VISA Incubator

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.

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AmEx Wants B2B

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.

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Soderstrom to 3Com

3Com Corporation announced Jan Soderstrom has joined the company as senior vice president of Marketing and Brand Management.

Soderstrom, former executive vice president of marketing for Visa International, will serve on 3Com’s executive committee and report to Bruce Claflin, 3Com Corporation’s president and Chief Operating Officer.

“Jan’s role is critical to 3Com as it refocuses on the high-growth markets of home-networking, wireless, broadband and voice,” said Claflin. “Her experience at Visa is perfect preparation for her role at 3Com. Like Visa, 3Com markets to individuals, small businesses and large enterprises. And also like Visa, we’re helping all of these customers make the transition to the `e-conomy’ — buying and selling safely and securely online.”

Soderstrom Lays Out Three-Part Program: Clarify, Define, Communicate

“I have a three-part program for the 3Com(R) brand,” said Soderstrom. “First, we need to clarify what 3Com stands for. We know that 3Com has built a great brand based on award-winning, category-leading products and now’s the right time clarify that there’s a philosophy that drives all these products. The second step is to define the 3Com brand as a solution to problems — whether the problems touch consumers, small businesses or large enterprises. Third and finally, we’ll pervasively communicate this philosophy. 3Com is a global company helping its customers benefit from the most compelling transformation in commerce since the industrial revolution. 3Com delivers e-Networking. This is 3Com’s essence and our marketing platform.”

Soderstrom joined 3Com from Visa International where she most recently served as executive vice president of marketing, overseeing global brand management and development of Visa’s Internet presence. Soderstrom was also responsible for the company’s sponsorship of the Olympics and development of a comprehensive marketing program to advance worldwide recognition of the Visa brand. Prior to her tenure at Visa she served as senior vice president at The Gap Stores. Soderstrom also held branding and marketing management positions at Atari, Hughes Airwest and Sunkist.

About 3Com Corporation

With more than 300 million customers worldwide, 3Com Corporation connects more people in more ways to information than any other networking company. 3Com delivers innovative information access products and network system solutions to large, medium and small enterprises; carriers and network service providers; PC OEMs; and consumers. 3Com — More connected.(TM) For further information, visit 3Com’s press site at [www.3Com.com/pressbox][1].

[1]: http://www.3com.com/pressbox

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Chase Gets Instant

Chase Manhattan has gone to instant online card issuance. Chase and ShopNow.com announced Monday they have teamed up to launch the ‘Chase-issued ShopNow.com MasterCard’. Visitors to Chase.com and ShopNow.com can apply for the card online and receive approval within 2 minutes and, upon approval, a $250 initial, immediately available credit line to make online purchases. The new co-branded credit card offers online shoppers an unlimited, 5% ‘Click Cash Rebate’ from online purchases in the products, gifts or brands areas of ShopNow.com. The no-annual-fee ‘Platinum ShopNow.com MasterCard from Chase’ features a five-month intro APR of 3.99% followed by a fixed rate of 9.99%. The ‘Standard’ version features no-annual-fee and a five-month intro rate of 3.99% followed by a fixed 11.99% APR.

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RPM Gets Gas

San Francisco-based InnoVentry announced Monday a contract to install 27 of its new ‘RPM’ machines in Texaco- and Shell-branded retail outlets in the Southwest over the next three months. The agreement is with Equilon Enterprises and Motiva Enterprises. Equilon is a joint venture between Texaco Inc. and Shell Oil Company in the United States. Motiva is a U.S. joint venture involving Texaco, Shell and Saudi Aramco. Equilon and Motiva provide Texaco- and Shell-branded products to more than 23,000 Texaco- and Shell-branded outlets nationwide. The ‘RPM’ advanced cash-management machines incorporate biometric face recognition technologies and provide check-cashing and other services to unbanked consumers.

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Viad Signs Long’s

Longs Drug Stores Corporation has signed an agreement with Travelers Express Company, Inc., a Viad Corp subsidiary, to bring both Travelers Express money orders and MoneyGram money transfer services into their stores. Longs, a California-based drug store chain, expects to introduce Travelers Express/MoneyGram services in approximately 350 locations by early next year. Longs stores in California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Washington will be offering these new services.

“Longs is committed to quality and high customer service standards, so we are very pleased our services will be available in their stores,” said Michael Berry, vice president and general manager of Travelers Express/MoneyGram’s retail domestic business. “The addition of these locations will also significantly expand our network in a number of key states, giving more people easy access to our MoneyGram wire transfer service.”

Terry Burnside, Longs senior vice president – marketing, commented, “A commitment to providing Longs’ customers with convenience, professional assistance and value is fundamental to the way we conduct business. Since initiating in-store mailing centers in nearly 80 locations this year, one of our customers’ most frequent requests has been for money order and money transfer services. Travelers has demonstrated an intense desire to do business with Longs and possesses attitudes similar to ours in terms of the high priority placed on integrity and service.”

Longs Drug Stores is one of the most successful drug store chains in North America. Founded in 1938 by brothers Joe and Tom Long as a small neighborhood drug store, the company currently operates 414 stores in California, Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. Annual sales average more than $8.7 million per store. Longs’ unique strategy includes competencies in the key categories of pharmacy, over-the-counter medications, photo and cosmetics, and numerous other offerings. Longs’ Web site, [www.longs.com][1], includes community health screening schedules, on-line prescription refills, pharmacist access, coupons, a monthly health topic and the latest company news and investor information.

Travelers Express, which serves more than 5,000 financial institutions and 65,000 retail locations, annually processes more than one billion payment transactions, valued at more that $120 billion. In addition to money orders and MoneyGram wire transfers, the company processes official checks, electronic bill payments, rebate checks, WIC payments and gift certificates.

Viad Corp is a $1.6 billion company based in Phoenix.

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

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Barnes & Noble Gift Card

Barnes & Noble, Inc., the nation’s largest bookseller, introduced the Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card. Designed and developed with American Express for Barnes & Noble, the Electronic Gift Card can be purchased and used in any one of more than 1,000 Barnes & Noble or B. Dalton retail stores.

“We are excited about joining forces with American Express to bring this innovative program into our stores,” said Alan Kahn, chief operating officer of Barnes & Noble, Inc. “It brings together two organizations which are well known for their dedication to providing quality and technology to our customer.”

“The Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card program demonstrates our continuing commitment to offer new and exciting programs and to enhance customer service,” said Tom Tolworthy, president of Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

The Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card is a magnetic-striped stored-value card that functions like a gift certificate, but with greater convenience, flexibility and ease. It can be purchased with any payment method and in any amount between $5 and $100, or $25 and $50 pre-denominated cards. In addition, customers can add value to the card in amounts between $5 to $100. There is no fee or charge for the card.

When the customer brings his or her purchases to a Barnes & Noble cash register, the cashier simply swipes the Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card like a credit card. The amount spent is deducted from the total value of the card. If there are funds remaining, the Electronic Gift Card maintains a running balance, eliminating the need for change. The balance is printed on the receipt each time the card is used.

“The partnership with Barnes & Noble represents a major step forward for our electronic gift card program,” said Larry Sharnak, senior vice president of Fee Services and Stored Value. “It represents our largest rollout to date and is evidence of our strong relationship with a quality industry leader.”

The Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card operates on a sophisticated stored-value program and is backed by American Express’ superior customer service, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. In addition, American Express will provide marketing, operations and technical services to support the Barnes & Noble Electronic Gift Card program.

“The gift card business leverages American Express’ key strengths in both the card and stored value businesses,” said Mr. Sharnak. “Our history in the Travelers Checques business and our experience in customer service put us in a unique position to deliver superior stored-value solutions to our key partners.”

About Barnes & Noble, Inc.

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 ([http://www.bn.com][1]), and the exclusive bookseller on America Online (Keyword: bn). Barnesandnoble.com 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: . About American Express

American Express is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Checques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking. For more information, visit [www.americanexpress.com][2].

[1]: http://www.bn.com/
[2]: http://www.americanexpress.com/

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Traffic Zooms Up

CardWeb.com attracted nearly 100,000 unique visitors last week, a net gain of 60% over average traffic levels three months ago. The only major portal devoted to payment cards, CardWeb.com, continues to provide the highest response rate to its exclusive roster of credit card issuing ad clients. Last week the site generated an average response rate of 4.92% for its ad clients. According to the latest Nielsen/NetRatings weekly report, ad response rates on the Internet average 0.54%. The site delivers in excess of one million paid ad impressions per month, more than six million “hits” and does not accept performance-based ads. Robert McKinley, CEO of CardWeb.com, said this morning from London, the increased traffic is the direct result of the firm’s recently upgraded and technically advanced Web site design which enables visitors to more easily navigate CardWeb’s extensive online services. Associates recently joined the roster of card-issuing clients replacing a slot vacated by Chase Manhattan, who is re-formulating Web strategy. Other card-issuing CardWeb clients include: Bank of America, Capital One, First USA/WingSpan, Wachovia, NextCard, People’s Bank, AFBA, and Commerce Bank.

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Pathways Orders Proton

Bull, a world leader in smart card technology and secure smart card-based financial transactions, announced Monday that The Pathways Group, a leading developer of smart card-based technologies offering smart card and transaction processing solutions, has placed an order with Bull for approximately 200,000 CC Proton smart cards.

Pathways will provide the smart cards and point-of-sale terminals for use in a merchant program focusing on loyalty applications in conjunction with a statewide agreement signed with the Hawaii Millennium Commission in July 1999. Pathways’ integrated smart card system, the first of its kind anywhere, will allow smart card holders to use their cards in both real and virtual e-commerce activities. Pathways is a certified licensee of Proton.

Bull is providing their CC Card using electronic purse software from Proton, the most widely-used smart card technology in the world. Bull is also a certified licensee of Proton, and is the leading worldwide supplier of Proton-based cards with over 50 million Proton cards deployed.

“In the past, merchants have used paper certificates to promote their loyalty programs and reward shoppers for their patronage,” said Carey Daly, president and CEO of Pathways. “Using smart cards, local business and retailers will now be able to provide their customers unique offers and discounts as well as enjoy a more flexible and cost-effective way of managing their loyalty programs. We are pleased to work with Bull on this project.”

“The Pathways Group has emerged as one of America’s fastest-growing providers of smart card systems, electronic banking and transaction processing,” said Rod Donnelly, director of sales for Bull’s Smart Cards & Terminals division in North America. “They have a strong track record of innovation and technical competency. This is another example of their leadership in providing solutions to market requirements.”

Smart Card Solutions in Action

Pathways’ smart card system provides a variety of accumulation options that allow a merchant to tailor loyalty programs to suit marketing strategies. “The consumer’s accumulation in each loyalty program is stored on the card as well as on a central processing point,” Daley said. “The terminal can use the information stored on the card to determine if the appropriate point levels have been reached, and offer any rewards that may be applicable to the accumulated points.

“The point collection and redemption processing is performed in the terminal at a very high speed,” Daley said, “and the results are immediately and automatically applied to the current transaction. This ability alleviates the necessity to send statements and process written applications.”

About Bull Smart Cards & Terminals

Bull Smart Cards & Terminals is the industry leader in the field of secured transactions. Bull designs, develops and markets global smart card solutions primarily to three vertical markets: Banking and loyalty, telecommunications (GSM) and network security. Bull is a leader in the development of operating systems for microprocessor cards and has succeeded in achieving the highest certification for security mechanisms.

Bull differentiates itself from the competition through its dual role as supplier of microprocessor cards and a leader in information systems. Backed by one of the world’s leading IT integration groups, Integris, Bull is able to provide its customers with comprehensive solutions that include system integration, network management and security software and open system servers. Since inventing the microprocessor smart card in 1976, Bull has obtained more than 1,200 patents in the field. More information is available online at [http://www.smartcard.bull.com][1].

About Bull

Bull is an international IT group based in Europe with operations in nearly 100 countries, and combined revenues of $4.3 billion in 1998. Bull offers a wide range of systems, infrastructure software and IT services, through focused innovation, alliances with the best partners and its own integration expertise.

In its industry, besides GCOS mainframes, Bull is recognized for innovative products: the Escala family of UNIX servers, the NT EXPRESS5800 range, smart cards and software such as OpenMaster and AccessMaster for secure management of systems and networks. Bull’s North/South American operations are headquartered in Billerica, Mass. The company’s web addresses are [http://www.bull.com][2] and for the United States, [http://www.us.bull.com][3].

About Pathways Group

The Pathways Group, Inc., provides clients with innovative and unique solutions for securely creating, capturing and processing data and electronic transactions using custom application software and hardware systems. The company, established in 1987 by Carey Daly, has evolved into a leader in the development of custom software and hardware for electronic banking, data and transaction processing, and smart card applications. Pathways’ creation of proprietary “back office” systems allows for the capture and processing of data and transfer of funds via “ACH” protocol, the standard used in the banking industry for transfer of funds in retail, medical and institutional environments.

[1]: http://www.smartcard.bull.com/
[2]: http://www.bull.com/
[3]: http://www.us.bull.com/

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Windows Gets Smart

Microsoft released the ‘Microsoft Windows Smart Card Toolkit’ yesterday at Comdex. Windows-powered smart cards have a crypto-capable microprocessor and can perform a number of applications including: secure corporate logons for Windows 2000; Web and phone authentication; medical data storage; and debit, credit or cash transactions. Microsoft also announced a pilot program with British Telecom that will provide BT’s 35,000 mobile workers with one-touch remote network access from any device through ‘Windows for Smart Cards’ technology. Microsoft says its ‘Smart Card Associates Program’ now has 50 members who will begin releasing ‘Windows for Smart Card’ products this month. MN-based DataCard announced Monday the implementation of the first smart card campus using Windows-powered smart cards. Other Windows smart card announcements are expected this morning.

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Euronet Croatia Deal

Euronet Services Inc. announced that it has sold its network of 80 ATMs in Croatia to Raiffeisenbank Austria d.d. of Zagreb, Croatia, and entered into a 15-year services agreement to operate the ATMs for RBA.

Under the agreement, the ATMs will be rebranded under RBA’s name, and Euronet will provide comprehensive operating services for the ATMs, including monitoring, transaction processing, and maintenance services.

The services agreement also establishes a cooperative arrangement under which Euronet and RBA will develop new, value-added services for RBA customers and other cardholders who have access to the network. As a result of this cooperation, Euronet ATMs in Croatia will be able to accept nearly all bank and credit cards issued on the market.

Michael Brown, Chairman and CEO of Euronet, commented, “This is an excellent agreement for both our company and RBA, because it creates an incentive to develop the Croatian ATM network into a vehicle for the delivery of new financial services and products.”

Zdenko Adrovic, President and CEO of RBA, said, “Through this ATM purchase RBA has acquired the second largest ATM network in Croatia. The ATM purchase allows us to immediately expand our presence throughout Croatia and will be an important building block in developing RBA’s retail banking business. RBA is currently a member of Visa International and has recently begun issuing Visa cards to our customers. In the near future we plan to become a member of Europay International which will allow us to also provide Europay products to our account holders. By partnering with Euronet, we are able to focus on providing our customers with quality retail banking services while minimizing the costs and management resources associated with operating an ATM network. We look forward to working with Euronet as a strategic partner supporting our current retail banking expansion and to bringing added convenience and functionality to our customers throughout Croatia.”

Daniel Stevens, Euronet’s Chief Financial Officer, added, “This agreement allows Euronet to improve its financial situation by taking ATMs off its balance sheet while generating long-term service fee revenues. This relationship is an excellent model that shows how we can fully leverage our ATM switching, management and operations infrastructure for added growth while at the same time expanding our service offerings without actually owning the ATMs.”

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 ARKSYS(TM) software, an 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.

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eCard Signs New Merchant

E-commerce pioneer, FurnitureFind.com announced a marketing agreement with First USA and WingspanBank.com. As part of this agreement, the online home furnishings retailer receives promotional consideration with links within the First USA website and becomes a participating online merchant in the online shopping program with both the eCard Platinum Visa credit card from First USA and the Wingspan Bank.com Platinum Visa credit card.

“Three years of building an e-commerce business has been a real learning experience,” explains Stephen Antisdel, President of FurnitureFind.com. “One thing we’ve learned is that customized marketing programs are a win-win situation. A well-designed program rewards our partner’s customers, while helping their visitors find terrific home furnishings values.” The success of FurnitureFind.com’s marketing efforts is underlined by their having the largest online network of affiliated sites in the online furniture and home furnishings industry, with over 5,000 participating online partner Web sites.

In talking with thousands of its visitors every month, FurnitureFind.com knows that security sometimes is a concern. Both credit card programs offer cardholders protection from unauthorized online transactions.

About FurnitureFind.com

With 47 years of real-world furniture experience, FurnitureFind.com has created an information-rich, service-oriented online environment showcasing over 100 name brand manufacturers with some 79,000 home furnishings products available.

Since 1996 FurnitureFind.com has pioneered furniture e-commerce with innovations that include free, nationwide Kid Glove Home Delivery, Kid Glove Assured Service, exclusive 24/7 live customer assistance by Certified Home Furnishings Advisors, and a comprehensive Best Value Guarantee program. FurnitureFind.com is a sponsor of the Better Homes and Gardens(R) Millennium Home Project, a Looksmart “Best of the Web” site, a member of online consumer organizations Netcheck, PrivateEye, Webwatchdog, BBBOnline and VeriSign, the exclusive furniture content provider for Microsoft’s HomeAdvisor and Furniture Anchor Merchant at MSN Shopping.

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