Credit card companies won a big victory in the balanced budget law: Starting next year, people will be able to charge their tax bills. Page 2


North Carolina's First Union and NationsBank have raised protests far from home. A New Jersey county threatens to withdraw funds over a thumbprinting requirement for noncustomers who cash checks with First Union; state lawmakers are calling for wider action. In New Mexico, Albuquerque is fighting layoffs and branch closings that followed NationsBank's buyout of Boatmen's. Page 4


Fast-growing Prime Bancshares in the Houston area is going public to feed its acquisition appetite. Page 5

95-year-old Edwin Richter is finding it harder to put in the old hours at First State Bank of Goodrich, N.D., so the family has decided to sell it - with a classified ad. Page 5


BROADENING ITS USE of risk-based pricing, PNC has hired an Amerin and Prudential credit veteran as a senior vice president. Page 6

Traditional mortgage lending remains the key to thrift profitability, an OTS study found. Page 7


Spurred by the telecommunications industry's consolidation, radio- related loans totaled $9.7 billion through July 31, nearly double the record set last year. Page 8

Buying Wheat First is likely to give First Union the equity underwriting savvy it needs to snare new business. Page 8


Metris' cobranding deal with the Bally health club chain includes dues rebates, air miles - and a gold card option. But the Fingerhut spinoff says it won't be aiming for the high end of the market. Page 10


INTEL AND SAP, two big names from the computer world, have formed an electronic commerce alliance, joining a host of such ventures hoping to stimulate sales and payments over the Internet. But such arrangements don't always work out. ADP and Checkfree have discontinued ECPartners, a bank- supported effort to automate small-business transactions. Page 11


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