MC SET

MasterCard International announced plans yesterday to issue more than 10,000 MasterCard ‘SET Digital Certificates’ by end of this year in Malaysia. MasterCard Malaysia says the certificates will be issued through the Hong Leong Bank. According to Bernama, The Malaysian National News Agency, yesterday’s announcement by MasterCard coincided with the launch of the ‘MEPS Secure Electronic Transaction’ payment gateway in Malaysia yesterday.

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Biggest T&E?

VISA has surpassed American Express and MasterCard in card volume produced by international travelers purchasing core international travel and entertainment products and services worldwide. The findings are part of a new WEFA study which indicates that in 1997, travelers used their VISA cards to purchase more than $120 billion in core T&E products and services worldwide, representing over 38% of total T&E purchases for payment cards and a 7% edge over VISA’s closest competitor in the category, American Express (31%). WEFA’s report maintains that worldwide spending on core T&E segments totaled $680 billion in 1997.

GLOBAL T&E CARD VOLUME

T&E CATEGORY VISA AMEX MC

Lodging Expenditures 38.5% 29.0% 22.0%

Cruise Sales 46.0% 25.0% 22.0%

Air Travel Sales 39.0% 34.0% 18.0%

Auto Rental Sales 37.0% 35.0% 19.0%

Source: WEFA

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FTC Releases Collections Report

In its 21st Annual Report to Congress about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Federal Trade Commission observed that debt collection continued to be a principal subject of the many consumer complaints received by the agency in 1998. This law, which was passed in 1977, is one of several credit laws enforced by the Commission, and is specifically intended to prevent abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices in the marketplace.

According to the Commission’s report, “Such practices have been known to cause various forms of consumer injury, including emotional distress, invasions of privacy, payment of amounts that are not owed, and can severely hamper consumers’ ability to function effectively at work.” The report notes that while the agency has primary enforcement responsibility, it works with other federal agencies to enforce the Act and educate consumers. In addition to identifying practices that cause consumer concern, the report also highlighted the Commission’s enforcement and consumer education efforts. Further, the report contains four recommendations for changes to the FDCPA that the Commission believes will improve the statute’s clarity and its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool.

The Commission vote to approve the report was 3-0, with Commissioner Orson Swindle not participating due to illness.

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Losses Abating?

Bank credit card chargeoffs continued to decline for the sixth consecutive month according to statistics released this morning by CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). Chargeoffs for February logged-in at 5.37% of outstandings compared to 5.46% for January. CardData also reports that delinquency dipped under 5.00% for the first time in 26 months. For February, the 30+ day delinquency rate, as a percentage of outstandings, stood at 4.96%, becoming the fourth straight month of decline. CardData tracks performance on $466.8 billion of bank credit card outstandings. Meanwhile Moody’s and Fitch IBCA both report chargeoffs and delinquency are edging down among card-backed securities. The ABA also released fourth quarter data yesterday showing 30+ day delinquency, as a percentage of outstandings, declined to 4.62%.

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

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E-Commerce Services Organization

VeriFone, a division of Hewlett-Packard Company and the global leader in electronic payment solutions, Wednesday announced the formation of a comprehensive, worldwide services organization to help businesses work through the complexities of deploying new e-payment offerings.

This team of specialists provides expertise in Internet payment, payment processing, and smart-card services platforms to some of the world’s leading banks and processors, telecoms, retailers and ISPs. This new organization supports HP’s e-services vision.

“The expansion of electronic payment has resulted in two major shifts: Businesses must now have capabilities in enterprise platforms, and they must be in even closer touch with the different requirements of each region,” said Jan-Erik Rottinghuis, vice president and general manager of Worldwide Sales at VeriFone. “Lots of companies are delivering products, but few are truly capable of providing the expertise to help turn these products into functional services. This is a major differentiator for VeriFone.”

The new VeriFone E-Commerce Services Group includes a Technical Support Organization (TSO), Professional Services Organization (PSO), and Customer Support Organization (CSO). Together, the groups provide services ranging from needs analysis and product evaluation, to solution design and implementation, as well as ongoing support and management. The group also has the leverage of HP’s massive services organization of approximately 27,000 professionals worldwide, with extensive experience in enterprise computing.

“New payment applications and the emergence of the Internet have created both great opportunities and incredible challenges, and require the rapid adoption of new enterprise computing technology. It is difficult for businesses to keep up the internal expertise to effectively deploy and manage new e-commerce platforms,” said Tom Kilcoyne, vice president and general manager of VeriFone’s Electronic Commerce Software Division. “Very few organizations in the world have the diverse experience and global resources of VeriFone’s and HP’s service organizations.”

About VeriFone

VeriFone, a division of Hewlett-Packard Company, is the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than 7 million electronic-payment systems, which are used in more than 100 countries.

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Spyrus Buys BlueMoney

SPYRUS, a leading provider of network security development tools, today announced the acquisition of BlueMoney Software Corporation. BlueMoney introduced the world’s first server-side wallet in 1997 and has a patent pending for this invention. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“SPYRUS’ acquisition of BlueMoney shows its continued commitment to e-commerce, and to providing a broad range of digital content security and payment tools for network application developers and integrators,” said SPYRUS CEO Sue Pontius. SPYRUS also provides development tools for SSL implementations, which has become the de facto Internet security protocol. The company offers thin versions of SSL, optimized for imbedded systems such as TV set top boxes, and has been a leader in implementing the SET transaction protocol championed by Visa and MasterCard.

BlueMoney provides everything needed for Internet merchants and ISP’s who want secure credit card processing out of the box. The complete e-commerce payment solution includes the TITANIUM(TM) Commerce Server and an Internet Gateway for processing credit card transactions securely. The consumer payment is made with the server-side BlueMoney Wallet, which gives the consumer a convenient way to pay multiple merchants without re-entering personal information and credit card numbers for each transaction.

BlueMoney CEO John Sweet looks forward to the new relationship with SPYRUS citing the synergistic mix of tools for business. “The fusion of SPYRUS’ secure enterprise solutions and BlueMoney’s ‘server-side’ innovations, will create a new generation of products and solutions for business-to-business e-commerce.”

BlueMoney Software Corp. is a privately held venture specializing in software for secure Internet transactions. The company was founded in May 1996 by John Sweet, Chairman and CEO; Jeremy Barrett, Chief Technology Officer; and Ben Kavanaugh, Vice President of Engineering.

Sweet remains with SPYRUS as its Director of E-Commerce and Corporate Marketing. Barrett and Kavanaugh also remain with SPYRUS as senior research engineers.

About SPYRUS

SPYRUS is a leading provider of network security solutions to protect valued digital property for enterprises and governments. The company was named as the fourth fastest-growing technology company in the latest Deloitte & Touche Silicon Valley Fast 50. The SPYRUS Integrated Enterprise Security (IES) solution framework includes Certification Authority (CA) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) systems; high-assurance security tokens, available as smart cards and PCMCIA cards; and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) channel security, SET, SPEX smart card, and Secure HTTP (S-HTTP) document security development tools. For more information about SPYRUS, visit the Web site at [www.spyrus.com][1].

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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

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Final Four Goes Wireless

Fans at this year’s Final Four will be able to use their credit cards to buy official memorabilia quickly and easily at numbers of “unwired” locations, thanks to wireless capabilities provided by Paynet Transaction Services and BellSouth Wireless Data.

Paynet Transactions, a leader in credit card processing for special events, and BellSouth Wireless Data, an expert in providing wireless data solutions, are providing wireless credit card point-of-sale (POS) terminals and service for use at the souvenir shops inside Tampa’s Tropicana Stadium, in the stadium parking lot and at area host hotels during the NCAA Basketball finals March 27 and 29, 1999.

The wireless POS terminals from Paynet and BellSouth Wireless Data enable souvenir vendors to have triple the amount of credit card terminals in Tropicana Stadium, making it quick and easy for fans to buy official merchandise…wherever they are in the stadium complex.

For fans that prefer the convenience of purchasing souvenir items right at their hotel, Paynet and BellSouth Wireless Data will temporarily furnish lobby souvenir shops of Tampa area host hotels with wireless credit card terminals. As most hotels do not have the resources available to accommodate multiple credit card terminals, Paynet and BellSouth Wireless Data provide the ideal portable, wireless solution because additional standard dial-up phone lines would be very expensive to add for a weekend event.

Each Paynet terminal is equipped with a wireless modem, allowing for rapid transaction transmission over the nationwide BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network(sm) from BellSouth Wireless Data. Once a credit card is swiped, the terminals wirelessly transmit the data to Global Payment Systems, the front-end processor, via the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network, where it receives authorization and is securely broadcast back to the terminal. This process usually takes less than 10 seconds. Using standard dial up phone lines, this process would take longer.

The BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network is ideal for conducting wireless credit card transactions because of features such as seamless, nationwide coverage by a single carrier, low latency, high reliability and guaranteed confirmation of transactions.

“Wireless credit card terminals are another example of how wireless solutions are moving into the mainstream bringing real-life benefits to vendors and customers alike,” said Lew Blumstein, BellSouth Wireless Data’s, vice president, industry marketing. “Be it the Final Four, the Super Bowl, or a major concert event, the wireless solution from BellSouth Wireless Data and Paynet will provide convenience to fans and increased sales to merchants.”

“Fans attending `once in a lifetime’ events like the Final Four tend to purchase expensive commemorative items such as sweaters or jackets with credit cards,” said Al Chan, vice president, for Paynet Transaction Services. “With the wireless transaction solution from Paynet and BellSouth Wireless Data, vendors at the tournament and area host hotels can quickly and cost effectively bring credit card convenience to fans”.

About Paynet Transaction Services

Paynet Transaction Services, Concord, California provides credit card processing for all types of merchant accounts. The company is one of the few credit card processors to maintain a special events department which does short term rental of credit card terminal, cash registers and radio frequency wireless modems which interface with the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Network from BellSouth Wireless Data. Special events clients include the Rolling Stones tour, the US Open Tennis Championships, the New England Patriots (VUI), the Donna Karan Warehouse Sales, the George Strait tour, Sony Signatures, and many others for whom credit card acceptance at a temporary venue means convenience to fans and customers and increased sales to the merchant. E-mail: info@paynettrans.com

About BellSouth Wireless Data

BellSouth Wireless Data, L.P., headquartered in Woodbridge, N.J., is an expert in providing proven wireless data communications solutions that eliminate the barriers between critical information and mobile users. The company, a winner of the prestigious Sears Innovation Source of the Year and Partners in Progress awards for 1997, delivers a competitive advantage and increases personal productivity for aggressive, innovative companies and individuals leveraging communications technologies to meet their strategic goals. BellSouth Wireless Data operates its wireless data service throughout the United States, covering more than 93 percent of the urban business population located in 266 metropolitan areas with a total population of 200 million people.

BellSouth Wireless Data is a subsidiary of BellSouth Corporation, which provides telecommunications, wireless communications, cable and digital TV, directory advertising and publishing, and Internet and data services to nearly 33 million customers in 19 countries worldwide. E-mail: bellsouthwd.info@bellsouthwd.com. Web site address: [www.bellsouthwd.com][1].

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

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ATC Promotes Crum

Air Travel Card announced today the appointment of Richard Crum as managing director. Crum, who previously served as Senior Director of Operations and Services for ATC, and most recently as Interim Managing Director began his new post as Managing Director on March 15th.

“Richard has done an outstanding job as Director of Operations and I have no doubt that he is the right person to lead our organization into the new millenium,” said John Reece, Chairman of the Air Travel Card, Board of Management. “Richard has been a great asset to Air Travel Card. As Managing Director, we expect that he will continue to focus on development of the Air Travel Card program to strengthen its position as a leading global corporate payment system.”

Some of Crum’s noted accomplishments while at Air Travel Card include:

Served as first Secretariat of the ATA Electronic Marketplace Committee; Developed strategic plan for re-energizing the Air Travel Card program in 1997; and Received Board approval in February 1999 for the development of the Air Travel Card Acquirer Network (ATCAN) – a system that, once implemented later this year, will greatly improve the processing of Air Travel Card sales globally.

In his new position, Crum is responsible for the overall strategic direction of Air Travel Card operations, product development, marketing, member relations, and subscriber services.

Richard joined Air Travel Card in 1996 after working at the Air Transport Association of America (ATA).

Air Travel Card is the business travel payment system offered by 28 airlines and accepted by more than 200 air carriers around the world. As a part of its global network, Air Travel Card owns and licenses the brands AirPlus¤ (Europe) and PassAge¢ (Asia) that provide value-added benefits to travelers.

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AmEx Canadian Biz Survey

Despite the stress of sixty-hour work weeks and constant financial pressures, Canada’s small business owners still say running your own show is the way to go.

For them, the excitement and personal fulfillment of entrepreneurship far outweigh the many sacrifices they have to make to achieve their dreams. These are the conclusions of a new study conducted by American Express in which small business owners profess they have no regrets about going it alone.

While many decide to set out on their own with visions of striking it rich, the results show most entrepreneurs place a higher premium on independence when it comes to the motivation for starting up their own firm. Above all, they want to be their own boss and call the shots when it comes to the direction their professional and personal lives take.

“Many people are clearly choosing to go it alone as an escape from the politics and frustrations of big business. They are looking to pave their own path, rather than leaving it in the hands of someone who has little stake in their future,” states Debra Ambrose, head of Small Business Services at American Express.

But Amex’s study suggests that going it alone is not for the faint-hearted. It paints a picture of high-pressure and commitment; of a lifestyle where work is the dominant factor, and where even leisure activities tend to become business-related.

What do they give up?

——————— There’s no question that running a business demands an enormous degree of dedication. Still, many entrepreneurs are caught off guard by the level of effort and sacrifices that are required to get a business off the ground and keep it afloat. Only a tiny handful of those polled said managing their operation ended up being easier than expected. In fact, more than half indicated that it was more work than they bargained for, with nearly 80 percent admitting that running their business is stressful.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the issues that cause small business owners the most headaches are administration, financing, government compliance and taxes.

Added to this is a level of financial uncertainty that self-employed individuals regularly contend with. In the Amex study, several respondents confessed that they miss the stability of a steady pay cheque and worry about their future financial security.

On top of these business concerns, the study found that entrepreneurs must struggle with the impact running a business has on their personal lives. Fully half of those polled felt that their work demands too much of their time since they are obligated to be personally involved in everything that impacts their operation. Many also worry about the amount of quality time they are able to spend with their family.

So what keeps them going?

————————- True to the spirit of entrepreneurship, business owners have a strong will to succeed and rely on their own passion to stay motivated in spite of the daily pressures. In sync with their original motives for going it alone, the survey shows that the vast majority of entrepreneurs continue to be driven primarily by the satisfaction of being independent.

For many, it’s also the pure enjoyment of their work, and the ambition of a financially-rewarding future that keep them pushing ahead. Others turn to their friends and family for encouragement, with several respondents – particularly those with a number of years invested in their business – citing a strong commitment to their employees and customers as their inspiration to keep going.

“Entrepreneurs are the epitome of dedication and commitment. They have a genuine passion for their work, a loyalty to their business and their staff, as well as a strong drive to build something of their own,” says Ambrose. “It is clear that, for them, it’s not just winning that counts, it’s the thrill of the game.”

But is it all work and no play?

——————————- A nine-to-five day at the office is a rarity for most small business owners. In fact, the majority put in more than 50 hours of work per week, with almost 30 percent clocking over 60 hours. Yet, few consider themselves “workaholics” – evidence of just how much of a driving force work is in their lives. In fact, one-third of those polled admit they don’t indulge in leisure activities, citing that they simply don’t have enough time to spare for anything that’s not work-related.

On the whole, though, leading a balanced life is important for business owners, with most trying to squeeze in time for play whenever possible. However, since time is at such a premium, some end up combining their leisure activities with business opportunities. A round of golf, going to a ball game, or going out to dinner are often used as a means of building relationships with business contacts.

Would they do it again?

———————– Nearly 75 percent of those polled feel well-rewarded for their hard work, with three in five saying they enjoy a better quality of life since starting up their business. In fact, the vast majority of business owners would do it all over again if given a second opportunity. Over 90 percent of respondents said they are generally happy with the way things have worked out since venturing out on their own.

Small business owners are also remarkably buoyant about the future, with four in five intending to continue working at the same frenetic pace or even harder to expand their businesses. Very few of those polled said they want to slow down and relax more, and even less are thinking about packing it in to retire early. These findings are supported by a recent CFIB study which showed that the number of small firms expecting to grow in 1999 outnumbered those that see a decline by a margin of three to one.

“The small business sector is a vibrant and integral part of our country’s economic future. Owners of these firms deserve a lot more credit and recognition,” says Ambrose, adding that the “Risks and Rewards” study is part of Amex’s increasing attention to the needs of this thriving market. The study follows the charge and credit card company’s October 1998 announcement that it would be putting significant resources behind the development and marketing of new products and services to expand its customer base among the more than two million small and home-based businesses in Canada.

Ambrose continues, “Along with practical financial support, Amex will focus on developing special travel and rewards programs for small businesses — helping to create opportunities for entrepreneurs to make the most of their limited leisure time.”

As part of that effort, the company has signed on as a Sponsor in the newly expanded AIR MILES for Business Program(TM) launched today by The Loyalty Group in Toronto. The program rewards small business owners for their everyday business spending in addition to their personal spending. On top of that, AIR MILES(R) Business Collectors are eligible for exclusive Business Sponsor bonus mile offers and unique rewards tailored to meet the needs of small business owners. Other Sponsors in the program include AT&T Canada, UPS, NEBS Business Forms, Holiday Inn and Liberty Health.

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Canada Inc. and Amex Bank of Canada. Amex Canada Inc. is a leading provider of travel related services in Canada and assists companies in managing and controlling their business and travel expenses. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express Cards in Canada. Both companies are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the New York-based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of American Express Company, which provides a wide range of financial and travel related services for consumers and companies.

THE RISKS & REWARDS OF GOING IT ALONE

An American Express Survey of Small Business Owners in Canada

Key Facts & Findings

————————————————————————- – 93% of small business owners are generally happy with the way things have turned out since going into business for themselves. The remainder admit they wouldn’t do it again.

– The top three reasons for going it alone are: being your own boss and having control over decisions (89%), making better use of your skills and knowledge (86%), followed by the potential for financial rewards (70%).

– While men are more likely than women to be motivated by the chance of making money (66% vs. 51%), women are more inclined to do a job that fits well with their home and family life (74% vs. 57% of men).

– It’s the same satisfaction of being independent (65%) and the ambition of a prosperous future (23%) that keep small business owners motivated in spite of the daily pressures. Nearly 30% also cite the pure enjoyment of their work as a significant driver to keep going.

– Seven in ten feel well-rewarded for their hard work.

– Almost 60% say they enjoy a better quality of life since starting up their business.

– Over 75% of small business owners find running their business stressful.

– More than half say the effort they’ve had to put into their business is more than they bargained for. A mere 3% feel that going it alone ended up being easier than expected.

– 60% of small business owners put in more than 50 hours of work per week, with one-quarter of these clocking over 60 hours. Only 13% put in a regular 40-hour week or less.

– 50% feel that their business demands too much of their time. As a consequence, nearly two in five say the amount of quality time they are able to spend with their family has suffered.

– Less than one-third (30%) of small business owners describe themselves as “workaholics”.

– One-third admit they don’t indulge in leisure activities. Of these, the majority (67%) cite that they simply don’t have enough time to spare for anything that’s not work-related.

– Of the 70% who do squeeze in time for leisure activities, most (50%) prefer to spend it on the golf course or taking part in other sports. Other favourite pastimes include travel (47%), hobbies (35%), going out to dinner (29%), and spending a night at the movies (16%).

– One-third (36%) find it difficult to relax in their time off.

– More than 40% plan to expand their enterprise through diversification or by growing staff and sales. Only 14% want to slow down and take things easy for a while.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 305 American Express Small Business customers throughout Canada in February 1999. The majority had been in business for more than five years, and covered a broad range of industries, including retailing, manufacturing, business services, and agriculture. On selected key issues, responses were combined with the results of a similar Members’ survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), thereby increasing the sample size in these cases to 636. The questions that apply are: Hours worked per week, Amount of effort put into business, Key motivators for becoming self-employed, Agreement with challenges and rewards of self-employment.

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Oberthur Plant

Oberthur Smart Cards Oberthur has made a heavy investment in the future of smart card technology in North America by building the largest card manufacturing facility on the continent. The new 106,000 square foot plant, which is officially inaugurated yesterday in Los Angeles, will enable the annual production of more than 200 million cards. Many smart card firms have retreated and restructured since the USA market has proven to be difficult to penetrate. Oberthur believes smart card opportunities in North America will abound as the security needs of the financial, government, and telecommunications communities move toward a greater reliance on e-commerce and the Web.

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Digital Insight Names CFO

Digital Insight Corporation announced Wednesday that Kevin McDonnell has been named Chief Financial Officer. According to John Dorman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Insight, Mr. McDonnell will be responsible for managing the company’s accounting, human resources and business development functions.

Digital Insight, among the world’s largest providers of real-time, Internet-based transaction services for financial institutions, is now serving more than 320,000 active home banking end-users – up from 91,000 in January 1998. “As we continue to execute successfully on our careful plans for sustained growth, Kevin will play a pivotal role,” said Dorman. “His expertise in managing high-growth companies and in leading companies through their initial public offering phase will be indispensable as we move forward.”

McDonnell has a broad range of experience with both private and public companies. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Rockford Industries, a publicly traded leasing company which was sold to American Express in February of this year.

Prior to joining Rockford Industries, McDonnell was the Chief Financial Officer for Printrak International, a publicly traded multinational computer company specializing in automated fingerprint identification. McDonnell was responsible for Printrak’s initial public offering in 1996 and completed several acquisitions during his tenure there.

Prior to this, McDonnell was the Chief Financial Officer for Mobile Technology, Inc. which was a nationwide medical services firm. At Mobile Technology, Inc., McDonnell was part of a turnaround team and was responsible for restructuring over $190 million in debt and streamlining operations to meet a changing business environment for mobile MRI services.

McDonnell also held several high level financial positions with Teradata Corporation from 1985 until 1992 when the company was sold to AT&T. Teradata was one of the leading providers of massively parallel data warehousing solutions to Fortune 500 companies and leading financial institutions. McDonnell was involved in Teradata’s initial public offering in 1987 as Assistant Treasurer and served as the company’s Corporate Controller from 1989 to 1992 where he was responsible for world-wide accounting, reporting, planning and financial systems.

“Digital Insight offers a seasoned and knowledgeable management team and tremendous prospects for continued triple-digit growth-all within the context of an exciting and important technology segment,” said McDonnell. “I sincerely look forward to applying my experience in managing high-growth companies here at Digital Insight.”

About Digital Insight

Founded in 1995, Digital Insight is among the world’s largest providers of real-time, Internet-based transaction services for financial institutions.

The company develops and hosts Internet applications for more than 260 live financial institutions in the United States, and currently serves more than 330,000 active home banking end-users. Digital Insight’s web-based services include AXIS(TM), a comprehensive home banking system with bill payment and target marketing options, and PRIZM(TM), a comprehensive cash management solution for businesses. [www.diginsite.com][1].

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

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