Visa Check Card Energized

With a 78% market share in off-line debit cards, VISA is continuing its high-profile strategy of using celebrities to promote its ‘VISA Check Card’ on national television. VISA announced yesterday that Shirley MacLaine will be featured in new BBDO-created 30-second spots, showing the star on humorous journeys through Medieval France, Ancient Egypt and 19th Century England. The campaign will break next week. VISA says total awareness of its check card product has grown from 54% to 80% since it kicked off its national advertising campaign last year. VISA also confirmed that 4,500 institutions now issue VISA Check Card with 50 million cardholders generating 1.8 million transactions this year.


Automatic Secure Authorization Invented

Auric Web Systems Inc. Wednesday announced the availability of Automatic and Secure Authentication (ASA), a revolutionary technology that allows any Web site on the Internet to identify and authenticate a customer browsing the site.

The authentication is very secure and completely automatic, so Web site surfers do not need to type in any information to be identified by the Web site server.

ASA provides the foundation for various Internet-based electric commerce (EC) applications, as well as a simple and transparent way for subscribers to a site to gain access without tedious passwords.

When someone wants to make a purchase at a Web site, the site does not need to ask the customer for any information. Instead, the site server sends a charge request to an ASA server, where both the customer and the Web site are securely authenticated. Then, the charge for the purchase is forwarded to the customer’s credit card or debit account. The entire process for the customer is as simple as clicking a button on the Web site.

Customers do not need new software or hardware and can enjoy the full benefits of ASA using any standard computer, modem and Internet browser, including Netscape Navigator and MS Internet Explorer. Once a customer connects to the Internet via a standard PPP dial-up account provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), the customer can be identified and authenticated at any Web site with the click of a button.

“ASA creates what we call a Virtual Proprietary Network, where customers no longer need to worry about sending private data such as credit card number over the Internet, dealing with special encryption technology or maintaining different IDs and passwords for different Web sites,” said Ko Ikudome, president of Auric Web Systems.

“The ASA system provides the security and access tracking benefits of a proprietary network with the ubiquity and flexibility of the Internet.”

The majority of the ASA software resides at the ISP’s facility and is an extension of the existing dial-up user authentication system. A Web site only needs to add a single plug-in software module. “We’ve just released the system, and already have a number of ISPs interested in licensing ASA technology,” said Ikudome.

Additional information is available at or by email to [][1]



Florida’s Visa Purchasing Card

With 90% of its 4.4 million transactions tied up in purchases under $1,000 each, the State of Florida announced Wednesday it is converting to a ‘VISA Purchasing Card’ program’ to be serviced by NationsBank. While Florida is not the first state or government organization to switch to a purchasing card, it will have the distinction of being the first state to go totally electronic or p.pless with the use of an EDI system developed by COMSYS. Small purchases (under $1,000) represent 3% of Florida’s $16 billion budget. The VISA program could potentially capture 70% of the $500 million small purchase volume. The program will be phased in during 1998 and will involve ten state agencies, two universities and seven local governments.


New Prepaid Cellular Card

AirTouch Cellular today launched Prepaid Cellular Service, a pay as you go option that allows customers who have been denied cellular service due to past credit, customers who want a defined monthly spending limit or customers who simply want seasonal or temporary service, to have access to cellular for the first time.

“Even though AirTouch Cellular has enjoyed record growth the last several years, we still turned away 30 percent of potential customers because of their credit history, their need for temporary service, or their desire to control cellular costs,” said Jim Christensen, branch manager for AirTouch Cellular’s Iowa market.

“AirTouch Cellular’s Prepaid Cellular service doesn’t require a credit check and there’s no annual contract. Customers can establish service for a day, a month, or a year. By pre-purchasing a fixed amount of service, parents finally can provide the safety and security of cellular to their children without worrying about out-of-control bills,” Christensen said.

To take advantage of Prepaid Cellular service, customers with their own cellular phones simply purchase a $30 AirTouch Prepaid Cellular calling card which is good for up to 30 days. To establish a Prepaid account, customers pay a one-time fee for $40 and must activate each card before use. Cards can be purchased from local AirTouch Cellular retail outlets in the Des Moines area including Electronic Engineering, Loan-a-Phone, Simon Tire & Cellular, Spring Valley Radio and Wireless Universe.

Prepaid Cellular customers can receive up to 35 minutes of local airtime before needing to add minutes to the card or activate a new card. Airtime rates vary for local, long distance and roaming calls. Local rates apply to calls placed within the home zone area. In central Iowa, the home zone encompasses Des Moines, Ames, Ft. Dodge and other major cities in central Iowa. Additional long distance and roaming rates will apply.

An automated greeting notifies customers of the minutes remaining on their Prepaid accounts prior to connecting calls. In addition, customers can check the status of their Prepaid account by staying on the line for 10-15 seconds after a call has ended and a voice response unit updates them on dollar amount of their account balance and days remaining before the balance expires. In addition, a recording alerts customers when they are approaching their monthly spending limit. Once the prepaid balance has been used, customers have 30 days to activate a new card.

“Prepaid Cellular is another example of AirTouch’s continuing effort to offer customers easy to use services that simplify their lives and help them stay in touch,” Christensen said.

AirTouch Cellular is the brand name for U S WEST NewVector Group Inc. Based in Bellevue, Wash., NewVector has cellular operations in 12 midwestern, western and southwestern states and serves more than 2 million customers. The company is part the U S WEST Media Group (NYSE:UMG), which is involved in domestic and international cable and wireless networks, directory publishing and interactive multimedia services.


VISANet LAN for Hall of Fame

Vital Processing Services (Vital) and KeyBank announce the installation of the VisaNet Merchant LAN (Local Area Network) Service for the Baseball Hall of Fame to speed merchant card transaction processing. The installation is producing immediate savings by decreasing the number of dedicated phone lines needed for credit card sale approvals from 12 to one at the POS (point of sale).

![][1] What makes the speed and single-line service possible is the VisaNet Merchant LAN Service, which delivers state-of-the-art dial LAN technology to financial institutions and their merchants. The LAN platform processes rapid authorization responses from Hypercom dial terminals across a widespread merchant LAN. The service uses the Hypercom Stack M as a “central cashier” or authorization controller.

“Vital continues to focus on helping our clients provide the best and most appropriate POS technology to their merchant customers. We are proud of this announcement because it is a prime example of how Vital delivers ideal merchant processing solutions for this market,” said Fred Gumbel, president and CEO of Vital.

Vital, KeyBank and HyperCom completed the POS installation at the Baseball Hall of Fame just before summer, its peak season. During its summertime peak, Hall of Fame visitors spend more money on admission and museum shop items than at any other time of the year.

“We selected KeyBank based on its ability to provide us with Vital’s high speed LAN Service,” said Ken Meifert, manager of retail accounting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. “KeyBank also provides us with competitive prices and extraordinary customer service, two elements instrumental to the success of the Hall of Fame.”

“Customers from across the nation visit the Hall of Fame to experience first-hand the historic tradition of baseball,” said David Campbell, executive vice president of KeyBank’s Payment Services Group. “KeyBank is proud to provide the Hall with a fast, convenient credit card processing system that allows its customers to spend more time enjoying the museum.”

Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a full-service merchant processing company. It’s clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers. Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital’s services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management and customer service.

KeyCorp. (NYSE: KEY), headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the largest bank-based financial services companies in the nation with assets of approximately $70 billion at June 30, 1997. Through three principal lines of business — corporate banking, consumer finance and community banking — the Cleveland-based company provides retail and wholesale banking, investment, financing, and money management services across the United States.

KeyBank Merchant Services has more than 76,000 merchant locations and is one of the nation’s top 10 providers of merchant services. In 1996, KeyBank processed $7.4 billion of credit card transactions.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on the American culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to baseball.

[1]: /graphic/kepcorp/keybank.gif


Hazy C-Off Future

Positive trends in chargeoffs and delinquency may be surfacing but the prognosis for the future remains hazy says this morning’s Standard & Poor’s CreditWire. Based on card loan loss rates reported on $225 billion of publicly traded card bonds, representing 55% of the industry total receivables, second quarter chargeoffs were 6.9% compared to 6.6% in the first quarter and 5.9% one year ago. However S&P says about half of the 40 master trusts they monitored have been showed declines between Feb. and May and those that showed upticks were increasing no more than 30 basis points on average. S&P says delinquency has been steadily declining all year from 5.6% in January to 4.9% in June. S&P suggests a tightening of credit scores alone will not improve charge-off rates in a solicitation if the pricing or timing of the solicitation results in adverse selection.


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.


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.


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.