Troubled Cards

Another sub-prime issuer is struggling with rapid account growth and a simultaneous sharp rise in chargeoffs. Dallas-based UICI acknowledged yesterday that it expects to post a $79 million loss for the fourth quarter. The loss is attributed to UICI’s United CreditServ subsidiary which needs to boost reserves for credit card losses associated with the relatively new, sub-prime ‘ACE VISA’ credit card program. United CreditServ says over the past twelve months it has experienced a significant increase in new ‘ACE VISA’ cards issued and is now taking steps to substantially restructure and reprice the credit card product. The issuer has also installed an entirely new management team this year which included the hiring of W. David Huddleston, former President of Associates National Bank, as President and CEO of United Credit National Bank, United CreditServ’s SD-based credit card issuing bank. Under the ‘ACE VISA’ program applicants are offered a $400 minimum credit line in exchange for charging a $300 personal finance educational program, a $19.00 processing fee and a $49.00 annual fee. According to CardWatch ([][1]) the required $300 personal finance educational program consists of five booklets and two videotapes produced by a group called: American Credit Educators. The ACE program is similar to the now defunct ‘Best Bank VISA’ program which offered a $600 credit line in exchange for charging a $500 travel club membership fee. The ‘ACE VISA’ carries a 19.92% APR and a $25 annual fee for any additional cards.



CardEx Expansion

Corporate gift certificate and gift card specialist, CardEx, announced yesterday it has added seven major brands to its gift certificate program. The new brands include: Waldenbooks; Borders Books; Sunglass Hut; Virtual Vineyard; Planet Hollywood; Orvis; and The Bon Marche department store chain in the Pacific Northwest. CardEx now offers gift certificates from more than 100 popular national merchants to corporate gift and incentive buyers. CardEx gift certificates are sold at face value with no service charges. All CardEx gift certificates are available in denominations of $25 and are delivered to buyers overnight. In addition to merchant gift certificates, CardEx offers the ‘CardEx MasterCard GiftCard’.


NextCard Stock

NextCard, Inc., creator of The First True Internet Visa, Thursday announced the public offering of 8,000,000 shares of its common stock at a price of $35.94 per share. The offering consists of 4,500,000 shares being sold by the Company and 3,500,000 shares being sold by certain selling stockholders.

NextCard’s public offering was co-led by Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation and Goldman, Sachs & Co., with Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, Prudential Securities and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc. acting as co-managers. The Company and the selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 900,000 shares from the Company and up to 300,000 shares from certain selling stockholders to cover over-allotments, if any.

NextCard is a leading Internet-based provider of consumer credit. The Company was the first to offer an online credit approval system for a Visa(R) card and to provide interactive, customized offers for credit card applications. NextCard has continued to innovate with its GoShopping!(SM) Web site, the NextCard Concierge(SM) online wallet companion, personalized PictureCard(SM) design and interactive customer service. The NextCard Internet Visa, termed The First True Internet Visa, is marketed to online consumers through the Company’s website, located at [][1].

NextCard intends to use the net proceeds of the offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital, funding of credit card receivables and future capitalization of NextBank N.A., its limited purpose banking subsidiary. The Company will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the common stock offered by the selling stockholders.

A copy of the prospectus relating to the offering may be obtained from Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation, 277 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10172, (212) 892-3000; Goldman, Sachs & Co., 85 Broad Street, New York, New York 10004, (212) 902-1000; Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, One Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94104, (415) 364-2500; Prudential Securities , 111 8th Avenue, 5th Floor, NY, NY 10011, (212) 776-8190; and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc., 222 South Ninth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402, (612) 342-6000.



AAdvantage Adds Four Airlines

American Airlines and four members of the Qualiflyer group of airlines have started frequent flyer program cooperation. The arrangement gives customers more ways than ever to earn and redeem miles. The Qualiflyer airlines include Swissair, Sabena, Crossair and Turkish Airlines.

“We are pleased to welcome these four airlines into American’s AADVANTAGE program and we are pleased to start participating in the Qualiflyer program,” said Henry Joyner, American’s vice president for marketing planning. “By forming this relationship, we are able to offer our customers more ways to earn miles and more exciting destinations to choose from for award travel.”

Under the provisions of the frequent flyer arrangement, AADVANTAGE members may earn mileage credit when traveling on non-transatlantic flights operated by Sabena, Swissair, Crossair and Turkish Airlines (excluding Turkish flights within Turkey). AADVANTAGE members may also earn mileage credit when traveling on one of Swissair’s or Sabena’s transatlantic flights if it is a codeshare flight and the passenger is booked under American’s AA code and flight number.

AADVANTAGE members may redeem travel awards on all flights operated by Sabena, Swissair, Crossair and Turkish Airlines.

Qualiflyer members may earn mileage credit and redeem travel awards on non-transatlantic flights operated by American and its regional affiliates American Eagle and Business Express. Also, Qualiflyer members may earn mileage credit on American’s transatlantic flights if it is a codeshare flight and the passenger is booked under the Swissair or Sabena code and flight number.

Swissair operates flights between Switzerland and the U.S. cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK), Newark, San Francisco, and Washington (Dulles).

Sabena operates flights between Belgium and the U.S. cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York (JFK), Newark and Washington (Dulles).

Turkish Airlines operates flights between Turkey and the U.S. cities of Chicago, Miami and New York (JFK).

Crossair is an affiliate of Swissair and operates within Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.

Summary of AADVANTAGE and Qualiflyer FFP Cooperation

Members May Members May Members May Members May
Earn on Redeem on Earn on AA Redeem on AA
Qualiflyer Qualiflyer and Affiliates and Affiliates
Crossair Yes Yes American Yes* Yes*
Sabena Yes* Yes American Eagle Yes+ Yes+
Swissair Yes* Yes Business Express Yes+ Yes+
Turkish Yes* Yes

* Excludes transatlantic flights.
# Excludes flights within Turkey.
+ Crossair, American Eagle and Business Express do not operate transatlantic

FFP Members Always Earn Miles on Transatlantic Codeshare Flights

American code (AA) on flights operated by Sabena May earn AADVANTAGE
American code (AA) on flights operated by Swissair May earn AADVANTAGE
Sabena code (SN) on flights operated by American May earn Qualiflyer
Swissair code (SR) on flights operated by American May earn Qualiflyer

Current AMR Corp. (NYSE: AMR) news releases can be accessed via the Internet. The address is .


MC Beefs-Up

As more and more savvy shoppers log onto the Internet to save time and money, they may want to take a side trip to the newly re-designed version of MasterCard International’s educational web site,, which features tips and information on credit card and money management.

Just in time for the holidays, Gerri Detweiler, personal finance expert, author, and educational advisor to the Debt Counselors of America, will host two chat sessions in which she will answer specific questions about credit and money management. The chat sessions will be held at [][1] on Friday, December 17, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EST and again from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST.

Detweiler will address a variety of critical money management topics from budgeting basics, to securing your privacy, to avoiding scams and identity theft. The new version of the web site will also contain advice columns authored by Detweiler, excerpts from her new book, Slash Your Debt, and an opportunity to sign up for a free personal finance newsletter.

“With the holidays upon us and the spirit of giving around us, it’s easy to put our personal finances on the back burner,” Detweiler said. “By using the Internet to reach a broad range of consumers and by making the web site more interactive, MasterCard is providing an excellent vehicle for consumers to access information and to ask important questions about managing money. is useful to anyone who wants to learn how to establish sound spending habits and save money,” she said.

These additions, along with several others coming in the very near future, are designed to broaden the web site’s appeal, according to Catherine Cummings, MasterCard’s Vice President of Consumer Affairs. has several interactive features, including:

A credit calculator that projects savings made by increased credit card payments; A budget worksheet to create a personalized plan to control spending; Links to credit bureaus to obtain a credit report; Links to consumer sources for credit counseling; and A glossary of terms to explain credit card features, rates and the significance of a credit report.

“We initially developed to provide younger audiences and new users of credit with information they would need to establish good money management skills,” Cummings said. “With these new enhancements we believe the site is now useful to all kinds of consumers — generally anyone who wants to keep an eye on their finances during a very active time of the year.”

Another upcoming feature is a link to “Online University,” developed in conjunction with Debt Counselors of America, which houses an interactive financial fitness test. The test serves as an early warning system; by assessing an individual’s money management practices, it can help determine if he or she is headed for financial problems.

“With all of its new features, is valuable for both the first-time credit user and the experienced credit card holder looking to reduce debt,” Cummings said. “We believe this site has something for everyone, and we will continue to look for ways to make it even more relevant and helpful for card users.” is a non-commercial consumer education web site developed by MasterCard International. Links are provided to not-for-profit consumer credit counseling services. does not include credit card solicitations on its pages.

Gerri Detweiler is a nationally recognized credit and personal finance expert. She is a co-author of Slash Your Debt, Save Money and Secure Your Future (Financial Literacy Center, 1999), a first of its kind book providing consumers with information about how to manage debt, and the author of The Ultimate Credit Handbook (Plume, 1993, revised 1997), which was featured in Money magazine as one of the five best new personal finance books of the year when it was first released. Ms. Detweiler is also the former Executive Director of the non-profit consumer education and advocacy group, Bankcard Holders of America and co-author of Invest in Yourself: Six Secrets to a Rich Life (Wiley, October, 1998). Currently, Ms. Detweiler serves as the education advisor to the Debt Counselors of America, the nation’s first Internet-based non-profit counseling agency.

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. Nearly 700 million MasterCard(R), Maestro(R), Cirrus(R) and Mondex(TM) cards are in circulation today. With more than 16.2 million locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard card. In 1998, gross dollar volume exceeded $650 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [][2].



Aria Upgrade

Providian announced Thursday it is now offering an online shopping service and a digital wallet for its ‘Aria VISA’ web site. The new services are the result of a partnership with San Francisco-based Brodia. Aria’s digital wallet is compatible with over 1000 major Internet merchants. The ‘Aria Personal Shopper’ is an Internet shopping portal that offers a variety of discounts with popular online merchants and allows comparison shopping across the Web. Providian says the Aria website has signed up more than 100,000 accounts in less than six months. According to CardWatch ([][1]) most of the new accounts are sub-prime accounts with interest rates as high as 23.99%. Brodia also has partnerships with Capital One and Wells Fargo.



Water Smart Card

Imagine yourself dispensing fresh and sparkling drinking water out of a vending station run on plastic cards, much like you would with cash and your ATM card. Incredible?

Again, imagine this: you are having that plastic card refreshment in the uplands of a province in the Philippines some 350 miles from Manila, and accessible only by a half-day grueling hike.

Get lost, you’d say.

Wake up, we tell you. The situation we describe is hardly make believe at all.

At a launching of the Cebu Potable Water Project, that scenario was laid out by Dr. Anand Rangarajan, Vice President of WorldWater Corp. of New Jersey, USA.

Founded in 1984 by Quentin T. Kelly, who himself holds patents on water applications, WorldWater has proprietary products in solar power that defy convention and open photovoltaic technology to more practical applications.

How does one draw water without a pump? How do you run a water pump if you have neither diesel generator nor a connection to a power grid?

In fact, even when you can draw water manually, where do you get the power to operate a water dispensing machine that could read credits in a magnetic strip?

Key to all the questions are the proprietary products and technology of WorldWater.

First, WorldWater rendered redundant the cumbersome and expensive storage batteries that had been key to the practical use of solar energy, i.e., collect the energy through photovoltaic panels to store them in batteries, convert to AC, then use.

Truly a cumbersome process that padded the costs.

Second, WorldWater established a “smart card” which, when inserted into its solar pumps even in the most remote locations, brings forth a liter of clean water delivered from the well.

WorldWater’s solution simplifies the pumping as well as the payment collection process, and allows the use of solar energy in real time. People buy the “smart card” for a specific numbers of liters (or gallons) from the WorldWater solar pump, like a telephone charge card.

With its proprietary controller box, an off-the-shelf AC pump or other associated equipment can run directly and smoothly on the power from the photovoltaic cells.

Significantly, the most practical application of this product is for remote location sources of water not accessible to conventional power supply.

With WorldWater technology, the self-contained pumping and “smart card” systems, removed and isolated from the conventional grid power source, can still operate pumping, storing, dispensing, recording and auditing/bookkeeping functions solidly on solar power.

So, next time you see a country boy brandishing a plastic card, don’t be too hasty with your judgment.

He could simply be out to get a glass of water.


LifeMinders Hires FUSA Exec named David Mahony as Chief Operating Officer. Mahony is formerly a Senior Vice President at First USA, where he was a leader in building and leveraging one of the credit card industry’s largest membership marketing databases consisting of more than 60 million customers.

Mahony, of Newark, Del., will be responsible for managing all operational aspects of, the nation’s largest membership-based online direct marketing firm. The company has 85 employees and distributes more than 15 million customized e-mail messages each week to a membership base of more than 6 million. e-mail messages provide pertinent information such as identifying the right time for a member to fertilize the rose garden to the release date of a favorite video. The service can also track the behavioral and cognitive development of a child from birth to 15-years-old.

“Dave Mahony and I worked alongside each other at First USA and helped establish one of the largest membership marketing databases in the financial services industry,” said Stephen R. Chapin, Jr., President and CEO of “I am very pleased that we will be working together again to build into an industry leader.”

In addition to his work on the First USA data warehouse, Mahony increased portfolio revenue by over $60 million annually by spearheading system and business changes in the card operations system. First USA is the nation’s largest VISA card issuer and its credit card division has amassed $65 billion in assets.

Mahony received his MBA from the University of Delaware. He was awarded a Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University.

“I am very, very pleased to have the opportunity to join this exciting, dynamic and growing company,” Mahony said. “I look forward to using the skills I developed in the financial services industry to this exciting new field of online direct marketing.” Inc. (Nasdaq: LFMN) is the largest membership based online direct marketing firm. The company sends free personalized e-mail reminders and timely tips to more than 6 million members. The company began trading publicly Nov. 19.

About, Inc.

Founded in 1996,, Inc. is the nation’s largest membership based online direct marketing company. The firm sends highly personalized e-mails each week to six million members with more than 25 million profiles as of December 8, 1999. A free service,, helps members keep track of all the important areas of their lives, including Family, Entertainment, Home, Personal Events, Pet, Auto, Personal Finance, Health & Fitness, Travel and Shopping. Key advertisers include The Home Depot, Kimberly-Clark (Huggies brand),,, InsWeb,, NextCard and Starwood Hotels., LifeMinders and the logo are trademarks of Inc.


VISA’s Olympic Youth Contest

Visa International, a worldwide partner and the official payment system of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Thursday announced it would continue its highly successful “Visa Olympics of the Imagination” youth art competition to select 35 children from 25 countries to attend the Olympic Games as guests of Visa in Sydney, Australia.

“The Visa Olympics of the Imagination program gives children who might not otherwise have a chance to attend the Olympics, the opportunity to experience the thrills and beauty of the Games through art,” said P. Scot Smythe, Visa International’s Vice President of Event Marketing. “VOI is a unique youth program that combines education with visual art to create involvement for children in the Olympic dream. We are proud to be sponsoring this program again.”

For the Sydney Olympic Games, VOI will challenge school children, ages 9-13, to use their imaginations to create an original piece of art that represents what they think the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger) means to them. Visa expects more than 200,000 entries for the 2000 Olympic Games.

The program will run globally from January through May 2000 in most of the 25 participating countries. Specific country information will be available at a later date. The winners will be announced in May 2000. Visa has conducted the program at the past three Olympic Games, bringing a total of 82 young artists from 28 countries to Lillehammer, Norway; Atlanta, USA, and Nagano, Japan.

“Olympic athletes must first have the imagination to win at their sport before they can excel physically and mentally. This ability is developed at an early age and Visa Olympics of the Imagination fosters that thinking,” said Richard W. Pound, First Vice President of the International Olympic Committee. “Visa is encouraging involvement of youth in the Olympic Movement at an early age and we fully support their efforts. We look forward to seeing the artwork from this contest and meeting the children in Sydney.”

Children from the following countries are eligible to enter the program: the Antilles, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, United States and Uruguay.

For the first time, Visa International has teamed with the global Internet media company, Yahoo!, to promote the program through banner promotions and direct links to [][1] through Yahoo!’s network of World properties.

As the “World’s Best Way to Pay,” Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and the largest 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 80 smart card programs in 35 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are over 880 million Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink, PLUS and Visa Cash cards, which generate more than US$1.4 trillion in annual volume. Visa-branded cards are accepted at over 18 million worldwide locations, including at more than 530,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [][2].




Mobius Management Systems Inc. yesterday unveiled plans to build a consortium of bill and statement providers for its new e-billing and e-statements solution. Mobius says it believes goes well beyond the current EBPP products on the market. The service is a free product and there is no third party between the biller/issuer and the customer. The biller/issuer maintains the relationship, thus eliminating the issues about who owns the customer information, the customer relationship, and the ability to sell to the customer. Mobius also announced it has teamed up with ALLTEL Information Services to develop Click-n-Done.



The new e-bill clearinghouse created by Chase, First Union and Wells Fargo has picked up eight more major bank participants. Spectrum’s new participants include: Michigan National, Comerica, First Tennessee, HSBC USA Inc., Mellon Financial, Marshall & Ilsley Bank, Summit Bancorp, and Wachovia Corp. Chase, First Union and Wells Fargo formed Spectrum earlier this year to fill a gap in the electronic bill presentment market. Spectrum functions like a hub, allowing participants to route electronic bills through a single connection to other participants. Spectrum became operational as an independent company with full funding from the founding banks in mid-October. The Spectrum technology platform has been in production since the end of November, and bills are now being exchanged between the founding members. The company plans to add payments capability in the second quarter of 2000.


Instant Target Credit

As part of its ongoing effort to provide unmatched guest service and convenience, Target Stores announced that guests may now apply for instant credit online at If approved, guests may immediately use their new line of credit to complete on-line purchases.

“We want our on-line guests to experience the same level of service and convenience as our in-store guests,” said Jerry Storch, president of credit and new businesses at Dayton Hudson Corporation, Target’s parent company. “Now, on-line guests can not only apply for a Target Guest Card, but they can use it immediately and save 10 percent on either their first on-line purchase at or their next purchase in any Target store.” Storch added that the on-line application process is secure and all financial information is confidential.

When applying for a Target Guest Card online, guests may begin participating in Target’s Take Charge of Education – School Fundraising Program, which allows guests to designate the K-12 school of their choice to receive an amount equal to 1 percent of all of their in-store or on-line Target Guest Card purchases. Since the program began in 1997, more than 4 million program participants have helped Target donate $13.5 million to schools nationwide.

“Target is very committed to education and supporting our nation’s schools,” said Storch. “We are delighted that so many Target Guest Card holders have elected to participate in our School Fundraising initiative.”

Target Guest Card holders may use their Guest Card to purchase any of the thousands of items offered at, including toys, holiday gifts, home decor items from the Michael Graves Design Collection, Stiffel and Robert Abbey lamps, Calphalon cookware, and much more. Guest Card holders may also use their Card at any of Target’s 914 store locations.

About Target Stores

Target Stores, together with its parent company, Dayton Hudson Corporation, gives more than $1 million a week to communities in which it does business. Since it was founded in 1962, Target has contributed 5 percent of its federally taxable income to its communities — through grants, special programs and team member donations — to strengthen and enrich family life.

Minneapolis-based Target Stores is a quality discount retailer. It is the largest division of Dayton Hudson Corporation, one of the nation’s leading retailers, and currently operates 914 stores in 44 states nationwide. To learn more about Target Stores, visit the web site at [][1].