GE Capital Financial's issuance of a MasterCard Corporate Fleet card to Bell Atlantic in March marks the first time a financial institution has signed on a corporate customer for use of this product.

The benefits, according to GE Capital officials, appear to be clear and simple: "Bell Atlantic is an important strategic partner for us," says Craig Watson, vp of purchasing and fleet cards at GE Capital. Indeed, the potential for turning users of Fleet Cards into users of corporate purchasing and T&E cards seems to be substantial; GE Capital officials confirmed that the Fleet Card program is an offshoot of older purchasing card programs which the firm already offers. In this case, $225 billion- asset GE Capital also gains month-to-month interaction with this East Coast regional telephone company client.

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