GE  Proc  Deal

One day after announcing its partnership with First USA, GE Capital announced Tuesday it is switching processors. First Data Resources will now provide card processing and other portfolio systems services for GE Capital’s card services in the U.S. GE currently uses Total System Services and handles some processing in-house. Terms of yesterday’s FDR agreement were not disclosed. First Data called the contract “a monumental win”. GE says FDR provides the “right mix of products and services to help its retail partners with incremental sales and customer loyalty”. In the U.S., GE currently has an estimated $18 billion in retail card receivables and $4.5 billion in bank card receivables according to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]). GE has about a 20 million consumer customer base in the U.S.

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

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TD Signs GPS

Global Payment Systems announced Tuesday an agreement to provide cardholder processing services for The Toronto-Dominion Bank.  Under the terms of the agreement, GPS will supply a variety of credit card issuing services for TD Bank and its U.S. subsidiary, Waterhouse National Bank of New York. Global’s services to TD Bank will include authorization and clearing, statement production and exception processing. Global will also manage the TD Bank ‘U. S. Dollar Advantage VISA’ card portfolio, as well as continue to manage processing for the Waterhouse National Bank card portfolio. The TD Bank ‘U.S. Dollar Advantage VISA’ card is designed for Canadian residents who travel frequently to the United States.

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Fee Frenzy

While promotional credit card pricing continues to reach historical lows, card issuers are continuing to jack-up back-end fees and pump-up punitive interest rates. Other yield tweaking includes the use of the two-cycle interest calculation method, the use of a daily periodic rate to compound interest charges, shortening of grace periods and the creation of new fees. According to the upcoming January issue of CardTrak ([www.cardtrak.com][1]), credit card fee income has grown 79% over the past two years while interest income has only increased by 9.8%. The growth in fee income is linked to higher late fees and over-limit fees. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) late payment fees have soared 58% over the past 24 months, from an average of $13.88 to $21.94. Among the top ten issuers late payment fees now average $26.10. Industry-wide, over-limit fees now average $21.02, up 53% since Nov. 96. Among the top 10 issuers, over-limit fees now average $25.70. Some issuers are imposing fees for closing an account, not using an account for at least six months and for customer service.

     FEE  INCOME                    INTEREST INCOME 
1998:  $17.9B  (+20.9%)          1998:  $57.4B   (+8.0%)
1997:  $14.8B  (+48.0%)          1997:  $53.1B   (+1.5%)
1996:  $10.0B  (+20.5%)          1996:  $52.3B  (+23.9%)
1995:  $ 8.3B  (+13.7%)          1995:  $42.2B  (+21.3%)
1994   $ 7.3B      NA            1994:  $34.8B      NA
  Source: CardTrak (www.cardtrak.com) and CardData
   (www.carddata.com) both services of CardWeb, Inc.

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

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Greeting/Phone Card

Delta Three, a subsidiary of RSL Communications, Ltd. is giving Internet users a new version of the popular e-greeting card.

Delta Three is offering 12 different animated Internet holiday e-greeting cards with a free 10 minute virtual calling card attached. By clicking on a link in the greeting card, the card recipient will automatically access Delta Three’s PC-to-Phone service and will be able to talk from a PC to the regular telephone of the sender. The e-greeting cards are available at [www.deltathree.com][1].

The unique electronic greeting card, “Friendship Rings(TM)” is made possible by Delta Three’s PC-to-Phone product developed by Ericsson for Delta Three.

“Our e-greetings demonstrate just one possible use of the unique communications opportunity presented by Voice over Internet Protocol,” said Elie Wurtman, CEO of Delta Three. “By giving people an opportunity to try PC-to-Phone, they will see how easy it is to use, and how clear the voice quality is.”

The cards are also available as part of Delta Three’s marketing relationship with theglobe.com at [www.theglobe.com.][2]

Delta Three is a wholly owned subsidiary of global communications provider RSL Communications Ltd.. Established in 1996, Delta Three was the first company to launch Phone-to-Phone Internet Telephony services. Today, Delta Three operates the world’s largest global managed IP Telephony network, with 37 points of presence in 29 countries. Together with RSL COM, Delta Three offers service to customers in every country in the world. ![][3]

[1]: http://www.deltathree.com
[2]: http://www.theglobe.com
[3]: /graphic/deltathree/cards.gif

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Fuelman/GasCard Expansion

ARCO and Fuelman/Gascard Network signed a marketing agreement Monday that will enable more than 20,000 of the fleet card’s customers to purchase gasoline at  more than 1,500 ARCO retail outlets in California, Arizona, Washington, Utah and Nevada. ARCO will combine the ‘Fuelman/Gascard’ product with its own recently launched fuel card program, ‘GasPRO Plus’. The company launched ‘GasPRO Plus’ last summer in the six western states in which it sells gasoline, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. ‘GasPRO Plus’ customers use their fleet cards to make a debit card-type transaction. with all accounts automatically debited monthly from the fleet operator’s designated business bank account. Customers set daily limits on the number of transactions and purchase amount, per card. ARCO said yesterday the move is driven by new state and federal underground storage tank laws, taking effect at the end of this year, that will force fleet management groups to replace or phase out their existing onsite fuel storage tanks. The company estimates West Coast fleet gasoline retail market will climb to more than 2.3 billion gallons in 1999.

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Clarus E-Procurement

Clarus Corporation, formerly SQL Financials International, Inc., has been selected by The Container Store to provide electronic procurement, financial and HRMS applications for the growing retail chain.

The Container Store will use the Clarus solution to serve more than 1,500 employees at both its Dallas corporate office and at 19 stores throughout the U.S.

The Container Store plans to use Clarus(tm) E-Procurement to establish controls, automate requests and track usage of maintenance, repair and operational (MRO) supplies for its multiple locations. By leveraging the power of the Internet, Clarus E-Procurement will enable corporate users to electronically place supply orders with vendors and distribute these items to stores. Clarus E-Procurement reduces process costs and streamlines the supplier base to maximize contracted discount rates.

Store managers will use Clarus E-Procurement to electronically request specific supplies from the corporate office. For instance, managers will be able to order the correct quantities of store necessities such as The Container Store’s signature shopping totes, office supplies, forms, catalogs and even the light bulbs required to properly illuminate and merchandise the store’s array of products. With items such as light bulbs costing up to $20,000 every month, retailers recognize the significance of maintaining controls over MRO inventory.

Keath Hance, vice president of finance and information systems for The Container Store, explains, “Clarus has been successfully supporting our organization’s backoffice finance and human resource needs. Clarus will also be providing us with a comprehensive `procure-to-pay’ solution that offers purchasing control, online procurement and accounts payable for supplies that support our operations. We expect these solutions to help us gain control over inventory and realize cost and tax savings.”

“The electronic procurement system is ideal for retail because it allows each individual store manager to order only the quantities he or she needs to effectively run the operation. It will help accurately forecast and plan for purchasing requirements,” said Hance. “With this new solution, we can track each store’s history of supplies, monitor store needs and accurately manage the volume of equipment and supplies shipped to each store. Since stores are not designed to hold bulk MRO supplies, the new system will help us avoid having stockpiled inventory.”

Said Steve Hornyak, vice president of marketing at Clarus, “Clarus E-Procurement will provide a collaborative purchasing solution for The Container Store, giving both corporate managers and retail store managers an efficient solution to manage their operational supply needs. The comprehensive system provides a very intuitive user interface, direct access to corporate and supplier catalogs, and improved accounting controls.”

A residual effect of electronic procurement is the tracking of usage tax for supplies ordered by stores in different states. By using Clarus E-Procurement, The Container Store can track and take advantage of tax credits for which it may be eligible.

Using world-class applications that make efficient use of time and people resources, The Container Store continues to profit. The Container Store is a prime example of the type of value buyer that is such a good fit for the Clarus solution. The retail chain is growing at a steady pace and needs reliable software that can be implemented efficiently and will effectively complement its strategic objectives. In 1997, The Container Store’s year-end sales reached $140 million, with projections for FY98 to be $170 million.

The Clarus solution consists of financial, human resource, and corporate service applications; Graphical Architects(R) modules; the Clarus Methodology; Clarus Professional Services for customer implementation; and Clarus TotalCare services for on-going customer support. The Clarus solution is targeted for mid- to large-sized companies that need robust administrative applications with minimal resource requirements for implementation, maintenance and upgrades.

Atlanta-based Clarus Corporation [www.claruscorp.com][1], formerly SQL Financials International, Inc., is the provider of Clarus, a comprehensive suite of world-class financial and human resource backoffice solutions and Web-based corporate service applications designed specifically for mid- to large-sized companies. Founded in 1991, the company’s applications create high lifetime value by delivering sophisticated functionality while substantially reducing the time required for implementation, maintenance and upgrades. Clarus serves such customers as First Data Corporation, MasterCard International, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Investment Technology Group, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Toronto Dominion Bank, The Container Store, HD Vest, Amtrak and Chartwell Re Holdings Corp.

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

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Gemplus Milestone

Gemplus is celebrating the delivery of its 20th million ‘MultiApplication Payment Chip Operating System’ (MPCOS) card since its introduction in 1994. The recipient of the 20th million card was the Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS), Singapore’s electronic banking services and financial payments service provider owned by seven local banks.  While Asia has traditionally been the most important market for ‘MPCOS’ cards, the product range is used by more than 200 customers globally for a wide range of applications. The NETS ‘CashCard’, an e-purse smart card, currently has 1.5 million cardholders.

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GE  –  FUSA

GE Capital and Bank One/First USA unveiled plans Monday to form a joint venture for private-label cards, complete a VISA/MasterCard credit card portfolio transaction and enter into a co-brand partnership. The private-label credit card joint venture will have approximately $2.6 billion in private-label credit card receivables: $1.6 billion from Bank One private-label accounts managed from Dayton, OH and $1 billion from GE private-label accounts. GE Capital will act as managing partner of the joint venture with each party owning 50%. The sale of $2.2 billion of GE Capital’s VISA/MasterCard receivables to First USA represents about half of GE’s bank credit card business. The portfolio includes mostly accounts from the ‘GE Rewards MasterCard’ and ‘Exxon MasterCard’  programs. It is estimated that First USA is paying a 10% to 11% premium for the VISA/MasterCard accounts. GE will retain its corporate card business based in Utah and continue to build its international bank credit card programs. Both companies also will enter a co-brand partnership under which for First USA will market and issue VISA and MasterCard credit cards featuring the GE brand. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of this month. According to CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]) yesterday’s transaction will solidify Bank One’s number one position among the top ten bank credit card issuers. GE Capital will drop from the nation’s 17th largest issuer to 21st.

TOP  10  SCOREBOARD  (based on current receivables)
1. Bank One/FUSA     $65.8 billion
2. Citibank:                $63.8 billion
3. MBNA                    $50.7 billion
4. Discover                 $34.3 billion
5. Chase                    $31.7 billion
6. Bank of America     $20.7 billion
7. Household          $15.9 billion
8. Fleet                    $14.9 billion
9. Capital One            $13.8 billion
10.Providian               $10.1 billion

Source: CardData ([www.carddata.com][2]) data as of 12/15/98

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

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Best Buy Magic Moments

Over Thanksgiving weekend, nearly 100 shoppers at Best Buy stores nationwide received something extra to be thankful for — their purchases were free.  Through Visa U.S.A.’s holiday promotion, Visa Magic Moments, each day from November 1 through December 31, 1998, Visa randomly selects a one-second “magic moment” when all Visa(R) card purchases are free.  Winning cardholders receive a credit on their next possible statement. To create extra holiday cheer during the busiest shopping weekend of the year, Best Buy and Visa added one magic moment per hour on November 27 and 28, giving customers even more chances to win.

The largest “free purchase” during the two days was $1,777.86.  A total of 97 customers received free purchases at 80 Best Buy locations, totaling $16,642.24.  To date this holiday season, more than 135 customers have won more than $20,000 worth of purchases at Best Buy through the Visa Magic Moments promotion.  Nationally, nearly 10,000 Visa cardholders have already won “magic moments” across the country, totaling more than half a million dollars in purchases.

“Since consumer electronics are one of the most popular holiday gifts, we’re happy to partner with Visa in this promotion to give customers the chance to win their purchases throughout the holiday season by shopping at our stores,” said Pat Brazil, Promotions Manager, Best Buy.

If the Visa processing time stamp for a cardholder’s purchase matches that day’s randomly selected, one-second Visa Magic Moment, they win.  The winning cardholder will receive a special credit message (Visa Magic Moments Winner) on their next possible monthly Visa statement.  No purchase or obligation is necessary to enter or win.

For more information on Visa Magic Moments, including information on how to obtain official rules with full details and instructions for entry without a purchase, consumers can call toll-free 800-266-6712, or visit the Visa Magic Moments web site at

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders.  Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa Cash cards.  Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 620 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US$1.2 trillion in annual volume.  Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 450,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is

Minneapolis-based Best Buy Co., Inc. is the nation’s largest volume specialty retailer of name-brand consumer electronics, personal computers, entertainment software and appliances. The Company is ranked 199 on the Fortune 500 with annual revenues of $8.4 billion. Best Buy operates 312 stores in 36 states. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, symbol BBY. Visit the Company’s Web site at .

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Paymentech Update

New Retail Merchants Ring In Holiday Season With Paymentech

Paymentech has added major retail merchant customer in the weeks preceding the holiday season. The nation’s third largest bankcard processor signed and implemented traditional storefront merchants as well as national cataloguers.

Paymentech is acquiring and settling piont-of-sale (POS) transactions for Fortunoff, headquartered in Uniondale, NY, and Duty Free Shoppers (DFS), based in San Francisco. These customers represent over $500 million in anticipated annual retail credit card volume to Paymentech. The combined new business also adds 100 merchant locations to Paymentech. The combined new business also adds 100 merchant locations to Paymentech’s Network Services POS system, which provides authorization and electronic draft capture services.

Paymentech is also implementing payment processing for such catalog retailers as the Direct Sales Division of Nordstrom, and the catalog unit of a major toy retailer. Paymentech’s direct response unit, located in Salem, NH, is the largest processor of non-face-to-face credit card transactions, offering customized services to direct marketers and electronic retailers.

“Fortunoff switched to Paymentech’s processing for its technological superiority,” said Leonard Tabs, chief financial officer for the value-oriented retailer. With a 75-year commitment to the New York City and New Jersey area, Fortunoff also sought a payment processor with strong local customer service. Paymentech maintains a major sales and client relations office in Manhattan.

“Paymentech has provided an extensive frame relay environment for Duty Free Shoppers, networking locations as far away as Guam for on-line credit card processing,” said Tao Fung, manager for worldwide store systems at DFS. “The delivery of consolidated merchant reporting will provide cost savings and reduce operational hassles related to reconcilement.”

Duty Free Shoppers operates many locations in the western United States, Hawaii, and U.S.- held territories in the Pacific.

Fortunof offers fine jewelry, watches, silver, domestics, tabletop and home furnishings at seven locations throughout the New York metropolitan area. The family owned and operated retailer presents quality, service and large inventory selection at fair, everyday low prices.

Paymentech, inc. founded in 1985, provides full-service electronic payment solutions in merchant acquiring, third-party transaction processing and commercial card payment and information programs. The company processed 1.9 billion total transactions and approximately $49.3 billion in sales volume in fiscal year 1998. Paymentech is the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States and a leading issuer of commercial cards.

Paymentech Completes Acquisition of Mellon Bank’s Merchant Processing Business

Paymentech, Inc. announced Monday that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of the merchant processing business of Mellon Bank Corporation.  The transaction satisfied all necessary regulatory approvals.

Mellon Bank and Paymentech also entered into an exclusive marketing and referral agreement under which the parties will market Paymentech’s processing services to Mellon Bank’s merchant customers.  As previously announced, this acquisition adds approximately 46,000 merchants with $5.3 billion in annual bankcard sales volume to Paymentech.  The portfolio consists of processing business from retailers, cable television and cellular telephone providers, government agencies, independent sales organizations, and agent banks.

Paymentech, Inc., founded in 1985, provides full-service electronic payment solutions for direct merchant clients as well as third-party transaction processing.  Paymentech also offers complete commercial card payment and information programs to businesses and other entities.  Paymentech is the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States and a leading issuer of commercial cards.

A broad-based financial services company with a bank at its core, Mellon Bank Corporation ranks among the nation’s largest bank holding companies in market capitalization.  With approximately $2 trillion in assets under management or administration, including approximately $350 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.  Press releases and information about Mellon Bank Corporation are available at on the Internet.

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Shift4’s Silver Edition

The nation’s leading credit card processing software company, Shift4, has released the latest in its $$$ IN THE BANK™ software line. Developed primarily to serve the needs of mail and telephone order businesses, small retail and hospitality merchants, $$$ IN THE BANK™ Silver Edition, is an upgrade to the company’s popular DOS application 4Sure™. The latest in a series of editions, the Silver Edition allows emerging businesses to process transactions with same power and functionality as large corporations, but at a cost that meets their budgets. Companies can now leverage the power of a Windows®95/NT®â€™s 32-bit operating platform while enjoying a fully redesigned user interface.

The new Silver Edition of $$$ IN THE BANK™ gives merchants a fast efficient and flexible way to process credit card payments while eliminating the need for expensive stand-alone bank terminals. Merchants can reconcile and edit every transaction prior to settlement, ensuring a 100% accurate deposit. In addition, the software protects them from customer “charge backs,” (charges that are disputed by card holders), by providing immediate access to all credit card transaction detail — including time, date, card number, electronic swipe information, and all authorization codes.

Shift4 is actively seeking to expand their reseller network through a series of incentive programs designed to maximize reseller return and proliferate Shift4’s software. Known for offering the best software in the industry, Shift4 is certified with every major credit card processor — some of whom currently act as resellers of  $$$ IN THE BANK™ Silver Edition.

“Shift4 has vast experience in meeting the needs of the largest and most prestigious merchants in the world,” says President J. David Oder. “Our new Silver Edition gives any business, which does not require high-end point-of-sale integration, all the power and functionality of the big boys.” The company has worked closely with several of the largest hotels in the world — such as the Mirage, Luxor, Waldorf Astoria and U.S. Hilton-owned properties, as well as healthcare and telephone order companies like Baxter Healthcare CVG and Dial America Marketing — to facilitate immediate and measurable revenue improvements.

$$$ IN THE BANK™ Silver Edition supports all merchant types including hotel, mail order/telephone order, retail, food and beverage as well as auto rental. It boasts a wealth of new features that enhance the application’s usability, flexibility, and expandability allowing 5 users on a company’s local network area to process authorizations simultaneously. Merchants are no longer limited to processing orders at a single PC. By using the optional WinTX™ application, charge information can be entered at network connected PC workstations, with quick approvals sent directly to the user’s desktop.

Other features include Address Verification to protect merchants from fraud; Automated Periodic Billing; Purchase Card Support that provides merchants with more options for their customers to pay; Supports 5 profit centers (of the same type) to expand accounting flexibility; Import/Export options to easily move transactions to and from billing and accounting applications, and an Unlimited Transaction History Archive that provides quick access to transaction detail. As always, Shift4 software products are CPS/ICP Compliant so merchants have the flexibility to reap lower interchange rates. In addition, all Shift4 software is fully Year 2000 compliant.

$$$ IN THE BANK™ Silver Edition is a powerful, reliable, and easy to operate electronic payment solution with all the features needed to support a busy merchant and the flexibility to grow with it. Shift4 has developed two other $$$ IN THE BANK™ editions for merchants with more advanced transaction processing needs; $$$ IN THE BANK™ Gold Edition and $$$ IN THE BANK™ Platinum Edition.

$$$ IN THE BANK™ Gold Edition meets the needs of businesses such as large hotels that  typically operate multiple POS systems and mixed merchant outlets. In this environment, $$$ IN THE BANK™ functions as a Universal Transaction Gateway™ for all their credit card accounting and communication needs. $$$ IN THE BANK™ Platinum Edition adds multiple processor support, leased line and WAN connectivity to a company’s electronic card payment solution.

Shift4  provides its clients with world class customer support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The department is run by a staff that is fully conversant in all aspects of credit cards, PCs, networks, the processing center, and point-of-sale interfaces.

The Las Vegas-based company stands at the forefront of the credit card processing industry, developing an unparalleled line of processing products for merchants that want to achieve a distinctive competitive advantage and dramatically improve profitability.

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