Ilife.com Hemorrhage

Ilife.com, which operates the bankrate.com Web site and publishes Bank Rate Monitor, continues to hemorrhage cash. Yesterday the North Palm Beach, FL-based firm announced that it posted a $13 million loss in the fourth quarter to bring its total 1999 losses to nearly $34 million. The company went public last May and raised about $40 million in cash. As of year end 1999, Ilife.com had cash or cash equivalents of $22 million on hand. Ilife.com’s stock price is trading around $4 per share compared to its IPO price of $13 per share. Last year the firm spent $17 million to drive traffic to its Web sites. According to the company, Ilife.com’s Web sites attract about one million visitors per month. For 4Q/99 details on Ilife.com visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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VISA XML Spec

VISA International introduced the new ‘VISA Global Invoice Specification’ using ‘Extensible Markup Language’ yesterday. The new XML spec will enable users to exchange invoice and payment data across industries and technical processing platforms. Implementation of the specification enables corporations to negotiate prices and control costs, as well as increase productivity by eliminating manual processes. It is being introduced to encourage its adoption as an open standard in the global commercial marketplace. The new ‘VISA Global XML Invoice Specification’ was developed with VISA technology partners Commerce One, IBM, Sun Microsystems and ValiCert.

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Equifax Dominance

Equifax will soon manage North America’s largest lifestyle and demographic database as well as the world’s largest consumer credit database. The development is the result of last night’s announcement that Equifax will acquire the direct marketing businesses of R.L. Polk & Co. Under the agreement, Equifax will pay approximately $260 million to Polk for its CIS Group that comprises four units: Direct Marketing, Data Information Services/Polk Verity,Compusearch/Prospects Unlimited of Polk Canada and Polk City Directory. These businesses, with projected sales of $165 million for the 12 months ending March 31, represent consumer information from more than 250 data sources on 180 million consumers (105 million households), including product registration data, direct marketing, geodemographic and analytical services. After the acquisition, Equifax will not only manage the world’s most valuable and respected credit information, but also North America’s largest consumer and self-reported lifestyle and demographic databases. The Equifax consumer credit database will remain separate from the acquired lifestyle and demographic databases. The deal is expected to close April 30.

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Delinquency Decline

Trans Union reports this morning that borrower delinquency rates generally continued to decline in the fourth quarter. According to the report, the percentage of mortgage holders that are 30 or more days delinquent was virtually the same in the fourth quarter of 1999 as in the fourth quarter of 1998. The percentage of installment credit borrowers that were 30 or more days delinquent dropped by 44 basis points in the fourth quarter, compared to one year earlier, while the revolving borrower delinquency rate dropped by 48 basis points. Mortgage account balances continued their strong growth, with the average balance increasing 5.4% versus last year. The average revolving credit balance grew a more modest 1.8% compared to last year, while the average installment account balance stayed roughly flat. The report is based on consumer credit information gathered from ‘TrenData’, Trans Union’s advanced new database of aggregated time series credit bureau information.

Average Balance per Active Account

All Credit Mortgage Installment Revolving
Q3 1998 $7,850 $83,160 $10,510 $1,130
Q4 1998 $7,940 $84,030 $10,580 $1,120
Q3 1999 $8,700 $88,080 $10,910 $1,190
Q4 1999 $8,350 $88,530 $10,570 $1,140

Source: Trans Union LLC’s TrenData

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CyberMark College Cards

CyberMark, the leading developer and supplier of smart card solutions for education, corporate, stadium, and government markets announces it will team with ITC Systems and IDenticam to provide a one-card solution for University and College Campuses in North America. The suite of applications offered will include identification, parking and access control, photo identification, multiple electronic purses, physical and logical access, banking services, cardholder loyalty programs, WEB authentication, and photocopier access.

“The partnership with ITC and IDenticam both broadens our product line, and provides the best of breed solutions for unattended devices and opportunity to focus our unmatched smart card product line in Canadian markets,” said Vince Ley, Vice President of Partnership Marketing for CyberMark. “CyberMark has also employed the services of P & M Consulting, Nova Scotia, as a marketing and sales presence in Canada and North American markets.”

“ITC is excited about the SmartWorld(TM) Canada network and is pleased to be involved with industry leaders CyberMark and IDenticam,” said Cam Richardson, President of ITC Systems. He further stated, “We believe the next 12 months are going to be extremely busy for all concerned and are elated by the positive feedback received to date from the marketplace.”

“The union of these three companies is a benefit to all parties by being able to provide a unique “One-Card” solution to any client’s needs by integrating to the Internet a smart card system, a POS system, and identification system,” said Jeff Sharpe, President of IDenticam Systems Canada. He further stated, “With such a strong team, our clients will feel confident that we would offer the most comprehensive and seamless solution for their smart card and badging needs.”

ITC Systems (ITC) is a world leader in integrated transaction control systems. In the past 12 years, ITC has developed a line of Unattended Point of Sale (UPOS) Terminals for a multitude of self-serve applications. Their UPOS Terminals are successfully installed on vending machines, copiers, laundry machines, cash registers and other self serve charge for use applications. To operate, a valid e-purse card is inserted, the purchase is made and the amount is deducted from the purse.

ITC supplies software products for network printing control and on-line meal plans. The Print Queue Manager product holds jobs in a NT or Novell environment and will charge the card when the user releases their print job. Multiplan is an on-line meal plan package that allows for debit, credit, payroll deduction and mealplans. For more information, contact Cam Richardson at Tel 416-289-2344, Fax 416-289-4790 or visit their website at [http://www.itcsystems.com][1].

IDenticam has been a trendsetter in the field of digital imaging software since 1986. IDenticam is an international leader in personal identification systems and Canada’s largest identification company. An acclaimed innovator in digital imaging technologies, security database maintenance and ID verification software, IDenticam is universally recognized for quality products and technological innovations. To learn more about IDenticam, visit their website at [http://www.identicam.com][2].

CyberMark teams with industry leading electronic commerce organizations via the SmartWorld(TM) Partnership Program to offer comprehensive smart card solutions. Founded in 1996, CyberMark is a leading electronic commerce company, specializing in the creation of smart card communities on the Internet and in closed campus environments. Cardholders conduct smart card based transactions using their cards at sites displaying the SmartWorld(R) logo. SmartWorld(R) is a registered trademark of CyberMark. To learn more about CyberMark, visit [http://www.cybermark.com][3].

[1]: http://www.itcsystems.com/
[2]: http://www.identicam.com/
[3]: http://www.cybermark.com/

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UA Gets InControl

The world’s largest air carrier, United Airlines, has selected the InControl system to process its Air Travel Card transactions worldwide. InControl, which will replace United’s current billing system, offers a complete solution for their Air Travel Card billing needs. A flexible system, InControl was developed by the combined efforts of Air Travel Card. National Processing Company (NPC) and Quality Software Products (QSP, Inc.) InControl allows airlines to establish and build a direct relationship with their best customers, coporate travelers.

“After an extensive review of various alternatives, United Airlines is very pleased to have selected InControl,” said Lynn Hughitt, Vice President and Controller of United. “We believe InControl offers the most comprehensive billing system in the marketplace today. The improvements offered by this billing system will assist us in achieving our goal of establishing the United Airlines Air Travel Card as the most cost-effective corporate card program available. Our previous billing system did not have the flexibility we needed to trace and report on our customer’s travel activity. InControl meets every requirement we identified for an optimal billing solution.”

“Air Travel Card is very excited that United, the world’s largest airline, has selected InControl to manage its billing needs,” said Richard Crum, Managing Director of Air Travel Card. “United is the third airline to select InControl and demonstrates a major commitment by United Airlines to improve and expand its Air Travel Card corporate card program and will allow them unparralled opportunities for growth.”

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Food Lion & NCR

NCR Corporation announced that Food Lion, Inc., has installed NCR’s Self-Checkout system in the Gainsboro Square Food Lion store located in Chesapeake, Va.

“Food Lion is committed to offering our customers the best possible service,” said Dave Morgan, Food Lion’s senior vice president of Operations. “With NCR’s self-checkout system, we provide shoppers another checkout option and greater convenience. In fact, our customers are already telling us they enjoy the experience of using these new systems and appreciate being able to choose either the convenience of self-checkout or the full service of traditional checkout.”

The Chesapeake store has been equipped with two NCR self-checkout systems as part of a Food Lion pilot program. Morgan said Food Lion may consider expanding the program to additional locations, following a successful evaluation period.

NCR’s self-checkout includes an NCR bi-optic scanner/scale, security subsystem, self-checkout software and a customized checkstand. NCR is the world leader in shipments of stationary bar code scanners, led by the company’s bi-optic scanner lines. NCR’s self-checkout won Microsoft Corporation’s 1999 Retail Application Developer (RAD) Award, which recognizes NCR self-checkout for its demonstration of industry leadership with a “best- of-breed solution that maximizes retailer business benefits.”

“Our shoppers who use this system can pay for their own purchases using credit cards, debit cards or cash,” Morgan added. “They can even use coupons and receive cash back from their transactions.”

“NCR brings years of leadership in self-service solutions and expertise in human factors engineering to the self-checkout market,” said Ron Southard, NCR vice president of Food Store Solutions for the Americas. “We make it possible for retailers to offer their shoppers a self-checkout system that is designed to be friendly and intuitive to use. This is important to a company like Food Lion, where the care and satisfaction of customers is a priority.

“In addition, NCR self-checkout can improve overall checkout efficiency for retailers, because it is open whenever the store is open,” Southard added. “Retailers also get the proven reliability and availability they expect from an NCR self-service system.”

About Food Lion

With 1,136 supermarkets in 11 Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States, Food Lion is one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains. Headquartered in Salisbury, N.C., the company and its 92,000 employees serve high-quality products at extra low prices to 10 million customers per week. Food Lion’s parent company, Delhaize America is a part of an international group of supermarkets. To learn more about Food Lion, visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.foodlion.com][1].

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a recognized world leader in providing Relationship Technology(TM) solutions for the retail, financial, telecommunications, airline and insurance markets. NCR’s Relationship Technology solutions include data warehousing, ATMs and point-of-sale systems. The company’s business solutions are built on the foundation of its long- established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and world-leading hardware technology. More information about NCR and its products may be found at [http://www.ncr.com][2].

[1]: http://www.foodlion.com/
[2]: http://www.ncr.com/

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Discover Gets Penny Wise

Discover Financial Services, Inc., a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., and Penny Wise Office Products announced a new merchant initiative, offering Discover/Novus Network’s merchants office supplies at special discounts.

The partnership allows Discover/Novus Network merchants to receive discounts off the retail price of office supplies, furniture and other related products by purchasing through Penny Wise. The program also offers Discover/Novus Network merchants free shipping through UPS with next-day delivery to almost every location in the United States, a no-hassle return policy, and a lowest price guarantee. Merchants can access the Penny Wise inventory through a variety of toll-free channels, including the Penny Wise Web site where customers receive an additional 3% discount.

“This program is the latest in a series of initiatives to provide merchants with direct benefits for being part of the Discover/Novus Network,” said Tom Dailey, senior vice president, Discover/Novus Network, Discover Financial Services, Inc. “The partnership with Penny Wise is another example of Discover Card’s overall commitment to providing smart, simple solutions to our merchants.”

Penny Wise, a leader in the office products industry, specializes in working with national membership organizations. Through its exclusive arrangements with nearly 300 trade associations, membership clubs and other organizations, Penny Wise offers special discounts and services to participants in its Partner Marketing program as an added benefit of membership.

“Everyone at Penny Wise is very excited to begin working with the Discover/Novus Network. We feel that our experience and business philosophy will truly benefit their merchants, and help them reduce cost and save time on this critical business function,” said Gary Luiza, Penny Wise’s President.

Discover Financial Services, a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., operates the Discover Card brands with more than 48 million Cardmembers and the Discover/Novus Network. The Network is the largest independent credit card network in the United States with more than 3.5 million merchant and cash access locations.

For more information on Discover/Novus merchant programs visit [www.novusnetwork.com][1] or for more information on Penny Wise Office Products, please visit [www.penny-wise.com][2]

[1]: http://www.novusnetwork.com/
[2]: http://www.penny-wise.com/

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Taiwan Goes Falcon

Taiwan is the latest country to adopt Falcon, the world’s leading bank card fraud detection system from HNC Financial Solutions, a division of HNC Software Inc.

HNC announced today that global information technology services leader EDS has deployed the Falcon fraud detection system in the Taipei data center of EDS Taiwan, one of Taiwan’s largest suppliers of information technology and consulting services. Falcon is now guarding the portfolio of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited Taiwan, EDS Taiwan’s first client to use the system.

“We were able to detect numerous frauds with Falcon within its first hour of live operation,” said Chris Yao, senior manager of EDS Taiwan. “We are excited to be the first technology service in Taiwan to offer this premium fraud protection.”

“We created a customized Falcon system for EDS Taiwan by leveraging our worldwide Fraud Consortium data and our experience implementing Falcon systems in double-byte character environments. As additional card issuers in Taiwan join the Falcon family, we will be able to further enhance this custom solution,” added David Johnson, vice president of Fraud Products for HNC Financial Solutions. “We’re excited about the market potential for Falcon in Taiwan, where credit card use is growing at nearly 50 percent every year.”

Falcon, a neural network-based predictive software system that examines transaction, cardholder, and merchant data to detect a wide rande of credit card fraud, currenly protects more than 300 million payment card accounts worldwide.

Founded in 1989, EDS Taiwan operates the largest commercial data center in the entire country. With offices in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, EDS Taiwan has more than 80 customers and 400 employees.

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Diebold Acquisitions

Diebold is set to become the second-largest provider of financial self-service solutions in Europe. Diebold announced Wednesday an agreement to acquire the financial self-service assets and related development activities of Amsterdam-based Getronics NV and Groupe Bull, headquartered near Paris, for approximately US$160 million in cash. With annual revenue totaling approximately US$250 million, the acquired business includes ATMs, cash dispensers, other self-service terminals and related services primarily for the global banking industry. Additionally, Diebold is gaining many related European-specific applications and software development skill sets. While Diebold will have direct control over its distribution network, as part of this transaction the company will have strategic partnerships to cooperate on integrated delivery channel solutions for the financial industry with Getronics and Groupe Bull. The agreement includes SIAB, a manufacturing facility located in Cassis, France; Cable Print, a specialized financial self-service terminal manufacturer in Brussels, Belgium, and approximately 1,300 employees in manufacturing, management, sales and service in more than 20 countries. Getronics markets and services Olivetti-branded ATMs, which were purchased from Wang Global in 1998. Both Bull and Getronics’ self-service terminals are manufactured at the SIAB facility.

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