Total System Services Inc. has teamed up with a Fair, Isaac & Co. subsidiary to offer data base marketing capabilities to its credit card processing clients.

Through what it calls the first "alliance approach" to data base design in the card processing industry, Total System said, it can give all of its users access to marketing tools that only the largest companies can afford on their own.

"The alliance gives even small to medium-size clients the ability to have a customized data base with all the features, functionality, and advantages of the most sophisticated systems," said Philip W. Tomlinson, president of Total System, which is based in Columbus, Ga., and is second to First Data Corp.'s Card Services Group in the credit card processing business.

Total System and the Fair Isaac unit, Dynamark Inc. of St. Paul, announced their plan last week at the American Bankers Association's bank card conference in New York. Total System officials said Dynamark won the designation over six other bidders.

In another variation on the strategic alliance, Total System last month announced a joint venture with Visa U.S.A. to compete with First Data and others in processing credit card transactions for merchants.

Total System's 139 card-issuing and -acquiring clients range from credit card giants like AT&T Universal Card Services and BankAmerica Corp. to regional and community banks.

Compass Bancshares of Alabama, a $9.7 billion-asset banking company with a $173 million card portfolio, will be the first to test Dynamark's technology. The initial phase of data base operation is scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

While Total System will continue to exchange transaction and marketing data with any data base provider of a customer's choosing, Dynamark will be on the inside track for new business.

The agreement comes at a time when financial institutions are increasingly demanding better tools for insights into consumer attitudes and behavior, product preferences, and choices.

Dynamark is regarded as one of the leading providers of marketing data to insurance and other financial companies, advertisers, fund-raising organizations, retailers, and direct mailers of all types. Fair Isaac acquired Dynamark in 1992, anticipating synergies with its credit-scoring and other decision support tools for banks and other lenders.

Credit industry sources said Dynamark scored a coup with Total System, gaining significant revenue potential despite the fact that Fair Isaac has a close working relationship with First Data. The latter offered no comment when asked about Total and Dynamark.

Mr. Tomlinson pointed out that Total System also has worked with Fair Isaac, notably in the behavior-scoring area, but he said the Dynamark decision was based on other pertinent factors.

Total System said it listened to clients' desires and went with the best alternative, though M. Troy Woods, executive vice president of marketing, said it was "tough to choose" among the competitors.

The processor's clients "asked for a powerful, dynamic tool that would allow for the automation of as many of the promotional and marketing aspects of their business as possible," Mr. Woods said.

With Total's cardholder processing system and the Dynamark data base exchanging information "on the fly," Mr. Woods said, "this truly gives the card issuer the ability to tailor its marketing programs to the individual cardholder level."

Total System said that while the large scale of the Dynamark system will keep it affordable, its programs can be customized for any user. The data base can be used in all facets of marketing and research, from testing to tracking of direct mail campaigns to predictive modeling and analysis.

Included is the Dynalink Data Access Service, using a Windows-based PC interface to "maximize the user's control of the marketing process and enable individuals at all computer skill levels to perform any function in a minimal amount of time," said Bob Bravinder, vice president of Dynamark's financial market services continental division.

Among other marketing-support services the alliance will deliver are data preparation, address list cleanup, list processing, response analysis, demographic profiling and analysis, postal optimization, and mailing list rentals.

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