Solicitation Response Weakening

The overall response rate to 1997 credit card solicitations declined to the lowest level in 10 years of tracking, deposit platinum card offers driving total mail volume to a record-high three billion pieces, according to Mail Monitor.  The overall response of 1.3 percent declined form the already-low 1.4 percent in 1996.  However, while the response rate was at a record low, the absolute number of 39 million responses in 1997 was six million higher than 1996.  Meanwhile, gold card mailings plunged to a 27 percent share of 1997’s market form 44 percent from 41 percent on 1996, and non-bank card offers dropped to seven percent of 1997’s market form nine percent the year before.  Platinum card solicitations, driven largely by a single issuer that accounted for 26 percent of total mail volume.

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Small CU 1Q-98

The traditional first quarter contraction is broad based as smaller credit unions report in to Card Management Information Services’s ‘First Quarter 1998 Portfolio Survey’.

CREDIT UNION 1Q-98 RECV 4Q-97 RECV
Eastern Financial FCU $68,219,353 $67,662,878
Alaska USA FCU $61,487,000 $62,820,300
America First $61,472,216 $78,470,921
Desert Schools FCU $59,746,232 $61,149,996
Georgia Telco CU $22,611,602 $24,680,083

SOURCE: Card Management Information Services

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SmartCity Lite

Product Technologies Inc. announced yesterday the availability of SmartCity Lite, the latest addition to PTi’s SmartCity product line.  SmartCity is a turnkey smart card based e-purse application that also provides a multi-application development platform and tools to systems integrators. SmartCity Lite has been developed to meet the needs of corporations requiring a multi-functional corporate card for office buildings and small- to mid-size organizations requiring a cost-effective system that is easy to install, operate, and integrate with existing infrastructure.  The product is a client/server application that runs on a single PC, accommodates a single smart card type, and supports up to 3,000 active card users in a closed environment.

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Albertson’s Hypermarket

Albertson’s has launched their project to install gas stations at their stores using the Touch-N-Go based fuel dispenser system from the Wayne Division of Dresser Industries  Touch-N-Go is an interactive touch screen user interface for gas pumps.  Touch-N-Go allows users to select fuel type and payment method simple by touching the screen.  Touch-N-Go offers customer’s added value such as coupons and can display general user information or advertising videos, together with optional news, weather, and sports.  The grocery industry is embracing the notion of “hypermarkets,” stores with gas stations and other convenient onsite.  To date, Albertson’s has installed Touch-N-Go dispensers at five stores in three states.  Albertson’s has ordered 20 additional installations with more planned in 1998.  The company has 839 stores across the United States.

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Real Time I-Billing

Portal Software, Inc., announced this morning that American Management Systems, Incorporated will provide Portal’s real-time Infranet solution to Internet access providers around the world.  Infranet’s real-time software architecture will allow AMS to offer a billing solution that supports enhanced IP-based services such as variable bandwidth access, Internet telephony, Internet fax and other measured-service offerings.

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Gathering Steam

Following a sluggish January revolving credit picked up steam in February with a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 8.8%. According to February consumer credit figures released by the Federal Reserve, overall consumer credit is growing at an annual rate of 7.8% compared to 5.7% rate for last February. While revolving credit is strong it remains below last year’s pace. For February 1997 revolving credit was growing 9.4% annually. At the end of February American consumers were $1.244 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.

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Bloody Mad

U.K. cardholders are getting tangled up in late payment fee policies for credit cards and they’re hopping mad about it. According to yesterday’s London Daily Mail, MBNA and NatWest are hitting U.K. cardholders with late fees if the payment is not posted by the due date. MBNA reportedly said it takes up to three days to have a payment posted after receipt and NatWest indicated it requires the payment to “clear” before it is posted. People’s Bank and Beneficial Bank reportedly have similar policies. The Daily Mail says by contrast RBS Advanta has a 10 day late payment grace period. Also Capital One, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland all consider the payment posted upon the day of receipt.

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7-Eleven Chic Cell Cards

7-Eleven has teamed up with Ameritech to offer Pick UP & Go Cellular Prepaid Cards for on-the-go 7-Eleven customers in the Chicago area.  To get started with Ameritech’s cellular service, customers can either purchase a new phone or bring in their own cellular phone to a local Ameritech Communication Center or authorized dealer (a $35 activation fee may apply).  Once customers have activated their cellular service, they can purchase a Pick Up & Go Cellular Card at any of the participating 15- 7-Eleven stores in the Chicago area for $30 or $50 worth of cellular calling.

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ARKSYS Signs Ms CU

Today, ARKSYS announced an agreement with Industrial Employees Credit Union of Jackson, Miss., to provide a software solution to link the credit union’s members to the EDS Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) gateway network.

Industrial Employees Credit Union (IECU) will implement ARKSYS’ Integrated Transaction Management(TM) (ITM) software on its AS/400 to route cardholder activity directly and also to provide on-line communications with the EDS Gateway network. Once implemented, IECU members will access checking or savings accounts from any ATM worldwide that are members of the CIRRUS international EFT switch system.

“ARKSYS’ ITM solution properly positions IECU to add other retail delivery products such as PC banking and voice response as desired,” said Mitzi Tate, President and CEO of IECU. “The integrated solution offers on-line, real time features and functionality which benefit both our organization and our members.”

IECU is a member-owned cooperative whose purpose is to help members achieve financial goals through proper money management. IECU was chartered in 1956 as a credit union for Presto Manufacturing Company. The credit union has since evolved to a credit union that services hundreds of industrial and commercial businesses in Mississippi. IECU’s home page address is .

ARKSYS offers Integrated Transaction Management, a family of payment and transaction processing solutions that allow financial and non-financial institutions to provide their customers on-line, real time transactions twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week from a variety of devices. ARKSYS’ ITM provides institutions with the ability to process and manage retail delivery operations including card and client management systems, international credit card, debit card, ATM and POS management; merchant management; electronic funds network solutions, on-line and intercept; access solutions, interactive voice response, Internet/intranet/extranet personal banking and bill payment; Internet security; and wholesale delivery with Internet/intranet/extranet commercial cash management. The company’s solutions are established in more than 70 countries.

Visit ARKSYS’ home page at .

For more information, contact Rob Roedel, Director of Public Relations, 501-218-7226 (USA), or E-mail: [rroedel@arksys.com][1].

[1]: mailto:rroedel@arksys.com

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Army Smart Cards

Gemplus announced Friday its participation in the first system combining a stored value application with biometric security on a single smart card. Gemplus has committed to supply 20,000 smart cards for a pilot program at Ft. Sill in which Army recruits entering basic training will receive cards carrying their fingerprints and loaded with $200 to $260 in salary advances to cover their initial expenses.  The last of three stored value applications being tested at Army bases by the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service, the Ft. Sill project is meant to demonstrate that stored money on smart cards will save trainees, vendors and accountants the hours of paperwork currently consumed processing cash purchases on the base.

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