US West Phones

U S West has signed a 3-year sales agency agreement with Nortel Networks for Nortel Networks’ ‘Millennium’ payphone products. U S West will offer Nortel Networks’ Millennium public access solutions, which range from basic coin only phones to advanced multicard, multipay graphical payphones, and desk terminals. Nortel Networks’ ‘Millennium MultiPay’, ‘MultiCard’ terminal provides increased choices and convenience by accepting advanced payment methods, cash cards and smart cards, as well as coin, credit cards, or calling cards. There are currently more than 160,000 ‘Millennium’ payphones throughout North America.

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Online Fraud

An investigative report published this week by Wired News reveals that credit card fraud may have Web merchants and credit card companies tightening their belts on Web transaction standards. The new report finds that while many Web merchants are ill-equipped to deal with the risk of fraudulent credit card customers, it’s the Web sites selling digital goods, including downloadable software, music and subscriptions, that should be particularly cautious. Wired says for sites that sell digital goods like software, online credit card fraud accounts for nearly 30 percent of total sales and that five to six percent of a typical Net retailer’s transactions are fraudulent. Wired notes that VISA indicates online transactions account for two percent of its international business, yet those transactions account for almost 50 percent of the total number of disputed charges and frauds.

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Shazam I-Banking

Midwest ATM services provider SHAZAM signed a five-year contract with the FundsXpress Financial Network to provide its financial institutions secure, affordable and easy access to Internet banking services. The exclusive agreement will offer SHAZAM’s 1,350 financial institutions and 3.6 million debit cardholders access to convenient Internet banking services through their product, ‘BillPayer’. In addition to the banking services available through SHAZAM’s ‘BillPayer’, the FundsXpress Financial Network also provides financial institutions commercial account functions, cash management solutions, custom Web site development, and effective marketing and advertising campaigns.

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Name Change

CA-based Asset Retrieval Services Inc. announced this morning it has changed its name to that of creditgroup.com Inc. creditgroup.com Inc. provides services to lending institutions, investors and debtors by purchasing charged-off and delinquent accounts at discounted rates and then working out debtor balances. The company also offers a ‘Credit Card Issuance Program’ to credit impaired consumers.

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ATM/Debit Card Usage

ATM/debit card usage has doubled with most of the growth coming from point of sale transactions according to a consumer survey conducted by Star System Inc. and released this morning. The survey of more than 4,000 households in nine Western states revealed consumers used their ATM/debit cards, on average, 16.3 times per month in 1998 compared to 15.4 times per month in 1997. While ATM use increased just slightly, growth was more rapid in POS use which jumped from an average of 6.6 times per month in 1997 to 7.4 times per month in 1998. Interestingly, when it comes to PIN-based POS transactions compared to signature-based transactions, 61 percent of survey respondents reported preferring PIN-based transactions with the majority of these respondents reporting their preference was based on the fact that PIN-based transactions provided more security. Respondents also said convenience and faster service were two other reasons they preferred PIN-based POS transactions.

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NYC Cable Pay

New York City Time Warner Cable customers now have the option to have bills for their cable television service deducted from checking savings or credit card accounts. Time Warner Cable has contracted with Crescent Systems, L.L.C., of Oakland, Iowa, to provide the technology for the service Crescent Systems provides automatic, pay-by-phone and credit card bill payment and EDI services to utility and cable television companies.

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Credit Repair

Florida attorney Jack Schrold and the FTC reached a settlement Friday over his role in an illegal credit repair business. The case against Schrold was one of 31 filed in Mar. 1998 as part of “Operation Eraser”. Schrold agreed to pay an $11,000 fine. Schrold, who advertised nationally in various newspapers and on the Internet, charged a retainer of $99 for his services, along with $25 for each item successfully removed from personal credit files.

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Passage Services

3-G International, Inc. announced Friday the availability of ‘Passage Services’, a comprehensive menu of technical and project management services for building and implementing smart card systems. 3GI’s ‘Passage Services’ offering is structured to provide specialized, standards-based integration support and technology development for a wide spectrum of smart card system types, including branded financial payment cards supporting standard industry card operating systems and platforms and stored value systems involving open and closed purse schemes, and additional value-added applications

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SmarTalk Deal

AT&T completed the asset-only purchase of bankrupt SmarTalk Teleservices Inc. last week for $145 million or about 25% less than first expected. AT&T said that nearly all of SmarTalk’s approximately 170 employees will be offered employment. SmarTalk, a leading provider of prepaid cards and prepaid wireless services, has distribution agreements with the U.S. Postal Service and leading mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets, hotels, home office superstores and convenience stores throughout North America and the U.K.

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Italian Optical Cards

CO-based BSI2000, Inc and Italy-based Infodec Company announced this morning they have signed a contract, on an exclusive basis, to form a strategic marketing partnership to bring optical cards into the Italian markets. Infodec has also, as part of the agreement, purchased initial optical card equipment from BSI2000. BSI2000 designs and sells software/hardware products for the medical, EBT/social benefits, and drug & alcohol testing markets that substitute highly efficient and fraud-proof optical cards for older paper-based transaction systems.

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FUSA Preview Deal

Preview Travel, Inc. announced this morning a multi-year, multi-million dollar marketing agreement that includes a co-branded credit card program with First USA. The Preview Travel co-branded MasterCard will be launched online this summer. Preview Travel has more than 7 million registered members. According to the terms of the deal, Preview Travel could realize millions of dollars in revenue, of which a portion is guaranteed.

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