Corp. to offer student identification cards to colleges and universities across the country. The card will combine banking, telecommunication, and stored value functions, as well as a number of other services related to accessing information from the school. American Express in May bought Special Teams Inc., a company specializing in stored value cards, then teamed up with MCI through its new subsidiary, American Express Special Teams. MCI has been active in the campus card technology market, forming a partnership with Citibank to offer a similar card to students of the State University of New York. The telecommunications company also formed the Card Application Technology Center with Florida State University, which has taken a leading role in implementing such programs in other schools. James Cunningham, MCI's director of campus cards said, the venture with American Express is the first national program that gives MCI the flexibility to market the cards across the country. The more than 200 schools with which MCI has a range of relationships, and the 210 schools to which American Express Special Teams is providing stored value services, will likely be the first institutions to accept the new cards. "This agreement will leverage the tremendous marketing capabilities of American Express and MCI," said Carl Lehmann, president of American Express stored value group. "Together, we will be able to capture a greater share of the student market." Mr. Cunningham said that MCI expects to differentiate its offer with American Express from some of its other partnerships. "This will have enhancements that other programs do not have," he said. In addition to the stored value function, which will allow students to purchase items from vending machines, for example, American Express hopes to provide other financial services. The card giant will add a charge or credit card service to the card for schools and students that request such services. Moreover, American Express said that it will leverage its relationships with banks that accept American Express traveler checks to offer students debit cards, checking, and savings accounts. Don Endres, president of American Express Special Teams Inc., said that the company is negotiating with five large regional banks to offer such services. Mr. Endres said most universities prefer to link debit rather than credit functions to their identification cards. American Express will also be responsible for signing up local merchants like convenience stores that do not accept credit cards, to accept the cards' stored value feature. Mr. Cunningham, expects the companies to sign a formal agreement within three months.
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