FirstUSA Launches E-Wallet and Balance Transfer Services

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Credit card issuer First USA earlier this month added an electronic wallet and online balance transfer services to attract more cardholders.


The e-wallet, which is powered by Gator.com, stores all of the user's registration and credit card identification information, eliminating the need to fill out a registration form every time a purchase is placed.


The e-wallet is stored on the user's hard drive and appears as an icon at the bottom of the computer screen. The program senses when the consumer is about to fill out a form to place an online purchase and responds by asking the consumer if he requires automatic form fill.


The balance transfer service allows consumers to transfer balances from a competitor's card to any First USA card. First USA is targeting this service to its 54 million cardholders as well as to applicants.


"Our cardholders may own multiple cards, and we are informing them that they can move their balances for a lower rate or possibly a special promotional rate," said Jeff Unkle, first vice president of corporate affairs at First USA.


First USA is informing consumers of these new features through a combination of direct mail and banner ads on the company Web site, www.firstusa.com. Monthly balance statements will promote the features. In early January, First USA will send postcards to its cardholders directing them to the site. And in a pitch to potential new customers, the company will send a mailing to prospects in February.


Hugh Bleemer, executive vice president of e-business at First USA, noted that it is too early in the process to disclose volume numbers on the direct mailings.


FirstUSA has 2.1 million cardholders registered at its site, and it hopes to double that number by the end of 2001.


The site also offers online bill paying services, e-mail-accessible customer service, balance and transaction viewing capabilities and online registration. The company has partnerships with roughly 2,400 credit and affinity card providers, including Visa, MasterCard International Inc. and Bank One. The company also markets a First USA proprietary branded card.
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