E-Loan Card

CA-based online mortgage originator E-LOAN boxed itself in on the credit card side yesterday, after signing away an exclusive alliance with Providian Financial. Providian will exclusively market its suite of ‘Aria VISA’ cards on E-LOAN’s Web site. The ‘Aria VISA’ was launched by Providian in May of this year, following Providian’s acquisition of loan aggregator GetSmart.com. Providian says ‘Aria’ has distinguished itself as having one of the highest approval rates on the Web. ‘Aria’ currently offers interest rates ranging from as low as a fixed 7.99% APR to a 23.99% APR. Providian’s ‘Aria VISA Persona’ offers a maximum credit limit of $1,000 in exchange for a one-time processing fee as high as $89 and an annual fee as high as $89. The card also carries a fixed interest rate of 23.99% and no grace period. After three months the account is reviewed for a possible credit line increase which is also subject to a special fee. Providian says its websites draw 10 million visitors annually.


SmartDisk Jackpot

SmartDisk Corporation announced Wednesday that its initial public offering of 3,000,000 shares of common stock has been priced at $13.00 per share. In addition, SmartDisk has granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to 450,000 shares of common stock to cover over-allotments. SmartDisk intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for working capital, potential acquisitions of technology or businesses, and other general corporate purposes.

The shares of SmartDisk Corporation will be listed on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol “SMDK.”

BancBoston Robertson Stephens acted as the lead manager for the offering. The co-managers were Hambrecht & Quist and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray.


Home Account Adds CyberBills

Home Account, the leading enabler of Internet-based financial services, announced Wednesday that it can now offer its customers total bill management over the Internet through CyberBills. The addition of CyberBills to its suite of electronic bill payment and presentment solutions highlights Home Account’s ongoing commitment to offer its clients a wide range of industry-leading Internet financial services.

Home Account, which already offers bill payment and presentment solutions through partnerships with Checkfree, Princeton Ecom and Transpoint, has built a growing network of financial service providers that can be tightly integrated with the proprietary services of its bank, brokerage, credit union and card issuer clients to add more value for consumers and generate additional revenues for clients.

“Our relationship with CyberBills opens numerous opportunities for our clients. They can offer CyberBills total bill management as a premium service, or give consumers their choice of Internet bill payment services,” said Charles A. White, president and chief executive officer of Home Account. “Either way, our clients now have another powerful tool for increasing traffic on their Web sites and providing their customers with the most convenient Internet financial services.”

CyberBills gives consumers the ability to view, pay and manage all of their bills over the Internet, regardless of whether the bills originate in electronic or paper form or whether the biller is currently equipped to present bills online. CyberBills handles the entire bill management process, from receiving the bills and presenting them to the consumer over the Internet and managing payment.

“No more opening bills. No more late payments. No more writing checks. Once consumers experience total bill management over the Internet, they’re hooked,” said CyberBills President Murali Chirala. “Many consumers may have tried Internet billing in the past and found it lacking, because only two or three bills could be presented online-the rest still came in the mail. Now, Home Account and CyberBills are offering aggregated bill management services that not only attract new online customers, but also retain them over the long term.”

About Home Account

Home Account delivers patent-protected home banking, financial management and electronic commerce solutions to banks, brokerages and other financial service organizations. Home Account’s products include: Canopy Server(TM), an OFX (Open Financial Exchange) financial services platform that allows distribution of services through multiple channels; Canopy Advisor(TM), a strategic financial planning system for use by individuals and financial professionals; Canopy First(TM), a family of outsourced, scalable and brandable Internet products and services for financial institutions, card issuers and brokerages; Canopy Card(TM), innovative Internet account access programs for card issuers; Canopy Business(TM), Internet-based cash management services for business customers; and Canopy Clients(TM), a series of financial management user interfaces.

Home Account is headquartered in Emeryville, Calif., with offices in Charleston, S.C., Omaha, Neb., Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Please see Home Account’s website at

About CyberBills

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., CyberBills, the creator of StatusFactory.com, is the first company to offer total bill management over the Internet. Founded in 1998, CyberBills has rapidly developed and deployed methods and technology to support a single interface that allows consumers to view, pay, manage and automate all of their bills over the Internet. CyberBills offers its service directly to consumers at StatusFactory.com, as well as through its channel partners. For more information about CyberBills, visit [http://www.cyberbills.com][1] or [http://www.statusfactory.com][2].

[1]: http://www.cyberbills.com/
[2]: http://www.statusfactory.com/


MBNA Signs Ninth Top Ten Alumni

MBNA America announced Wednesday that the Northwestern University Alumni Association has endorsed MBNA to offer its credit card services to its members.

Northwestern, founded in 1851 and located in Evanston, Illinois, is home to six undergraduate schools and seven graduate schools including the Kellogg School of Management and the Medill School of Journalism. It is the ninth university alumni association from the Big Ten to endorse MBNA.

Northwestern joins more than 500 college and university alumni associations that endorse MBNA’s credit card services. More than 3.7 million alumni and students of these endorsing institutions now carry MBNA credit cards.

“We are pleased to have our products endorsed by the Northwestern University Alumni Association,” said John Cochran, chief marketing officer of MBNA. “And we look forward to providing them with a high level of financial products and customer service.”

MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America, N.A., a national bank, has more than $66 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance services.


Wal-Mart Cards

Wal-Mart made it official yesterday as it confirmed the launch of its first private label retail card: ‘The Wal-Mart Store Card’. The new store card will be administered and financed by GE Capital. The agreement represents an addition to the current relationship between Wal-Mart and GE Capital, which has provided SAM’s Clubs with a store credit card program. Wal-Mart also markets the ‘Wal-Mart MasterCard from Chase’ under a co-branding agreement with Chase Manhattan. Take one applications are now being distributed to all 2,500 Wal-Mart locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Wal-Mart Stores operates more than 2,450 stores and 450 SAM’s Clubs in the U.S. and has 971 units internationally.


Absec Intros SmartCity

ICL, a global IT services company and a world leader in smart card systems, has entered into a distribution agreement with Absec, the cashless payment and control systems company based in Northern Ireland. The agreement will introduce ICL’s SmartCity multi-application smart card system to the Irish and Scottish markets.

Under the agreement, the two companies will focus on selling ICL’s smart card system to universities, corporate campuses and other “closed environment” markets in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. Absec will be the first company in the UK and Ireland to distribute SmartCity within these markets.

As well as adapting their range of products (such as photocopier and vending machine readers) to accept SmartCity’s electronic purse application, Absec will be developing other applications suitable to closed environments, such as time and attendance monitoring through smart cards. Phil Eames, director of ICL’s Smart Card Group said, “This is a natural partnership because of Absec’s in-depth knowledge in these markets and ICL’s expertise in smart card systems. ICL currently operates a similar third-party distribution model in the US, where SmartCity has been implemented in more than 20 sites, including the University of Arizona and Florida State University. The market for closed smart card schemes which incorporates academic campuses is predicted to rise by as much as 300% to 3,500 sites by 2002.”

“This agreement will unite the best aspects of both products, bringing a unified system to the education and corporate markets that is unrivalled in terms of its functionality and security. SmartCity will be integrated with our own ChipNet smart card system to increase its flexibility,” said Absec’s managing director, Colin Foster. “With Ireland currently one of the fastest growing smart card markets in Europe, the timing is very opportune.”


SmartCity is ICL’s end-to-end multi-application smart card system. A multi-application system is one that supports electronic purse, credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, identity cards and many other applications. Recognized as the world’s most advanced smart card system, SmartCity has been installed in over 70 sites worldwide with 1.5 million cards in use every day. These sites include Fort Knox (US), Siam Commercial Bank (Thailand), LukOil (Russia), SouthPark Mall (US).

ICL’s Smart Card Group in the US is based in Middletown, Ct. For more information on SmartCity, visit [www.icl.com/smartcards][1].


Absec is an internationally renowned provider of both card operated cashless payment systems and cost recovery and expense management solutions. Absec designs, manufactures and distributes cashless payment and control systems. All Absec products which interface to photocopiers, fax machines, computers, network and stand alone printers, vending machines and point of sale terminals are developed and manufactured at the company’s head office in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Absec Worldwide has distributors and dealers in over 40 countries across the globe.

Absec’s website: [www.absec.com][2] About ICL ICL is a global IT services company. It designs, builds and operates information systems and services for customers in the retail, finance, government, telecommunications, utilities and travel markets. The company has operations in over 40 countries and employs over 22,500 people.

Transformed from a manufacturer of computers, today ICL improves business performance and competitiveness through services focused on electronic business, enterprise applications and the implementation and outsourcing of IT infrastructure.

For the 12 months to March 31, 1999, the company’s revenues were $4,458.4* billion (£2.735 billion) which generated a profit before tax and exceptional charges of $105.1* million (£64.5 million). Headquartered in London, ICL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu and plans to float on the London Stock Exchange in 2000.

[1]: http://www.icl.com/smartcards
[2]: http://www.absec.com/


AmEx Supports NYC Schools

As part of its commitment to NYC 2000, with Mayor Giuliani, Continental Airlines announced yesterday that it is teaming up with American Express to provide $1 million in support of New York City schools. The money will be divided equally between an initiative to re-build libraries in New York City elementary and middle schools and a college scholarship program for graduating seniors.

Continental and American Express plan to fund the Millennium Library Project through a cause-related marketing program. The funds will be used to improve libraries in New York City elementary and middle schools. The program will provide much-needed books and software titles that can greatly enrich students’ learning experience. Targeted schools have been identified by The Board of Education as having low reading scores and needing to significantly improve student performance.

Extending their commitment to students in need, Continental and American Express have also created the Continental/American Express NYC 2000 Millennium Scholarship. Each year, the fund will award fifty $2,000 scholarships to students who have demonstrated superior academic and community achievement. The program is open to graduating seniors throughout the city who attend high schools that have been identified by the Board of Education as in need of significant improvement in student performance.

“It is vital to us and to all New Yorkers that we help educate our youth so they can help us be successful in the next century,” said Gordon Bethune, Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, speaking at a press conference at City Hall with Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “As a major employer in the region, with more than 11,000 employees locally, we’re proud to contribute to this pool of future talent that makes the Big Apple a great place to do business.”

“We are so pleased to be joining Continental Airlines in an effort to improve the New York City public schools. Giving back is one of the core values that governs American Express — and there is perhaps no issue that more deeply affects our future than the education of our children,” said David C. House, president, Establishment Services Worldwide, American Express.

“The new millennium is more than a unique opportunity for celebration; it is a chance to redouble our efforts to better prepare our children to face the challenges of the next century,” said Mayor Giuliani. “This public/private partnership with Continental Airlines and American Express will go a long way in educating our children and ensuring that they are ready to face those challenges.”

“I want to thank Continental Airlines and American Express for their generosity in funding these school libraries and college scholarships,” said Schools Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew. “Beyond my sincere thanks, though, are congratulations to both companies for working together to identify two areas of great need for our children in schools that are striving to reach and exceed a higher academic standard.”

Continental is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., offering more than 2,200 departures daily to 130 domestic and 85 international destinations. Operating major hubs in Houston, Newark and Cleveland, Continental ([http://www.continental.com][1]) has extensive service throughout the Americas, and to Europe and Asia. Continental recently initiated a strategic global alliance with Northwest Airlines. Continental is in the top half of Fortune magazine’s, “100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” and has won first or second place FrequentFlyer magazine and J.D. Power awards for the four consecutive years. Continental has received numerous awards for its BusinessFirst premium cabin (Conde Nast Traveler, OAG Official Airline Guides, Entrepreneur and Smart Money magazines), OnePass frequent flyer program (InsideFlyer’s Freddie Awards) and overall operations and management (Air Transport World’s 1997 Airline of the Year).

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Express Company (NYSE: AXP), a diversified worldwide travel and financial services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

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


NYC Parking

New York City is getting high tech parking meters that accept coins and pre-payment cards. Schlumberger will announce this morning that New York City has signed a competitive bid contract for an integrated solution that includes 150 ‘DGLine’ terminals. Installation is expected to be completed by the end of this year. At that time, Schlumberger will have a total installed base in New York City of 430 units controlling over 20,000 parking spaces. The Schlumberger parking solution for NYC provides centralized two-way communication to each unit. Already a proven success in Europe, centralization allows each terminal to remotely maintain constant onboard communication with a central monitoring station. From the central station, parking managers download information on maintenance, revenue and usage requirements; can raise and lower rate structures automatically in response to special events; and receive up to 100 different real-time alarms to alert them to tampering, maintenance needs, or a full coin compartment.


Musicland G-Card

Musicland Stores confirmed Tuesday it will launch a new electronic stored value card in November. Musicland’s electronic gift card can be purchased and used in any of the company’s stores or Web sites once it is activated. In the future, the company will be able to create collectors’ cards depicting musicians, movies, actors and products all kinds of entertainment. The card can be used at all of the company’s retail stores including Sam Goody, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Media Play and On Cue, as well as its four retail Web sites.


CardSystems Merger

CardSystems Inc. and Maverick International Processing Services Inc. have agreed to engage in a strategic merger to create a formidable new competitor in the global electronic payment processing marketplace. The combined company, which will operate under the CardSystems name, will offer end-to-end processing services to banks, ISOs and other transaction-oriented companies. Utilizing an ‘Application Service Provider’ model and the combined strengths of the two companies, CardSystems says it will offer affordable, scalable solutions to the electronic payment processing industry. Leveraging the company’s existing data center, CardSystems’ suite of ‘eCardSMART’ applications will be hosted on servers that can be accessed by card issuers, acquirers and processors via a web-based user interface. Corporate headquarters will remain in Fairfax, VA. John Cramp will assume the role of chairman and CEO of the combined entity. John Hunnicutt will serve as president, Electronic Delivery Services, leading the company’s global processing expansion.


The Credit Store Execs

The Credit Store, Inc. announced Tuesday that it has expanded its executive management team.

William G. Buriak, 45, is The Credit Store’s new Chief Information Officer. Buriak will direct the Company’s daily technologies operations from Sioux Falls, including technologies that support client and portfolio accounting, data warehousing, office systems, the local area network, and investor reporting. Buriak oversees a staff of 55 persons. He reports to Kevin T. Riordan, The Credit Store’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

Jonathan L. Pike, 38, is The Credit Store’s new Senior Vice President of Operations. Pike’s responsibilities include management of the Company’s account servicing and transaction operations, operations security, non-card resolutions of assets, and new business development. Pike oversees a staff of approximately 150 persons. He also reports to Riordan.

“We are extremely pleased to attract the strong and experienced talent of Bill Buriak and Jonathan Pike to The Credit Store,” said Martin J. Burke III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The Credit Store’s success and increasing flow of business necessitates expansion of our top level management. Buriak and Pike are welcomed additions to our team.”

Buriak and Pike join The Credit Store’s executive management team of Burke, Riordan, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Michael Philippe, Executive Vice President and General Counsel Richard Angel, Senior Vice President Cindy Hassoun, and Patrick Steffl, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Portfolio.

The Credit Store, Inc. is a nationwide financial services company engaged in the acquisition and recovery of non-performing consumer receivables and the origination and servicing of credit cards. The Company acquires portfolios of non-performing consumer receivables and originates new credit cards to those consumers who agree to pay all or a portion of the outstanding amount due on their debt. The new card is issued with an initial balance and credit line equal to the agreed repayment amount. After appropriate seasoning, The Credit Store attempts to sell or securitize the credit card receivables generated by its business strategy.


Bill Buriak comes to The Credit Store with an extensive background in financial services, insurance, mortgage origination, e-commerce, credit cards, relationship banking and consulting. From 1996 to July 1999, he was Director of Management Information Services and Director of Business Office Operations at CCDM, a non-profit healthcare system based in Perth Amboy, NJ. Prior to CCDM, Buriak had 13 years’ experience with Beneficial Financial Corporation, Peapack, NJ, where he was responsible for strategic planning and technical product development. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in economics and earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix in information technology management.

Jonathan Pike brings The Credit Store his extensive experience in risk management and credit operations management. From November 1997 to July 1999, he was Vice President of Credit Risk for Stage Stores, Inc., the Houston, TX-based apparel and footwear retailer. Prior to Stage Stores, Pike was Director of Strategic Marketing, Director of Risk Management and Credit Operations Manager within the Retail division of First Data Corporation, Omaha, NE. Jonathan is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, in business administration.


Providian Roll-back

Trying to further repair its bruised image with cardholders, Providian Financial confirmed yesterday it has rolled back its foreign currency transaction fee. Providian says it has reduced the fee from 5% to 3%. The fee includes the standard 1% fee charged by VISA and MasterCard for converting foreign transactions to U.S. dollars. Less than one year ago, a few major issuers began adding a 2% surcharge on foreign transactions over and above the standard 1% VISA/MasterCard fee. To date, Citibank, Bank One/First USA, and Chase Manhattan have added a 2% surcharge on foreign transactions. Providian was the only issuer in the U.S. to add a 4% surcharge. According to CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]), most issuers do not add a processing fee to foreign transactions. Providian said it made the move to “enhance customer satisfaction”.

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