Capital One Financial Corp., a leading credit card issuer, is using Hewlett-Packard Co. technology to help identify new customers and increase the number of new cardholders.

The Falls Church, Va.-based card issuer has installed a decision support system running on Hewlett-Packard's high-end HP 9000 RISC-based computer server.

More powerful and faster than the mainframe it replaced, the new computer analyzes large amounts of customer data to pinpoint the best prospects for a given credit-card offer.

Capital One officials said targeted product solicitations quickly reach the right customers, enabling Capital One to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in processing costs and improve its chances of signing up new cardholders.

The system "enables us to reach the people we want with highly individualized solicitations," said John Pastore, infrastructure technology manager at Capital One.

"Through shrewd application of technology, Capital One can enhance what is essentially a commodity offering - the basic credit card - to provide an even more valuable brand," said Ruann F. Ernst, general manager of Hewlett Packard's financial services business unit.

Capital One is part of a parade of large banks that increasingly use decision support systems for fraud detection, buyer profiles, and other sophisticated marketing applications.

Capital One has been using technology and a highly successful "information-based strategy" to build up its business for the past several years.

The company has gone from $1.4 billion in managed loans outstanding to $10.2 billion over the last three years. It has become one of the top 10 issuers of MasterCard and Visa.

Hewlett-Packard technology has played a key role in Capital One's continued expansion and corporate strategy.

Since 1994, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based technology company has worked with Capital One to integrate more than two dozen computer systems into the card company's core architecture.

For several years, Capital One has also been moving its critical applications, including those for customer retention, balance transfer, and card application management, from mainframes to Hewlett-Packard network systems.

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