New Metris Board Members

Derek V. Smith and Lee R. Anderson were named to the board of directors of Metris Companies Inc., one of the nation’s fastest-growing financial service companies.

Smith is president and CEO of ChoicePoine Inc., a leading provider of informational and custom systems to mitigate insurance, business and government risk and fraud. ChoicePoint was recently formed by the spin-off of the Insurance Services Group from Equifax Inc. Prior to the spin-off, Smith was an executive vice president responsible for the Insurance Services Group.

Smith has held a number of executive positions at Equifax since joining the company in 1984. Previously, he was a senior consultant with Andersen Consulting. Smith is also on the board of ChoicePoint and is a member of several business and charitable organizations. Smith is a resident of Atlanta, Ga.

Anderson is chairman and CEO of APi Group, Inc., headquartered in St. Paul, Minn. APi consists of 18 separate construction, manufacturing, fire protection and material distribution companies operating our of 86 offices in the United States and Canada.

Anderson is also chairman of Anderson Financial Group, Inc., a multiple-bank holding company with 2 banking facilities in northern Minnesota. He is a director of Pan O’Gold Country Hearth Banking Company and a member of various business and philanthropic organizations. Andersen is a resident of Minneapolis, Minn.

Metris Companies Inc., is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products, extended service plans and fee-based products and services. Based in St. Louis Park, Minn., Metris also has operations in Tulsa, Okla.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Baltimore; and Champaign, Ill., and currently empolys nearly 1,300 people. Metris is an 83 percent-owned subsidiary of Fingerhut Companies, Inc., a data-base marketing company based in Minnetonka, Minn.

Metris Companies’ internet address is .


Netscape Digital Certificates

Netscape Communications Corporation announced that major financial institutions and merchants are leveraging new security features in Netscape(R) Communicator client software to deliver enhanced Internet security for their products and services. Netscape Communicator’s new form signing capability allows users to digitally “sign” electronic forms, providing enhanced security of Internet applications through persistent proof that a user has authorized a transaction. Supportive of this technology is Integrion Financial Network, a company created through an equal partnership of 18 North American financial institutions, Visa USA and IBM Corporation. In addition, the form-signing feature can be leveraged with digital certificates offered by BelSign, CertiSign, GTE Cybertrust, IPS Seguridad, Thawte and VeriSign; and will be used in the National Automated Clearing House Association’s (NACHA) Internet Council Certification Authority Interoperability Pilot in 1998.

While the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol is already an important security technology for electronic commerce, and the S/MIME protocol is becoming an important part of email security, Internet technology has not, until now, enabled individuals to digitally sign transactions. The new form signing feature of Netscape Communicator gives Netscape Communicator the same proof and protection offered by traditional pen-and-ink signatures — proof that an online transaction was authorized by the signer. It provides financial institutions and merchants with a strong persistent proof that transactions have been authorized after an on-line session is completed.

“Open, standards-based security protocols are fundamental to linking businesses together on protected Extranets,” said Taher Elgamal, chief scientist at Netscape. “The form signing capabilities in Netscape Communicator adds important security technology that makes Internet commerce possible and safe — the ability to prove a transaction was authorized after an online session is completed.”

Signing a transaction is an automatic procedure that requires very little effort by the end user. After a transaction is completed, a dialog box appears on the user’s Netscape Communicator window that contains the exact text the user is being asked to authorize or sign. After reviewing the dialog box, the user clicks “OK” to complete the transaction. The digital signature is then created, and the transaction, complete with signature, is returned to the Web server that is hosting the transaction. Netscape’s server-based Signature Verification Utility in Netscape SuiteSpot server software then processes the digital signature, providing persistent proof that the transaction is valid and authorized by the user. The combination of Netscape Communicator and SuiteSpot enables a user to digitally sign Internet-based account application forms, funds transfers, credit card transfers and other electronic “documents” that would normally be signed with a pen.

“Technology such as Form Signing is important in bringing a higher level of trust to Web-based financial transactions and in increasing the acceptance of Web-based electronic commerce,” said David Fortney, director of product development of Integrion, a provider of interactive banking and electronic commerce solutions to financial institutions.

“NACHA believes that the ability to sign Web data will play an important role in the growth of Web-based online financial transactions,” said Scott Lang, senior director network products of the National Automated Clearing House Association.

“Netscape Communicator’s unique ability to leverage VeriSign Digital IDs(SM) to digitally sign Web-based forms gives a user added protection when conducting transactions on the Web,” said Richard Yanowitch, vice president of marketing for VeriSign, Netscape’s premier Certificate Authority. “This form-signing feature provides a higher level of trust to VeriSign customers wanting to perform electronic commerce.”

With form signing support, Netscape Communicator enables customers to conduct signed transactions over the Internet and safely access applications built on the Netscape ONE platform. Netscape ONE enables enterprise customers to build powerful Extranets that support around-the-clock, worldwide transactions with business partners, suppliers and customers, and potentially increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs and time to market. Netscape ONE refers to Netscape’s platform for building, deploying and managing the next generation of Extranet, Intranet, and Internet applications. Netscape ONE is comprised of services provided by Netscape and its partners as the building blocks for developing these applications.

Netscape Communications Corporation is a leading provider of open software for linking people and information over enterprise networks and the Internet. The company offers a full line of clients, servers, development tools and commercial applications to create a complete platform for next-generation, live online applications. Traded on Nasdaq under the symbol “NSCP,” Netscape Communications Corporation is based in Mountain View, California.

NOTE: Netscape, Netscape Navigator, Netscape ONE and the Netscape N and Ship’s Wheel logos are registered trademarks of Netscape Communications Corporation in the United States and other countries. Other Netscape logos and Netscape product and service names are also trademarks of Netscape Communications Corporation, which may be registered in other countries.

Netscape works cooperatively with their developers through Netscape(R) DevEdge, a program that provides the timely technical information and marketing support developers need to stay competitive. The program offers developers a variety of membership levels to suit their specific needs and act as their lint to Netscape and the growing community of developers building on the Netscape ONE platform. For more information about the Netscape DevEdge program, developers ca go to Netscape DevEdge online at .

Additional information on Netscape Communications Corporation is available on the Internet at, by sending email to Corporate customers can call 415-937-2555 while consumers can call 415-937-3777 for more information.


Charge-Offs Still 10% Higher

While credit card charge-offs increased moderately last month they remain about 60 basis points or 10% higher than last year, according to Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Indexes’, released Friday. With delinquencies holding steady there is little hope charge-offs will decline in the short-term. S&P says many issuers have seen an upsurge in bankruptcy-related issues, following a period of diminished filings in July and August. In other bad news: payment rates and yields slipped in November. Among the credit card-backed master trusts tracked by S&P, Providian, First USA and AT&T reported declines in charge-offs. AT&T’s charge- offs dipped below 5% last month. First Chicago and Banc One experienced a 50+ basis point jump in November charge-offs.

Standard & Poor’s Credit Quality Index
Among Card-Backed Securities
Distribution Date 12/15/97 11/15/97 10/15/97 12/15/96
Performance Month Nov 97 Oct 97 Sep 97 Nov 96
Outstandings $232.3b $231.0b $228.8b $215.5b
Yield 18.4% 19.5% 19.0% 17.9%
Charge-offs 6.7% 6.6% 6.7% 6.1%
Weighted Base Rate 7.6% 7.8% 7.8% 7.9%
Excess Spread 4.0% 5.1% 4.6% 3.8%
Delinquencies 5.4% 5.4% 5.3% 5.3%
Payment Rate 13.7% 15.0% 14.6% 12.8%


One Million Served

Mark Clavin of Castleton, NY became the one millionth customer of Mobil Corporation’s ‘Speedpass’ program. ‘Speedpass’ enables customers to drive up, fill up, and automatically charge their fuel purchases to a designated credit card, without opening their wallets or purses. Mobil recently added a “car tag” transponder option to the program. The system also uses a “key chain tag” transponder. Mobil said Friday that ‘Speedpass’ usage patterns have indicated increased purchases per customer.


Natl Bnk of Canada Gov Card Deal

National Bank of Canada has been awarded a competitive contract to provide services for the Federal Government Acquisition Card Program. Under the Program, departments and agencies will use a commercial credit card, in this case MasterCard, to make government purchases in accordance with federal policy. This contract will create 36 jobs.

The announcement was made today by the Honourable Alfonso Gagliano, Minister of Public Works and Government Services. “This contract is proof that the Government of Canada is constantly streamlining its business operations. With this Program, government departments and agencies will become more responsive and cost-effective, which in the long-term will benefit Canadian taxpayers,” said Mr. Gagliano.

The Program is a smarter and more efficient way of doing business as it will reduce the number of cheques that must be issued by the government; reduce the need for industry to submit invoices; and ensure that businesses are paid more promptly.

The Acquisition Card Program ensures that the Government of Canada benefits from new banking technologies. It will also give the Crown financial rebates for timely payment of departmental and agency accounts. Under the terms of this Program, National Bank of Canada will provide the Government of Canada with rebates based on the length of the payment period.


American Bankers Insurance Sale

American Bankers Insurance Group reportedly will be purchased by the American International Group. AIG is expected to announce this morning it will pay about $2.2 billion for the deal. AIG is expected to operate the 3,000-employee American Bankers group as a separate unit. American Bankers, the nation’s largest credit insurance provider is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.


Faults & Cures

VISA’s touring golf instructional program, ‘Faults & Cures’, announced Friday it will add eleven new cities to the tour next year and will add a program for female golfers. VISA will also expand the stay in some major cities for up to three weeks. The program is run by the Nicklaus/Flick Golf School, a division of Golden Bear Golf, Inc.. Other improvements for the ‘1998 Faults & Cures’ include a new mobile video unit for instant on-site analysis of each student’s swing and a reduced student-teacher ratio of 6-to-1.


GE PARIS 3.0 Released

TAXWARE International, Inc., a leading tax software developer of worldwide tax compliance systems, announced today that enhanced TAXWARE sales tax software, interfaced with GE Capital Corporate Expense Management Services (CEMS) PARIS 3.0 Purchasing Card management system, plays a key role in new release of PARIS. Today’s release of the CEMS system offers enhanced accuracy of TAXWARE’s SALES/USE Tax System for point of sale and tax estimates on purchasing card transactions. The integration of these products enables corporations to reduce costs and virtually eliminate paper for corporate purchase cardholders.

![][1] “We originally selected TAXWARE International for the accuracy and speed of the TAXWARE product, and the quality of their support,” said Bill Catelotti, Product Manager for GE Capital. “Teaming with TAXWARE has allowed us to offer PARIS 3.0 users greatly streamlined calculation, documentation and reporting of sales tax liability.”

PARIS 3.0 Purchasing Card Management System and TAXWARE(R) Sales Tax Software

GE Capital’s PARIS 3.0 Purchasing Card includes several significant improvements: enhanced commercial tax options from TAXWARE’s tax tables or optional desktop software, improved graphical user interface, faster performance, expanded T&E designation in reviewing purchasing, and greater customization in company categories for accounting types.

Working together through PARIS, GE Capital and TAXWARE ensure corporate tax professionals that the proper tax is being calculated on each transaction and that the proper reporting requirements have been fulfilled. TAXWARE’s software works in conjunction with the PARIS System, as a subroutine, bringing accuracy and tax compliance to the corporate tax professional’s desktop. Now PARIS users have two tax approaches available to them — both allow significantly improved accuracy.

TAXWARE(R) Tax Table is included in the PARIS System at no additional charge. Users can download either source of tax information — point of sale (POS) information or tax estimates based on TAXWARE software. The system administrator can set the conditions under which PARIS will use POS tax or TAXWARE estimates. Based on the level of detail provided in the credit card transaction, PARIS users can use the tax calculation from POS or the best estimated tax calculation from TAXWARE tax tables. These tables provide improved accuracy over previous estimates based on state tax tables alone.

Optional TAXWARE(R) SALES/USE Tax System for PARIS.

This ‘Desktop’ system provides an even higher degree of precision for users. GE Capital CEMS provides the interface between PARIS and TAXWARE’s desktop software package. The user can enter precise location information, so that TAXWARE can calculate the most accurate estimate of the tax liability for each purchase. The system allows PARIS users to calculate the tax liability if the vendor has not transmitted that detail. TAXWARE uses modem address- driven methodology, based on ZIP Code as well as a unique TAXWARE code, to key on the correct tax authorities. The results are the most reliable tax system available in the industry for business-to-business and business-to-consumer applications. The SALES/USE Tax System’s Tax Master File covers all U.S. tax jurisdictions and Canadian provinces, furnishing more than 135,000 ZIP Code locations, creating over 60,000 potential tax jurisdiction combinations. This database file is kept current with monthly updates. Customers can license the SALES/USE Tax System directly from TAXWARE. PARIS also uses TAXWARE’s well known VERAZIP(R) System for address verification of taxing jurisdictions, as well as the NEXPRO(R) module that identifies out-of-state suppliers that collect sales tax in the jurisdiction where the cardholder will use the product or service.

“By using TAXWARE’s software, businesses don’t have to set up a program to calculate or track sales taxes,” said Bruce Reed, TAXWARE’s Director, Sales & Marketing. “The combination of TAXWARE’s software with GE Capital’s PARIS System provides a solution that enables consumers to expedite transactions while complying with tax laws automatically. As a pioneer tax software developer bringing tax compliance solutions to businesses since 1978, we saw the GE Capital purchasing card as an excellent opportunity to bring the tax solution to corporations using purchasing cards — an area that benefits enormously from seamless tax calculations through reporting.”

About TAXWARE International Inc.

Founded in 1964, TAXWARE International is a leading tax software developer for worldwide tax systems. A sales/use tax software pioneer, TAXWARE offers a family of products for mainframe, midrange and PC computer platforms — including client/server, network computing and electronic commerce environments. The first tax software developer to enter the field of electronic commerce, the company has seen its INTERNET Tax System for on-line transactions fast become the system of choice by a growing number of commerce server partners. Providing a global tax solution, the company’s systems for automated tax compliance include modules that address sales/use, consumer’s use, Internet, international taxation, address verification, exemption processing, automated returns, property and payroll tax. TAXWARE’s products have been benchmarked as the fastest processing tax software in the industry today. Recognized for customer support and client-focused product development, the company has shown explosive growth over the last five years. TAXWARE is privately held with headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts and has offices in Los Angeles, Mountain View, Cincinnati, Chicago and London. For more information, call 978-741-0101 or visit the TAXWARE Web site at .

[1]: /graphic/taxware/taxware.jpg


ORGA & ICLP Smart Card Team

Smart Card pioneer, ORGA, and International Loyalty expert, ICLP, have announced Friday a co-operation in the field of smart card loyalty. The two companies will develop and market a turnkey customer loyalty and payment system, based on the VISA Chip Loyalty specification. ORGA has over 15 years experience in smart cards and ICLP over 10 years expertise in loyalty programs.

ORGA has a long history of developing some of the first multiple application schemes via a single card, particularly within the finance sector. The company has also recently been approved by VISA to manufacture smart cards for the banking sector.

Ulrich Schmidt (Head of Banking and Retail at ORGA) said, “The combination of ORGA’s smart card expertise and ICLP’s proven track record of implementing and managing profitable loyalty systems represents a significant step forward in the development of smart card-based loyalty systems. We will be offering VISA members a total package which will allow them to meet their individual loyalty and payment needs.”

Tony Clarke (Director of ICLP, UK) commented: “ICLP is delighted to have established this important association with ORGA, enabling us to further extend the range of loyalty services to the banking sector on a `one stop’ basis.”

The VISA Chip Loyalty initiative has recently been launched in Taiwan. It forms a key component of VISA’s plans for a multi-function card.

“As the leader in emerging products with more than 21 million chip cards issued, we are pleased that the VISA Chip Loyalty specification has been included in the ORGA system,” said Gaylon Howe, senior vice president, Stored Value/Loyalty Products, VISA International.

ORGA is one of the founders of the smart card industry and is at the forefront of the diverse and rapidly expanding smart card market. The company’s products include smart cards, card readers, personalization systems, application development services and kits, consultancy and associated services. For further information browse ORGA’s Web site at: .

ICLP is a global provider of integrated solutions for loyalty and relationship marketing programs, including consulting, program development and management, operating and marketing software, and partnership development. Today ICLP has over 300 clients including 140 card issuing bank clients in 40 countries, supported by offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Dallas and London.

ORGA contact person for sales information:
Graham Carson – Europe
ORGA Card Systems (UK) Ltd
Phone: +44 (0) 1628 624 265
Fax: +44 (0) 1628 624 838

Gerald Smith – USA
ORGA Card Systems, Inc.
Phone: +1 610-993-9810
Fax: +1 610-993-8641

ICLP contact person for further information:
Mr. Simon Hall
ICLP, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2520 0858
Fax: +852 2865 7332

ORGA contact person for press information:
Mr. Alex Goldsleger
Phone: +1 610-993-8209
Fax: +1 610-993-8641


Home Savings Expands Online

Home Savings of America Thursday announced that it now offers customers the ability to pay bills and transfer funds through the Internet with its expanded Internet Online Banking service.

“These new options will allow customers even more flexibility and convenience,” said Don Spano, senior vice president and director of Electronic Banking at Home Savings of America. “Our research indicates that consumers appreciate being able to bank whenever and wherever they want. Now, our customers have more choices than ever.”

Customers can now pay their monthly bills through Home Savings’ Web site, [][1], without having to write checks, address envelopes or trek to the post office.

In addition, Online Banking customers can now transfer funds between selected checking and savings accounts.

On-line account access and funds transfer through the Home Savings Web site is free for customers who have a Home Savings checking account with an ATM card or MasterMoney debit card.

On-line bill payments and account transfers are automatically recorded, making record-keeping simple. Customers can view their transactions on-line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as on their monthly account statements.

To bank at the Web site, customers need a PC, a modem and an Internet service provider. Or, if they prefer, customers can use Microsoft Money or Quicken to pay bills, transfer funds and do monthly tracking and budgeting.

Home Savings of America, with nearly $50 billion in assets, is one of the nation’s largest full-service consumer banks.



Citibank Revs Up

Following AT&T’s decision to sell its credit card portfolio to Citibank yesterday, the nation’s number one issuer re-asserted its industry leadership. In an analysts’ meeting following the announcement, Citibank said it will not only beef up the value of the Citibank-AT&T Universal card program but will also launch a replacement product for the Citibank Ford VISA/MasterCard program very soon. The cobranded Ford program will formally end its rewards program Dec 31. Citi says its replacement card will exceed the value proposition of the current Ford card. With yesterday’s acquisition Citibank’s three major cobranded programs will comprise nearly half of Citi’s total U.S. portfolio. AT&T Universal will add 13.6 million accounts or 18 million cardholders to Citi’s portfolio. The Ford program has more than 6 million cardholders and the American Airlines AAdvantage program has about 2 million cardholders.

In clarifying the deal with AT&T, Citibank indicated it is not bound to operate the AT&T Universal card as a separate unit and will begin integrating the accounts soon after the deal closes in the second quarter of next year. Citi also justified the 18% premium it paid by saying the AT&T program was under-developed in the U.S. and has significant potential as a global card. Both parties entered into a 10-year cobranding and joint marketing agreement following the purchase agreement. Citi also indicated it will most likely begin repricing the AT&T Universal card soon after the closure but is obligated by the deal to honor the no-annual- fee-for-life pledge for existing cardholders.

More financial details on yesterday’s deal: Citibank is paying $3.5 billion in cash which includes $1.0 billion in book value. The $2.5 billion premium includes $2.2 billion for receivables to be amortized over 10 years and $300 million for goodwill to be amortized over 15 years. Although not disclosed, the cobranding/marketing agreement calls for Citi to shell out an additional $400 million to AT&T over the ten year term.

Citibank’s leadership has been eroding since 1992. At one point the issuer was losing 100,000 cardholders per month. Citi repriced its entire portfolio and entered into several cobranded programs during the past five years but never developed the momentum of the industry’s brightest stars: MBNA and First USA. Yesterday’s deal clearly gives Citibank more distance from its competitors but time will tell if it can truly harness the current synergy.


Personal Trouble

Highly successful, card industry entrepreneur Bipin Shah announced last night he is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to the return of his two young daughters missing since June. Criminal warrants have been issued for Shah’s ex-wife, who, together with eight-year-old Sarah Lynn and six-year- old Genevieve Marie vanished on June 8. Shah has spent more than $700,000 searching for his children. Shah is a former top executive of Corestates and founder of GENSAR. He named GENSAR after his two daughters. Additional information, including photos will be available via