Check Fraud

NC-based Source Technologies said yesterday that check fraud has grown to a $12.6 billion problem in the U.S., the result of lower costs in checking printing technology. The company says the cost of printing equipment and software has come down to a level where check forgers can now set up a printing operation for under $2,000. This means smaller institutions are being targeted by crooks. Source offered several tips on fighting check fraud including the suggestion to train tellers to look at the check instead of the person when processing a transaction.

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Brazilian Smart Cards

Gemplus and American Bank Note Company announced Wednesday they have formed a joint venture, Gemplus Bank Note Ltda, to develop smart card solutions for the Brazilian market. The new company, which will be based in American Bank Note’s existing factory in the Sao Paulo area, will manufacture and personalize smart cards and develop software solutions. Smart card applications began initially to be deployed in Brazil three years ago with electronic purse projects launched by Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, and VISA. This was followed by major transportation and loyalty systems, including the ‘Smart Club do Brazil’ program to which Gemplus has already delivered two million cards.

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WorldPerks Dining

Northwest Airlines ‘WorldPerks’ members can now earn more miles by enrolling the ‘WorldPerks Dining for Miles’ program. The new program, in partnership with The Signature Group, allows members to earn ten miles for every dollar spent, including tax and gratuity, at thousands of participating restaurants in the U.S.. Up to 6,000 miles per visit will automatically be credited to the members account based on a maximum limit of $600, including food, beverage, tax and gratuity. Members may register up to three of their credit or debit cards in the program.

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Convergence

A new research study by Mentis Financial Services suggests the convergence underway among the banking, insurance and brokerage services industry will continue for the next three years. Mentis says the entire competitive landscape is shifting with the change being driven by essentially three different forces. 1. Consumer attitudes, preferences, and wants for the delivery of financial services is changing; 2. The financial services industry itself is evolving, creating an atmosphere that fosters convergence of the three segments. 3. Pressures from outside the industry will continue to exert pressure upon financial services organizations.

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GE Euro Card

GE Capital launched the first euro-denominated corporate credit card program for multinational clients yesterday. GE Capital is issuing euro-denominated MasterCard T&E and purchasing cards in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and the Republic of Ireland. Rollouts in Spain and Belgium will follow in April 1999, with other European countries to follow. GE Capital also provides cardholder support in the local language including English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Spanish. This includes call center service, cards, monthly statement, cardholder agreement, application forms and other collateral. Eleven countries in Europe are currently engaged in the three-year European Monetary Union currency transition period, starting this month. The euro is now in use for electronic, banking and other non-cash transactions.

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HNC Partnership

Creative Solutions, a leading marketing consultancy and direct advertising agency, and HNC Financial Solutions, a leader in predictive software for the payment card and consumer lending industries, have signed an agreement for joint marketing of their respective services and marketing automation tools for credit card issuers.

“Creative Solutions’ objective is the delivery of unique and powerful end-to-end marketing solutions to credit card issuers,” said William Keenan, the president of Creative Solutions. “By applying HNC’s predictive segmentation tool SelectProfile, we can achieve unparalleled levels of insight about our clients’ customers that allow us to develop and execute segment-specific marketing, advertising, and communications programs that are better than ever.”

Based on the intelligent mining of data in card transactions, SelectProfile is the first marketing automation product able to segment at granularity so fine as to make one-to-one marketing practical. The use of HNC’s real-time profiling in concert with Content Mining(TM) — the ability to read, understand, and make decisions from unstructured text data — enables SelectProfile’s precision and unique insight.

HNC Financial Solutions president, Michael Thiemann, said, “Creative Solutions is a dynamic and forward-looking advertising and communications company — the kind that can not only optimize our clients’ use of SelectProfile, but also help us understand the best ways to extend our SelectMarket family of predictive marketing products. We are gratified to be allied with a marketing agency with so much know-how and foresight.”

Creative Solutions is an information based, direct response advertising agency that specializes in financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and retailing industries. It serves as an advertising agency of record for many Fortune 500 companies in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and the Pacific Rim.

HNC Financial Solutions, an HNC Software business group, provides a powerful set of predictive business solution modules that address the mission-critical, customer-lifecycle management needs of financial institutions. With headquarters in San Diego, HNC Software Inc. (Nasdaq:HNCS) is a world leader in the development and delivery of predictive software solutions in client/server environments.

HNC provides innovative predictive software systems in the financial services, retail, insurance information, and electronic commerce markets. For more information, contact Patsy Campbell, Director of Marketing, HNC Financial Solutions, 5930 Cornerstone Court West, San Diego, Calif. 92121, 619/546-8877. For investor relations hotline, call 800/396-8052.

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Web Calling Cards

GTC Telecom Tuesday announced that it has begun implementing plans to create the first Web site dedicated to the online sale of calling cards.

Like Amazon.com, GTC Telecom will cut out the high cost middleman and sell direct to the customer. The Web site [www.Ecallingcards.com][1] will be launched Feb. 15, 1999 and will enable GTC Telecom to offer calling cards at a rate that is 40-50 percent below the current retail pricing scale and still earn approximately 30 percent gross profit.

GTC Telecom is a long distance carrier and offers a 7.9 cents per minute long distance rate in selected states. The company has already successfully implemented an international calling card program through retail channels for international markets. Through its agreements with companies such as MCI/Worldcomm (Nasdaq: WCOM), GTC Telecom has been able to increase its customer base by being able to offer very low rate plans.

According to Mark Fleming, formerly of MCI Worldcomm and current executive vice president of GTC Telecom, “The amount of administrative cost and overhead for GTC Telecom to provide this service is minimal. We are similar to other online retailers such as Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), Shopping.com (OTCBB: IBUY), IMALL (Nasdaq: IMAL) and Skymall (Nasdaq: SKYM), but we have the added benefit of having no product or inventory to order or ship.”

Fleming continued, “In addition we have no backlog, discontinued product to return or damaged merchandise to deal with. Simply, if you were a customer you would enter our Web site, order a card, we will ask you how many minutes of long distance time you desire. We then charge your credit card or your phone bill if we are your long distance carrier and we issue you an 800 number and a pin number good for the minutes purchased. One of the greatest features of this program is that as soon as we have your credit card number your card is usable. There is no down time, in which the customer has to wait for the card to be shipped, etc. Our service is instantaneous.”

Eric Clemons, GTC Telecom’s chief operating officer stated, “The calling card market is estimated at $10 billion annually. Our plan in the long distance calling card market is much like Amazon.com whose industry is well over $13 billion. Since we have a sophisticated, low cost telecommunications infrastructure in place, it was a very strategic move for GTC Telecom to come out with long distance calling cards over the Internet. It was a logical leap for us to enter into this market because of our already low rates and our strong, inexpensive network. Being the first to market and being able to profitably offer a calling card 40-50 percent below current retail averages should catapult our emergence into the Internet market.”

Clemons continued, “Initially, GTC Telecom was looking for more products and services to add to our already low cost packages. We want to offer our customers as many options as possible. We discovered that by offering calling cards over the Internet, we can considerably lower the cost to our end user.”

Founded in 1997, GTC Telecom is an interexchange carrier, providing long distance service to small and medium sized businesses as well as residential customers throughout the United States. Currently, GTC believes that they have the lowest long distance rates nationwide. GTC’s long distance service offerings include outbound service, inbound toll-free 800 service, and dedicated private line services for data.

GTC’s position as an interexchange carrier gives the company the ability to function as a large telecom company but alleviates the overhead, thus allowing GTC to have rates lower than many of their competitors. Visit GTC’s Web site at [www.gtctelecom.com][2]

[1]: http://www.ecallingcards.com
[2]: http://www.gtctelecom.com

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Shell Card Sale

Associates First Capital reached an agreement last night to acquire and manage the Shell proprietary credit card program. The Shell portfolio consists of approximately $272 million in receivables and about 2.3 million active cardholder accounts. Terms of the deal were not revealed. The Associates, will become the issuer, processor and servicer for the both the Shell and Texaco private label card programs, including commercial cardholder accounts. The Associates previously acquired the Texaco portfolio.The company ranks first in the gasoline proprietary credit card market with approximately 7 million active accounts.

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Card Crammers Charged

The Federal Trade Commission charged three individuals and eight businesses with billing or debiting consumers’ credit card accounts for unordered or fictitious Internet services. The FTC alleges the defendants repeatedly placed charges on consumers’ credit and debit cards for Internet entertainment services they had not ordered and did not want. Some of the consumers who were billed didn’t even own computers. When consumers tried to contest the charges, they were met by confusing voice mail messages, anonymous Internet sites and a maze of mail-drops. The companies involved include J. K. Publications, Inc., MJD Service Corp., and Net Options, Inc.. The firms, all based in California, also used the trade names of Netfill, ­Bill, Webtel, and Online Billing. The FTC shut-down some of the businesses yesterday, freezing all assets.

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M&I Acquisition

M&I Data Services acquired the Moneyline Express business unit of Travelers Express yesterday. Moneyline Express is an electronic bill payment and presentment solution for consumers and businesses. Moneyline Express is the second largest provider of consumer bill payment processing in the U.S., processing for customers of more than 700 financial institutions. The acquisition includes the purchase of all assets, operational processes and customer relationships of Moneyline Express. Terms were disclosed.

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PaymentNet Goes Java

PaymentNet ([www.paymentnet.com][1]), announced Tuesday that it has released a new interface based on Java technology for its outsourced e-commerce payment processing service, now in use by a wide range of Web businesses from enterprise-class companies to SO/HO (small office/home office) merchants.

The new transaction processing client based on Java(TM) technology is immediately available free of charge at www.paymentnet.com for both Solaris(TM) and Windows NT platforms, and delivers payment performance, security and stability enhancements to Web business IS departments writing Java technology-based applications to link back-office processing systems to Internet storefronts.

“We are delighted to see today’s announcement of PaymentNet’s new enterprise e-commerce transaction interface,” said Dr. Lew Tucker, director of strategic marketing at Sun Microsystems’ Java Software. “Payment processing is an important element in linking legacy systems to the emerging Web storefront environments. This new PaymentNet offering is a great example of the use of Java technology on the client-side.”

The Advantage of Java Technology

The new client implementation based on Java technology is ideal for enterprise-class applications where programs written in the Java language are used to interface between an Internet storefront and back-office functions such as database access, accounting, inventory control, and related management functions. The new Java client is written in C++ with a Java Native Interface (JNI).

To enhance performance, the library is compiled to native machine language with key functions optimized for fast payment processing. To enhance security, developers can now write their internal interface applications in the Java language, eliminating the need to create system calls for payment processing that increase code complexity and create potential security issues. Developers consequently avoid the need to accommodate a non-Java payment processing interface. The new Java client provides robust payment processing capabilities and is based on PaymentNet client application code that has been extensively tested and used by hundreds of e-commerce sites to conduct millions of transactions.

Based On PaymentNet’s Version II Client

The Java technology-based client is based on Version 2 of the PaymentNet merchant-side client, which includes a number of new features of value to enterprise IS and business unit managers. Chief among them is support for electronic check processing through PaymentNet’s alliance with TeleCheck.

This service, now in pilot, delivers the first system for full-function real-time processing of consumer checks without the need to generate a paper draft for submittal to a merchant bank. Through TeleCheck, a leader in payment verification and guarantee services, the service not only delivers real-time processing, but also fraud screening, authorization and merchant guarantee service.

About the PaymentNet Service

PaymentNet provides secure, Internet-based transaction and payment processing on an outsource basis for both enterprises and small merchants who sell goods and services via the Web and call-centers.

PaymentNet offers industry-leading automation and customer care with its high-reliability credit card, debit card, and electronic check processing services.

The PaymentNet Service is the leading single-source, multi-payment Internet gateway. It has been deployed across a wide range of large and small merchants with excellent results, and has proved its value to key payment processing, banking, ISP/distribution and technology partners. The PaymentNet system is deployed using a free, easily integrated thin client binary file.

The service is based on an agent/host architecture, and leverages the Internet as a virtual private network between its proprietary payment processing server and individual clients dispersed on Internet and Intranet locations.

The PaymentNet Service represents a powerful alternative for merchants who have been disappointed by slow, cumbersome, inefficient and costly Internet-based payment processing solutions that have their architectural and feature origins in the “pioneering” era of Internet payment technologies.

About PaymentNet

PaymentNet, Inc. is an outsource provider of automated, highly secure, Internet-based, real-time transaction processing services for merchants of all sizes and business approaches. PaymentNet is headquartered in Pleasanton, California, and can be found on the Web at [www.paymentnet.com][2]. Contact PaymentNet corporate offices at 925/225-1670.

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

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Triple Trip Miles

Travelers earn triple the miles for every dollar spent during the introduction of the ‘TripMiles Reward Program’. The new program allows travelers to earn miles each time they purchase airfare on TheTrip.com using their VISA card. The triple miles promotion will run through Jan. 31. Later this month, travelers can begin tracking their account balance online and converting this award into frequent flyer miles with participating major airlines. TheTrip.com is based in Denver.

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