Merchant Services Alliance

First Security Corporation and First Data Merchant Services Corporation announced Monday the creation of a joint venture that will offer an expanded range of processing and related services to First Security’s merchant credit card processing customers. First Security will contribute a growing portfolio of established, successful merchant contracts to the joint venture. First Data Merchant Services will provide merchant processing services, back-office services and other support for the alliance merchants. In addition, FDMS will contribute sales and marketing resources to the venture. The partnership will be operated under the First Security brand name as a limited liability company known as First Security Merchant Services LLC. The company will be jointly owned and managed by First Security and FDMS. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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DCI Buys Edge

DCI Telecommunications, Inc. announced the signing of a letter of intent to acquire privately owned Edge Communications, a Maryland-based prepaid phone card company. The transaction, which involves a combination of cash and preferred stock is valued at $8 million. This acquisition, along with the recently announced Payless Communications deal, with add $17 million in sales to the company for the trailing twelve month period. Edge has successfully marketed different prepaid phone card brands of its own design, customized to specific markets. Its marketing programs include alliances with an array of long distance carriers: WorldCom, MCI, Frontier, Enhanced Communications, the Telephone Company of Central Florida, Teleglobe International, and Cable & Wireless. In the coming months, Edge is planning to launch marketing campaigns for new produces such as 800 number foreign origination, prepaid dial tone, prepaid pagers, and point-of-sale activation.

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Independents Join EFTA

The National Independent ATM Services Association which represents the automated teller machine service industry, announced Monday that is has joined forces with the Electronic Funds Transfer Association. NIASA will now be known as the Independent ATM Owners Council, an independent Council of EFTA. Off-premise ATMs increased a dramatic 31 percent in 1997, totaling 67,000 ATMs in location that previously had not ATM access, according to McWhinney, who added that, off-premises ATMs now account for more than 40 percent of the 170,000 ATMs in the U.S.

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Losses Down – Yields Up

Moody’s ‘Credit Card Credit Indexes’ for February shows the 30+ day delinquency rate fell to 5.54% in February from 5.64% one year ago. This is the third consecutive monthly drop in delinquency. Moody’s chargeoff rate, based on $234 billion in card-backed securities was 6.63%, up slightly from 6.40% last February, but down significantly from a peak of 7.10% for April 97. The aggregate yield index for securitized credit card pools has risen steadily to 18.85% in February from 18.06% last February and from 17.77% two years ago.

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NCR ATM – Millennium

NCR’s revolutionary Automated Teller Machine which identifies users by the shape of their iris has been chosen as one of the first Millennium Products by Prime Minister, Tony Blair. NCR the world’s leading supplier of ATMs rose to the Prime Minister’s challenge to design products which will change the way we live in the 21st century. The ATM makes a digital picture of the unique features of an iris to give consumers and banks a far more secure method of identification at the ATM than the traditional PIN.

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Campus Smart Cards

Schlumberger DANYL and Penn State announced yesterday plans to implement the most ambitious campus smart card program planned to date a proposed multi-campus, system-wide smart card student ID program that will ultimately link services shared by Penn State’s main campus and its 23 satellite branches located throughout Pennsylvania. Working in conjunction with Penn State’s Federal Credit Union and campus administration, Schlumberger will initially manufacture and install the infrastructure to support use of 50,000 Schlumberger-produced smart ID cards beginning this fall semester on Penn State’s main campus at University Park, Pennsylvania. The program will enable students, faculty and administrative staff to us a single smart ID card to conduct on-campus vending, laundry and photocopier transactions, as well as on- and around-campus merchant purchases. Already familiar with the convenience of chip cards, 13,000 Penn State students have been using smart cards since August, 1997 in over 110 campus laundry room facilities. The success of this initial Schlumberger laundry installation is viewed as one reason for the overall migration to the planned system-wide smart student ID card program.

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GPS Certifies T77

Hypercom Corporation and Global Payment Systems, announced Monday that Global has certified the T77 terminal with integrated printer, the latest in Hypercom’s line of T7 POS hardware. Global will provide full service and support for the T77 to its more than 750,000 merchants; Global’s acquirer customers can now sell the T77 directly to their merchant clients. The T77’s compact footprint and full-size receipt and report printing, combined with its support for draft capture, debit, check and proprietary card processing, gives merchants a cost-effective total payment solution. The T77 also supports new payment vehicles such as chipcard-based credit, debit and stored-value cards on the current platform.

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Mother of all Mergers

Citicorp and Travelers Group announced yesterday an agreement to merge, forming the global leader in financial services. The combination will bring together two organizations with core commitments to serving consumers, corporations, institutions and governments globally, through a diverse array of sales and service channels. The merged company’s principal thrusts will be traditional banking, consumer finance, credit cards, investment banking, securities brokerage and asset management, and property casualty and life insurance.

The combined company, which will be named Citigroup Inc. and use the trademark Travelers red umbrella as its logo, will serve over 100 million customers in 100 countries around the world. On a proforma basis, the company would have had assets at year-end 1997 of almost $700 billion, net revenues of nearly $50 billion, operating income of approximately $7.5 billion and equity of more than $44 billion. Its market capitalization would rank it number one among the world’s financial services companies.

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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.

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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.

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NPC Names EVP

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.

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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.

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