Canadian Swipe Phones

Nearly half of Canada’s 184,000 payphones have mag stripe readers which is giving the prepaid phone card market a boost. Yesterday SmarTalk TeleServices introduced a ‘swipeable’ prepaid phone card which will initially be distributed through Petro- Canada’s 1,800 service centers. SmarTalk says the prepaid phone market in Canada is red hot and is expected to grow from about $60 million last year to as high as $150 million this year.

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Platinum Rush

The number of platinum VISA and MasterCards is approaching 15 million nationwide representing a 1000% increase from eighteen months ago, according to the February issue of CardTrak. The platinum war has escalated to the point where at least one card issuer has a titanium card in testing. CardTrak says the go-to interest rate is averaging 14.83% while the most commonly offered intro rate is 5.9%. MBNA has also selectively offered intro rates of 3.9% and 4.9%. People’s Bank is offering the lowest go-to platinum rate of 11.9%.

PLATINUM  PLAYERS

Advanta AT&T Universal Bank of America Banc One  Capital One Chase Manhattan Citibank First Bank First Chicago First USA MBNA America NationsBank People’s Providian  Wells Fargo Wash Mutual First Natl Omaha Source CardTrak, Feb 98

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Advanta Card Bonds Rated

Advanta Credit Card Master Trust II’s $966 million class A and $86.25 million class B floating-rate asset-backed certificates, series 1998-A, are expected to be rated ‘AAA’ and ‘A’, respectively, by Fitch IBCA.  With a weighted average life of three years, the securities represent the trust’s first issuance since series 1996-E, which was sold in November 1996.

The expected ratings are based on the strength of the pool of receivables generated under Advanta National Bank (ANB) MasterCard and Visa accounts, available credit enhancement, servicing provided by ANB and sound legal and cash flow structures.

For the January 1998 distribution date, trust chargeoffs increased to a level of 7.47%, the highest level since July 1997.  Additionally, monthly payment rate has remained stable the last six months, averaging above 11.0%, while yield has increased due to a majority of accounts being risk based priced, which has resulted in a stable three month average excess spread level above 5%.

Credit enhancement for the class A certificates initially totals 18.0% and is comprised of 7.5% subordination of the class B certificates, 8.5% collateral interest and 2.0% cash collateral account (CCA).  Class B certificates are initially enhanced 10.5% by the collateral interest and the CCA, respectively.  The CCA will be funded an additional 50 basis points (bps) after closing from excess finance charge collections, increasing it to 2.5% as well as increasing overall enhancement for the class A certificates to 18.5% and the class B certificates to 11.0%.

With the levels of credit enhancement available, series 1998-A can withstand simultaneous declines of 35% in portfolio yield and 40% in monthly payment rate, while chargeoffs increase to a level of 34% and still make full interest and principal payments to class A investors.  Class B enhancement covers simultaneous declines of 25% in portfolio yield and 30% in monthly payment rate, while chargeoffs increase to a level of 23%.  In addition, to address the interest rate and basis risk associated with uncapped floating coupons, the available enhancement enables a coupon stress to historic-high LIBOR levels without a corresponding increase in portfolio yield. Furthermore, investors are protected from a deterioration in credit quality by early amortization events, which would trigger an early payout of investor principal.

Class A and B certificateholders will receive monthly interest payments of 4 bps and 24 bps over one-month LIBOR, respectively, throughout the revolving and accumulation periods and on the scheduled payment date, provided an early payout event does not occur.  Interest will be paid on the 15th of each month commencing April 1998.  Following a variable accumulation period, principal is expected to be paid to class A certificateholders on the January 2001 distribution date and to class B certificateholders one month later. The series termination date is July 2003.  As part of Group One, series 1998-A will share excess principal and finance charge collections with 14 other Group One series.

For information about performance on any outstanding Advanta CCMT II series please refer to Fitch IBCA Asset-Backed Surveillance on the Internet at ‘ ‘ or on Bloomberg by typing ‘FTC’ ‘GO’.

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New Sales Rep for UK Retail Logic

Payment card authorisation over the Internet and purchasing card solutions are two new key areas of responsibility for 31 year old Chris Ryalls – newly appointed as a Sales Executive by Retail Logic, the Electronic Fund Transfer specialist and developer of the Solve/SE suite of payment card processing programs. Generating sales in existing markets such as the retail, leisure, hospitality, financial and IT sectors, will also make up an important part of his brief.

Chris Ryalls, who has over 3 years experience within the field of electronic commerce, will be charged with the task of generating further sales within this rapidly expanding market. He will be responsible for adding to Retail Logic’s existing portfolio of customers, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Cable Online, LineOne (a News International company), Quza, Interplay and Virtual Precincts.

Generating new business from large corporates interested in purchasing card solutions will be another major concern for Chris Ryalls. Designed to eliminate the costly operation of processing low-value business-to-business orders, purchasing cards; reduce administrative costs, control the quantity of supplies and reduce fraud significantly. Existing customers within this sector include Farnell Components and RS Components.

Well established in the retail, hospitality, leisure, financial and IT markets Retail Logic provides authorisation and payment capture software which currently supports 100,000 Point of Sale terminals. Existing clients include The Burton Group, HMV, Powerhouse, Safeway, Scottish Telecom, AT Mays, Manchester United FC, Orange, Telewest Communications, Cable On-Line, Halifax Direct, Mercedes Benz Finance, The RAC and Swinton Insurance.

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NewHounds for VISA Biz Cardholders

Knight Ridder Real Cities and Visa U.S.A announced  Wednesday a partnership to provide individual NewsHound accounts to all Visa Business cardholders free of charge.  NewsHound, a customizable online news search and retrieval service, will enable Visa Business cardholders to efficiently track daily news about their industries, competitors, technology and more.

NewsHound continuously scans numerous information sources and delivers personalized articles and information to users’ Web pages or e-mail addresses.

“Small business owners need good information to succeed,” said Bob Ingle, president of Knight Ridder New Media.  “NewsHound provides the kind of information that a business owner can make sound business decisions on. It will deliver only the relevant information they need, quickly and seamlessly.”

NewsHound searches for articles from the nation’s highest quality newspapers including The Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald.  The Web- based service provides intelligent software search agents that Visa Business cardholders can “train” to fetch and deliver specific information relevant to them.

“We looked at other news services and chose NewsHound because of its excellent resources, customizable features and its exceptional technology,” said Bruno Perreault, senior vice president, Visa Commercial Card Products, Visa U.S.A.  “NewsHound is an important addition to our Web site for small businesses.  It enhances our goal of serving the small business sector by providing the necessary educational tools to support the growth of entrepreneurial spirit.”

NewsHound uses Verity’s agent search technology, relational-database technology from Oracle Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp.’s Enterprise Server with LiveWire.

For detailed information about NewsHound and Visa visit

* NewsHound –

* Visa Small Business Online Resource –

* Knight Ridder Real Cities –

NewsHound(TM) is a trademark of Knight Ridder New Media and is part of the Real Cities network. Real Cities(TM)is a trademark of Knight Ridder New Media.

Knight Ridder New Media, located in San Jose, Calif. is a division of Knight Ridder.  Real Cities is Knight Ridder’s national online network consisting of 33 web sites and Internet products.  Knight Ridder is the nation’s second largest newspaper publisher, with products in print and online.  The company publishes 32 daily newspapers in 29 U.S. markets, reaching 9.3 million readers daily and 12.9 million on Sunday.  Knight Ridder has investments in two newsprint mills and is headquartered in Miami, Florida.

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Lockhart Chairs S. Calif USOC

H. Eugene Lockhart, president of The Global Retail Bank at BankAmerica Corp., has been appointed Southern California Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). As Southern California Chairman, he will lead a campaign to raise $2.5 million to support America’s Olympic athletes.

As President of BankAmerica’s Global Retail Bank, Lockhart is responsible for all commercial banking, consumer, small business and global private banking delivered through more than 3,000 branches and offices and a network of Versateller ATMs. The Global Retail Bank also includes BankAmerica Mortgage Group; Bank of America (Asia) Ltd., with headquarters in Hong Kong; Bank of America Illinois, and BA Merchant Services.

“U.S. athletes invest thousands of hours of training,” Lockhart said. “They undergo tremendous personal and financial sacrifice for the chance to represent our nation in the Olympic Games. Of the 197 nations included in the Olympic Movement, the United States is the only one whose Olympic team receives no sustaining government funds. Our athletes rely on private-sector support. We can’t let them down.”

Between 1993 and 1996, more than 25,000 athletes trained at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Lake Placid and San Diego. They received free room and board, training facilities, sports medicine care, sport science testing and analysis, local transportation and recreational facilities.

During that time, the USOC awarded 10,000 grants totaling more than $29 million in direct aid to athletes. Support for California athletes exceeded $8 million. A record $109 million was awarded through the USOC grant program to various sports governing bodies and other member-organizations. The USOC also underwrites housing, transportation, outfitting, food, training and all other support for athletes competing in the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Pan American Games and other major competitions.

Before joining Bank of America, Lockhart was chief executive officer of MasterCard International Inc. and was at Midland Bank plc in London. His positions at Midland included chief executive, U.K. Banking and Group Operations, Main Board of Director of the Bank, and chairman of the Thomas Cook Group. Prior to joining Midland Bank, Lockhart was chief financial officer of CT Bowring & Co. and March McLennan (Overseas) Inc. based in London and New York.

Lockhart graduated from the University of Virginia with a BSME in 1972. He also earned an MBA from Darden School at the University of Virginia in 1974. He has served on the boards of RJR Nabisco Holdings, Dun & Bradstreet, the Royal Academy of Art, SWIFT and University of Virginia Darden School Trustees.

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G&D Mondex Accreditation

Giesecke & Devrient America Inc.  announced Wednesday that its Canadian subsidiary Giesecke & Devrient Security Card Systems Inc. has received provisional Mondex Bureau Accreditation and Application Type Approval by Mondex International Limited for the manufacture of Mondex cards which includes fabrication, embedding, personalization, and customization.

It is anticipated that full Bureau Accreditation will be awarded by the end of April. This Accreditation makes Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) a full partner in the worldwide implementation of the Mondex electronic cash payment system.

Mondex is the most ‘cash-like’ of the electronic purses which are being introduced around the world as a more efficient alternative to physical cash for use in everyday shopping and as a future payment mechanism in a wide variety of areas such as the Internet and ‘pay-per-view’ TV.

With a worldwide production capacity of upwards of 300 million cards annually, G&D views accreditation as an important step in the company’s ability to support the global implementation of Mondex.

Chris Potts, deputy chief executive, Mondex International, said, “Mondex is now being developed by franchisees in over 50 countries. As the number of Mondex franchisees increases, the need for us to develop relationships with world class manufacturers such as G&D grows. G&D is a trusted provider of “Bureau Services” for card manufacturing worldwide. Today’s announcement shows that Mondex Electronic Cash is a global reality and we are pleased to be working with a major player in the smart card industry.”

“This accreditation demonstrates G&D’s commitment to support the development of the innovative Mondex payment system in North America,” commented Jurgen Nehls, member of G&D’s board of directors and head of its Cards and Card Systems Division.

“With the Mondex accreditation of our Canadian facility in place, G&D will be positioned to provide comprehensive smart card-based applications and solutions across the chip-card spectrum ranging from payment applications to GSM cards for mobile phone networks.”

ABOUT MONDEX INTERNATIONAL

Mondex International grants licenses to franchisees to allow them to exploit the Mondex electronic cash technology in a given territory. Since its incorporation in 1996, Mondex has issued 29 licenses across five continents. Mondex is being developed by franchisees in over 50 countries representing a potential market place of in excess of three billion people.

Mondex is the only electronic cash system in the world to operate with a single global technology allowing for cross-border payments. It allows up to five different currencies to be carried on the card at any one time in separate electronic pockets.

Mondex is currently being used in 21 implementations around the world including Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the Philippines, the UK and the U.S. By early 1998, Mondex International had produced in excess of one million reloadable cards; this figure is expected to rise to 5,000,000 reloadable cards by the end of 1998.

Mastercard International acquired 51% of the company in 1997 and has decided to adopt Mondex International’s technology as its future choice of strategic chip platform. Further information regarding Mondex is available on their web site at www.mondex.com.

ABOUT MONDEX CANADA

Mondex Canada consists of Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canada Trust, Credit Union Central of Canada, Le Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Hongkong Bank of Canada, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and Toronto Dominion Bank.

ABOUT GIESECKE & DEVRIENT

Giesecke & Devrient GmbH is a world leader in the development and production of cards and card systems, including microprocessor, memory, and magnetic stripe cards. A privately-held Munich-based corporation, Giesecke & Devrient employs 4,300 people worldwide in its operating units in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Mexico, China, Russia, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.

The rapidly expanding G&D America manages over 900 employees and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Giesecke and Devrient. The Virginia-based company focuses its North American sales and development efforts on products for Giesecke & Devrient’s Card and Card Systems Division and its pioneering currency processing systems which are used by major central banks and leading commercial banks throughout the world.

As one of the largest manufacturers of secure magnetic stripe and chip cards in North America, G&D America operates production and research facilities in Cleveland, Ohio; Bedford, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; as well as in Toronto and Mexico City.

For further information, please contact G&D America toll free at 800/296-4371 or see the Giesecke & Devrient GmbH web site at .

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ETM Mets Tix

CA-based ETM Entertainment Network announced yesterday they will install ‘ETM Ticket Machines’ in high-traffic retail locations throughout the New York tri-state area to dispense tickets to this year’s N.Y. Mets games. The interactive machines feature a large- screen upper monitor, a lower touch screen and a credit card terminal. Customers are linked to the in-house ticketing system via an open architecture gateway. ETM introduced its service last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and currently has 75 machines In Southern California.

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Local Phone Cards

Phones for All Inc., a new prepaid local phone service company, is teaming up with 7-Eleven stores in Florida and Texas. The service is targeted at consumers who fail to qualify for local phone service due to poor credit or lack of U.S. citizenship. To activate the service consumers simply purchase a prepaid local phone card at a nearby 7-Eleven, call a special number for installation and continue to purchase a new card every thirty days to maintain service. Consumers can also purchase a long-distance prepaid phone card at 7-Eleven. Phones for All says 500,000 Texas households and 270,000 Florida households do not have local phone service. 7-Eleven has 288 stores in Texas and 425 in Florida.

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Holding Pattern

Credit card charge-offs among card-backed securities remain stable, dropping slightly to 6.60%, according to Fitch IBCA’s ‘Credit Card Performance Index’ for the December collection period. Fitch noted yesterday that its charge-off index is actually showing an 18 basis point rise to 6.84%, however the data are skewed due to an accounting change at Capital One. Cap One now charges off accounts at 180 days. Issuers reporting declines include MBNA, Citibank, Chevy Chase and First Chicago. Issuers experiencing an uptick include Providian, Advanta, Wachovia and AT&T Universal.

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IVI Snags Argentina Terminal Contract

International Verifact Inc. announced yesterday that its Latin American joint venture, IVI Ingenico Inc., has received an order commitment in excess of US $1.5 million to supply CREDIRED with Ingenico’s Elite 500 electronic payment terminals.

The terminals will be used in merchant locations throughout Argentina to process credit card transactions based on a pre-approved amount stored on a smart card. These credit cards will be issued to people with low income levels who would otherwise not qualify for a traditional credit card. The credit limit on the smart card is pre-approved based on an individual’s qualifications – with the amount of the purchase charged against this credit limit each time the card is used.

The merchant will redeem the electronic transactions for cash at regional centers spread throughout the country. “The system is designed to save communication costs by not having to authorize each transaction on-line every time. Further cost savings are realized as printing and mailing monthly statements are not required as the card holder knows the balance on their card every time they use the card,” said Jorge Fernandez, Executive Vice President and General Manager, IVI Ingenico. Software will be developed as a partnership between CREDIRED and IVI Ingenico.

Nestor Yoan, Vice President and General Manager, CREDIRED stated, “Among the factors that convinced us to purchase IVI-Ingenico terminals included their superior technology and know-how in smart card based EFT-POS as well as their superior price/performance. Additionally, their UNICAPT(R) operating environment allows us to write and maintain our own applications while providing us with the security and flexibility that we will need in managing different applications in the future.”

“We have spent the last year building a strategic approach to the Latin American market and we are now starting to see the benefits of our efforts. These countries are evolving quickly to modern technology such as smart cards. Our world leading expertise and technology is a perfect fit for such markets,” said L. Barry Thomson, Chairman of IVI Ingenico. Mr. Thomson is also President and CEO of IVI.

Based in Argentina, CREDIRED is in the business of granting credit to individuals of low income. This credit is granted in the form of a set, pre-approved credit line which the card-holder may use to purchase goods and services at approved merchants. While the card works similar to a conventional credit card, their product serves people who would otherwise not qualify for a conventional credit card.

IVI Ingenico, based in Coral Gables, Florida, is a joint venture between IVI and its strategic alliance partner, Groupe Ingenico, of Paris, France.

Group Ingenico is engaged in the design, development and sale of secured terminals and complete systems dedicated to electronic payments, loyalty and electronic benefits transfer, and is the recognized leader in smart card technology in Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific areas.

IVI is engaged in the design, development and sale of electronic payment solutions for retailers, financial institutions, governments and other businesses. The company’s hardware and software products include solutions for point-of-sale debit/credit/EFT/EBT terminals, check readers, smart card readers, POS printers and secure PIN entry devices. Additional company information is available on IVI’s website at .

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