VISA Famous Streets

For the second straight year VISA and merchants of famous streets of America are joining up to run a summer promotion and sweepstakes. ‘Famous Streets’, VISA’s largest retail and destination campaign nationwide, rewards VISA cardholders for using their VISA cards on any of the following nine famous streets and shopping areas Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive; the streets of Manhattan in New York City; San Francisco’s Union Square; Chicago’s Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue); Orange County’s South Coast Plaza; Atlanta’s Peachtree Street; Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue; Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Row; and New Orleans’ Royal Street. Besides special incentives, consumers have the opportunity to win a $25,000 shopping spree and all-expense-paid vacation to the famous street of their choice anytime and anywhere they use a VISA card between now and August 31.

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Cap One Names Investor Relations Director

Janet S. McCabe joins Capital One Financial Corporation as Director of Investor Relations.  In this capacity, Ms. McCabe will be responsible for communicating with the investor community on behalf of Capital One.

Formerly with Legg, Mason, Wood and Walker, Inc., Ms. McCabe was a sell- side analyst with primary responsibility for following the banking and credit card industries.  Prior to joining Legg Mason, Ms. McCabe directed the investor relations program at Crestar Financial Corporation.

“Ja   ‘    perience and knowledge of the credit card industry will enable her to effectively communicate Capital One’s earnings growth and the success of our Information-Based Strategy to create new products and enter new industries,” said Paul Paquin, Vice President for Investor Relations.  “Julie Benson and I welcome Janet to the Investor Relations team, as we increase our ability to add value for Capital One investors.”

Ms. McCabe earned a Masters of Business Administration at Dartmouth College and a Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Virginia.

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation ([http://www.capitalone.com][1]) is a financial services company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products.  Capital One subsidiaries collectively had 12.7 million customers and $14 billion in managed loans outstanding as of March 31, 1998, and are among the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world.

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

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Cloudy Future

The merger between NationsBank and Bank of America is pitting BofA’s BA Merchant Services against Nation’s/First Data Merchant Services’ Unified Merchant Services. BofA and NB decided Friday that BAMS will be the principal merchant servicer for their combined organization following the merger. NationsBank also said Friday it will seek to renegotiate its existing relationship with First Data Merchant Services in order to assure that there is a single provider of merchant services for the combined entity. NationsBank currently offers merchant services through Unified Merchant Services, a joint venture between NationsBank and First Data Merchant Services. BofA and NB said the impact on their respective merchant servicers is yet to be determined.

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Y2K Seminar This Week

First National Bank of Omaha, a leader in the development of traditional and innovative banking services, announced that it will host a comprehensive Year 2000 Global Forecast Seminar.  The seminar will feature a number of nationally known speakers and will cover mission critical market issues such as the much discussed Year 2000 computer problem and the crucial importance of “clean management” in an organization’s Year 2000 remediation efforts.  The seminar will be held on June 3rd at the Embassy Suites in Omaha, Nebraska.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Mr. Peter de Jager, recognized authority on the Year 2000 computer problem.  Mr. de Jager has addressed the U.S. Congress, the World Bank and numerous countries and international corporations on this issue.  He was one of the first people in the computer industry to focus concern on the Year 2000 problem.

Mr. Gary Beach, Publisher, CIO Magazine and Mr. Thomas Oleson, senior analyst, IDC Research, will give the luncheon keynote address.  Mr. Beach and Mr. Oleson will announce and explain the soon-to-be-released Beach/Oleson Law, a predictive model for the Year 2000 problem.  It is a model based on the number of shared applications an end user has with partners, customers, competitors, etc.  Mr. Beach is widely recognized for his role in founding U.S. Tech Corps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving education by utilizing technology.  Mr. Oleson is an authority on the subject of information technology financial management and has been a featured speaker at many industry conferences.

Panelists will include Mr. Bill Macfarlane, Director of Information Technology, Senn-Delaney; Mr. Wade Downs, Sr. V.P. of Information Technology, Home Shopping Network; Mr. Clayton Marsh, V.P. of Systems Development, First National Bank of Omaha; Mr. Steven M. Maun, Attorney, Baird Holm Law Firm; Mr. Stephen M. Bruckner, Attorney, Fraser Stryker Law Firm; Mr. Gerritt Kerkstra, V.P. Global Acceptance Relations, MasterCard International; and Mr. John McCarthy, V.P. Y2K Project, VISA International.  A mock trial, presented by the law firm of Kutak Rock, will illustrate the legal pitfalls inherent in the Year 2000 issue.

The Year 2000 computer problem or Millennium Bug is a growing concern to business, industry and government.  In the early days of computing, programmers used only a two-digit date code in order to conserve memory. Today, there are literally billions of lines of date sensitive code hidden in computer programs.  Unless this problem is addressed, on January 1, 2000, computers will think that it is 1900 and act accordingly.

Clayton Marsh, Vice President of Systems Development and leader of the First National Bank of Omaha’s Year 2000 program, will present a new suite of Year 2000 tools called Y2KSOLVR(TM) developed by First National Bank to address the Millennium Bug.  The Y2KSOLVR(TM) toolset expedites impact assessment and renovation of source code.

According to Marsh, the product is the only one of its kind to offer an automated “Clean Management” feature, which helps protect corrected code from future contamination.  Additionally, the date aging methodology employed by the tool is unique in the industry.

Founded in 1863, First National Bank of Omaha is the 32nd oldest nationally chartered bank in existence.  First National’s family of banks has more than 6.1 million customers, more than $7.4 billion in assets, and includes a top 25 Visa and MasterCard issuer and a top 10 Visa and MasterCard processor.

CIO Communications, Inc., publisher of CIO Magazine, was formed in 1987 to help CIO’s, IT executives and other senior management executives succeed in their enterprises through the use of information technology.  The company publishes CIO magazine, produces the award-winning web site, and develops and produces CIO Executive Programs — a series of conferences that provide educational and networking opportunities for corporate executives who want to expand their knowledge of technology, business management and innovative products and services.  CIO Communications, Inc., is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading IT, media, research and exposition company.

For more information about the Year 2000 Global Forecast Seminar or First National Bank’s Y2KSOLVR product call Terri Valenta at 402-633-7417.

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CityAccess Expands

North Communications, the leader in multimedia touch technology, announced Friday that its 25 public-access touchscreen locations in New York will allow residents to tap into entertainment options and services — from restaurant reviews to buying flowers.

The application, called City Picks, is available now through Info/New York, North’s Web-based kiosk network that provides New Yorkers with easy public access to a wide range of government services. Through Info/New York’s CityAccess program, residents have been able to pay parking tickets and real-estate taxes, obtain city-related forms and access a wealth of information.

Through the City Picks upgrade, consumers now can touch a new button on the system’s screen to catch reviews of New York City restaurants, events, shows and exhibits. At the touch of another new button, they can view flower arrangements and place Flowers USA orders with the swipe of a credit or debit card. Orders are delivered directly to the recipient in just a day or two.

“This is the first non-governmental feature we’ve added to the network,” says Adam Parker, general manager of Info/New York, that operates CityAccess. “A commercial application like this one demonstrates the wonderful range of functionality public-access touch technology can offer. We expect to further expand the Info/New York system in the near future.”

Parker writes the material included in City Picks’ review module called Parker’s Picks, which offers nine different reviews of entertainment forms in New York, as well as horoscopes. The information is updated every two weeks and is free to all users. From the Parker’s Picks module, users can tap a button that directly links them back to the Flowers USA module and vice versa.

“Flowers USA is very pleased to be able to offer New Yorkers an easy way to deliver flowers to their loved ones,” says Dave Adams, president of Flowers USA. “No longer is the Internet or the telephone the only way to order flowers through us. North’s kiosks now provide an additional platform.”

The Info/New York public-access touchscreen system was launched in 1996 and allows New Yorkers to pay parking tickets and real-estate taxes, while providing them with government forms and information about City Hall, public libraries and city transportation.

North’s public-access touchscreen locations look like ATMs and are equipped with card readers and PIN pads to allow credit and debit card transactions. The Info/New York system has public access locations in high-traffic areas throughout the five boroughs, including Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, public libraries and malls. The system accepts MasterCard, Visa and American Express.

North Communications

Based in Marina del Rey, California, North Communications is a designer, manufacturer, and operator of transactional kiosk networks for the public and private sectors. The company is known especially for its award-winning work in ground-breaking government projects in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, and New York and internationally in Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. More information can be found on the Web at

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Loyalty Pays

A study on corporate loyalty marketing programs, released Friday, showed that individuals earning $75,000 or more per year showed a preference for credit card, airline and other related loyalty programs while groups earning less than $45,000 (or between ages 18-24) favored loyalty programs by food/beverage companies and restaurant/fast food chains. For spending of $200 with a company, respondents rated $15 off the next purchase, a $15 retail gift certificate and 500 bonus air miles as their favorite loyalty rewards. The study, commissioned by the Carlson Marketing Group, also found that complicated programs and having to purchase too much of the company’s products or services were turnoffs, but nearly half the respondents revealed their purchases from a company would decrease or stop altogether if the loyalty program were discontinued. The study concluded that loyalty marketing (i.e. frequent flyer, shopper programs) is among the most vital strategies in winning new business, retaining current customers and boosting overall customer share.

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Vital Chief Resigns

Last week’s board of directors meeting for Vital Processing Services apparently ruffed up enough feathers to send its president and CEO out the door. Widely respected industry veteran Fred O. Gumbel abruptly resigned from his post Thursday. Vital, a joint venture of TSYS and VISA, released a statement Friday simply saying Gumbel left to “pursue other interests”. There were apparently differences over Vital’s future direction as the company also said Friday it “will move quickly to fill the position with an executive committed to Vital’s strategic vision”. The Vital board appointed TSYS president Philip Tomlinson to act as interim president and CEO.

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Hard Rock

American Express will announce today its exclusive, global sponsorship of ‘HARD ROCK LIVE’, a worldwide television broadcast slated for this summer. ‘HARD ROCK LIVE Presented By American Express’ will be seen simultaneously in 60 countries around the world and will feature top world bands including The Pretenders; Australian singing sensation Natalie Imbruglia; Third Eye Blind; Ben Folds Five; Boyz II Men; Trisha Yearwood;  Ani DiFranco; and Hootie & the Blowfish. The show is set for July 10 on VH1. Today’s sponsorship deal will also include several exclusive promotions for using the AmEx card in Hard Rock Cafe locations.  For the first time ever, Hard Rock will launch a value-added campaign in conjunction with American Express to drive tune-in and increase awareness of the TV series, and to encourage dining in the cafes and increase purchases. There are 87 Hard Rock Cafes in 30 countries.

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Legacy Converter

CR Systems announced that Union State Bank has completed a successful implementation of its flagship product, Legacy Converter.

Legacy Converter is a data communication system that can significantly reduce ATM and teller network costs by converting ATM or teller terminal traffic to TCP/IP, eliminating separate data lines.

Union State Bank is a $1 billion-asset institution with 22 branches headquartered in Orangeburg, N.Y. When it approached CR Systems, the bank sought to eliminate much of the cost of the separate data lines necessary to run its ATM network.

“Prior to using Legacy Converter, we had 42 lines – two communication lines supporting each of our 21 remote locations – one for the ATM traffic and one for the data traffic,” said Joe Anderson, assistant vice president of Data Processing for Union State Bank. “Now we have one line providing communication between our host and all of our sites. On that one line, we can bring all the ATM traffic into our data center, plus all the data transmission that goes back and forth normally between a branch and the host, for such things as new accounts, balances and teller transactions. This considerably reduces our monthly costs.”

In addition to greatly decreasing the costs associated with every additional – yet unnecessary – data line, the Legacy Converter system enhances the manageability and security of networks and improves their overall infrastructure. “Many banks are still paying for multiple communication lines and the resulting maintenance costs month after month without realizing there is a solution,” said Klaus Akselsen, vice president of CR Systems Corp. “Sometimes infrastructure issues are overlooked, resulting in greater costs, poor manageability of their systems, compromised security and a reduction in the overall quality of the infrastructure itself. Legacy Converter provides solutions in all these areas.”

Increased control and manageability have proved to be major benefits to Union State Bank, according to Anderson. “Because of Legacy Converter, we have better control of our remotes by pinpointing problems early on – leading to less downtime at remote locations,” he said. “Basically, it provides us with a good network management system. We also have dialed back-up capability built into the box so that if the main leg goes out, it will automatically try to communicate with our host through an ISDN line and make a connection for the failed line.”

Legacy Converter is available as a board/software solution or a box solution. Typically, the remote (branch) end requires a board/software solution, which is based on a communication card and software. Legacy Converter can have up to five cards (10 ports) in one Windows NT platform. It also provides gateway functionality between NT platforms and mainframes.

The central (host) end can be either a board/software solution or a box solution, depending on the number of lines required. The box solution is available in a small, two-port version and a larger version with up to 40 ports in one unit. Multiple boxes can be clustered to support virtually any number of lines.

Customer Support Another CR Systems Hallmark

Another hallmark of CR Systems is the high-level of support it provides customers. “CR Systems is the most responsive vendor we work with at the data center,” Anderson reported. “If we have any problem, they are immediately addressing the situation.” “Union State Bank is growing, and our needs are constantly changing. We have not come up with a problem that CR Systems has not been able to address, and that gives us confidence that we are aligning ourselves with the right company. They are extremely professional and knowledgeable.”

About the Company

CR Systems has been involved in multi-protocol data communications for more than 20 years. The company is headquartered in Hvidovre, Denmark, with North American headquarters in Atlanta. It is partially owned by Delta Air Lines, the largest single user of CR Systems’ technology.

The company develops, manufactures and sells solutions that allow multiple protocols and multiple application platforms to share network resources. Its core competence is communication protocols and protocol conversion. For more information on CR Systems, contact Klaus Akselsen at (404) 767-8230, via fax at (404) 767-1372, write to CR Systems, 100 Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30354, or e-mail akselsen@crsystems.com. Visit CR Systems’ Web site at [http://www.crsystems.com.][1]

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

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AmEx Intl Head

American Express appointed James M. Cracchiolo as president of its international travel related services unit yesterday. Cracchiolo replaces Thomas Ryder, who resigned in April. In his expanded role Cracchiolo will lead two of the three top AmEx initiatives, namely the growth of international business and building a global network. Cracchiolo has served most recently as president of the company’s newly formed Global Network Services, which develops partnerships with banks and other financial institutions to issue proprietary and non-proprietary cards.  During his tenure, AmEx has signed 32 card-issuing partners outside the U.S.. Prior to heading GNS, Mr. Cracchiolo was SVP of TRS Quality, Re-engineering and Business Strategy.

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