Equifax Enhanced Check Services

Equifax, a world leader in innovative payment service solutions, today announced the introduction of two new technologies within Equifax’s Check Services division.

Equifax is augmenting the capabilities of its existing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platform, a system pioneered by Equifax in mid-1996, by incorporating Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) technology into its fully automated consumer disclosure process. The addition of CTI expedites the delivery of consumer/merchant data from the (IVR) system to the consumer service agent’s desktop, eliminating the need for callers to repeat information already captured by the IVR. This system, which will reduce call length and increase agent productivity, is the industry’s first to integrate computer and telephone call center systems into a powerful support tool for consumer service.

“Incorporating CTI into our client and consumer systems will allow us to deliver speed and service quality that is unparalleled in the industry. This innovation underscores our goal of pioneering technologies that enable merchants and consumers to have the highest quality of products and services,” said Jeff Carbiener, senior vice president and general manager of Equifax Check Services.

The new CTI product, CallSPONSOR, was developed by Periphonics Corporation of Bohemia, NY, and was recently recognized as CTI Magazine’s “Product of the Year.”

Robert Venema, vice president, finance, of Ross Stores, said, “The consumer disclosure system has definitely reduced the number of consumer issues relative to turndowns because the consumer has instant access to a greater amount of information than ever before. Now, with the addition of Computer Telephony Integration, the process will be even more streamlined and will help us better serve our customers by being more efficient at the point-of-sale.”

In addition to the CTI initiative, Equifax Check Services is launching the first fully automated point-of-sale (POS) device programming system, also developed by Periphonics Corporation. This innovative system streamlines and simplifies the reprogramming process for clients. It allows merchants to program multiple types of POS devices in minutes through a combination of IVR technology and existing software download programs.

Only the most basic POS device operating knowledge is required by the user. The client simply identifies the type of POS device and responds to the system-driven verbal instructions to program site-specific requirements.

“The electronic transmission download happens immediately, so merchants do not miss an opportunity to accept check payment. Once again, the launch of Equifax’s new point-of-sale terminal programming system emphasizes our commitment to customer driven excellence through the implementation of enabling technologies,” Carbiener added.

EQUIFAX is a worldwide leader in shaping global commerce by bringing buyers and sellers together through its information, transaction processing, consulting and knowledge-based businesses. Equifax serves the banking, financial, retail, credit card, telecommunications/utilities, transportation and healthcare industries and government. Founded in 1899, Atlanta-based Equifax today has 14,000 employees in 18 countries and sales in more than 40 countries. Revenues for the 12 months ended September 30, 1998, were more than $1.5 billion. For more Equifax information, visit the company’s website at .

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Virtual Phone Cards

RSL COM Primecall, Inc., a subsidiary of RSL Communications, Ltd., , now sells prepaid phone cards over the Internet at [www.callrsl.com][1]

Customers may purchase, from their computer screen, prepaid cards in denominations of $20, $50, or $100 and select the calling card plan that meets their specific needs. After filling out an electronic form that debits either their checking account or credit card, the customer receives the calling card number via e-mail within 24 hours. The new web site home page also features a monthly contest for a free $100 prepaid calling card.

Arnie Goodstein, President of RSL COM Primecall, said, “Through the ‘callrsl.com’ web site, we are able to sell one of America’s most popular line of prepaid calling cards directly to consumers. The web site also attracts agents and dealers as a result of which we expect will generate much larger sales volumes. Visits to the site have increased significantly since the launch of the new site at the beginning of last month.”

Mr. Goodstein added, “Our customers asked that we automate the process of buying RSL COM prepaid cards. We responded to our customers and also found a way to provide high quality service at the same time.”

One example of the focused cards offered on the website is the Latinos Card. This card allows calls from the United States to any country, although the cost structure is tailored for Central America, South America, and Mexico. It has rates of 39 cents a minute to Brazil, 47 cents a minute to Argentina, 59 cents a minute to French Guinea, 15 to 26 cents a minute to Mexico and only 8 cents a minute to Puerto Rico.

RSL COM U.S.A., Inc. provides a wide variety of telecommunications services for carriers, calling card providers and users, and small to medium size businesses. It includes LDM Systems, acquired in 1997, and Westinghouse Communications, acquired earlier this year. RSL COM U.S.A. has its own modern, reliable, flexible network, including eight major switching centers from coast-to-coast.

www.callrslcom was developed in cooperation with RSL COM by Planet Net Media ([www.pnetmedia.com][2]) which maintains and markets the site. Planet Net Media is a New York-based, full service Internet marketing company headed by Julius Engel IV, Richard Scott Devoti and Matthew Bello.

RSL Communications, Ltd. is a global facilities-based telecommunications company that provides international services, including long distance, calling card, private line, value-added and Internet-based services for businesses, consumers and other carriers worldwide. The Company operates on four continents in twenty countries that account for more than 70 percent of the world’s international traffic.

[1]: http://www.callrsl.com
[2]: http://www.pnetmedia.com

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Exciting

Excite, Inc. unveiled ‘Excite Express Order’ yesterday, a simple e-commerce purchasing solution which functions as a virtual credit card wallet for consumers.The broad initiative will be supported by Excite’s preferred payment sponsor, MasterCard, with national broadcast and print advertising aimed at educating consumers about online shopping. MasterCard will launch an updated version of its Internet shopping television advertisement which debuted during NBC’s final episode of “Seinfeld.” The commercial, which is a continuation of MasterCard’s award-winning “Priceless Campaign” invites consumers to use their MasterCard cards for shopping on the Internet and to buy gifts at the Holiday Shoppe by ‘searching Holiday on Excite.’ Related print advertisements will also run in USA Today.

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VeriFone FleetOne

VeriFone, Inc., the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions, announced that FleetOne de Mexico, a subsidiary of Williams Company Inc, has selected VeriFone point-of-sale (POS) payment terminals for deployment at gas stations in Mexico.

This implementation represents the first nationwide deployment of electronic payment technology in Mexican gas stations, and will give consumers the convenience and safety of a pre-paid card solution.

FleetOne de Mexico and ONEXPO (National Association of Gas Stations) signed an agreement in which FleetOne de Mexico will provide card technology for more than 4,000 gas stations country wide in 1999. FleetOne also signed an agreement with PEMEX Refinacion to allow FleetOne and ONEXPO to implement this new technology solution in Mexico. FleetOne de Mexico selected VeriFone to deliver POS solutions for the deployment, and the companies have already initiated a successful pilot in which VeriFone terminals were implemented in 100 gasoline stations.

“This implementation represents a major evolution at the point of sale for gas stations in Mexico, and requires flexible, proven technology,” said Lic. Gloria Albarran, Director at FleetOne de Mexico. “VeriFone is the world leader and a trusted name for electronic payment solutions for the point of sale. We also see technology innovation from VeriFone that will allow us to evolve the systems with smart cards and new applications.”

“In the past, drivers in Mexico have been limited to cash when it comes to paying for gas,” said Fernando Lopez, General Manager at VeriFone Mexico. “With this new solution and the FleetOne and ONEXPO agreement, consumers and gas stations will no longer be required to face the fear and risks of carrying money for cash-only payment for gas, and will gain the added benefit of loyalty points.”

The solution being deployed in Mexico includes VeriFone’s OMNI 395 payment terminal, the P350 printer, and the PINpad 450, personal identification number entry device, as well as locally developed software. Fleet managers will set up pre-paid and corporate debit accounts and acquire GASOPLUS-branded cards from FleetOne de Mexico to allow members to charge purchases at stations. Gas stations will also issue pre-paid cards to general consumers that can be re-loaded at the stations.

As an added benefit, customers will be rewarded for gasoline purchases by earning loyalty points for travel with American Airlines. And, as the program migrates to chip cards from magnetic stripe, other applications will be added, including loyalty programs from specific gas stations.

FleetOne de Mexico, a wholly-owned Mexican subsidiary of The Williams Companies Inc., is an energy and high technology manufacturer, with more than 90 years of existence internationally. It was formed to provide products and services to vehicle users at a national level.

ONEXPO is an association of approximately 2,500 gas stations in Mexico.

VeriFone, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary 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 six million electronic payment systems, which are used in over 100 countries.

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CheckLine UK Solution

The UK’s Checkline plc has installed a unique payment system that involves online credit card authorization during channel crossings combined with the transfer of payment data via GSM to a head office system in Dover.

SeaFrance’s GBP 25 million per year credit card transactions from on-board retail operations were previously processed through a French bank. However the majority of this business was through UK credit cards. This led SeaFrance to look to Checkline for an alternative solution that allowed processing via a UK bank enabling a substantial cost reduction and improved service to customers.

Checkline has provided its SMART EFT solution, which links a series of Checkline EFT terminals. These are installed at point-of-sales locations such as duty free outlets on-board the ships.

The Checkline system allows SeaFrance to perform online authorisation of all credit card transactions. This is achieved through a specially mounted antenna on the ship that enables communication via Vodafone’s PAKNET data network.

When the ferry is docked at Dover or Calais, the transaction data is transferred, via GSM, to a head office system in Dover, which submits the data to the bank for payment. Checkline ‘is a pioneer of GSM payment solutions that enable merchants to accept payments anywhere, anytime.

“We are delighted with the new Checkline system and so are our customers” comments Robin Wilkins, SeaFrance’s Managing Director. This project highlights Checkline’s ability to deliver payment solutions tailored towards solving customer specific problems.

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Best Bank Fallout

The principals involved in the failure of sub-prime bank credit card issuer Best Bank are facing the music as a federal judge is expected to rule this week on a civil complaint filed by the FDIC Oct. 29. The FDIC is seeking to freeze the personal assets of the bank’s principals as well as the assets of the principals who ran the card marketing program. Yesterday publicly-traded Columbia Capital Corp. confirmed that the company’s chairman along with another director resigned from the company last week. The two executives involved own approximately 80% of Columbia’s outstanding stock. Columbia Capital Corp., through its wholly owned subsidiary First Independent Computers, Inc., provides information and transaction processing to small and medium sized financial institutions. It’s major client was CO-based Best Bank. Neither Columbia nor its operating subsidiary, First Independent Computers were named in the FDIC litigation. FDIC seized Best Bank in July after a review showed the bank was grossly undercapitalized due to its extraordinary growth in sub-prime credit card portfolio. The FDIC is seeking in excess of $300 million in damages.

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AmEx Restaurant Card

American Express and the National Restaurant Association rolled-out the ‘National Restaurant Association Card from American Express’ yesterday. The a no-fee affinity credit card carries the look and logo of the National Restaurant Association, as well as American Express branding and is accepted everywhere ‘American Express Cards’ are welcome. Among card program features: savings and value-added offers from Continental Airlines, 800-SEND-FTD, Mobil Speedpass, J&R Music and Computer World; an exclusive AmEx travel desk for cardholders offering preferentially priced rates on hotels, car rentals and vacation packages; complimentary consultations from AmEx Financial Advisors; a 5.9% intro rate; credit lines up to $35,000; automatic credit insurance for disability, unemployment and death. The National Restaurant Association represents 800,000 outlets with an aggregate workforce of 10.2 million.

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UH MBNA Card

The University of Hawaii and MBNA launched the ‘UH’ affinity credit card Monday. The no-fee card will be marketed to UH alumni and students to benefit the UH Manoa Athletics program. UH will received card revenue based on charge volume. As part of the overall agreement, NBC affiliate KHNL and KFVE TV will provide UH with video production services and air time and ensure continuance of the weekly “UH Today” segment produced jointly by UH and KHNL and broadcast on the morning news. UH Manoa is a Honolulu-based research university and is the largest of the 10 campuses that comprise the University of Hawaii system. MBNA has more than 500 affinity programs with colleges and universities.

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Major POS EBT

VeriFone and Lockheed Martin IMS announced one of the largest rollouts of POS equipment for EBT payments yesterday. Both companies signed a seven year service agreements whereby VeriFone will install and maintain up to 50,000 of their POS systems in 15 states. Over the next 18 months, VeriFone will install systems consisting of the ‘Tranz 330’ and ‘Tranz 340’ terminals, ‘Printer 250’ and the ‘Pin Pad 101’ security device in retail locations accepting paper-based EBT coupons. So far approximately 100,000 VeriFone point of sale solutions have been deployed nationwide specifically to help merchants accept EBT payment.

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Xmas Online

VISA released a survey yesterday revealing that 46% of respondents who plan to shop this holiday season said they plan to buy some of their gifts online. Of those, 60% will be making their maiden holiday shopping voyage on the Internet. The NFO Research study also found that 29% said they are most likely to shop online for their kids this holiday season and 86% of online shoppers have a specific product in mind when they shop online. For this holiday, clothes and books top the list with 24% specifying clothes as the top priority; 20% expect to buy books; 11% will buy toys online, and 9% will be seeking to buy CDs on the Internet. Citing the convenience of the Internet the VISA poll found that 60% have shopped in their pajamas, 84% have shopped with their shoes off and 36% have shopped while eating a meal. Night owls are the dominant category with more than 45% doing their online shopping weekdays between 5 p.m. and midnight and 4% between midnight and 9 a.m.

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ARKSYS Acquired

Euronet Services Inc. said it has signed an agreement to acquire ARKSYS for approximately $18 million in cash. The company is a computer software company specializing in electronic payment and transaction delivery systems based in Arkansas. ARKSYS is the key upstream software provider to Euronet’s ATM transaction processing center in Central Europe. ARKSYS has installed software systems in over 60 countries for more than 150 other active clients in the retail banking sector. Last year ARKSYS had revenues of $11.4 million. Euronet said yesterday that the addition of ARKSYS to Euronet’s ATM network business will enable the company to offer a vertically-integrated and higher-value product to retail banks.

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