Magazine article American Banker

AT&T Held Fast to Research Even in Hard Times

Magazine article American Banker

AT&T Held Fast to Research Even in Hard Times

Article excerpt

As befits a subsidiary of one of the corporate world's most prolific research and development machines, AT&T Universal Card Services owns or has access to enough technology to dazzle any prospective buyer.

Much of it is exploratory, such as the company's 10% stake in the Mondex USA smart card franchise. AT&T executives do not expect such activities to have much bearing on negotiations that will focus on $14 billion of credit card receivables.

But the R&D, whether in data mining techniques that yield card marketing ideas or in more speculative aspects of electronic commerce, continued even in hard times. Technologists view that kind of commitment as a key to innovation.

AT&T Universal's advanced technologies-as well as a fledgling merchant processing business with a potentially strong Internet orientation-fall under marketing chief Daniel DeMeo. Although steeped in the nitty-gritty of product development and design, advertising strategy, promotional packages, and competitive analysis, Mr. DeMeo, 39, said he spends up to 25% of his time on the new stuff.

His full title is executive vice president of marketing and electronic commerce. He said the latter aspect made the job more enticing when he was considering his move from GE Capital last spring.

"It is exciting to be involved in the business-development aspects of chip cards and the evolution away from the magnetic stripe," Mr. DeMeo said last week. Mondex puts AT&T "in a position to benefit as chip becomes established in the marketplace."

The current regime inherited Mondex. In July 1996, AT&T and Wells Fargo & Co. …

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