Centurion Card

The widespread dilution to the perceived value of the ‘Platinum Card’ has given way to the introduction of the ‘Black Card’. American Express raised the stakes in the super elite market yesterday with the unveiling of ‘The Centurion Card’. The card is available by invitation-only to tenured American Express ‘Platinum Card’ holders. The new card carries an annual fee of $1,000 and offers a wide range of premium services geared toward the well-heeled frequent traveler. For example ‘Centurion’ cardholders qualify for free upgrades to the Concorde with the purchase of a full-fare first class transatlantic ticket on British Airways. Other benefits include complimentary upgrades on partner airlines and hotels, free access to some airline clubs, a personal travel concierge, personal shopper services and reduced fees for personal investment management. ‘Centurion’ cardholders also receive a 50% ‘Membership Rewards’ bonus on all charges made with ‘Centurion’ partners. Three years ago the AmEx ‘Platinum Card’ stood alone as the premier, invitation-only card with an annual fee of $300. Since then, major VISA and MasterCard issuers launched their own versions of ‘Platinum’ cards, mostly without annual fees and a limited number of premium services. As a result of the new competition, AmEx began, last year, to lower its qualifications for ‘Platinum’ cards by offering them to new cardholders. The AmEx ‘Platinum’ card also attracted new competition with the introduction of the ‘VISA Signature’ card and the ‘World MasterCard’. Both cards carry network level benefits geared toward the affluent, frequent traveler. VISA reported earlier this week that its ‘Signature’ card just passed the 500,000 card mark.


PaySys Intl Execs

PaySys International, Inc. announced yesterday that Debra Wohlrab-Skinner and Matthew Leehun Lee have accepted the positions of Vice President of Operations, Americas and Regional Director of Asian Business Development, respectively.

Debra Wohlrab-Skinner, who most recently held the position of Vice President — Sr. Operations and Technology Officer, Latin American Region for MasterCard International, Inc., has spent her entire professional career in the financial services industry. Her extensive expertise in banking and financial services includes banking systems, electronic banking, credit and debit operations, project management, worldwide product management and technology analysis.

Prior to her thirteen years with MasterCard, Wohlrab-Skinner worked at Deluxe Data Systems, Applied Communications, Inc. and ADP. In her role as a Vice President of Operations, Americas, Wohlrab-Skinner will oversee PaySys’ operations in the company’s most developed markets, as well as global product management for the entire company.

Matthew Leehun Lee, former Vice President/Country Manager of China for Visa International, is joining PaySys as Regional Director of Asian Business Development after seventeen years with Visa International. Lee, who honed his industry knowledge at such companies as Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank/Citicorp, and Westinghouse Datascore before joining Visa, is a veteran of business development in the Asian region. His broad experience in the areas of software development, strategic planning, product marketing, and project management, as well as his multicultural team building expertise, will be key for the further development and expansion of PaySys’ Asian operations.

PaySys International, Inc. is the established leader in credit card management systems with its industry-defining VisionPLUS suite, which combines the banking and retailing capabilities of legendary company products, CardPac and VISION21. With headquarters in Atlanta, GA, PaySys has offices worldwide and clients in over 30 countries on 6 continents. For more information, please call +1-407-660-0343 or visit the company’s web site at [http://www.paysys.com][1].

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


Targeting Discover

After climbing to the ‘Platinum’ level earlier this year, Discover Financial Services is now targeting professional segments of the consumer market. This week Discover launched its ‘Platinum Professions Series’, according to CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]). Among the first in the series is the ‘Information Technology Discover Platinum’. The ‘IT Discover’ card offers a special $20 ‘Cashback Bonus’ award for the first purchase made at egghead.com and a 5% ‘Cashback Bonus’ award for every purchase made at beyond.com. The card also offers discounts and ‘Cashback Bonus’ awards for Ramada and participating merchants of Discover’s online ‘ShopCenter’. Card pricing is a 2.9% intro rate through April and a 12.99% fixed, go-to rate. Last month Discover launched the ‘Discover Educators Card’ which features a 5% ‘Cashback Bonus’ for purchases made at Zany Brainy stores.

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


Triton Certification

Triton Systems, Inc., the leading manufacturer of cash-dispensing automated teller machines for off-premise locations, announced the certification of Triton’s cash-dispensing ATMs by Fiserv, Inc.’s EFT Division, located in Portland, Oregon. The certification enables Fiserv EFT’s processing clients to readily deploy Triton ATMs. Triton’s equipment is now certified by nearly 35 electronic funds transfer processors in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, representing a sixfold increase since 1995.

The industry’s leading processors, such as Fiserv EFT, are responding to high customer demand for a low-cost, dial-up ATM alternative. According to Dr. Burdette, the driving force behind certification is the soaring popularity of Triton’s industry-leading 9500 and 9600 series cash-dispensing ATMs, which are now installed in more than 20,000 locations across the U.S.

“To the extent that it’s economically practicable, it’s our policy to allow clients to select the ATM equipment they prefer to use,” said Grant Christenson, senior vice president of sales and service for Fiserv EFT. “A number of clients have requested Triton ATMs because they want to address the dial-up ATM marketplace with their merchant clients. Triton not only has the largest installed base, but also its ATMs feature low-cost dial-up technology and a compact size that allow the ATMs to be deployed in locations where a full-service ATM won’t do.”

“Because of Fiserv’s leadership position in providing EFT services and their reputation for excellent service, Triton is exceptionally pleased to add Fiserv EFT among the newest processors to certify Triton’s ATMs,” said Dr. Burdette.

The expanding list of processors that have certified Triton equipment continues to fuel Triton’s rapid growth among merchants that want to deploy Triton’s low-cost, cash-dispensing ATMs. “Most payment processors are now capable of driving Triton’s industry-leading ATMs,” said Dr. Burdette. “Triton is providing unprecedented flexibility by offering more processing alternatives than any other dial-up ATM vendor. We are also providing financial institutions and retail establishments with easy access to the industry’s most popular dial-up ATM product line.”

About Triton

As the leading manufacturer 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.

Triton’s product line includes the industry-leading 9600 series cash- dispensing ATMs, with optional communication interfaces such as CDPD, VSAT and Frame Relay. Additional products include the Triton Connect(TM) software package for accessing and controlling ATMs from a centralized location, ATMjr Demonstrators(TM) and ATMjr Plus CAS(TM) (Card Activation System) for financial institutions, the SuperScrip(TM) terminal, the Mako Cash Dispenser(TM) and the VendMate(TM) sidecar, which accepts cash and dispenses vending items such as tickets, certificates, and phone cards.

Triton ATMs are in use in more than 35,000 locations throughout the world. The company is headquartered in Long Beach, Mississippi. For more information, visit the Triton website at [http://www.tritonatm.com][1].

About Fiserv, Inc.

Fiserv, Inc. (Nasdaq: FISV) is an independent, full-service provider of integrated data processing and information management systems to the financial industry. As a leading technology resource, Fiserv serves approximately 7,000 financial service providers worldwide, including banks, broker/dealers, credit unions, financial planners, investment advisors, insurance companies, mortgage banks and savings institutions. Headquartered in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Fiserv also can be found on the World Wide Web at fiserv.com.

About Fiserv EFT

Fiserv EFT is a business unit of Fiserv, Inc., and specializes in electronic fund transfer services to the financial industry. Fiserv EFT is located in Portland, Oregon, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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


Pathways 3Q/99

The Pathways Group Inc. announced that sales for the third quarter increased by 534% to $55,151 as compared to the third quarter of 1998. Sales for the nine months ended September 30, 1999 increased almost 400% to $112,801 over the nine months ended 1998. The company has processed almost $2,000,000 in transactions for the nine months ending September 30, 1999 compared to approximately $650,000 in the same period of 1998.

The company also expects the completion of its Sprinticket unattended kiosk installations at Deer Valley, Utah and Big Mountain, Montana, the smart card pilot project for Funtastic Traveling Shows in California, and the initial rollout of Official Hawaii Millennium Smart Cards under its agreement with the Hawaii Millennium Commission to occur in the fourth quarter of this year.

Upon release of this announcement, Carey F. Daly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Pathways said, “We are very excited with this latest development in our Company’s Evolution. Our business plan is working. We expect sales and revenues to continue to grow.” Mr. Daly went on to say; “Pathways’ ability to quickly provide cost effective customized, turnkey solutions to its smart card and kiosk customers differentiates Pathways from all of its competitors. I expect our sales to continue on an upward path for the foreseeable future.”

The Pathways Group, Inc., which recently celebrated its 12th anniversary, 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.


Fair, Isaac New Execs

Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc., announces the addition of two senior executives to its staff. Henk J. Evenhuis will become the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. Linda Wagner has been named senior vice president of Corporate Marketing.

Henk Evenhuis

Evenhuis has over 30 years of finance experience, 19 as CFO with five technology companies where he was responsible for raising public and private capital and supporting profit and growth initiatives. From 1987 to 1998 he was executive vice president and CFO for Lam Research Corporation, a leading supplier of semi-conductor processing equipment. While there, Evenhuis negotiated key acquisitions, helped the company raise significant expansion capital, and participated in a 65 percent annual growth rate over a five-year period. Prior to that, he was CFO with four Silicon Valley emerging growth companies, and held various finance and accounting positions with other firms, including Memorex Corporation, Pfizer Corporation and Burroughs Corporation. Evenhuis holds a master’s degree in business administration from Santa Clara University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from California Polytechnic Institute.

“I am very excited about joining Fair, Isaac and contributing to the company’s next wave of growth,” Evenhuis says.

“We are very pleased that Henk is joining us,” says Fair, Isaac’s newly appointed CEO, Tom Grudnowski. “His extensive experience, which includes leading a billion dollar public company through rapid expansion, will be an asset to us.”

Linda Wagner

Wagner has 25 years of business-to-business sales and marketing experience in the financial services, technology and real estate industries. Most recently she has been senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services. Prior to that, she was global marketing manager for customer relationship management solutions as well as Internet banking program manager at Hewlett-Packard Company. Previous positions include regional director of sales at Freddie Mac and vice president and national account manager at Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation. Linda holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois and did post-graduate work at Northwestern University.

“I got to know Fair, Isaac while at HP, when the two companies forged a strategic alliance for customer relationship management,” Wagner says. “I was particularly impressed by the quality of its people, its corporate values and its commitment to continued leadership in technology, solutions innovation and market expansion.”

“We are fortunate to have a person with Linda’s talents join Fair, Isaac at this crucial juncture,” says Robert Heller, executive vice president at Fair, Isaac. “Her expertise will be key to Fair, Isaac’s successful pursuit of new markets and the strengthening of our leadership position in financial services.”

Fair, Isaac helps companies make faster, more profitable decisions about marketing, customers, operations and portfolios. Widely recognized for its pioneering work in predictive technology, the company provides advanced decision-making solutions to the financial services, eBusiness, telecommunications and healthcare industries. Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Fair, Isaac employs 1600 people in 18 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 1998, the company reported net income of $24.3 million on revenues of $245.5 million. For more information visit [http://www.fairisaac.com][1]

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


Multi-Lane EPS

IVI Checkmate Corp. announced the 10,000th store installation of its eN-Concert Store software solution, making it the most widely installed EPS software application among multi-lane retailers.

The milestone represents installation of over 115,000 checkout lanes with the popular store-level electronic payment solution (EPS) software. eN-Concert Store is one of the EPS components of IVI Checkmate’s eN-to-eN Transaction Solutions(TM).

“This is a significant achievement for IVI Checkmate and represents strong progress in the execution of our eN-to-eN Transaction Solutions strategy,” stated Greg Lewis, President and CEO of IVI Checkmate’s U.S. operations. “Leading retailers such as Eckerd, Kmart, Safeway, Food Lion and Winn Dixie rely on our eN-Concert Store software to provide robust and secure store-level payment management.”

IVI Checkmate’s eN-Concert Store is a suite of applications that provide store-level payment transaction and message management. As both an EPS system and a generalized message manager, eN-Concert Store efficiently and reliably handles a wide array of transaction types including debit, credit, check, automated clearing house and electronic benefits. Its innovative message management capability delivers value-added services including: frequency / loyalty programs, electronic gift certificates, and telephone card activation to customers at the point-of-influence, to drive incremental sales and build shopper loyalty.

IVI Checkmate’s eN-to-eN Transaction Solutions consist of a comprehensive suite of hardware, software, and services that manage payment transactions throughout the retailer’s enterprise, from the point of purchase to settlement. eN-to-eN Transaction Solutions enable retailers to meet business challenges faster and at a lower cost by allowing them to increase profits while taking control of the payment process.

IVI Checkmate is the third largest electronic transaction solutions provider in North America. The Company designs, develops, and markets innovative payment and value-added solutions that optimize transaction management at the point-of-service in the retail, financial, travel & entertainment, healthcare, and transportation industries. IVI Checkmate’s software, hardware, and professional services minimize transaction costs, reduce operational complexity, and improve profitability for its customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. For more information on IVI Checkmate, visit its web site at [http://www.ivicheckmate.com][1].

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


VISA Signature

VISA says its most affluent card product is gaining momentum. The ‘VISA Signature’ card now has more than 500,000 cards. The card was launched one year ago. The card is targeted at the 9 million U.S. households with annual incomes above $100,000. ‘VISA Signature’ card issuers include Merrill Lynch, Associates, Capital One, Citibank and First USA. Core ‘Signature’ features include concierge services, an air mile rewards program, a preferred travel program, an assistance program, $1 million of travel accident insurance and a purchase protection program. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent using the ‘VISA Signature’ card with accumulated points redeemable for free air travel with no class or seasonal travel restrictions when purchased 21-days in advance of travel.


Huntington Sells

Huntington Bancshares signed a definitive agreement to sell its card portfolio to Chase Manhattan. Under terms of agreement Huntington will also enter into an agent relationship with Chase. Huntington has approximately $535 million in current receivables. The purchase premium was not disclosed however it is estimated to be in the 15% range. Like many mid-level issuers, Huntington has been unable to effectively compete in a highly competitive market. Such players lack the economies-of-scale of larger issuers and the agility of smaller issuers. Huntington’s portfolio has been sliding since the end of 1997. Receivables for 4Q/97 stood at $612,908,000 compared to $550,000,000 at the end of 1998, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). Huntington’s account base has also declined from 460,000 accounts at the end of 97 to 385,000 accounts at year-end 1998. The number of cardholders slide from 600,000 in 4Q/97 to 400,000 for 4Q/98.The Huntington has more than 600 offices in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia.


Intell-A-Check! & NACHA

Intell-A-Check, Corp., a leader in electronic payment solutions, announced that Renaissance Bankcard Services is using the company’s electronic check-writing application software, Intell-A-Check!, to participate in the National Automated Clearing House Association test pilot to authorize ACH payments over the phone. Renaissance Bankcard Services is a national leader in developing, managing and servicing customized MasterCard and Visa portfolios. Intell-A-Check! offers an out-of-the-box, plug-and-play solution to enable Renaissance Bankcard to access the ACH network to support bill payments and collections via telephone for the NACHA trial program.

Intell-A-Check! offers a flexible tool for expanded customer service, enabling companies to instantly accept secure check and ACH payments through the phone, an automated IVR/VRU interface, and the Internet. Renaissance Bankcard currently uses Intell-A-Check! to provide credit card customers with the option of paying their bills by check directly over the phone, and as a collections tool to procure outstanding balances. By participating in the NACHA pilot, Renaissance will extend its application of Intell-A-Check! to support ACH debits, eliminating paper-based payments entirely, and offering even greater convenience for customers.

“At Renaissance Bankcard, the customer is our number one priority. With Intell-A-Check!, we can offer our customers top-quality service, allowing them to conveniently pay their bills over the phone,” explained Karen Fort, Operations Project Analyst at Renaissance. “With the NACHA pilot, Intell-A-Check! continues to provide us with a vehicle to further enhance our services, and meet the customer’s every need.”

Following the NACHA pilot, Renaissance Bankcard plans to use Intell-A-Check! to offer additional customer payment options, enabling customers to submit fast, easy payments over the Internet, and through an automated IVR/VRU interface. Both options will seek to reduce call center traffic, freeing Renaissance Bank’s service representatives to offer targeted customer support.

“Intell-A-Check! provides companies with the perfect tool to participate in the NACHA pilot, and develop a platform to accept ACH and check payments over the phone,” explained Joseph Grueter, Manager of Business Development and Founder of Intell-A-Check, Corp. “We are thrilled to provide Renaissance Bankcard with a turnkey solution to tap into the ACH network, and offer customers total payment convenience.”

About Renaissance Bankcard Services

Renaissance Bankcard Services (RBS) is a national leader in developing, managing and servicing customized MasterCard(R) and Visa(R) portfolios. RBS was formed in 1991 by a group of veteran credit card managers who created the first credit-card-only bank for ITT Corporation in 1988. Five of the top fifteen credit-card-issuing banks in the nation have utilized RBS to enter the sub-prime card market. RBS servicing centers are located in Beaverton, Oregon and London, Kentucky.

About Intell-A-Check, Corp.

Founded in 1993, Intell-A-Check, Corp. is a leader in payment technologies, providing a range of electronic payment solutions to Fortune 1000 organizations, including MCI WorldCom, Comcast Cablevision, Bank of America, Consolidated Edison of New York, Staples Corporation, and GE Capital. Located in Belleville, NJ, the company is a Microsoft Commerce Partner. Its flagship product, Intell-A-Check!, is a Microsoft BackOffice certified solution that supports a broad range of technology platforms. For additional information via the Web at [http://www.icheck.com][1].

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


First Select

Providian Financial says its First Select subsidiary had a banner first year. First Select Corp. has acquired more than $1 billion in contracts with seven of the nation’s top credit card issuers. The agreements represent commitments from creditors to sell their charged-off receivables to First Select. First Select specializes in collecting consumer debt and simultaneously issuing new credit. First Select says the key to its first year success has been its consistency due to the financial stability of Providian.


Mexico Phone Card

Cable & Wireless Global Card Services announced Wednesday the launch of La Calidad a Mexico (The Best to Mexico), a prepaid phone card for U.S. consumers who make frequent calls to Mexico. La Calidad a Mexico is the first in a series of new marketing initiatives in the prepaid phone card arena that address the unique calling needs of special consumer segments.

The phone card program is designed to create a unique opportunity for retail outlets to generate increased revenue and margin.

The La Calidad phone card offers competitive margins for retailers, and special point-of-sale materials in Spanish support in-store sales promotions. The launch of La Calidad allows retailers the opportunity to team with Cable & Wireless’ retail marketing experts to develop in-store and media programs designed to maximize sales opportunities and build awareness for La Calidad.

“La Calidad is a prepaid card created for budget-minded U.S. consumers who are regular callers to Mexico,” said Kevin Martini, vice president, Global Card Services. “The La Calidad phone card is designed to meet a growing consumer demand to provide low rates, high-quality connections to Mexico, and customer service 24-hours-a-day in Spanish, which means that U.S. residents with family and friends in Mexico can call home more often, for less.”

La Calidad a Mexico also offers competitive calling rates in the U.S. and to more than 200 other countries worldwide.

Cable & Wireless Global Card Services creates innovative and dynamic prepaid phone card programs for the retail markets. For more information about the full line of Cable & Wireless prepaid phone card retail programs, visit [www.cwcards-us.com][1]

About Cable & Wireless

With customers in 70 countries, Cable & Wireless (NYSE: CWP) is a major global telecommunications business with revenue of around $13 billion in the year ended March 1999 and over 50,000 employees. Its businesses around the world offer a range of services spanning broadband data and Internet access, fixed and mobile voice, as well as interactive entertainment and information.

Cable & Wireless’ priority for expansion is the fast growing market of data and IP (Internet Protocol) services for business customers.

Since November 1998, it has announced major investments in advanced networks in the US and Europe, the restructuring of Cable & Wireless Communications in the UK and has acquired full control of Cable & Wireless IDC in Japan to support this strategy. Cable & Wireless now holds a unique position in terms of global coverage and services to business customers.

[1]: http://www.cwcards-us.com/