VISA Signature Update

VISA’s answer to the ‘World MasterCard’, the ‘VISA Signature Card;’ is taking shape. VISA indicated yesterday several issuers have signed up to issue the high-end card and that it is still pursuing the concept of offering ‘Signature’ cardholders the option to apply mileage bonus points to any airline carrier. The program is anchored by three programs namely VISA Concierge Service, VISA Preferred Access and VISA Signature Preferred Travel. Concierge Service provides a wide range of services such as obtaining reservations at special events and fine dining establishments. Preferred Access offers  VIP access to a host of exclusive and unusual events. Preferred Travel offers automatic room upgrades and guaranteed late check-out at Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Le Meridien Hotels and free upgrades with Avis Rent A Car.


Gone Country

Discover’s ‘Private Issue’ card unveiled its 1998 celebrity artists yesterday who will create a celebrity art credit card for the coming year. Topping this year’s list is country music artist Randy Travis. Discover also named rock music legend Phil Collins as this year’s new celebrity artist. The late Jerry Garcia has been extended for another year as a ‘Private Issue’ celebrity artist. Yesterday Mr. Travis unveiled the original acrylic painting he created for the ‘Private Issue Card’ in ceremonies held in Midtown Manhattan.. He is the first country music artist commissioned by Discover.  The unveiling of Mr. Travis’ art marked the launch of the fourth series of ‘Private Issue’ celebrity art cards.   Each year, ‘Private Issue’ retires the works of two or more of its artists in order to introduce new works to the collection. As each artwork is retired, ‘Private Issue’ funds a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Level I ARTS Award.


First SET Marks Granted

The SET race narrowed yesterday as SET Secure Electronic Transaction LLC (or SETCo) announced the awarding of the right to use the SET trademark to the first four vendors of  SET-compliant software. The four winners: GlobeSet Inc., Spyrus/Terisa Systems, Trintech, and VeriFone, Inc.. Each of the four companies were the first to successfully complete a series of SET compliance tests for their respective wallet software. The SET compliance testing, which is conducted by Tenth Mountain Systems, comprises a series of tests for four SET applications:  the wallet software, which performs both the authentication and execution of secure payment and also holds the cardholder’s digital certificate and credit/debit or charge card information; the merchant payment acceptance software, which implements SET at merchant Web sites and enables the authentication of the merchant; the acquirers’ payment gateway software, which allows transactions to flow securely from the Internet to the payment networks; and the certificate authority software used in issuing digital certificates.  The SET spec was originally developed by Visa and MasterCard in Feb 1996 and SETCo was established by both associations in Dec 1997.


AmEx Hungary

The fourth largest card issuer in Hungary, K&H Bank, signed with American Express yesterday as an independent operator. K&H will issue American Express Cards in Hungary, in Forint, the local currency.  Current AmEx cardholders will have the option of converting their card to the new product, retaining their dollar-denominated card, or carrying both cards.   K&H is among the largest financial institutions in Hungary.  It has a country-wide network of 137 bank branches and 148 ATM machines.


Y2K Pain

IDG unveiled its ‘Y2K Pain Index’ in Nebraska yesterday at the ‘Year 2000 Global Forecast’ seminar, sponsored by the First National Bank of Omaha. The index is a chart of Year 2000 probabilities and predictions based on a formula developed by CIO magazine. The calculations show the ripple effect of being connected to external organizations, such as suppliers, customers, banks and other business partners. The probability of experiencing a Year 2000 problem is broken down into four degrees of severity:  Annoying; Disruptive; Business Critical and Catastrophic. A company with 500 connected applications could face a 5.4% probability of a catastrophy.

Connections       Catastrophic    Critical       Disruptive       Annoying
     5               0.1%           1.0%            3.7%            7.4%
    10               0.1%           2.1%            7.3%           14.3%
    20               0.2%           4.1%          14.0%           26.5%
    50               0.5%          10.0%          31.4%           53.7%
   100               1.1%          19.0%          52.9%           78.6%
   500               5.4%          65.0%          97.7%          100.0%
  1000             10.4%          87.8%          99.9%          100.0%


PFWYG Marketing Data

Deluxe Direct Response rolled out a new, flexible ‘NetMatch’ file enhancement service offering a pay-for-what-you-get pricing strategy.  Card issuers using Deluxe Data Resources will only be charged for the requested data elements that match each individual file. File enhancement services are typically priced on a package basis. Deluxe Data Resources provides access to the most in-depth data integral to predicting customer profitability based on its database that stores lifestyle, housing and purchase behavior from more than 100 million households.


Hamburger Helper

The hunt for the killer smart payment card application may become more focused after Wednesday’s announcement that Burger King and Mondex USA will launch a pilot to test smart payment cards in the fast food industry. Thus far, U.S. consumer acceptance of smart payment cards has been anything but enthusiastic. However, yesterday’s development could excite U.S. consumers. The Burger King/Mondex smart card will combine an electronic cash function and a loyalty program. Cardholders will earn points toward free food items by using a single, reloadable Mondex smart card featuring the Burger King logo. This is the first time in the U.S. that Mondex cards can be obtained and reloaded directly at a merchant’s store location. This is also the first time that Mondex USA is testing an on-chip loyalty program. The test is being conducted in four NY Long Island-area Burger King restaurants and will last approximately six months. Card-dispensing devices inside the Burger Kings will offer pre-loaded Burger King Mondex cards with $10 or $20 of Mondex value. Customers receive one loyalty point for every dollar spent. Points are stored on the chip automatically at the time of purchase. Loyalty points can be redeemed as follows: 10 points — free breakfast value meal; 15 points — free WHOPPER sandwich value meal; and 20 points — free value meal of the customer’s choice. De La Rue will provide the smart card POS terminals for the test. Gemplus will manufacture, personalize, and customize the Burger King Mondex cards being used. Giesecke & Devrient America Inc. will supply the smart card dispensing machines. Chase Manhattan Bank will process the Mondex transactions.


Pump Up The Volume

Excluding debit and charge cards, bank credit card volume is growing a tad faster in 98 than 97. According to figures released yesterday by Bankcard Barometer, card volume, including cash advances and purchases, is growing about 13% annually compared to 11% last year. First quarter data, based on issuer reported figures, shows cardholders racked up $195.6 billion among the four major credit card brands. If American Express charge cards are added the number would compute to $229.2 billion. Based on historical trends bank credit card volume should exceed $850 billion this year. Debit and charge cards should drive total volume over the $1 trillion mark for the U.S. Among major players: MBNA’s volume is soaring 30% annually, from $13,401,664,000 for 1Q-97 to $17,344,275,000 for 1Q-98;  NationsBank’s volume is 22% from $5,308,273,000 for 1Q-97 to $6,462,881,000 for 1Q-98.

First Quarter 1998 YTD
VISA $112.2 billion
MASTERCARD $ 64.6 billion
DISCOVER $ 13.9 billion
AMERICAN EXPRESS: $  4.9 billion
TOTAL         $195.6 billion

*excludes debit & charge cards    * includes cash advance & purchases including charge cards AmEx first quarter volume was $38.5 billion Source: Card Management Information Services’ Bankcard Barometer 301-695-4897


Canadian Debit

Interac Direct Payment says Canadians, for the third straight year, prefer debit cards over credit cards and cheques. In 1995, 58% of cardholders said they use cash most often compared with 10 per cent who said they use IDP. This year, the percentage of  people who state cash is their primary payment method dropped to 45 per cent while IDP climbed to 31%. The 1998 IDP study shows 79% of women cardholders have used debit payment and 54% are very frequent users. This is a jump from 1996 when use among women was 68%. In the age demographic, 18-24 year-olds continue to be the group who have most likely tried IDP at 96%, up 11% from two years ago.


VeriSign MCSP

VeriSign, Inc. announced Wednesday its participation in the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider (MCSP) Alliance. The MCSP Alliance, introduced in April, brings together leading providers of products and services who are extending specialized and discounted offers to MCSPs. With VeriSign’s participation, MCSPs will now receive discounts and greater access to VeriSign’s value-added digital certificate solutions for secure electronic commerce.

As part of their participation in the MCSP Alliance, VeriSign has developed two special programs for MCSPs — a quick start training and evaluation program and reseller program including 15 percent discounts on VeriSign’s Secure Server IDs. VeriSign has also established a VeriSign/MCSP support Web site () to give MCSPs access to key educational resources.

“As Microsoft’s Global Prime Integrator for Windows NT Solutions, Digital is pleased to see the addition of Verisign for the MCSP Alliance. We can now respond to customers’ e-commerce needs with the most complete, secure and reliable solutions and facilitate the widespread implementation of trusted electronic commerce,” said Laura Farnham, vice president Internet Commerce Solutions Marketing.

VeriSign’s Secure Server IDs enable SSL technology, which ensure both authentication and encryption at the browser-to-server level. Secure Server IDs are used by over 50,000 Web sites to provide site visitors with the confidence that the Web site they are visiting is authentic and that their private data and payment information (such as credit card numbers), are being transmitted securely over the Internet via a secure encrypted channel. VeriSign Secure Server IDs will provide MCSP customers with many key benefits, including the ability to establish secure communications with site visitors using SSL, proof-of-identity, recognition by all major browsers, protection from Internet fraud, $100,000 of protection under the NetSure Protection Plan and the ability to participate in VeriSign’s Authentic Site program.

“The MCSP Alliance was created to help MCSPs maximize their relationships with other leading software, hardware and services companies,” said Juan Vegarra, director of the worldwide MCSP program at Microsoft Corp. “VeriSign’s digital certificate products and services will enhance the security offerings readily available to the MCSP channel. We are pleased to have VeriSign onboard as a participant of the MCSP Alliance.”

“VeriSign is committed to enabling MCSP participants to capitalize on growing revenue opportunities in the enterprise security market,” said Richard Yanowitch, vice president of marketing at VeriSign. “The inclusion of VeriSign’s Secure Server IDs in the MCSP Alliance program will allow us to further integrate our certificate services with Microsoft and its key distribution channel, in order to effectively service the needs of enterprises worldwide.”

There are over 14,000 MCSPs worldwide, including systems integrators, custom application developers, installation and deployment service providers, business consultants and training organizations. MCSPs add value to their customers by offering their customers a full range of services for private IP networks and the Internet, line-of-business applications and client-server implementations. For more information on the MCSP program, visit .

VeriSign will also be exhibiting at the sold-out Microsoft Fusion 98 and Tech Ed conferences in New Orleans on May 31st – June 3rd, 1998. VeriSign will be located at booth # 1430 and will be demonstrating VeriSign OnSite, its enterprise certificate authority offering and Secure Server IDs for Web sites and content publishers. For more information about these conferences, visit .

VeriSign, Inc.

VeriSign, Inc. is the leading provider of digital certificate solutions used by enterprises, Web sites and consumers to conduct secure communications and transactions over the Internet and private networks. VeriSign’s Digital IDs and Secure Server IDs are available through the company’s Web site at . VeriSign’s E-Commerce Solutions are used by enterprises to deploy complete Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solutions for intranets, extranets, and large-scale electronic commerce applications, and are available through VeriSign regional account representatives or through VeriSign resellers. For more information visit VeriSign’s Web site at .