|To: Charlie Smith who wrote (20245)||7/9/2004 8:16:08 AM|
|Canada Post's epost buys bill delivery service from BCE Emergis|
By SIMON AVERY
Friday, July 9, 2004 - Page B5
Canada Post's epost has acquired BCE Emergis Inc.'s on-line bill delivery service, webdoxs, for $14.5-million, combining the country's two largest electronic mail carriers into one company with close to one million subscribers.
The deal means that almost 10 million Canadians who bank on-line now have the option of cancelling regular brown-envelope delivery of their major bills.
Roger Couldrey, president and chief executive officer of epost, said the deal should accelerate the adoption of electronic mail delivery and bill payment because it consolidates services for customers and offers greater value to financial institutions that use the service.
As competitors, epost and webdoxs split most of the market, forcing many consumers to use both services or to forgo electronic delivery and payment of some bills. Epost says it will now be able to deliver 70 per cent of the regular monthly bills and documents households receive, including phone, cable, hydro, Visa or MasterCard correspondence. In addition, because epost is owned by Canada Post, the firm can cancel physical delivery of bills that are paid on-line. Webdoxs, as a private company, was not able to offer customers this benefit.
The new combined service should be available to consumers in about six months, epost said. The company's on-line billing service is available today through major banks' websites, on-line portals such as Sympatico.msn.ca, and Yahoo.com, and through Inuit Inc.'s financial management software.
BCE Emergis, a Montreal-based e-commerce company that provides payments and claims-processing services to the health and finance sectors, said the sale of webdoxs will allow it to focus these areas. The firm was a high-flier during the Internet boom, worth more than $10-billion based on a share price that briefly soared to $189.50 in February, 2000. But it has not posted an annual profit and revenue has dropped by half in the past two years to $334.5-million in 2003. In the spring, communications giant BCE Inc. sold its majority stake in BCE Emergis at a loss after an unsuccessful four-year marriage.
Shares of BCE Emergis closed down 4 cents yesterday to $3.71 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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|To: Dave who wrote (20247)||7/12/2004 9:14:50 AM|
|CheckFree Expands in Asia Pacific With Two New Partners for Transaction Management Solution|
Monday July 12, 9:01 am ET
ATLANTA and LONDON, July 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CheckFree Software, a division of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), today announced the signing of expanded business partner relationships with the Singapore-based division of Decillion, an international banking IT supplier and SWIFT specialist, and C&H Technology Corporation, one of Taiwan's foremost systems integrators. These new agreements extend CheckFree's international reach to bring CheckFree Software's RECON-Plus Frontier enterprise-wide reconciliation solution into banking back offices across the region from China and Taiwan to Australia.
CheckFree RECON-Plus Frontier is a browser-based, real-time reconciliation solution that provides comprehensive, automated reconciliation workflow for banks, insurance firms, broker/dealers, government entities and corporations. When automated at the enterprise level and integrated with relevant legacy systems, the centralised design of RECON-Plus Frontier provides real-time decision-supporting data. It increases the speed and accuracy of the transaction settlement process while decreasing overhead, minimising risk and supporting evolving customer services.
CheckFree is also the sole supplier of character-based language-enabled electronic billing and payment software in production today in Taiwan, via a pre-existing partnership with C&H Technology using CheckFree i-Series software. By broadening its use of the CheckFree Software product set, C&H Technology's strategy is to provide comprehensive solutions to online banks in Taiwan and China that integrate front-end electronic billing with back-office payment reconciliation systems. "CheckFree delivers solutions that are targeted to local cultures and languages, which reflects the company's experience in the international marketplace," said Tony Chen, president of C&H Technology. "CheckFree also has the ability to adapt to different business segments and technology requirements across the markets we serve."
Decillion, which has offices across the Asia-Pacific region including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, has in-depth knowledge of the regional banking industry. As an official business partner of SWIFT, Decillion services over 100 banks and financial institutions in Southeast Asia. The company already has a track record of success with CheckFree's SWIFTReady financial messaging solutions (previously from HelioGraph). With the addition of CheckFree's enterprise-enabled reconciliation technology, Decillion can provide a powerful combination of products that supports end-to- end transaction settlement across multiple business lines and geographies across the Asia-Pacific region.
Thomas Lee, managing director of Decillion, comments: "CheckFree offers one of the most advanced sets of software solutions available to the banking industry, and its strong commitment to research and development ensures state- of-the-art readiness and continued competitive advantage."
Sean Feeney, executive vice president and general manager, CheckFree Software, adds: "CheckFree has worked closely with both C&H Technology and Decillion for a number of years, and has found that each has the experience and market presence to help us further establish our next generation of reconciliation and financial services products in the Asia-Pacific region. . ."
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|To: Charlie Smith who wrote (20245)||7/12/2004 10:27:37 AM|
|From: Bruce Prescott|
|Short Covering may have been a factor --|
6/9/04 11:08 AM CheckFree Announces Contract Extension with Wachovia
After the market close Wednesday, CheckFree (NASDAQ: CKFR) announced that it has signed a five-year contract extension with Wachovia for electronic billing and payment services. The stock has reacted very positively today, as the shares are currently up six percent despite a soft market. A look at the sentiment background reveals that short sellers have made large wagers against the equity, with its short-interest ratio currently standing at better than 12 days to cover. This buildup of bearish positions could be giving the stock a boost today, as some of the shorts may have been forced to cover.
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|To: StocksMan who wrote (20248)||7/12/2004 11:18:50 AM|
|From: Bruce Prescott|
CheckFree Woos Wachovia
Friday July 9, 11:11 am ET
By Nathan Slaughter
I admit it; technology sometimes scares me. My wife programs the VCR (we're still years away from digital video recorders such as TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO - News)), my year-old son is far more accomplished with the stereo remote control, and I still have a fondness for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - News) DOS, even though this newfangled Windows thing seems to be catching on. Still, even I manage to pay many of my bills online.
The behind-the-scenes company enabling this wonderful innovation, electronic-billing pioneer CheckFree (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), moved sharply higher yesterday after announcing a multiyear contract extension with Wachovia (NYSE: WB - News). Under the agreement, Wachovia's entire retail and small-business customer base will transition to CheckFree's electronic billing and payment processing platform. As the nation's fourth-largest bank, Wachovia and its business represent a considerable opportunity, even for a market leader such as CheckFree, which handles online-billing transactions for Bank of America (NYSE: BAC - News), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO - News), and more than 1,200 other organizations.
The company, which has been up and running since 1981, finally achieved its first period of GAAP profitability last quarter, a breakthrough that Rich Smith predicted back in January. Fiscal third-quarter earnings swung to a $7.7 million gain ($0.08 per share) from a $7.8 million loss the year before, on total revenues of $155.2 million. More importantly, free cash flow topped $100 million through the first three fiscal quarters and is expected to outpace by double digits the $133.5 million churned out last year.
Last quarter, CheckFree processed more than $150 million in electronic transactions from a customer base 13 million strong. Both metrics should continue to experience steady growth, provided no large-scale banking trends away from outsourcing in favor of in-house solutions emerge. Currently, traditional and Internet-based banks are a major ally. They encourage the use of online bill-paying services, fully aware that once customers go to the trouble of signing up, they are not likely to take their business to a competing bank.
Once more consumers discover that billing transactions can be placed securely and reliably over the Internet without the hassle of stamps, envelopes, and late fees, CheckFree's volume will swell. With the necessary infrastructure already in place, operational leverage should ensure that much of this growth is translated into higher earnings going forward. CheckFree's enviable position comes at a premium, however, and any missteps along the way could be costly.
Fool contributor Nathan Slaughter's former co-worker's friend's wife once worked for Wachovia, but he owns none of the companies mentioned.
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|To: StocksMan who wrote (20248)||7/13/2004 8:09:01 AM|
|From: Charlie Smith|
|any ideas on what this means for CKFR:|
Press Release Source: Bank of America
Bank of America to Acquire National Processing, Inc.
Tuesday July 13, 8:02 am ET
Industry ranking increases to #2 bankcard merchant acquirer
CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Bank of America today announced a definitive agreement to purchase all of the outstanding shares of National Processing, Inc. for $1.4 billion in cash, or $26.60 per share.
The combination with Bank of America Merchant Services would create the nation's second largest bankcard merchant acquirer with nearly $250 billion in annual processing volume.
National Processing, a public company, is 83 percent owned by National City Corporation. The newly combined Bank of America Merchant Services will be headquartered in Louisville, KY, where National Processing is currently based.
"Bank of America is the number one check processor in the U.S.," said G. Patrick Phillips, president, Card Services & e-Commerce, Bank of America. "This acquisition will better position the combined units to deliver a broader suite of payment solutions as transactions migrate from cash and checks to electronic payments."
Phillips noted that Bank of America is the number one debit card issuer and number four credit card issuer in the United States, uniquely positioning the company to innovate and create efficiencies in electronic payments.
Through its Merchant Card Services unit, National Processing provides services to approximately 700,000 merchant locations across North America, representing nearly one out of every six VISA® and MasterCard® transactions processed nationally. National Processing also provides financial settlement and reporting solutions to large and mid-size corporate customers in the travel and healthcare industries.
"Bank of America is committed to a seamless transition for National Processing clients," said Phillips. "Our focus is to expand this business and offer these clients even greater value through the broad range of capabilities we have. Bank of America merchant clients will also benefit."
"This transaction will allow Bank of America to compete more effectively in the electronic payments business by creating immediate scale through National Processing's customer base and by using that company's technology platform to drive growth and improve servicing capabilities for both national and regional merchant clients," he explained.
National Processing has a seasoned, talented team that will blend well with Bank of America's merchant services group, Phillips said.
Bank of America also announced that Mark Pyke, currently the Chief Operating Officer of National Processing, Inc., will lead the combined merchant services business once the transaction is complete. Pyke will report directly to Pat Phillips.
Jon L. Gorney, National Processing chairman and chief executive officer, said the sale resulted from a review of various strategic alternatives undertaken by the company's Board of Directors and is supported by the company's majority owner, National City Corporation. "We believe that the sale agreement with Bank of America is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders," Gorney said.
Gorney noted that National City is focusing on strategic growth in its core banking business, including expansion in the Chicago region and acquisitions in St. Louis, Cincinnati and northern Ohio.
The merger is subject to the approval of National Processing, Inc. shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2004.
Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to National Processing, Inc. in the transaction and provided a fairness opinion.
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|To: Dave who wrote (20252)||7/26/2004 8:49:04 AM|
|CheckFree Auction Payments Is Guaranteed for Sellers|
By Mark O'Neill
July 25, 2004
If you enter the term "online payment services" into the Google search engine, you are presented with a multitude of possibilities. Another payment service entered the fray last year, hoping for a piece of the rapidly growing auction-payments market: CheckFree Auction Payments.
CheckFree was founded in 1981 and works with financial institutions, Web portals and organizations that issue regular bills or statements to give consumers the ability to receive and pay bills online. CheckFree works with financial institutions including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, MSN and Yahoo, and delivers e-Bills for companies such as AT&T and Bloomingdale's. In the UK, CheckFree has just announced a joint venture with BACS to bring electronic bills and statements to UK consumers.
CheckFree launched CheckFree Auction Payments at eBay Live 2003 in an attempt to expand their services even further. CheckFree Auction Payments offers a service for auction users to pay for their items online, but there is a difference between CheckFree and PayPal. "Displaying the CheckFree pay button on an auction listing enables sellers to accept guaranteed payments from anyone who has a checking account held at a U.S. bank," explains Merrick Theobald, Marketing Consultant at CheckFree. "When a seller receives a CheckFree payment, they can rest assured that it gets deposited directly into their bank account instead of an account held at a third party."
During the CheckFree sign-up process, the applicant's identity is verified, which cuts down on the possibility of fraudulent transactions. When approved, the applicant can then use CheckFree Auction Payments to make e-payments for their eBay auction bills. CheckFree takes the money directly from the buyer's bank account. In many cases, the person making or receiving the payment is already a CheckFree user for their normal household bills, so they are already familiar with the CheckFree process. It is this familiarity that convinces CheckFree that they can compete alongside companies such as PayPal.
"Consumers who currently pay bills from MyCheckFree.com can add to this the ability to make auction and Internet retail payments," said Mr Theobald. "We view CheckFree Auction Payments as being complementary to, rather than in direct competition with, PayPal. We believe there is room for both of us in the online auction market."
As with PayPal, CheckFree Auction Payments offers automatic logo insertion facilities, but thanks to eBay's "Authentication & Authorization Process," you don't need to reveal your eBay password to CheckFree (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y04/m04/i29/s01).
Signing up with CheckFree also offers other benefits, such as automatic payment confirmation, invoicing and a detailed payment history. But for the moment, CheckFree Auction Payments is restricted to the U.S. only. "CheckFree's electronic billing and statement software is currently implemented in 23 countries worldwide," said Mr Theobald, "however, we have no current plans to expand our auction payments service internationally."
All transactions are free for July, but starting again from August, CheckFree Auction Payment's fees will be 1.85% and 30 cents per transaction compared to a minimum of 2.2% and 30 cents per transaction for Paypal. . .
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