NFCC Holiday Guide Part 3

The decorations are up; the carols are playing and shoppers are making a mad dash for the stores. This year, consumers are expected to spend an average $813 on holiday related items, according to the International Mass Retail Association. But for some consumers, holiday spending will push them deeper into debt.

“Consumers without a holiday spending plan are the most likely to encounter serious debt problems when the January bills arrive,” says Durant Abernethy, president of the National Foundatation for Consumer Credit (NFCC). NFCC is offering a four-part series called Holiday Spending: A Plan for the Season designed to help consumers avoid the “January spending hangover.” The first two installments covered budgeting and inexpensive gift ideas. This third installment brings smart shopping tips.

Part Three: Smart Shopping Strategies

• Set spending limits: Put in place a spending limit for each person on your list to fit within your budget. Disciplining yourself to not exceed these limits is the key to avoiding unmanageable bills.

• Set aside shopping time. Running around when you don’t have much time or when you’re preoccupied or distracted is not very productive. Arrange for a day or half-day to shop by yourself. Also, try to plan your shopping time for early in the day and week. Stores tend to be less crowded in the mornings and on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

• Be efficient. Call stores to see if they have items on your list to avoid wasting time. Read newspaper ads and flyers for sales and specials to comparison shop to get the best buy. Also go where you have a choice of stores to shop. If you plan to return to a store, write down the item you want and the store. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget where you saw an item.

• Track your spending. Take a predetermined amount of cash when you shop to keep from overspending. If you use credit cards, limit card purchases to the one or two cards with the lowest interest rates. Clip an index card to each credit card and write down your purchases to track how much you’ve charged.

• Beware of “buy now, pay later” offers. Sure it sounds appealing, but if you cannot afford an item in December, will you really be able to in March?

• When you have fininshed shopping, STOP! Always carry your gift list with you and cross names off once you’ve bought their gifts. When you’ve purchased items for everyone on your list, stop shopping. The festive atmosphere at malls and stores during the holiday season tempts many people to make unnecessary purchases.

Look for part four of of the NFCC Holiday Spending: A Plan for the Season series soon, which will offer last-minute tips to prepare for the holidays.

The National Foundation for Consumer Credit is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization providing education and counseling services on budgeting and credit. NFCC members, located in 1,300 offices across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, can be identified by the NFCC member seal. This seal signifies standards that include agency accreditation, counselor certification and policies that ensure confidential services that are free or low-cost. Many offices operate under the name Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

To contact the NFCC office nearest you, check your local phone directory under Consumer Credit Counseling Service, call toll-free from a touch-tone phone 1-800-388-2227 or visit the NFCC web site at . Spanish-speaking consumers can call 1-800-682-9832.


Equifax Update

Equifax confirmed yesterday it will acquire the collection services business of Computer Sciences Corporation which has annual revenues of about $40 million. Equifax also announced Wednesday it will acquire GA-based Goldleaf Technologies for its Card Solutions group. Goldleaf offers the ‘CustomerLink’ family of electronic banking products including telephone banking, ACH origination, cash management, home banking and internet banking software. Goldleaf will become an Equifax wholly owned subsidiary. In yet another announcement Equifax has formed a joint venture in India to become the country’s only third party card services provider for issuing and processing.


MSFDC Signs Pilots

The six-month old joint venture between Microsoft and First Data signed its first banking institutions to pilot its electronic bill presentment and payment service yesterday. Wells Fargo and KeyBank have agreed to test MSFDC’s new service on their respective online banking platforms. MSFDC has set mid-1998 as the target date to launch its bank-branded, Internet e-bill service nationally. Other players with the intent to commit to the MSFDC pilot include Chase, GE Capital, Advanta and Payment Systems for Credit Unions. Participating billers pay MSFDC a fee for electronic delivery of a each bill. The company says the cost is “roughly equivalent to the cost of postage”.


Online Credit Card Fraud Guarantee

Public Eye, organizer of The Alliance of Certified Safe Shopping Sites, launched a new program aimed at reducing the risk for on-line consumers. Starting today, on-line holiday shoppers, who make credit card purchases from Public Eye Platinum Certified Merchants, will be insured against fraudulent use of their credit card. Public Eye’s Credit Card Fraud Protection Program promises to reimburse on-line shoppers for any unauthorized use of their credit card which occurs as a result of shopping with a select group of over 1000 Public Eye Platinum Certified Merchants. The program covers fraudulent charges, not waived by the credit card company, that occur through no fault of the consumer.

“This is the most extensive offering of its kind on the Internet. We’ve taken a sweeping guarantee and applied it to an expansive and diverse list of merchants. From travel services to jeeps accessories and stockings, on-line holiday shoppers will be able to find what they want from a long list of Certified Safe Sites, all protected by the Public Eye Guarantee,” said Errol Smith, Managing Partner of Public Eye.

Public Eye Platinum Certified Merchants are monitored for customer satisfaction 24 hours a day. Participating merchants display a seal linked to a data base that allows consumers to file and retrieve reports on these merchants around the clock. Free to the public, the service allows consumers to have instant access to a subscribing merchants customer satisfaction record, at the point of purchase.

“Public Eye’s Credit Card Fraud Protection Program, combined with our listing of Certified Safe Shopping sites, provides consumers the highest possible assurance of a safe on-line shopping experience,” says Smith.

About Public Eye

Launched in May of 1996 Public Eye is the first consumer service to test and certify Internet businesses for reliability. The service maintains a registry of companies who have been audited by undercover shoppers, and have performed exceptionally well in the areas of Service, Accessibility, Warranties, References, and Stability. Public Eye allows Internet consumers to access useful performance reports on these companies, so they can find out about Internet businesses before they buy. On January 1, 1997, Public Eye launched the Internet’s first Certified Merchants Program and began offering 24 hour monitoring services to participating on-line retailers. Public Eye’s rapidly growing data base of Certified Safe Shopping Sites can be viewed at .



ARKSYS announced Safe-ACCESS, a smart card security system that combines hardware and software security techniques to protect Internet and/or intranet financial data transmissions.

Safe-ACCESS, when combined with ARKSYS’ Commercial-ACCESS, a cash management system, or Personal-ACCESS, a home banking system, allows banking customers secure access to private financial data. With a combination of proven hardware and software security techniques, security risks for financial institutions are reduced.

“Internet usage is gaining popularity and creating similar growth among intranet users. Today’s technology allows not only for business, educational and media information to be transmitted over public and private lines, but private financial data, as well,” said Mary Rose, Vice President of Marketing with ARKSYS. “A combination of hardware and software security can eliminate security infringements and breaches almost entirely, while providing valuable services to banking customers.”

According to Rose, the added element of a “key”, the smart card, restricts unauthorized users, even if the password, or a “back door”, is discovered. Key aspects of the smart card security include data encryption and digital signatures.

ARKSYS is a privately-held software company headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA and is a premier provider of effective payment and financial transaction delivery systems. The company offers comprehensive ATM, POS and debit card packages, EFT network solutions, interactive voice response, smart card consulting, international credit card systems, and Internet and intranet banking offerings for cash management and home banking.

ARKSYS’ home page address is .

ARKSYS, Integrated Transaction Management and ITM are trademarks of Arkansas Systems, Inc.


CreditDesk WWW Interface

Financial institutions can now extend the use of Fair, Isaac’s CreditDesk(R) application processing software to remote or in-house sites with a new Fair, Isaac Web browser-based interface. The graphical user interface allows institutions with multiple branches to maintain control over loan decisions and provide faster decision notification. Fair, Isaac announced that the interface is the first of a wide range of Internet and Intranet application processing solutions the company plans to offer to credit grantors.

“This interface can support consistency in loan decisions while simultaneously helping branch loan officers streamline operations,” said Fair, Isaac Product Line Manager Bill Barnes. “Instead of branches receiving applications by telephone or fax and then retyping them into the system, the data goes directly to the central office, where risk managers can make sure accept/decline decisions are being made consistently.”

CreditDesk is Windows-based software that automates the processing and evaluation of consumer and small business credit applications. The new CreditDesk interface improves the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the application process, Barnes said. Since every computer with a compatible Web browser can support the interface, a credit grantor can use existing machines to expand a network to incorporate any number of data entry sites. In addition to branches, third parties and loan prospects themselves can also be granted access to the CreditDesk interface.

The interface runs on any Java-enabled Web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. The web-browser interface is available as a CreditDesk system option.

Since 1956, Fair, Isaac has helped businesses maximize the value of data for strategic decision making. The company pioneered the use of credit scoring in consumer and commercial lending. Today, Fair, Isaac provides data-driven decision making solutions such as customer and operational data management and modeling, data warehousing and information analysis, strategy design, and software to businesses in financial services, direct marketing, personal lines insurance, retail, and health care. Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Fair, Isaac employs more than 1200 people in 16 offices worldwide. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 1997, the company reported revenues of $199.0 million, a 28 percent increase over the prior year.



Global Payment Systems has announced a new “all-in-one” merchandising service that helps merchants set up and maintain a virtual storefront on the Internet. It also gives them the ability to accept credit cards in a secure environment. The announcement was made yesterday at the BAI Retail Delivery Show in New Orleans.

Known as MerchantWAVE, the comprehensive, turnkey package, allows businesses to create an on-line catalog for their products and services. To set up the catalog, merchants simply key in product information, based on a pre-established format or “template.” Or if they choose, they can submit paper or digital files to Global for assistance in creating the on-line catalog. Photos can also be incorporated into the storefront. The software used in Global’s Internet service was developed by CommerceWAVE, Inc., an Internet merchant transaction software developer based in Carlsbad, California. It is being resold by Global Payment Systems to its banking customers for their merchant base.

In addition, merchants can accept credit card payments and authorize transactions in real-time through an encryption system that fully meets the financial industry’s security requirements.

“Our service offers merchants an easy and affordable method to establish an Internet presence and expand their products and services in the international market,” said David K. Hunt, Global Payment Systems’ president and CEO. “Once the merchant’s Internet store has been set up on our MerchantWAVE host computer, managing product inventory and transaction processing is as simple as a point-and-click of the mouse.”

MerchantWAVE reduces merchants’ startup and maintenance costs since no software or hardware is required — other than a PC and access to the Internet.

Consumers shop the merchant’s store on the Internet where they can purchase goods or services 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week with credit cards in a secure environment. Using MerchantWAVE, businesses also can offer shoppers traditional payment methods using phone or fax order processing. Payment authorization information is captured for settlement, using MerchantWAVE’s administrative menu functions.

“By offering this innovative Internet business solution we are continuing to meet our bank customers’ evolving needs,” said Hunt. “MerchantWAVE expands our product offerings for our banks’ customers and epitomizes our flexibility in response to customer demand.”

Global Payment Systems is a major provider of transaction processing products and services for financial and corporate organizations worldwide. Global provides services to more than 1.2 million merchants in North America and processes in excess of 2.7 billion transactions annually. While well- known for its card services, Global also serves more than 700 financial institutions and 12,000 corporations in 44 countries through its cash management and financial EDI services.

National Data Corporation (NYSE: NDC) is a leading provider of information services for the payment systems and health care markets.

When used in this report, press releases and elsewhere by management or the Company from time to time, the words ‘believes,’ ‘anticipates,’ ‘expects’ and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements concerning the Company’s operations, economic performance and financial condition, including in particular, the likelihood of the Company’s success in developing and expanding its business. These statements are based on a number of assumptions and estimates which are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond the control of the Company, and reflect future business decisions which are subject to change. A variety of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in the Company’s forward-looking statements, some of which include competition in the market for the Company’s services, continued expansion of the Company’s processing and payment systems markets, successfully completing and integrating acquisitions in existing and new markets and other risk factors that are discussed from time to time in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) reports and other filings. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligations to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or thereof, as the case may be, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.


Electrifying MasterCard

While several U.S. electric/gas utility firms are mulling cobranding relationships with credit card issuers, DE-based Delmarva Power & Light Company became the first one out- of-the- chute yesterday. MBNA and Delmarva rolled out the ‘Conectiv MasterCard’ offering cardholders the ability to earn certificates, based on card purchases. Under federal and state regulations the certificates may not be used for direct payment of utility bills but rather the value may be applied to utility bills. The certificates are also good towards direct payment for non-regulated products and services. Delmarva is in the process of merging with NJ-based Atlantic Energy and will rename itself Conectiv after the merger. Conectiv will have one million electric customers and 100,000 gas customers.


Iris ID for ATMs

A revolutionary new personal identification system developed by Sensar, Inc. for use in electronic banking will soon allow financial institutions to offer customers higher-value ATM services beyond the withdrawal of small amounts of cash. Using a standard video camera and lighting techniques, as well as unique software, this virtually fraud-proof personal identification system validates a bank customer’s identity within seconds by imaging the iris (the colored portion of the eye), digitally encoding the image, and comparing it to a previously stored code already on file. If the codes match, ATM access is automatically approved. The technology has also proven highly reliable for identifying individuals wearing glasses or contact lenses.

With electronic transactions by consumers growing in popularity, particularly at ATM locations where over 30 billion transactions were processed worldwide last year alone, the need for a more secure, fraud- resistant, yet still user-friendly means of personal identification has become critical. Sensar’s patented new technology is several orders of magnitude more accurate and reliable than any other biometric solution available today, including voice, face, hand and fingerprint methodologies. System security can not be bypassed or compromised in any way. In addition, no active participation is required from the customer to operate the system and there is no inconvenience to the user. Many experts believe Sensar’s unique iris identification system will eventually eliminate PIN numbers for bank customers.

According to Rob VanNaarden, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sensar, “Although limitations on transactions and fraud at ATMs have prevented consumers from taking full advantage of electronic banking capabilities for many years, up until now no personal identification solutions were available that combined speed, reliability, high accuracy and user-friendliness.

“Sensar’s iris identification system will change all that by delivering a powerful, personal identification tool that will permit bank customers to access a broader range of high-value ATM services, such as deposits, higher- value cash advances, transfer of funds between accounts and bill payments,” VanNaarden says. “In addition, this technology will dramatically reduce ATM related fraud while providing heightened security for the ATM customer.

Founded in 1993, Sensar is a spin-off of the Sarnoff Corporation, an internationally-acclaimed advanced technology research and development organization. Sensar holds the exclusive rights to computer-vision technology developed at Sarnoff for use on a worldwide basis that is being incorporated into the company’s iris identification system. The company has a multi- million dollar development, distribution and supply agreement with Citicorp for direct marketing of its products into the financial services arena, as well as strategic partnerships with ATM manufacturers NCR, OKI Electric of Japan, and LG Electronics of Korea.

IriScan, Inc. of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, USA, holds the exclusive worldwide patents on the iris identification concept developed by Drs. Leonard Flom and Aran Safir and the software and process technology invented by Dr. John Daugman, Cambridge University, England. Sensar uses, under license, the iris identification process developed and owned exclusively by IriScan.

IRISCAN is a trade mark of IriScan, Inc. of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and is used by Sensar, Inc. under license from IriScan, Inc.


Xmas Shopping Demographics

The majority of American consumers (84%) are still shopping for holiday gifts, reports the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA) in their first Weekly Gallup Holiday Shopping Poll, sponsored by Visa USA. The IMRA conducted the random weekly telephone poll to determine how much of the Christmas shopping has been completed and by whom. The survey reported that the primary Christmas shoppers (58%) are women, with only 20% of households reporting sharing in the shopping burden and 18% percent of the shopping being done primarily by men.

Although the majority of holiday presents will be purchased by female shoppers overall, it is within the Baby Boomer (35 – 54 year old) households that this trend is most prevalent. Among the Generation Xers (18 – 34 year olds), although the female is the primary shopper for holiday purchases, it was reported that the holiday shopping duties are more likely to be shared between the men and women of the household. Furthermore, among the 16 percent of consumers who have already completed their holiday shopping, half are over age 55 and 59 percent are men.

In addition to shopping, most consumers are planning to do other traditional holiday activities, such as baking cookies or decorating with lights. While half of all respondents reported that they planned to bake cookies sometime this holiday season, seventy percent will put up Christmas lights this year.

The first weekly IMRA “Holiday Shopping Study” random telephone poll of 500 adult consumers nationwide was conducted the week of November 24 – 30, 1997. For a complete copy of the IMRA Weekly Holiday Poll, please contact Robin Lanier at the IMRA, telephone (703) 841-2300 or visit the IMRA web site at [][1].

The International Mass Retail Association represents the mass retail industry — the consumers’ choice for price, value and convenience. Its membership includes the fastest growing retailers in the worlds — discount department sores, home centers, category dominant specialty discounters, catalog showrooms, dollar stores, warehouse clubs, deep discount drugstores, and off-price stores, a well as the manufacturers who supply them. IMRA retail members operate more than 77,000 American stores and employ millions of workers. One in every ten American works in the mass retail industry, and the IMRA retail members represent over $411 billion in annual sales.



VISA & Holiday Inn Promotion

Holiday Hospitality has teamed up with Visa for its Holiday Inn Second Night Free winter promotion. More than 1,000 Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels in the United States and Canada are participating in the promotion which will run through Feb. 9, 1998.

Second Night Free offers leisure travelers a consecutive night at no charge for every night that they stay at the non-discounted (Second Night Free) rate. The offer is only available to consumers who have a coupon and make their reservations in advance.

Coupons will be distributed via insertions in Parade Magazine, USA Weekend Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine on Dec. 7, 1997.

Plus, as an added value at participating hotels, all guests who pay for their stay with a Visa card will receive a VISA Value Pack* filled with special coupons from Hertz, Northwest Airlines, Hollywood Video, Moto Photo and K-Mart. Recipients receive a free day on a leisure weekend rental from Hertz, a $119 companion fare from Northwest Airlines, free movie rental from Hollywood Video, a special offer from K-Mart, and a buy-one-get-one photo enlargement from Moto Photo.

Note: Holiday Hospitality, the hotel business of Bass PLC of the United Kingdom, operates or franchises more than 2,300 hotels and 390,000 guest rooms in more than 60 countries and territories.

The following service marks are owned by Holiday Hospitality Corporation, its subsidiaries or affiliates: Holiday Inn(R), Crowne Plaza(R), Holiday Inn Express(R), Holiday Inn Select(R) , Holiday Inn Garden Court(sm), Holiday Inn SunSpree(R) Resorts, Holidex(R), Holidome(R), Priority Club(R), Crowne Plaza Preferred(R) and .

Holiday Hospitality offers information and reservations capability on its pages on the World Wide Web of the Internet — for Holiday Inn hotels and for Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts.

*Visa Value Pack offers require additional purchase.

Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000-member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 370,000 ATMs in the Visa/Plus Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is .


ATM Software Reinvented

In conjunction with yesterday’s keynote address by Bill Gates at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference, Microsoft, KeyBank and Diebold demonstrated a new ATM software architecture that will enable banks to deliver new products and services via various Internet technologies. Diebold’s new ‘OPTimum’ architecture is based on the ‘Component Object Model’ and supports ‘Windows Distributed iNternet Architecture for Financial Services’. As a result ‘OPTimum’ is less dependent on the delivery channel or operating system which enables financial institutions to introduce applications quickly into multiple environments.