Hoping to capture the holiday spirit two California entrepreneurs launched a new Web service enabling Internet surfers to purchase toys electronically. eToys is initially offering more than 1,000 products from more than 100 manufacturers at discounted prices with plans to quickly expand to 5,000 toys. The new service will use ‘SSL’ encryption for credit card transactions. It was developed in partnership with Digital Boardwalk and will use the Netscape commerce system. All fulfillment will be done in-house with in-stock orders shipped within 24 hours.Details
NCR Corporation, the world leader in automated teller machines (ATMs), today announced that its newest ATM, The Cash, has been certified by Electronic Payment Services, Inc. (EPS), operator of the MAC(R) network, and a leading electronic transaction processor with over 2 billion transactions annually.
“The EPS certification enables NCR to offer an attractive solution for retailers looking for experience and customer satisfaction by backing our ATM with the largest electronic funds network,” said Andy Orent, NCR’s vice president, Self Service. “The speed with which NCR received EPS certification is an indication of NCR’s commitment to quality and reliability,” he said.
Last week, NCR introduced its easy-to-maintain ATM designed for retail outlets such as gasoline stations; restaurants; convenience, discount and department stores. The Cash is tailored to the needs of retailers who compete for consumer loyalty and want to offer their customers the convenience of instant cash availability without leaving the store or restaurant.
“NCR’s introduction of ‘The Cash’ exemplifies their continued commitment to new technologies for the convenience of the retail consumer,” said John Beahn, executive vice president, EPS. “EPS is excited to be a part of NCR’s newest ATM product introduction,” said Beahn.
EPS is the parent company of Money Access Service Inc., operator of the MAC network and BYPASS Corporation. EPS provides access to 46 credit, debit and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) gateways, and, through the MAC switch, processes one out of every five transactions in the United States, making it the country’s largest electronic funds transfer network based on switch transactions. The MAC network is comprised of more than 2,100 financial institution members, 27,000 ATMs, 400,000 point-of-sale terminals, and 36.5 million cardholders in 50 states.
EPS is the parent company of MONEY ACCESS SERVICE INC., operator of the MAC network and BUYPASS Corporation. EPS provides access to 46 credit, debit and electronic benefits transfer (EBT) gateways, and through the MAC switch, processes one out of every five transactions in the U.S., making it the country’s largest electronic funds transfer network, based on switch transactions.
The MAC network is comprised of more than 2,100 financial institution members, over 27,000 ATMs, 400,100 POS terminals and 36.5 million customers carrying cards bearing the MAC logo in 50 states. BUYPASS Corporation, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a major third-party POS processor and debit transaction acquirer with annual transaction volume of over 900 million. BUYPASS provides processing for 50 of the top 200 grocery store chains in the United States.
NCR supplies banks and other financial institutions with Banking Solutions in the Age of the Consumer — solutions that are tailored to our customers’ individual needs so that they can offer the best services to their consumers. Apart from ATMs, these solutions include relationship management systems, image and payment systems and consumer delivery systems. NCR Corporation’s computer systems, store automation, banking systems, consulting and support services are used by customers in more than 130 countries around the world. NCR is located on the World Wide Web at .Details
Signaling a bold move into the Internet commerce arena, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), the world’s largest telecommunications company, today announced that it will use Open Market’s powerful Transact(TM) Internet commerce software within a significant pilot test conducted by the Electronic Commerce Network (ECN) Project in Japan.
NTT is planning to start an Internet commerce services trial based on the robust functionality of Transact, enabling Japanese companies to sell their goods and services to the public via the World Wide Web. This announcement caps off tremendous recent expansion for Open Market, a leading provider of Internet commerce software, in the Japanese marketplace, led by Kazuo Kojima, general manager of Open Market’s Japanese operations in Tokyo.
NTT will conduct the trial beginning in the fourth quarter of this year with more than 2,000 NTT Group Card holders and 20 online businesses, providing centralized back-office order processing, store management, and payment processing for Internet malls and merchants. Beginning in December and continuing through May, NTT will then extend the trial to include online credit card settlement. Buyers will be able to shop securely for physical and digital goods via commerce-enabled Websites and online catalogs offered by online businesses.
The Japanese Internet user population is the second-largest in the world, with at least 6.7 million people in Japan having access to the Internet today, according to a recent Nikkei telephone survey. Well-known market researcher FIND/SVP projects that number will grow to more than 10 million Japanese adults by the year 2000. The Nikkei study reports that more than 35% of Japanese Internet users have already shopped online, but most purchases are from the U.S. because of the lack of Japanese merchants online.
“Open Market is incredibly pleased to gain a customer of NTT’s stature,” said Gary Eichhorn, president and CEO of Open Market. “Together, we will be able to expedite convenient, online shopping for the Japanese public. Also, it’s important to note that with this announcement, Open Market has effectively captured the entire worldwide telecommunications market for Internet commerce.”
Eichhorn noted that Open Market is the only company in the world to provide Internet commerce software to major telecommunications and financial service providers as the basis of their Internet commerce services, offering businesses and their customers complete order management, online customer service, security, authentication, record-keeping, flexible purchasing and payment models, and secure transaction processing, including sales tax and shipping charges. Already the preeminent software for business-to-consumer Internet commerce, Transact powers many of the world’s largest commerce Websites and also benefits business-to-business manufacturers and distributors, who use the system for a complete, end-to-end Internet commerce solution.
More About NTT
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation () was incorporated as a private company on April 1, 1985, and now has a total of 240 subsidiaries and affiliates. NTT is the largest supplier of telecommunications services in Japan, offering telephone, telegraph, leased circuit, data communication facility, sale of telecommunication equipment, and other services.
More About Open Market
Founded in 1994, Open Market, Inc., (Nasdaq: OMKT) develops, markets, licenses, and supports high-performance software products that allow its customers to engage in business-to-consumer and business-to-business Internet commerce. Open Market’s innovative technology enables the separation of the management of business transactions from the management of content, thereby allowing companies to securely, centrally, and efficiently manage business transactions over the Web. The company, headquartered in Cambridge, MA, can be reached at 617-949-7000 and on the World Wide Web at .
The Folio Products Division of Open Market is the world’s leading provider of software for publishing professional information. Folio products are installed on an estimated 30 million desktops. More than 700 publishers use Folio software to create and distribute approximately 3,500 electronic titles. For more information about Folio products and services, contact Folio at 801-229-6710 or visit .
This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Among the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements are the company’s limited operating history, delays in product development, development of the Internet market, competitive pressures, and the risk factors detailed from time to time in the company’s periodic reports and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
NOTE: Open Market, Transact, and We ARE Internet Commerce are trademarks or registered trademarks of Open Market, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other names are used for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners.Details
Jeanie(R), a regional ATM network from the Midwest, recently became Florida’s newest snowbird to declare residency! The network, owned by Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) and operated by the Bancorp’s data processing subsidiary, Midwest Payment Systems (MPS), has been expanded to provide service to Pelican National Bank in Naples, Florida and South Florida Bank in Fort Myers, Florida. Bank Brevard in Melbourne, Florida, has also signed a deal with MPS for its ATM processing in the Honor(R) network.
Until this year, Jeanie’s Florida duty had been limited to customers of Fifth Third Bank of Florida, located in Naples and Bonita Springs. MPS, one of the country’s leading electronic fund transfer and ATM processors, forged an agreement with First Integrated Systems to provide ATM processing. MPS will complement First Integrated Systems’ product processing capabilities to offer ATM terminal driving, settlement, card authorization and debit card services.
MPS processes over 1.8 billion ATM and POS transactions per year for more than 1,100 financial institutions and 25,000 merchants worldwide. MPS provides direct access to virtually all major ATM networks, including Jeanie, Cirrus(R), MAC(R), Honor, Most(R), Star(R) and Plus(R), with unsurpassed service and technical expertise.
First Integrated Systems provides comprehensive data processing services to over 50 banks located in 10 states. Its customers range in size from $15 million to $3 billion in assets. First Integrated Systems is a division of First National Bank of Omaha, a $4 billion bank known nationwide as a leader in the credit card, merchant processing and ACH processing business.
“MPS offered us the ability to present a total, cost effective processing solution for our customers,” reports Fran Marshall, First Integrated Systems. “MPS’ ATM processing expertise complements our processing products, such as First Integrated Systems’ on-line teller solution, First Teller, Signature Verification, Macrosoft Optical products for report archival, and Large Cash Transaction Reporting.”
“We are thrilled to have First Integrated Systems’ recommendation,” said Barry L. Boerstler, Senior Vice President, MPS. “It offers us the opportunity to expand our Jeanie network and introduce our capabilities to many more financial institutions.”
Also, Jeanie can now be used at all ATMs and POS devices at all Florida, Georgia and South Carolina Publix stores, thanks to a sharing arrangement between the Jeanie network and the Publix Presto network.
Founded in 1858, Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bank is one of 11 affiliate banks of Fifth Third Bancorp, which has $20.7 billion in assets, 415 full-service Banking Centers, including 97 Bank Mart(R) locations open seven days a week inside select grocery stores and 859 Jeanie(R) ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida. Fifth Third Bank’s financial strength continues to be recognized by rating agencies with deposit ratings of AA- and Aa2 from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Retail, Commercial, Fifth Third Investment Advisors and Midwest Payment Systems, the Bank’s data processing subsidiary. Bancorp investor information can be accessed on the Internet at . The company’s common stock trades on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol: FITB.Details
More evidence that chargeoffs declined in August was presented yesterday by Fitch Investors Service. The ‘Fitch Credit Card Performance Index’ showed a chargeoff rate of 6.59% for the August collection period compared 6.91% for the July collection period. Fitch says this is the largest one month decline in four years and was driven by improved results reported by nearly three-fourths of the issuers followed in the index. The Fitch index tracks $154 billion of card bonds or about 38% of total industry receivables.Details
Daniel R. Mathis, president and COO of Imperial Bank, announced today the appointment of Debra K. Hubers as president of Imperial Technology Solutions (“ITS”). ITS, formerly known as the Health Care Technology Group, is the only division of a major bank in the country with a team of healthcare, technology and marketing specialists solely dedicated to providing financial technology solutions to the healthcare industry.
Hubers joined Imperial Bank two years ago to create a financial services product for the large segment of healthcare providers within Imperial’s portfolio. ITS is the culmination of two years of research and development to create software that seamlessly integrates credit/debit card transactions and insurance eligibility verification into provider practice management systems.
“Imperial has a 30 year history of serving the California healthcare industry,” stated Mathis. “Now, with Debra heading an experienced team of healthcare financial technology specialists, we are expanding our product line and services nationwide. She is a nationally recognized leader in healthcare payment systems and insurance eligibility authorizations, who has already begun to provide significant benefits to many healthcare providers around the country.”
Imperial Technology Solutions has created a series of products under the banner of Receivables Payment Manager (“RPM”) designed to drastically cut a provider’s accounts receivable, which is a multi-billion dollar problem nationally. The RPM product line includes an easy-to-use ATM-like credit card terminal, highly sophisticated software integrated into a clinic or hospital practice management system, and revolutionary Internet and Intranet applications.
The first two RPM products being introduced and used in the marketplace are the “plug ‘n play” super terminal, which incorporates credit and debit card processing and on-line insurance verification for small physician and dental offices and the integrated server application, which is designed for large clinics and hospitals. Early cost savings analysis from current users show annual expense savings related to patient billing and insurance verification at small provider offices exceeding $100,000 per year with the RPM terminal. One large Midwestern MSO using the integrated server application has estimated annual patient billing processing expense savings to exceed $1.2 million per year.
Hubers has been working in the healthcare industry for nearly 20 years and understands the cost-saving needs of both the providers and the patients. She speaks nationally on healthcare market reform and is a recognized authority on issues including healthcare payment processing, healthcare EDI (electronic data interchange), employer group purchasing and provider outcome measurement. Prior to joining Imperial Bank, Hubers served as vice president of sales and marketing for System One. She founded two businesses: Colorado Health Care Purchasing Alliance and Quadrogy, Inc.; taught at University of Colorado and at Denver University; and served as a therapist at Colorado State Hospital and Fort Logan Mental Health. To reach Hubers at ITS, call 310-725-4343.
With over $4 billion in assets, Imperial Bank is one of the leading independent business banks in the West, offering a wide range of financial services tailored to corporate customers, entrepreneurs and professionals, and exclusively serves the middle-market business community. For more information, contact Imperial Technology Solutions at 310-725-4331 or 800-716-9777, or visit its World Wide Web site at http://www.rpmanager.com. Imperial Bank is the principal subsidiary of Imperial Bancorp (NYSE: IMP) and can be reached on the Web at .Details
International management consulting firm Dove Associates has acquired The Learning Design Group, a Minneapolis-based company that focuses on individual performance enhancement through the design and development of custom learning solutions and training programs. The newly-added division joined Dove Associates on September 30, 1997, and will continue to operate from its Minneapolis offices under The Learning Design Group name. This acquisition, combined with Dove’s ongoing growth, will help the firm approach $20 million in 1997 with approximately 100 employees.
A recognized leader in the custom training and development industry, The Learning Design Group has helped numerous clients improve their effectiveness through innovative, cost-effective training solutions that address critical performance challenges. According to Dove president David W. Dove, “The Learning Design Group is the best in their field. They are sought after for their deep expertise in sales, service, and leadership skill development; performance management; curriculum design; competency modeling; and multi-media learning by leading organizations such as American Express, Campbell Soup, Disney, General Mills, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, UPS, and Zeneca Pharmaceuticals. The Learning Design Group has also been called upon to design and develop off-the-shelf products for some of the most prominent training and education suppliers in the world, including the Harvard Business School.”
“The Learning Design Group’s work with Dove on a major healthcare company’s on-going, worldwide executive development program brought to light the perfect strategic and cultural fit between Dove and our organization,” explains The Learning Design Group founder and president/CEO Dr. Stephen L. Cohen. “Dove took the lead on creating the overall concept for the executive development process, then The Learning Design Group helped develop a learning process and codified it into guides for program leaders and handbooks for participants. Since this is such an immense, long-term undertaking that spans divisions around the world, standardizing the program was crucial to ensure that all of the client’s leaders who participate walk away with the same basic learnings.”
“We’re looking forward to partnering with Dove on key client projects to help support other leadership and change management initiatives,” continues Dr. Cohen. “There is also a great deal of intellectual capital resident within Dove that we plan to package so a wider audience of executives can benefit from Dove’s expertise in addressing strategic and organizational challenges.”
The Learning Design Group was founded in 1991 by its current president and CEO. Dr. Stephen L. Cohen, who has earned worldwide recognition for his accomplishments in the field of human resources development. He has served on the board of directors for the American Society for Training and Development, and was recently elected president of the Instructional Systems Association, whose members include the most prominent performance enhancement and training companies.
Founded in 1981, Dove Associates is an international management consulting firm specializing in strategy and organization effectiveness, with offices in Boston, Atlanta, London, San Francisco, and Washington. Dove counts among its clients leading organizations worldwide, including PepsiCo, MetroMedia, UNUM Corporation, and Banc One. For more information, pleaseDetails
A Massachusetts superior court judge denied a temporary restraining order yesterday requested by BJ’s Wholesale Club to halt Beneficial National Bank’s action to drop non-revolving cardholders from the ‘BJ’s MasterCard’ program. Beneficial is currently notifying about 12,000 customers, whose cards expired yesterday, that a the card will not be re-issued since no finance charges where paid in the previous twelve months. BNB began negotiating with BJ’s about a year ago to make adjustments in the program to assure profitability. The negotiations broke down in mid-September with both parties filing suit. BNB said yesterday it has no intention of terminating the program, merely modifying it. A January court date has been set to hear BNB’s case in Delaware. Despite yesterday’s setback for BJ’s, the wholesale club says it will go forth “vigorously” with its complaint filed in Massachusetts.Details
In the wake of recently announced commission cuts by major U.S. airlines, American Express, the nation’s largest travel agency, sees its future more than ever as aligned with the needs of travelers for good value, freedom of choice, unbiased advice and global customer service.
“It’s ironic that the major air carriers have sharply cut the commissions they pay travel agents, just when the need for objective travel advice and unbiased cost comparisons is growing. With fares up 17 percent this year, searching out airfare values and knowing the details about special offers and restrictions is more important than ever,” said Marianne Toldalagi, Senior Vice President, American Express Consumer Travel.
“And when you consider the time crunch that working families, small businesses and large firms face, the role of the agent as traveler advocate becomes even more vital. With 100,000 airfare changes every day, only a knowledgeable travel agent can provide the advice and cost comparisons that the traveling public needs,” she noted.
On September 18, United Airlines reduced travel agency commissions on all flights by 20 percent. Most other major carriers have taken the same action. Commissions on most roundtrip domestic flights had already been capped at $50 for the past 2-1/2 years.
“We know customers will continue to insist on seeing all travel options to determine the best value. A good travel agent knows how to find a lower fare by offering an alternate airport, a connecting flight or a non-peak departure. In addition, airlines lately have been restricting seat availability in the lowest fare categories and giving travelers less than a few hours to make a commitment or face a higher fare. Travel agents are familiar with these tactics and adept at protecting their clients from paying more than they should.
“Airlines have created confusion in pricing and consumers are bewildered. Only a travel agent has the skill to cut through the maze of fares and restrictions to find the best fare for the traveler.
“Despite the fact that they provide a vital service, under the new economic model many agencies will have a hard time surviving without changing the way they do business. We expect the commission cuts to be particularly difficult for travel agencies that serve low fare customers.
“Because agents across the U.S. are no longer being compensated at economically viable rates by carriers, it is likely that travelers — rather than airlines — will be paying for agency services in the future,” she explained.
In a national study in December 1996, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), an independent consumer group showed that when it came to providing the public with the lowest airfares, travel agents were the best source in the majority of cases.
“Any traveler who tries to arrange a trip on his or her own knows how invaluable the advice and planning experience of a professional can be. Even when you know your dates and destination, there are dozens of phone calls, price schedules and date changes which come with planning a trip. It usually involves far more time and effort than most people expect,” she warned.
American Express operates the world’s largest travel agency, with more than $15.8 billion in travel sales worldwide in 1996 through more than 1,700 travel service outlets. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.Details
Richardson M. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PMT Services, Inc. (Nasdaq/NM: PMTS), today announced financial results for the fiscal year and fourth quarter ended July 31, 1997. Revenues for fiscal 1997 were $284,213,000, up 32.3% from $214,891,000 for fiscal 1996. Net income for the latest fiscal year increased 92.4% to $18,325,000 before nonrecurring items from $9,522,000 for fiscal 1996. There were nonrecurring after-tax consolidation and merger expenses of $1,926,000, or $0.05 per share, for fiscal 1997 and nonrecurring income of $704,000, or $0.02 per share, for fiscal 1996. With 18.6% greater weighted shares outstanding, earnings per share before nonrecurring items for fiscal 1997 increased 66.7% to $0.45 from $0.27 for the prior fiscal year. Consolidated results have been restated for certain pooling of interests acquisitions as if the acquired companies had always been a part of PMT.
Revenues increased 24.5% to $83,158,000 from $66,779,000 for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1996. Net income before nonrecurring items rose 64.5% to $5,826,000 from $3,542,000. There were nonrecurring merger expenses of $453,000, or $0.01 per share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1997 and nonrecurring income of $704,000, or $0.02 per share, for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1996. Earnings per share before nonrecurring items increased 55.6% to $0.14 for the latest quarter from $0.09 for the comparable period in fiscal 1996.
Mr. Roberts said, “The fourth quarter financial results capped an outstanding fiscal year for PMT. As the expansion of PMT’s merchant account portfolio has continued to drive revenue growth, better pricing and increased economies of scale have enabled the Company to improve profit margins. Income from operations for the fourth quarter increased to 10.3% of revenues from 7.9% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1996, and net income before nonrecurring items increased to 7.0% of revenues from 5.3%.
“In addition to the substantial growth achieved in revenues and profits, PMT successfully implemented a strategy designed to position it for further significant growth. Primarily through the completion of twelve targeted acquisitions during the year, we diversified the Company’s product line with the addition of debit, leasing and check verification products, increased its ability to generate internal growth, strengthened its presence in the banking segment of the electronic processing industry and expanded the annualized charge volume of its merchant account portfolio.
“As a result, we enter fiscal 1998 with much broader capabilities than we had at the start of fiscal 1997. We intend to continue to focus on strengthening the Company’s internal growth prospects through the expansion of its field sales force, as well as the through the growth of its new products. We also remain committed to an aggressive acquisition strategy. We expect consolidation pressures to build further on the smaller providers of electronic transaction processing services, including both independent service organizations and commercial banks. PMT has amply demonstrated its ability to profit from industry consolidation through the acquisition and integration of attractive companies. We are confident we have the managerial skills and financial resources in place to continue to benefit from acquisitions in the future.
“In this regard, we are also very pleased to announce today the acquisition of Retail Systems Consulting, Inc.(“RSC”), an independent service organization with a merchant portfolio generating annualized charge volume of approximately $300 million. In addition to the merchant portfolio, this acquisition brings an experienced field sales force to the Company concentrated in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which are new markets for PMT. Enhancing the complementary nature of this acquisition, RSC has historically specialized in working with commercial bank portfolios similar to PMT’s commercial bank affiliate relationships. We therefore look forward to the smooth integration of RSC into PMT’s operations and to leveraging our investment in this high quality provider.”
The co-founders of RSC, Brian Shanahan and Richard Camardo, added, “We are excited to be joining forces with PMT, one of the clear leaders in our industry. We believe PMT’s scale and infrastructure will enable us to take a more aggressive approach to the opportunities for additional growth in our markets.”
Mr. Roberts concluded, “In summary, after a strong performance for fiscal 1997, we are confident of PMT’s prospects for fiscal 1998. The market for our core electronic processing services continues to grow at a double-digit rate. Through product diversification, we have created additional opportunities for growth beyond this core market. Even as we expand our mergers and acquisitions staff in response to ongoing consolidation opportunities, PMT is generating greater internal growth than ever before. We continue to benefit from the economies of scale our growth produces, and we expect to remain one of the leading providers of electronic transaction processing services to small businesses.”
Investors are cautioned that this release contains forward- looking statements, such as those relating to PMT’s ability to strengthen its internal growth prospects, to benefit from ongoing industry consolidation and to successfully integrate its acquisitions, that are based upon current expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual operations and results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements made by the Company. The factors that could cause actual results to vary include PMT’s ability to retain and expand its field sales force; the ongoing performance of the field sales and telemarketing personnel; the actual production of new accounts by alliance partners; the Company’s ability to integrate acquisitions successfully with its processing systems and products and to account for acquisitions as poolings of interests; the availability of attractive acquisition targets; the availability of capital, attrition of merchants from acquired portfolios; and other trends or uncertainties as noted in PMT’s periodic filings with the SEC.
PMT Services, Inc. is an independent service organization which markets and services electronic credit card authorization and payment systems to small retail and professional businesses located throughout the United States. PMT’s account portfolio has grown through the internal development of accounts using telemarketing and a field sales force as well as through the purchase of account portfolios. PMT is one of the largest independent service organizations in the country.Details
MCI today announced that Rite Aid Corporation, one of America’s leading drugstore chains with more than 3,900 stores in 31 states, has signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract for prepaid long distance calling cards. Rite Aid and MCI will develop co-branded prepaid cards that will offer customers several purchase options for economically priced long distance calling.
Under the terms of the agreement, MCI will provide a complete range of advanced services including retail point of sale activation systems, network transmission; platform services; 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week multi-lingual customer support and marketing materials.
Rite Aid customers can purchase prepaid cards good for 15, 30 or 60 minutes of domestic calling time. The cards can also be used to call abroad to many counties and for overseas calls back to the U.S. International usage rates vary by country.
“MCI will be providing the perfect prescription for prepaid calling card customers in Rite Aid drugstores across the country,” said Jeff Lindauer, general manager, MCI PrePaid Card Services. “Just as consumers depend on Rite Aid to provide the highest-quality drugstore products and services, they can rely on MCI to deliver reliable prepaid cards with the best network support and outstanding customer service.”
Off-the-Shelf Long Distance
To combat the threat of theft and inventory shrinkage from on-floor displays, MCI was the first long distance carrier to implemented point-of-sale swipe activation (POSA) for retail sales of prepaid cards. POSA allows retailers to merchandise prepaid cards on the sales floor, as opposed to traditional “behind the register” methods, which limits the merchandisability of the cards as well as overall sales of the product. Rite Aid will use the POSA system in its stores.
This added security allows customers the opportunity to pick up and inspect the product, while eliminating the merchants’ concern of losing live cards with stored value. Cards are displayed on the sales floor and remain inactive until check-out, when they are run through a scanner to remotely activate the card. The system also provides valuable inventory control and tracking data for retailers. Several major MCI PrePaid retail clients use POSA technology in their stores.
The addition of Rite Aid expands the MCI PrePaid retail distribution network to approximately 35,000 locations in the U.S., more than any other long distance carrier. These locations include mass merchants, price clubs; grocery, gift, travel and convenience stores; military exchanges, vending machines, as well as many affiliated and independent retailers. Card users can call from any phone – – public or private, touch tone or rotary — in the U.S., to virtually anywhere in the world.
The U.S. prepaid calling card market — including the retail, promotional and collectible segments — is predicted by industry analysts to top $1.55 billion in 1997 and reach $3.3 billion in 2001. Telecard trade publications have estimated that more than 200 million prepaid cards have been issued in the U.S. market.
Rite Aid Corporation, headquartered in Camp Hill, Penn., operates over 3,900 drugstores in 31 eastern and western states and has annual revenues of over $10 billion. General information about the company is available by fax at (800) 916-7788 and at the company’s web site at .
MCI, headquartered in Washington, D.C., offers the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of communication services. With 1996 revenues of $18.5 billion, MCI ranks as one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. MCI is also the world’s third largest carrier of international voice traffic and operates one of the world’s most advanced Internet networks. Since its founding in 1968 MCI has been a leader in bringing the benefits of long distance competition to businesses and consumers and is now leading the charge to open U.S. local calling markets to competition. By the end of this year MCI plans to merge with BT to form Concert, the world’s first global communications company.Details
What should high school students know about buying a home? Seeking to transform today’s high school students into tomorrow’s financially-savvy consumers, Republic Mortgage Insurance Company (RMIC) announced the donation of more than 7,500 financial management textbooks to selected county school systems across the United States.
The program was piloted in North Carolina’s Forsyth County School System and is now being expanded to schools in Tampa, Phoenix, Denver and Seattle. The books have become part of Forsyth County’s mandatory, ninth-grade level Economic, Legal, and Political System course and are being used by more than 1,100 students.
The textbook, titled How Chuck Taylor Got What He Wanted (and How You Can, Too!), was written by William F. Staats, Professor of Banking and Finance at Louisiana State University; and E.D. Sledge, President of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The book chronicles the financial adventures — and occasional misadventures — of fictional teenager Chuck Taylor, his family, and his friends. Using Chuck’s story as the narrative, it explores money management fundamentals such as understanding the free enterprise marketplace, establishing realistic financial goals, buying and financing “big ticket” items like a home or a car, using credit cards, and learning the value of insurance.
In speaking at the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC) Annual Conference in Atlanta today, RMIC Risk Management Group Manager Merle Sharick explained, “At RMIC, we’re not only in the business of making home ownership more affordable for both first-time and low-to moderate-income borrowers, but we also want to help keep them in their homes and avoid defaults. As an avid proponent of borrower education, the RMIC team thought a good target for our money management message was today’s high school students. The experiences of previous generations have taught us that successful money management is neither an inherited quality nor an application of common sense. Rather, it is a learned skill — one which RMIC is proud to share with impressionable young consumers.”
RMIC’s textbook donation arose from an earlier Consumer Credit Counseling Service challenge made by RMIC President and CEO, William A. Simpson. During a recent presentation of seven personal computers to the Forsyth County CCCS, Mr. Simpson challenged the local CCCS team to expand its services to local high school students. In doing so, Mr. Simpson also pledged RMIC’s financial support for such a venture. Responding to Simpson’s proposal and pledge, the CCCS team later recommended that RMIC sponsor the Chuck Taylor textbook to be used in the Forsyth County schools. The text, which was originally used by the New Orleans schools, received rave reviews by both students and consumer economics instructors.
The National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC)(R), is a network of 1,300 local non-profit organizations that provide consumer credit education, confidential budget and debt counseling, and debt repayment programs to families and individuals across the United States and Canada. On an annual basis, NFCC members typically provide debt management, budgeting, housing counseling, and education to approximately one million North Americans. NFCC is supported with contributions from banks, consumer finance companies, credit unions, and other community services and can provide services at no cost in many communities and for a reasonable fee in others.
For additional information on the NFCC member location near you, call (800) 388-2227 for 24-hour automated office listings, or write National Foundation for Consumer Credit, 8611 Second Avenue, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
RMIC is a national, private mortgage insurer based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. RMIC’s private mortgage insurance coverage allows lenders to approve mortgage loans with smaller down payments making home buying affordable. RMIC offers mortgage lenders an array of innovative products including ZIP(SM) Monthlies, OASIS(SM), Contract Underwriting, automated underwriting, customer training, quality services, and affordable housing programs.
For more information on RMIC, contact Rob Showfety, Marketing Group Manager at (800) 999-RMIC (7642), write RMIC 4964 University Parkway, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27106 or visit RMIC’s web site at .Details