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 ([][1]), most issuers do not add a processing fee to foreign transactions. Providian said it made the move to “enhance customer satisfaction”.



GO Network MasterCard

Infoseek Corporation (Nasdaq:SEEK), home of GO Network ([][1]), announced the launch of its own branded affinity credit card, the GO Network MasterCard, now available at [][2]. Infoseek created the GO Network MasterCard with its issuing partner, MBNA America Bank N.A., to offer a unique array of high-quality benefits and services for consumers. The GO Network MasterCard gives cardholders the ability to use their card virtually anywhere around the world, at anytime, online or offline. In addition, cardholders will be rewarded for using the card through the newly-created GO Awards(TM) Program. Through the GO Awards Program, GO Network cardholders will accrue points every time they use the card for purchases. GO Awards points will be redeemable for merchandise offered by leading national brands and merchants as well as for GO Network brand products.

“Everyday at Infoseek, we deliver valuable products and solutions to millions of GO Network users. The GO Network MasterCard does just that by giving online and offline users a unique e-commerce solution they didn’t have before,” said Harry Motro, president and CEO of Infoseek. “Cardholders can purchase everything from airline tickets to books to jewelry to toys. Like GO Network, this program helps connect people to the things they care about most.”

“Our partnership with GO Network continues our commitment to have a significant presence on the Internet and to offer products and services that add value to the lives of our customers,” said John R. Cochran, Senior Vice Chairman of MBNA. “We are thrilled to be working with a leading portal provider, and we see the GO Network MasterCard as a great offering for millions of GO Network users.”

GO Network MasterCard Features

As part of a continuing commitment to e-commerce and to further extend the GO Network brand, the GO Network MasterCard features a 3.9% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for cash advance checks and balance transfers and no annual fee. The new program offers both the Platinum Plussm and Preferred credit cards.

Charge and Earn At The Same Time

Along with the GO Network MasterCard, GO Network is featuring its new GO Awards program for active GO Network members. The program allows active GO Network members to join today and start earning GO Awards points redeemable for top quality merchandise available through the exclusive GO Awards catalog. Each dollar in purchases charged with the GO Network MasterCard account will earn one GO Award point. The GO Awards Catalog currently offers everything from mountain bikes, to personal organizers, MP3 players, and more. Users are automatically enrolled in the GO Awards program when they apply for the GO Network MasterCard. Later this year, GO Network users will be able to earn points through activities across participating GO Network sites including,,,,, and NASCAR Online.

24-Hour Customer Service and Safe, Online Shopping

The GO Network MasterCard program offers world-class customer service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. GO Network cardholders will also have online access to up-to-the minute credit card account information at [][3] and easy, online access to their GO Awards points summary at [][4]. The GO Network MasterCard also offers protection against fraudulent activity related to the card.

About Infoseek

Infoseek Corporation (Nasdaq:SEEK) is the home of GO Network, a premier global media network that offers consumers solutions for everyday life by combining integrated Internet services with leading consumer brands. Now one of the top five sites on the Internet, GO Network was launched in January 1999 by Infoseek, in partnership with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), and is the online home of leading world brands such as for news, for sports, and for kids and family, Infoseek for search, and and for entertainment.

In addition, Infoseek licenses its Ultraseek Server search and navigation software to companies for their own intranet, extranet and Internet sites. Infoseek is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif. For more information about Infoseek, please visit Infoseek’s corporate Internet home page at [][5] or to request additional information about Infoseek, call our Investor Relations Request Line at 408/543-6960 or visit our investor relations Web site at [][6]



Asta 3Q/99 Sales

Asta Funding, Inc. Tuesday announced that the Company sold approximately $380,000,000 of distressed Master and Visa card receivables to several purchasers during the quarter ended September 30, 1999. The Company realized approximately $9.35 million from these sales and is currently working on additional loan sales of similar accounts. The Company purchased approximately $1.36 billion of charged-off Master and Visa accounts in March 1999 and is actively seeking additional portfolio acquisitions.

Gary Stern, President and Chief Executive Officer of Asta stated, “The sale of loans for the quarter ended September 30, 1999 is both a positive step and is consistent with our strategy of selling, managing and servicing distressed receivables. In addition, we are currently negotiating additional sales on an ongoing basis and I am very pleased with the collections on the unsold accounts to date.”

Asta Funding, Inc., located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, is an emerging industry leader in the distressed consumer receivables liquidation business.

Except for historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this news release are forward-looking statements. Although, Asta Funding, Inc. believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, there can be no assurance that its expectations will be realized. Forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from Asta Funding, Inc.’s expectations. Factors that could contribute to such differences include those identified in Asta Funding, Inc.’s most recent Form 10-KSB for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1998 and those described from time to time in Asta Funding, Inc.’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, news releases and other communications.



Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS), one of the nation’s leading merchant processors, is deploying more than 3,000 Hypercom(R) card payment systems throughout its retail and restaurant network. The deployment includes Hypercom’s new ICE 5000 and T8 card payment systems, as well as the company’s popular T7P terminal. Concurrent with the deployment, EMS has named Hypercom Corporation its exclusive provider of card payment systems.

“Hypercom’s solutions allow us to deliver an array of easy to use, value-packed, revenue- enhancing features and greater options at the point-of-sale that are second to none,” said John Rahilly, President, Electronic Merchant Systems. “We are delighted to offer these powerful solutions to existing and potential customers, and equally pleased to designate Hypercom as our exclusive electronic payment provider.”

Hypercom’s ICE 5000 is a powerful, multi-function touch-screen terminal incorporating a high-speed thermal printer, paper cutter, and Hypercom’s new FastPOS(TM) 9600 bits per second (bps) modem technology that completes transactions in under six seconds. Hypercom’s ICE 5000 provides a highly interactive and intuitive user interface that allows the support of complex transactions with minimum user training. When used in concert with Hypercom’s Ascendent(TM) Server Environment, the ICE 5000 also supports online advertising and electronic signature and receipt capture, storage and retrieval.

Hypercom’s recently introduced T8 is a low-cost, user-friendly card payment system that supports draft capture, debit, check and proprietary card processing and new payment vehicles such as chip card-based credit/debit cards and stored value cards, as well as PIN pads. Hypercom’s T8 is ideal for merchants seeking to upgrade from paper-based systems or who experience low transaction volume.

“Savvy processors, acquirers and merchants are quickly recognizing the need to add value to the basic card transaction, and that’s where Hypercom comes in,” said George Devitt, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Sales, US and Canada, Hypercom Corporation. “We are pleased to help EMS provide its merchants with state-of-the-art electronic payment solutions.”

Electronic Merchant Systems, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is a leading national provider of retail merchant services and turnkey E-Commerce solutions. EMS continues to drive the payment processing industry through a vast array of customized services and applications including EMS E-Commerce and EMS Create-A-Store. The EMS Internet address is [][1].

Hypercom Corporation (NYSE:HYC) is the single-source global provider of end-to-end electronic payment solutions, including card payment systems, peripherals, network products, software and e-commerce payment solutions that add value at the point-of-sale for consumers, merchants and acquirers.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products in more than 70 countries through a global network of affiliates and offices in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Venezuela. Hypercom’s Internet address is [][2].

Hypercom is a registered trademark of Hypercom Corporation. ICE, FastPOS and Ascendent are trademarks of Hypercom Corporation. All other products or services mentioned in this document are trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks of their respective owners.




Metris Companies launched another fee-based membership club Tuesday. The ‘TripSaver’ club offers travel discounts and a lowest-price guarantee. Benefits include a 5% rebate on all travel arrangements booked through Metris Travel Services Inc.; airline, hotel, rental car and bus line discounts; a toll-free travel hotline with special promotional offers, discounts and packages; and opportunities to receive discounts at over 80 national adventure and theme parks. Other member benefits include gasoline rebates; discounts on pre-trip auto maintenance, photo finishing and travel guides; one free night at a select Choice hotel per year; and cabin upgrades on designated cruise lines. Metris has developed a number of fee-based services and now has established relationships with more than 4 million customers holding credit cards issued by five of the top 10 card issuers.



First Data introduced the industry’s first stand-alone payment gateway, ‘SurePay’, supporting credit, check and cash payments over the Internet. In addition, the company announced the creation of the First Data Internet Commerce group, established to focus on development and management of Internet-based electronic commerce solutions and related initiatives across all First Data subsidiaries. ‘SurePay’ enables Internet merchants to accept and process their customers’ credit card transactions in real time and support all standard credit card types; accept and process customers’ check payments electronically in real time via TeleCheck; accept customers’ cash payments for Internet purchases via Western Union retail agent locations; and access enhanced fraud screening and merchant reporting.


Ad Spenders

American Express outspent VISA in advertising during the first half of this year according to data released Tuesday by Competitive Media Reporting. Industrywide, ad spending was up 6.9% for the first half of 1999 as compared to 10.6% in 1998, the increase was lower than any in the last five years. During the first six months of 1999, American Express spent $148.6 million on advertising, a 6.7% increase over the same period last year. However ad spending for the American Express card actually dropped from $83.0 million last year to $80.3 million this year. VISA USA shelled out $119.7 million this year, a 6.5% increase over 1998. VISA’s spending for credit cards dropped 16.7% over the past year, from $63.6 million to $53.0 million, according to CMR. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter spent $116.9 million so far this year on ads, about double what it spent last year. Of the $116.9 million MSDW spent, $34.1 million was advertising for the Discover brokerage. CMR did not break out expenditures for MSDW’s Discover card product.


AmEx Brokerage

American Express Company announced Tuesday plans to launch American Express Brokerage — a service that combines innovative online investing and financial planning tools with access to a financial advisor and attractive online pricing, including free equity trades for account holders with minimum balances. American Express Brokerage will be available later this fall.

American Express Brokerage () provides the tools for online investing that customers value most, including the ability to open an account instantly, a broad choice of mutual funds, real-time quotes and comprehensive market research. In addition, American Express Brokerage provides access to financial planning and advice tools and services, online or in person, unparalleled in the online brokerage marketplace.

“American Express Brokerage lets our customers invest when, where and how they want,” said Doug Lennick, executive vice president, Advice and Retail Distribution Group, American Express. “Clients can ‘do-it-themselves’ with the help of our interactive tools and proprietary research, or they can use American Express Brokerage with the help of an experienced, professional American Express financial advisor.”

“Our new online brokerage represents an important step forward in establishing American Express as a leader in online commerce,” said Ruediger Adolf, senior vice president, Strategic Planning and Business Development at American Express. “It is a key part of our Internet strategy and complements a series of recent introductions, including Membership B@nking — a direct bank with attractive rates and quality service — and Blue — a new card with special features for people interested in shopping online.”

Features of American Express Brokerage include:

* Low-cost equity trading. Online equity buys are free and sells are $14.95 with a minimum account balance of $25,000. For account balances over $100,000, online equity buys and sells are free. With an account balance of less than $25,000, buys and sells are each $14.95. All equity buys and sells over 3,000 shares have an additional charge of three cents per share. Bond and option trading will also be available.

* Mutual fund choice. Through American Express Brokerage, customers will be able to choose from more than 2,000 mutual funds from more than 260 of America’s best-known fund families.

* Comprehensive financial planning tools. The online financial planning tools provide comprehensive, interactive advice integrating the six areas of financial planning: retirement planning, financial position, investment planning, tax planning, estate planning, and protection planning.

* Access to American Express financial advisors. Clients can choose to work with an American Express financial advisor to get whatever level of advice and help they need. Advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning as well as advice on individual investments. Advisors will be able to offer American Express Brokerage as a tool for their clients, and Brokerage customers will be able to use an online advisor locator to find an advisor in their area.

* Cash management account. Customers with a minimum balance of $5,000 will have access to a cash management account. The account features free, unlimited check writing, unlimited debit card use and ATM access (with four surcharges per month reimbursed). Customers who have qualifying assets of $25,000 or more can receive an American Express Gold Card, with the $75 annual fee compliments of American Express. Gold Card charges will be debited from the cash management account monthly.

* Easy account opening. Qualified customers can open an account online immediately and begin trading in minutes.

* Information. Account holders will have access to real-time quotes, buy-side research from American Express Financial Advisors, and news and analysis to help make smart investment decisions.

* Service. American Express professionals will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer technical and investment questions at 1-800 AXP-8800, option 1.

* Other features include IRAs, competitive margin lending rates and free dividend re-investment.

American Express first introduced an online investing capability, Financial Direct, in 1996. Customers currently using that service will be automatically upgraded to the more comprehensive American Express Brokerage account.

To help investors make the most of these features, American Express Brokerage is the only online brokerage that provides comprehensive advice tools and the financial planning and advice expertise of American Express financial advisors.

“American Express Brokerage will be the only online brokerage backed by the level of comprehensive financial planning expertise available from American Express Financial Advisors,” said Lennick. “Comprehensive planning assures that our customers consider the impact of their investment strategies on their current financial position, tax situation, insurance needs, retirement plans and estate needs. Brokerage customers can work with a financial advisor to devise a comprehensive plan and can establish an ongoing relationship with their advisor as they use the tools and investments available through the brokerage to carry out their plan.”

American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA) is one of the nation’s leading financial planning companies. Through a network of more than 9,300 personal financial advisors, the company provides ongoing, long-term financial planning and high quality financial products to more than two million clients throughout the United States. AEFA is a unit of American Express Company ([][1]). Founded in 1850, American Express is a global travel, financial and network services provider.

American Express makes investment and financial planning services available through American Express Financial Advisors, Inc., member NASD and SIPC. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

For more complete information on American Express Brokerage products, including fees and expenses, consumers may obtain a prospectus by calling 1-800 AXP-8800, option 1. Consumers should read before investing.

Investments are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits or obligations of or guaranteed by a financial institution, involve investment risks including possible loss of principal. All deposit products and services are offered by American Express Centurion Bank, a federally insured financial institution.




Cardservice International, Inc. announced Monday evening that it has agreed to provide payment processing services to Lycos Inc..The alliance will enable merchants within the Lycos shopping area to establish a payment processing relationship with CSI and be selling online within hours. CSI also announced that KPMG LLP and CSI have joined up provide eCommerce business solutions to the small-business marketplace. The effort combines KPMG’s eCommerce transactions capabilities with Cardservice International’s small-business payment-processing capabilities. The first commerce service provider to endorse the partnership is Nexgen Solutions, a small business based in Silver Spring, MD.