A survey conducted for Intuit/Quicken by Roper Starch says three out of four Americans will experience financial stress this year paying holiday bills. The study projects Americans will spend $816 this year per adult or about $160 billion on holiday gifts, an increase of 7% over 1996. Intuit advises consumers to reduce stress by lowering their credit card interest rate via quicken.com.Details
The National Consumers League has released a new consumer education brochure, “Debit Cards: Beyond Cash & Credit.” The brochure explains the pros and cons of debit cards.
“By the year 2000, it is expected that two-thirds of American households will have a debit card,” said NCL President Linda F. Golodner. “Educating consumers about how these cards work and how they are different from both automated teller machine (ATM) and credit cards is extremely important to avoid confusion.”
The brochure examines the differences between a debit card and a credit card; outlines what you should know about debit cards; includes seven tips for responsible use as well as common sense precautions. The brochure also includes the most up-to-date information on card protection in case of loss, theft or unauthorized use.
“Debit cards offer the consumer many conveniences. Nevertheless, consumers should remember that debit cards access money directly from their checking account,” according to Golodner. “Our brochure continues the League’s commitment to educating consumers about new trends in money management.”
Single copies are available free of cost by contacting the National Consumers League at 800-355-9NCL. Bulk copies are available at reduced rates by contacting Theresa Smith, publications coordinator, 202-835-3323.
The brochure was created by the National Consumers League with a grant from Visa U.S.A.
“Visa and its member banks are committed to consumer education, and to providing consumers with the most secure, convenient and accepted payment products in the marketplace. We are delighted to work with the National Consumers League to further educate consumers,” said Michael Beindorff, executive vice president, Marketing and Product Management, Visa U.S.A.
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization, NCL’s three-pronged approach of research, education and advocacy has made it an effective representative and source of information for consumers and workers. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to representing consumers on issues of concerns.Details
VeriFone, Inc., the leading global provider of secure electronic payment technology, today announced that the VeriSmart System, its flexible consumer smart card solution, will be included in the Visa International Partner Program for loading stored value cards from home.
“Visa International is working closely with VeriFone and we are delighted to add yet another option to our comprehensive smart card initiatives,” said Bernard Morvant, vice president, stored value products Visa International.
The VeriSmart System is a scaleable client/server technology that enables financial institutions, telecommunications companies and other service providers to implement a complete multi-application consumer smart card solution seamlessly, from processor to consumer. Once a consumer appliance connects to the server, the appliance automatically accesses the latest smart card applications, providing the flexibility for integrating future smart card capabilities into the existing architecture.
“The powerful combination of Visa’s smart card leadership, and VeriFone’s flexible VeriSmart System, will provide Visa member financial institutions with an innovative solution for next generation chip card applications,” said Thomas J. Kilcoyne, vice president and general manager, consumer systems division at VeriFone. “The VeriSmart System, with its open architecture, allows member banks to interface with a variety of consumer appliances and applications in order to quickly respond to changing service demands, evolving technologies and new market opportunities.”
The VeriSmart System allows consumers to load digital cash and other information to their cards from the privacy and security of their homes. The VeriSmart System is part of the smart card program in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York, where Visa USA, Citibank, Chase Manhattan Bank and MasterCard International, Inc., have joined forces to bring smart cards to consumers. Citibank is using the VeriSmart System in that program, providing VeriFone’s Personal ATM appliances to thousands of consumers for reloading Visa Cash onto smart cards in their home.
VeriFone, Inc., (), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Company, is the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than six million electronic payment systems, which are used in over 100 countries.
Visa International, (), “the world’s best way to pay,” 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 its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. As the leader in emerging products, Visa has 70 chip programs underway worldwide with 21 million chip cards issued, including more than 7 million Visa Cash cards.
It is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction programs in more than 25 countries for secure Internet commerce. Visa’s 600 million cards, generating over US$1 trillion in annual volume, are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including Visa’s nearly 370,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network.
The Visa Partner Program is designed to help its member financial institutions migrate to chip-based technologies and to take full advantage of opportunities in electronic commerce. It is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs in more than 25 countries for secure Internet commerce.Details
The New Jersey Hospital Association and Health Charge of Skokie, Ill., announced the execution of an agreement to provide the Health Charge private label credit card program to hospitals and other healthcare providers. The private label credit card systems reduce costs through improved receivables management.
“We are pleased to offer this program to our members because it is a proven method of improving hospital cash flow,” said William D. Kennedy, vice president of the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Corporate Services. “This program will help healthcare providers better manage their business office and provides valuable assistance to patients with substantial medical bills.”
“Health Charge is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the New Jersey Hospital Association,” said Christopher Gillock, chief executive officer of the Health Charge Corporation. “Health Charge Corporation provides an easy-to-manage credit program at competitive rates to patients seeking to finance their deductibles, co- payments and uninsured medical expenses. Our program will help healthcare providers improve collections, consistent with favorable patient relations.”
The New Jersey Hospital Association, based in Princeton, is a trade group committed to helping its 115 member hospitals provide accessible, affordable and quality healthcare in their communities through advocacy, education, research and policy development. Health Charge Corporation, founded in 1979, is affiliated with HealthCare Financial Partners, Inc. The company provides private label credit card programs, consulting services and information systems to hospitals and other healthcare providers nationwide.Details
Starting this Saturday all U.S. American Express cardholders will automatically be entered into a holiday sweepstakes offering nine grand prizes and 4,000 first prizes. ‘The American Express Blue Box Sweepstakes’ runs through Dec 31 and offers AmEx cardholders the chance to win several one-of-a-kind experiences including golf lessons from Tiger Woods’ father, a power lunch with CNBC anchors, a trip to a couture fashion show and tickets to all NBA finals. AmEx will also award other grand prizes including five million ‘Membership Rewards’ points and $50,000 in credit on an AmEx ‘Platinum Card’.Details
Euronet Services Inc., operator of the only independent automatic teller machine (ATM) network in Central Europe, announced today that it recorded third quarter revenues of $1,577,000. This compares with revenues of $378,000 for the third quarter of 1996 and $1,061,000 for the second quarter of 1997. Revenues for the third quarter increased 49% over the second quarter.
Consistent with its business plan, Euronet reported that its net loss for the third quarter was $1,521,000, or $0.09 per share. Euronet’s loss was $907,000, or $0.07 per share, for the third quarter of 1996. The increased loss results from expenses associated with the continued aggressive expansion of operations in existing and new markets.
Euronet also announced that cash withdrawal and other transactions by cardholders over its ATM network in Hungary, Poland and Germany reached 560,106 in September and 647,675 in October. These figures compare with 548,350 transactions in August. The transaction figures reported for September and October include, for the first time, a significant level of transactions acquired under Euronet’s outsourcing contract with Budapest Bank. Euronet is now “driving” 45 Budapest Bank ATMs under that contract, which includes a fixed monthly fee per ATMs and a correspondingly lower transaction fee than the Company’s other contracts with banks .
The number of ATMs in Euronet’s independent network (exclusive of Budapest Bank ATMs) has increased to 503 at September 30, 1997 and 534 at October 31, 1997, up from 375 as at of June 30, 1997 and 405 at July 31, 1997.Euronet’s last public report of network size on June, 30 1997
Established in 1994, Euronet operates the only independent, non- bank owned ATM network in Central Europe. Through agreements and relationships with local banks, international card issuers and ATM networks such as American Express, VISA, Plus, MasterCard, Europay and Cirrus, Euronet’s ATMs are able to process ATM transactions for holders of credit and debit cards issued by or bearing the logos of such banks and card issuing organizations. In addition, Euronet offers outsourced ATM management services to local banks that own proprietary ATMs.
This press release contains forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21 E of the Securities Exchange Act and is subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. Euronet assumes no obligation to update the information contained in this press release. Euronet’s operating results can be adversely affected by a number of factors, including (i) the management of growth, (ii) changes in laws and regulations affecting Euronet’s business in the countries in which it operates, (iii) cancellation or re-negotiation of contracts on which the company is dependent, (iv) competition, and (v) the level of card growth in emerging markets, any of which could cause actual results to vary materially from current results or Euronet’s anticipated future results. Additional explanation of these risks, and other risks, are set forth from time to time in Euronet’s periodic reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, Euronet’s registration Statement on Form S-1 and the prospectus dated March 6, 1997.
EURONET SERVICES INC .
CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT
(In thousands, except per share data)
Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended
September 30 September 30
1997 1996 1997 1996
Revenue 1,577 378 3,433 638
ATM operating costs (1,393) (410) (3,046) (941)
Other operating costs (2,010) (840) (5,034) (2,365)
Operating loss (1,826) (872) (4,647) (2,668)
Other income (expenses) 305 (29) 555 (106)
Loss before income taxes (1,521) (901) (4,092) (2,774)
Deferred income tax benefit – (6) 129 219
Net loss (1,521) (907) (3,963) (2,555)
Loss per common and common
outstanding primary (0.09) (0.07) (0.24) (0.18)
Average common and common
outstanding primary 17,222,997 13,838,078 16,626,719 13,838,078
The largest full scale launch of Mondex took place this week in Hong Kong. HongkongBank and Hang Seng Bank Limited announced that all customers are now eligible for Mondex cards. Over 5,000 Hong Kong merchants have agreed to accept the card. The initial launch of the card was limited to two retail sites in Hong Kong nevertheless more than 40,000 cards were issued. Meanwhile Mondex says its Guelph, Ontario program has grown to more than 10,000 cardholders.Details
A least two major car rental firms are reconsidering dropping out of frequent flyer mileage award programs in the wake of the recently adopted 7.5% tax now levied on air miles purchased from airlines. Reed Travel Group’s ‘Travel Weekly’ reported this week that Hertz and Avis were already re-evaluating their participation in the programs before passage of the new tax. Hertz says it no longer makes sense to spend more than $100 million per year for bonus miles when the firm already provides substantial discounts to corporate customers. Avis also questioned the effectiveness of such programs due to the saturation of bonus miles programs awarded from all types of firms. ‘Travel Weekly’ suggests hotel chains, long- distance phone companies and credit card issuers are likewise reconsidering such programs.Details
Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen restaurants, operated by the Don Pablo’s Division of Apple South, Inc., this month will become among the first national multi-unit restaurant brands to launch an innovative, customer-focused gift card program, offering consumers faster point-of-purchase processing times and a gift that is more convenient than traditional paper certificates to carry and use.
Beginning November 10, 1997 in time for the holiday season, consumers can purchase Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen gift cards in any amount from $10 to $50 that look and operate like traditional credit cards. Called “The Real Gift Card,” a play on the brand’s “The Real Enchilada” tagline, the p.pless gift program will be rolled out system wide in 89 Don Pablo’s restaurants.
According to Don Pablo’s Division President Larry Folk, “The Real Gift Card” program offers added benefits to consumers and restaurant operators. “It’s a win, win program. For gift card holders, it provides a more accessible and user-friendly gift program, while providing restaurant operators with a more cost-effective gift program that strengthens brand loyalty among consumers.
“Unlike paper gift certificates, consumers will carry the card in their wallet just like a credit card which encourages use and helps reinforce brand awareness. In addition, consumers will be more likely to use the card more than once if necessary to spend the balance of the gift because gift card holders will not receive cash back on the remaining balance as they do with conventional paper gift certificates,” Mr. Folk said.
The look of the gift card, designed by the Don Pablo’s Division’s full- service advertising agency Gleason-Calise Associates of Dallas, remains true to the brand with the front of the card highlighting the Don Pablo’s logo and “The Real Gift Card” tagline against a background that resembles an adobe- plaster wall with exposed brick — a design element featured inside the restaurants.
The gift cards were produced by Tulsa, Okla.-based Gift Card Services, a company that specializes in gift card technology and provides a host computer system to process gift card transactions.
To purchase “The Real Gift Card,” consumers simply make the request to a Don Pablo’s server or employee who loads the gift amount onto the gift card — a process that takes about 15 seconds — using a standard POS credit card machine that has been programmed to interface with the Gift Card Services host system network. Each card features a 17-digit card identification number and a magnetic strip that records the card balance data each time the card is used.
Consumers who purchase the gift cards receive an attractive card holder that features a sleeve to hold the card and a tag page that allows the purchaser to designate who the gift card is to, who it is from and the amount of the gift.
The gift card recipient uses the card just like cash with the speed and convenience of a credit card transaction. As the gift card is used for the purchase of food and/or beverages, consumers can always determine the balance of the card by calling a 1-800 number that is featured on the back of the card. The gift cards carry an expiration date of 1999 and will remain available throughout the year.
The Don Pablo’s Division is promoting the program through gift card pins worn by hosts/hostesses, cashiers and servers as well as point-of-sale materials. In-store posters and table-tents designed by Gleason-Calise emphasize the gift card and the brand’s positioning using three visual elements matched with taglines, including: a sombrero with the caption “The Real Enchilada,” the gift card with the caption “The Real Gift Card” and a Margarita with the caption “The Real Holiday Spirit.”
In addition, the Division will roll-out an employee gift card sales contest from Nov. 13 to Dec. 31, 1997 that rewards top-selling employees and management teams with wearables and cash prizes.
Don Pablo’s is truly “The Real Enchilada” of Mexican restaurant brands, delivering hot, fresh, authentic Mexican food in a casual and festive atmosphere reminiscent of an open-air Mexican village plaza.
Madison, Ga.-based Apple South, Inc., a rapidly growing, multi-concept restaurant company, operates six decentralized, entrepreneurial divisions organized by brand to ensure a strong guest focus. The Company’s divisions operate a total of 412 restaurants, including 254 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants, 89 Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen restaurants, 16 McCormick & Schmick’s seafood dinner houses, 27 Hops Grill & Bar restaurants, 16 Canyon Cafe restaurants and 10 Harrigans Grill and Bar restaurants.Details
A consortium of European electronic trade organizations and businesses, including key partners Hewlett-Packard Company, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS, Eurocard-MasterCard and Visa, announced `e-Christmas’ – an initiative to increase knowledge of electronic commerce among European businesses.
The project centers around the creation and operation of an innovative multi-lingual, multi-currency retail Web site which will market holiday gifts from retailers and manufacturers in nine European countries to Internet consumers around the world. The e-Christmas site goes live on Nov. 10, 1997 at www.e-Christmas.com. e-Christmas has two objectives. First, it will educate and excite consumers, retailers and merchants, by demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of electronic commerce. Second, the initiative will assist European businesses in keeping pace with competitors in other regions, helping to prevent the creation of a technology gap between Europe and the United States.
Developed using Internet technologies from Microsoft and HP, the site is available to consumers in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Payments systems differ according to the consumers country of origin, but cover major credit cards including Visa and Eurocard-MasterCard.
The e-Christmas initiative provides European businesses with a focus for learning more about this critical new channel and its impact upon all aspects of their organizations. The project will be monitored by consultants KPMG and their analysis of the results and experiences will be published in a report available to all businesses.
The e-Christmas site (at www.e-Christmas.com) will feature hundreds of gifts from European retailers. The site and its supporting service will overcome many of the barriers holding back wider adoption of electronic commerce. e-Christmas is multi-lingual; can handle payments in local currencies; provides information about tax and import duties at the `point of sale’; and gives high levels of service for delivery and online tracking of orders to most countries of the world, within a single purchase price and as part of an integrated service.
e-Christmas is a concrete response from industry to the challenge from the European Commission (EC) to raise awareness among businesses and consumers, which the EC identified in its recent communication A European Initiative in Electronic Commerce, as key to the vigorous growth of electronic commerce in Europe. The objectives of the project are also consistent with the electronic commerce policies of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Partners supporting the project with contributions of computing technology, software and professional services include: Eurocard-MasterCard, HP, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS and Visa. Additionally, within the nine participating countries 21 Internet Service Providers and over 20 solution developers are working with retailers and merchants to establish and host stores. The number of retailers participating in the initiative will continue to grow throughout the duration of the project. Electronic trade organizations participating in the initiative include the IMRG (UK) L’Echangeur (France), Berinor Associates (Spain) and DETECON (Germany).
Retailers are able to participate easily through the rapid creation of an e-Christmas storefront – a process which can take as little as two days of programming. A Merchant Agreement ensures consistent service across all retailers within the site.Purchases can be delivered to most countries of the world by the projects fulfilment and logistics partner UPS, which has also integrated its online tracking capability with the e-Christmas service to allow consumers to check the delivery status of their purchases. For more information on how consumers interact with the site and the technology used to build it, read the e-Christmas FAQs.
About the e-Christmas project:
e-Christmas is an independent European initiative in electronic commerce inspired by a group of electronic trade organizations and supported by business partners in retailing, payments, management consulting, package distribution and information technology. e-Christmas aims to educate and excite consumers, retailers and merchants about the benefits of online retailing, and increase levels of awareness, knowledge and understanding among European businesses. Among over 100 companies participating in the e-Christmas initiative are leading partners Hewlett-Packard Company, KPMG, Microsoft, UPS, Eurocard-MasterCard and Visa. The e-Christmas site goes live at [www.e-Christmas.com] on Nov. 10, 1997.
Scott Thompson has been named Executive Vice President, Systems Development and Customer Service, for Visa U.S.A., with overall responsibility for the VisaNet Services Group.
Thompson joins Visa after five years as Chief Information Officer for Barclays Global Investors in San Francisco, where he spearheaded all systems and technical operations activities for the firm, which manages mare than $400 billion in assets. In addition, he successfully implemented a new strategic platform and technology infrastructure based on UNIX technologies, overseeing a staff of more than 200 technology professionals. He also redirected development efforts at the firm toward client-served methodology.
“Scott Thompson is a seasoned systems development professional, bringing more than 15 years of experience in information systems and operations to Visa U.S.A.,” said Carl Pascarella, president and chief executive officer, Visa U.S.A. “He has a proven track record in effectively mastering technology systems, and we are extremely pleased to have him on board.”
Prior to Barclays Global Investors, Thompson was a Partner at Coopers & Lybrand, where he was responsible for delivering information technology solutions to the firm’s financial services industry clients.
“I am excited by the size, scope, and importance of the VisaNet Systems, not only as they exist today, but also as we will develop them for the future,” said Thompson. “As the industry leader, Visa U.S.A. has assembled a stellar systems development team. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
VisaNet is Visa’s global payment processing network that provides the telecommunications and data processing infrastructure that connects 21,000 member financial institutions, nearly 600 million Visa cards and more than 14 million Visa acceptance locations. VisaNet recently set and all-time record, processing more than $1 trillion in Visa transactions in the 12 months ended March 31, 1997. VisaNet enables Visa member financial institutions to offer Visa cardholders a variety of services and a level of satisfaction that continually reinforces consumers’ preference of the Visa brand.
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 more than 21,000 member finanacial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including more than 370,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com]
If you’re like most people, each time you rely on the conveniences of automated banking — be it on-line or at the automatic teller machine (ATM) — you pause to wonder if your account will reflect the withdrawal, deposit (especially of cash) or transfer accurately.
You are rushing to a restaurant, do you really need that receipt? Will such an acknowledgment of the transaction stand up if a problem appears on your account?
As familiar as we have become with automation in most aspects of our lives, these and other concerns are still shared by a majority of people using ATMs and electronic banking services at a rapidly growing rate. The concerns are well-founded because the risk of theft, fraudulent use or other problems from various electronic aberrations are documented.
Meeting these concerns, some personal insurance companies offer protection against loss through electronic banking.
“Most people don’t realize that their homeowners insurance policies may cover loss through electronic banking when unauthorized access or other events affect their account unexpectedly,” said Randolph J. Smith, Senior Vice President for Atlantic Mutual’s Personal Insurance Division. “Recognizing that automation continues to assume a larger role in our lives, added protections like these for consumers are essential.”
The statistics tell the cold reality: The United States Secret Service, for one, has reports of computer hackers who have broken into on-line banking services and companies offering purchases via the Internet to obtain credit card numbers and other personal financial information. And, according to VISA USA, Inc., credit card companies’ fraud losses currently approximate $475 million per year from people using stolen or lost cards, or using fraud schemes to obtain account numbers of unwary cardholders.
Resolving these disputes can be very difficult when there is no clear coverage for liabilities, as not all institutions have or require uniform coverages regarding electronic banking transactions. And while credit card issuers now live by systems for coverage and limited liability that have become popularly understood, the question still remains, what about the risk of loss through banking directly? Who is responsible for what if there is a discrepancy that cannot be easily resolved?
No transaction in the electronic universe should be considered entirely fail-safe. But there are some simple precautions that people can take to minimize their risk when using electronic services:
On-line Banking from Home or Office
1. Your password is the key to your account — keep all passwords secret, never give them to anyone, including bank employees. 2. Always sign off when you leave your computer area: never leave your Internet bank account open when you leave your desk either at home or at the office — if the PC is left unattended with the browser running with a valid user name and password active, anyone can gain access to the account. 3. Keep your computer free of viruses. 4. Consider not banking electronically during the work day when distractions may cause you to forget that you have an account active and open, or to make erroneous entries.
Keeping your ATM Card Yours Alone
1. Treat your ATM card like cash. Always keep your card in a safe place. 2. Keep your “secret code” a secret. Your ATM card will only work with your personal identification number (PIN). Memorize your code — never write it on your card or store it near the card. Never tell your code to anyone. And never let someone else enter your code for you (including bank employees). 3. Do not share any information about your ATM card over the telephone. No one needs to know your secret code, not even your financial institution. 4. Report a lost or stolen card at once. Even though your ATM card cannot be used without your secret code, promptly report a lost or stolen card. 5. Check your receipts against your monthly statements to guard against ATM fraud. You can get a receipt every time you make an ATM transaction. Verify each transaction by checking the receipts against your monthly account statements.
The Atlantic Mutual Companies, including Mutual Insurance Company and Centennial Insurance Co., provide personal, commercial and marine classes of property and casualty insurance through independent agents and brokers. Founded in New York in 1842, Atlantic Mutual has offices throughout the United States. Atlantic Mutual routinely offers advice to individuals and businesses on how to manage their environments safely and productively.Details