Community PC Banking

Equifax Card Solutions and IBAA Bancard announced yesterday they have signed a letter of intent to offer Internet PC banking services to all 5,000 community bank members of the Independent Bankers Association of America, upon successful completion of beta testing. Under the PC banking program participating community banks can offer customers secure access to banking accounts and credit card statement. In addition to standard banking functions, customers may also monitor and pay their credit card balances via the Internet. Through Goldleaf Technologies, a wholly owned Equifax subsidiary, clients can offer electronic banking services to customers nationwide.  Internet banking is the newest component of Goldleaf’s proven ‘CustomerLink’ suite of electronic business solutions.  Other modules include Cash Management, Telephone Banking, and ACH Origination.  Goldleaf has offered electronic banking systems since 1990; today more than 1,400 clients are using the software at over 8,000 locations.


Fingerprint Security

CA-based Identix Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Identicator Technology Inc. of San Bruno, CA to create the world’s largest fingerprint security firm. Identicator Technology designs and manufactures fingerprint security systems for information technology, Internet, banking, data/network security and e-business. The melding of the two firms creates a single source for fingerprint-based biometric security solutions for virtually any application. Identicator brings valuable and complementary technologies to Identix, as well as important strategic relationships with major consumer-products and services firms such as Compaq Computer, MasterCard and Unisys.


I-Check Guarantee

TeleCheck Services, Inc., and PaymentNet Inc. have formed a partnership to offer merchants the first Internet check guarantee program. The partnership marks the first time that a check acceptance company will guarantee consumer checks for merchants who offer goods and services over the Internet.  The two companies are currently engaged in a pilot program with selected merchants with a national market introduction expected in early 1999. TeleCheck will provide the electronic check guarantee service. PaymentNet will serve as the payment gateway for the Internet check processing.  It provides real-time processing services for multiple payment media, including credit and debit cards and electronic checks, for a wide range of large and small merchants, through an automated multi-payment, secure gateway.


Acquisition Tools

Mellon Bank said yesterday it will install Fair, Isaac’s ‘SEARCH’ software and ‘StrategyWare’ decision support system for account origination.  The products, designed to improve Mellon’s customer acquisition process, will be used by both the bank card and retail banking groups.  Mellon currently uses Fair, Isaac’s ‘TRIAD’ adaptive control system for customer management at its credit card group. Mellon says it purchased ‘StrategyWare’ to automate its front-end decisioning process and employ the product’s champion/challenger testing capabilities, whereas ‘SEARCH’ will be used to streamline the credit bureau score acquisition process.



With the objective of increasing its brand equity, attracting new customers, and building incremental revenue, IMSI, a leading provider of business productivity software, today announced that it signed OEM sales agreements with Visa International and Intuit Inc.

The agreement with Visa International, the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide, allows them to sell IMSI software to Visa Business cardholders internationally. The deal with Intuit Inc. allows IMSI products to be sold to Intuit customers via direct-mail.

“This is the continuation of a major initiative by IMSI to align ourselves with market-leading companies that will help us leverage new, high-profile promotion opportunities and increase revenue potential for our company,” says Martin Sacks, president and chief executive officer for IMSI. “On the other side of the equation, the companies we team with recognize that offering IMSI’s quality software in combination with their products and services creates a compelling and unique value proposition for their customers.”

The goal of these alliances is to introduce more consumers to IMSI and its broad line of quality software products that fall under the categories of: computer-aided design, business applications, visual content, and utilities.

IMSI’s Products Potentially Available to Millions of Visa Customers Worldwide Through a special-offer program entitled “World’s Best,” Visa International will enable its member banks to offer IMSI’s Net Accelerator, WinDelete, MasterClips 303,000, TurboCad and Floor Plan 3D products to Visa Business cardholders internationally. Visa regional offices will make the offer available to its 21,000 member financial institutions. It is at the discretion of each financial institution to make the promotion available to their cardholders. Visa member banks that promote IMSI products will do so through cardholder statement inserts or via direct mail to cardholders.

The IMSI products sold through this specific Visa promotion will be language-localized for participating countries including: North America, Canada, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The promotion will be valid through the 1999 calendar year.

Access to More Than Two Million Intuit Customers

Intuit Inc., a financial software and Web-based services company, will offer a substantial savings on IMSI’s TurboProject Express, Net Accelerator and Easy Language Conversational products to more than two million customers who buy Intuit’s personal finance and tax preparation software via mail-order.

This promotional opportunity will be included with the purchase of such popular software products as Quicken, QuickBooks, and TurboTax. IMSI created special promotional packaging of its products for Intuit, which allowed IMSI to provide substantial discounts on the software to Intuit. Consumers can take advantage of this special promotional opportunity when Intuit begins its tax season marketing efforts in November.

Contracts with Visa and Intuit were signed in IMSI’s first fiscal quarter of 1998/1999.

About IMSI

Founded in 1982, IMSI (International Microcomputer Software, Inc.) is a provider of computer-aided design, business productivity, utility and visual content software.

Headquartered in Novato, California, IMSI has offices in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Brazil, and Japan. The company produces and sells its software in 13 languages and in more than 60 countries worldwide. For more information, please contact IMSI public relations at (415) 878-4000, or visit [][1].



Universal Contactless Reader

Bull announced from Paris yesterday the market’s first universal contactless card reader. ‘Uniprox’ is designed for companies in the security (access control) and transport sectors, the new device can read any contactless card regardless of manufacturer. Built around RISC processors, ‘Uniprox’ offers split-second card detection and identification. ‘Uniprox’ employs protective mechanisms that prevent cards from overheating during reading. ‘Uniprox’ also integrates seamlessly into systems that feature financial transactions, such as current projects to combine transport tickets and an electronic purse. An optional ‘Secure Access Module’ (SAM) is available to enable financial transaction certification and authentication.


Toastmasters Card

MBNA America announced Tuesday that Toastmasters International has endorsed a multinational program to offer an affinity credit card to its members in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. MBNA will also become the exclusive sponsor of the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking, which attracts members from more than 8,400 Toastmaster Clubs worldwide.Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization, is the world’s leading organization devoted to the improvement and development of individual communication and leadership skills.  Founded in 1924, the organization has 180,000 members in the United States, Canada, and 63 other countries.


SNET  Phone Cards

Interactive Telesis, a leader in interactive shareholder communication, this week announced that Southern New England Bell of Stamford, Conn., nationally represented by Communications Design Group Inc., has signed an agreement with ITI’s MarketREACH division to utilize ITI’s groundbreaking automated TeleSurvey system.

TeleSurvey is the newest application designed to deliver a new level of value to Southern New England Bell and its clients for pre-paid phone cards.

Savvy telecommunications companies and their clients are realizing that utilizing pre-paid phone cards as gifts in their promotions are a great tool for advertising and creating goodwill.

The initial terms of the agreement call for ITI to incorporate its unique TeleSurvey system application at the beginning of each Pre-Paid Phone Card activation process. The effect of the TeleSurvey will be far reaching as it turns the prohibitive costs and time of the old-style market survey into low cost, real-time, live information data in the very instant a customer keys in their answers from any phone.

This 5-7 question survey allows any client company of Southern New England Bell to generate valuable sales and marketing data conveniently and at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional mailed questionnaires. The information gleaned from callers activating their phone cards will generate immediate and cost effective customer preference information.

Communications Design Group Inc. (CDG) are the national representatives for Southern New England Bell’s phone card program, with a client base including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, IBM, The White House, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson and many other major clients. CDG’s national sales manager, Mark McGill, said, “ITI’s TeleSurvey gives us the opportunity to go back to our current client base and offer them enhanced services.”

CDG has indicated to Interactive Telesis that the demand for ITI’s TeleSurvey has been immediate. The first 2 major clients to express interest in utilizing the service are one of the fastest growing fast food providers in the nation and a Fortune 100 film processing company.

Interactive Telesis is in advanced discussions to provide similar value added services to a number of America’s leading providers of pre-paid phone cards. These companies are expected to join ITI’s growing MarketREACH TeleSurvey client base, which already includes GTE and Ameritech.

Interactive Telesis continues to redefine Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology by designing and supporting communication solutions for North America’s largest, most progressive companies. Clients include AT&T, GTE Card Services, Ameritech, Yahoo and Nike.


Airline Comm Cut

Last week’s action by United Airlines to reduce travel agency commissions on its international flights will translate into higher travel costs for business and leisure travelers, according to American Express.  Should other airlines follow suit, American Express warns the traveling public to brace for a $500 million increase in travel costs.

United Airlines’ announcement November 12 further slashed the commission it pays to travel agencies and companies, setting a $100 “cap” on commissions for international roundtrip flights after reducing it last year to 8 percent.

American Express reacted swiftly to United Airlines’ announcement by alerting corporate clients on Friday that the move amounts to an indirect fare increase and suggesting they call United to protest the move.

“At a time of record profits and declining international traffic, United Airlines has effectively raised fares and disguised the move as a cost savings.  Ordinarily when suppliers cut costs, the savings are passed along to customers.  The reverse is true here.  Business travelers, already reeling from record-high business airfares, will be bit especially hard,” said Ed Gilligan, President, American Express Corporate Services.  “Because most companies receive the commission and pay their agencies a management fee, firms will be paying more when they fly United.  Should other airlines follow suit, companies will pay an average of three to four percent more on international travel.”

“Our larger clients are not sitting still.  Those who have negotiated fares with United based on specific levels of volume are telling the airline that they can no longer commit to the volume originally negotiated.  Some are already looking to other carriers instead,” Gilligan noted.

On one of the most popular international routes, New York to London, the commission paid on a $5,300 business class roundtrip ticket would plummet 75 percent.  On a $2,580 full coach roundtrip ticket, the commission would fall by 49 percent.  The company would have to absorb the shortfall.

Leisure and small business travelers will also feel the impact.  “This additional commission cut makes it even more expensive for travel agents to handle complex international reservations,” Gilligan added.  “The majority of travel agencies are already charging service fees.  They’ll have no choice but to raise them, especially if other airlines take similar actions.  Travelers who want to avoid agency fees may choose to go directly to the airline for tickets.  But it’s difficult to imagine any airline recommending another carrier for a better price.  The agent’s role — searching out airfare values among all carriers U.S. and foreign, and knowing the details of special offers and restrictions — is particularly important on more expensive and complex international bookings.”

American Express, like other travel agents, is studying other ways to help customers cope with the cost increase resulting from this commission cut.  “As a member of the travel agency community, American Express fully supports the recommendations of the American Society of Travel Agents that agents voice their protest,” said Gilligan.

Before last week’s action by United, travel agencies and their clients had absorbed nearly a billion dollars in higher travel costs as a result of commission restructuring by the airlines since 1995.

Background on Corporate Travel Purchasing

Airline commission changes directly affect more corporate customers today, as the majority of large corporations now retain travel agency services on a fee-based arrangement.  The company earns the airline commissions and pays the agency pre-determined fees for such services as ticketing, low-fare searches and management reporting.

This arrangement became the predominant one after the 1995 commission cap, as corporations and agencies adjusted financial agreements to maintain customer service levels despite the reduced commission revenue.  “Agencies certainly proved their value to corporate America as the best way to control travel costs,” said Ed Gilligan.

American Express operates the world’s largest travel agency, with business and leisure travel sales worldwide of more than $17.4 billion in 1997. American Express Corporate Services, which includes the American Express Corporate Card, Business Travel Services and Corporate Purchasing Card, assists companies in managing and controlling their business travel and general expenses.  It is a unit of American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Express Company — a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850.  It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.


netClearing Buys Access Services

Digital Courier Technologies, Inc. announced Tuesday that its netClearing Internet payment processing division has signed a letter of intent to acquire Access Services, Inc., a private company based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Access Services is a leading third party credit card transaction processing company.  The acquisition is expected to close by early December.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Digital Courier becomes one of the first companies to provide online businesses with a suite of Internet-based payment processing products with built-in direct connections to the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover payments networks.  NetClearing currently provides the payment processing transaction engine for Digital Courier’s Videos Now online video shopping service, which debuted this month on America Online, as well as for a growing number of online merchants.  netClearing will also be used in industrial-strength Web-based and wireless personal weather applications to be introduced by Digital Courier’s WeatherLabs division later this year.

“It is projected that the e-commerce market will grow to $300 billion by 2002, and the acquisition of Access Services accelerates our strategy to position netClearing at the hub of this market,” stated Mitchell Edwards, Chief Financial Officer of Digital Courier.  “Access Services will immediately bring world-class payment processing management and substantial financial institution and merchant business to our netClearing division,” he added. Access Services provides credit and debit card authorization and capture services to major banks and ISO/MSP service organizations nationwide through its processing center located in Atlanta, Georgia.  Based on leading edge client-server technology provided by Verifone and Hewlett-Packard, Access Services fields a broad array of payments products and services designed to take advantage of up to date offerings in Internet and other telecommunications mediums.

“Our alliance with Digital Courier will further enhance our Internet payments offerings and enable us to continue our rapid expansion in the payments processing marketplace,” said Tom Tesmer, President of Access Services.

Digital Courier Technologies Inc. supplies businesses and major web portals with sophisticated e-commerce and content delivery software.  The software is based on a powerful matrix of server-side Java software components.  The company’s current content offerings, which utilize the powerful e-commerce and content delivery software, include: WeatherLabs, a premiere online weather information service (), VideosNow (), and BooksNow ().


Affinity Tech & Fair Isaac

Affinity Technology Group, Inc. and Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. Tuesday announced that the companies have signed a joint marketing agreement that will make Affinity’s outsourced credit approval products for direct and indirect loans available with Fair, Isaac’s current offering of decision-making solutions.

“This agreement provides Affinity with access to Fair, Isaac’s highly regarded sales team and customer base,” said Paul Adams, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing of Affinity. “In addition, Fair, Isaac’s predictive models for automobile loans are the perfect complement to Affinity’s iDEAL indirect and direct auto loan processing system.”

Al Sowden, senior vice president of Alliance Management of Fair, Isaac added, “Affinity’s outsourced approach to loan application processing enables financial institutions to automate their credit functions easily and quickly. For companies addressing the Year 2000 issue in their front-end systems, this service bureau offering provides a timely solution. Our SEARCH and ScoreWare tools, which implement our predictive models, are an integral component in Affinity’s system.”

Affinity’s technology enables financial institutions to link their dealers, branches, call centers, and Internet customers electronically to their credit departments, providing fully automated lending – and, if necessary, connectivity to a loan officer – through every channel. For financial institutions, Affinity’s solutions expedite loan decisioning and processing and increase productivity and capacity of branch personnel, call center agents, loan officers, and indirect agents, while improving the overall customer experience. Affinity is located on the World Wide Web at [][1].

Fair, Isaac ([][2]) 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, California, Fair, Isaac employs 1,500 people in 17 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ending September 30, 1998, the company reported revenues of $245.5 million, a 23 percent increase over the prior year. For more information, contact Fair, Isaac at 1-800-999-2955.