First Data Corp.'s card services group has reached into the banking industry one more time to fill a key post.

Kathryn V. Marinello, formerly president of First Bank Systems' FBS Card Services unit in Minneapolis, will be responsible for the Omaha-based processor's debit card, commercial card, and home banking activities.

"First Data is actively pursuing three exciting emerging markets - home banking, debit, and commercial cards," said Ms. Marinello, who will also be exploring other nontraditional payment systems. "Given the leadership role First Bank System played in the commercial products arena, I was a logical choice."

Ms. Marinello, 38, will relocate from Minneapolis to Omaha to assume her post at the end of the month. Her titles will be senior vice president of First Data Resources and president of the debit and commercial card group.

First Data already processes 600,000 commercial card accounts, as well as 40% of debit card accounts, and would like to expand its reach, Ms. Marinello said.

She will report to Aldo Tesi, president of First Data Resources, the flagship business of First Data Corp. of Hackensack, N.J.

Mr. Tesi said First Data recognizes the growth potential of both the debit and procurement card businesses and "decided to bring on a very talented individual to help meet those needs going forward. I'm really excited about having her join the company."

For First Data, the move is the latest in a series of high-profile hirings in various parts of its transaction processing empire.

Jerry D. Craft left Wachovia Corp. last year to become president of card program services.

Roger Peirce, who heads the electronic funds services unit, came from the top systems job at Visa International and brought Scott Loftesness with him as executive vice president of product and service management. Charles T. Russell, Visa's former chief executive officer, is a First Data Corp. director.

First Data also has hired Harold Evans away from Barnett Banks Inc. and William Kinard, formerly of Nova Information Systems and National Data Corp.

Darrell G. Rickman, vice president and general manager of Old Kent Bank Card Services in Michigan, an FDR client, said Ms. Marinello's hiring indicates First Data is seriously committed to debit and purchasing cards.

Ms. Marinello said many banks are jumping on the commercial card bandwagon.

"Now, I can go in with FDR and help facilitate their efforts," she said. "Through firsthand experience, I know what commercial product managers need and what their customers are asking them to do."

By hiring from within the industry it serves, First Data can speak bankers' language and play a more consultative role.

"It's very clear that FDR has moved out of the role of back-office processor and into the role of strategic partner with its clients," Mr. Rickman said.

"FDR has always been a great technology partner," said the Old Kent executive. "Now, it's becoming more of a business partner, helping to shape and focus the direction of the industry as it moves forward in terms of data processing, product development, risk assessment, and profit modeling."

"The banks may not feel so happy about FDR hiring their executives away," Mr. Rickman said. "But for the rest of us who will benefit from their knowledge pool, it makes a ton of sense."

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