Waiting Game

Tulsa, OK-based Commercial Financial Services was expected to name a buyer last week which was critical to the status of its forward-flow contracts. However as of yesterday no buyer has materialized. The list of the most promising bidders has reportedly dwindled to three: Worldwide Capital Inc., Household and GE Capital. Atlanta-based Worldwide Capital is owned by industry veteran Frank Hanna. Hanna also has connections with CompuCredit Corp. in Atlanta through his sons. CompuCredit is a sub-prime card issuer offering the ‘Aspire VISA’ card. The firm raised $54.8 million in an IPO two weeks ago.


Qwest – CITGO Deal

Denver-based Qwest Communications announced Monday it has been selected as the preferred provider of prepaid phone card services for CITGO Petroleum. Qwest will now provide prepaid products and services to more than 15,000 of CITGO’s locations. Qwest says its three prepaid cards offering ‘S.A.F.E.R.’ functionality will be marketed through the deal. The three cards include: ‘Best Value’ cards; ‘TeleMinutos’ cards for calls to Mexico and Latin America; and ‘America’s Best’ for calls to Asia. ‘S.A.F.E.R.’ is a service mark and stands for “Secure Activation For Every Retailer”.


NextCard eWallet

San Francisco-based NextCard and eWallet announced this morning a universal, one-click electronic wallet for cardholders. The ‘NextCard eWallet’ enables cardholders to purchase, with a single click of a mouse at hundreds of major online merchants. When cardholders download the ‘NextCard eWallet’ onto their desktop, their NextCard account, billing and shipping information will be loaded into the wallet. When cardholders shop online, they simply drag the ‘NextCard VISA’ icon over to the purchase form for completion. Instantly, all of their credit card and shipping information is automatically entered so the customer can complete the purchase without re-typing personal information. The ‘eWallet’ is password protected, resides on the cardholder’s personal computer and uses encryption technology to protect personal data. NextCard, launched in December 1997, is currently in the process of going public.


Turnpike Pilot

PNC Bank and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have installed Touch Technology’s ‘CardTouch’ system to support a smart card program for employees at its main administration facility in Harrisburg, PA. Employees are using the card to access the toll road, gain entrance to the building and to make purchases in the cafeteria and at vending machines. The system uses a Gemplus hybrid card, which incorporates both contact and contactless chip technology.


Tidel – BP Deal

Tidel Technologies announced this morning that one of its largest distributors, Financial Technologies, has formed an alliance with Red Crown Marketing to offer turnkey ATM packages to over 2,600 BP Amoco dealers and jobbers representing more than 15,000 stations nationwide. The BP Amoco ATM program will feature on-screen advertising, receipt-based coupons and, where available, receipt-based phone cards. FTI will introduce the ATM program this week to Red Crown member dealers and jobbers at the BP/Amoco show in New Orleans, LA.


MoneyGram in Albania

People sending or receiving U.S. funds to or from Albania can now do it safely and easily through MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc.

MoneyGram, one of the world’s leading global money wire service companies, opened locations in both Tirana, the capital of Albania, and Durres in collaboration with the Savings Bank of Albania. Now consumers and businesses located in those Albanian cities are able to send and receive wired funds within 10 minutes.

MoneyGram officials said the unrest in the region has created hardships for many fleeing the area.

“During disasters such as this, typically you find that families and relatives are looking to help their loved ones, whether they are victims, troops, or working in relief agencies,” said Isaac Lasky, vice president, international business at MoneyGram. “There is always a need to provide funds in a safe, efficient and affordable manner, and this service allows families to send financial aid to the refugees and NATO troops in the Kosovo area.”

Lasky says the company received similar requests during last year’s hurricane in Central America and during Desert Storm in 1991. For more information about sending money to Albania, call 800-926-9400, or visit the web page www.moneygram.com.

MoneyGram, a subsidiary of Travelers Express Company, Inc., is the number two money-wire transfer company in the United States. The company has an international agent network of more than 26,000 locations in more than 120 countries, reaching virtually 80 percent of the world population.

A subsidiary of Viad Corp, Minneapolis-based Travelers Express is a leading processor of money orders, electronic bill payments and official checks. Viad Corp (NYSE: VVI) is a $2.5 billion company headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., that provides payment services, convention and event services, and airline catering.


Taiwan Platinum

Chinatrust Commercial Bank launched the first ‘Platinum VISA’ in Taiwan last week. CCB says the card will become a “royal ID” for its customers. The CCB ‘Platinum’ program offers, among other features, information on international meetings/exhibitions. According to the Central News Agency in Taiwan the number of VISA cards in Taiwan passed the ten million mark also last week. For the first quarter 1999 VISA cardholders charged more than US$3.0 billion. Last year VISA volume exceeded $11 billion. VISA Platinum has also been introduced in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea in the Asia-Pacific market.


Firstar Acquisition

Firstar Corp. signed a definitive agreement Friday to acquire Mercantile Bancorporation through an exchange of shares valued at approximately $10.6 billion. The combined company would become the 13th largest bank holding company in the USA, with assets of more than $75 billion, deposits of $59 billion, assets under management of $67 billion and a market capitalization of $32 billion. The combined company will also become the 25th largest issue of VISA and MasterCards, based on receivables, according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). Firstar will also become the 10th largest ATM system with more than 2,000 ATMs.


Firstar $1.3 billion 949k 798k 1.4m
Mercantile $633 million 476k 272k 490k
Combined $1.9 billion 1.5m 1.1m 2.0m

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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


Discover UK

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is coming ashore this month with the launch of its ‘Discover’ card in the UK. The card will offer a cashback feature, however, other details of the offer have not be made public. Discover will compete with the ‘Alliance & Leicester Moneyback’ card, the only card program in the UK currently offering a cashback feature. US-based Providian is set for its first credit card marketing pilot in the UK this month. Also British phone financial services company, Direct Line, launched its first card in the UK market two weeks ago. For details on the UK and Providian, Direct Line and other US-based issuers in the UK, see Friday’s (4/30/99) CardFlash ([www.cardflash.com][1]).

[1]: http://cardflash.com


Portfolio Sale

Johnstown, PA-based U.S. Bank confirmed Friday the sale of its credit card portfolio to First National Bank of Omaha. The portfolio consists of 16,878 credit card accounts with outstanding balances totaling $13.3 million. The portfolio was sold for a 16% premium. U.S. Bank will recognize a $1.2 million after tax gain on the transaction in the second quarter of 1999. Under terms of the agreement U.S. Bank entered into an agent bank agreement with First National Bank of Omaha.

First National Nebraska (Omaha) Snapshot

(First Quarter 1999 Data)
$3,240,733,000 $1,031,269,000 3,780,272 1,618,373 4,838,748

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)


New Sub-Prime Bank

Baltimore, MD-based Creditrust Corp. announced this morning it is launching a new wholly owned subsidiary, Creditrust Card Services. The subsidiary will issue credit cards to both existing customers and target the secured and partially secured markets. Creditrust has hired Scott Nelson as VP, to head up the new unit. Mr. Nelson has spent approximately six years as VP of Card Member Operations at First USA and most recently he managed the credit card operations at ADP. Founded in 1991, Creditrust Corporation acquires, manages and collects on charged-off bank credit card and private label credit card accounts.


Corillian Signs Downey

Corillian Corporation, a leading provider of electronic commerce solutions and Web-based financial services, announced Friday that it has inked a contract with Downey Savings, one of the largest financial institutions in the nation, to install the Voyager platform and provide a customized, company-branded, Web-based user interface. The Voyager platform will allow Downey Savings to extend its banking products and services nationwide, allowing customers to access real time account information and pay their bills through both their browser and OFX-based PFM software. Installation of Voyager at Downey Savings is expected in the latter half of 1999.

“Downey Savings selected Corillian as its Internet banking solution provider because Corillian has demonstrated its ability to deliver production tested solutions and professional service expertise,” said Jill Bonner, Downey Savings’ Director of Retail Banking. “Corillian has built a solid foundation to meet all the Internet-based needs of our customers today, while setting the framework for future product enhancements. And the product promises security, an important feature for us, as we’re obviously concerned with protecting our customers’ sensitive account information.”

“Corillian is proud to work with Downey Savings,” said Ted Spooner, Chairman and CEO of Corillian. “Downey has a 42-year history of personalized customer service. Over the years, their technological choices have supported significant growth while maintaining top quality, one-on-one customer care. We look forward to providing them a production-proven, cutting edge Internet banking platform.”

Corillian’s Voyager platform is a high-performance middleware server built upon the Windows NT operating system and is designed to handle Internet-delivered banking and bill payment transactions. The Voyager platform provides a link between financial institutions’ legacy host systems and customers using OFX-enabled personal financial management software and browser-based (HTML) interfaces. Corillian Client Applications enable financial institutions to differentiate and brand their Internet service. The browser based (HTML) user interface and MoneyPAD(TM) Personal Finance Appliance interact with the Voyager platform so consumers can easily access real time financial information.

About Downey Savings

Downey Savings and Loan Association, F.A., held by Downey Financial Corp., (NYSE: DSL) is headquartered in Newport Beach and has helped California residents with their banking and borrowing needs since 1957.

With assets in excess of $6 billion, Downey Savings, an Equal Housing Lender, has 95 locations throughout California and also offers home loans nationwide. The stock of Downey Financial Corp. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Pacific Exchange under trading symbol “DSL.” The Downey corporate Web site address is http://www.downeysavings.com.

About Corillian Corporation

Based in Beaverton, Oregon, Corillian is the leading provider of end-to-end Internet banking solutions that help financial institutions become on-line financial service providers. The Voyager platform is built upon the Windows NT operating system and uses the latest Microsoft(R) communications technology, Distributed COM (DCOM). Voyager server applications support core banking and bill payment transactions. Future applications will support brokerage, bill presentment, small business and cash management transactions. Voyager handles transactions for Corillian’s customizable browser-based (HTML) financial interface, Corillian’s MoneyPAD(TM) Personal Finance Appliance (PFA), and OFX-enabled personal financial managers like Quicken(R) and Microsoft(R) Money. For more information, visit [www.corillian.com][1].

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