Electronic Data Systems Corp., the computer services giant, has announced a five-year agreement to provide credit card processing for ProCard Inc., a developer of purchasing card software.

ProCard said more than 400 purchasing card programs - including those of First Chicago Corp., NationsBank Corp., and National City Corp. - use its software.

With the conversion to EDS in September, ProCard will terminate an exclusive processing agreement with Total System Services Inc. dating back to 1990.

EDS, founded by Ross Perot and owned by General Motors Corp., is one of a new wave of companies throwing their hats into the commercial-card ring.

Philip A. Skarston, vice president of marketing for Golden, Colo.-based ProCard, said the decision to change processors came from a need for a global provider.

"Global presence is important," Mr. Skarston said. "We're already rolling out programs around the world."

He also said EDS' software, recently certified by Visa and MasterCard, is "state of the art."

Donald Kilpatrick, manager of commercial-card products at EDS, said it his company has a presence in 40 nations - including a processing center in London; an international consulting business, with expertise in accounts payable and purchasing systems; and information delivery capabilities and electronic data interchange.

EDS' own telecommunications network, EDS Net, can connect with a client's computer system to integrate data from the point of sale into general ledger or accounts payable systems.

"Total (System Services) and First Data might do some of these things, but not with the same level of control," said Mr. Kilpatrick, referring to his two biggest card-processing rivals.

Marc Altman, senior vice president of marketing at First of America Bank Corp., Kalamazoo, Mich., said that of all purchasing card processors' approaches, EDS' is "the most 21st-century."

But he said the high-tech wizardry is geared to large purchases for large corporations, and "the EDS solution doesn't address the smaller procurement card purchases well."

Still, the Plano, Tex.-based technology giant is well committed, having recently won contracts to process commercial-card accounts for Wachovia Corp. and Comerica Inc.

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