Check Card Speeds Check Out

Americans spend an average of 22 minutes waiting in check-out lines to pay for purchases or services each day which adds up to over two and a half hours a week, or more than five days a year, according to a survey commissioned by Visa U.S.A. To add to the frustration of losing time to long lines, Americans are recognized that certain forms of payment slow down the line and actually make their wait longer. More than one-quarter (28.1%) of the 1,013 survey respondents report they become annoyed when the person ahead of them in line pays by check.


ECHO Record

Electronic Clearing House Inc. announced credit card-processing volume of more than $50 million for the month of March, breaking previous records and reaching an all-time high. Two new services offered to ECHO merchants, ECHONLINE and ECHOTEL, have also enhanced ECHO’s processing volume. ECHONLINE provides a low-cost processing solution for home-based businesses that want to accept credit cards and permits merchants to accept credit cards at locations where it may not be convenient, possible or affordable to use conventional point-of-sale equipment.



National Processing, Inc. has named Donald J. Kenney Executive Vice President of Corporation Services in charge of outsourcing, freight, payables, remittance and imaging. Kenney is a former Executive Vice President of First of America Bank Corporation of Kalamazoo, Mich. In that role, he was responsible for the automation and operations of First of America’s banks and divisions. Kenney also had product line responsibility for First of Amerca’s mortgage lending, credit card and indirect lending.


Rice Named to USW Board

U.S. Wireless Data Inc. announced Friday the appointment of Alvin C. Rice to its Board of Directors effective June 1, 1998. Rice has a career span of 40 years in banking, investment banking, and commercial business management. As vice-chairman of Bank of America, he was in charge of that bank’s $60 billion worldwide commercial banking business. He had also served as chairman and president of Imperial Bank, been associate of Hambrecht & Quist, and has experience working directly in turnaround situations with such companies as Rheem Manufacturing Co., Pacific Growers, Memorex Corp. and Pacific Bridge Co.


Risk Futures/Options

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Friday filed for regulatory approval to trade the world’s first futures and options addressing default risk in the $1.2 trillion consumer credit market. The CME Quarterly Bankruptcy Index, aimed at providing risk institutions, ultimately could help lower interest rates for consumers, exchange officials said. The CME QBI will be the first exchange-traded product designed to specifically target the credit derivative market. The CME Quarterly Bankruptcy Index will be based on the number, in thousands, of new bankruptcy filings in U.S. Bankruptcy courts. Futures will be sized at $1,000 time the CME QBI. The tick size will be .025, equivalent to 25 bankruptcy filings and valued at $25. The contracts will expire in the March quarterly cycle.


AT&T Deal Done

Citibank and AT&T announced the completion of the previously announced acquisition of AT&T Universal Card Services by Citibank for $3.5 billion. As part of the transaction, the companies also signed a 10-year co-branding and joint marketing agreement. Citibank also named Daniel R. DeMeo, previously head of UCS Marketing as the Citibank USC Business unit manager and senior site officer in Jacksonville, Fla. He will report to A. Sami Siddiqui, General Manager of North America Cards. Citibank said there will be no immediate changes to the Universal card. Cardmembers will be provided with uninterrupted service and can expect to receive the same features and benefits that they now receive from the card.



IBM announced that it has extended its support of the SET protocol by beginning the formal compliance testing process established by SET Secure Electronic Transaction LLC. IBM CommercePOINT is the industry’s first suite of end-to-end solutions that enable more secure, quick and easy credit card commerce on the Internet. The payment suite integrates SET into all phases of an electronic commerce transaction, from the consumer, to the merchant and to the acquiring bank’s processor. The result is a complete solution that makes online purchasing more secure for consumers and merchants.


Private Issue Artists

The Private Issue Card announced Friday that its 1998 series will feature artwork by country music star, songwriter and actor, Randy Travis; British composer, musician and bandleader, Phil Collins; and a second creation by 1997 artist, the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The entire 1997 series of Private Issue Cards, including the first Garcia Card, will be retired when the 1998 Cards are introduced. In addition to Garcia, Private Issue featured a watercolor by rock music diva Tina Turner and oil pastel landscape by New York basketball star Patrick Ewing. Ewing’s 1997 Card marked his second creation for the Private Issue Card.


Customer Activated Cards

First USA has introduced a new line of customer-activated value cards. The First USA Platinum Connect Card, the first in the customer-activated value card series, serves as a calling card with substantial discounts compared to other major long distance providers and offers 60 free minutes of domestic long distance calling time, and 10% cash back rewards on all calling card calls.

The First USA Platinum Supreme Card, a gasoline card scheduled for introduction this summer, will offer $10 in free gas and can be used at any gas pump where Visa and MasterCard are accepted. The customer-activated multifunctional value cards are offered via mail as service and reward cards to pre-approved customers. In addition, if they wish, customers may activate the credit card feature, which offers a 4.9% introductory APR and a 12.99% standard APR with no annual fee. All cards require customer activation via a security protocol before they can be used in any capacity. A customer must separately request activation of the credit feature before it becomes available.


43 Billion STV Transactions

By 2005, personal ATMs and stored-value cards will stake out a 10% to 15% share of global network-related banking transactions. Killen estimates 43 billion stored value and phone card transactions by 2005. “Stored Value: New Opportunities for Retail Banking and Telecard Providers,” a new study from Killen & Associates states that personal ATMs are key to the explosive growth of smart cards throughout the world economy and society in general. The personal ATM represents a new service and product category for disbursement of monetary value and for the execution of other financial transactions.



Montgomery Ward announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with Monogram Bank and Montgomery Ward Credit Corporation for uninterrupted operation of Wards’ private credit card. The agreement, which was approved Friday by the United States Bankruptcy Court and is supported by the official creditors committee will govern operation of the retailer’s private credit card through Wards’ expected emergence from Chapter 11 protection in 1999. Under the terms of the deal, Wards will provide additional payment of $2 to $3 million per month to Monogram/MWCC in lieu of an assumption of the credit card operation by Wards or another financial institution.


Teach Our Children Day

April 2nd has been dubbed “Teach Our Children Day” by the Securities and Exchange Commission during its week-long “Facts on Saving and Investing Campaign.” American Express Financial Advisors believes in the importance of saving and investing, especially for young people and offers the following tips to help parents and young people learn the basics.

Saving Money Makes Cents Tips for Teens on Saving Money

Whether you’re saving money for little things like a movie and popcorn, bigger things like a stereo or a car or really big things like a college education, the following tips can help keep your savings on track:

— Set a savings goal and keep track of your progress. Include what things you want to save for and prioritize them. Keep track of how much they cost and decide if you really want them.

— Find a safe place to keep your savings. Ask your parents to help you set up a special place to put your money — banks are great because your money earns interest and you won’t be tempted to spend it.

— Avoid spur-of-the-moment spending. Think about what you’d like to buy and why.

— When you purchase items, wait for them to go on sale.

— Only buy items when you have money. Don’t borrow to buy things and then overspend and go broke!

— Ask your parents/guardians about what “extra” chores you can do for them to earn extra cash. Save the money you earn.

— Remember, saving money and watching it grow is fun!

Tips for Parents/Guardians on Helping Teens Save

Teens are confronted with difficult choices every day, and one of those choices is whether to save or spend the money they earn. As parents/guardians, we can help teens learn money management skills that encourage financial independence over time. Following are a few tips to get you started encouraging the young person in your life to save:

— Ask young people what they plan to spend the dollars they earn on. Are they thinking about what they want today? Or, are they thinking about what they want over time (i.e. a college education). Encourage goal setting and planning so they make thoughtful spending decisions.

— Help your teen pick something special to save for and work with them to prioritize the items.

— Help young people find a part-time job or offer them “extra” projects and odd jobs around the house and yard in which they can earn some extra “savings.”

— Encourage saving by helping young people set up a special place to put their money. Bank accounts can be a home away from home for your teen’s money.