Hispanic Card

CO-based Equitex, Inc. and its subsidiary, First TeleServices Corp. unveiled Tuesday afternoon a program for issuing prepaid debit cards to the Hispanic market. FTC says it has signed an agreement with a large financial institution with a national presence to become the issuing bank for the cards. Under terms of the agreement FTC will receive a fee for each card issued. Net1Bank will complement the debit card by offering a secured credit card to help establish credit for those individuals with no credit or impaired credit. The program will be marketed primarily through Hispanic newspapers and organizations. The company says the Hispanic market is projected to increase at a rate more than three times faster than the general U.S. population over the next ten years.


CBQ Acquisitions

CBQ Inc. announced Tuesday that it has closed into escrow its agreement to purchase Priority One Electronic Commerce Corporation of Akron, Pa. As part of the transaction, CBQ also gains a 10% equity interest in CitX Corporation, of Quakertown, Pa.

CBQ’s acquisition of Priority One and CitX will fuel CBQ’s momentum to gain marketshare as a leading provider of e-commerce solutions for businesses selling to other businesses online.

Priority One is a leader in Internet electronic payment processing. Priority One’s proprietary Bill Collect(TM) system relieves sellers from the burden of sending out invoices, waiting for checks to arrive in the mail, and dealing with accounts receivable collections. Bill Collect is a high-tech, automated system handling electronic funds transfers (ETF) and credit card payments for Internet e-commerce businesses and traditional sales companies. Priority One is a three-year-old leading high-tech company providing business-to-business electronic payment processing services that enable businesses to electronically collect and disburse payment in the form of electronic funds transfers (EFT) and credit cards.

Priority One’s flagship service, Bill Collect, enables businesses to collect their receivables electronically, via the Internet or Direct-Dial-up gateway, on the date due. The Bill Collect system can be fully integrated with the retailer’s software so that information on credit card charges and EFT authorizations can be combined in the same batch transaction and uploaded directly and simultaneously to Priority One, through the phone lines or via the Internet, without any additional data entry.

Bill Collect was codeveloped by Priority One along with strategic venture partner, CitX. Priority One was founded in 1996, by Sidney Lieberman, Chairman, and principle shareholder.

CitX develops and markets business-to-business, e-commerce solutions. CitX, along with Priority One, jointly developed Bill Collect as well as additional technology and software used in Priority One’s Payment Processing Center. In addition, CitX has developed a unique Web-enabled integrated, business-to-business, e-commerce platform, Intrapay(TM), to collect and disburse payments via the Internet.

CitX has formed equity partnerships with Priority One EC Corporation of Akron, Pa., and MCCS of Los Angeles. Additionally, CitX has created strategic partnerships with NCR Corporation, Bell Atlantic, and Redix Corporation. These strategic partners have aligned in support of the CitX Internet-based Electronic Commerce platform called Intrapay, Virtual Electronic Community platform IntraPortal, and Network based Software Application platform called IntraApp. As part of the CitX business strategy, CitX plans to align with other technology, marketing, and service companies in the future, to rapidly expand, and effectively satisfy the needs of its customers.

CitX has developed a unique transaction transport technology called SETX to provide the end-to-end security, scalable processing capability of Electronic Commerce transactions. SETX is a patented proprietary data communication system and protocol that uses dynamic password authentication, pseudonymous data envelopes, trusted-server predictive Internet routing technology to enable the exchange of secure data transactions, via the Internet, without the need for encryption.

CBQ’s foothold in the fast growing area of business-to-business, e-commerce is significantly improved by the acquired talent and technology of both Priority One and CitX. In addition, CBQ’s potential marketshare is increased due to an exclusive agreement between the three companies to jointly market each others services to each companies customer base. The acquisition of Priority One and its customer base, coupled with the joint marketing of integrated Intrapay/Bill Collect services to CitX customer base, could produce strong additional revenues in 1999 for CBQ.

Commenting on the transaction, Michael L. Sheriff, chief executive officer of CBQ stated, “The acquisition of Priority One and their Bill Collect electronic check clearing system, are steps forward in our strategy to become a dominant provider of Internet-based, e-commerce solutions.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with CBQ as our new strategic partner in the e-commerce space,” said Bernie Roemmele, CEO of CitX Corporation. “By combining our core competencies, and resources we will be able to quickly expand our customer base and move more aggressively into new vertical market opportunities.”

CitX Corporation is a privately-held, leading high-tech company that primarily develops and markets business-to-business e-commerce solutions, Community-Centric Portals, and Network-Centric (Web-Hosted) software applications, delivered securely across the Internet and private heterogeneous networks.

CBQ’s wholly owned subsidiary, CyberQuest Inc. is the developer of www.bid4it.com, a virtual, Internet-based marketplace based on the principles of securities trading. bid4it is a completely automated electronic marketplace that produces a “true” market price of products based on the open market interaction between bidders and sellers. Bidders electronically bid (“Bid”) on desired products and may modify or delete their bids at any time before the Bid matches a Sellers “asking price” (“Ask”). The Seller may accept any Bid at any time and may modify or delete their Ask at any time before it matches a Bid. bid4it allows sellers to compete in a worldwide market for the buyers of all types of products.

CyberQuest’s CyberMarketMaker(TM) integrates the best features of securities trading and an auction market. Bidding activity is continually analyzed and asking prices moved up or down in response to market activity. When a “bid” and “ask” match, the transaction is electronically completed, and the product is ordered and shipped to the buyer with instant notification to all parties.

For more information about CyberQuest visit www.bid4it.com (bid4it website) and www.cbq.com (Corporate website).

For more information about CitX call 215/538-3535, email bernie@citx.net, or visit the CitX website at [www.citx.net][1].

[1]: http://www.citx.net


Metris Doubles

The Metris steamroller continues as net income for the first quarter nearly doubled first quarter 1998’s net income. Metris reported this morning that it earned $21.6 million during the first quarter versus $11.2 million last year. The managed credit card loan portfolio decreased by $200 million to $5.1 billion during the first quarter with credit card accounts remaining flat at 2.9 million. Metris says the contraction is due to the planned shrinkage in the acquired PNC portfolio, together with very little credit card marketing in the fourth quarter of 1998. Credit card charge volume increased 24% to about $927 million in the first quarter of 1999, compared to $747 million in the first quarter of 1998. The managed net charge-off rate was 9.4% compared to 10.4% for the prior quarter and 8.8% for the first quarter of 1998. The managed 30+ day delinquency rate was 8.0% at Mar. 31 compared to 6.8% at Dec. 31 and 7.4% at Mar. 31, 1998. Managed credit card fees, interchange and other credit card income increased 50% to $84.7 million for the first quarter. Metris says the increase was primarily due to the growth in the managed credit card portfolio, as well as the repricing of credit card fees. Metris also says it sold 550,000 memberships during the first quarter, primarily for its ‘PurchaseShield’ product. For complete first quarter financials for Metris visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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


Euronet Signs BIG Bank

Euronet Services Inc. and BIG Bank S.A. of Poland have signed an agreement by which Euronet will provide full ATM network services to BIG Bank S.A.’s new retail banking network, Millennium. Millennium customers will be able to perform a variety of functions on Euronet ATMs, including PIN change, bill payment and mini-statement functions as well as standard cash withdrawals and balance inquiries.

Under the terms of the agreement, Euronet will purchase and operate Millennium’s existing network of 68 ATMs. In addition, Euronet will install and operate ATMs in all new Millennium branches opened throughout Poland, estimated to be 250 branches by the end of the year 2001. Millennium cardholders will also have full access to their accounts on Euronet’s own nationwide network of 413 mostly off-premise ATMs in Poland.

Lech Kurklinski, CEO of Millennium BIG Bank S.A., said, “Millennium’s objective is to provide the highest level of retail banking services and customer convenience available in Poland. Outsourcing the ATM network services to Euronet is a logical step towards achieving that goal for our customers.”

“The agreement with BIG Bank makes Euronet the largest operational, on-line ATM network in Poland,” stated Daniel Henry, Chief Operating Officer of Euronet. “Becoming the network service provider for Millennium reflects Euronet’s continued growth as the leading provider of ATM network services and related software in Central Europe.”

As of March 31, 1999, Euronet was operating a total of 1,557 ATMs throughout Europe, including 534 in Hungary, 432 in Poland, 455 in Germany, 71 in Croatia, 55 in the Czech Republic, 4 in France, and 6 in the UK. Of these, 87% are operated by Euronet as part of its proprietary network, and 13% are owned by banks but operated by Euronet under outsourcing agreements.

About Millennium BIG Bank S.A.

Millennium, a retail banking network created within BIG Bank S.A., provides a wide range of modern and convenient banking services. The Bank offers its customers a 24-hour call center, a network of connected, on-line branches, multifunctional ATMs, and an integrated line of banking products. Millennium BIG Bank S.A. is a joint venture between Poland’s BIG Bank Gdanski S.A. and Banco Comercial Portugues, the largest private financial institution in Portugal. Established in October 1998, Millennium has opened 32 branches in the Warsaw area to date, and intends to open another 250 branches by the end of the year 2001.

About Euronet Services Inc.

Established in 1994, Euronet is a provider of end-to-end electronic banking solutions and transaction processing for retail banks. The Company operates an independent ATM network in Europe and owns a US-based software subsidiary, ARKSYS, specialized in electronic payment and transaction delivery systems. Together with ARKSYS, Euronet offers ATM network participation, outsourced management solutions, and comprehensive software solutions to retail banks around the world. Euronet ATMs accept transactions for a wide range of bank cards through agreements with Visa, MasterCard and Europay sponsor banks and international card issuers such as American Express and Diners Club International. The ARKSYS subsidiary has over 150 active retail banking clients in 60 countries.


IVI Finalizes DataCard Deal

IVI Checkmate Corp. announced this morning it has completed the acquisition of the assets of the Financial Systems subsidiary of DataCard Corporation of Minneapolis, Minn.

Greg Lewis, President and CEO of IVI Checkmate’s U.S. operations, stated, “The acquisition of DataCard’s Financial Systems subsidiary strengthens our strategy of drilling deeper into retail. The Financial Systems business unit brings IVI Checkmate established relationships with the leading processors in the merchant bankcard industry. This acquisition also supports our strategy of opening new markets by leveraging the Financial Systems business unit’s position in Travel & Entertainment and Petroleum.”

John Mamalakis, formerly President of DataCard’s Financial Systems subsidiary and now Vice-President and General Manager of IVI Checkmate’s Financial Systems division, stated, “Since the April 12th announcement, IVI Checkmate has made great strides in incorporating the operations of the Financial Systems subsidiary. We anticipate a smooth transition that will add immense value in product offerings and services for our customers.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers a complete line of card personalization systems, digital photo ID systems, photo ID printers and transaction systems. (www.datacard.com).

IVI Checkmate is the third largest electronic transaction solutions provider in North America. The Company designs, develops, and markets innovative payment and value-added solutions that optimize transaction management at the point-of-service in the retail, financial, travel & entertainment, healthcare, and transportation industries. IVI Checkmate’s software, hardware, and professional services minimize transaction costs, reduce operational complexity, and improve profitability for its customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. For more information on IVI Checkmate, visit their web site at [www.ivicheckmate.com][1].

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



PubliCARD, Inc. announced it has established Smartcardsource.com, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary which will introduce smartcardsource.com, a world wide web portal specifically designed to offer comprehensive smart card solutions for business customers seeking to take advantage of the many capabilities of smart card technology.

Users will be able to log on to the smartcardsource.com site, and through a series of interactive screens, “build” their desired smart card solution. smartcardsource.com will then deliver the solutions that most closely match the users’ smart card needs.

Information provided on the site is expected to include:

– a range of smart card solutions tailored to meet customer requirements

– functional and product descriptions of the proposed solutions

– supporting technical information for selected products

– case studies to support the business rationale for the use of smart card technology in business-to-business applications

– steps necessary to implement smart card technology successfully

“We plan to establish an Internet presence that serves as a virtual catalog of the smart card industry,” says Richard Phillimore, executive vice president for smart card businesses at PubliCARD. “smartcardsource.com will provide business-to-business smart card customers with necessary information to obtain their desired smart card solutions. The site will add value to this rapidly evolving industry by offering smart card customers a comprehensive source of smart card products, services and technologies.”

Smartcardsource.com, Inc. plans to build strategic alliances to provide comprehensive smart card solutions. When users enter the site, they will be guided to the products of their choice through a system of intuitive menu-driven screens.

“The launch of this dynamic site will broaden PubliCARD’s reach into the virtual world of e-commerce,” says James J. Weis, president and CEO of PubliCARD. “Our electronic footprint will complement our initiative to build our real world presence through acquisitions that enhance our smart card product and service offerings.”

Heuristic Solutions, LLC, a VA-based web information management service provider, will assist in the construction of smartcardsource.com, which is currently under development and scheduled to go live on the Internet within the next several months. The site will be available in a number of languages to expand its reach to potential customers of this global technology.

About PubliCARD, Inc.

Headquartered at Fairfield, CT, PubliCARD develops and deploys smart card systems and technology. With a presence in the U.S. and international smart card markets, PubliCARD specializes in many areas of smart card technology, including chip card manufacturing, smart card readers, electronic commerce security software, components for applications in cable and broadcast access, unattended point-of-sale equipment, chipsets, web filtering systems, a complete range of PCMCIA digital photography products and more. You can find more information at [www.publicard.com][1].

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


AAA Card – 98 Savings

Total AAA member savings through the association’s Show Your Card & Save national program reached a record $148 million in 1998.

“An enhanced discounts package with a wider variety of services and more companies fueled the program’s continued success in 1998,” said Tom Wilt, managing director, AAA Partnership Programs.

“AAA has been committed to developing relationships with suppliers that can offer members consistent, superior savings,” Wilt said.

Last year, the Show Your Card & Save program’s list of national and club- licensed local vendors grew by 27 percent, to more than 3,300. Vendor locations totaled more than 34,000 worldwide, a 31 percent increase over the previous year.

Highlights of the Show Your Card & Save program offered by AAA national partners include:

* Guaranteed satisfaction and/or guaranteed lowest rate stay at participating Hyatt, Hilton, Red Roof, La Quinta, Choice and Days Inn lodgings.

* Savings at Universal Studios Escape, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Six Flags theme parks.

* Member savings at participating international locations of Choice, Days Inn, Hilton, Hyatt; Gray Line Tours and Hard Rock Cafe, which expanded member benefits to include locations in Europe.

* No-fee American Express Traveler’s Cheques and American Express Cheques for Two in U.S. and foreign currencies.

* Discounts of up to 20 percent with Hertz car rental program.

* Development of new partnership programs with NAPA Auto Parts Stores, 1-800-SEND-FTD (floral arrangements, plants and gourmet gifts), LensCrafters, Red Roof Inns, Penske Truck Rental, Hertz Truck & Van Rental and Shurgard Storage.

Members should look for the Show Your Card & Save logo when shopping or ask if AAA members receive a discount. Members also can contact their nearest AAA office for a list of local participants.

AAA is a not-for-profit federation of 91 clubs with more than 1,100 offices providing nearly 42 million members in the United States and Canada with travel, insurance, financial and auto-related services.


TNS Doubles Too

Transaction Network Services, Inc. reported this morning that revenues for the first quarter were $38.2 million, a 111% increase over revenues of $18.1 million for the first quarter of 1998. Net income was $1.0 million compared to $1.5 million last year. POS transaction volume increased 134% to 1.4 billion compared to 599 million in the first quarter of 1998. Average daily transaction volume for the quarter was 16 million compared to 6.7 million in the same period last year. TNS’ Point-of-Services division contributed $27.6 million to revenues this quarter compared to $11.0 million in the year-ago quarter.


Equifax 1Q/99

Equifax Inc. reported Tuesday first quarter results driven by double digit revenue growth, and the strong performance of North American Information Services and Payment Services.

First quarter highlights include:

* Revenues for the quarter ending March 31, 1999, climbed 19.4% to $421.5 million compared to the prior year period.

* Operating income was $88.8 million versus $81.0 million in 1998.

* First quarter earnings per share were $.31.

Equifax president and CEO Thomas F. Chapman said, “First quarter 1999 results set the stage for a record 1999. We are pleased with the performance in Europe as well as their business outlook, with deals like the recently announced Marks and Spencer contract. Our Latin America strategy is working — the information business is performing well. We just announced the divestiture of our minority interest in Proceda, a non-core business in Brazil, on which Equifax will record a slight second quarter gain. We are encouraged by the business climate for both our processing and information businesses in Brazil. We continue to see solid financial performance from our domestic operations as well, both information services and transaction processing. Equifax Secure, the business that promotes privacy and security of Internet transactions, is positioning itself as the leading provider of authentication services. Looking forward to the rest of the year, we still expect full year earnings growth in the 17% range.”

During the quarter, the Company’s stock repurchase program remained active, with the Company purchasing 1.7 million shares of stock for $61 million. In January, the Board of Directors increased its share repurchase authorization by $250 million. Approximately $250 million remained available for repurchase as of March 31, 1999. Equifax has continued to repurchase its stock during the second quarter of 1999.

During the quarter, Equifax incurred Year 2000 readiness expenses of about $4 million after tax, or $.03 per share.


Payment Services, which operates globally through Card Services and Check Services, increased revenue 28.1% to $151.1 million in the first quarter. Card Services is the leading provider of third party full-service processing solutions to credit unions and independent banks in the U.S. The revenue increase in Payment Services was led primarily by growth in new accounts, new customers and transactions processed in domestic Card Services, as well as the September 1998 acquisition of 59% of Unnisa, a card services business in Brazil, which contributed revenue of $13.0 million for the quarter. Operating income of $28.6 million increased 48.9% primarily as a result of license sales from Card Software, continued growth of the Card Services business and strong performance of Check Services in addition to continuing expense management within this operation. Just last week, Equifax announced the extension of its card processing contract with Card Services for Credit Unions (CSCU) through 2004. This contract has estimated revenue of $500 million over the five-year period.

For the quarter, revenue in North American Information Services of $192.0 million increased 6.5% versus first quarter last year. Revenue performance benefited from growth in U.S. Information Services, with increased sales from telecommunications and utilities industries, as well as marketing services. This group had operating income of $65.7 million, increasing 6.2% versus first quarter 1998. Operating income growth in North American Information Services was in the low double digits, excluding investments in Knowledge Engineering and Equifax Secure, the business that enhances the security and privacy of Internet transactions.

Revenue in Equifax Latin America (which does not include the Company’s Payment Services operation in Brazil) was $29.9 million for the first quarter, with much of the growth from the recent acquisition of SCI in Brazil, which contributed revenue of $13.7 million. Operating income of $4.2 million in the first quarter of 1999 was comparable to last year. The overall performance of the information business in Brazil exceeded expectations in local currency as Equifax is successfully integrating and managing the operations of this new acquisition. Despite the economic volatility in Latin America, efficient expense management has helped contribute to these results.

Equifax Europe revenue was $46.1 million versus $36.7 million in first quarter 1998. This group reported a loss of $1.7 million for the quarter, a significant improvement from the loss in the fourth quarter 1998. Equifax is making substantial progress in lowering the expense base in the U.K. and expects continued improvement in the second quarter. Last month, Equifax announced its biggest ever U.K. marketing contract — a three-year project with Marks and Spencer to build a unique marketing database for that company, in alliance with Claritas.

Equifax ([www.equifax.com][1]), a worldwide leader in shaping global commerce, brings buyers and sellers together through its information management, transaction processing and knowledge-based businesses. Atlanta-based Equifax (NYSE: EFX) serves the financial services, retail, credit card, telecommunications/utilities, transportation, information technology and healthcare industries and government. Equifax adds knowledge, expertise, convenience and security to provide value-added solutions and processes for its customers wherever they do business, including the Internet and other networks. Entering its second century in business, Equifax employs more than 14,000 associates in 18 countries with sales in nearly 50 and has more than $1.6 billion in revenue.

FOR MORE 1Q/99 INFO ON EQUIFAX VISIT CARDDATA ([www.carddata.com][2])

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



SDM International, a leading provider of electronic payments (e-payments) software, to announced that IBM-Venezuela has licensed SDM’s flagship product, OCM24, to operate SUICHE 7B, a national automated teller machine (ATM) switch network in Venezuela.

IBM-Venezuela currently uses SDM’s Central Switch Network Application (CSNA) to operate SUICHE 7B, which serves 31 financial institutions. IBM has contracted with SDM to migrate the CSNA platform to OCM24, which will be modified to play the role of a switch. Work on the upgrade project began this month.

SUICHE 7B, the larger of two switches in Venezuela, supports 15 banks directly and another 16 banks indirectly (through the 15 member banks). These banks account for about 1800 ATMs serving approximately 2 million cardholders, who generate an average of 3 million transactions a month. Three transactions-withdrawal, balance inquiry, and transfer-are offered. Besides processing transactions, SUICHE 7B provides centralized settlement and reconciliation services to the member banks. Planned enhancements to the switch will support POS devices, smart cards, and Internet-based transactions.

“SDM is pleased to have this opportunity to continue our relationship with IBM-Venezuela and SUICHE 7B,” said Jim Perry, vice president and general manager of sales and marketing for SDM. “SUICHE 7B will provide an excellent demonstration of the performance and scalability of OCM24’s switching capabilities.”

OCM24 is an advanced e-payments system used by financial institutions of all types and sizes to manage proprietary and shared automatic teller machine (ATM) and point-of-sale (POS) networks. Running on the full range of IBM S/390 platforms, OCM24 provides device management, transaction control, authorization, shared networking, cardholder management, and data encryption.

SDM International has been delivering e-payments and EDI communication software solutions since 1980 and is based near Raleigh, North Carolina. The company is an IBM Business Partner and supports hundreds of product licenses worldwide. For more information on any of SDM’s software products, please contact the SDM sales and marketing department at 919-552-1100, by FAX at 919-552-6116, or via e-mail at sales@sdm-international.com. Visit our Web site at


E-Commerce Remains Strong

CyberCash says this morning that e-commerce transaction volumes increased by about 30% from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas, and have dipped by no more than 5% since that time. The firm says that Internet payment transactions processed by the company have remained at levels near those at the height of 1998 holiday shopping season. CyberCash says physical world merchants usually see a significant drop-off in business during the months following the year’s busiest shopping period. That, the company says, hasn’t happened on the Internet.


Chase Flattens

Chase Manhattan’s credit card portfolio was virtually unchanged between first quarter 1999 and first quarter 1998, however charge-offs climbed and delinquency improved. Chase reported yesterday end-of-quarter card loans of $31.4 billion, net charge-offs (as a percentage of average loans) of 6.11% and delinquency (90+ day) of 1.95%. Average credit card receivables for the first quarter stood at $32.1 billion. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) Chase’s fourth quarter receivables stood at $32.2 billion. CardData shows Chase’s net charge-offs for the fourth quarter logged in at 6.27% and 5.70% for first quarter 1998. Chase’s 90+ day delinquency dropped slightly from 2.17% for fourth quarter 1998 and 2.02% for first quarter 1998, according to CardData. Chase also reported Tuesday that noninterest credit card revenue grew 26% over the past twelve months, from $300 million to $379 million. For complete first quarter financials for Chase Manhattan visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]).

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