The Federal Open Market Committee voted yesterday to raise its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 5.5%. In a related action, the Board of Governors approved a 25 basis point increase in the discount rate to 5%. Late yesterday most banks raised their prime lending rates to 8.50%. This is the third rate increase this year. Tuesday’s rate increase will raise costs to both card issuers and cardholders. Credit card interest rates have been rising since the start of the third quarter following a FOMC boost in short-term interest rates by 25 basis points in late June and in late August. For many cardholders yesterday’s action will not affect their credit card interest rate until the January billing cycle. Citibank and MBNA, for example, adjust rates quarterly. However others such as Household and First USA will raise rates during the December billing cycle. The increase of 25 basis points to the prime rate will boost consumer credit card interest costs by nearly $1 billion over the next twelve months as it impacts about $365 billion in variable rate-based bank credit card receivables.Details
California’s Department of Corporations announced Tuesday that it is taking enforcement action against discount health benefit card plans or referral card plans that are illegally conducting operations in the state. The Health Plan Enforcement Division says it is generally unlawful for such a plan to engage in business in California unless it has a license from the Commissioner of Corporations pursuant to the Knox-Keene Health Care Services Plan Act of 1975. The DOC says many of these health card plans promise discounts on health care services, most commonly dental, prescription and vision, in exchange for membership fees, which are usually charged on a monthly or annual basis. The so-called discounts they offer may be illusory or duplicative of other health benefits to which the individual is already entitled. In some cases, these plans may also misrepresent the number or geographical distribution of their health care service providers, or their procedures for confirming or monitoring the qualifications of those providers.Details
Triton announced Tuesday the installation of more than 350 Triton automated teller machines in Dillard’s Department Stores nationwide. Installed and operated by Euronet Services, Inc., Triton’s flagship 9600 series ATMs are now available for use at all of Dillard’s locations in 29 states.
“Our ATMs were well matched with Dillard’s goals for a quick and efficient installation using a product that optimizes customer convenience,” said Ken Paull, vice president of sales and marketing for Triton. “Dillard’s strategic use of ATMs requires the kind of flexibility and upgradability that will allow its ATM network to grow with the expanding needs of both Dillard’s and its customers. The project was an exemplary combination of placement, product and technology – and a great opportunity to work with a cross-section of retail and technology leaders.”
The turnkey solution involves the in-store placement of ATMs from Triton, with transactions processed through the DASH Network using its own ARKSYS(TM) software brand. The ATMs accept all bank cards and most major credit cards.
“Providing ATM access in our stores is another way we can provide added services to our busy customers,” stated David Helm, Dillard’s Assistant Treasurer. “By selecting DASH and Euronet as our ATM solutions provider, we were able to make this project happen quickly and efficiently, just in time for the holiday shopping season,” Helm added.
As the leading provider of cash-dispensing ATMs for off-premise locations, Triton is committed to redefining and leading the retail market for cash delivery systems. Triton is the third largest manufacturer of ATMs and ATM management software in the U.S. and has more than 35,000 locations worldwide. The company, headquartered in Long Beach, Mississippi has been named to Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. for three consecutive years. For more information, visit the Triton website at [http://www.tritonatm.com].
About Euronet Services Inc.
Euronet Services Inc. is a leading provider of electronic financial solutions and transaction processing services. Euronet operates a network of over 2,000 ATMs in Europe and the U.S. and offers the only integrated software suite for electronic payment and transaction delivery systems compatible with the IBM AS/400 computer. With offices in eight countries on two continents, Euronet Services offers ATM network development and participation, outsourced management solutions, comprehensive software solutions, and professional and consulting services to retail banks and companies in more than 70 countries around the world.
The ARKSYS(TM) software brand is the market leader in ATM network software for the IBM AS/400 platform, the most widely used system among retail banks. The ARKSYS software fully integrates all aspects of electronic financial transaction processing for retail banking, as well as non-bank institutions, including payment and transaction delivery for ATM systems, credit card and debit card management, POS transaction, comprehensive card and client management, and Internet banking. The core software solution is Integrated Transaction Management (ITM), a suite of payment and transaction functions designed to support virtually every aspect of retail financial delivery. ARKSYS software is currently used by more than 200 clients in over 60 countries.
Established in 1996, DASH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Euronet, provides transaction switching, and ATM and debit card services to 24 financial institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The DASH network currently operates nearly 500 ATMs.
MasterCard International also announced from Cartes ’99 in Paris the launch of the ‘Chip Acceptance Solutions Enabler’ to accelerate the acceptance of smart cards. ‘CASE’ is a suite of support services designed to guide acceptance solutions providers through all chip-related acceptance, merchant and terminal activities. The primary objective of ‘CASE’ is to increase the number and quality of EMV-compliant chip acceptance solutions available in the market. To this end, MasterCard plans to designate technical resources to assist vendors through the EMV certification process and assist vendors in their implementation support requirements. MasterCard will also offer EMV education and training for identified needs, and actively communicate its, and vendors’, acceptance solutions successes to MasterCard’s membership. MasterCard says the ‘CASE’ initiative is exemplified by the card association’s involvement in guiding Hitachi as it prepared for the introduction of 12,000 chip-supporting point of sale terminals and over 5 million MYCAL MasterCard multi-application smart cards.Details
VISA International announced at Cartes ’99 in Paris that it is moving forward with plans to make ‘VISA Cash’ a cross-border card that will eliminate the need to carry coins and bills in multiple currencies. The card will also enable multi-currency transactions over the Internet. The initial phase of a program to make ‘VISA Cash’ compliant with the ‘Common Electronic Purse Specifications’ is underway and will involve tests using ‘VISA Cash’ cards in Spain, Latin America and the United States. The Spanish VISA Cash operator, SERMEPA, is now working with VISA and 13 international vendors and suppliers to enable member banks to begin migrating existing ‘VISA Cash’ programs to CEPS in 2001. The goal is to enable cardholders to use their ‘VISA Cash’ cards in any POS terminal and load value at any loading device wherever they see the ‘VISA Cash’ mark. ‘VISA Cash’ issuers will also have the option to offer the following features: aggregation, truncation, multiple currency load and purchase, currency exchange, lock/unlock, cancel last purchase and purchase reversal.Details
Merchant Services, Inc., a leading US credit/debit card acquirer, is deploying 10,000 Hypercom ICE 5000, 10,000 T7 card payment systems and 5,000 S8 PIN pads to customers and prospects nationwide, and has named Hypercom Corporation its exclusive provider of card payment systems. Headquartered in New York, Merchant Services and its affiliates provide services to more than 40,000 businesses in the retail, hospitality and emerging market sectors. Hypercom is a leading provider of electronic payment solutions.
“Hypercom’s card payment systems pack an array of revenue-generating features such as on-screen advertising, customized receipts, receipt storage and transaction transmission times of under six seconds that can really benefit our merchants,” said Ray Sidhom, president, Merchant Services, New York. “Add to that the quality, reliability and flexibility of Hypercom’s innovative solutions, and we deliver value-packed products that no other electronic payment solutions provider comes close to.”
Hypercom’s ICE 5000 is a powerful, multi-function touch-screen terminal incorporating a high-speed thermal printer, paper cutter, and Hypercom FastPOS(TM) 9600 bits per second (bps) modem technology that completes transactions in under six seconds. Hypercom’s ICE 5000 provides a highly interactive and intuitive user interface that allows the support of complex transactions with minimum user training. When used in concert with Hypercom Ascendent(TM) software, the ICE 5000 also supports online advertising and electronic receipt capture, storage and retrieval. The T7 terminal devices are compact, high-performance terminals that support draft capture, debit, check, and proprietary card processing and new payment vehicles such as chip card-based credit/debit and stored value cards.
“We are pleased to join Merchant Services in its effort to enhance, streamline and equip its merchants with the highest-quality, value-added solutions on the market today,” said John Marshall, senior vice president and general manager, Hypercom North America POS. “Our new partnership is a win-win for Merchant Services’ sales force, distributors and customers, and Hypercom.”
Founded in 1989, Merchant Services Inc. (MSI) presents a broad range of premier transaction processing solutions for retail, hospitality and emerging markets. MSI has a proactive philosophy of service, which accounts for their fast turnaround of new merchant applications and high retention rate of their expanding merchant portfolio.
Hypercom Corporation (NYSE: HYC) is the single-source global provider of end-to-end electronic payment solutions, including card payment systems, peripherals, network products, software and e-commerce payment solutions that add value at the point-of-sale for consumers, merchants and acquirers.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products in more than 70 countries through a global network of affiliates and offices in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is [www.hypercom.com].
Hypercom is a registered trademark of Hypercom Corporation. ICE, FastPOS and Ascendent are trademarks of Hypercom Corporation. All other products or services mentioned in this document are trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks of their respective owners.
Eleven more organizations have joined GlobalPlatform, the cross industry smart card group announced last month to advance a standardized infrastructure for multiple application smart cards. This brings the total number of members to 30 representing the payments, communications, government and vendor communities.
New members include: French card payments group, Carte Bleue; South Korean government agency, TTA; Irish communications company, eircom (formerly Telecom Eireann); transaction processor, First Data Corporation; Nordic banking group, MeritaNordbanken; provider of processing services, Digital Courier Technologies; and technology vendors, ACI worldwide, Cards Etc, and Ingenico. Two other large organizations have joined and will be announced at a later date. Collectively, GlobalPlatform members reach more than one billion consumers worldwide and have already issued in excess of 70 million smart cards.
GlobalPlatform is attributing the quick uptake in membership to the clear industry need for open standards and to the creditability of the Open Platform specifications. Developed by Visa International and contributed to GlobalPlatform, the Open Platform is a comprehensive smart card architecture and associated specifications addressing cards, terminals and systems infrastructure for dynamic, multiple application smart cards.
Dr. Suh, TTA South Korea, said: “For us, GlobalPlatform represents an opportunity to work with leading companies in a range of industries to ensure that a common smart card infrastructure is developed which meets the needs of all parties. It is only through such cooperation that we can ensure that products and applications are developed which entice consumers and offer multiple services from multiple industries.”
In addition to expanding its membership, GlobalPlatform has also appointed an initial board of directors. Representatives from British Telecommunications, JCB, NTT, TTA, Visa International and two other organizations which are still to be announced will sit on the board. The first board meeting, together with a full member meeting, will be held on Thursday 18 November in Paris. The board will define the structure and work of various committees. In turn, the committees will develop conventions needed to facilitate card issuance, application deployment, card acceptance devices, and post-issuance loading and management of on-card services. This is intended to result in secure systems for all industries, making it cost effective and easy for a card issuer to offer a variety of functions on one card.
GlobalPlatform was established to reduce the barriers hindering the growth of cross industry, multiple application smart cards but continue to allow smart card issuers the freedom to choose from a variety of cards, terminals and back-end systems. The organization is open to all parties with an interest in the development and use of smart cards, including issuers, vendors, industry groups, public entities and technology companies. Members include British Telecommunications, JCB, Microsoft, Nokia NTT, Sun Microsystems, and Visa International.
More information on GlobalPlatform can be obtained from [www.globalplatform.org].
Note To Editors:
GlobalPlatform’s efforts to advance common specifications will be accelerated by the transfer of the Open Platform card specifications and terminal framework developed by Visa International. Open Platform technology can be implemented with the Java Card(TM) platform from Sun(R) Microsystems and Microsoft(R) Windows(R) for Smart Cards. GlobalPlatform will manage, promote and evolve the Open Platform specifications to ensure that card issuers are provided with a wide choice of card technologies with common back-end systems for application loading and management.
As the “World’s Best Way to Pay,” Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest payment system in the world 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 [www.visa.com].
William N. Melton, founder of CyberCash, Inc., a world leader in e-commerce technologies and services for merchants, Tuesday announced the promotion of CyberCash president and chief operating officer, James J. Condon, to chief executive officer. Melton, who currently serves as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Reston, VA-based e-commerce company, will remain in his current capacity as chairman. He also announced his intention to invest an additional $10 million in CyberCash.
“Since Jim Condon joined CyberCash nearly three years ago, he has had an enormous impact on the management of the company,” said Melton. “As president of the company, Jim has built one of the finest management teams anywhere and has focused CyberCash on the execution of fundamental business activities that will grow the company and increase shareholder value. The opportunities and challenges over the next year will require an increasing focus on the strategic direction and operations of the company and, for that reason, the board and I are enthusiastic about promoting Jim to chief executive officer,” Melton said.
“I am deeply honored and most appreciative for the confidence Bill and the board have expressed in me and the current management team for the efforts we’ve made to strengthen CyberCash,” said Jim Condon. “Everyone knows the contribution Bill Melton has made to the development of the Internet, and I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from one of the true pioneers of this industry. I look forward to continuing to work with him and the board as we redouble our efforts to achieve the success of which we know CyberCash is capable,” he said.
Melton said that in light of recent milestones achieved by the company, he intends to invest an additional $10 million in CyberCash.
“The promotion of Jim at this time fits my investment pattern of creating pioneering companies, then cultivating a strong management team capable of assuming leadership and growing the company,” said Melton.
“Jim is a talented, strong professional capable of that leadership. Amid all the hype in our space, CyberCash is solidly growing revenues, building our customer base and trimming our costs. This is the path to long-term sustainable growth and to becoming a major corporation. My enthusiasm and belief in Jim’s leadership, the management team and CyberCash’s growth path lead me to make the additional investment in the company,” he said.
CyberCash is a world leader in e-commerce technologies and services, enabling commerce across the entire market spectrum from electronic retailing environments to the Internet. CyberCash provides a complete line of software products and services allowing merchants, billers, financial institutions and consumers to conduct secure transactions and other e-commerce functions using the broadest array of popular payment forms. Credit, debit, purchase cards, cash, checks, smart cards and alternative payment types (e.g., “frequent buyer” or loyalty programs) are all supported by CyberCash payment solutions. For more information about CyberCash, please visit our Web site at [http://www.cybercash.com].
CyberCash and the CyberCash logo are trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks of CyberCash, Inc.
MBNA America Bank, N.A., announced Tuesday the promotion of Michelle D. Shepherd to vice chairwoman and named her to its Executive Committee.
Ms. Shepherd is responsible for the company’s Advertising Division, which includes MBNA’s in-house advertising agency, Database Marketing, Direct Response Marketing (mail campaigns), Research and Development, and Loyalty Marketing (all U.S. credit card activation programs). She previously headed MBNA’s Marketing Division, directing group administration and marketing in the sports, alliance, special interest, preferred professional, and professional sectors. Ms. Shepherd also spearheaded MBNA’s early implementation of its Internet strategy.
Ms. Shepherd’s experience includes MBNA’s Personnel Division where she was responsible for professional, specialty, and management development recruiting and later for all employment issues relating to MBNA America’s core business areas. Other experience includes MBNA’s Long-Range Planning Division where she was involved in the development of MBNA America’s long-term strategic objectives.
For two years, Ms. Shepherd worked for MBNA’s operation in the United Kingdom and was responsible for managing the company’s relationships with affinity partners and for designing programs to acquire new Customers through these relationships. She was responsible for all account activation and account management functions during MBNA’s initial expansion into Europe.
Upon returning from the U.K., she joined the staff of the company’s Chief Marketing Officer and later managed the company’s Preferred Professional sector. In this role, she was responsible for the sales, marketing, and administrative functions to attract and maintain high quality Customers from the medical, legal, accounting, and engineering professions.
Ms. Shepherd joined MBNA in 1985 as a summer intern. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1988, she joined the company full time.
Ms. Shepherd has served on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Affiliate of the American Heart Association and the Newark Senior Center, and she has been active in the state’s Big Brothers/Big Sisters and H.O.S.T.S. (Help One Student to Succeed) mentoring programs. She currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of Delaware State University; the Board of Directors of The Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington, Delaware; and the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore, Maryland.
MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, has more than $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.Details
The Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association have teamed up to take on bank fees and bank credit card fees. The coalition released a report that asserts consumers spend more than $25 billion a year just on checking and bank card fees. The report claims credit card fees have risen to $10.3 billion with the $4.8 billion coming from penalty fees, $4.1 billion from cash advance fees, and $1.4 billion from annual fees. The CFA/CUNA report says credit unions continue to charge lower fees on checking accounts and credit cards. On interest checking, monthly fees average $2.05 at credit unions and $7.42 at banks. On regular checking, monthly fees average $4.28 at credit unions and $6.72 at banks. On credit cards, late payment fees average $7.88 at credit unions and $27.45 at banks. Both organizations suggest consumers set up auto-transfer of credit card payments from checking accounts and to complain when charged a late fee. The joint analysis also compares ATM fees between banks and credit unions.Details
With more than $475 million available to invest, VISA U.S.A. announced Monday ‘VISA Start-Up 2000’, an incubation program that will fund three start-up companies. The program, which runs through the rest of this year, offers the three selected start-up companies funding, small business products and services, and educational training from a select group of business and education partners dedicated to serving the small business marketplace. From implementation, each of the three businesses selected will receive $25K in funding from VISA for business-related expenses using a ‘VISA Business’ card issued by U.S. Bank. From each of the program’s select business partners, Bigstep.com, Compaq, E-Stamp, Office Depot and Symantec, each winner will receive up to $10K in products and/or services. In addition, each winning business will receive one-on-one counseling from the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and The Service Corps of Retired Executives.Details
American Express revealed plans Monday to develop the ‘American Express B2B Commerce Network’, an open digital marketplace solution for purchasing and catalog management. AmEx will team up with two key partners: TRADEX Technologies and ec-Content. TRADEX will provide the platform for the network while ec-Content will bring its expansive database on board. The network will enable small, mid-sized, and large suppliers to create an online presence quickly and to maintain customizable catalogs efficiently. ec-Content’s existing online database has more than five million maintenance, repair and operation items. AmEx says it also working with ten of the leading electronic purchasing systems vendors to provide full interoperability with the ‘Corporate Purchasing Card’ to streamline payment, reconciliation and reporting processes.Details