Equifax + HNC Integrate

Equifax (NYSE: EFX) and HNC Software (Nasdaq: HNCS) today announced a global long-term strategic alliance to jointly develop and market new products to the financial services, retail and electronic commerce industries. The complementary technological and information expertise of the two business information services powerhouses will be applied across both companies, greatly expanding their array of advanced information and processing solutions.

Thomas F. Chapman, Equifax president and chief operating officer, said, “The synergy between our two companies is tremendous — leveraging information and technology to meet customer needs. Equifax customers expect total solutions and they get them. With the integration of HNC products and technologies, the creation of powerful business solutions will be even faster, more comprehensive and more efficient than ever before. When two leaders in technology join forces, it’s a new era in global commerce.”

Equifax and HNC are planning the deployment of HNC products and technology at Equifax’s global locations to bring the best information and decision processing solutions to the marketplace.

HNC products will be deployed and integrated into the Equifax credit information and card processing system. HNC technology will be installed in Equifax operations to enhance processing; speed up development, delivery and customer use of new models; and improve decision system capabilities. Equifax Card Solutions software will incorporate HNC fraud and risk management capabilities to enhance its features and provide immediate value to customers. Equifax and HNC will work jointly to develop new products and services, combining the extremely predictive components of the consumer credit file with the best information and decision processing technology available, resulting in new and unique offerings to the marketplace. Equifax and HNC will respond jointly to customer requests for new solutions.

Both companies are committed to a long-term alliance for the benefit of their customers. Robert L. North, president, HNC Software, said, “This alliance gives each of us a bridge to cross new frontiers in service to customers, not only in the credit information and decisioning field, but also in such areas as target marketing and electronic commerce over the Internet. It’s a strategic fit that will benefit both companies.”

“Bob North and I envision our alliance as a long term relationship,” added Chapman. “In the short term, we will focus on integrating the existing technologies and products of both companies to provide enhanced offerings. Additionally, we’ve already begun work on developing new products and services for our global customers,” he said.

Headquartered in San Diego, California, HNC Software Inc. is a world leader in the application of neural network technology in client/server environments. The company develops, markets, integrates and supports advanced decision software based on computational intelligence. HNC provides practical solutions in the areas of payment systems, financial services, retail, insurance information, data mining and Internet commerce.

Equifax is a world leader in providing financial information and processing solutions, with global operations in consumer and commercial credit information services, payment services, software, modeling, analytics and consulting and direct-to-consumer services. The company serves many industries including banking, finance, retail, telecommunications, utilities and health care. Equifax was founded in 1899 in Atlanta and today has 10,000 employees around the world. It operates globally in 17 countries, with sales in 40 countries. Equifax revenues for the 12 months ended June 30, 1997, were just under $1.3 billion.

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British Air Corp MC

As CardFlash reported last week First USA Paymentech is taking off with a new co-branded ‘Corporate MasterCard’. The new ‘British Airways Corporate MasterCard’, officially released last night, offers individual employee cardholders the ability to earn mileage for each general purchase as well as earning and redeeming air mileage on British Airways, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, America West, Canadian Airlines, Qantas and various European carriers. Cardholders also earn miles through other partners including car rental firms and hotels. First USA Paymentech is offering extensive MIS capabilities to account holders including in-depth analysis of spending trends and employee compliance.

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Citi’s Payroll Card

After successful completion of a regional test Citibank signed Manpower Inc. yesterday to offer its ‘PayTM’ payroll debit card nationally to Manpower employees. The program is targeted at employees who prefer direct deposit or those without bank accounts. After enrolling Manpower employees into ‘PayTM’ Citibank issues the card and PIN and provides same-day access to payroll funds as Manpower transmits payroll deposits. The accounts are interest bearing and offer an optional ‘Holiday Savings’ program. Monthly account statements are issued by Citibank and distributed by Manpower.

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Face Recognition Security for PCs

Visionics today announced the release of FaceIt(R) PC, a suite of face recognition applications that create a personal desktop security system. This software brings to the PC an innovative use of face recognition technology to achieve access control, file encryption, surveillance, and secure visual messaging, with remote communications capabilities through the Internet.

Dr. Joseph Atick, Visionics CEO, said, “Bringing the FaceIt face recognition technology out of its governmental and vertical market applications to the service of individual PC users gives people a unique new way to protect the security of their information and the privacy of their workspace. We are delighted to be at the forefront of this whole new category of software.”

With FaceIt, a person’s face is his password, enabling the user to open and encrypt files. Working in conjunction with virtually any videoconferencing camera, FaceIt has algorithms that are able to analyze an individual’s unique facial features and accurately match them with the stored database of faces which are authorized to open a particular PC. It completely eliminates the security risks associated with the loss or theft of written passwords, and provides an invisible but impenetrable wall protecting confidential business and personal data.

Nearly 60 percent of the white-collar workers in the U.S. — some 40 million Americans — work in open cubicles or office environments where their computers are widely accessible when their desks are vacant. Workers who install FaceIt, however, can walk away from their workspaces without worry or fear. A PC that is running FaceIt PC (with a video camera) will automatically secure the computer with a screen lock, protecting all information on the screen from unauthorized eyes. When the authorized user returns, FaceIt automatically detects his or her presence, locates the face, identifies it, and grants full access within a second, without a touch of the keyboard.

Visitors to a worker’s PC will be seen by the camera, and the software’s unique face-finding capability will automatically capture and save a photo of their faces. The resulting video logs can be stored for the worker to review upon return to the workspace.

These photographic images can also be posted to a website, so they can be reviewed remotely with a standard browser. This surveillance feature enables users to keep track of what is happening at their desks from any location at any time. A user at the office can even keep an eye on things at home, as long as the home PC is equipped with FaceIt, a video camera, and web access.

E-mail has a human face on it.

“Face recognition technology can enhance personal communication in addition to providing security and protection,” said Dave Maddox, Visionics Marketing and Sales Manager. “The FaceIt PC suite of applications has a number of features that add the very important dimension of the human face to the impersonal medium of e-mail.”

Visitors to a FaceIt PC protected work space will be offered a mini-movie greeting by the owner and invited to leave a text message which can be stored locally or automatically sent across the Internet as standard e-mail. The picture of the person sending the message is automatically attached.

The user of the PC can have FaceIt PC attach a snapshot of their face to their e-mail at any time. Seeing the face of the sender gives a more personal dimension and greater impact to the message.

FaceIt PC is available through Micro-Warehouse and selected stores. The price is $199.95. The product is also available to the corporate marketplace through VAR’s and integrators. Additional information about the product is available at [http://www.faceit.com.][1]

A free 15-day evaluation copy of the full-functioning program is available on the web at

About Visionics and FaceIt technology:

Visionics is the leading developer of recognition technology worldwide. In May, the company’s FaceIt technology was licensed to use in the world’s first integrated Passenger and Baggage Security System for airports. FaceIt will be used to reconcile passengers with their baggage from check-in to boarding.

The Federal Government recently awarded Visionics four major new contracts; from the Immigration and Naturalization Services, the Army Research Laboratory, the National Security Agency, and the National Institute of Justice. These large scale leading-edge applications reflect the fact that the FaceIt technology has been consistently shown in U.S. government testing to outperform all other systems and to have capabilities that “make it unique” in the entire biometrics industry.

Major manufacturers, developers, and corporations are working with Visionics to integrate face recognition technology into their products and business practices.

Security and biometrics are very high priority topics as companies grapple with protecting their important information from unauthorized and potentially harmful exposure. The entire credit card and banking industries are working on ways to ensure secure on-line financial transactions. The medical services sector is concerned with the privacy of patient records. The government is addressing the privacy of personal records such as social security and the accuracy of benefits payments.

Face recognition technology is playing a role in all these areas with an accurate, low-cost, nonintrusive solution.

FaceIt technology has won numerous awards — including the recent Best of Comdex Finalist by Byte Magazine for Spring 97. It is the only commercial real-time video technology.

Systems Requirements for FaceIt PC

Microsoft Windows 95. 90 MHz Intel Pentium compatible or higher. 16 MB RAM/10 MB free hard disc space. VGA or higher video display adapter. CD-ROM drive. Microsoft Video for Windows (VFW) compatible video capture system with resolution 320 x 240, depth: 15 bit RGB, capture rate to memory: 5 frames/sec.

[1]: http://www.faceit.com

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ICVerify Upgrades

ICVERIFY rolled out the latest version of its credit card processing software for Windows ’95 and Windows NT 4.0 Tuesday. IVECIFY for Windows 2.0 offers an updated graphical user interface. A new installment-billing feature allows merchants to bill a constant amount onto the same credit card on a periodic basis. ICVERIFY for Windows 2.0 also provides new tools that enable merchants to easily import data from other applications such as spreadsheets and databases, and to export data without requiring additional formatting.

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First USA Card Bonds Rated

First USA Credit Card Master Trust’s $500 million class A floating-rate asset-backed certificates, series 1997-8, are expected to be rated ‘AAA’ by Fitch. The corresponding $45.2 million class B certificates are expected to be rated ‘A+’. The 10-year securities represent the trust’s third offering in the past month and thirty-fourth since inception.

Fitch’s ratings are based on the strength of the Visa and MasterCard collateral pool, available credit enhancement, excellent servicing capabilities of First USA Bank, and the solid legal and cash flow structures framing the transaction.

Credit enhancement supporting class A is derived from the subordination of the class B and collateral invested amount (CIA) certificates, equal to 17% of the total initial invested amount. Class B investors are protected from losses by the 9.5% CIA certificates. The $57.2 million CIA certificates are interests in the trust subordinate in payment rights to class A and class B.

Several economic and credit stress scenarios were devised by Fitch to determine appropriate credit enhancement levels. The scenarios simultaneously stress yield, chargeoff and monthly payment rate steady state assumptions. In addition, to address the interest rate risk associated with uncapped floating- rate coupons, the coupon is stressed to worst case London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) levels without a corresponding adjustment to yield.

Under the available enhancement, class A withstands a 35% decrease in yield, a 40% decline in payment rates and chargeoffs increasing to over 30% and still makes full and timely payments of investor principal and interest. Class B sustains a 25% decrease in yield, a 30% decline in payment rates and chargeoffs increasing to more than 20% without suffering a principal or interest loss.

Class A and class B investors will receive monthly interest payments of 0.15% and 0.36% over one-month LIBOR throughout the revolving and accumulation periods and on the scheduled final payment date, provided an early payout event does not occur. Early amortization of the bonds may result from a deterioration in asset quality, transferor insolvency or servicer default. Fitch expects to affirm its outstanding ratings assigned to existing master trust series indicating that series 1997-8 will not result in a ratings reduction or withdrawal.

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Pathways Net to Launch

Washington state based, The Pathways Group, announced that it is beginning orientation sessions for smart card issuers and participating merchants, to test seventy-five local merchants and twenty-five card issuers in the Northern California region. Pathways has been involved in backroom systems for EBT, EFT and Card Transactions since 1987. The pilot is the first phase of the company’s contractual relationship with Scrip Plus, the largest vendor of discounted gift certificates in the United States with over seven million members.

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CobWeb Snags SPRYNET

CobWeb, Inc. announced today it has signed a contract to provide its Merchant Gateway e-commerce application to SPRYNET’s Private Label Community (PLC) program.

SPRYNET’s PLC program allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), corporations and affinity groups to build a default Internet online service using the SPRYNET/CompuServe network as a foundation. Some 170 OEMs and value added resellers (VARs) sell equipment with SPRYNET’s Internet service product already loaded.

CobWeb, with its Merchant Gateway application, will allow the OEM partners to make fully secure online purchases available to consumers through their customized PLC. The Merchant Gateway application in turn makes use of the CyberSource Internet Commerce Service to offer the highest level of security to SPRYNET’s OEM partners. The Merchant Gateway application, which will be up and running in early October, will be one of the main components offered in the PLC Program.

Included in this service is a unique fraud screening module that checks each transaction against a specialized application designed to detect the likelihood of consumer fraud. This capability helps to insure OEM’s against credit card fraud on the Internet.

“The Merchant Gateway product is a natural choice for this kind of application,” said Stuart White, vice president and general manager for CompuServe/SPRYNET Seattle. “It makes the transaction completely easy, secure and bullet-proof for the end user. And the easier and safer it is for the consumer, the more sales it generates.”

Richard Lancaster, CEO of CobWeb, Inc., also lauded the ease of use and transaction safety ensured by the partnership. “Merchant Gateway allows SPRYNET to offer their customers a solution that provides transaction processing across the Internet in a highly secure environment, using today’s technologies,” he said. “Neither the individual OEMs or the consuming public have to own any proprietary technologies to be assured of the safety of this solution.”

Merchant Gateway is the first combined software application and financial service that unites all aspects of Web commerce and electronic order processing, including credit card transactions, electronic software distribution and hard goods fulfillment and distribution. CobWeb is actively building a nationwide network of resellers who provide Internet access, fulfillment and distribution services as well as merchant banking services.

Founded in 1969, CompuServe Incorporated provides the world’s most comprehensive online/Internet access through its two brands, CSi and SPRYNET. Through CompuServe, its Japanese licensee NIFTY SERVE and its affiliates around the world, more than 5 million home and business users in more than 185 countries are connected online and to the Internet. CompuServe Network Services is a leading network integrator, providing more than 1,200 companies around the world with complete, fully integrated Internet, Intranet, and Extranet connectivity solutions. CompuServe Network Services also provides the network for CSi and SPRYNET. With world headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, the CompuServe organization includes offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Incorporated in 1994, CobWeb has become a leading provider of Web and Internet products and services. CobWeb has built more than 75 Web sites, including Microsoft’s Site Builder Network and Visual Tools Web sites. It manages more than 200 business Web sites in the Northwest as an Internet Service Provider in partnership with AccessOne, and creates and develops e-commerce solutions for businesses worldwide, including the Merchant Gateway software application.

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Signature Opens New Call Center

The Signature Group, one of the premier marketing companies in the United States, has announced the opening of its newest telephone sales center in San Bernardino, Calif. With this opening, The Signature Group now operates a total of 25 outbound and 10 inbound telephone facilities in the United States.

The San Bernardino Center is located at 295 East Caroline Street, and will employ approximately 400 full- and part-time employees. Pat Tucker, San Bernardino Center manager, said. “We’ve already begun to hire for both full- and part-time positions, and the response has been very good. With our estimated annual payroll in excess of $5 million, The Signature Group is pleased to bring new job opportunities to San Bernardino.”

The Signature Group is known for its state-of-the-art telemarketing facilities where customer service and sales personnel focus on providing customer information. “We offer excellent opportunities for people who enjoy selling and helping customers,” said Dick Gallagher, president of The Signature Group.

Sales associates will receive paid training, as well as holidays and vacation time.

The Signature Group, headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., is a $750 million a year market leaders in providing value-driven consumer products and services through direct response marketing. The company provides a complete array of growing consumer clubs and services, including Dining a la Card, Auto Clubs, Dental and Legal Services Plans, as well as supplemental insurance products. For two consecutive years, The Signature Group has been ranked the number one service agency by Telemarketing Magazine, it is the top outbound telemarketer for hte creidt card Telemarketing Magazine, it is the top outbound telemarketer for the credit card industry, and was the 1996 winner of The International Customer Service Association Award of Excellence. Principal clients include banks, independent credit card companies, airlines, major retailers and oil companies.

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Online Card Scams

The Federal Trade Commission and other federal authorities are now aggressively investigating Internet credit card fraud scams following a brazen attempt by cyberthiefs to extract personal card data from America Online’s 8.5 million subscribers. Earlier this month AOL subscribers received an official-looking, but bogus e-mail, which featured a letter from AOL’s chief executive, informing the recipient to supply address, phone number and credit card info to update AOL’s files. Federal investigators indicated yesterday such scams have spread beyond online services to Web sites offering bogus credit card offers or other on-line financial products.

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Cellular Prepaid Card for Truckers

Fone America and Telefon Calling Card Corp. (TruckerBucks) will combine their marketing and operational expertise in prepaid wireless services to roll out specialized “pay as you go” cell phones and pagers to truck drivers nationwide.

Fone America, Inc., (OTC: FONM) a Portland, Oregon-based national telecommunications carrier and a pioneer in prepaid telecommunications, announced today that it has approved the formation of a limited liability corporation (LLC) jointly with Telefon Calling Card Corporation of Denver, Colorado. The LLC will market, sell, and distribute Fone America’s prepaid cell phones and pagers through truck stops nationwide. Independently, both companies have successful histories of rolling out leading edge telecommunications products to the trucking industry. Fone America’s DriveLine prepaid calling card was sold in over 900 truckstops nationwide and TCCC’s product, TruckerBucks is currently the nation’s current “calling card of choice” among truckers in over 800 truckstops nationwide

Together, the companies through their joint LLC called “FAT Wireless, LLC.” will offer truck drivers a complete wireless communications solution of prepaid cell phone and national pagers. These prepaid programs allow truckers to better control their cellular telephone costs without having to deal with high monthly bills.

FAT Wireless Communications, LLC will use Fone America’s proprietary FoneBux Telecash Card which will be available for purchase by truck drivers nationwide in over 500 truckstops to enable them to conveniently recharge their phones and pagers. Fone will also contribute its specially manufactured cell phones, pagers, tracking, and customer support system to the venture while TCCC will sell and help market the program to its more than 800 truckstop affiliates.

According to Peter Jacobs, president of Fone America, “Both companies have successfully penetrated the truckstop industry before when they introduced the two most popular calling cards for truckers in the industry — DriveLine and TruckerBucks.”

Now, in a venture unrelated to prepaid telecards, Steve Mariani, TCCC’s vice president of sales and marketing states, “We, at TruckerBucks, have a high comfort level with Fone America as does the trucking industry. I have been following Fone’s progress as they tested their prepaid cell phone and pager products for the past year, and I am confident our independent trucker customers will be receiving the finest prepaid cell phone and wireless messaging system on the market today.”

Fone America is celebrating its tenth year in business and has successfully served over 2,000,000 customers nationwide with a combination of leading edge prepaid consumer-oriented telecommunication products.

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New Card Enhancements

A new card enhancement rolls into the marketplace this week as insurance underwriter AON Corp. announced two new usage incentive programs, ‘TicketGard’ and ‘ATM/Debit Secure’. ‘TicketGard’ provides cardholders with a full refund if they purchase an entertainment-related ticket on a credit card and are unable to attend due to sickness, accident, public transportation delay, unexpected out-of-town trip or other covered reason.. The ‘ATM/Debit Secure’ offers protection against theft of cash withdrawals and accidents during and after use of an ATM, debit card or smart card transaction anywhere in the world.

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