US Airways Travel Card

US Airways introduced its new Air Travel Card this week, offering corporate air travelers enhanced benefits and a wider range of travel information capabilities.

“The enhancement to US Airways’ Air Travel Card represents our continued commitment to bringing greater choice and more flexibility to our customers,” said Steve Tracas, US Airways vice president of sales.  “Customers using the Air Travel Card will experience a higher degree of convenience than ever before.”

The new benefits of the card include:

* Management reports to summarize travel patterns and itemize costs.     * Simplified record-keeping, payment and cost accounting data.     * Customized billing statements to detail and track airfare expenses.     * Flexibility to choose how and when to receive monthly billing statements, as well as the number of statements to be received.     * Ability to receive billing statements electronically.

Corporate air travelers using the Air Travel Card still will receive benefits such as the ability to pay for all airline travel using only one credit card, worldwide card acceptance, no initial deposits, annual fees or extra card charges, cardless accounts to ensure against unauthorized use, and $200,000 worth of travel insurance at no charge.

US Airways is one of 27 airlines throughout the world that issues the Air Travel Card.  Today, the Air Travel Card is accepted by more than 200 airlines worldwide.

US Airways, MetroJet, US Airways Express, and US Airways Shuttle fly to more than 207 destinations worldwide, including 38 states in the U.S., Bermuda, Cancun, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay, Nassau, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and the Canadian destinations of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, and London, Ontario.

US Airways’ transatlantic destinations include Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris, and Rome.

For additional information on the US Airways Air Travel Card, contact US Airways at 1-800-528-3819 or e-mail US Airways at UATP@usairways.com. Information about US Airways, US Airways Express, and US Airways Shuttle flights is available by contacting your professional travel consultant or US Airways at 1-800-428-4322.  Low-fare MetroJet information also is available by calling 1-888-MetroJet (1-888-638-7653).

Visit US Airways’ Web site at or low-fare MetroJet’s Web site at .

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Heading North

Citibank Canada rolled-out its ‘Driver’s Edge VISA’ card for Canadians. The card enables consumers to accumulate up to a $2,500 cash rebate towards the purchase or lease of any make or model of a new car. Citibank cash rebates can be redeemed up to five years from the end of the calendar year in which they were earned. A maximum of $500 in rebates can be earned in any one year. The ‘Driver’s Edge VISA’ card launch is being supported by national print advertising and direct mail campaigns. The creative campaign targets a mainstream, aspirational audience and focuses on the card’s ability to earn rebates towards the cost of any new car, including luxury sedans, 5-speed sports models, 4X4s and minivans. Citibank Canada says a recent ‘Driver’s Edge’ survey showed the top three Canadian dream cars to be the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang and Jeep Cherokee.

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Kettell to R2

R2 Corporation announced Tuesday it has hired Tom Kettell as the company’s new VP of Marketing. Based in Eagan, MN, R2 provides reconditioned POS systems from manufacturers like IBM, NCR, Micros and others.  Before joining R2, Kettell served as VP of Marketing for DataCard’s financial systems business unit. He also held a number of positions at MasterCard, including Account VP for MAPP.

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Coinstar Promotions

Coinstar Inc. announced the appointment of Ian Melanson to the position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing and the promotion of Bill Booth to the position of Vice President of Retail Development.

“These key appointments add depth and stability to our marketing team as we begin the new year,” said Dan Gerrity, president and COO of Coinstar Inc. “Ian and Bill are respected industry professionals committed to rapidly growing our business.”

As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ian Melanson will be responsible for the overall growth of the Coinstar(R) network, the continued growth of top-line revenue, and the development of new products and services that leverage the company’s nationwide supermarket-based network.

Mr. Melanson’s experience includes McKinsey and Co., where he created business concepts for some of North America’s most respected retailers and consumer products companies. As a member of McKinsey’s marketing and retailing practices, Mr. Melanson developed leading-edge micro-marketing approaches for his clients.

Mr. Melanson is also a brand management expert, having developed and managed major product introductions in his nearly five years with Procter & Gamble Inc.

As Vice President of Retail Development, Bill Booth will lead the national sales force responsible for placing Coinstar units in new retail locations. In addition, he will oversee the relationships between Coinstar Inc. and its retail partners.

Mr. Booth joined Coinstar in 1995 as Director of Retail Account Development and was later promoted to Executive Director of Retail Development. The Coinstar network has grown during Mr. Booth’s tenure from roughly 50 installations to more than 4,800 today.

Prior to joining Coinstar, Mr. Booth was Senior Director of Retail Marketing Services for Catalina Marketing Corporation where he expanded their retailer network of electronic couponing systems. His experience also includes account development positions with Citicorp POS and Datachecker Systems Inc.

Coinstar Inc. develops, owns and operates a network of automated, self-service coin counting and processing machines that provide consumers with a convenient means of converting loose coins into cash. More than 4,800 Coinstar machines are installed in 37 states throughout the U.S. Consumers can call 1-800-928-CASH or visit for the location of the nearest Coinstar machine.

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Ambient Targets Japan

Ambient Corporation and Motah Corporation of Japan signed a marketing agreement to sell Ambient smart card systems and seek partners in Japan. Motah Corp. a Japanese technology consulting firm , specializing in targeting unique technologies for the Japanese market. Motah, will market and sell the Ambient smart cards and readers throughout Japan on an exclusive basis.

Ambient Corp. developed and patented a contactless interface for smart cards, that transfers power and data through capacitor plates. This state of the art technology allows for closed circuit, high energy, rapid data rate connection between smart card and its reader. Mr. Takahito Miyake, President of Motah says: “In 1998 Motah made a strategic decision to explore the smart card market Ambient represents the kind of cutting edge technology the Japanese market is looking for in contactless smart cards: High security, faster transaction times and low terminal maintenance.”

Jacob Davidson, CEO of Ambient adds: “By partnering with Motah Corporation, Ambient continues to grow and make a presence in the Asia Pacific market.”

About Ambient:

Ambient Corp (OTC BB: ABTG) is a publicly traded company incorporated in the United States that develops smart card and related contactless technologies and systems. The company is also developing large memory smart cards for applications requiring secure, stored records. Ambient is in the process of merging with OrdaCard, Israel’s largest plastic cards manufacturer.

About Motah:

Motah Corporation is a Japanese technology consulting firm helping major Japanese corporations to identify innovative new technologies outside of Japan for the purpose of creating strategic partnerships joint ventures, buying distribution rights. Today, Motah corp. represents several technology companies in the Japanese market.

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eCharge Lands ShopGuide

eCHARGE Corporation, developers of a unique e-Commerce transaction system, and ShopGuide, a search engine dedicated to online shopping, announced an alliance Tuesday that will bring the eCHARGE payment option to over 20,000 ShopGuide stores and malls. As an eCHARGE Agent, ShopGuide enables its merchants to offer customers the ease of billing online purchases to the consumer’s phone bill.

“ShopGuide’s unique search engine allows the online consumer easy browsing and shopping from the comfort of their homes. With eCHARGE, these shoppers now have the choice of charging purchases to their home phone bill, a purchase method that alleviates concerns about online security,” stated Ron Erickson, CEO of eCHARGE Corporation.

“The home-based online shopper will greatly benefit from the click and buy simplicity of eCHARGE transactions.  The ShopGuide merchants who choose to carry the eCHARGE system know that more payment choices mean more purchases,” commented Howard Kwak, President of ShopGuide.

By joining the ShopGuide Network, merchants offer more access and visibility and increase the potential to attract new customers who have not yet wandered into the electronic storefront.  The online consumer not only searches and browses but also searches and buys.  ShopGuide’s ease of use and comprehensive database keep bringing customers back to this unique search engine.  With the simplicity of the eCHARGE transaction system, merchants have the advantage of encouraging impulse buyers.

About ShopGuide

Shopguide.com is a shopping search engine and portal that connects online shoppers with more than 20,000 merchants across a range of 15 product categories.  Shopguide.com also publishes the Internet Sourcebook and the online retailing news site, ShopGuideNews.  For more information,

About eCHARGE Corporation

Founded in 1996 and based in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, B.C., eCHARGE Corporation is a leading provider of transaction processing systems on the Internet. eCHARGE is an Internet payment technology that enables consumers to charge digital goods and services to their phone bills in one seamless and secure transaction. eCHARGE offers payment solutions to Internet merchants worldwide in the ISP, ESD, subscription, information download, online games, and donations categories.  For more information, visit:

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Citibank Debit Cards

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported this morning that Japan’s Shizuoka Bank and Citibank have entered into an agreement jointly issue a debit card in February, the first such relationship among banks in Japan. In October, Citibank began to offer a cash card jointly with the Japanese postal savings system. Under the Shizuoka agreement cardholders will be able to access cash and make debit card purchases outside Japan via Citibank’s network. Citibank will receive foreign exchange commissions of about 4 yen per dollar as well as 200 yen per withdrawal at its ATMs overseas. The two banks initially aim to issue 20,000-30,000 cards.

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Innovis Closes

First Data Corp. recently announced it is closing down operations of its Innovis division, formerly Consumer Credit Associates. Houston-based Innovis provided consumer credit reporting information. Approximately 150 employees, primarily based in Houston, will be affected. First Data will take a one-time charge to earnings of approximately $145 million pretax for the period ending Dec. 31, 1998.  First Data acquired CCA based on the potential of its technology and database and has been investing significantly to develop an on-line transaction-based credit bureau.

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Fair Isaac Promotions

Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. announces key executive appointments in its Credit Business Unit. Sue Simon has been promoted to senior vice president of Strategic Development, where she will continue to direct the company’s overall strategic and operational planning processes. Suzanne Vesely has been appointed to the position of vice president, where she will lead the company’s North American Bank Markets Unit.

Sue Simon joined the company in 1996 and soon after was named vice president of Strategic Development. She oversees organizational functions, such as planning, budgeting, strategic development, and investment analysis and qualification. Prior to joining Fair, Isaac, she consulted in retail banking, payment cards, bank operations, systems, marketing, branch operations, and human resources. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in English.

In her new position, Suzanne Vesely is responsible for ensuring the company’s future growth in the rapidly consolidating bank marketplace. She previously served as the company’s market manager for the consumer finance industry, where she enhanced the value of offerings to consumer and auto finance clients. Prior to joining the company in 1995, Vesely worked for CCN/MDS and Chilton Credit Reporting. She graduated cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Fair, Isaac () helps businesses worldwide maximize the value of data to make more profitable decisions about their customers, operations and portfolios. Known for its pioneering work in credit scoring and its use of data in transaction-level decisions, Fair, Isaac now delivers data management services, analytics, software, and consulting to the financial services, direct marketing, personal lines insurance, retail, and healthcare industries. Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Fair, Isaac employs 1,500 people in 17 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 1998, the company reported revenues of $245.5 million. For more information, call Fair, Isaac at 800-999-2955.

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MBNA vs Gravity

Once again MBNA’s managed loan losses for 1998 logged-in at 4.31%, well below the industry average of 5.52%. Delinquency on total managed loans was 4.62% at Dec. 31 and the managed net interest margin for the year was 7.47%. For the year, MBNA signed-up 475 new affinity programs and added 11.3 million new cardholders representing 9.3 million new accounts. MBNA also reported that net income for the fourth quarter of 1998 rose to $238.3 million, an increase of 30.4%, compared with $188.3 million for the fourth quarter of 1997. During the fourth quarter, MBNA signed a letter of intent with American International Group to underwrite automobile, homeowners, and personal umbrella insurance products for MBNA Customers. Also during the fourth quarter MBNA acquired credit card portfolios from Union Planters Corporation, Household Card Services, Inc., and European American Bank. At year-end MBNA announced its acquisition the PNC Bank portfolio.

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J-Debit Card

Japan’s postal savings system and seven financial institutions officially launched the ‘J-Debit’ card service Monday.The seven financial institutions are Fuji Bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Sanwa Bank, Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank, Towa Bank, Tokyo Sowa Bank and  Johnan Shinkin Bank. The Japan Debit Card Promotion Association said yesterday the service is initially available at some 10,000 retail outlets run by eight companies. The eight companies include Seibu Department Stores Ltd., JTB Inc., Lawson Inc., Cosmo Oil Co., Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. and Daiwa Securities Co. By year-end more than 400 financial institutions and more than 100 retail companies are expected to join the new program.

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