Lost E-Sales

Reston, VA-based The .Com Group predicted this morning that holiday shopping will not be as successful as most e-tailers would like, due to usability issues on the web. The company anticipates that there will be $5-7 billion lost in e-commerce over the next four weeks. The .Com Group estimates that close to half of all e-sales won’t be executed due to navigational problems. The consulting concern says other sales will be lost due to issues with order fulfillment, shipping, and inventory control.

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Online Card Use

A new study, released Friday, reveals the number of U.S. adults using credit cards to purchase goods and services online more than doubled between 1998 and 1999. By the third quarter of this year, according to Cyber Dialogue, 19.2 million adults used their credit cards to make online transactions, compared to 9.3 million in 1998 and only 4.9 million in 1997. The study also showed that nearly 70% of online purchasers who use credit cards online report using a VISA card, while one-third use MasterCard and 15% use American Express. In addition, VISA retained a more than 50% market share of online consumer transactions, while just over one-quarter of transactions are completed with MasterCard, 12% with American Express and 6% with Discover. Cyber Dialogue’s ‘American Internet User Survey’ involved interviews with 1,000 Internet users and 1,000 nonusers.

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InfiCorp Signs TCCU

Atlanta-based InfiCorp announced late Friday it has signed a comprehensive credit card portfolio management agreement with The California Credit Union. The Los Angeles-based credit union has $780 million in assets and currently serves over 110,000 members. Under terms of the deal, InfiCorp, through its strategic business unit InfiCU, will supply its proprietary ‘Decision Support System’ and comprehensive ‘Marketing, Risk, Systems and Operations’ management expertise to enable TCCU’s credit card portfolio to perform at or above industry levels. TCCU says it selected InfiCU because it endeavored to provide members with a greater selection of products, individually tailored pricing and extensive value-added benefits.

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NFS Settles

Westbury, NY-based National Financial Systems has agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to resolve allegations that it violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the FTC, the company’s debt collectors harassed consumers, made false and misleading representations and made impermissible third-party contacts regarding consumers’ debts. According to the FTC’s complaint detailing the charges, NFS’s collectors, on numerous occasions: called consumers at work when they knew the consumers’ employers prohibited such calls; talked with third parties, including neighbors, children and employers, for purposes other than acquiring location information about consumers, without consumers’ consent; and used obscene or profane language.

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Greenland Deal

Greenland Corporation announced the addition of ACS (Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.) as a second major distributor licensed to sell SmartCash ATM machines. Dr. Louis T. Montulli, CEO and Chairman of Greenland Corporation, stated that ACS (NYSE: ACS) and Greenland Corporation have signed a two year, non-exclusive distributorship agreement which allows ACS certain exclusive rights to represent SmartCash ATM’s for sale in the United States.” ACS Corporation is a diversified company with annual sales of approximately two billion dollars. Supported by field sales offices in most major cities, ACS Electronic Commerce Group (a division of ACS, Inc. based in Dallas, TX) provides processing for more than 17,000 ATM machines nationwide, and provides maintenance for more than 7,000 machines.

Dr. Montulli of Greenland Corporation stated: “With this active field force and a deeply experienced corporate sales team, ACS provides Greenland nearly instant access to thousands of additional individual customers and a significant number of key corporate opportunities with an additional ten’s of thousands of well organized chain store locations. In fact, as part of the early planning for a Greenland/ACS relationship, ACS identified three major chain opportunities for early penetration and was awarded by Greenland an exclusive representation contract. As a result exploratory business discussions have already commenced with several large corporate opportunities.”

Pete DuPre’, Senior Vice President, ACS Electronic Commerce Group, stated: “We are excited about this arrangement with Greenland. ACS is actively pursuing opportunities to expand our presence in the advanced ATM market, including providing services such as check cashing, money order processing and phone card sales. Our agreement with Greenland is consistent with our strategy and provides us rapid time to market to address our customers’ demand for these services.”

Dr. Montulli concluded: “The ACS distributorship and its anticipated sales are in addition to the existing orders and future sales pursued through our master distributorship with RBSA/SmartCash ATM LTD. ACS, as a premier sales provider of ATM’s and a provider of in-house processing and field services, has achieved world class status in their business performance. We welcome their addition to the Greenland/SmartCash ATM LTD., family.” Greenland Corporation is a software development and manufacturing corporation with existing product and product under development. The Company is currently introducing an automated payroll check-cashing machine with full ATM functionality, phone card sales and money order dispensing services. A future service to be included with the machine is payday advances. The company’s common stock trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol “GLCP”. Visit Greenland on the Internet at [www.Greenlandcorp.com][1].

ACS (Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.) is a Fortune 1000 company based in Dallas, Texas, with operations within North America, Central America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. ACS is an integrated, future-focused company with a rich history of innovative work and long-term relationships. ACS has proven customer retention, broad and vertical expertise, personalized attention and flexibility. ACS provides the full range of information technology services including business process outsourcing, electronic commerce, technology outsourcing, professional services and systems integration. The company’s Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ACS.” Visit ACS on the Internet at [www.acs-inc.com][2].

[1]: http://www.greenlandcorp.com/
[2]: http://www.acs-inc.com/

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HH Sub-Prime Push

Household International announced Thursday that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase Renaissance Holdings, Inc., a privately held issuer of secured and unsecured credit cards to sub-prime customers, for approximately $300 million. Approximately 70% of the consideration will be in the form of Household common shares and the remainder will be in cash. Since January, Household and Renaissance have worked together as partners in developing and managing Household’s sub-prime credit card program. With this agreement, Renaissance Holdings will be renamed Renaissance Credit Services and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Household. Irving Levin, president of Renaissance, will remain in charge of all Renaissance operations. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter 2000.

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Online Shopping

Overall online holiday shopping traffic increased 11% for the week ending November 28, marking the biggest weekly gain since the first week of November, the start of the Internet holiday shopping season, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Toys remained a hot category in the holiday shopping world, increasing 36% in the past week and an overall 82% since the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The breakthrough category this week appears to be comparison sites, which were up over 70% in the past week.

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Metris Appt

Metris Companies Inc., one of the fastest-growing direct marketing companies in the nation, has announced the appointment of Kevin Helmintoller as vice president-investor relations.

In his new role, Helmintoller has overall responsibility for developing, implementing and managing the company’s investor relations strategy. He reports to David Wesselink, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Kevin brings outstanding talent and a record of achievement to this position,” said Metris President and CEO Ronald N. Zebeck. “We’re pleased that Kevin has joined our team, and we’re excited about the knowledge and experience he brings to our fast-paced organization.”

Helmintoller most recently served as vice president of investor relations and communications for Magellan Health Services based in Maryland. Prior to Magellan, he served as second vice president, investor relations at AFLAC Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Helmintoller is a certified public accountant.

Metris Companies Inc. is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products and fee-based services, primarily to moderate-income consumers. Based in St. Louis Park, Minn, Metris also has operations in Phoenix, Ariz.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Champaign, Ill.; Baltimore, Md.; and Tulsa, Okla. Metris employs more than 3,000 people.

Visit Metris on the Internet at [www.metriscompanies.com][1]

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

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1-Click Battle

A federal district judge granted online retailer Amazon.com a preliminary injunction protecting its patented ‘1-Click’ technology and barring an online competitor from copying it. The preliminary injunction, issued this week, bars barnesandnoble.com from using its version of ‘1-Click’ technology while the lawsuit is pending. Amazon.com filed suit Oct. 20, saying the defendant had illegally copied Amazon.com’s patented ‘1-Click’ payment technology. First made available to Amazon.com customers in September 1997, the ‘1-Click’ feature securely stores billing and shipping information so that returning customers need only click their mouse once, without re-entering or re-confirming that information, to purchase selected items conveniently.

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ML Direct

Merrill Lynch launched Merrill Lynch Direct yesterday. Among the services offered is ‘Unlimited Advantage’ which offers clients virtually unlimited transactions in most securities, personalized guidance and advice clients, the ‘VISA Signature’ card and rewards program, individualized financial plans with periodic updates, eCommerce links and other services. The ‘Merrill Lynch CMA VISA Signature’ card offers extensive travel and rewards program. Points are earned every time the card is used to make a purchase and can be redeemed toward travel on any airline, anytime, anywhere, with no blackout dates. Points may also be redeemed for valuable merchandise and other travel services, or applied toward payment of fees and commissions at Merrill Lynch.

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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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