EBPP Power

The recent acquisition of TransPoint by CheckFree may shift the center of power in the ‘Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment’ industry away from banks. CA-based Killen & Associates this morning predicted the acquisition will have huge ramifications on the banking industry since banks had hoped to slow the encroachment of high technology companies into the cash management, Internet banking, and payments markets as corporations issue bills and customers pay their bills using the Internet. Killen say this makes it impossible for banks and other players to play the two competitors against each other. CheckFree will buy TransPoint outright and as a result, Microsoft, First Data, and Citibank will own 23% of the company. The research firm says the ball started rolling when CheckFree announced its plans to purchase BlueGill. This event started a process in which CheckFree would gain a significant advantage over all bank-centric EBPP competitive approaches, certainly in the US market, and over other EBPP software and service providers’ solutions as well. Using BlueGill’s products, CheckFree would be able to offer solutions that start with the extraction of data from the biller legacy data file and end with customer payments. Since CheckFree can now get in at the beginning of an EBPP implementation, it also will be in a strong position to sell customers a full range of CheckFree products and services. Following the acquisition of TransPoint, CheckFree’s only serious EBPP competitor will be Spectrum which was founded by Chase, First Union and Wells Fargo. Killen concludes that CheckFree and Spectrum could become the new VISA and MasterCard of EBPP, assuming no other group emerges to challenge them.


Level Charge-offs

Bank credit card charge-offs, among $307 billion of card-backed securities, were stable again in January 2000, according to Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Indexes’. Since July 1999, the monthly charge-off rate has declined or remained steady at 5.7%. Charge-offs have stabilized in the 6.0% area since the summer of 1998. However, the increase in delinquencies, although modest, suggests that upticks in charge-offs could be forthcoming. Credit quality performance was mixed among issuers in January. Most of the major trusts experienced modest increases in reported charge-off levels. Of the five largest master trusts, three reported declines or no change, while two experienced slightly higher losses. Specifically, Discover Card Master Trust’s loss rate dropped by 40 bps, to 5.4%, and Citibank Master Credit Card Trust’s losses declined for a second consecutive month to 3.9%.

Performance month Jan 98 Jan 99 Nov 99 Dec 99 Jan 00
Outstandings ($bil) 244.3 272.8 303.8 312.7 306.6
Yield (%) 18.7 19.4 19.5 19.9 18.9
Charge-offs (%) 6.6 6.1 5.7 5.7 5.7
Weighted base rate (%) 7.9 7.4 7.6 8.3 7.7
Excess spread (%) 4.1 5.9 6.2 5.7 5.5
Delinquencies (%) 5.7 5.1 4.8 4.6 4.7
Payment rate (%) 15.3 15.9 16.0 16.7 16.4


Class Action Debit Lawsuit

Yesterday, a federal judge certified the retailer’s debit card lawsuit against VISA and MasterCard as a class action. The lawsuit, originally filed by Wal-Mart, Sears and eleven other retailers, contends retailers are victims of an illegal tying arrangement, under which merchants are forced to accept ‘VISA Check’ and ‘MasterMoney’ debit cards. VISA and MasterCard’s off-line debit cards require considerably higher merchant fees than competing online debit cards offered by regional networks. Yesterday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson means the plaintiffs will represent the interests of more than four million U.S. retailers. The Wal-Mart lawsuit seeks treble damages and various forms of injunctive relief. Actual damages under the lawsuit have been estimated at more than $8 billion which translates into a possible $24 billion exposure for VISA and MasterCard members. Contrary to some press reports, the Wal-Mart case and the on-going DOJ antitrust litigation involving duality are separate and distinct legal actions. In January of this year, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, ruled the DOJ could access the Wal-Mart case counsels’ analyses of three million discovery documents provided by VISA and MasterCard. However there has been no effort to merge the actions. In February of 1999, the FTC referred its investigation into potentially anti competitive practices in the debit card industry to the DOJ. Reportedly the DOJ debit investigation remains active. This morning, CardWeb.com’s CEO, Robert McKinley, is scheduled to be deposed by VISA, MasterCard and DOJ attorneys in the duality case. McKinley previously testified in the 1992 VISA-MountainWest (Discover) antitrust trial as an expert witness for VISA. The DOJ duality trial is set for June of this year.


Associated Sells

WI-based Associated Banc-Corp announced Wednesday it has signed agreements to sell its $130 million credit card portfolio to Citibank. The agreement also calls for a long-term agency agreement between the two parties. The portfolio involves 300,000 cardholders. The transaction is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2000. Associated expects to recognize a gain of approximately $12 million from the sale. Associated Bank ‘VISA Check’ cards, business/corporate cards, merchant card services and ‘HomePower’ home equity cards are unaffected by the arrangement with Citibank.



First American Payment Systems, Inc. today announced the release of FirstPay.Net, a proprietary e-commerce payment gateway.

First American Payment Systems, Inc. recognized a market necessity for real-time transaction processing of credit cards for small- to medium-sized companies. Large retailers often create custom e-commerce systems that integrate with their inventory and shipping departments. Realizing the need for flexibility in a standardized e-commerce product, First American created FirstPay.Net.

“We felt that existing e-commerce payment gateways do not meet the market’s needs. So, we built a proprietary e-commerce payment solution that facilitates credit card transactions with simple implementation into a merchant’s Web site,” said Neil L. Randel, president and chief executive officer. “We maintain the e-commerce payment servers at our Fort Worth, Texas corporate facility, which gives us a tremendous advantage over other merchant acquirers in that we control the Internet payment gateway.”

FirstPay.Net is the affordable e-commerce payment solution for small- to medium-sized businesses. It allows real-time credit card payment processing through the merchant’s Web site, provides detailed transaction reporting and limits Internet hosting fees. Employing state-of-the-art technology, FirstPay.Net incorporates virtual terminal technology and can be used with most shopping cart products.

FirstPay.Net’s advanced security measures include SSL encryption technology and other leading edge security protocols to protect consumers and merchants. It also offers firewall protection and password security to view transactions. A specialized error protection component ensures consumers enter complete and accurate information.

“Security is everyone’s concern on the Internet. FirstPay.Net was developed with security as a top priority,” Randel said.

To introduce FirstPay.Net to the industry, First American Payment Systems plans to debut its new product at the Electronic Transactions Association annual meeting and exposition March 7 through 10 in Las Vegas.

First American Payment Systems, Inc., a privately owned corporation founded in 1990, provides full-service electronic credit card authorization and payment systems to retail, mail order, telephone order, Internet and home-based merchants throughout the United States. First American Payment Systems also offers retail ATM deployment services, Secur-Chex(TM) check guarantee services, FirstPay.Net e-commerce solution and Merimac Capital electronic payment equipment leasing.


PocketCard Deal

TeleServices Internet Group Inc., known as TSIG.com, yesterday announced that it has reached an agreement with PocketCard, a new, high-tech VISA card designed especially for the young. Under the agreement, PocketCard will be available to TSIG.com’s myMusicCard and myPhotoCard customers, allowing young people to make purchases while parents maintain control over spending limits.

PocketCard looks like and is accepted like a VISA card, but has unique features designed for the Internet user. The ‘sponsor,’ normally a parent or guardian, first sets up a virtual account with PocketCard. After the account is established, the sponsor can transfer funds in real-time, using any touch-tone phone or web browser. All transactions are reported in real-time, so that all purchases can be viewed on the card’s transaction history at the PocketCard.com web site.

“Kids are among the biggest buyers of music and film processing, so PocketCard is the perfect partner for TSIG.com’s myMusicCard and myPhotoCard programs,” noted Robert P. Gordon, Chairman and CEO. Pocket Card is the most convenient way for parents to establish accounts for their kids, to monitor their purchases, and to teach them responsible spending habits.”

About PocketCard

“PocketCard, the smart way to carry money” enables leading web sites to offer co-branded VISA cards to high-school and college students, employees and other under-served customer groups. PocketCard uses patent-pending technology to power these cards with real-time funding, reporting and control. This allows people who might not otherwise own a major payment card to have the full purchasing power, convenience and independence enjoyed by others. It also provides participating web sites with a powerful branding tool for strengthening customer relationships. Co-Branded VISA PocketCards are accepted at all online sites, and throughout the bricks and mortar world. The company’s web site is at [www.pocketcard.com][1].

About TSIG.com

Headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, TSIG.com created the My MusicCard program ([http://www.mymusiccard.com][2]) to enable consumers to purchase CDs and cassettes at the lowest prices, and to develop revenue-generating programs with corporations and non-profit organizations that drive consumers to customers’ Internet sites for the lowest cost in the industry. Similarly, TSIG.com’s My PhotoCard programs provide the lowest cost film processing and Kodak film. These unique marketing programs provide high margin returns and develop strong brand loyalty and awareness within target communities. TSIG.com also provides customer service and support with its web-based call center and related services.

[1]: http://www.pocketcard.com/
[2]: http://www.mymusiccard.com/


Americas Smart Card Boom

France-based Bull Smart Cards and CA-based CPI Card Group signed a co-operative agreement to cover the North and Latin American smart card markets. It has been projected the Americas, by 2003, will represent one third of the world’s microprocessor card sales. CPI is the North American leader in the production of laminated cards and one of the leading suppliers of bank cards. Bull Smart Cards specializes in the development and marketing of software for microprocessor cards, integrating a high level of security. In this area, Bull, in association with CPI, will bring expertise to a range of card users: banks seeking to migrate to the microprocessor card, countries wishing to deploy ID documents on smart cards, and companies aiming to secure their computer networks and Internet access.


Nokia Mobile VISA Payments

Nokia demonstrates the first phase results of payment solutions for mobile electronic commerce developed with Visa, the world’s largest consumer payments organization, and MeritaNordbanken, the largest Internet and Mobile banking and commerce provider in Europe.

At CeBIT 2000, Nokia, Visa and MeritaNordbanken will showcase how the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and personal area network (PAN) connectivity technologies, such as Infrared and Bluetooth, enable customers to purchase either via on-line transaction over the Internet or at the merchant point-of-sale by simply using their WAP enabled mobile phones.

The remote, on-line payment system seamlessly integrates the mobile Internet connectivity capabilities provided by a WAP enabled phone with a reliable credit card payment over the Internet, using an EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) compliant bank card, WAP Identity Module (WIM) and, SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) technologies.

The local payment system effortlessly combines local connectivity with chip card payment technology, providing a reliable, secure method of purchase by authenticating both the user and the merchant.

“Mobile handsets are transforming into multipurpose tools, enabling users to make calls, connect to the Internet and make purchases, with the added benefit of knowing their payments are authenticated and secure. The co-operation with MeritaNordbanken and Visa on dual-chip technology demonstrates that the involvement of leading payment associations will drive forward customer acceptance of electronic mobile payment services”, comments Pertti Lounamaa, Vice President at Nokia Internet Communications.

Security is one of the most important benefits of mobile electronic commerce. Nokia’s WAP compliant security solution, featuring strong user authentication and digital signature enables service providers and financial institutions to offer secure, mobile transactions to their customers.

“We are excited to participate in showing how payment cards, WAP technology, and the Internet can be integrated into one solution”, said Jon Prideaux, Executive Vice President, Visa EU. “Everyone is talking about mobile commerce; this is as close as it gets to seeing into the future.”

According to Bo Harald, Executive Vice President, MeritaNordbanken: “Providing mobile payment services to our customers is one of our top priorities. With electronic mobile payment services, a leading-edge initiative, MeritaNordbanken can deliver trustworthy, cost-effective services, which will be widely adopted.”

The EMPS technology will be demonstrated at CeBIT in the Nokia booth (Hall 26, Stand F72) from February 24th-March 1st. The services are scheduled for a pilot launch during the second half of this year.

About EMPS

Electronic Mobile Payment Services (EMPS) is a joint project between Nokia, MeritaNordbanken and Visa looking into areas of mobile payment. It will build on the groundwork established by the Wireless Application Protocol, Bluetooth and the specification by Europay, Mastercard and Visa for smart cards (EMV).

About Nokia

Nokia is paving the way to the mobile information society with its innovative products and solutions. The company is the leading mobile phone supplier and a leading supplier of mobile, fixed and IP networks related services as well as multimedia terminals. In 1999, Nokia’s net sales totaled EUR 19.8 billion (USD 19.9 billion). Headquartered in Finland, Nokia is listed on the New York (NOK), Helsinki, Stockholm, London, Frankfurt and Paris stock exchanges and employs more than 55 000 people. For more information please visit [www.nokia.com][1].

About Visa

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa has more than 70 smart card programmes in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programmes to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 620 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US$1.2 trillion in annual volume. Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 531,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com][2]

About MeritaNordbanken Group

MeritaNordbanken Group is the largest banking group in the Nordic region with over 6,5 million private and 400 000 corporate customers. The Group pioneered electronic banking services in the early 1980’s. Today over 1,1 million customers have signed up for the Group’s Internet service. Total log-ons exceed 3 million times a month. In Finland the number of network customers represents over 50 % of active customers . Over and above standard fund transfers and paying of bills the Group’s electronic services facilitate, for example, submitting of orders for purchase and sales of shares, direct purchase and sale fund units and electronic signing of loans. Over 750 merchants apply the Group’s solutions of E-commerce payment introduced in 1996. Other new services include E-billing, E-identification and E-signatures. From the beginning the Group’s electronic banking services have been designed to be used with different devices and through multiple channels, all utilizing the same set of passwords and covered by a single service contract. Today the service can be accessed with PC (Internet and public net), InetTV, WAP phone, mobile phones (including SMS-based services) and ordinary phones. More about MeritaNordbanken at [www.meritanordbanken.com][3]

[1]: http://www.nokia.com/
[2]: http://www.visa.com/
[3]: http://www.meritanordbanken.com/


Internet Fraud Screen

CyberSource Corporation and Visa U.S.A Wednesday announced the integration of a new, more powerful fraud detection model into the CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa, Version 4.0 (IFS V4.0). The new model, built using a combination of neural network and rules-based modeling technology, is the first to use card association reported fraud information to accurately predict Internet fraud.

This new model is the second phase in a partnership between CyberSource and Visa U.S.A. to jointly develop, promote and expand the capabilities of the CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa. During this phase, Visa validated CyberSource’s fraud screening system against the card association’s extensive history of reported fraud information -? enabling CyberSource to refine the accuracy in weighting the different variables that are analyzed for fraud. The relationship also involved the joint development of a combined rules-based and neural network model and a closed-loop data modeling process based on Visa’s conclusive transaction results and CyberSource’s Internet transaction histories.

“Our partnership with Visa continues to reap rewards for online merchants, consumers and our financial institution partners as we hone our fraud screen and provide a secure environment for conducting business on the Internet,” said Evan Ellis, president and COO for CyberSource. “This reinforces our leadership position in providing an accurate fraud detection system for Internet-initiated transactions.”

The combination of expert rules-based and neural modeling together with Visa’s extensive history of reported fraud allows the CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa to rapidly detect both obvious and subtle erroneous patterns across thousands of transactions. This helps merchants to better assess and make judgements on potentially fraudulent transactions across all card types and reduce the risk of rejecting a valid order.

“The new closed-loop system allows merchants to streamline order acceptance practices, helps to create a secure shopping environment for consumers and merchants alike, and furthers mainstream acceptance of eCommerce,” said Laurie Ailworth, senior vice president, Product and Operation for e-Visa.

The Importance of Card Association Modeling and Reported Fraud Validation

Unlike other services that rely on merchants or consortiums to voluntarily provide data on fraudulent transactions, the new CyberSource/Visa model is the first to use definitive and card association transaction results to model fraud risk. Such modeling delivers one of the most accurate and predictable means of managing fraud risk. The enhanced model is proven to increase fraud capture rates over the previous model by at least 20 percent.

About the Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa

The CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa screens eCommerce transactions and measures the predicted level of risk associated with each order, returning a related risk score back to the merchant in real time. This service not only provides a more efficient risk management tool for merchants, but also provides a higher level of security online. Keeping with the Visa policy of ensuring cardholder security, no individual transaction data is released by Visa during any development or fraud screening processes.

The CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa uses data validation, artificial intelligence pattern matching, network data aggregation and negative file checks as it examines more than 150 different factors to calculate the predicted risk of fraud associated with an online purchase. Merchants have the flexibility to tailor specific seasonal or other deviations in their expected customer behavior. Online merchants can run a pending credit card request through this online service and receive a rating or “score” that assesses the likelihood of fraud. Merchants then make a decision about whether to accept or reject the order. The average time for the fraud screening process is less than one second.

Pricing and Availability

The CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enhanced by Visa version 4.0 is available immediately and detects fraud for all major/credit/debit card types. The partnership between CyberSource and Visa continues to entitle US merchants to receive a discount on IFS transaction fees when a Visa credit card is presented. For more information on pricing, please contact a CyberSource representative or an authorized CyberSource reseller.

About Visa U.S.A.

Visa is the leading card brand and the largest payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1.4 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s 600 million cards are accepted at more than 17 million worldwide locations, including more than 500,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [http://www.visa.com][1].

About CyberSource Corporation

CyberSource is a leading developer and provider of eCommerce transaction services, and a pioneer in Internet fraud detection. More than 1200 Internet merchants in more than 26 countries have chosen to use CyberSource services. CyberSource provides mission-critical reliability with the CyberSource Internet Commerce Suite, offering merchant-controlled, real-time services including: Payment Services, Gift Certificate and Promotional Services, Tax Services, Risk Management Services, Distribution Control Services, and Fulfillment Management Services. Customers of CyberSource include leading Internet merchants and businesses selling online including: Amazon.com, Ashford.com, Beyond.com, BUY.COM, Casio, Compaq Computer, Mercata.com, MotherNature.com, Nike.com, Rx.com and Remedy. For more information visit [www.cybersource.com][2] or email to info@cybersource.com or ir@cybersource.com.

[1]: http://www.visa.com/
[2]: http://www.cybersource.com/


Smart-J Chip Award

NCT Group, Inc. announced that STMicroelectronics has been named a winner in the Advanced Card Awards 2000 for the Smart-J chip. This 32-bit smartcard chip offering direct Java(TM) processing was developed by Advancel Logic Corp., a subsidiary of NCTI. Advancel receives a royalty on every smartcard sold by STMicroelectronics. The Advanced Card Awards is the UK’s premier awards program recognizing excellence and innovation in the smart and advanced card industry.

“We are proud that STMicroelectronics, the undisputed worldwide leader in smartcards products, has embraced our subsidiary’s technology and that this technology has been recognized as the best new chip for smartcards,” said Michael J. Parrella, President, NCTI.

According to published market data, 1.15 billion smartcard chips were shipped in 1997. The total chip market is anticipated to exceed $1.4 billion in the year 2000.

A smartcard contains an embedded integrated circuit that can process information on the card once inserted and powered by a card reader. Examples of microcontroller smartcards are the electronic purse credit/debit card functions, ID cards that provide authorized access to networks and subscriber identification modules (SIM) that secure certain PCS cellular phones against fraud. The emergence of multi-function/multi-application needs in various application fields requires higher complexity, larger memory sizes and higher performance chip architectures.

STMicroelectronics is a global independent semiconductor company with strong European roots listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: STM) and on the Bourse de Paris. It designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete devices used in a wide variety of microelectronics applications, including telecommunications systems, computer systems, consumer products and industrial automation and control systems. In 1997, the company was recognized as one of the world’s best companies by Industry Week and Upside Magazine. Further information on STMicroelectronics can be found at [www.st.com][1].

Advancel Logic Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NCT Group, Inc. is located in San Jose, California. Advancel is a developer of algorithm-specific microprocessor cores with native Java execution. The company offers a family of highly-optimized processors for embedded applications. For more information, refer to the company’s World Wide Web site at [http://www.advancel.com][2].

NCTI is a leading technology developer with an extensive portfolio of proprietary algorithms and a wide variety of product offerings for consumer, commercial and industrial applications. The Company specializes in the utilization of sound and signal waves to reduce noise, improve signal-to-noise ratio and enhance sound quality. For more information, refer to the company’s World Wide Web site at [http://www.nct-active.com][3].

[1]: http://www.st.com/
[2]: http://www.advancel.com/
[3]: http://www.nct-active.com/


ebank.com POP Net Head

ebank.com, an online bank specializing in the small business market, announced Wednesday the appointment of Edward J. Bourgeois, 43, Senior Vice President, Points of Presence Network. Bourgeois’ primary responsibilities will be to oversee the strategic implementation and ongoing operations of ebank.com’s Points of Presence Network transactions through its Internet-enabled ATMs that will be connected to ebank.com’s website.

“Ed brings years of experience in both the technical and operational side of ATMs, as well as experience in operating a small business and community banks. As we embark on our new strategy of expanded presence, we believe Ed has the knowledge and skills to make it happen,” said Rich Parlontieri, Chairman and CEO of ebank.com.

Bourgeois had previously served as president and COO of New Orleans-based Automated Technology Machines, Inc., which he founded in December 1994 as a subsidiary of Firstrust Corporation. ATM Inc is a full-service, owner-operator and processor of ATM and point-of-sale transactions with annual sales of $10 million and a presence in 33 states. From 1994-96, Bourgeois served as President and CEO of another Firstrust subsidiary, First Bank and Trust, a $150 million community bank specializing in small businesses. Before joining Firstrust, Bourgeois served for 11 years as EVP, Treasurer and Director of First National Bank of Jefferson Parish, Gretna, Louisiana, a $450 million consumer and commercial bank.

A CPA, Bourgeois is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Louisiana Society of CPAs. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Computer Science from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA.

About ebank.com, Inc.

Based in Atlanta, GA, ebank.com, Inc., a unitary thrift holding company, is tailored to serve the financial needs of small businesses through the Internet and planned ebank.com centers or partner banks in regional markets. Through its subsidiary thrift, ebank, the company provides a broad array of financial products and services to its small business and retail customers, including its signature eSweepsm service, checking accounts, money markets, CDs, ATM cards, insurance products, equipment leasing, home loans, commercial loans, credit cards, bill payment services, and human resource services. ebank.com’s complete line of products and services should eventually include accounts receivable financing, “smart chip cards” via its ATM network, and other financial products and services designed to serve ebank.com’s small business and retail customers. For more information, visit [http://www.ebank.com][1].

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


P-Card Sales Tax

A new MasterCard study, released this week, found that purchasing card program sales tax can be effectively managed. Additionally, handling sales tax data was more manageable for companies with substantial purchasing card programs. MasterCard says companies with purchasing card programs experienced fewer sales and use tax reporting and back-up challenges when audited by the states. Called ‘Capturing Sales Tax of Purchasing Card Purchases’, the study, conducted by Gunn Partners, targeted the end-to-end purchasing card process and examined 22 large companies with revenues ranging from US$1 billion to over US$100 billion. Of those companies, nine had been audited by state tax authorities, and five agreed to be interviewed for the research. These five companies issued between 3,000 and 20,000 cards to employees with typical transaction limits from $1,000 to $5,000 per item. For these companies, the average cost of processing purchases through traditional processes was $6.07, but only $1.41 for purchasing card transactions.