People’s

CT-based People’s Bank expanded its credit card operation in the U.K. to include a new “relationship call center.” The move adds 100 employees, nearly tripling People’s employee base in the U.K. People’s said it achieved profitability in the 11th quarter of the U.K. operation, which exceeded its corporate goal. The new U.K. call center brings collections in house and it adds telemarketing to the mix. People’s continues to use its original credit card strategy, domestically and in the U.K., of offering a low rate card and focusing on creditworthy customers who carry a balance.

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MoneyGram

Viad’s MoneyGram Payment Systems unit lowered prices this week on its ten-minute payment service, ‘ExpressPayment’, giving consumers a lower-cost, guaranteed payment service nationwide. The new ‘ExpressPayment’ fees, for walk-in emergency payments, went into effect on July 12. They are now $8.95 or $6.95, depending on the payment destination. The old price was $10.50. Last year U.S. consumers sent an estimated $7.5 billion in late payments via electronic payment services such as MoneyGram’s ‘ExpressPayment’.

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EDS

Checkwriting is not slowing down in the U.S. despite the promotion of electronic bill payment and presentment services. According to TowerGroup, nearly 70 billion checks are presented each year, and as a result, American financial institutions spend approximately $4.2 billion per year in operational costs processing these checks. Although TowerGroup predicts a one percent per year decrease in checks beginning in 2000, the volume will remain in the 60 billion range for years. EDS says the answer to image-based check processing. EDS by eliminating the forward presentment of the paper check and using image-based workflow automation, the industry could save as much as two-thirds in operational costs of check processing.

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EasyPay

Western Union Commercial Services introduced its ‘Western Union Easy Pay’ service Thursday. The news service is a fully-automated information and payment processing solution that allows businesses to receive payment or payment information from consumers using IVR technology. Consumers can use the service to pay delinquent debts, or make other payments, through a full variety of payment options including telephone check drafting or credit card. Western Union says the system is ideal for businesses seeking to reduce live operator-handled calls.

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AnySourcing

Home Account, the leading developer of Internet-based financial services, unveiled Thursday a program that makes it easier than ever before for financial service companies to offer their products and services over the Internet.

The new program, called AnySourcing(tm), provides a financial institution with the ability to insource or outsource their Internet banking operations while using the same software and offering the same services, and establishes a new level of flexibility for the delivery of financial services over the Internet. AnySourcing eliminates one of the toughest issues financial service companies have traditionally faced in developing their Internet delivery strategies: should they outsource or run their program in-house?

“With AnySourcing, the ‘in versus out’ decision becomes less of an issue,” said Charles A. White, president and chief executive of Home Account. “In fact, financial service companies now have new options for using both in-house and outsourced components to build and accelerate the implementation of their Web delivery strategies,” he said.

AnySourcing eliminates “analysis paralysis” and makes the decision to offer financial services over the Internet an easy one. Instead of worrying about how the technology will evolve, financial service executives can concentrate on the products and services they want to deliver to their customers.

AnySourcing leverages Home Account’s industry-leading capabilities in in-house software development, transaction processing and complete service bureau solutions. Home Account clients can start simply with the turnkey Canopy First service bureau solution, migrate to an in-house environment over time, or utilize both in-house and outsource environments concurrently for different components of their Internet delivery strategies.

AnySourcing is made possible by Home Account’s development of an integrated technology platform supporting the Canopy product suite. “This is just the first of many examples of the versatility and power of the new Home Account,” said David J. Brewer, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Home Account. “AnySourcing enables us to tailor Internet financial service solutions for anyone, from credit unions to the largest national banks, and help our clients manage them in the years to come.”

Last month, Home Account completed the acquisition of First Data Direct Banking, creating a financial services industry powerhouse with the broadest array of products and a trademarked implementation process that offers the fastest speed-to-market implementation process in the industry. About Home Account Home Account delivers home banking, financial management and electronic commerce solutions to banks, brokerages and other financial institutions. 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.

Although Home Account’s products are designed as components which can operate separately, the Home Account product suite when combined provides an integrated customer relationship management system, the Canopy Continuum(tm), that assists financial institutions in building profitable, long-term relationships with their customers. Using the Canopy NetSpeed(tm) process as a template, financial institutions can have fully functional, branded web sites up and running in just 30 business days.

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

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HomeBase StoreFronts

AltaVista, the Internet’s premier media and commerce network, in partnership with Intershop Communications and CyberSource Corporation, announced Thursday Homebase StoreFronts, a new e-commerce solution created for merchants who want to capitalize on the traffic-generating power of the AltaVista network.

Homebase StoreFronts significantly raises the level of service Homebase local media partners can offer to their advertisers by expanding beyond basic advertising to full-blown e-commerce transaction capability, all within the partner’s portal site. Developed by AltaVista’s Zip2 division, Homebase is the leading local portal service that enables media organizations to combine their highly relevant local content with the vast resources of a standard portal.

Intershop Communications, the leading provider of sell-side electronic commerce hosting solutions, will provide the critical underlying technology to power Homebase StoreFronts. AltaVista will offer Intershop ePages to provide merchants with the ability to rapidly launch e-commerce Web sites and to drive local traffic directly to their storefronts from sites throughout the AltaVista network.

AltaVista also announced that CyberSource, a developer and provider of real-time e-commerce transaction services, is providing its Credit Card Processing and Internet Fraud Screening services to power the buy buttons of Homebase StoreFronts. Used by many of the Internet’s most successful merchants, CyberSource Credit Card Processing enables rapid, real-time payments worldwide in over 150 currencies, including the EURO. The popular CyberSource Internet Fraud Screen enables AltaVista to offer Internet merchants highly effective customized fraud screen.

“Homebase StoreFronts offers a powerful answer to the two questions that most plague prospective e-merchants — ‘How do I quickly get my e-commerce site up and running, and how do I get shoppers there?'” said Bruce Murray, vice president of marketing at AltaVista Zip2.

“We selected Intershop as a technology provider based on their focused expertise in the e-commerce field. Our additional partner, CyberSource, provides the Internet’s most complete range of outsourced e-commerce transaction services. With AltaVista’s one-stop solution, merchants no longer have to pursue hosting, advertising and site maintenance solutions from an assortment of unrelated vendors.”

AltaVista’s new e-commerce package, Homebase StoreFronts, will enable small-to-medium-sized businesses to build and manage online stores quickly, easily and affordably. Using a step-through setup interface and wide range of template-based designs, merchants can build a basic site in minutes or work in their spare time over several sessions to create an advanced StoreFront.

With Homebase StoreFronts, merchants can create a secure Web store with shipping options, tax information, and real time credit card processing. A robust upgrade path for merchants in need of more advanced functionality, including hosting and professional services, is planned for the end of the year.

AltaVista’s innovative e-commerce package will deliver both worldwide and local traffic directly to the merchant’s storefront. A user searching for an item in a specified geographic area can now access the merchant’s information through AltaVista and, using Intershop’s e-commerce technology, can order the item and either have it delivered or pick it up immediately. This full-circle solution will allow merchants to follow consumers’ impulse-to-buy to completion.

“We are excited to be working together with AltaVista to provide e-commerce technology to local merchants,” said Stephan Schambach, CEO of Intershop. “AltaVista is known and respected as the pioneer of the most powerful search engine to date and is one of the top 10 most trafficked sites on the Web today. The Intershop-powered e-commerce offering will further cement AltaVista’s reputation in the online commerce world.”

“CyberSource e-commerce transaction services coupled with Intershop product offerings and AltaVista’s market-leading position and reach make Homebase StoreFronts a formidable turnkey solution,” said Erna Arnesen, VP of Channels and Partners for CyberSource. “CyberSource has a strong history of delivering reliable and scalable commerce transaction capabilities. We look forward to increasing the acceptance of Internet commerce among small to mid-sized businesses through this relationship.”

Homebase StoreFronts will be available to AltaVista Homebase partners and their advertisers during the 3rd quarter of 1999.

About AltaVista Company

AltaVista Company is the premier online media and commerce network. The company integrates unique Internet technology and services to deliver relevant results faster for both individuals and Web-based businesses. By combining distinctive AltaVista brand services with “best of the Web” partnerships, the AltaVista Network creates the most satisfying Internet experience.

AltaVista is building on its heritage of technology and innovation leadership, offering award-winning services including: AltaVista Search, AltaVista Local Portal Services (Zip2), and AltaVista’s Shopping.com. For more information, visit AltaVista at [http://www.altavista.com][1].

About Intershop Communications, Inc.

Intershop Communications, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of sell-side electronic commerce software for complete business-to-business and business-to-consumer solutions. Intershop customers include many of the world’s largest telecommunications companies and commerce service providers such as BCE Emergis, Bell South, Concentric, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Mindspring, PSINet, Swisscom, Telecom New Zealand, and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch.

Major corporations have chosen Intershop as their enterprise e-commerce application including Bosch, Canon USA, Celestial Seasonings, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Nat West and Silicon Graphics. To date, Intershop is the global leader in Internet commerce licenses with more than 20,000 store licenses sold.

Founded in 1992, Intershop is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in the U.S., Germany, France, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Sweden and the United Kingdom. For more information, call Intershop at 800/736-5197 or send e-mail to sales@intershop.com or visit http://www.intershop.com[www.intershop.com][2]

About CyberSource

CyberSource Corporation is a leading developer and provider of Internet commerce services. More than 400 Internet merchants worldwide have chosen to use CyberSource services. CyberSource provides mission-critical reliability with the CyberSource Internet Commerce Suite(SM) offering merchant-controlled, real-time services including, Payment Services, Tax Services, Risk Management Services, Distribution Control Services, and Fulfillment Management Services. Customers of CyberSource include Beyond.com, BUY.COM, Compaq Computer, Egghead.com, Fawcette Technical Publications, MarketWatch.com, Remedy and Shopping.com.

[1]: http://www.altavista.com/
[2]: http://www.intershop.com/

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2Q/99 Billion+

Notwithstanding its pull back from the national card market, First Union added nearly 100,000 accounts during the second quarter, according to data gathered by CardData for 2Q/99. Keycorp held its account base together but slipped in receivables and actives during the second quarter. The data come from CardData’s ‘2Q/99 Portfolio Survey’ ([www.carddata.com][1]).

ISSUER RECV YTD VOL ACCTS ACTIVES CARDS
First Union $5,297,099,624 $3,132,558,564 3,811,024 1,699,994 5,909,314
KeyCorp $1,322,153,812 $1,113,361,595 1,082,598 620,212 1,427,804
Norwest $1,223,711,482 $1,237,008,299 1,359,240 728,628 1,740,298

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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Down Under Rewards

Australians will be able to earn rewards for both credit and debit cards under a new co-branded program announced Wednesday by Woolworths, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and MasterCard International. ‘Woolworths Ezy Banking’ run by Commonwealth Bank of Australia enables customers to perform a range of transactions such as deposits, withdrawals and account balances at in-store kiosks, or at the check out. The service is also accessible via telephone and Internet. Through MasterCard, customers will earn rewards for using the MasterCard brand credit and Maestro/Cirrus debit cards in store. Reward points can be claimed as vouchers for purchases at Woolworths and affiliated stores including Big W, Crazy Prices, Rockmans and Dick Smith. There are now over nine million MasterCard debit cards in Australia.

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Sub-Prime Loss

Los Angeles-based Bank Plus Corp. predicted yesterday it will report a net loss for the second quarter of $10-$13 million due to its continued troubles with it sub-prime card portfolio. The bank’s sub-prime portfolio is primarily divided between accounts generated by American Direct Credit and MMG Direct. Delinquencies for the ADC portfolio increased to 23.7% at June 30 from 22.3% at May 31and 12.3% at March 31. Delinquencies under the MMG Direct program declined to 20.2% at June 30 from 21.0% at May 31 and 23.6% at March 31. Bank Plus Corp. is the holding company for Fidelity Federal Bank, FSB.

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Associates Closes NTS

Associates First Capital Corporation yesterday announced it has closed the sale of the Network Transaction Services unit of its SPS Payment Systems, Inc. subsidiary to Alliance Data Systems, a leading provider of electronic transaction processing services. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

As part of the agreement, SPS and Alliance Data Systems entered into a joint marketing agreement by which Alliance Data Systems will provide electronic transaction processing support for a number of new and existing SPS clients.

Alliance Data Systems is one of the nation’s largest providers of network, private label credit, billing, customer care and database services, servicing nearly 50 million consumer accounts and processing more than one billion transactions annually. The company currently employs more than 6,500 associates at 16 locations in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

The Network Transaction Services unit employs approximately 200 people and offers data capture, authorization, reporting and data communication services for a wide variety of payment options, including credit, debit, fleet, and private label payment cards. In 1998 it processed more than 510 million transactions from over 80,000 point-of-sale terminals in the petroleum, convenience store, general retail, and public transit marketplaces.

Riverwoods, Ill.-based SPS Payment Systems, Inc. is a leading supplier of consumer private label credit card programs to specialty retailers. The company also offers commercial accounts receivable processing and various teleservices, such as answering customer service inquiries and providing help- desk support. SPS was acquired by The Associates in 1998.

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 one of the nation’s 100 largest companies, based on total market capitalization. For more information, visit The Associates Web site at [www.theassociates.com][1].

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

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Bad Blood

Already facing lawsuits from consumers and shareholders over its credit card practices, San Francisco-based Providian is now facing another lawsuit from crosstown rival NextCard. NextCard announced this morning that it has filed suit against Providian Financial Corp. for copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false advertising and unfair business practices. NextCard claims that Providian deliberately copied one of NextCard’s banner advertisements in an attempt to mislead Internet users into clicking onto Providian’s Web site rather than NextCard’s Web site. NextCard says Providian did not respond appropriately to its efforts to resolve the dispute amicably. NextCard’s CEO/founder, Jeremy Lent, is a former Providian CFO/SVP. Other NextCard officers/directors who formerly worked for Providian include: Timothy Coltrell and John Hashman.

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