Black Friday

A strong economy and a competitive credit card marketplace will drive American consumers to rack up a record $126.5 billion on credit and debit cards this holiday season according to data compiled by and RAM Research Group. During the 29 day period between the holidays, Americans will swipe their credit cards more than 1.6 billion times, charging an average of $3.7 billion in purchases per day or $156 million each hour. For the peak shopping days of Nov 26, Nov 27 and Dec 24, consumers will use their credit cards more than 7,000 times per second generating charges of nearly $500,000 per second. VISA and MasterCard-branded debit cards will continue to soar in popularity this holiday season as consumers will use such cards about 499 million times, debiting their checking or savings account for an average of $37.68 per transaction. Last year Americans used debit cards approximately 354 million times during the Christmas shopping season. Online shopping will take hold this year as the fastest growing area of credit and debit card use. American consumers will charge nearly $12 billion of online holiday sales on credit and debit cards. Californians will continue to be the most active card users, charging more than $15.6 billion on major credit cards and store cards. Cardholders in the Northwest will lead the nation by posting $23.1 billion to their charge plates. CardWeb/RAM notes that gift cards are proliferating this year while digital wallets are slowly emerging as an easier way to pay online.

1999 Christmas Holiday Payment Card Statistics
(for period between 11/26/99 and 12/24/99 inclusive)

Purchases Transactions Avg. Ticket
Major Credit Cards $92.6 billion 1,400 million $66.14
Store Credit Cards $15.1 billion 260 million $58.08
Natl Debit Cards $18.8 billion 499 million $37.68
Total: $126.5 billion 2,159 million $53.97

Source:, Inc./RAM Research Group




NextCard’s Latest Deals

NextCard and, the next-generation rebates shopping portal, yesterday announced an exclusive Internet marketing agreement. Under the terms of the 3-year, multi-million dollar agreement, NextCard and will collaborate to offer special promotions and co-branded products specifically designed for members at [][1].

Beginning today, members will be offered a limited-time promotional offer of up to $50 cash back for opening and using a new NextCard Visa account at New cardholders will receive NextCard privileges including valuable online shopping services, a one-click digital wallet, NextCard Rewards and a 100% Safe Shopping Pledge(SM) and 24-hour interactive online service and support. A co-branded NextCard will be available in the first quarter of 2000 and will include more features targeted to the member base, including additional discounts at selected online merchants.

“The collective buying power of the community combined with NextCard’s enhanced e-commerce services enables us to provide an innovative product for active online shoppers,” said Rich Goebel, vice president of business development at NextCard. “This agreement with is yet another example of NextCard’s e-commerce strategy to provide distinct Web audiences the tools and services they need to shop online safely and efficiently.”

“This is absolutely the best credit card for online shopping,” said Alessandro Isolani, vice president of business development at “ is focused on delivering great value and convenience to online shoppers. Our partnership with NextCard furthers both of these goals in a huge way. The card we’ve developed together is a perfect fit for our members’ needs.”

eUniverse, Inc., an entertainment community and e-commerce network of websites ([][2]) with more than 2.5 million unique users per month, also announced yesterday a marketing agreement with NextCard, Inc., creator of The First True Internet Visa. Under the terms of the agreement, NextCard becomes the preferred credit card on sites throughout the eUniverse network, including CD Universe, Video Universe, and Game Universe. In addition, CD Universe ([][3]), eUniverse’s online entertainment commerce property, will give $20.00 gift certificates to every person that applies for and receives a NextCard through any one of the eUniverse Web sites.

“NextCard is a true master of highly-targeted online marketing,” said Brad Greenspan, Chairman of eUniverse. “NextCard’s compelling online card proposition enables eUniverse to provide our visitors with valuable discounts and innovative e-commmerce tools for a new level of interactive fun. This alliance is sure to establish a whole new batch of loyal eUniverse users.”

“We’re excited to work with eUniverse to provide customized card products and relevant promotions to the network’s two and a half million monthly visitors,” commented David Schwartz, vice president of customer acquisition at NextCard. “eUniverse members are active online shoppers and recognize the value of the NextCard Internet Visa as the preferred card of choice on the Internet.”

About eUniverse, Inc.

eUniverse, Inc. ([][4]) is a network of entertainment-focused commerce, community, and editorial Web sites. Its online commerce properties include: CDUniverse ([][5]), VideoUniverse ([][6]), and the recently launched GamesUniverse ([][7]). Its leading community and content sites include a combination of popular interactive entertainment editorial and event sites that include Case’s Ladder ([][8]), Gamer’s Alliance ( and BigNetwork ([][9]). eUniverse recently launched LivePlace, an advanced community-building product which features instant messaging, chat, and co-browsing technology. eUniverse is headquartered in Wallingford, CT and maintains an office in San Francisco, CA.

About CD Universe

CD Universe ([][10]) has more than 280,000 items available for worldwide delivery and has been named the Best online music shopping site, both in service and selection, by independent tracking service, BizRate. Its catalog features domestic and import CDs, cassette tapes and music videos, DVDs and laser discs. Customers can browse by genre; search by artists, title, song, soundtrack or label; read album reviews; check track listings; view cover art and listen to sound clips before they buy. CD Universe also produces a free customizable music newsletter that includes tributes to music artists, upcoming events and awards.

NextCard, Inc.

NextCard, Inc. ([][11]), 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 20,000 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 recently named the No. 1 credit card brand Internet consumers would consider for use according to ZDNet’s 1999 BrandIQ research study.


Headquartered in San Francisco, is a next-generation Internet shopping portal, which gives its members cash back when they shop online. Through, members receive cash back of up to 25 percent on every purchase from over 200 merchants. In addition, members can earn additional cash back by referring others to

Launched in May 1999, was founded by Paul Wasserman and Alessandro Isolani, two former deputy district attorneys in Silicon Valley. USA Today called “the best story of the @d:tech SF show.” The site ranks among the Net’s top five affiliate sites, and the company has also been named a Red Herring “Catch of the Day.” is funded by Foundation Capital of Menlo Park, Calif.



Cape Cod Exits Merchant Business

Cape Cod Bank and Trust Company, N.A. Tuesday sold its merchant credit card service business to NOVA Information Systems, Inc., it was announced by Stephen B. Lawson, President & CEO. Lawson indicated that the bank will realize an after tax gain of approximately $2 million as a result of the sale. He said that NOVA will be able to provide CCB&T’s merchant credit card customers with the service efficiencies of a large national company. NOVA is an Atlanta based company that handles credit card processing for over 1,800 nationwide bank clients with combined volume exceeding $50 billion, he said. CCB&T’s merchant credit card customers will be converted to the NOVA system beginning mid-February, 2000, Lawson said. They are presently being notified of the conversion. CCB&T, a subsidiary of CCBT Financial Companies, Inc., (NASDAQ: CCBT) is the Cape’s largest financial institution with assets of $1.3 billion. It has been serving the Cape market for 144 years.


New Cubic Subsidiary

San Diego-based Cubic Corp. announced the formation of a new subsidiary company to develop and leverage applications for the company’s newest contactless smart card chip technology. The new company will be known as Cubic Microchip Development Inc.

The formation of the company is related to Cubic’s development of a new high-speed chip for contactless smart card applications which require the ability to read and write data securely at very high speeds. A Cubic-designed chip currently in use in contactless smart cards in Washington, DC can handle transit transactions in less than one-tenth of a second. The newest Cubic chip design offers transit customers and other users greater memory and can operate at higher transaction speeds.

Cubic is the world leader in integrated payment systems for mass transit and is the only company with an actual working contactless card payment system in large scale transit use in the U. S. Cubic designed contactless cards are now in use by the Washington Area Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Washington, DC. Contactless cards using Cubic designed chips are also scheduled to go into transit use soon in Chicago.

Cubic’s new technology makes new contactless card applications available for uses beyond transit. Other potential customers include government benefits issuers, medical providers, drivers’ license bureaus, passport offices, security companies, as well as retail and e-commerce businesses. The expanded memory and security designed into Cubic’s latest chip will allow a commuter to use the same contactless card for transit and many other payment applications.


Bank Plus Delinquencies Drop

Bank Plus Corporation reported that as of October 31, 1999 total outstanding balances in the credit card portfolio of its wholly-owned subsidiary Fidelity Federal Bank, FSB, were $238.6 million, a net decrease of $12.3 million from the September 30, 1999 balances, and total delinquencies decreased to 19.9% from 20.5% at September 30, 1999.

Delinquencies under the MMG Direct, Inc. program decreased to 19.4% at October 31, 1999 from 19.7% at September 30, 1999, while delinquencies under the American Direct Credit, Inc. portfolio decreased to 22.3% at October 31, 1999 from 23.8% at September 30, 1999.

Bank Plus Corporation is the holding company for Fidelity Federal Bank, FSB, which offers a broad range of consumer financial services, including demand and time deposits and mortgage loans. In addition, through its affiliate Gateway Investment Services, Inc., a NASD-registered broker/dealer, Fidelity provides customers of the Bank with investment products, including mutual funds, annuities and insurance. Fidelity operates through 36 full- service branches, 35 of which are located in Southern California, principally in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Outstanding Credit Card Balances
As of October 31, 1999
(Dollars in thousands)

MMG ADC All Other Total

Current Balances $83,550 $82,541 $25,015 $191,106
Delinquent Balances:
30 to 59 days 5,038 5,685 2,049 12,772
60 to 89 days 4,053 4,679 854 9,586
90 to 119 days 3,709 4,489 728 8,926
120 to 149 days 3,861 4,584 – 8,445
150 days and over 3,478 4,254 4 7,736
Total Delinquencies 20,139 23,691 3,635 47,465

Total Balances $103,689 $106,232 $28,650 $238,571

Delinquency %
30 to 59 days 4.9% 5.4% 7.2% 5.4%
60 to 89 days 3.9% 4.4% 3.0% 4.0%
90 to 119 days 3.6% 4.2% 2.5% 3.8%
120 to 149 days 3.7% 4.3% 0.0% 3.5%
150 days and over 3.3% 4.0% 0.0% 3.2%
Total 19.4% 22.3% 12.7% 19.9%

Available Credit $18,212 $25,880 $5,564 $49,656


Barnes & Noble Goes MPS

Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest retailer of books, will now be utilizing the services of Fifth Third Bank’s subsidiary, Midwest Payment Systems, for credit card processing and Internet-based back office management. Fifth Third will electronically process Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express transactions for all of the retailer’s more than 1,000 stores, which include Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, Scribner’s, Bookstop, Bookstar, Charlesbank, and Doubleday.

“We found Fifth Third Bank to be the best choice among the top processors in the nation,” reports Darrell Meussner, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Retail and Distribution, Barnes & Noble, Inc. “We were looking for a processor with the capability to provide us with custom solutions. Fifth Third’s development capabilities definitely made them stand out. In the back office area alone, we expect substantial cost savings by utilizing Fifth Third’s MVision system.”

MVision, Fifth Third’s internally-developed back office management system, is an Internet-accessible link which enables retailers to receive reports, view transaction and deposit data, handle chargebacks, export card data into other applications, and scan receipts or handwritten documents into the system.

Barry L. Boerstler, Fifth Third Bank Executive Vice President, states, “With millions of credit card transactions per year, Barnes & Noble needed a processor with high volume capabilities. Our in-house data center utilizes the most advanced processing technology available. This partnership will enable us to provide their back office operations with unmatched processing speed and reliability.”

A subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank, MPS was ranked #1 EFT provider by Faulkner & Gray (March, 1999). MPS processes more than 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., Circuit City, Office Depot, and CompUSA. MPS’ merchant customer base generates more than $40 billion in credit card sales annually.

Fifth Third Bancorp 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 inside select grocery stores 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 [][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 System under the symbol “FITB.”

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS) operates 521 Barnes & Noble and 448 B. Dalton bookstores. Barnes & Noble stores stock an authoritative selection of book titles and provide access to more than one million titles. They offer books from more than 50,000 publisher imprints with an emphasis on small, independent publishers and university presses. Barnes & Noble is one of the world’s largest booksellers on the World Wide Web ( [][2]), and the exclusive bookseller on America Online (keyword:bn). has the largest standing inventory of any online bookseller. Barnes & Noble also publishes books under its own imprint for exclusive sale through its retail stores, mail-order catalogs, and Web site.

General financial information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained via the Internet by visiting the company’s investor relations web site at .



Brazilian Phone Cards

Ft. Lauderdale, FL-based TCS, Inc., reported Tuesday that it has deployed a service platform for Embratel, the Brazilian national long-distance company, to provide calling card services throughout Brazil. The deal marks the first time pre-paid calling card services will be widely available in the Brazilian marketplace. The deployment is expected to put calling cards in the hands of more than 10 million Embratel customers within the next two years. Over 3 million pre-paid cards have already been pre-sold. The cards will provide global access and national pre-paid calling throughout Brazil. Post-paid cards with features including speed dial and conference calling will be rolled out the second half of next year.


OPAY Soars

Official Payments Corp., formerly known as U.S. Audiotex Corp., watched its stock soar 50% on the first day of trading. More than 8 million shares traded hands Tuesday as the stock closed at $22.50 per share. The company’s IPO of 5,000,000 shares of common stock had been priced at $15 per share. The company raised $75 million. The 5 million shares offered, represented a 24% stake in the company. The company specializes in tax payments via credit cards and has the IRS as its largest client. FULL STORY:



Xmas Retail Sales

How much will the average American family shell out for holiday gifts? American Express said Tuesday its survey shows the figure to be $1,008 while The Conference Board said yesterday its poll shows the average to be $500. AmEx says total holiday spending will hit $1,558 per family. Both surveys show spending on holiday gifts will fall between $50 billion and $100 billion. Total holiday spending will land somewhere around $100 billion to $150 billion. According to the ‘American Express Retail Index’, 44% of consumers plan to get some, if not all, of their shopping done this coming Friday, dubbed “Black Friday” by the retail industry, up from 39% in 1998. The Conference Board says its survey shows 17% of consumers will shop online.


Platinum Meltdown

Gold VISA and MasterCards lost their luster to Platinum cards and now, Platinum VISA and MasterCards are beginning to dull. A new research study shows the penetration level for Platinum and Gold are nearly equal with 31% of all households having a Platinum product and 32%, a Gold card. In 1999, there are 33.5 million households with Gold cards, 10 million fewer than in 1997. The research, released this morning by PSI Global, shows that 32.5 million households now have Platinum cards, 25 million more than in 1997. According to the new PSI study, ‘Impact of Platinum cards on the General Purpose Credit Card Market’, Platinum card ownership would far exceed Gold cards by 2003, if issuers’ marketing efforts mirror the last three years. If Platinum continues to grow at the same rate, penetration will reach 58 million (55% of all U.S. households) by 2003. This would exceed Gold card ownership by more than a 2:1 margin and approach parity with Standard card ownership. The PSI study also noted that upgrades from Gold and Standard accounts represent 44% of new Platinum accounts opened in the last two years.


MasterCard GiftCards

Another issuer of MasterCard Giftcards has emerged. Newport Beach, CA-based CardEx Incentives released a ‘Millennium MasterCard GiftCard’ and two other holiday-themed MasterCard GiftCards. The holiday GiftCards are all available in prepaid denominations, in $25 increments. A full-service incentive company, CardEx Incentives is the industry pioneer and expert in developing and managing corporate incentive programs that feature MasterCard debit cards as rewards. CardEx products and services include: prepaid GiftCards, rechargeable IncentiveCards, gift certificates and travel awards, as well as incentive program design, launch, implementation, tracking and management.


Online Card Fraud

Nearly 75% of online merchants consider credit card fraud to be a concern, yet 41 percent do not know that they are held financially liable when online fraud takes place, according to a recent independent fraud survey commissioned by CyberSource Corp. The CyberSource fraud survey found that lack of confidence by consumers is the number one concern for online merchants, followed by stolen credit cards, unauthorized access to customer information, hacking and chargeback fees. Respondents also expressed frustration at the lack of adequate controls from credit card companies and the government. Fear of the negative impact fraud can have on online brand image was also mentioned as a strong concern for merchants. Seventy-two percent of online merchants surveyed believe that sales would increase somewhat if online shoppers were not worried about fraud. With the lucrative holiday season approaching, online fraud has a special significance, with 74 percent of merchants believing that fraud will increase this holiday season. The survey was conducted by Mindwave Research, Inc.