Clean Card

A Florida company announced its plans Monday to revolutionize the coin laundry business with smart cards. LAUNDROMAX demonstrated the new smart ‘Clean Card’ yesterday to Florida businessmen. Currently, LAUNDROMAX has 3 stores open in South Florida and the company plans to open more than 20 stores in Dade, Broward and Monroe counties in the next 18 months, and more than 400 in the next five years nationwide. LAUNDROMAX investors and board members include Keith Cobb, former CEO of Alamo Rent A Car, Mike Maroone, President of Republic Industries Automotive Division and Gerry Geddis, former COO and President of Blockbuster Entertainment.


New ICE Family Member

Hypercom unveiled the ‘T5000’ Interactive Customer Equipment (ICE) terminal yesterday. The powerful, multi-function touch-screen terminal incorporates a high-speed thermal printer and paper cutter, as well as Hypercom’s new ‘FastPOS’ 9600bps modem. The ‘T5000’ will also support a range of new value-added transactions, including loyalty and smart card schemes, such as VISA Cash, Mondex and EMV. By integrating the terminal and printer, the total terminal footprint is reduced and, at six lines per second, receipt printing is fast. The automatic paper cutter reduces paper jams as it eliminates paper tearing by the cashiers. The ‘T5000’ also has a built-in secure PIN Pad and an electronic signature capture pad.


Nationwide Wireless

Processing wireless, credit/debit card transactions anytime, virtually anywhere companies do business in the U.S., will become a reality with an agreement between BellSouth Wireless Data and Transaction Network Services. The agreement, to be announced later this week from the ETA Conference in San Francisco, will include the support of three, new, portable, wireless POS terminals including the ‘Nurit 2090’ by Lipman Electronic Engineering, the Hypercom ‘T7PRR’ and the Intellect ‘9770’. Last year, the TNS network carried 2.4 billion card transactions and serves as a hub for more than 40 processors. BellSouth Wireless Data operates its wireless data service throughout the U.S., covering more than 93% of the urban business population located in 266 metropolitan areas with a total population of 200 million people.


SmartNet ’98

The Smart Card Forum announced Friday it will host ‘SmartNet ’98’, a special one-day symposium, as part of its 6th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, September 9-10. The theme of this smart card industry event-of-the-year is: “Accelerating the Marketplace: Competition, Collaboration and Consumer Confidence”. The special symposium will be held September 10 and will focus on the use of smart cards in the cyberworld and applications of smart cards for networks. Three main areas will be addressed: compelling applications for early adopters; keys to acceptance by mainstream users; and overcoming the barriers to adoption and deployment.



HONOR said Friday that debit card POS usage is skyrocketing. HONOR reported a 52% increase in the number of POS purchases in the first half of 1998, compared to the same period last year. HONOR recorded an average of 26.8 million POS purchases per month during the first six months of 1998, up from an average of 17.6 million transactions monthly in the first six months of 1997. Total POS transactions through June reached 161 million. In addition, the number of POS transactions processed by HONOR has steadily risen month over month from 24.8 million transactions in January to 27.3 million transactions in June, an increase of almost 11%. A new monthly record was set in May with 29.2 million transactions.


3Com POS Support

About 80% of all U.S. payment card transactions are now processed over 3Com enabled networks operated by AT&T, CompuServe, VisaNet and others. Wal-Mart announced Friday it has installed a corporate dial back-up solution which includes 3Com ‘Total Control’ remote access concentrator technology. The solution enables immediate restoration of over 3,000 sites simultaneously, while providing the ability to grow at the rate required to support the growth of domestic and international Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters, and Sam’s Clubs. Wal-Mart says the new back-up system ensures access to on-line elements such as credit card verification, check verification, and Wal-Mart gift cards.


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.


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.


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.


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 [][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 [][2]; or visit the Web site at [][3].



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 .


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