Petals Card

Petals, a cataloger of silk flowers and other home decor items, has chosen Shoppers Charge Accounts Co. (SCA) of Mahwah, N.J. to develop and administer its private label credit card program.

In addition to its catalog customers, the White Plains, N.Y.-based company will offer the new charge card to shoppers in its five stores in the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area.

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, the firm 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).

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MBNA Dental

Eight separate state dental associations have announced the endorsement of MBNA America’s credit card services to their members.

The dental associations of Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Wyoming and the Alaska Dental Society join 29 other state dental associations in partnership with MBNA America to provide superior financial products and customer service for their memberships.

These 37 state dental associations join more than 1,200 professional associations that endorse MBNA, making this sector one of the fastest growing segments of the more than 4,500 groups that currently use MBNA America’s credit card services.

“We are pleased by the endorsement of these state associations,” said John Cochran, chief marketing officer of MBNA, “and look forward to providing the type of financial products and customer service they expect from MBNA.”

MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America, N.A., a national bank, has $67.4 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products.

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Gemplus Sweeps Awards

Gemplus, the world’s leading provider of smart card based solutions, won three of the prestigious Sesames awards at CARTES ’99, the world’s biggest international smart card show, the company said Friday. The jury of independent journalists attributed the award for Best Innovation to Gemplus’ SmartX. SmartX is a new software technology that simplifies smart card-based application development and deployment. It enables card and terminal independence, and allows for web-based maintainability. It has already received support from companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

The two other awards were CEPS-Compliant Proton Electronic Purse, which carried off the Best Application “Banking/Finance” award and SEDODEL, developped by Euritis, recently acquired by Gemplus which won the Sesame Best Application ‘E.Commerce’ award.

The CEPS-compliant Proton e-purse from Proton World, implemented on the GemProton CEPS card from Gemplus, combines the de facto international e-purse standard with the world­s most widely-used smart card technology. This is the first step towards internationally interoperable smart card transactions.

Gemplus won the third award for its SEDODEL system, a remarkable way to foster democratic access to the information society while securing electronic trade in digital contents. SEDODEL provides electronic contents to visually impaired people with the help of smart card-based parameterization of a user­s workstation. Using Gemplus technology, it provides a high level security infrastructure designed to cover the entire delivery chain of multimedia documents and to ensure that the intellectual property rights of content providers and editors are properly respected.

‘The award of these three Sesames at the world’s largest smart card show further draws attention to the lead Gemplus is building over competition,” said Marc Lassus President of Gemplus. “We are especially excited over the Best Innovation award as Gemplus believes that SmartX technology will increase considerably the number of new generation smart cards being developed using popular programming languages such as Java technology, C++ and Visual Basic and leveraging widely deployed legacy systems.”

About Gemplus: Gemplus S.C.A. ([www.gemplus.com][1]) is the world’s leading provider of plastic and smart card-based solutions (by units sold, source: Dataquest 1998). Gemplus sells magnetic stripe cards, memory and microprocessor-based smart cards, smart contactless cards, electronic tags and smart objects. The company designs and markets software, development tools and readers. Gemplus also provides consulting, training and personalization services to deliver the industry’s most comprehensive and flexible card-based solutions to its developers, distributors, partners, and customers.

With sales of over $US648 million in 1998, Gemplus employs more than 4,300 people in 10 manufacturing facilities, 5 R&D centers and 41 sales and marketing offices located in 27 countries around the world. Founded in 1988, Gemplus has successfully implemented portable and secure smart card-based solutions to simplify applications such as public and wireless communications, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, identity, physical access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, logical access control and information technology.

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

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eFunds

eFunds, a business unit of Deluxe Corporation announced that First of Omaha Merchant Processing is offering eFunds Electronic Check to a selected merchant customer in a pilot program that began Nov. 11. Electronic check converts paper checks into electronic transactions at the point of sale, making checks more efficient and cost effective for retailers and financial services companies.

Nick Baxter, president, First of Omaha Merchant Processing, said, “Participating in this pilot with eFunds Electronic Check allows us to test yet another quality product which will assist in improving our clients’ cash flow, lowering their check acceptance costs and fighting check fraud.”

First of Omaha, the ninth largest processor of credit, debit and electronic benefits transfer transactions, is offering eFunds Electronic Check in a pilot program to selected locations of one of its major merchant partners. First of Omaha has become a leader in the merchant processing industry, assisting retailers, restaurants, lodging merchants, petroleum marketers, association/franchise groups and banks in the reduction of chargebacks and fraud.

“Financial services companies face an important moment of opportunity to take the lead on electronic check conversion, and we’re here to help them,” said Jerry Lester, head of business development at eFunds. “We’re delighted with the leadership First of Omaha is showing and pleased to be partnering with them in this pilot.”

eFunds Electronic Check converts paper checks into electronic transactions at the point of sale by capturing data from the paper check and transmitting it to the retailer’s financial services company. The consumer signs an authorization for the transaction and receives the check back from the merchant. The retailer receives its funds, and the electronic check amount is debited from the consumer’s financial institution account electronically. Studies show consumers are generally positive about the new procedure.

eFunds Electronic Check eliminates back-office processing of paper checks for member retailers and accelerates collections. It also improves cash management through faster and more effective clearing and recovery. Electronic check benefits financial services companies by reducing transaction processing costs, improving return notification timeframes and providing new opportunities to deliver retail payment services.

Before the transactions are accepted, they are authorized through eFunds’ SCAN OnLine(SM), a real-time check verification service that incorporates the most comprehensive debit data sources available to provide retailers with more data and analytics, significantly improving loss prevention at the point of sale. The SCAN database is constantly updated with information from more than 77,000 retail locations. In addition, the service uses DebitBureau(SM), the most comprehensive source of debit data available, with more than 2 billion records and growing at a rate of more than 1.7 million records each day.

About eFunds and Deluxe

eFunds ( [http://www.efunds.com][1]) provides leading payment management solutions that manage risk and enhance customer relationships for financial services providers, retailers, networks and remarketers, e-commerce providers and any business that routinely accepts debit payments. eFunds’ goal is to make every transaction more valuable for its customers. Deluxe is a Fortune 1,000 company headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. For more information, visit [http://www.deluxe.com][2]

About First of Omaha

First of Omaha is a premier processor in the direct marketing industry, and also processes bank card transactions for large and small retailers, restaurants, lodging merchants, petroleum marketers, associations/franchise groups and banks. Known for their superior customer service, First of Omaha specializes in providing clients the latest in card processing technologies. Through development of a diversified product line, First of Omaha has become a leader in the merchant processing industry, assisting clients in the reduction of chargebacks and fraud. First of Omaha is a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha and is one of the few remaining in-house bank processors. First National Bank of Omaha, founded in 1863, is the 32nd oldest nationally chartered bank in existence. First of Omaha’s Internet address is [http://www.foomp.com][3]

[1]: http://www.efunds.com/
[2]: http://www.deluxe.com/
[3]: http://www.foomp.com/

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e-Port

IBM and USA Technologies Inc. announced Thursday an e-commerce solution that allows consumers to conduct simple, secure and direct transactions virtually anywhere. The self-service technology, called ‘e-Port’, is the first non-PC device to allow consumers to conduct e-commerce purchases at vending machines, convenience stores, gas pumps and other high-traffic retail points-of-sale. All ‘e-Port’ terminals contain a video display screen that features rotating banner advertisements. Consumers can respond to an advertisement via a touch-screen and speakerphone, which connects them to a merchant advertising the product or service. The consumer can then swipe a major credit card to make a purchase. With the ‘e-Port’ device, this networked solution allows for micro-payment and secure credit card transactions in unattended settings.

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SDK Ver 2.0

Schlumberger, the world’s leading provider of smart card-based solutions, announced the release of version 2.0 of the leading Java’ card development tool, Cyberflex Access Software Developer Kit. The enhanced SDK builds on the success of the original kit with the addition of new features such as transparent operation between Microsoft’s Cryptographic Application Programming Interface (CryptoAPI) and RSA’s Cryptoki Cryptographic Token Interface (PKCS#11) applications with one smart card and one digital identity. Additionally, this upgraded SDK from Schlumberger with cryptographic versions of the Java-programmable Cyberflex Access smart card (supporting RSA, DES and SHA-1) has been approved by the U. S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) for export to most countries outside the U.S.

‘We have solved the dilemma of dual, incompatible cryptographic programming environments by offering the first SDK that permits a digital identity to work in two domains,’ stated Merzad Madavi, vice president, IT and Security, North America, Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals. ‘With Cyberflex Access SDK 2.0, developers can easily implement applications that allow users to download a certificate to a Cyberflex Access card through a Microsoft CryptoAPI application, — Outlook, for example — and use it in a PKCS #11 application, such as Netscape Messenger or Eudora.’

The seamless use of a card’s certificates and keys in both CryptoAPI and PKCS#11 application environments widens the choice of desktop applications for security applications and significantly improves convenience for the end user. No longer are two cards required, one for Microsoft applications and one for others.

SDK Enhancement

The new Cyberflex Access SDK has been upgraded and enhanced to support the new functions of the most recently released PC/SC compliant interfaces for developers to utilize in their Windows based applications. The kit’s new PC/SC middleware also supports both the Schlumberger Cyberflex Access and Cryptoflex’ smart cards. The Windows PC/SC based Application Programming Interfaces for C/C++, Visual Basic and Java applications allow developer’s to take full advantage of the Cyberflex Access smart card to secure their PC applications. Other new SDK features include:

· Support of the latest Schlumberger PC/SC Cryptographic Service Provider (CSP) for Microsoft CryptoAPI applications (such as Internet Explorer, Outlook Express) and support of PKCS#11 Cryptoki interface for use with other main line applications (such as Netscape Navigator) that require PKCS#11 support

· Additional desktop environment user choice–the same Cryptographic X509 Certificates and cryptographic keys placed on the Cyberflex Access smart card can be used in both CryptoAPI and PKCS#11 application environments eliminating the effect of the incompatibilities of the two specifications

· An extended Smart Card Toolkit application providing the developer with more and easier-to-use utilities for interacting with the Cyberflex Access smart cards

· A new Cryptographic Object Viewer and Editor application is incorporated in the SDK to provide a mechanism to format cards for PKI systems in line with the PC/SC middleware

· Enhanced developer’s examples included on the CD-ROM to help shorten the application learning curve and speed application development

· An interactive web-based tutorial demonstration that shows how the SDK can assist in securing Internet web sites and e-commerce applications with advanced smart card technology

· A Schlumberger Reflex’ 72 Reader to provide a PC/SC plug-n-play smart card interface to the Windows PC/SC platform

Worldwide Availability

With the recent NSA and BXA approvals, the latest SDK from Schlumberger — including cryptographic versions of the Java programmable Cyberflex Access smart card (supporting RSA, DES and SHA-1) — is now generally available internationally. An augmented version of the Cyberflex Access smart card, supporting Triple DES is available in the US and Canada. This augmented version is also available outside the US for companies that are US subsidiaries or operating in the medical/health or banking/finance sectors.

Schlumberger pioneered Java card technology with the award-winning Cyberflex, the first smart card for Java. These latest innovations for Cyberflex Access make it the most powerful smart card for corporate enterprise computing applications, including network security. It is the world’s first smart card to combine the security of strong cryptography with advanced multi-application capabilities, enabling smart card-based digital signature, authentication and authorization applications.

Both versions of this new Cyberflex Access SDK, the standard and augmented cryptography are now available online at the Schlumberger Smart Card Maketplace: [https://www.cardstore.slb.com][1].

About Schlumberger

Schlumberger is the leading provider of smart card-based solutions worldwide. Drawing on 20 years experience in pioneering smart card innovations. Schlumberger is continuing to evolve the new generation of smart cards, parking terminals, ticketing machines, payphones, banking terminals, servers, software, applications and systems integration that will play a key role in the 21st century’s digital age. Additional information is available at .

Schlumberger Test & Transactions provides smart card-based solutions; semiconductor test, metrology and handling systems and services; and corporate IP and network solutions to customers throughout the world. It is a business unit of Schlumberger Limited, an $11.8 billion global technology services company.

[1]: https://www.cardstore.slb.com/

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e*Payments Research

To guide financial service institutions and retailers through the choices and challenges of accepting payments in the Internet environment, Meridien Research announced the launch of its new e*Payments research service, a division of the firm’s e*Financial Services practice. The inaugural report of the e*Payments group identifies a card-fraud trend that threatens to undermine the profitability of Web-based commercial initiatives. Meridien finds that the most effective solutions available today are intelligent fraud-modeling systems, often based on artificial intelligence, which are successfully reversing fraud increases for certain retailers and financial institutions.

The new report, titled “Fighting Fraud on the Internet: An Advanced Approach,” examines how purchaser anonymity and real-time delivery of “soft goods” — such as software, reports, entertainment media and gift certificates — create a fertile ground for online payment fraud, now estimated at $1.5 billion and expected to grow exponentially as consumer spending on the Internet continues to grow. The research details the inadequate risk- management approaches used by many merchants today, and the more sophisticated techniques available, including profiles of vendor solutions and options for installation and usage.

“Over the past decade, financial institutions have proven the value of advanced risk-modeling tools in fighting back the steadily rising tide of credit-card fraud. The same technology approach is already being tested with good results in the e*commerce world as well,” says Deborah Williams, research director at Meridien Research. “With online payment fraud ballooning to as much as 20 percent of sales for some retailer categories, there is no question that a significant investment in technology will be required before the Internet can truly be a safe channel for merchants as well as buyers.”

The report includes three case studies of technology implementations to reduce Internet fraud. Seattle-based Vitessa Corporation (formerly EC Direct), a provider of e*commerce solutions and payments processing, deployed a neural network solution to enable its merchant clients to detect online credit card fraud. Flooz, an online provider of “currency” for gift certificates, is integrating its own experience with fraud with an intelligent predictive solution to stem fraud rates. The third case study details how, after running without protection for a few months to test fraud rates, a well- known active wear company deployed a fraud screening service that has delivered a 50 percent reduction in bad transactions.

About the Meridien Research e*Payments Service

Meridien’s e*Payments Service provides research, analysis and advice targeted to the needs of financial services firms and other types of companies initiating, accepting or processing electronic payments, especially over the Internet. The service is designed to help clients choose and manage their technology investments in the e*commerce environment. Within the framework of identifying trends, opportunities and risks, Meridien will focus on the characteristics and potential of new payment media, detection and prevention of online fraud, and the business promise of value-added services such as financial EDI, electronic lockbox, online bill presentment and personal identification techniques.

About Meridien Research

Meridien Research of Newton, MA provides analytical research services to users and providers of financial technology. Meridien Research targets three technology segments of strategic importance to financial services firms: e*Financial Services (which includes e*Payments), Risk Management and Customer Management.

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Major Nixdorf Deal

Siemens Nixdorf confirmed Wednesday the sale of 1,000 ‘ProCash Compact’ ATMs to National Equipment Providers. The systems will be deployed primarily to grocery and convenience store sites nationwide. NEP has a management agreement with International Technology Systems to manage, install, service and perform transaction processing for the ATMs. The Siemens Nixdorf ‘ProCash’ ATM products are based on the Windows NT operating system and WOSA/XFS standards. This provides the ability to enhance revenue with advanced advertising functionality such as full motion video and e-commerce applications. The thermal printer also facilitates the dispensing of alternate media such as coupon advertising. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts agreed to purchase Siemens Nixdorf from its parent, Siemens AG in October and will begin operating independently as Wincor Nixdorf by the end of this month.

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Providian & PNC

PNC Bank has entered into an agreement with GetSmart.com that will allow consumers to shop for a PNC Bank home equity loan after visiting the GetSmart.com site. This unique alliance matches a premier national lender with a popular Internet site. Now when visitors to GetSmart.com are matched to PNC for a home equity product, they will have the option to hyperlink to PNC’s online home equity loan application at http://www.pncbank.com where applications can be conditionally approved in as little as 30 seconds. The application takes only about 10 minutes to complete and it can cut down the home equity loan decision process from the typical 10 days to as little as one day. Industry research shows consumers are demanding faster response by online providers. This alliance between PNC and GetSmart combines the capabilities of each organization to meet the expectations of millions of online loan shoppers.

“The linkage with GetSmart.com is part of PNC’s overall e-commerce strategy designed to give our customers online banking options,” said James DeFoggia, vice president of consumer lending at PNC Bank. “PNC has anticipated how e-commerce solutions can revolutionize the way its customers conduct business online and has developed innovative Web-based loan approvals and speedy check-delivery capabilities.”

“PNC has some of the most advanced and efficient credit scoring technology in the country,” said Stephen Semprevivo, GetSmart.com’s president. “The addition of PNC means that loan shoppers who visit GetSmart will now have the ability to get home equity loans nationwide quickly and efficiently. We are pleased to have this respected institution become part of our rapidly growing financial marketplace.”

PNC’s alliance with GetSmart is another in a series of alliances the bank has recently entered into as part of its overall Internet strategy. The bank has also announced that it will become the exclusive provider of certain financial products for iVillage.com, the leading women’s network online. PNC also will provide financial products for CollegeLink.com Incorporated, a subsidiary of Cytation.com Incorporated (OTC Bulletin Board: CLNK) and has signed an agreement with iCat, a division of Intel, to offer small businesses an e-commerce store-building service for a nominal initial fee.

PNC’s online home equity loan is another innovative feature of http://www.pncbank.com. The site also includes online auto loan applications with 15-second responses; online bill payment; access to deposit applications; AccountLink(R), which gives up-to-the minute account information and allows the transfer of funds between accounts; and Learning Link featuring consumer information on a series of financial topics.

About PNC Bank Corp.

PNC Bank Corp., headquartered in Pittsburgh, is one of the largest diversified financial services organizations in the United States. Its major businesses include Regional Community Banking, Corporate Banking, PNC Advisors, Mortgage Banking, Secured Finance, Asset Management and Mutual Fund Servicing.

About GetSmart.com

GetSmart.com is the borrower’s marketplace, providing loan information and connection to lenders, all in one location. In 1998, over eight million visitors to its popular site resulted in over 450,000 completed loan inquiries. These inquiries covered home loans, credit cards, debt consolidation products, student loans and small business financing, offered by hundreds of lenders participating in the GetSmart marketplace. Founded in 1996, GetSmart.com is based in Burlingame, California, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Providian Financial Corporation (NYSE: PVN).

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New Ops Centers

Providian Financial announced that it plans to open two new operations centers during the first quarter of 2000 to support the growth and expansion of its E-Commerce and Credit Card businesses. Leases were signed last week for facilities in Henderson, Nevada and San Antonio, Texas, and Providian expects to create 600 new jobs at each facility over the next year. Both facilities, which offer 63,000 and 60,000 square feet of space, respectively, are expected to open in February 2000 and will support customer service for Providian’s Internet-based Aria Visa, as well as its other credit card products.

“The tremendous growth momentum of Aria Visa, which established more than 100,000 new customer accounts within the first six months of its launch, and the continued growth of our Credit Card business has created the need for additional employees to provide service to our customers,” said Providian Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Shailesh J. Mehta. “Henderson and San Antonio each offer a very positive business climate and a very strong and qualified labor force. Both will enable us to add to our talented employee population, who will support Providian’s commitment to 100% customer satisfaction.”

Providian Financial has over 10,000 employees in the U.S. and the U.K., with facilities in Arlington, Texas; Fairfield, Oakland, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire; and London, England. With the growth of current initiatives, Providian expects to create additional jobs in 2000 and is currently considering additional locations for facility expansions.

San Francisco-based Providian Financial Corporation ([http://www.providian.com][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.

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

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