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VISA Cash Celebration

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SunTrust and Visa USA announced Tuesday plans to implement a Visa Cash card program in Celebration, Fla., in the first quarter of 1998. Designed and developed by the Walt Disney Company, Celebration is a new town which encompasses the cornerstones of health, education, technology, place and a sense of community. When completed, Celebration may have up to 8,000 residences. Celebration will initially feature disposable and stand-alone re-loadable Visa Cash cards, with Visa check card functionality to be introduced later in 1998.

FULL STORY:

Looking ahead to increased utilization of smart card technology, SunTrust and Visa USA announced today plans to implement a stored-value card program in Celebration, Fla., in the first quarter of 1998. The program will utilize Visa Cash, a bank card featuring a microprocessor chip that electronically stores value.

The program will be launched in Celebration, the new community known worldwide for its technology innovations. SunTrust expects that a substantial number of merchants and vending machines in Celebration will accept Visa Cash as an efficient alternative to cash.

“Celebration will be an ideal test market,” said Dan Mahurin, executive vice president of community banking for SunTrust Banks of Central Florida. “All of the important elements necessary to achieve critical mass are present: residents, retail merchants, a cinema, post office, golf course, public school and a wellness facility. We expect the residents and merchants to warm up quickly to the convenience the chip-card technology promises. We are excited to be working with the citizens of Celebration and with Visa on this important research and development effort, as it represents a first-of-its-kind opportunity in the United States to build a comprehensive chip-card program within a planned community that embraces innovative lifestyle solutions.”

Michael Beindorff, executive vice president of marketing and product management for Visa USA said, “The setting and the participants for this program offer a unique and compelling opportunity for Visa and SunTrust to introduce more consumers and merchants to chip-based bank cards, such as Visa Cash. As with other Visa chip-card programs currently operating worldwide, what we learn in the community of Celebration will support the evolutionary migration to multi-function chip-based bank cards for the benefit of our member financial institutions.”

Over time, plans are to increase the functionality and value of the cards by combining payment functions and adding features such as medical record storage, digitized photos, Celebration merchant loyalty programs and card key access. In March, Visa revealed its strategy for enabling member financial institutions to move traditional credit, debit and stored value products to a flexible multi-function chip-based platform.

Visa Cash is a new way for consumers to pay for everyday necessities with a plastic card that works like cash. A powerful computer chip embedded in the card makes this possible. This chip “stores” a specified monetary value, and each time consumers use Visa Cash for payment, the purchase amount is electronically deducted from the stored monetary value and credited to the merchant. Once the value of the card is depleted, the cardholder discards it or adds additional monetary value for future use. The Visa Cash program at Celebration will initially feature disposable and stand-alone re-loadable Visa Cash cards, with Visa check card functionality to be introduced later in 1998. Visa Cash represents the first stage in a series of chip-based innovations.

Designed and developed by The Celebration Co., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, Celebration is a new town which encompasses the cornerstones of health, education, technology, place and a sense of community. When completed, Celebration may have up to 8,000 residences.

SunTrust Banks of Florida, Inc. is a subsidiary of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI), Atlanta, a super-regional bank holding company which was formed more than a decade ago when SunBanks of Florida merged with Trust Company of Georgia. Today, SunTrust Banks, Inc. has more than $53 billion in assets, ranking it the nation’s 18th largest financial institution. Through its subsidiaries, it operates more than 680 offices located in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. SunTrust’s Internet address is http://www.Suntrust.com.

Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its more than 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including nearly 370,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is http://www.visa.com.

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