Amtrak Phone Card Expands

SIMS Communications, Inc. announced Tuesday that the Company’s prepaid phone card agreement with Amtrak has been expanded to include four additional train stations. Travelers can purchase custom designed Amtrak phone cards now, available from SIMS’ vending machines located in Amtrak’s Portland, OR; Eugene, OR; and Seattle, WA train stations and, later this summer, at Santa Barbara CA. The Amtrak series of collectible phone cards are available in $10 and $20 denominations.

SIMS also announced the second in a limited edition series of phone cards commemorating Amtrak trains. This latest card depicts the Amtrak Cascades trains inaugurated this month. These sleek, modern, European-style trains feature a distinctive evergreen and cappuccino color scheme and sport unique seven-foot tail fins. The Amtrak Cascades trains use pendular train technology and tilt to travel through curves and maintain speed. This results in reduced travel times while maintaining passenger comfort. Last fall Amtrak and SIMS Communications, Inc., partnered to create the first Amtrak calling card featuring The Coast Starlight.

The Cascades card currently may be purchased from vending machines at Amtrak stations located in San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Oakland, Bakersfield, Fresno, Emeryville, Anaheim, and Stockton, California; Eugene, Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington and through Amtrak’s merchandise order line at 800-400-1229.

Amtrak is the nation’s intercity passenger railroad and operates in more than 500 communities around the country.

SIMS Communications provides low cost, turnkey, transaction processing solutions to service providers and retailers. Its products include medical insurance verification, medical billing, prepaid phone card activations, customer affinity programs, financial transaction processing using credit cards and ATM/Debit cards and customized associated vertical market applications.

This release contains forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to, the impact of competitive products and pricing, product demand and market acceptance, reliance on key strategic alliances, fluctuations in operating results and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


CreditFYI on MSN

Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. and netearnings announced this week that the Microsoft* Service NetworkTM Small Business Channel ([][1]) has signed an agreement to feature CreditFYISM, the Internet service created by netearnings and Fair, Isaac. CreditFYI delivers instant business credit reports over the Internet, providing a revolutionary way for small businesses to make faster and more informed decisions about extending credit to their business customers.

According to Michael Grossman, President and CEO of netearnings, “Our presence on MSN is instrumental to increasing CreditFYI’s visibility, making the service more easily accessible to the small business market, and increasing awareness of its numerous benefits.”

Frederic de Wulf, Senior Product Planner for the MSN Small Business Channel said, “CreditFYI is an innovative solution offering visitors to the MSN Small Business Channel a practical service which enables small business owners to obtain business credit reports in real-time. It enhances MSN’s goals to help Internet users get things done on the Web.” Latimer Asch, Vice President of Commercial Markets at Fair, Isaac added, “Combining the simple, straightforward interface to CreditFYI with the vast network of MSN makes it as easy as a click-of-a-mouse for more business owners to make informed decisions about the creditworthiness of the small businesses they serve.”

Compared with traditional business credit reports, CreditFYI reports are substantially faster to obtain, easier to understand, and less expensive. Targeted to the more than 10 million small businesses in the U.S.-specifically those that extend credit to other small businesses-CreditFYI is the most statistically accurate and efficient way via the Internet to evaluate the credit risk of businesses with less than $5 million in sales.

Founded in 1996, netearnings ([][2]) is an Internet company that combines proprietary Web technology and small business expertise to offer small businesses-and the financial institutions serving them-a portfolio of online financial services. netearnings products are designed to offer small businesses what has been previously impossible: the ability to conduct financial transactions over the Internet in real-time. Fair, Isaac ([][3]) 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. Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day. For more information about CreditFYI, call Fair, Isaac at 1-800-999-2955.



NCR ATM Leader

NCR Corporation says it is now the number-one ATM vendor supplier in the United States.

While NCR has led ATM shipments for 12 consecutive years worldwide, this marks the first time that the company has outstripped its rivals in the U.S. NCR shipped 15,019 ATM units in 1998, compared with 12,851 for its nearest competitor, according to published surveys.

For NCR this represents an eight percent increase over 1997 shipments and 59 percent growth over the past two years. Shipment growth was strong in all sectors of the market, from entry-level through cash dispensers to full- function and drive-up terminals.

“NCR understands the challenges that face our customers today and offers the best solutions to solve these complex issues,” said Per-Olof Loof, senior vice president of NCR’s Financial Solutions Group. “Our comprehensive end-to- end solutions allow our customers to link all aspects of their business effectively and synergistically. This improves customer service and optimizes channel usage. Rising shipments are a clear signal that our customers understand the importance of making those connections.”

Worldwide, NCR also saw an increase in its overall volume of ATMs shipped at a time when its competitors were experiencing declines. NCR global shipments were up 10 percent from 1997, with 46,509 units shipped. The increase came in spite of industry fears that Y2K issues and corporate mergers would negatively affect ATM sales.

Specific NCR solutions that have made NCR number-one in ATM shipments in the U.S. include:

* Managed Solutions for Self Service (MSSS), a comprehensive portfolio of services that provides total care and management of the self-service terminal environment.

* NCR’s leadership in Web-enabled ATMs, Biometrics, Personal Cash Accept and Intelligent Security Solutions.

* NCR’s new portfolio of drive-up terminals, which offers the greatest functionality in its class.

* Popular new entry-level ATMs such as the MCD Cash Dispenser and the personaS 70 lite.

About NCR Corporation

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is in the business of transforming transactions into relationships. NCR is a recognized world leader in data warehousing solutions, ATMs, point-of-sale, high performance scanners, and support services for retail, financial, and national accounts markets. NCR’s business solutions are built on the foundation of the company’s long- established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, global customer support services, a complete line of consumable and media products, and world-leading hardware technology. Financial Solutions Group (FSG) of NCR delivers products and services to banks and financial institutions including self-service solutions, customer management solutions, channel deliver solutions and payment solutions. It also operates The Knowledge Lab, a unique collaborative environment where NCR, leading banks, and academic institutions partner to develop ideas that will transform financial transactions in the future. More information about NCR and its products may be found on the World Wide Web at [][1].




To enable payment in the new world of e-services, Hewlett-Packard Company’s VeriFone division Tuesday is delivering the first in a series of software applications in its new Integrated Payment Solution technology framework.

Using Internet technologies, this framework and its applications give retailers and financial institutions a common, modular platform that enables the processing of electronic payment from the physical point of sale or the Internet, bridging traditional payments with Internet payments.

Designed to take advantage of new technologies, the IPS framework provides the flexibility of creating any number of payment solutions including secure Internet payment, credit and debit authorization, and settlement and reconciliation. IPS core technology acts as a conduit to enable the seamless exchange of information between payment applications and ensures that new payment applications can be easily plugged into the existing framework.

With the emergence of new forms of payment and value transfer, such as electronic gift cards, electronic benefits transfer, loyalty, and Internet commerce, the ease of adding new applications is critical. Nobel Electronic Transfer, based in Moline, Ill., is a provider of authorization and settlement services to both card issuing and acquiring banks throughout the United States.

Nobel is deploying IPS applications to process authorization requests for credit and debit payment transactions, and is using the IPS technology framework to quickly develop new transaction processing services.

“IPS gives us the best of both worlds,” said Todd Davis, president of Nobel Electronic Transfer, IPS customer. “We needed a solution that is designed to meet Nobel’s customers’ needs today, yet a system flexible for the needs of tomorrow. IPS helps us compete today and far into the next century.”

“The changing face of payment at the point of sale and the explosion of Internet commerce have presented new challenges and opportunities for retailers and payment processors,” explained Betty Kolanczyk, director, VeriFone Retail/Financial Processing Markets.

“To succeed in this age of rapidly changing technology, organizations need to develop and implement new payment services quickly and economically, and stay ahead of the technology curve — without abandoning substantial investments in current computing equipment. IPS applications are designed to enable rapid change for a changing marketplace.”

Retailers can use IPS to centralize payment processing, or add new payment services. IPS can also facilitate one-to-one marketing by capturing data at the point of sale to merge with other business-wide databases. The IPS framework and applications function seamlessly together to provide intelligent acquisition, formatting and routing of transaction data to bankcard and other electronic funds transfer (EFT) networks.

The flexible architecture also allows retailers and payment processors to keep transaction costs down and simplify integration with a user’s existing computer infrastructure.

The IPS framework utilizes the power of new Internet protocols and technologies such as Extensible Markup Language (XML). VeriFone created a Payment Transaction Markup Language (PTML), which allows businesses the flexibility to quickly and affordably test-market new customer programs such as loyalty programs or multi-sequence card transactions.

Also, a Web-browser-based user interface using HTML and Java(TM) gives users a familiar interface for administration and configuration of IPS applications.

IPS utilizes an open HP-UX computing platform and flexible software architecture based on a set of core technologies. Applications interact easily, working together with third party-developed applications. This consistent, integrated framework allows new market-driven payment applications to be developed and deployed quickly and cost-effectively.

The software is modular and can be easily changed so that as business processes change, the IPS framework allows customers to update and modify functions. IPS allows businesses to centralize IT functions, and obtain control and management of key customer data.

About VeriFone

VeriFone ([][1]) is a division of Hewlett-Packard Company and the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than seven million payment systems used in over 100 countries.

About HP

Hewlett-Packard Company is a leading global provider of computing, Internet and intranet solutions, services, communications products and measurement solutions, all of which are recognized for excellence in quality and support. HP has 122,800 employees and had revenue of $47.1 billion in its 1998 fiscal year.

Information about HP, its products and the company’s Year 2000 program can be found on the World Wide Web at .



IFS Drives OFX

Innovision Corporation, the technology leader in open financial standards based on extensible markup language (XML), Tuesday announced Mellon Bank Corporation will use Innovision Financial Server to drive its new open financial exchange (OFX) retail banking services.

“Adding OFX capabilities to our MellonDirect24 PC Banking service raises the level of online account management services we offer our customers, ” said James Morrill, senior vice president and head of direct banking at Mellon Bank. “This is an important step toward enhancing our commitment to PC-based personal financial management (PFM) products, making them more cost effective, convenient and easy for our customers.”

Mellon customers will have the ability to access their bank and bill payment information using Quicken and Microsoft Money PFM applications that connect directly with Mellon’s internal systems via Innovision Financial Server. Acting as a messaging interchange engine, Innovision Financial Server sends, receives and manages OFX-formatted data.

Innovision Financial Server is a component of Innovision XP (XML Protocol) Series. The product is the financial industry’s most widely deployed OFX server.

About OFX

Since its 1997 introduction, OFX has been the industry-accepted communication and application standard for financial transactions and services. The specification supports a wide range of financial activities including consumer and small business banking; consumer and small business bill presentment and payment; and investments, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

About Mellon Bank Corporation

A broad-based financial services company with a bank at its core, Mellon Bank Corporation ranks among the nation’s largest financial services companies in market capitalization. With approximately $2.3 trillion in assets under management, administration or custody, including approximately $390 billion under management, Mellon provides a full range of banking, investment and trust products and services to individuals and small, midsize and large businesses and institutions. Its mutual fund companies, The Dreyfus Corporation and Founders Asset Management, place Mellon as the leading bank manager of mutual funds. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Mellon’s principal subsidiary is Mellon Bank, N.A.

About Innovision

Innovision Corporation is one of the most trusted suppliers of complementing server, client and toolkit components that leverage XML Protocols to enable easier communication over today’s open networks. The company is recognized as a pioneer in the development and application of leading OFX and FIXML messaging interchange engines and related technologies that are the backbone of online services at leading financial services companies. This practical experience has resulted in leadership positions within prominent financial industry standards groups such as the OFX Technical Committee and the FIX Protocol Organization’s XML Standards Working Group.


Phonecard POS

Utilization of a credit card terminal to activate prepaid phonecards became a reality yesterday. Mellon Network Services and US South Communications signed agreements Monday that will enable retailers nationwide to activate prepaid phonecards at the point of sale using their existing credit card terminals. MNS will maintain an online link with US South that allows the cards to be activated immediately. Retailers simply swipe a phonecard and enter the desired value into their existing credit card terminal. Activation services will be offered to US South Communications retail distributors, as well as prepaid telephone company clients. The service includes an automated billing process, reporting via Web access and automated inventory replenishment.


Diners Phonecard

OR-based Carrier Services, Inc and Diners Club International have teamed up to offer the ‘Diners Club Global Phone Card’ . A major direct mail campaign to Diners cardholders is now underway. The direct mail package contains a $50 prepaid phone card that offers Diners Club cardholders 200 minutes of AT&T long distance with a bonus of 1000 ‘Club Rewards’ points with every activation or recharge. Cardholders instantly activate their phonecard by calling an 800 number. CSI operates under the brand names of 1-800-PRE-PAID and 1-888-PRE-PAID.


VISA E-Purchasing Card

VISA announced Monday a joint solution with Germany-based SAP AG to combine the ‘VISA Purchasing Card’ with SAP’s Web-enabled electronic commerce solution. The ‘SAP Business to Business Procurement’ will offer SAP and VISA customers a comprehensive view of the entire procurement process by integrating purchasing data across the corporation. The interface between VISA and SAP BBP also automates the balancing and distribution of purchasing card statements and eliminates time-intensive reconciliation. VISA also announced yesterday it will offer an ‘Implementation Guide’ to show companies how they can integrate the ‘VISA Purchasing Card’ with their “Enterprise Resource Planning” systems.


Zebeck Heads MC US Board

Metris Companies Inc., one of the nation’s fastest-growing direct marketing companies, announced that company President and CEO Ronald N. Zebeck has been elected chairman of MasterCard International’s U.S. Board of Directors.

Zebeck is a recognized leader in the credit card and financial services industries. He has also been reelected as a member of MasterCard’s Global Board of Directors.

“I am honored to be elected to this role and during the next year will work to ensure MasterCard’s leadership in today’s rapidly changing environment and strengthen what is already an exceptional management team and powerful brand,” said Zebeck. “I’m also grateful for the recognition this achievement provides for everyone at Metris. I could not have accomplished all that I have without the talents and dedication of everyone at Metris.”

“Ron has been a strong supporter of MasterCard and involved in our corporate governance over the past several years,” said Alan Heuer, senior executive vice president of MasterCard. “We are delighted to have the benefit of his expertise and leadership, and look forward to working with him.”

Zebeck will help direct the activities of the U.S. Board for the next year. Over the past decade, Zebeck has held many key leadership positions in MasterCard’s corporate governance.

Over the last five years, Zebeck has led Metris to become the nation’s 13th largest issuer of credit cards; under his leadership, Metris has also become one of the nation’s top 5 providers of fee-based services.

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. More than 700 million MasterCard(R), Maestro(R), Cirrus(R) and Mondex(TM) cards are accepted at more than 16.2 million locations worldwide. In 1998, gross dollar volume exceeded $650 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [][1].

Metris Companies Inc. is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products and fee-based services primarily to moderate income consumers. Based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Metris also has operations in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Baltimore, Maryland; Champaign, Illinois, Phoenix, Arizona and Jacksonville, Florida and currently employs over 2,000 people.




AT&T and Simon Brand Ventures have established an exclusive program that enables AT&T residential customers to redeem their monthly long distance service, calling card and local toll charges in exchange for ‘MALLPeRKS’ shopper loyalty points. ‘MALLPeRKS’, with two million members, is the only national mall-based shopper loyalty program. Anyone who switches to AT&T at a Simon mall will receive 60 free minutes of domestic direct-dialed long distance calling from home and 150 ‘MALLPeRKS’ points. Simon’s malls attract 100 million shoppers annually.


800 Travel Prefers MC

MasterCard International Incorporated Monday announced it has signed an agreement with 800 Travel Systems, Inc. to become the preferred method of payment for the company’s popular telephone travel services “800-LOW-AIR-FARE” and “800-FLY-4-LESS”, as well as its online reservation system Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

As the preferred payment brand, MasterCard, in conjunction with 800 Travel Systems, Inc., will develop an exclusive offer for MasterCard cardholders who book their travel plans through 800 Travel Systems’ telephone and Internet services. Additionally, future plans call for a consumer sweepstakes involving MasterCard cardholders who visit 800 Travel Systems’ website.

“Our alliance with 800 Travel Systems further strengthens our position in the travel and entertainment category, by delivering exclusive travel values to our cardholders,” said, Fred Gore, Senior Vice President, U.S. Acceptance, MasterCard International. “By providing cardholders with value, savings and convenience, we are also enabling our members to capture more of this lucrative segment.”

“This promotional partnership will provide special opportunities for MasterCard cardholders,” said Mark Mastrini, President, 800 Travel Systems, Inc. “Through our toll-free numbers as well as our state of the art interactive website and now our relationship with MasterCard, our clients will continue to experience the benefits of our exceptional customer service as well as our discounted rates on a full range of travel services.”

Today, only a small percentage of the world’s T&E spending is settled by card payment. More than $2 trillion still is paid with cash or checks. MasterCard’s T&E growth strategy includes a number of components that will further the association’s goal of displacing cash and checks. From pioneering work with smart cards to promoting travel on the Internet, all of MasterCard’s T&E initiatives are geared toward showing consumers the benefits of traveling with payment cards.

One of the greatest benefits MasterCard cardholders enjoy while traveling is unsurpassed acceptance at more than 16.2 million merchant, ATM and cash access locations. Consumers also can feel secure knowing that MasterCard’s Global Service program provides cardholders with travel assistance anytime, anywhere and in any language. Services range from card replacement to legal and medical assistance, 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

About MasterCard International

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 .

About 800 Travel Systems 800 Travel Systems, one of the 100 largest independent travel agencies in the United States, provides low-priced airline tickets for domestic and international travel through its easy to remember telephone numbers “800-LOW-AIR-FARE” (800-569-2473) and “800-FLY-4-LESS” (800-359-4537) in addition to its online reservation system located at . 800 Travel Systems specializes in providing the lowest-priced airfare for both domestic and international flights, complete vacation and cruise packages, competitive rates on rental cars and discount hotel reservations via the telephone and internet.


MBNA Completes PNC Deal

BNA America Bank, N.A. announced today that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of the credit card business of PNC Bank Corp., including PNC National Bank.

The acquisition, announced in December 1998, will be included in financial statements for the first quarter of 1999. As with all acquisitions, the $2.7 billion credit card portfolio will be managed from existing MBNA locations.

MBNA Corporation, a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America Bank, N.A., a national bank, had $59.6 billion in managed loans at year-end 1998. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products.