Associates Follett Deal

Associates First Capital Corporation Thursday announced an agreement with Follett Higher Education Group that allows The Associates to offer credit card products and provide financial education resources through Follett’s bookstores and the Web site. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The agreement allows the entire Follett bookstore operation, with more than 600 campus bookstores in the United States and Canada, to have a consistent source of credit card and financial education information on site. Additionally, the agreement provides exclusivity for The Associates to provide credit card services through the Web site, which serves more than four million students and contains online booklists for more than 1,000 college campuses. Through these “click and mortar” venues, students have instant access to financial education information and resources to begin building a credit history for themselves.

“As a leader in the financial services industry, it is important for The Associates to take advantage of new technology opportunities and creatively build products to reach specific market segments. We create educational and financial opportunities for young adults through our partnerships,” said Joseph N. Scarpinato, senior executive vice president, Credit Card Operations for The Associates.

“As we begin to add more value for students and campuses alike, we realize that access to financial resources and educational materials is a need for students. Partnering with a leader in the credit card market is the smart thing to do,” said Tim Dorgan, senior vice president, e-commerce for Follett Higher Education Group. “We are committed to being the leading provider of textbooks and campus merchandise, both on campus and online.”

Follett pioneered online textbook retailing in August 1995 when it developed its first Web site. In January of 1999, Follett created a central Web site — — for the more than 600 bookstores it operates. Through its bookstore and online services, Follett serves more than four million students and 375,000 faculty members on more than 1,000 college campuses including Georgetown University, Rutgers University, University of California – Berkeley and Michigan State University.

It is company policy for The Associates to provide financial education pamphlets to each student requesting an application for a credit card. In early 1998, The Associates launched an award-winning Web site, ([][1]), which provides young consumers with ongoing finance and credit education by offering real-life tips on how to maintain a good credit record, manage money responsibly and create a personal budget.

The Associates issues Visa credit cards, leading retail private label credit cards and is the largest issuer of private label oil cards in the nation.

Associates First Capital Corporation, established in 1918, is a leading diversified finance company providing consumer and commercial finance, leasing, insurance and related services worldwide. The Associates has operations in the United States and 13 international markets. Headquartered in Dallas, it is the nation’s largest publicly traded finance company, based on total market capitalization. For more information, visit The Associates Web site at [][2].



Russel CEO of TSA

Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. announced that current chief operating officer and board member David C. Russell has accepted the additional roles of president and chief executive officer.

Russell, 51, will lead TSA’s corporate and product strategy as chief executive officer in addition to continuing to oversee all of TSA’s day-to-day business operations. Russell will report to and continue to work closely with William E. Fisher who remains chairman of Transaction Systems Architects’ board of directors. Russell’s promotion marks the beginning of a new era at Transaction Systems Architects. A little more than one year ago (September 29, 1998), TSA put in place an Office of the Executive position in which Mr. Russell became Chief Operating Officer and Mr. Fisher spent more of his time on corporate strategy.

As chairman of TSA’s board of directors, Mr. Fisher will continue to focus on corporate strategy in cooperation with the board and executive management team. “My role as chairman will concentrate in two areas. First of all, we will continue to identify and acquire specific products and people expertise to fill out our product offerings and service capability around the world,” said William E. Fisher, chairman of Transaction Systems Architects. “In addition, I will focus more time on TSA’s relationship with other leaders in the payments industry to ensure TSA remains the premier software payments provider worldwide. Dave’s ability to fill the role of CEO gives me the time to execute these key parts of our overall strategy.

“David has done an excellent job as chief operating officer,” added Mr. Fisher, chairman of Transaction Systems Architects. “He has demonstrated strong leadership over his ten plus years and I feel confident that David is the right person to lead TSA into the next millennium, and help guide new product development that will sustain TSA’s position as the leader in electronic payments software.”

Russell joined Applied Communications Inc (ACI) in 1989 serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning, later serving as Vice President of Customer Support, Senior Vice President of Software and Services, Senior Vice President of EFT Product Company and President of ACI Worldwide. Russell was instrumental in the creation and expansion of TSA’s worldwide distribution network, and over the last year Mr. Russell has led TSA’s new Internet banking and e commerce initiatives. From 1984 to 1989, he held various sales, operations and planning positions at First Data Resources. He earned a B.S. and a MBA from Virginia Tech.

Transaction Systems Architects’ software facilitates electronic payments by providing consumers and companies access to their money. Its products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, home banking services, checks, wire transfers as well as automated clearing and settlement. Transaction Systems’ solutions are used on more than 3,550 product systems in 79 countries on six continents.



Wachovia Merchant Services, an alliance between Wachovia Bank and First Data Merchant Services Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data Corp., Thursday announced the launch of WMSesolutions, a comprehensive e-commerce solution for small and mid-sized businesses.

WMSesolutions provides a completely integrated solution that makes “building” a store and conducting transactions online easier and more affordable for small and mid-sized businesses. The solution provides merchants with the tools necessary to build an interactive Web site including a virtual storefront, Web design and hosting, traffic-driving capabilities and the ability to open a merchant account as well as process payments quickly and securely — all within one day.

To help small businesses benefit from online holiday shopping traffic, Wachovia Merchant Services will provide the store building portion of WMSesolutions, using standard templates, to merchants at no charge through December 31, 1999.

WMSesolutions is based on Excite@Home’s (Nasdaq: ATHM) e-commerce software and First Data’s Internet payment processing solutions. As part of the WMSesolutions package, businesses will have their new sites listed with Excite@Home’s new shopping portal, Excite Stores, located at [][1], allowing merchants to take advantage of the more than 2 billion page views that Excite generates monthly.

All e-commerce payment transactions will be processed through First Data’s SurePay(R) payment gateway. SurePay allows merchants to accept credit card transactions in real time, process check payments electronically via First Data subsidiary TeleCheck(R), and soon will enable merchants to accept cash payments over the Internet via First Data subsidiary Western Union(R). WMSesolutions will be one of the first solutions to accept and process customers’ TeleCheck electronic check payments via the Internet.

“WMSesolutions is a key component in Wachovia’s plan to help small and mid-sized businesses benefit from the global reach of the Internet,” said Charles M. Hegarty, president of Wachovia Bank Card Services. “This e-commerce solution will enable these businesses to enjoy the many benefits of being an e-tailer without having to host and maintain their newly developed sites.”

Wachovia will market this solution to both new and existing merchant customers in its operating areas in the Southeastern United States. This program further extends Wachovia Merchant Services’ business solution by offering payment capabilities including credit, debit and electronic check acceptance, making Wachovia Merchant Services a total transaction solution provider to retail and e-tail establishments.

“This e-commerce service launch is another important step in the continued execution of our merchant enablement strategy,” said John Duncan, executive vice president of Internet commerce at First Data Corp. “By working together, First Data and Wachovia are leveraging each other’s strengths to provide a high-quality business solution that enables merchants to thrive in today’s Internet economy.”

Merchants can access the WMSesolutions service by visiting [][2].

About Wachovia

Wachovia Bank Card Services is a subsidiary of Wachovia Corporation, a $65.8 billion-asset interstate bank holding company with dual headquarters in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C. Wachovia Bank Card Services is the nation’s 13th largest credit card issuer. Wachovia’s Web site is located at [][3].

About First Data

Atlanta-based First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC) helps move the world’s money. As the leader in electronic commerce and payment services, First Data serves more than two million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, making it easier, faster and more secure for people and businesses to buy good and services. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at [][4].



ATM Fee War

When Santa Monica, CA’s ban on ATM surcharges for non-customers went into effect yesterday, Bank of America and Wells Fargo pulled the plug on access for non-customers. Both banks indicated they will take the same action if the ATM fee ban passed last week by San Franciscans also goes into effect. The decision to re-program ATMs in Santa Monica affected 33 machines. A similar move by both banks in San Francisco could affect nearly 500 ATMs. Yesterday’s retaliatory move by BofA and Wells drew major media attention with most newspapers this morning running front page stories detailing consumer frustration.


Amazon NextCard and NextCard will announce this afternoon a major strategic relationship to create customized credit card products for’s 13 million customers. The relationship is projected to generate $150 million in fees for Under terms of the five-year agreement, which begins early next year, NextCard will be the exclusive provider of a unique cobranded NextCard credit card. The cobranded card will also include a customer loyalty program and customized e-commerce services. has also obtained a warrant to acquire up to 4.4 million shares of NextCard common stock, a stake of approximately 9.9 percent. The receivables generated from the VISA accounts, as well as the cobranded cardholder relationships, will be assets of NextBank, a wholly owned national bank subsidiary of NextCard.


AmEx Biz Card Sweepstakes

American Express announced this morning it will pay off the outstanding credit card balances of twenty small firms. The ‘American Express Corporate Optima Card Millennium Sweepstakes’ will wipe out the outstanding balances, up to $20,000, of twenty business owners. Cardholders with an American Express small business credit card, including the ‘American Express Corporate Optima Card’ and ‘Delta Skymiles Card’ are automatically entered into the contest. AmEx also released a survey yesterday that estimates that small business owners will spend more than $5 billion this year for holiday related expenses for clients, employees and vendors.


Online Shopping Triples

Ernst & Young yesterday released findings from its ‘Third Annual Online Retailing Report’ of 1,200 shoppers. E&Y found that the number of regular online holiday shoppers will almost triple from last year. In 1998, 23% of respondents did at least 10% of their holiday shopping online. In 1999, that number will be 67% according to the survey. The number of people doing at least half of their shopping online will increase by a factor of five. In 1998, only 4% of online shoppers did at least 50% of their holiday shopping online; in 1999 that number jumps to 19% of shoppers. Conversely, the number of online consumers who have no plans to shop online during the holidays dropped dramatically, from 49% to 11%. E&Y projects online sales for the holiday of $12-$15 billion with an estimate of total revenue for calendar year 1999 of $25-$30 billion.


Aria Milestone

While Providian’s stock price continues to languish in the wake of an expanding national probe into its credit card business practices, the sub-prime specialist announced this morning its online credit card program, the ‘Aria VISA’, has signed up more than 100,000 new accounts since May. Providian has spent upwards of $90 million this year for its e-commerce initiatives which include the acquisition of and the WebCard VISA portfolio from H&R Block. Providian is currently in the midst of a major offline advertising campaign for Aria which began Oct. 6. The ongoing $10 million+ campaign includes television, billboard and print advertising in such publications, such as Yahoo! Internet Life, Forbes, Wired, People, Bride’s, TV Guide and USA Today. Providian has aggressively positioned its online card products head-to-head with San Francisco-based NextCard, which was formed by former Providian executives. The ‘Aria VISA’ program offers a range of card pricing, from super-prime to sub-prime. However the product line is heavily weighted to the sub-prime segment The four ‘Aria’ VISA cards include ‘Aria VISA Platinum Premium’, ‘VISA Platinum’, and two sub-prime card programs, ‘VISA Portrait’ and ‘VISA Persona’. ‘The instant rewards feature for ‘Aria’ is the ‘MyPoints’ program which offers 5 points for every purchase dollar, a 500 point bonus for opening an account, and a 2,500 point bonus for a balance transfer.


Platinum Premium 0%/3mo 7.99% 12.99%-21.99% 21.99%
Platinum 0%/3mo 12.99% 12.99%-21.99% 21.99%
Portrait 0%/2mo 19.99%* 21.99% 21.99%
Persona 0%/2mo 23.99%** 23.99% 23.99%

* Portrait requires a $59 annual fee and offers no grace period for
**Persona requires a one-time processing fee of $29, $49 or $89, plus an
Annual Fee of $59 or $89 and offers no grace period for purchases.
Source: CardWatch (


Concord Acquisition

Concord EFS announced this morning it has reached an agreement to acquire Phoenix-based Virtual Cyber Systems, Inc., an Internet software development company specializing in user-friendly solutions for non-technical users. Concord executives said that today’s agreement to acquire VCS is the final piece of the puzzle in their three-tiered strategy to provide vertically-integrated e-commerce services to retailers of all sizes. VCS’ core software product is the ‘SiteMerger’, which is designed for use by small business owners to build and maintain their web sites without third-party help. The VCS transaction is expected to be completed by year-end.


Alfa Bank’s New Card System

IFS International, Inc. announced that Alfa Bank, a major Russian, Moscow-based banking corporation, has licensed IFS’ TP-CMS product to replace its existing payment card management systems.

TP-CMS will be used at Alfa Bank to issue and settle domestic debit and credit cards, Visa cards, Europay, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and JCB cards. The bank’s existing card management systems, CardMan and UC+, will be replaced by TP-CMS, allowing Alfa Bank to increase the level of service offered to its customers. The Banking Production Centre (BPC), IFS’ authorized distributor in the Russian Federation, will serve as the prime contractor on the project, overseeing the installation and certification of the system. The TP- CMS software will run on HP hardware.

Alfa Bank already has the IFS TPII product to manage its network of Automatic Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sale (POS) terminals and interfaces to the payment card networks of Visa, Europay, Union Card, American Express, Diners Club and JCB.

Vladimir Izoutin, Head of Alfa Bank Card Division, explained, “The Card Management project for Alfa Bank is another step in the implementation of the bank’s long term technology infrastructure development program. After a detailed evaluation, we believe that TP-CMS has the most comprehensive and appropriate functionality of the prominent card management systems in the market. TP-CMS is unique in terms of its modern architecture, chip support, and, of course, openness and scalability which are the trade mark of all IFS’s products. We are looking forward to the implementation of TP-CMS being as flawless as our ongoing project with IFS’ TPII.”

David Hodge, CEO and President of IFS International, stated, “IFS is delighted to be able to announce another customer for our recently launched TP- CMS product. As a card management system designed and developed in the Chip age, TP-CMS has attracted a lot of attention since its launch and this new sale of the system further underscores the company’s decision to invest so significantly in this new product over the past 9 months. It is particularly satisfying that Alfa Bank, who already have our TPII product, once again chose IFS for this new project.”

Anatoli Loginov, BPC Director, commented: “We were very pleased with IFS’s announcement of a new product in the TPII family. The recently launched card management system, TP-CMS, now allows us to present throughout Russia a full functionality integrated payment card solution designed with all latest trends in mind, that is open, scalable and, thus, applicable to any financial institution in Russia no matter what size and market niche. We appreciate the decision of Alfa Bank very much and consider it as a big credit to the quality of IFS products and services, as well as to BPC’s project management and system integration skills. With a growing successful business Alfa Bank had a virtually unlimited choice of systems but the decision in favor of TP-CMS looks very logical and well-thought. The bank will be able to grow together with the new product free of the cumbersome and rudimentary features of legacy systems.”

About IFS International

IFS International, Inc. and Network Controls International, Inc. (NCI) are divisions of IFS International, Inc. (Delaware) which has headquarters in the United States and subsidiary offices in the U.S., United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and Germany.

IFS International, Inc. develops, markets and supports software products for the EFT market. IFS International’s TPII and TP-CMS products provide support for ATMs, POS devices, network switches, smart cards and card management. NCI, Inc. provides complementary products for bank teller platform, home banking, money brokers and call centers, including NCI Business Centre?, an enterprise wide retail bank branch solution designed to deliver traditional as well as Internet/Intranet based transactions.


Equifax Online

[][1] The nation’s largest credit bureau this morning is introducing three new online services for consumers. ‘Equifax Credit Profile’, ‘Equifax Sentinel’ and ‘Equifax Millennium Monitor’ are designed to help consumers understand their financial information, enhance their buying power and prepare for the new millennium. These three new services will enable U.S. consumers, for the first time, to order, view and monitor credit information about them directly from Equifax’s Web site. ‘Equifax Credit Profile’ enables consumers to enhance their buying power by viewing the credit information businesses, banks and employers use to make credit and employment decisions. ‘Equifax Sentinel’ will inform consumers via a quarterly update if any new account, address, inquiry, public record or collection information is posted to their credit profile. ‘Equifax Millennium Monitor’ allows consumers to order a printed copy of their Equifax Credit Profile as of early December 1999 and then receive a second copy as of mid-February 2000. ‘Equifax Credit Profile’ is available for online delivery for $8. ‘Equifax Sentinel’ is priced at $49.95 per year. ‘Equifax Millennium Monitor’ is delivered via the U.S. Postal Service for $12.95.



Kahn Joins ePhones announced the addition of several new executives to its senior management. Eric Kahn, Vice President of Marketing, joined from Visa USA; Dominic Constantino, Vice President of Business Marketing joined the company from; and Cassandra Kanuk, Director of Web Development, came from Netscape. These new additions follow the recent appointment of Steven Yeffa, formerly of Leasing Solutions, Inc., as Chief Financial Officer.

With over twenty years of corporate level brand management and marketing experience, Eric Kahn joined from Visa USA. At Visa, Kahn was Vice President of Consumer Product Management, building the consumer credit card business for the Classic, Gold and Platinum cards as well as developing new products. Prior to that Kahn was a Principal of Document Protection Services and Vice President of Credit Card Marketing for Wells Fargo Bank. Kahn also served as brand manager at The Clorox Company. He received his BBA from the University of Massachusetts and MBA from UCLA Graduate School of Business.

Dominic Constantino joined from, where he served as Director of Marketing for the Direct eCommerce Division. Constantino has over 12 years of information technology experience with Internet companies, peripheral manufacturers, industrial distributors and start-ups. Prior to, he served as Director of Marketing at Xirlink, and as National Sales Manager for All American Semiconductor. Constantino graduated from Cal Poly State University in 1987.

Prior to joining, Cassandra Kanuk served as Systems Engineer in the Website Operations team at Netscape. Kanuk has over 19 years experience in Internet, communications and information technology. Prior to Netscape, Kanuk was Webmaster at CyberStar and Information Systems Project Manager for Space Systems/Loral. Kanuk has published over sixty reviews in InfoWorld magazine and has contributed to over five internationally distributed computer magazines.

CFO Steven L. Yeffa has over nineteen years of senior level finance and corporate management experience. Prior to joining ePhones, he served as Executive Vice president and Chief Financial Officer for Leasing Solutions Inc., where he directed the worldwide financial operations of the publicly traded leasing company. Before Leasing Solutions, Yeffa was Vice President at Matsco Financial Corp. Yeffa is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California and completed a degree in Lease Management at Columbia University Graduate School of Business. He is the author of “Lessor’s Guide to Building a Relationship for Successful Funding.”

“Dominic, Steven, Eric and Cassandra bring years of valuable experience and proven talent,” says CEO Mike Merrill. “We’re building a world class team, and this core group represents the strong upward direction ePhones is taking in our continued growth and success.”

About offers the widest selection of wireless services available online, including: cellular and PCS phones, accessories, pagers, wireless modems, long distance, and information services. With over 11 years experience in wireless, ePhones offers services through 44 carriers nationwide, including: AT&T Wireless (NYSE:T), Sprint PCS (NASDAQ:PCS) MCI Worldcom (NASDAQ:WCOM), Qwest (NASDAQ:QWST), SkyTel, and PageMart (NASDAQ:PMWI). Unlike other sites, every phone and rate plan ePhones offers is available to buy online. is backed by U.S. Venture Partners, Alta Partners, and Alta Communications. The company is based in Fremont, CA, with retail stores in California, Washington and Utah, and is privately held.