Gemplus SIM Card

Gemplus and Sonera SmartTrust announced this morning they will enter the market with a ‘GSM SIM’ card, featuring digital signature and Public Key encryption. This is enabled by Sonera SmartTrust technology embedded in the Gemplus SIM card. Mobile operators using this technology with advanced SIM cards will be able to offer their customers a whole new set of secure wireless e-commerce solutions. Analysts predict explosive growth for the mobile device market in the next few years, with most predicting one billion mobile phones in use within the next three to four years.


Casino Cash Biometrics

Patrons may have to show their face to get cash at some casinos. Global Cash Access and Infonox, a Silicon Valley Internet company that develops web-based software for the financial services industry, have entered into an agreement to use Viisage Technology’s patented facial recognition technology in GCA’s new automated cashier machine. GCA’s ‘ACM’ system fully integrates ATM, credit card cash advance, check-cashing, POS debit, Western Union, patron credit markers, and one-to-one marketing opportunities. Infonox develops Internet appliances which provide transaction processing, transaction management and transaction reporting services using its proprietary middleware product, ‘Infonox Active Layer’. GCA and Infonox have also entered into an agreement with Diebold to supply the ‘ACM’ kiosk.


Mondex Originator System

The world’s first full-function ‘Mondex Originator’ system to support smart card electronic cash has been introduced. ACI Worldwide and Mondex Australia announced yesterday the successful installation of the ‘Originator Territory Management System’. The management and control of Mondex e-cash in circulation in any particular currency territory is the responsibility of an ‘Originator’-set up by the local Mondex franchisee. The ‘Mondex Originator’ in each currency territory plays a role similar to that of a central bank in relation to traditional cash, by creating and distributing Mondex electronic value and ensuring the integrity of the system. ACI says the ‘Originator Territory Management System’ completes its set of Mondex products, with ACI now providing end-to-end solutions to support the spectrum of relationships for card issuers including cardholders, merchants, Originator, card manufacturers and other service providers. Mondex says it is now the most market-ready e-cash scheme in Australia.


Providian Opens Austin Center

Providian Financial announced Thursday that it will open a new operations center in Austin, Texas, to accommodate growth in the Company’s consumer lending businesses. Providian plans to hire approximately 600 employees to staff the facility, which is expected to open in March.

The new Austin facility will be Providian’s third in Texas. The company has had a presence in Arlington since June 1999 when it opened a credit card operations center there that now employs over 1,000 people, and it announced in December that it will open an additional operations center in San Antonio by mid-February.

“The tremendous growth in new customers we’ve been experiencing has created the need for additional facilities,” said David Alvarez, president of Providian’s credit card division. “We are happy to be part of the Austin business community and are eager to have area residents join our talented and growing employee population.”

Providian will lease 60,000 square feet at 6500 Tracor Lane. Because the facility was most recently used as a call center, minimal remodeling will be required, enabling Providian to open the center quickly. Recruiting will begin later this month to hire customer representatives and managers.

“Texas offers a very hospitable business climate and, by establishing offices throughout the state, Providian can also benefit from efficiencies in technology, recruiting, and management,” said Providian Vice President Dan Barnard, who is in charge of the company’s facilities. “Equally important is the fact that Austin offers a fast-growing, highly qualified labor force that will support our commitment to growth and 100% customer satisfaction.”

Today, San Francisco-based Providian Financial employs more than 11,000 people nationwide and in the United Kingdom, with facilities in Arlington, Texas, as well as Fairfield, Oakland, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire; and London, England.

About Providian Financial

San Francisco-based Providian Financial Corporation ([][1]) is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers nationwide and also offers credit cards in the United Kingdom. Providian serves a broad, diversified market with loan products that include credit cards, home equity loans, secured cards and membership services.

With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian’s mission is to help its customers build or rebuild, protect and responsibly use credit by providing a quality borrowing experience that leads to active and lasting customer relationships. Providian has $20 billion in assets under management and over 11 million customers.



Card-Activated Business Centers

The pioneer of credit card activated business centers got a shot in the arm yesterday from Big Blue. Wayne, PA-based USA Technologies announced Thursday its flagship product, ‘Business Express’ will be added to IBM’s offering portfolio and sold through IBM’s national call center. ‘Business Express’ is the world’s first 24-hour credit card-activated business center each offering business travelers and consumers fast access to desktop workstations, laptop PCs, printers, copiers and fax machines. ‘Business Express’ and ‘Mail Boxes Etc. Business Express’ are currently located in approximately 400 US hotels. USTT has formed an alliance with IBM Global Services that could lead to the installation of up to 5,000 ‘Business Express’ facilities throughout North America. IBM also agreed assist USA Technologies with migrating its proprietary ‘TransAct’ credit card authorization and payment system to the Internet. IBM will also manufacture USTT’s new ‘e-Port’ swipe card technology.


NextCard CIO

NextCard, Inc.,, creator of The First True Internet Visa, announced it has appointed industry veteran Steven Rubinow to the position of chief information officer.

Rubinow brings two decades of technology and information services experience from leading companies such as AdKnowledge, Fidelity Investments, Budget Rent a Car and the Quaker Oaks Company. In this new position at NextCard, Rubinow will be responsible for continuing to build NextCard’s industry leadership position through technology. He will drive all aspects of NextCard’s technology organization.

“This key appointment of Steve Rubinow to NextCard’s senior management team will help us evolve from the leading credit card provider over the Internet to our vision of defining the Internet transaction experience for the consumer,” said Jeremy Lent, chairman and CEO of NextCard. “Steve’s proven business and technology expertise, as well as his knowledge of the Internet and database marketing arena, will be a tremendous asset to our strategic development.”

Rubinow was most recently the CIO at Palo Alto-based AdKnowledge, a leading provider of web advertising management products for advertisers and their agencies, where he was responsible for operations, internal MIS, engineering for database-centric products and database marketing.

Prior to AdKnowledge, Rubinow served as vice president of corporate management information systems at Fidelity Investments in Boston, where he developed systems that combine the numerous sources of data from the investment industry and developed them into actionable recommendations for the management of the company.

Prior to Fidelity, Rubinow was vice president of market planning at Budget Rent a Car, where he managed worldwide marketing research and product development. Earlier, Rubinow served as director of decision support services at the Quaker Oats Company, where he was responsible for the development of analysis and systems to aid decision making in many areas of the company.

Rubinow has an M.S. in Computer Science from DePaul University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, as well as a M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance from the University of Illinois.

NextCard, Inc.

NextCard, Inc. ([][1]), creator of The First True Internet Visa in 1997, is considered the industry’s leading issuer of consumer credit on the Internet. The Company has continued to innovate with its complete GoShopping!(SM) Web site, NextCard Concierge(SM), personalized PictureCard(SM) design and exceptional online customer service.

NextCard is consistently a top 10 online advertiser, operates a network of over 25,000 affiliates and has exclusive card relationships with leading brands including and DILBERT.

The Company publishes the NextCard eCommerce Index(SM), the premier source of online transaction activity and was named 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 magazine. NextCard was ranked the No. 1 credit card brand Internet consumers would consider for use according to ZDNet’s 1999 BrandIQ research study.



Killer E-Mail

A new study says e-mail is rapidly reaching “killer application” status with financial services institutions. MA-based Meridien Research says delivering real-time product information and materials to active and high net-worth individuals is highly effective due to email’s low-cost. The report examines over 40 vendor solutions and the features they offer. Meridien estimates that spending on email solutions now exceeds $200 million and will grow by over 40% per year at large FSIs.


New SCA Portfolio

Allied Lumber has placed its private label credit card program under the direction of Shoppers Charge Accounts Co.. Under the terms of the agreement, the Mahwah, N.J.-headquartered SCA acquired the receivables in Allied’s portfolio and will administer all facets of the private label card program on an ongoing basis. Allied Lumber operates a single location in Ripley, Tenn., selling lumber, garden supplies, appliances and hardware.

SCA, which services independent, regional and national retailers throughout the U.S., acquires retailers’ receivables or will develop private label credit programs for merchants who currently don’t offer a house charge. In both situations, SCA assumes responsibility for generating customer billing statements; managing credit, collection and lockbox functions; and creating customized marketing programs. Ranked among the nation’s largest private label credit card companies, SCA is a division of Hudson United Bank, a subsidiary of Hudson United Bancorp (NYSE: HU).


SunTrust Card Head

SunTrust Banks announced a series of senior management appointments designed to facilitate implementation of SunTrust’s business strategies and achievement of the Company’s financial goals.

“When viewed in context of our existing organizational structure, the changes we are announcing today reflect SunTrust’s ongoing commitment to balance local market focus and decision-making with our corporate priorities of improved operating efficiency and increased standardization,” CEO Humann noted.

The changes, which are effective immediately, are:

* Carl Mentzer, 54, has been promoted to head of SunTrust’s Commercial Banking line of business, a new position at SunTrust. Previously, Mr. Mentzer was CEO of SunTrust Bank, Tampa. In his new capacity, Mr. Mentzer’s responsibilities include strategic oversight for SunTrust’s business with smaller and “middle market,” commercial firms. He is also responsible for Commercial Loan Operations, Merchant Services, Business Card and support activities related to business with smaller and middle market companies.

* Dennis Patterson, 50, has been promoted to head of SunTrust’s Retail Banking line of business, also a new position at SunTrust. Previously, Mr. Patterson was SunTrust’s Marketing Director. In his new capacity, Mr. Patterson has broad responsibilities related to SunTrust’s business with individuals including Private Banking, Consumer Lending, branches and non- branch distribution channels, Insurance and Credit Cards, as well as Business Banking.

* Messrs. Mentzer and Patterson both report directly to Mr. Humann. SunTrust’s other line of business heads are John Clay, Corporate and Investment Banking; Jenner Wood, Wealth Management (formerly trust and investment services); and Donald Downing, Mortgage Banking.

* James M. Wells III, 53, President of Crestar Bank, SunTrust’s banking unit serving Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., has been named to the additional post of Crestar Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, he succeeds Richard G. Tilghman, 58, who remains Crestar Chairman and Vice Chairman of SunTrust. Mr. Tilghman has previously announced his plans to retire on Dec. 31, 2000.

* George Koehn, 56, has been named President, SunTrust Bank, Florida. In his new capacity, Mr. Koehn assumes senior executive responsibility for three SunTrust Florida banking units, as well as statewide retail and commercial business lines, in addition to his current role as Chairman and CEO of SunTrust’s Central Florida banking unit. Mr. Koehn reports to Theodore Hoepner, CEO of SunTrust Bank, Florida.

* Mr. Hoepner, 58, as previously announced, has assumed corporate-wide responsibilities at SunTrust for Technology, Operations and Efficiency in addition to his Florida role. He has also now assumed senior executive responsibility for the Corporation’s Human Resources function.

* Joy Wilder Morgan, 37, has been named Director of Corporate Strategic Planning and Line of Business Strategies, another new position at SunTrust. In her new role Ms. Wilder Morgan, previously head of Market and Product Management for SunTrust, will report to Mr. Humann. She will be responsible for SunTrust’s long range strategic planning, expansion strategy and line of business-related strategy development and implementation support.

* Craig Kelly, 54, has been named SunTrust Marketing Director, also reporting to Mr. Humann. Previously head of Strategic Marketing at Crestar, Mr. Kelly succeeds Dennis Patterson in his new position. Mr. Kelly will be responsible for marketing activities throughout SunTrust including advertising, direct marketing, product management and development, marketing research, customer information and database marketing, sales support and SunTrust Online, Inc. a subsidiary which provides electronic delivery alternatives on behalf of SunTrust’s banking units.

* John Frank, 55, has been named SunTrust’s Director of Branch Administration and Sales, a new corporate position. Mr. Frank will have broad responsibilities related to SunTrust’s network of almost 1,100 branches. Included is responsibility for SunTrust’s Private Banking and Personal Account Executive programs, branch sales production campaigns, incentive plans and administration, plus customer cross-sell and retention programs. Mr. Frank was previously CEO of SunTrust Bank of Middle Georgia.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., the nation’s 9th largest commercial banking organization, provides a wide range of financial services to meet the needs of its growing customer base in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its primary businesses include traditional deposit and credit services as well as trust, brokerage and investment services. Through various subsidiaries, the company provides mortgage banking, insurance, data processing and information services.


Racal EMV Smart Cards

Racal Security and Payments is offering VISA and MasterCard member banks a low-price package to personalize smart cards for the increasing number of pilot schemes now being undertaken. Costing approximately a third of the price of a full system, Racal has a number of packages to enable members to issue cards in-house, allowing them to retain total management and not have to rely on expensive third party providers.

The Racal initiative recognizes the difficulties faced by banks in performing the personalization preparation and the physical personalization of smart cards. The development of smart card applications and the learning curve for the new technology is exceptionally time consuming and expensive. Significantly reducing this time and cost, Racal’s off-the-shelf packages allow participating organizations to market their payment and non-financial products without delay.

Complementing Racal’s standard range of P3 products, the P3 software suite will support all the EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) debit/credit, EMV parameters and Visa cash applications. The package allows for easy movement to a full roll-out program after the pilot scheme is completed.

Racal’s solution provides a secure integral key management environment which allows the card issuer to control the whole key management architecture. The products will also enable issuers to understand all of the areas surrounding the management of card stock, key management, issuance processes and the ‘virtual real estate’ management for the new technology. In this way, the pilot scheme will provide issuers with vital “personalization” experience prior to the full roll-out of the scheme.

Pre-eminent in secure payment, electronic commerce, card payment, secure remote access and enterprise network security, Racal Security and Payments manufactures a comprehensive range of world-leading point of sale terminals and management systems, as well as secure payment systems and network encryption solutions. For almost two decades, Racal has been at the forefront of security and payment technology, co-operating and contributing to set the industry standards used for financial transactions and electronic commerce globally. Racal’s Security and Payments business is part of the Racal Electronics Group that has operating companies world-wide.

Visit the Racal Security and Payments web site at [][1].



Payflow Link

Signio released ‘Payflow Link’ this week. This is the newest addition to Signio’s ‘Payflow’ payment service platform aimed at resellers. The ‘Payflow Link’ platform enables small and medium sized businesses to authorize, process, and manage unlimited credit card, debit card and Internet check transactions for a flat monthly fee of $19.95. For resellers, ‘Payflow Link’ is an easy to use Web hosted payment solution for their small and medium-sized customers.


Air Miles Drive Sales

More than 85 percent of consumers who collect airline miles would switch from their regular stores to a competing merchant offering airline miles, according to a recent survey commissioned by Fort Lauderdale-based Momentum. Momentum is a full-service rewards marketing firm.

The survey of 400 Momentum Mileage Program members found the likelihood of shoppers switching to stores offering air miles for purchases was 85 percent for department stores, 93 percent for office supply stores, 94 percent for drug stores, 92 percent for sporting goods shops and 90 percent for grocery chain stores.

There was additional good news for merchants currently participating in airline miles reward programs, with half the shoppers who already earned miles from merchants saying they would increase the amount they spend in transactions at a specific store in order to earn more miles.

“These findings confirm what the airlines have long known – that miles are a strong motivator with the power to build business and change consumer behavior,” said Ron Kieves, Momentum senior vice president, marketing. “With approximately 57 million frequent flier members nationwide, mileage programs open the door for merchants to attract millions of loyal consumers. Merchants are just now beginning to tap this extraordinary resource.”

Momentum, a leader in the creation and management of mileage loyalty programs for the retail, e-commerce and catalog industries, counts Service Merchandise, The Sharper Image, Eddie Bauer and Spiegel among its network of participating merchants.

Momentum’s proprietary technology makes it easy, convenient and cost-effective for retailers to join the ranks of markets as broad and diverse as dining, travel and stock trading in offering mileage rewards to build business. Enrollment is free to consumers, who may register up to three credit cards and earn up to five miles per dollar each time a registered card is used to purchase goods or services from participating merchants.