Technology took center stage this week at the American Bankers Association bank card conference, with RAM Research Group, Visa International, First Data Corp., and others promoting new products and services.

RAM Research, the Frederick, Md., credit card tracking firm, said Monday that it has created a World Wide Web site on the Internet. Consumers, issuers, industry vendors, and journalists can access credit card information and exchange information via the site, whose Web address is

Robert B. McKinley, president of RAM, said in a press conference that the Internet address will be the firm's central point of distribution for bank card research.

In addition, RAM said it will make Card Flash, a credit card briefing service launched in July, available via the Internet and fax.

A RAM survey in August found 20 banks, with a combined market share of 21%, have set up Web sites this year to promote credit card products. Another 29% said they would establish a Web site within 12 months. The survey of the nation's top 350 bank credit card issuers also showed 43% of those planning Web sites intend to take credit card applications on-line.

AFBA Industrial Bank and Wachovia Bank have posted promotional information about their card products at RAM's Web site. RAM said the site will be funded by issuer display advertising and vendor sponsorships.

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Visa has developed an interactive CD-ROM to communicate its relationship strategy to members, merchants, consumer groups, and the news media.

The card association says consumers of the future will carry "relationship" cards, which bear computer chips, for financial and nonfinancial, credit, and noncredit purposes.

Visa displayed the "Leading Change" CD-ROM at its ABA conference exhibit.

From the disk's initial screen viewers can select among 11 icons - a house, a bistro, a bank, a medical center, a metro station, a grocery, a public telephone, an office, a library, a billboard, and a blimp - in a "virtual town."

Each icon offers information on a different subject. Choosing the billboard icon, for instance, leads to a discussion of Visa as a future provider of payment systems. The blimp icon provides a discussion of relationship products.

The program can be used on personal computers or interactive kiosks and can also be accessed at Visa's home page on the World Wide Web.

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Merchant processor Buypass Corp. and terminal manufacturer International Verifact Inc. introduced the Spirit terminal, which restaurants can use to process transactions at their tables.

Capabilities include debit and credit card authorization and capture, check services, tip adjustment, balancing, and reporting.

Buypass, with more than $500 million in annual transaction volume, is an Atlanta-based subsidiary of Electronic Payment Services Inc., owner of the MAC automated teller machine network.

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Hackensack, N.J.-based First Data said it will offer same-day card embossing and custom monthly statements through its First Data Resources card processing unit in Omaha.

Same-day embossing allows for producing and shipping of plastics the same day they are ordered. Design flexibility is built into the statement service, called Enterprise Presentation.

First Data Resources will also offer a line of imaging products using the CD-ROM medium. The new Report CD-ROM provides instant access to more than 250,000 pages of report information, or the equivalent of more than 1,600 microfiche sheets, on one disc.

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Total System Services Inc., the Columbus, Ga., card processor, announced that it has signed another Mexican bank to its joint venture with Controladora Prosa, a holding company of 11 banks.

Banco Capital, which plans to become a credit card issuer, became the 19th bank to join Total System Services de Mexico.

From its Mexico operating center in Toluca, Total System said it had converted four million cardholder and 175,000 merchant accounts for more than 75% of the country's card-issuing and acquiring banks. - Compiled by Mickey Meece

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