Money ’99

Microsoft will release the latest version of ‘Money’ this morning. ‘Money 99’ will feature links to more than 350 banks providing automatic updates to bank statements and credit card accounts. The new edition will also integrate links to e-bill services. Microsoft will use the newest version of its personal finance software to drive more traffic to its ‘Investor Site’. American Express Financial Advisors developed tax planning software for ‘Money 99’s’ premium edition.

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Penna’s $28 Million Share

Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher announced Friday that an all state $27.5 million settlement has been reached with two major credit corporations, resolving claims that they illegally collected bad debt from thousands of consumers who declared bankruptcy, including more than 700 from Pennsylvania.

The settlement with General Electric Capital Corporation (GECC), of New York, and Montgomery Ward Credit Corporation, of Delaware, ends a lawsuit filed by Fisher’s Bureau of Consumer Protection that alleged numerous violations of the states Debt Collection Regulations, Bankruptcy Laws and Consumer Protection Law.

According to the Attorneys General, over the last four years, GECC which issues credit cards for several retailers including Montgomery Ward, pressured many of its bankrupt credit customers into signing unenforceable agreements to repay debts that would be dismissed in bankruptcy.  The investigation determined that GECC obtained thousands of bankruptcy debt agreements but never filed those agreements with Federal Bankruptcy Court as required by law.

“Consumers should be aware that bankruptcy debt agreements are legal only if they are voluntary and filed with the bankruptcy court for possible review,” Fisher said.  “In this case, consumers were led to believe they were obligated to pay off their debt or run the risk of being contacted by collection agencies or have their goods repossessed.”

Nationwide, some 60,000 customers will receive an average of $1,000 in either restitution or forgiveness of debt.  In addition, GECC and Montgomery Ward Credit will pay $24.5 million to the states and contribute $3 million to an existing fund for consumer protection and education.

Fisher said Pennsylvania will receive more than $320,000 in the settlement for future public protection purposes and the costs of investigation.

Under the terms of the settlement, affected consumers:

— will have their debt agreement stricken and the companies will waive any rights to repossess merchandise.

— will be reimbursed or receive credit for finance fees and penalties and will be reimbursed for any monies paid on the debt agreement plus 10 percent interest.

— not identified by review of company records will receive a notice and questionnaire to determine eligibility and will receive restitution if they signed an improper debt agreement.

GECC and Montgomery Ward have also agreed to an injunction that will prohibit them from collecting money from improper debt agreements.  The companies are also required to disclose to their bankrupt customers their rights in connection with debt agreements proposed by the creditor.

The Commonwealth’s case was handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph K. Goldberg of Fisher’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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Euronet 1000th ATM

Euronet Services announced Friday the signing of an agreement with the Hungarian Foreign Trade Bank to provide Euronet access to a Europay gateway in Hungary. The company recently brought its 1000th ATM live on the Euronet ATM network. As of this weekend, Euronet’s ATM network consists of 1,018 ATMs, including 385 in Hungary, 382 in Poland, 165 in Germany, 64 in Croatia and 22 in the Czech Republic. Transactions by cardholders over the company’s ATM network in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Croatia and the Czech Republic totaled 1,334,361 in July, a 10% increase over the previous month. Euronet also announced Friday that CIO Anthony Ficarra has been appointed VP. Ficarra was formerly with Bisys, Inc.

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Secure Card and Commerce ’99

The Japan Industrial Journal (JIJ) has obtained reports from major international companies that Secure Card & Commerce Tokyo 1999, a show JIJ is organizing, presents an ideal environment for non-Japanese companies seeking to drive sales in Japan. The show takes place April 14-16, 1999 at the Tokyo “Big Shot” Convention Center.

According to JIJ, a leading organizer of international exhibitions and a top daily economic and industrial newspaper in Japan, several factors contribute to the opportunity, which SCC Tokyo ’99 presents. It is the first international card industry exclusive show in Japan; exhibitors will be showcasing their products and services in on of the world’s leading card-using countries; and a forecasted favorable yen will yield higher sales for importers.

Additionally, the deregulation of financial markets in Japan will introduce foreign competition to previously regulated and protected Japanese financial institutions.

According to Holly Sacks, vice president of marketing for Eltron International – one of a growing number of internationally savvy card industry suppliers – “Eltron’s secure identification printing systems worldwide. Secure Card and Commerce Tokyo ’99 offers Eltron exciting prospects with exposure to Japanese and adjacent regional markets in this important new segment of our business.”

Major supporting organizations and media for SCC Tokyo ’99 include the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA), Card Technology magazine, Smart Card Technology International, Card Forum and SJB Services.

The global card industry in flourishing in Japan, due to the manifold applications of cards; from the telecom industry to major mass transit systems, they are becoming a staple in Japan’s industry and commerce.

Thus, an invaluable opportunity exists for exhibiting companies who wish to penetrate the increasingly open Japanese market for card-related products and services. JIJ President Y. Tamashita says, “Japan represents a major opportunity for foreign card and commerce companies.”

For more information about exhibiting at SCC Tokyo ’99 contact (from outside Japan) Lori Miller at Secure Card and Commerce, PO Box 3263, Princeton, NJ 08543-3263; tel: 609-799-3422 fax: 609-799-7032; e-mail [lmiller@scctokyo.com][1]. In Japan, contact David A. Wright at ExpoMax International Ltd., Nakano-ku, Nakano 3-19-23 Tokyo 164-0001 Japan; tel: 03-5340 3491; fax:035340-3492; e-mail [info@scctokyo.com][2]; or visit the Web site at [www.scctokyo.com][3].

[1]: mailto:lmiller@scctokyo.com
[2]: mailto:info@scctokyo.com
[3]: http://www.scctokyo.com

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AmEx Passport ’98

America’s premier fashion extravaganza, Macy’s and American Express Passport ’98 “Different Together” presented by the 1999 Mercury Cougar and Lincoln Mercury — California region, brings an evening of high-energy fashion theater to Santa Monica Air Center’s Barker Hangar, on Saturday, September 26.  Founding Chair Elizabeth Taylor and Event Chair Earvin “Magic” Johnson will join M*A*C AIDS Fund co-chair k.d. lang to raise funds for 10 Los Angeles non-profit organizations dedicated to HIV/AIDS research and care.  Tickets for this unique fashion production will go on sale Sunday, August 9.

Combining all the excitement of Hollywood with the high-tech wizardry of Silicon Valley, Passport showcases the best of Macy’s fall fashion collections for men, women and children.  Guest designers include Shelli Segal for Laundry, Elie Tahari, and Marsha Akins for Makins Hats.  The clean sophisticated collections of BOSS Hugo Boss and HUGO Hugo Boss will also be featured on the runway.  Additional show highlights include “hard bodies” by Calvin Klein Underwear and “hard jeans” by Levi’s, a fashion flashback through the millennium with M*A*C. and a fun and friendly children’s sportswear segment featuring Disney’s Mickey and Pooh.

“The theme ‘Different Together’ reflects a study in contrasting ideas which dominated the fall collections,” stated Macy’s West Fashion Director Bill Bigler.  “We saw a clean, spare, minimalist look presented side-by side with a very ornate detailed look.  The theme also reflects the diverse faces of the communities that are affected by HIV/AIDS as well as the organizations that have come together to provide care and find a cure for this pandemic.”

Since 1988, more than $6 million has been raised by Macy’s and American Express through Passport events to benefit HIV/AIDS research and care organizations.  Beneficiaries for this year’s event include AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Bienestar Latino AIDS Project, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Magic Johnson Foundation, Inc., Project Inform, Project Angel Food, Reach LA, The Serra Project, Tuesday’s Child and The UCLA Center for HIV and Digestive Diseases at UCLA AIDS Institute.

For its third year as title sponsor of Los Angeles and twelfth year as presenting sponsor in San Francisco, American Express continues to “do more” and extend its commitment to Passport.  This year, American Express Cardmembers can use their American Express Cards at Macy’s from August 17 to September 26, and help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  American Express will donate up to $100,000 to HIV/AIDS research, prevention, education and direct care organizations in the Los Angeles area.  The donation is based on 50 cents per Card purchase during the promotion and one dollar per purchase on September 26 and 27 at Macy’s Beverly Center.

Macy’s and American Express Passport ’98 “Different Together” promises to be the most sensational production yet.  The evening begins with an exclusive VIP cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a culinary feast presented by the award-winning team at Along Came Mary Productions.  A lavish hors d’oeuvres buffet created by top Los Angeles restaurants will be served to general Passport attendees at 6:30 p.m.  The Passport fashion show begins at 8:30 p.m.

Macy’s and American Express Passport ’98 tickets go on sale Sunday, August 9, at 10:00 a.m.  Tickets for Saturday night’s cocktail reception and fashion show cost $50 and $40 per person.  To order tickets please call 888-ETM-TIXS, or visit any ETM Ticket Machine in Southern California.  Tickets are also available over the internet by visiting the web site at .  Tickets for the exclusive VIP dinner and fashion show cost $1,000 and $500 per person and are available by calling 310/201-5033.

Barker Hangar is located at the Santa Monica Air Center, 3021 Airport Avenue.  For more information please call 800-334-6158 or visit our Macy’s Passport ’98 web site at .

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Debt Rebounds

After a significant contraction in May, revolving debt among American consumers rebounded during June, according to preliminary figures released Friday afternoon by the Federal Reserve.  However, total revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, remains slightly below April’s record of $542.5 billion. While the figures may appear to show some caution among consumers, the growth rate is 30% higher than the annual rate of growth calculated for June 1997. Overall consumer credit grew 6.4% for June compared to 2.2% for last June. At the end of June, American consumers were $1.256 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.

                                 REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
            Jun98     May98     Apr98    Mar98     Feb98  
%GRWTH:    5.5%     -5.6%     4.6       9.7 7.8
$OWED:     $542.4    $539.9    542.5     540.4     536.1

             Jan98     Dec97     Nov97     Oct97 Sep97       
%GRWTH:     4.1       2.3      -2.1      10.0       6.2
$OWED:      532.6     530.8     529.8     530.7     526.4
  Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 08/07/98

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DatCard’s FBI Cards

Alumni attending this year’s FBI National Academy Associates (NAA) Conference–Using Technology to Improve Performance–didn’t have to wait long to see one of the hottest new technologies in law enforcement. As they entered the conference, they each received a full-color photo ID produced by a DataCard photo system.

In a matter minutes, each alumnus and their family members received a badge that included a full-color photo and conference logo, as well as proof of identification throughout the conference, which ran from July 18-22 at the Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

“We were extremely pleased with the DataCard photo ID systems,” said Tony Lanata, conference chairman. “The delegates were impressed with the quality of the badges and there were no bottlenecks at the registration area. Everything moved along very smoothly.”

According to Lanata, the photo ID process provided two benefits for attendees. “The names, photos and other information printed on the cards made it easy for the alumni to get to know each other,” Lanata said. “Plus our alumni got a real, live demonstration of a DataCard digital photo ID system. It was a good learning experience.”

More than 700 alumni, mostly from North America, attended the conference, which featured presentations on new law enforcement technologies and techniques.

“Most alumni work in law enforcement or local government, so it was a good opportunity to show how our digital photo ID solutions outperform the old film-based cut-and-paste systems,” said Renee Garpestad, vice president of DataCard’s photo ID solutions group. “Attending the conference also helped us develop a better understanding of emerging law enforcement needs.”

“We’re committed to providing secure, cost-effective identification solutions for law enforcement agencies and other government organizations,” Garpestad said. “The knowledge we gather at events like this is invaluable for our product development efforts and support of the local government market.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers complete lines of card personalization systems, digital photo ID systems, photo ID printers and transaction systems. ([www.datacard.com][1])

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

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Online Credit Reports

QSpace Inc.’s  iCreditReport.com, the first service to deliver credit reports in real time over the Internet, announced an agreement this morning  to provide users with instant access to their credit records through Apartments.com’s Moving Center relocation service. iCreditReport.com uses proprietary software that verifies a person’s identity from multiple sources in a matter of seconds, uses SSL protocols and never transmits information over unsecured connections such as e-mail.

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GlobelD & GlobeSet

GlobeID Software announced this morning it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with GlobeSet, Inc., to establish a technology and marketing partnership leveraging the GlobeSet Payment System and GlobeID’s GlobeID Banking to provide best of breed end to end payment solutions to the financial services industry.

The GlobeSet Payment System is a comprehensive SET Secure Electronic Transaction software solution. The SET protocol developed by Visa, MasterCard, and their technology partners, including GlobeSet, is recognized as the emerging standard for secure payment card purchases over the Internet.

GlobeID Banking is a world-class self-service solution providing the financial services industry with a strategic foundation to enter the electronic commerce market. GlobeID Banking encompasses the Middle-Office Solution (MOS), the ground-breaking Internet intermediation solution, and five optional modules: Internet Payment Handler (IPH), Internet Virtual Cash (IVC), Home Banking Handler (HBH), Financial Electronic Data Interchange (FEDI) and Foreign Exchange (FEX).

“GlobeSet is very excited at the prospects of leveraging GlobeID’s know how in implementing end to end payment solutions in Europe on the eve of the SET convergence initiated last month by the banking community in France. This cooperation will allow the adoption of Smart Card solutions to support SET card present transactions over the Internet.”says Dennis Jolly, GlobeSet’s Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Operations.

As payment over the Internet becomes more ubiquitous and ignores forever more national boundaries, this partnership responds to a fast growing market requirement for advanced payment services over the Internet such as foreign exchange, loyalty, installment and corporate purchasing programs to be performed in as ever more secured transaction environments.

“GlobeSet’s best of breed interoperable SET Gateway combined with GlobeID Banking give us the ability to deliver to our customers unmatched advanced transaction services in the most secure environment available” says Fabrice de Comarmond, GlobeID Software’s Senior Vice President, Business Development & Partnerships.

About Globeset

GlobeSet is the world’s largest provider of SET software for OEM solutions. GlobeSet provides all four SET applications, including GlobeSet Wallet, GlobeSet POS, GlobeSet Gateway, and GlobeSet CA. All products are in general availability, offer multi-platform support, and fully support secure hardware cryptography and key management. With offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific, GlobeSet has implemented numerous SET solutions around the world for major banks, retailers and financial processors. GlobeSet is a strategic SET solution provider for OEMs worldwide. Founded in 1994, GlobeSet, Inc. is a privately held corporation headquartered in Austin, Texas. Additional information about GlobeSet can be found at .

About GlobeID Software

Paris-based GlobeID Software SA () develops and markets world class electronic commerce transaction solutions. The company’s self service products enable high volume operators to provide advanced, cost efficient transaction services to online communities around the world. GlobeID Software SA is owned 31.5% and 68.5% respectively by the management holding company, Edeltrust, and Bull ().

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Optima Slips

American Express’ Optima portfolio lost more than 100,000 accounts and $500 million in receivables during the second quarter. According to figures released to CardData yesterday afternoon, total AmEx Optima cards total 8.9 million compared to 9.3 million at the end of the first quarter. AmEx dropped the ‘True Grace’ version of Optima earlier this year.

                   American Express Optima  Snapshot

                                   2Q-98                    1Q-98
RECEIVABLES              $9,409,998,000           $9,950,393,000
Q  VOLUME                $6,365,406,000           $4,948,937,000
GROSS ACCOUNTS              9,787,833                9,890,788
ACTIVE ACCOUNTS              5,712,670                6,207,937
CARDS-IN-FORCE                8,883,082         9,312,719
                   Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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VA Direct Deposit

The Department of Veterans Affairs began the direct depositing of most VA insurance payments into the bank accounts of 100,000 recipients yesterday. The VA began the program last month by mailing 2,000 letters to veterans and beneficiaries receiving monthly insurance payments, explaining the new law and the advantages of using EFT. VA’s Insurance Center plans to follow up by mailing notices to some 10,000 veterans and beneficiaries each month until all 100,000 recipients of monthly insurance payments have been informed of the EFT program. In January 1999, VA will offer the option of EFT to its insurance policyholders and beneficiaries who receive payments on less than a monthly basis, including some 1.2 million policyholders who receive annual dividend checks.

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GE Settles

GE Capital confirmed Thursday it has agreed to comprehensive settlements of actions by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general, as well as private class action suits, relating to reaffirmation agreements entered into with bankrupt debtors between January 1, 1993 and June 30, 1997. GE Capital voluntarily made full cash payments to 28,000 debtors last year.  Under terms of yesterday’s settlement agreement, GE Capital will make full payments to an additional 28,000 debtors and implement a process for other potentially eligible debtors to have their claims evaluated and paid if approved by the settlement administrator. GE expects payments to debtors to be less than $100 million and the settlements will not be material to GE Capital’s earnings since reserves were made last year.

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