Excess Spread Widens

Excess spread on U.S. securitized portfolios rose to record levels and there was a strong rebound in portfolio yields last month. Fitch IBCA’s monthly report shows the excess spread index tacked on 19 bps in advancing to a record 6.10% for November. Industrywide excess spread, which is defined as trust income (portfolio yield) less expenses (bond coupons, servicing and chargeoffs), has bettered the 5% threshold for 13 months and is now more than 17% above year-ago marks. Meanwhile the portfolio yield index, which was the driving force behind the excess spread advance, rose 85 bps to 19.63% but fell short of November 1998’s 19.99%. The gain was helped by the 50 bps of summer interest rate increases, finally showing their full effect on cardholder balances. The most recent 25-bp increase will not fully impact portfolios until February. Near term, Fitch IBCA expects portfolio yields to trend in the 18.5%-20% range as more rational pricing policies take hold. The chargeoff index rose a slight 7 bps to 5.28% from its month-earlier level but extended its string of year-over-year improvements to 16 consecutive months. Delinquencies continued their upward trend adding 9 bps as the index registered 3.19%.

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PTS Signs NBC

Memphis-based Payment Transaction Services has signed a marketing partnership with NBC Merchant Services which is a division of TransPlatinum Service Corp., which is a subsidiary of National Commerce Bancorporation. Under terms of the deal PTS, as an ISO, will manage NBC Merchant Service’s third party distribution channels, selling credit card services to merchants and managing agent banks and independent sales offices. In return NBC will provide merchant credit card transaction processing services to PTS. Through this partnership with PTS, NBC Merchant Services expects to acquire in excess of 4,000 new merchant locations next year. Payment Transaction Solutions, with seven employees, is led by CEO Steve Demaree and President Bruce Schratz. Demaree and Schratz began PTS as a start-up company in January of this year following respective 15-plus-year careers in transaction processing.

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Cash America CEO

Cash America International, Inc. announced that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jack R. Daugherty, who founded the Company in 1984, will retire from the position of Chief Executive Officer effective February 1, 2000. At that time, Daniel R. Feehan, President and Chief Operating Officer, will take the reins as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Daugherty will remain as Chairman of the Board and will continue to be involved in the strategic direction of the Company.

Mr. Daugherty is viewed as an innovator and pioneer in the pawn industry. Beginning with one pawnshop in the early ’70s, in Irving, Texas, Mr. Daugherty expanded the Company to a size capable of becoming the first publicly-owned pawnshop chain in history. Cash America, under the direction of Mr. Daugherty, also became the first pawnshop chain to conduct operations in the United States and in foreign countries. In 1992, Cash America acquired Harvey & Thompson, a one-hundred-year-old chain of pawnshops, based in London, England, and in 1994, acquired Svensk Pantbelaning, a one-hundred-year-old chain, based in Stockholm, Sweden. The success of Cash America inspired others to establish large multi-unit pawn businesses focused on professional management, image and service to the customers. The leadership position of Cash America in the pawn industry has led to an upgrade in the appearance and service standards of pawnshops across the nation.

Commenting on the planned transition, Mr. Daugherty stated, “After fifteen years, the time has come for me to step aside and relinquish the Chief Executive Officer responsibilities. I’ll still be involved with the Company, though, and I am excited about its opportunities with Dan at the helm.” Mr. Feehan, who joined the Board of Directors of Cash America in 1984 and has served as President and Chief Operating Officer since 1990, added, “Jack and I have made a great team over the past ten years. While I will miss our daily interaction, Jack’s ongoing role as Chairman will undoubtedly continue to be an asset to our management team and shareholders.”

Cash America International, Inc. is a diversified provider of specialty financial services to individuals in the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden. Cash America is the largest provider of secured non-recourse loans to individuals, commonly referred to as pawn loans, through 469 locations in 16 states and two foreign countries. In addition, the Company provides check cashing services through 139 franchised and company-owned “Mr. Payroll” manned check cashing centers and rental purchase services through its wholly owned subsidiary, Rent-A-Tire, Inc.

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billserv.com Promotion

billserv.com inc., a leading electronic bill presentment and payment service bureau, Monday announced that it has promoted David S. Jones to executive vice president. Jones, who co-founded billserv.com last year, previously served as senior vice president.

In his role as executive vice president and co-founder, Jones is responsible for establishing strategic partnerships with billing companies and complementary Internet billing providers, developing the company’s overall strategy, and creating the vision for new products and services.

“David has been instrumental in securing key partnerships and billing customers, and we’re pleased to provide him the recognition he deserves,” said Michael Long, chairman and CEO of billserv.com. “David’s rare knowledge of both the billing and Internet markets, combined with his strong strategic vision, has had an enormous impact in propelling billserv.com to an industry-leading position.”

Prior to co-founding billserv.com in 1998, Jones served as an Internet engineer at Billing Concepts where he was responsible for helping to define the company’s strategic Internet direction.

Jones was recently elected to the Junior Achievement Leadership Council, and has been appointed to the board of MyFreeLD.com, the nation’s first free Internet long distance service. Jones also has spoken at several industry conferences and is viewed as an expert on the EBPP industry.

About billserv.com

billserv.com, inc. (OTC BB: BLLS) is an electronic bill presentment and payment service bureau that provides middle-market billers with a turnkey outsourcing solution for presenting bills to consumers for payment on the Internet. billserv.com serves an intermediary role between billers and bill aggregators by consolidating customer billing information from multiple billers, and then securely delivering it to aggregators. billserv.com has four product offerings: (eServ(SM)), Internet billing clearinghouse services for EBPP; (ePublishing(SM)), electronic publishing services for online statement delivery; (eCare(SM)), an interactive customer care center operation; and (eConsulting(SM)), professional consulting services for billing organizations offering in-house bill presentment. billserv.com also owns and develops bills.com, the first EBPP Internet portal where consumers can pay all their bills electronically. For additional information, visit [http://www.billserv.com][1].

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

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Top Commerce Site

GiftCertificates.com has been ranked November’s fastest growing commerce site on the Internet by the NextCard ‘eCommerce Index’, a monthly listing of the Top 25 online merchants. The NextCard Index provides accurate data concerning where consumers actually purchase on the Internet, and is based on the monthly activity of approximately 135,000 NextCard Internet VISA cardholders, which are among the most active online shoppers on the Web. NextCard delineates retail, mail-order and telephone transactions from true Internet purchases. Other top online merchants for November include: toytime.com; walmart.com; eve.com; and etoys.com.

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Aylsis Promotion

Alysis Technologies a leading provider of Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment and Internet statement distribution software, Monday announced that Louis F. Provenzano has been named Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales. In his new role, Provenzano will be responsible for capitalizing on significant revenue opportunities that the global e-presentment marketplace offers. Provenzano comes to Alysis from Loan Pricing Corporation, a Reuters subsidiary, where he was Senior Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing.

While at Loan Pricing Corporation (LPC), Provenzano directed the sales and marketing efforts for the world’s largest publisher of statistical analysis of syndicated and commercial loan information. As one of LPC’s original employees, Provenzano developed the company’s national sales force and launched a series of proprietary risk management and commercial syndication products for financial services companies around the world. Provenzano also helped LPC create, package and sell bank portfolio analytical applications that helped the company become one of the most profitable Reuters subsidiaries.

Kevin Moran, president and CEO of Alysis Technologies, described the signing of Provenzano as a key factor in Alysis’ growth strategy. “In the past year, Alysis has focused its efforts on the rapidly growing electronic presentment marketplace, emphasizing solutions for electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP), Internet statement distribution and business intelligence, especially in the financial services market,” said Moran. “We believe that Louis’ experience in banking, particularly in the syndicated and commercial loan sectors of the industry, will help us significantly accelerate our efforts to provide e-commerce solutions to both financial institutions and other document intensive industries.”

During his tenure at Loan Pricing Corporation, Provenzano also played a key role in building the company’s popular Loan Connector service, which offered customers Internet-based, real-time access to commercial loan and syndication information. Loan Connector is now in use at more than 400 financial institutions worldwide, including many of the leading banks and investment banks that syndicate commercial loans. Before joining Loan Pricing Corporation, Provenzano was Director of Portfolio Management for First National Bank of Chicago’s South American Division. Fluent in five languages, he oversaw trading and portfolio management for leading private banking clients in South America. “Our entire economy is moving toward an Internet-based model. Part of the great draw of joining Alysis is the opportunity to work with the industry leader and innovator in e-presentment just as the technology is taking off,” said Provenzano. “Alysis has a terrific combination of business and technical expertise and a unique background in Internet presentment. All that remains now is to build on the tremendous foundation that has already been created.”

About Alysis Technologies

Alysis Technologies develops and delivers software products that allow leading edge financial service organizations to integrate the power of the Internet with their network document repositories to provide the ultimate in customer service and one-to-one marketing. Its client base includes 20 percent of the largest banks in the United States, the largest mutual fund organizations, leading global brokerage firms and many of the world’s largest information technology outsourcing companies. For more information, please visit [http://www.alysis.com][1].

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

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Dr. Harris joins TSYS

Richard W. Ussery, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Total System Services, Inc., today announced that Sidney E. Harris, Dean of Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, is joining the TSYS Board of Directors.

“We are excited to add Dr. Harris to the Board of Total System Services,” said Ussery. “His expertise in electronic commerce, marketing strategy and the strategic use of business information makes him a perfect fit for our company.”

Dr. Harris is a graduate of Morehouse College and earned his Ph.D. in operations research at Cornell University. He was named dean of Georgia’s largest business school in July 1997. During his tenure as dean, he has reformulated the strategic direction of the College, raised over $10 million on behalf of the College and launched two new research institutes: the Russell International Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Digital Commerce.

He began his professional career with Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey and moved to Georgia State University where he became a tenured member of the faculty of the Decision Sciences Department. In 1987, he joined the faculty of the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management. He was appointed chair of the Management Program in 1990, and served as dean of the Drucker Graduate School from 1991-1996.

Dr. Harris’ research focuses on the interplay between marketing strategy and electronic commerce and the strategic use of information in the strategy, structure and culture of high performance organizations. He co-founded the Institute for the Study of U.S./Japan Relations in the World Economy with Professor Peter F. Drucker and has lectured internationally at several universities. He serves on the boards of Lanier Worldwide, Inc., The ServiceMaster Company and Transamerica Investors, Inc.

TSYS is one of the world’s leading information technology processors of data and transactions for domestic and international issuers of credit, debit, commercial and private-label cards. TSYS’ sophisticated systems offer online accounting, data processing, electronic commerce services, portfolio management, account acquisition, credit evaluation, risk management and customer service. Through our family of companies, TSYS services the entire lifecycle of card accounts, and processes millions and millions of accounts, making it possible for consumers to use their cards any time, anywhere. Headquartered in Columbus, Ga., TSYS ([http://www.totalsystem.com][1]) is an 80.8 percent owned subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. (NYSE: SNV) ([http://www.synovus.com][2]) named the Best Company to Work for in America by FORTUNE magazine.

[1]: http://www.totalsystem.com/
[2]: http://www.synovus.com/

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Freebie Card

NetZero.com, which bills itself as “Defenders of the Free World”, signed a multi-year, exclusive alliance with Fleet Credit Card Services yesterday. The ‘NetZero MasterCard’ features no-annual-fee and a 0% interest rate for three months. NetZero is a provider of free Internet access. The new card program also offers instant credit with a line up to $50,000. Consumers will be able to access an online application for the ‘NetZero MasterCard’ through targeted banner ads on ‘The ZeroPort’, a navigational tool for NetZero users that provides speed dial to some of the most popular destinations on the Web and through a NetZero/Fleet co-branded area on the Fleet Web site.

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MPS – Eckerd FL Pilot

Fifth Third Bank announced that its subsidiary, Midwest Payment Systems, has signed an ATM venture agreement with Eckerd Corporation. Fifth Third will install and operate 20 ATM pilots at Eckerd locations throughout the state of Florida. Founded in 1898, Eckerd operates 2,850 drug stores in 20 states.

“Eckerd relies heavily on MPS for its debit and EBT services,” reports Bob Sloan, Eckerd Vice President, Operation Services. “Now, by taking advantage of MPS’ expertise in installing and operating an ATM network, we are able to place ATMs in our high tourist area stores and provide our customers in those locations with an added measure of convenience.”

Barry L. Boerstler, Executive Vice President, Fifth Third Bank, offers, “MPS is pleased to extend our existing working relationship with Eckerd Corporation to help them deliver excellent service to their customers through these strategically-placed ATMs. We look forward to assisting Eckerd further in this endeavor as needs arise.”

A subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank, MPS was ranked #1 EFT provider by Faulkner & Gray (March, 1999). MPS processes approximately four billion ATM, POS and e-commerce transactions per year for more than 60,000 retail locations and financial institutions worldwide, including Federated Department Stores, The Kroger Co. and CompUSA. MPS’ merchant customer base generates more than $40 billion in credit card sales annually.

Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Company, which is Y2K ready, has $41 billion in assets, operates 14 affiliate banks with 647 full-service Banking Centers, including 112 Bank Mart(R) locations open seven-days-a-week insi and 1,400 Jeanie(R) ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Arizona and Michigan. A leader in e-commerce, Fifth Third expects to process over four billion electronic transactions in 1999. The Bank’s financial strength continues to be recognized by rating agencies with deposit ratings of AA- and Aa2 and commercial paper ratings of A1+ and P1 from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Retail, Commercial, Investment Advisors, and Midwest Payment Systems, the Bank’s data processing subsidiary. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at [http://www.53.com][1] ; press releases are also available by fax at no charge by calling 800-758-5804, identification number 281775. The company’s common stock is traded in the over-the-counter market through the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol “FITB.”

[1]: http://www.53.com/

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Xmas Sales Up 4.2%

Same-store sales for the first 17 shopping days of the season rose 4.2 percent over the same period last year, according to TeleCheck Services, Inc., the world’s leading check acceptance company. The data are based on a same-store comparison of the dollar volume of authorized checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleCheck’s 210,000 subscribing locations. Checks account for about one-third of retail spending. TeleCheck is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based First Data Corp.

“During the past week, shoppers moderated the brisk pace of holiday spending from earlier in the season, which follows the pattern of consumer spending over the past few years. With a healthy economy and no political distractions in sight, TeleCheck anticipates a surge of spending during the final 12 days of the season,” said Dr. William Ford, TeleCheck’s Senior Economic Advisor.

Data includes sales from Friday, November 26 through Sunday, December 12. By region, the Southwest led the nation, followed by the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast (tied), the Midwest, and the Southeast and West (tied).

The Southwest’s sales were up 4.7 percent, with Oklahoma up 5.0 percent, Texas up 4.8 percent and Missouri up 4.4 percent. Oklahoma City’s sales climbed 5.2 percent and Tulsa’s rose 4.8 percent. Sales increased 5.0 percent in San Antonio, 4.7 percent in Dallas/Fort Worth, 4.6 percent in Austin and 4.4 percent in Houston. Kansas City’s sales grew 4.5 percent and St. Louis’ rose 4.3 percent.

Sales rose 4.5 percent in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. In the Mid- Atlantic, Maryland was up 4.8 percent, Pennsylvania and Virginia rose 4.5 percent and New Jersey grew 4.3 percent. Sales rose 4.6 percent in the District of Columbia, 4.5 percent in Baltimore, 4.6 percent in Philadelphia and 4.4 percent in Pittsburgh.

In the Northeast, New York’s sales climbed 5.6 percent and Massachusetts’ grew 3.1 percent. New York City jumped 5.5 percent and Boston increased 3.2 percent.

The Midwest’s sales increased 4.4 percent. Sales were up 4.8 percent in Illinois, 4.7 percent in Minnesota, 4.4 percent in Wisconsin, 4.2 percent in Michigan and 4.0 percent in Ohio. Sales rose by 5.0 percent in Chicago, 4.7 percent in Minneapolis/St. Paul, 4.5 percent in Milwaukee, 4.7 percent in Detroit and 4.5 percent in Cleveland.

The Southeast sales increased 3.8 percent. Sales were up 4.2 percent in The Carolinas, 3.7 percent in Tennessee, 3.4 percent in Louisiana, 3.7 percent in Florida and 4.0 percent in Georgia. Sales increased 4.0 percent in Nashville, 3.5 percent in Memphis and 3.3 percent in New Orleans. Miami/Ft. Lauderdale’s sales climbed 3.6 percent, Orlando’s rose 4.1 percent, Tampa’s grew 3.7 percent and Atlanta’s rose 3.7 percent.

Sales in the West rose 3.8 percent. Hawaii’s sales climbed 5.8 percent, Colorado’s increased 4.1 percent, California’s gained 3.3 percent, Oregon’s grew 3.8 percent, Arizona’s rose 3.4 percent and Washington’s grew 2.9 percent. Sales were up 4.1 percent in Denver, 3.6 percent in the Bay Area, 3.1 percent in Los Angeles and 3.2 percent in San Diego. Seattle’s sales rose 2.2 percent, Phoenix’s increased 3.1 percent and Portland’s grew 3.7 percent.

TeleCheck’s index is compiled on a calendar basis and is based on the total sales volume of check-writing consumers at a broad cross-section of retailers. Figures are not adjusted for inflation. In 1998, TeleCheck authorized over $112 billion in checks and processed more than 2.2 billion check inquiries.

Atlanta-based First Data Corp. helps move the world’s money. As the leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves more than two million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at [http://www.firstdatacorp.com][1].

Dr. William Ford holds the Weatherford Chair of Finance at Middle Tennessee State University. Earlier in his career he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and served on former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s Federal Open Market Committee.

Retail Sales
November 26 – December 12, 1999
December 13, 1999

NATIONAL 4.2%

SOUTHEAST 3.8% WEST 3.8% MIDWEST 4.4%
Florida 3.7% Arizona 3.4% Illinois 4.8%
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale 3.6% Phoenix 3.1% Chicago 5.0%
Orlando 4.1% California 3.3% Michigan 4.2%
Tampa 3.7% Bay Area 3.6% Detroit 4.7%
Louisiana 3.4% Los Angeles 3.1% Minnesota 4.7%
New Orleans 3.3% San Diego 3.2% Minneapolis/St. Paul4.7%
Georgia 4.0% Oregon 3.8% Wisconsin 4.4%
Atlanta 3.7% Portland 3.7% Milwaukee 4.5%
Tennessee 3.7% Washington 2.9% Ohio 4.0%
Memphis 3.5% Seattle 2.2% Cleveland 4.5%
Nashville 4.0% Colorado 4.1%
The Carolinas 4.2% Denver 4.1% MID-ATLANTIC 4.5%
Hawaii 5.8% District of Columbia 4.6%
SOUTHWEST 4.7% Pennsylvania 4.5%
Texas 4.8% NORTHEAST 4.5% Philadelphia 4.6%
Austin 4.6% Massachusetts 3.1% Pittsburgh 4.4%
Dallas/Ft. Worth 4.7% Boston 3.2% New Jersey 4.3%
Houston 4.4% New York 5.6% Virginia 4.5%
San Antonio 5.0% New York City 5.5% Maryland 4.8%
Missouri 4.4% Baltimore 4.5%
Kansas City 4.5%
St. Louis 4.3%
Oklahoma 5.0%
Oklahoma City 5.2%
Tulsa 4.8%

SOURCE TeleCheck Services, Inc.
Web Site: http://www.telecheck.com

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

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Penna Card

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a new prepaid phone card Friday to promote Pennsylvania history. The new card, provided by National Telephone Exchange, offers 30 minutes of phone calls and discounts on admission to all 26 state historic sites and museums for $10 per card. Also, each time the phone card is used, callers will hear a brief “Moments in Pennsylvania history” message. Under terms of the deal, the Historic Preservation Fund will receive between $3 and $5 for each card purchased.

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Ski Tix via ATM

As the snow begins to fall, so do the prices of ski lift tickets and lesson packages offered by Wells Fargo beginning today.

Discounted ski tickets and lesson packages are available through over 600 Wells Fargo Express ATMs in Northern California.

Wells Fargo’s Snow Sport Express is making it faster and cheaper for skiers and snowboarders to hit the slopes this season with an ATM service that allows consumers to get discounted lift tickets and lesson packages for Alpine Meadows, Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl ski resorts.

The vouchers will be sold through Wells Fargo Express ATMs in Northern California until April 14. Ski lift discounts range from $2 to $14 and lesson package discounts range from $5 to $10. Each resort has a combination of four offers to choose from:

— Adult one-day vouchers

— Adult two-day vouchers

— Young adult one-day vouchers

— Lesson packages for either child or adult

Skiers and snow boarders can exchange the ATM voucher for their lift ticket or lesson package at the resort. The voucher can be used until the end of the 1999-2000 ski season.

Additionally, consumers can purchase vouchers for Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco CityPass — a ticket booklet with admission to six famous San Francisco attractions — at Wells Fargo Express ATMs in Northern California.

“Wells Fargo continues to add value and enhance the consumer ATM experience,” said Terry Zink, senior vice president of ATM Banking at Wells Fargo. “By using a Wells Fargo ATM in Northern California, consumers can conveniently purchase tickets before they reach the destination of their choice.”

Customers and non-customers can use their ATM cards at any of the more than 600 designated ATMs in Northern California to purchase either lift ticket vouchers or lesson packages. Participating ATMs will be marked with a Snow Sport Express decal or consumers can locate a participating ATM on-line at [www.wellsfargo.com][1].

Purchasers simply insert their ATM/Debit Card into the ATM, select “Buy Tickets” from the main menu and follow the screen prompts. Their account is automatically debited and the ticket vouchers are printed from the ATM. Wells Fargo does not charge a fee, regardless of where the consumer banks, for purchasing vouchers from a Wells Fargo Ticket Express ATM.

Also, randomly selected Wells Fargo customers can win two free tickets to one of the participating ski resorts by entering a drawing while making a cash withdrawal at a Wells Fargo ATM. Customers may also enter by mailing a postcard: address and additional sweepstakes rules and regulations can be obtained by calling 888/849-1855.

Wells Fargo is the only financial services company to sell discounted tickets at the ATM, pioneering the concept three years ago. Additionally, Wells Fargo has introduced other innovative services at the ATM, including:

— In 1994, Wells Fargo was the first major bank to dispense U.S. postage stamps through its ATMs — now the largest distributor of ATM postage stamps in the country.

— Earlier this year, Wells Fargo’s Media Express program introduced ATM screen advertising as a new medium, and provided discounts from third party companies such as Amazon.com, AT&T, American Express and Compaq.

Visit [www.wellsfargo.com][2] to obtain additional ATM ticketing information.

[1]: http://www.wellsfargo.com/
[2]: http://www.wellsfargo.com/

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