SpeedPass Becomes SpeedPay in NJ

Mobil Corp’s new push into fast-pay-at-the-pump technology has hit a roadblock in New Jersey. New Jersey is not a self-serve state, so customers at more than 400 Mobil gas stations in the state are not able to participate in Mobil’s new ‘SpeedPass’ program. As an alternative Mobil has created a ‘SpeedPay’ system that uses hand-held activated terminals for credit card transactions. The terminals are attached to an attendant’s belt so the customer can remain in the car, and since no signature is required, customers have the option of waiting for the receipt or not. ‘SpeedPass’ is a key tag with a imbedded transponder enabling customers to conduct a totally electronic payment transaction at the pump.. Mobil introduced SpeedPass slightly more than one year ago and has systems on-line in major metropolitan areas such as South Florida, Washington DC, Chicago and St. Louis.


Card Debt Drives High LTV Mortgages

The hottest new product in mortgage lending is getting hotter as consumer credit card and installment debt now exceeds $1.25 trillion. Last year the mortgage industry originated $3 billion of 125% LTV second mortgage loans and is now expected to close over $10 billion of such loans this year. Maryland-based First Fidelity Financial announced yesterday its mass marketing efforts have paid off, as 125% LTV loans comprise 52% of the company’s total loan production. FFF says the loans are used primarily to consolidate credit card debt.


Big Bank – Bigger Fees

A Coral Gables, FL bank research firm says banks with assets over $300 million are earning about six times more on service fee income than they were earning one year ago. Bauer Financial Reports analyzed bank service fee income for the first quarter 1996 and the first quarter 1997 and found large banks earned 2.7 basis points less than the industry average for smaller institutions during 1Q 96. One year later the roles were reversed and big banks earned 11.6 basis points more. Bauer attributes the rise to the growth in ATM fees, on-line transaction fees and fees charged for live teller contact.


Fantastic Plastic Promotion

A computer supplies wholesaler introduced an incentive program for resellers yesterday that features a MasterMoney card. El Segundo, CA-based DISC Distributing is running the ‘Fantastic Plastic’ promotion from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and is offering a $25-$50 credit for each $2,500 in purchases. The rebate amount varies with vendor products and is unlimited. The earned rebates are deposited to a MasterCard debit card account and may be accessed via a MasterMoney card. Large customers can earn multiple cards, distributing the cards as sales incentives or to top performing employees.


Profit & Loss Finder

Fairfax, VA-based NeuralTech Inc. introduced a new credit card risk management tool that provides up to six months advance notice of potentially high risk accounts, enabling card issuers to take proactive steps to minimize losses. Released Monday, ‘SHERLOCK’ incorporates a neural network that analyzes masterfile and transactional data to identify both the potential for future receivable loss due to bankruptcy and the profitability of cardholder accounts. The neural network behind ‘SHERLOCK’ is based on NT’s proprietary ‘BRNULI’ algorithm. NT recently completed preliminary testing of ‘SHERLOCK’ and the ‘BRNULI’ model and is now looking for additional card issuers.


Gemplus Canadian Research Center

Gemplus today announced that it has established a research and development center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The center will focus on the development of smart card operating systems and support the implementation of smart card applications for customers in North and South America. It will also develop new technologies designated by Gemplus’ Technology Innovation Center in San Mateo, Ca.

Over the next three years, Gemplus will invest some $20 million in smart card research and development in the Americas, and expects to employ as many as 100 professionals from science, research and engineering at the new center. Gemplus also has R&D centers in France and Singapore.

“Establishing an R&D center for the Americas will enable Gemplus to be much closer to the evolution of new technologies such as the Internet. As a result, we will be able to better adapt new smart card products such as the Java Card to the local market,” said Guy Dartigues, director of the Americas Development Center. “We believe that proximity to these developments will greatly enhance our creativity and efficiency, and result in better support to existing partners and the creation of new partnerships.”

“This is a major investment by Gemplus and reflects our belief in and commitment to the widespread adoption of smart card technology in the Americas,” said Brigitte Baumann, president of Gemplus Corporation (U.S. and Canada).

In 1996, Gemplus invested 6% of its total smart card related sales in R&D, a level of spending it has maintained for several years. Since the company’s founding, R&D has played a central role in the Gemplus’ success. It has been responsible for innovations that include the introduction in 1988 of COS (chip operating system), in 1994, of MPCOS (multiple payment chip operating system), and more recently, of GPK2000, the first public key smart card.

Recent R&D efforts have focused on using smart card technology and cryptography to protect data communicated over open networks; second generation contactless cards; hardware miniaturization (including PCMCIA smart card interfaces and the GemCore chip set); and extended SMS (short message service) technology that allows remote programming of smart cards and readers for different kinds of smart card applications including Internet, healthcare, gaming, transportation and secure database access.

About Gemplus

Gemplus is the world’s leading producer of magnetic stripe and smart cards. It manufactures and sells memory cards, microprocessor cards (both contact and contactless), magnetic stripe cards, as well as electronic tags. It also designs and markets software, terminals and systems; and provides personalization, consultancy and training services to offer its customers comprehensive solutions. In 1996, Gemplus Group’s total sales were $440 million. By the end of 1997, the company will have a production capacity of 900 million plastic and smart cards.

Gemplus sells its products worldwide for such applications as public and cellular telephony, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, gaming, identity, access control, pay TV, security for computer networks and electronic commerce. Information about Gemplus’ products and services can be found on the World Wide Web at: .


Chase Cuts Prices for NYC

For the second consecutive year, Chase Manhattan Bank is lowering balance requirements for customers to avoid fees on both Better Banking checking and checking with interest accounts.

Chase will also cut the monthly maintenance fee for checking with interest customers who don’t keep required balances, and will introduce a premium rate on Money Market accounts. In September 1996, Chase launched a new deposit product line, which resulted in significant overall cost savings on personal and small business accounts.

“Our ability to offer lower balance requirements, lower fees and higher rates for the second consecutive year reflects merger savings and the significant growth we have seen in our business since our new deposit product line was introduced a year ago,” said Michael Hegarty, Chase Vice Chairman. “Customers have also benefited from new products, such as debit cards and the Self Service Banking account, and new ways of doing business with us, such as Chase Online Banking; we also offer access to the largest network of branches and ATMs in the region.”

Better Banking, Chase’s core relationship product, offers customers two ways to avoid fees; by meeting the combined balance requirement which includes all linked accounts, or by meeting a checking requirement. The bank automatically reviews both types of balances each month to determine which method works in the customer’s favor, a unique benefit. As a result, the majority of Chase’s checking customers don’t pay transaction or monthly maintenance fees.

Balance requirements using all linked accounts to avoid transaction and maintenance fees for both Better Banking checking and checking with interest accounts are being cut by 10%, from $5,000 to $4,500. The monthly maintenance fee for those checking with interest customers who don’t keep required balances is being cut by $1. All reductions are effective October 1.

In November, Chase will introduce a premium rate on its Money Market account. Customers who have linked their account to a Select Banking relationship will automatically earn interest at the premium rate when they maintain a $50,000 combined monthly average balance. Chase has recently introduced several new products and services designed to make life easier for its customers, including:

— Chase Online Banking — over 100,000 individual and small business customers have already signed up for Chase’s free service, which was launched in the second quarter, enabling them to pay bills, check balances and transfer funds.

— Debit Cards — Chase has distributed Chase Banking Cards with a MasterCard debit feature to 1.9 million customers.

— Self Service Banking — This product has proven to be attractive to technology users, providing a lower-cost option for customers who prefer using the telephone, computer or ATMs to conduct their banking.

— Streamlined applications and faster turnaround on small business credit products.


AmEx Internet Investing

American Express Financial Direct today announced several enhancements to its InvestDirect online brokerage offering (), designed to help customers invest via the Internet more easily — for less.

InvestDirect commissions are now $24.95 per equity trade for up to 4,000 shares, with a minimum investment of just $2,000.* Customers can trade equities, plus more than 200 no-load, no-transaction-fee** mutual funds, including the Strategist Funds from American Express plus funds from well- known fund families including Scudder, Dreyfus and American Century(R). Previously, Financial Direct offered two online brokerage account options: a basic InvestDirect account with a base commission of $26.95 per trade, and an InvestDirect/pt (power tools) account with a base commission of $34.95 per trade.

The enhanced InvestDirect offering includes a comprehensive range of research and analysis tools at no extra charge, including unlimited stock quotes, customized e-mail alerts with news and stock prices, company research, S&P MarketScope(TM), Comtex, Zack’s Market Snapshot and Insider Activity reports. Many of these research tools had been available only to Financial Direct customers with an InvestDirect/pt account.

Investors who open an InvestDirect account before December 15, 1997 will receive a complimentary, one-year subscription to The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (WSJIE), including Barron’s Online and Smart Money Interactive – a $49 value.*** WSJIE provides continually updated news, customized to follow the companies and topics an investor wants. It also allows investors to create a personalized portfolio to track stocks and mutual funds, search a 14-day archive of Wall Street Journal news, and gain access to more than 10,000 company briefing books. Existing InvestDirect customers can take advantage of this offer by making an additional $2,000 deposit into their accounts by December 15, 1997.

“Our customers have told us they want easy-to-use information and tools to help make their investment decisions,” said Karin Stone, vice president, American Express Financial Direct. “With our enhanced InvestDirect account, we are giving our customers what they want by integrating a robust set of research and analysis tools with trading capability — all at one low price.”

“We’re pleased to offer American Express InvestDirect customers The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition package, which includes Barron’s Online and Smart Money Interactive to support their business and investment decisions,” said Thomas Baker, business director for the Interactive Journal. “Our reporting of global news is updated continuously, 24-hours a day to provide business people with a trusted information resource that offers depth and flexibility.”

In addition, InvestDirect customers are automatically enrolled in Investment Rewards, the most comprehensive rewards program in the investment business. Customers earn one point for every $10 invested. A minimum account balance of just $5,000 is needed to begin earning points. Points may be redeemed for airline travel, hotel accommodations, car rentals, golf instruction and retail purchases.****

Free, unlimited customer support from licensed financial consultants is available 24-hours a day via e-mail, or by telephone at 1-800-658-4677, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – midnight, and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST.

For a self-guided tour of the new enhanced InvestDirect, visit .

American Express (NYSE: AXP) provides consumers with two financial services options in the U.S. – American Express Financial Direct and American Express Financial Advisors (http://www.americanexpress.com/advisors). Financial Direct, a unit of Financial Advisors, offers a range of carefully selected, high-quality, competitively positioned financial products directly to consumers. With more than $162 billion in owned or managed assets, American Express Financial Advisors provides in-depth advice and financial planning services through a field force of more than 8,400 financial advisors.

About The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition

Introduced in April 1996, The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition features continuously updated coverage of the full spectrum of business news both in the U.S. and around the world, prepared by a dedicated editorial staff, supported by the global resources of the Wall Street Journal. Subscribers have access to more than 10,000 in-depth background reports on companies, an archive of news articles, and personal news and stock portfolios. The Interactive Journal has attracted more than 100,000 paid subscribers. The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition is published by Dow Jones Interactive Publishing, the electronic publishing arm of Dow Jones & Company (NYSE: DJ).

* — The commission on equity trades over 4,000 shares is $24.95 plus 2 cents per share for the entire order.

** — A transaction fee will be charged on each redemption of mutual funds held for 90 days or less.

*** — A minimum $2,000 deposit is required to open an InvestDirect account. Applications must be received by December 15, 1997 in order to receive a free subscription. Account must maintain a $1,000 average daily balance or the subscription is subject to cancellation.

**** — 50,000 point limit per account per year. Assets must remain in the account for 90 days. Certain products and ownerships are not eligible for points. Other terms and conditions apply.

American Express Financial Direct makes investments available through American Express Service Corporation, member NASD and SIPC. For more complete information on products, including fees and expenses, consumers may obtain prospectuses at or 1-800-AXP-8800. Consumers should read prospectuses before investing. American Express Financial Advisors makes investments available through American Express Financial Advisors Inc.


One Stop E-Commerce Solution

iCat Corporation, Paymentech and CyberCash today announced that they have joined forces to offer merchants a one-stop-shop for electronic commerce, from catalog creation, management and delivery with the iCat Electronic Commerce Suite, to secure transaction processing with Paymentech. Integration with a Paymentech-specific version of CyberCash CashRegister software, which allows credit card information to be sent securely over the Internet, completes the solution. This combination of industry leading Internet catalog software and complete payment services eliminates confusion for merchants, providing them with a single source to completely set up shop online.

“Paymentech has hundreds of merchants processing Internet sales, so we know the potential that exists for those yet to take advantage of electronic commerce,” said John Shirey, senior director of electronic commerce at Paymentech. “With the iCat Electronic Commerce Suite, a recognized leader in its category, we are able to offer our merchant customers another excellent solution for putting their wares on the Web. They can conduct these new transactions safely and securely from day one with Paymentech and CyberCash.”

Under the agreement, Paymentech, the leading processor of non-face-to-face transactions, will offer the iCat Electronic Commerce Suite to its 2,000 merchant customers. Additionally, iCat will provide access to the Paymentech and CyberCash services right out of the box, ensuring a complete, integrated solution from catalog development to secure payment processing. Merchants taking advantage of the iCat-Paymentech solution will have everything they need to market their products and services in multiple currencies, both for credit card and electronic check payments.

“Many merchants who want to do business on the Internet are confused by the complexity of secure web payment systems, and are searching for an Internet-savvy processor who really understands electronic commerce,” said Craig Danuloff, iCat’s president and CEO. “Paymentech not only understands electronic commerce, it knows the direct marketing industry inside out. Combining its services with the iCat Electronic Commerce Suite will make it easy for merchants to adopt the Internet as a significant and safe new revenue stream.”

“iCat’s leading catalog software together with Paymentech’s expertise at providing processing of Internet sales, integrated with CyberCash’s CashRegister software is indeed a powerful alliance to ensure the continued success and growth of electronic commerce, in the US and internationally,” commented Jeff Irby, CyberCash’s vice president, sales and marketing. “Utilizing all of our core competencies we make a superior team for delivering the total electronic commerce package.”

About iCat Corporation

iCat Corporation, founded in 1993 and based in Seattle, Washington, delivers the most complete, powerful, and flexible electronic commerce solution for creating the best catalogs on the Web. The privately held company has technology and marketing relationships with over 300 companies including Open Market, UPS, Compaq, HP, EDS, and CyberCash. Its flagship Electronic Commerce Suite has won more than ten industry awards, including “Best of Class” at Internet Commerce Expo in September, 1997. The software is available in the US, France, Germany and Japan from any of iCat’s business partners, leading distributors such as TechData, Ingram Micro, MicroAge, and Trans Cosmos Incorporated, and resellers such as Software Spectrum. For more information, visit the iCat Web site at http://www.icat.com, or call 888-BUY-ICAT.

About First USA Paymentech

First USA Paymentech, Inc. (NYSE: PTI) (http://www.paymentech.com), founded in 1985, is the leading provider of full-service electronic payment solutions to the direct response industry. As the third largest processor of bankcard transactions in the United States, Paymentech processed $41.3 billion in bankcard sales volume during the last four quarters. The company also issues commercial cards for businesses and other entities. For more information, visit the Paymentech web site at http://www.paymentech.com.

About CyberCash

CyberCash, Inc., of Reston, Virginia, is a technology-driven company that provides software and services to enable secure financial transactions on the Internet, around the world. The company offers a complete suite of Internet payment services — including a credit card service, which handles payments using major credit cards, the innovative micropayment service, which enables cash transactions, and the secure electronic check service, which allows consumer-to-business and business-to-business electronic funds transfer. CyberCash works with virtually all transaction processing institutions, and allows banks to offer secure Internet payment systems to their customers. The company is traded on the Nasdaq National Market System under the symbol CYCH.


DataCard’s New Corp Dev VP

DataCard Corporation announced today that Michael J. Schnaus has accepted the position of Vice President of Corporate Development. Schnaus joins DataCard after six years with Alliant Techsystems, where he most recently served as Director of Business Development.

“Mike brings 20 years of experience and success in mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance,” said Glenn Highland, DataCard’s president and CEO. “His knowledge and abilities will help us make good strategic and profitable decisions as we continue to grow the company.”

While at Alliant Techsystems, Schnaus was responsible for all aspects of the company’s mergers, acquisitions and divestiture activities—including acquisition candidate searches, strategic assessments, financial analysis, negotiations, due diligence and integration activities.

Before joining Alliant Techsystems, Schnaus served in a number of business development, investment banking and finance positions for Talley Industries, Republic Corporation, the Ryder, Stillwell consulting firm and Deloitte, Haskins and Sells.

Schnaus also serves on the board of directors for Doolittles Restaurants and the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota. He earned an M.B.A. from UCLA and a B.A. in accounting from Notre Dame.

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., is a world leader in innovative plastic card solutions. The company offers a spectrum of card-related products and services, including digital photo ID systems, badging services, card personalization systems, systems integration services and transaction terminals.


Ask The Credit Expert

The National Foundation for Consumer Credit and USA Today will team up this week to hold a national 12-hour telephone call-in to help consumers with credit problems.. The “Ask-the-Expert” event is being held in conjunction with the NFCC annual conference underway this morning in Atlanta. More than 100 member counselor volunteers will field calls pertaining to credit and debt, this Wednesday from 9am-9pm. USA Today will promote the event and feature special articles reviewing the growth of consumer debt and offering assorted credit tips.