American Express revealed plans yesterday to significantly expand its ATM program throughout the U.S.. AmEx confirmed it has acquired three ATM businesses: Zions Bancorp, which includes 140 ATMs at Maverik Country Stores in seven states in the western U.S.; AmeriCash, which includes approximately 650 ATMs in a variety of retail mall locations including Simon Property Group, General Growth Properties and a variety of supermarkets; and Electronic Data Systems, from which American Express purchased a portion of its ATM business, including approximately 2,000 ATMs in a wide range of retail outlets including A&P/Food Emporium supermarkets and Target stores. The new acquisitions add more than 2,740 ATM machines to American Express’ ATM network which currently has more than 200,000 ATMs worldwide. AmEx has 13 million cardholders enrolled in its ‘Express Cash’ program.


Drinking Card

The Michigan Food and Beverage Association is handing out free phone cards to holiday revelers who need a ride. Proprietors of taverns, restaurants, party stores and grocers will distribute the free five-minute telephone cards to patrons who have had too much to drink. Participating organizations include Pepsi-Cola, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, The Salvation Army,  and many others. MFBA is the largest food and beverage trade association in the state with more than 3,100 members.


Indonesian Platinum Card

MasterCard International and Bank Internasional Indonesia Wednesday announced the introduction of the BII Platinum MasterCard card. The BII MasterCard Platinum card is the first Platinum card to be launched in Indonesia and the first Platinum MasterCard in the world to employ smart card technology.

Platinum cards continue to attract a niche market, particularly upscale consumers who are attracted to the exclusive benefits and image the Platinum card confers. Despite the current economic turndown in Asia, Platinum cards are expected to make their mark in Asia’s payments market, with four other markets having launched Platinum programs this year.

“There exists a sizable group of high net-worth individuals who, not matter what the economic conditions are, who value and prefer superior benefits, privileges and services,” said Rudy N. Hamdani, Senior Vice President, BII Card Center. “The vision for our financial institution is to offer products that allow consumers to make ‘one stop’ for all their financial needs — the BII Platinum MasterCard program rounds out our product portfolio.”

“MasterCard’s strength has always been its ability to provide payments products to meet the various and specific needs of our cardholders in any part of the world. The MasterCard Platinum card offers among the most exclusive benefits available and there is a market that seeks these special benefits. MasterCard’s Platinum program is the program of choice for these discerning consumers,” said Bambang Gunawan, Country Manager, Indonesia, MasterCard Asia/Pacific.

Smart Card Rewards Program

The BII MasterCard Platinum card is the first in the world to use smart card technology. The chip-based rewards program will track bonus points: cardholders will receive a “Bonus Rupiah” reward of 5% of every purchase when the purchase takes place at any of the 300 participating outlets of “BII Merchant First Club”. Cardholders making purchases at any of the 15 million MasterCard acceptance locations worldwide will receive a 0.5% reward of the value of the purchase and this reward can be redeemed at any of the 300 “BII Merchant First Club”.

Premium Benefits

BII MasterCard Platinum card cardholders will be entitled to Preferential Treatment, MasterCard’s premium privilege program. With Preferential Treatment, cardholders enjoy a wide range of benefits, including free room upgrades and welcome gifts at exclusive, high-end hotels among them, Summit Hotels and Resorts.

BII Platinum MasterCard cardholders may also avail of the special concierge service which provides entertainment and dining referrals and reservations, valuable travel information and assistance, and a personal shopping service.

The Platinum MasterCard card, a program developed by MasterCard International based on member-bank feedback and consumer research, is already in use by upscale cardholders in fifteen countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

BII Platinum MasterCard card features also include a high credit limit, 24-hour concierge service, Masterphone calling card, Global Cash Access, year-end account summary, travel insurance of up to 5 billion Rupiah, MasterCard Global Service, and access to airport lounges around the world.

The Platinum card features a distinctive “P” design that will assist the Platinum MasterCard Collection partners in providing special treatment to cardholders at the point-of-sale.

“The BII Platinum MasterCard Collection’s exceptional

offerings combine uncommon quality and superior value. With the broad array of benefits offered, this card program meets the diverse needs and discerning lifestyles of upscale consumers, from exceptional shopping and cultural experiences to dining and travel,” added Gunawan.

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. More than 600 million MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus and Mondex” cards are accepted at more than 15 million locations worldwide. In 1997, gross dollar volume exceeded $600 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at .


Cross Border ACH

Sanwa Bank California became the first bank in the U.S. yesterday to utilize VISA Net’s ‘Cross Border ACH’ to collect payments in Canada for deposit in U.S. dollars to a business account in California. Earlier this fall, First of Omaha Merchant Processing handled a cross border transfer of corporate debit for deposit in Canadian dollars to a business account in Toronto. Software provider E-Z Data used Sanwa’s proprietary ‘SanLine PC ACH’ service to automatically collect payments in the U.S. and deposit them into its Sanwa account. The payments take two business days from request to settlement.


VISA Tx Record

VISA International says it set a new world record this week by processing more than 110 million payment transactions in a single day on ‘VISANet’. On Monday, Dec. 14, VISANet processed 110,086,395 transactions worldwide compared to 88 million last year. VISA said yesterday its ‘VISANet’ system sustained more than 3,000 transactions per second for nearly fourteen continuous hours. On average, VISA processes 50 million transactions per day. About 25% of VISA’s annual transaction volume occurs between Nov 19 and Jan 4, VISA’s peak season.


MBC Installed

WV-based One Valley Bank is installing the new ‘Merchant Banking Center’ from Diebold this month. The ‘MBC’ integrates Diebold’s ‘1062ix’ ATM, the ‘Securomatic After Hour Depository’ and a rolled coin dispenser module which together automate routine commercial banking transactions. Using a One Valley Bank debit card, retailers can enter a ‘Merchant Banking Center’ vestibule any time of day or night and access the self-service system to withdraw currency from the ATM, exchange larger bills for denominations of coins or cash, or deposit any combination of currency and checks from that day’s business. The system can also be configured in an off-line mode.  In addition to providing currency exchange and deposit capabilities, it can provide batch data transactions to the bank’s host computer and calculate transaction fees as part of the statement cycle.


SCF Board

The Smart Card Forum added to two industry leaders to its Board of Directors yesterday. The new Board members, both of whom will serve three-year terms, are: Jerry Smith, Opportunity Manager, IBM Global Smart Card Solutions Randy Vanderhoof, Director of Product Marketing, Schlumberger DANYL. Vanderhoof has been involved with smart cards for nearly a decade. Smith spearheaded the implementation of the American Express corporate travel smart card program involving Hilton Hotels and Continental Airlines.


CCS Captures NACS

OR-based Card Capture Services announced Wednesday it has acquired LA-based North American Cash Systems, the country’s sixth largest independent ATM provider. The purchase is the largest completed by CCS over the past year, and brings the company’s total number of installed ATMs to 5,770. Under terms of the agreement, NACS will operate as a regional office for CCS.  For the time being, NACS ATMs will continue to operate under the NACS brand. NACS has a portfolio of 800 ATMs located primarily in the southeastern U.S.. CCS also recently purchased 196 deployed ATMs from two smaller independents in CA and MD.


MBNA Ottawa

MBNA Canada Bank announced Wednesday that the University of Ottawa has signed an affinity card agreement with MBNA to offer a credit card to its students and alumni. The MBNA University of Ottawa credit card program, which is available as a ‘Preferred’ and ‘Gold MasterCard’, will be offered to the university’s supporters, including 23,000 students and 106,000 alumni. MBNA Canada Bank currently has more than 100 affinity programs in Canada and employs about 300 people at its headquarters in Ottawa and a business development office in Montreal.


BofA Integrated Payments Head

In a move to further leverage its huge payments business and expand its leadership position in the rapidly growing electronic commerce marketplace, Bank of America announced Wednesday that Group Executive Vice President Chris Callero has been named to form and head a new group focused on Strategic Technology and Integrated Payments Services.

Callero and the new group will be responsible for leading Bank of America’s payments strategy across organizational lines — working to deploy strategic technology and develop business partnerships to best align the bank to serve its 32 million customers worldwide. The new group will work to provide customers with emerging access channels and capabilities, including electronic commerce, electronic bill presentment, and financial services aggregation through cable, telecommunications and other Internet providers.

In his new assignment, Callero will report to Ken Lewis, president of Consumer & Commercial Banking and Jim Dixon, president of Technology & Operations.

“Bank of America recognizes the evolution of the whole payments business, and we are moving aggressively to create this new group. Our customers are driving this evolution by increasingly using many convenient methods of payment, including debit cards and online banking, while also showing interest in even more capabilities and access channels, such as electronic bill presentment and Internet commerce. Chris’ extensive experience, leadership and execution capabilities, make him particularly well suited to lead our new Strategic Technology and Integrated Payments Services group,” said Lewis.

“Bank of America is already a major provider of payments services to both businesses and consumers,” said Dixon. “We hold a leadership position in all parts of the payments business — from check clearing, money transfers, and Automated Clearing House payments to credit and debit cards, online banking bill payments, and merchant services. This new group will build on our expertise and leverage Bank of America’s unsurpassed scale to benefit our consumer and business customers globally.”

The Strategic Technology and Integrated Payments Services group will be responsible for supporting existing lines of business such as Card Services, Cash Management, Direct Banking and Transaction Services in the evolution of payments. The group also will work closely with Channel Strategies and Development, leading and sponsoring strategic technology investments that enhance the bank’s development, distribution and processing of payments-related products and services.

Callero began his career with Bank of America in 1971 as a mailroom clerk on the swing shift. He rapidly advanced through a variety of operations management responsibilities and in 1983 was named to form and lead the Item Processing Operation for Southern California in Los Angeles.

In 1992, Callero was named Executive Vice President and head of the Consumer Lending Division, and two years later he formed and led the National Consumer Assets Group — responsible for the financing of homes, home equity, and automobiles for customers through branches, loan-by-phone, direct marketing and automobile dealerships. He was appointed Group Executive Vice President in 1994, and three years later was given expanded national responsibilities as the Group Head for Deposit and Payment Services, including Interactive Banking, ATMs/Debit Cards, Deposit Products, Investment Services, Insurance Services, Small Business and Liability Risk Management.

Since the announcement of the merger of Bank of America and NationsBank, Callero has spearheaded the transition for Consumer & Commercial Banking.

Bank of America is a leader in all aspects of the payments business. Advanced technology and accuracy standards help ensure the smooth processing of 37 million checks each day for customers. More than 1 million of the bank’s customers bank online via the Internet, America Online, or personal financial management software. The bank has more than 22 million credit card and nearly 11 million debit card accounts. Two out of three large U.S. corporations use Bank of America cash management services.

Bank of America, with $595 billion in total assets, is the largest bank in the United States, with full-service consumer and commercial operations in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Bank of America provides financial products and services to 30 million households and 2 million businesses, as well as international corporate financial services for business transactions in 190 countries. Bank of America stock is listed on the New York, Pacific and London stock exchanges and certain shares are listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit [][1] and [][2].




The board of directors of PULSE EFT Association has announced the election of Robert Vontur of San Antonio as vice chairman of the board.

Vontur, senior vice president of Frost National Bank, has been involved with PULSE for almost 16 years, 13 of those as a member of the board and its executive committee. Currently a member of PULSE’s Audit Committee, he also has served on its Operations Committee and its Point-of-Sale (POS) Product Development Subcommittee.

A veteran of 28 years with Frost, Vontur currently serves as the bank’s manager of electronic banking systems. He is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, where he received his B.S. in mathematics.

“Over the years, PULSE has benefitted enormously from the knowledge and participation of very active directors such as Robert Vontur,” said Stan Paur, president and CEO of PULSE. “With his extensive experience both in the industry and with PULSE, Robert will be an even greater asset to our organization in his new role.”

PULSE is a not-for-profit, shared electronic funds transfer network comprising nearly 2,000 banks, credit unions and savings and loans in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The network includes more than 30,000 ATMs, 156,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals and more than 20,000,000 cardholders. For more information, visit the PULSE Web site at [][1].



Golden Buckeye Prepaid Tutition

The Ohio Tuition Trust has the perfect solution for children on your holiday shopping list: prepaid college tuition.  It doesn’t need to be assembled, it doesn’t require batteries and it won’t break a week later.  And it is a truly meaningful lasting gift for your special child.

The Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program offers an amazingly affordable gift option.  During the holidays and until the end of January, families can open an account in the Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program for only a $30 enrollment fee — a $20 savings off the standard $50 enrollment fee.  Families enrolling a newborn child can enroll at anytime of the year at a discounted enrollment fee of $25.  Prepaid tuition units can be purchased for only $45.50, or less, depending on the purchase option chosen.

Grandparents can save $10 off the enrollment fee in the Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program with their Golden Buckeye card.  To receive the Golden Buckeye card discount, card members must attach a photocopy of their card to their prepaid tuition contract form.

To give the gift of prepaid tuition to a child not currently enrolled in the program, family and friends can call 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) to request an enrollment packet for the Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program.  Families and friends can also request and download the enrollment packet at .

“The enrollment packet provides all the information a family needs to immediately open a prepaid tuition account.  We recommend presenting the enrollment packet with a check or money order for the enrollment fee to the family of the child.  The child’s parents can then complete the prepaid tuition contract form needed to start the account.  Prepaid tuition makes a unique and thoughtful gift for a child, especially when combined with a small traditional gift of a toy or book that the child can enjoy more immediately. It’s true that this gift may not be appreciated today as much as the latest toy, but it will provide the child life-long value when he or she enrolls in college,” said Barbara Jennings, executive director for the Tuition Trust.

The 1998-99-enrollment campaign offers Ohio prepaid tuition units at the affordable price of $45.50 or at the autopayment price of $43.50 per unit.  In 1998-99, the average Ohio public university tuition already costs more than $4,300.  Each unit purchased represents 1 percent of future weighted average annual tuition at Ohio public universities.  Families currently enrolled in the prepaid program, and all new families who enroll during this 1998-99 enrollment period, are able to lock in this 1998-99 cost of college throughout this pricing year which lasts until September 30, 1999.  Even further discounting of tuition unit pricing is available depending on the age of the child enrolled and the number of units being purchased at one time.

Although prepaid tuition is valued at the rate of Ohio public university tuitions, tuition units can ultimately be used at any accredited public or private college in the country.  Ohio’s prepaid tuition can also be used for graduate school and room and board costs, offering even greater flexibility of use in the future.

The Ohio Tuition Trust Authority was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1989 to promote savings for higher education.  Through the Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program, parents can start paying for college tuition and fees while their children are young by purchasing tuition units.  The Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program offers a straight forward, simple, safe and affordable way for families to save for college.  The program currently has more than 73,000 participants and more than $340 million in total assets.  Ohio families can learn more about the Ohio Prepaid Tuition Program or receive an enrollment kit by calling 1-800-AFFORD-IT (233-6734) or by visiting our Web site at .