA Canada and was a member of the VISA International board of directors. He served as a member of various VISA International advisor groups, including VISA Gold, Operations, and the ATM Network advisors.

During his career, Robida was also responsible for developing the Ideal Financial Network, which was the first interbank-shared ATM network in Canada, and was a leader in the formation of Interac, Canada’s national shared ATM/POS network. Robida has also served as a director of PLUS System Inc., and has been chairman of the Canadian Bankers Association, Bank Card Committee, and the Canadian Payments Association ATM Standards Committee. He has also served on a number of International Standards Organization committees and sub- committees.

Robida was educated at the University of Western Ontario in London and Seneca College in Toronto. He has been a frequent lecturer and has served on the faculty of the ABA National School of Bank Card Management. Robida has had articles published on bankcard and EFT topics in Canada, the United States and abroad.

About PaySys

PaySys International Inc., is the established leader in financial transaction processing applications, having developed innovative software products such as CardPac. The company’s industry leading VisionPLUS suite integrates Internet capabilities with retail, bankcard and consumer loan payment processing, all in one system. Headquartered in Atlanta, PaySys has offices worldwide and clients in more than 30 countries on six continents. For more information, visit the company’s web site at [http://www.paysys.com][1].

PaySys and CardPac are trademarks and VisionPLUS and TRAMS are registered trademarks of PaySys International, Inc. Brands mentioned in this document are trademarks or registered marks of their respective owners and must be treated as such.

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

Details

Latin America Cards

Low credit card adoption and poor product fulfillment infrastructure represent major barriers for Internet businesses looking to tap into the Latin America Internet commerce market. According to a new study by Jupiter Communications, the potential Latin America online commerce market is around $8.3 billion with 66 million online users within Latin America, concentrated in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. The study, released yesterday at a Jupiter conference in Miami, says the barrier of low credit card ownership across the region creates an opportunity for banks and other financial institutions to facilitate Internet commerce, which is a trend now beginning to emerge.

Details

LendingTree IPO

Another online loan and credit card broker hits the Street today. LendingTree, Inc. will make its initial public offering this morning under the symbol “TREE” on the Nasdaq National Market. The IPO consists of 3,650,000 shares of common stock priced at $12 per share. If demand is strong enough, LendingTree will sell an additional 547,500 shares, bringing the IPO’s total proceeds to $50 million. The IPO is expected to draw a lukewarn response due to the performance of other online financial services such as E-loan. LendingTree says it has processed 700,000 consumers loan requests on its Web site since it began operations in 1998. The company closed 12,412 loans worth $439.6 million in the fourth quarter, up from 9,540 loans valued at $266.2 million in the third quarter. LendingTree has 90 participating lenders in its network offering mortgages, home equity loans, automobile loans, credit cards, and personal loans.

Details

Transpoint Merges

CheckFree and TransPoint announced this morning they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. TransPoint is an electronic billing and payment joint venture between First Data and Microsoft. Citibank is a minority equity investor. Under terms of the deal, TransPoint’s owners will receive 17 million shares of CheckFree’s common stock. Based on yesterday’s closing price for CheckFree, the deal is valued at $1.2 billion. When the transaction closes in four to six months, Microsoft, First Data and Citibank together will own 23% of CheckFree. As part of the transaction, CheckFree will receive an exclusive five-year relationship with Microsoft to provide electronic billing and payment technology used in applications and services Microsoft develops. During that time, Microsoft will guarantee a minimum of $120 million in revenue to CheckFree. First Data also will enter into a five-year relationship with CheckFree, during which time First Data and CheckFree will market and use each other’s products and services. First Data will provide at least $60 million in revenue and/or cost savings to CheckFree. Immediately prior to closing the transaction, Microsoft, First Data and Citibank will collectively contribute $100 million to TransPoint; these funds will be transferred to CheckFree at closing. Microsoft and First Data each will gain a seat on CheckFree’s Board of Directors. Selected for the positions are Ric Duques, chairman and CEO of First Data, and Lewis Levin, who in addition to being president and CEO of TransPoint is a vice president at Microsoft.

Details