ACE VISA

A SD-based sub-prime card issuer has launched a major mailing this week for its ‘ACE VISA’ credit card which requires applicants to charge a $300 personal finance educational program, a $19.00 processing fee and a $49.00 annual fee in return for a “guaranteed” $400 minimum credit line. According to CardWeb’s on-line marketing intelligence service CardWatch, United Credit National Bank of Sioux Falls is also promoting its ‘ACE VISA’ program with the pledge to send applicants $100 if they fail to qualify for the program. The $300 personal finance educational program consists of five booklets and two videotapes produced by group called: “American Credit Educators”. The sub-prime card program is similar to a widely promoted offer made by marketers of CO-based Best Bank’s ‘VISA’ card. Under the Best Bank program cardholders were given a $600 credit line in exchange for charging a $500 travel club membership. The VISA program lead to the collapse of Best Bank last year as chargeoffs soared. The ‘ACE VISA’ carries a 19.92% APR and a $25 annual fee for any additional cards. For more information visit CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]).

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

Hongkong Bank’s ‘Mondex’ card is getting serious competition from a mass transportation smart card. The ‘Octopus’ smart card, used by more than five million Hong Kong residents to pay for train and bus fees, may soon be used to pay for goods at 7-Eleven stores throughout Hong Kong. According to the South China Morning Post, Creative Star, the issuer of the ‘Octopus’ smart card, has applied to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for permission to expand the card’s use to the convenience store chain. If the request is approved it may lead to widespread acceptance of ‘Octopus’ by merchants throughout Hong Kong. Creative Star has also applied to the monetary authority to become a deposit-taking company. Meanwhile Mondex has had a slow start in Hong Kong, with only 180,000 cardholders participating. The Hong Kong ‘Mondex’ program was launched in late 1997 with the prediction that 500,000 cards would be issued by the beginning of 1999. Creative Star is a joint venture of Hong Kong’s eight leading transport companies.

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ATM Servicing

American Mobile Satellite Corporation and ACS signed a four-year agreement to provide real-time wireless data communications to enhance the service and maintenance for ATM field service technicians. American Mobile will provide field service application software and wireless connections that will reduce ATM service call turnaround times, increase ATM uptime, and automatically update ATM software. When fully implemented in Oct., ACS field service technicians will carry ‘Windows CE’-based, hand-held PCs and wireless modems. Customer calls will be routed to ACS’s Dallas switch and carried over American Mobile’s ‘ARDIS’ wireless data network to field technicians. Upon call receipt, pertinent information including the customer name, ATM number and location and maintenance details will appear on the device screen. Responding wirelessly, the field technician acknowledges the call, responds and terminates the call through the ACS switch. In addition, ACS is using the ‘Windows CE’-based software for real-time inventory searches of its national parts database to determine availability and to update inventory. ACS services more than 7,000 ATMs in 28 states.

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Viad -Fistar

Viad Corp’s Travelers Express/MoneyGram subsidiary reached an agreement Tuesday with Firstar Corp. to convert approximately 450 former Star Banc banking locations to the Travelers Express official check and money order processing platform. Firstar’s official checks, which are issued to customers for mortgages, car loans and other types of third-party disbursements, will continue to bear the Firstar Bank name, but back office processing will be handled at Travelers Express’ Minneapolis processing center.

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USTT Update

USA Technologies Inc., the leader in public-access business services, announced Tuesday it has completed a private financing, generating nearly $5 million in working capital.

“We are very pleased to have secured financing of nearly $5 million, an infusion of working capital which puts our company in a very strong position,” said George R. Jensen, Jr., chief executive officer and chairman of USA Technologies. “The proceeds will be used as general working capital and to fund the marketing and launch of e-Port, our exciting new technology that will allow consumers to conduct e-commerce transactions while making routine purchases at our Business Express(R) product line, vending machines, convenience stores and potentially millions of retail points-of-sale worldwide.

“We believe that e-Port can be a very important technology platform in the world of e-commerce, and we have gone to great lengths to ensure that e-Port is patent protected,” added Jensen. “Twenty-one patents relating to our proprietary technologies have been filed, with four already approved. Of the remaining seventeen patents, nine are related to e-Port.

“This announcement comes on the heels of several other positive news announcements in the past several weeks,” stated Jensen. “On June 7, a 1-for- 10 reverse stock took effect, a significant first step in our goal of moving off the OTC bulletin board, and onto the NASDAQ Small Cap Market. Also, we recently announced a co-marketing agreement with Choice Hotels whereby Choice will promote our self-serve business center to over 3,500 properties in the nationwide Choice network.”

The company also announced today that Chief Operating Officer Stephen P. Herbert has been named President of USA Technologies.

“With fiscal 1999 revenues in the millions, it is clear that USA has made the successful transition from development to commercialization,” continued Jensen. “Stephen Herbert has been instrumental in helping us make that transition by literally creating markets for our products. Since he has joined our company, revenues have increased from $42,000 to nearly $4 million for this fiscal year ending June 30.

“Stephen’s operational and business experience make him the only candidate for this responsibility. I look forward to working with Stephen in this new capacity as our company embarks on an exciting and profitable journey,” said Jensen.

“Looking forward, we anticipate announcing the introduction of our proprietary e-Port terminal at a major hospitality technology trade show later this month. In addition, we expect to announce a significantly expanded relationship with IBM Global Services,” concluded Jensen.

With patented technology and a rapidly expanding product line, USA Technologies is the leader in providing credit card-activated business services for professionals and consumers needing to communicate or conduct business outside the home or workplace. Visit the USA Technologies home page at www.usatech.com.

Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act With the exception of the historical information contained in this release, the matters described herein, contain forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties that may individually or mutually impact the matters herein described, including but not limited to product acceptance, economic, competitive, governmental, results of litigation, validity of intellectual property and patents of USA, technological and/or other factors, which are outside the control of the Company.

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Arthur Blank Gets Expansion Check

Boston Mayor Menino presented Arthur Blank & Co. with a check for $6 million Monday through a Boston Industry Development Finance Authority loan program to assist the company in their ongoing expansion of their production capacity. Since 1993, when the City began this loan program with Arthur Blank & Co., the company has increased its employment by 47 employees, an increase of more than 30%.

With retailers nationwide seeing the benefits of loyalty cards, frequent shopper programs, membership cards, phone cards, gift cards, and countless others, Arthur Blank & Co. has its hands full keeping up with demand. “Plastic cards used to be just for identification or imprinting,” says Stuart Blank, president and CEO of Arthur Blank and lifelong Boston area resident. “Today, they are marketing tools that can access information from buying habits to vital statistics and even emergency health records.”

Arthur Blank and Company has come a long way since its founding in 1934 on Causeway Street in Boston. “We were one of the first companies to print on plastic,” recalls Stuart. “You name it, if it’s on plastic we printed it pocket calendars, rulers, all sorts of things. But when loyalty, phone, and gift cards came out, things just went through the roof.” Today, working through their network of dealers, Arthur Blank & Co. provides cards for local companies such as Stop & Shop and Shaws for their checking and loyalty programs, membership cards for BJ’s Wholesale Club, identification cards for Harvard/Pilgrim Healthcare, and warranty cards for IBM/Lotus.

Recent upgrades to their manufacturing facilities in Boston, including the purchase of a state-of-the-art six color Komori press, its second Burkle laminator, and additional automated card punch machinery have helped Arthur Blank keep up with demand and cut delivery times to about two weeks.

In his remarks at the event, Stuart Blank said, “It would be gratifying for my father and uncles, who founded this company on Causeway Street in 1934, to be here today to share in this occasion – to say ‘thank you’ to all our employees, our customers and city officials who have contributed to our growth and success.”

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Workbench

Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. announced Monday worldwide availability of Workbench, an integrated suite of software tools that packages Fair, Isaac’s expertise and innovation in predictive and decision analytics. This new offering allows clients to develop their own custom models and strategies. The first component to be released, Workbench Strategy Designer, enables in-house analysts to increase the effectiveness of their strategies and streamlines their current strategy development processes.

The Workbench suite will be rolled out in two phases. In Phase One, products are released in services mode. Phase Two delivers end-user products. The first component to be rolled out in Phase One is Strategy Designer, available in services mode through Fair, Isaac’s consulting service. In 2000, Fair, Isaac will introduce Phase Two, the product component of Strategy Designer. At that time, Strategy Designer will be sold for direct use by clients — without requiring support from consultants. As the suite matures, additional components will become available.

“For the first time, the power of Fair, Isaac’s domain expertise and ‘gold standard’ analytics is being put into the hands of our clients,” said Walter Nelson, vice president, Software Engineering and Product Management, Fair, Isaac. “Workbench combines Fair, Isaac’s experience and innovation to provide clients with the ability to create customer-focused solutions that best address real-life market needs.”

Strategy Designer is a revolutionary solution that provides clients with access to Fair, Isaac’s processes, tools and technology so they can rapidly develop strategies for targeting and acquisition, origination, and account management. This new tool seamlessly integrates human expertise with the use of data in strategy design and is a major technological leap forward. The product includes data-driven strategy design and decision tree creation that can build optimized challenger or test strategies based on analysis of historical data. The product also allows deeper insight into strategy performance through the use of multiple performance variables (e.g., risk, revenue, attrition) in the course of a strategy design. Workbench components will be integrated with Fair, Isaac decision engines such as StrategyWare(R) decision engine for account origination and TRIAD(TM) adaptive control system.

Added Nelson, “Because Workbench is component-based, it allows clients to integrate the best possible decision technology into their environment, according to their business requirements, the state of their systems, and their level of modeling expertise. With the integration of future components, clients can easily alternate between data exploration and discovery, basic and advanced model creation and evaluation, and data-driven strategy design.”

Fair, Isaac () helps businesses worldwide maximize the value of data to make more profitable decisions about their customers, operations and portfolios. Fair, Isaac delivers data management services, analytics, software, and consulting to the financial services, direct marketing, personal lines insurance, retail, and healthcare industries. For more information, call Fair, Isaac at 800-999-2955.

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Set-Top Box

NY-based GEDI Systems Inc. announced this morning it will launch the ‘GEDI Interactive TV’, a set-top box that enables any standard television to perform simple PC functions, including browsing the Internet. ‘GEDI Interactive TV’ allows the user to answer the telephone, have a phone conversation through TV and receive and store up to 100 voice messages in its digital phone-answering device. The set-top box is also equipped with a CD player with CD-ROMs that store up to 15 retail catalogues each so the TV viewer can browse and window shop, — without going on line. When the user wants to perform such e-commerce activities as on-line banking, on-line trading or make a purchase, he or she plugs into a phone line for a moment, then points and clicks the appropriate commands. Since all incoming data is received through a TV signal, viewers can simultaneously display a favorite TV program, an updated investment portfolio and/or bank account and receive email and faxes, without going on line. The new device will ship in the fourth quarter.

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Samuels Jewelers Sells Cards

Samuels Jewelers Inc. announced yesterday it has signed a letter of intent to sell its credit portfolio to a subsidiary of Alliance Data Systems, a leading provider of private label credit services.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The proposed sale, expected to close in late summer, constitutes the final piece of the restructuring Samuels began more than two years ago. The funds generated from the sale will be used to reduce debt. As a result of this transaction, Samuels will eliminate its current in-house credit department.

“In Alliance Data Systems, we gain a business partner with extensive retail experience that will assist us in effectively reaching our target customer, while allowing us to focus on our core business. Alliance Data Systems possesses significant portfolio management experience and state-of-the-art credit risk systems. These key competencies are especially important given our desire to enhance our credit portfolio performance as well as our ability to continually attract and retain loyal customers,” said Randy N. McCullough, Samuels’ president and chief executive officer.

“Today’s announcement allows us to continue our expansion and improves our ability to efficiently deliver the best value in the mall to our customers, capitalizing on the 100-year tradition of Samuels Jewelers,” continued McCullough.

“We are excited about this opportunity to apply our unique retail credit and marketing capabilities to support Samuels’ growth goals and assist them in developing lasting relationships with their customers,” said Ivan Szeftel, president, Retail Credit Services, Alliance Data Systems.

Samuels Jewelers Inc. sells fine jewelry and watches in 115 stores in 18 states under the trade names Samuels, Schubach, Mission, A. Hirsh & Son and Hatfield Jewelers.

Alliance Data Systems is one of the nation’s largest providers of private label credit, network, billing, customer care and database services, servicing nearly 57 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. For more information, visit Alliance Data Systems’ Web site at [www.alliancedatasystems.com][1].

Forward-looking statements in this press release and all other statements that are not historical fact are subject to risks and uncertainties, which may cause the company’s performance to vary. Specific risks include, but are not limited to, industry competition factors and other risks identified in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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

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GM Revs Up

The General Motors MasterCard has come out swinging with a new solicitation aimed directly at the ‘Discover’ card, the ‘First Card Mileage Plus VISA’ and the ‘Citibank Driver’s Edge MasterCard’. In a direct mail campaign unleashed this week GM has placed actual, full-color pictures of each card on the front of the envelope. According to CardWatch (CardWeb’s online marketing intelligence service), GM claims in its solicitation to have “scored the highest in three areas consumers value most: low introductory APR, no annual fee, and rich rewards.” The scoring was based on a comparison chart GM developed by gathering product information from various Web sites. GM/Household Bank is offering a fixed 3.9% APR through Dec. 31. The new solicitation also reflects Household’s revised credit card pricing: a go-to Prime +10.49% interest rate with an 18.74% minimum APR; a default or punitive interest rate of Prime +15.4% with a 23.9% minimum APR. Household has also beefed-up its cash advance fee to 3% with a $15 minimum, and boosted late fees and over-limit fees to $29 each. For more information visit CardWatch ([www.cardwatch.com][1]), special access fees apply.

[To view the complete solicitation please click here][2] ![][3] ![][4] ![][5] ![][6]

[1]: http://www.cardwatch.com
[2]: http://www.cardwatch.com
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[4]: /graphic/gm/gm2.gif
[5]: /graphic/gm/gm3.gif
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Maestro Taiwan

MasterCard International announced Monday that Taiwan Cooperative Bank is joining the Maestro network, with inter-bank transactions to begin in July. Taiwan Cooperative Bank is the first public financial institution to become a part of the Maestro network. Taiwan Cooperative Bank depositors can now enjoy the convenience of charging and making payments with their ATM cards.

Since MasterCard International officially launched the Maestro online POS debit program last August in Taiwan, it has received an extremely positive response from both consumers and financial institutions, as evidenced by its exceptional growth rate. From the current 13 financial institutions issuing the Maestro card and 5,000 sales terminals throughout Taiwan, MasterCard International expects the number of issuing banks to significantly increase within the next few months. The total number of member Maestro merchant stores is expected to exceed 20,000 by the end of this year. More consumers will be able to enjoy Maestro’s convenient payment method.

Tina Chiang, General Manager of MasterCard Taiwan, said that MasterCard welcomes Taiwan Cooperative Bank to the Maestro network, which spans 28,000 ATMs and 252,000 point-of-sale terminals in Asia/Pacific. Bank of Taiwan, Land Bank of Taiwan, Central Trust of China, Chang Hwa Commercial Bank, First Commercial Bank and Taiwan Business Bank will soon be joining the Maestro network. MasterCard International expects total card issuance to surpass 6 million and the number of card issuing banks to exceed 40 institutions by year-end.

Taiwan Cooperative Bank has 145 branches islandwide, with 1.85 million ATM cardholders. Current cardholders can now exchange their ATM cards for new debit cards bearing the Maestro logo at no extra charge to them. Maestro debit cardholders can enjoy cash-free shopping, save themselves the inconvenience of withdrawing cash from ATMs, reconcile their bank accounts and purchase records — all while enjoying the discounts and benefits offered by Maestro merchant stores.

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. Nearly 700 million MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus and Mondex” cards are in circulation today. With more than 16.2 million locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard Card. In 1998, gross dollar volume exceeded $650 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at .

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