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Valu' Card

Cincinnati-based Provident Bank and Ft.Lauderdale-based Valu’ Card announced an agreement Wednesday to launch a private label version of Provident’s ‘MeritValu’ frequent shopper card. ‘MeritValu’ is an on-line, real-time, multiple-merchant frequent shopper rewards program supporting all methods of payment including cash, check, debit and credit cards. Yesterday’s deal involves partnering with the Chambers’ of Commerce in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Boca Raton representing more than 8,000 businesses. Valu’ Card says it will roll-out the program nationally through chambers of commerce later this year.

Provident Bancorp, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: PRBK) lead subsidiary, The Provident Bank (“Provident”) and Valu’ Card, L.L.C. (“Valu’ Card”) of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., today announced an agreement to launch a private label version of MeritValu, the nation’s first on-line, real-time, multiple-merchant frequent shopper rewards program supporting all methods of payment, including cash, check, debit and credit card, through the Chambers of Commerce of Greater Ft. Lauderdale, Greater Miami and Greater Boca Raton.

Provident Bank has agreed to appoint Valu’ Card as a non-exclusive marketer of a private label version of Provident’s MeritValu frequent shopper card. Provident launched its MeritValu program August 1, 1996.

The three chambers of commerce represent more than 8,000 businesses in South Florida and a corresponding employee base of about 350,000.

According to Les Haskew, president and chief operating officer of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and President of Valu’ Card, “This is the first time the three major chambers of South Florida have come together to roll out one product. The chambers’ responsibility will be to assist in card issuance through their major employer members and coordinate recruitment of major merchants who will offer shoppers rebates in the form of “Valu’ Card Money”. Provident Bank will provide the program’s processing service.”

Paul W. Noblett, who was key in the formation of Valu’ Card, will become a principal of Valu’ Card. Mr. Noblett, chief executive officer of Noblett & Associates, Inc., a Ft. Lauderdale – based business development, data processing and communication consultancy, was formerly an executive with Nabanco and Mastercard International.

According to Roland E. Koch, Provident’s senior vice president of bank operations and technology, “Offering a value-added shopping program like MeritValu is in keeping with the kinds of benefits chambers routinely offer their members. Chambers want to provide return on investment for their members, like HMO and PPO group insurance plans for medical coverage, dental plans or capitated legal services. A value-added shopping card is a logical extension. The unique element chambers of commerce bring to such a venture is their combined access to merchants and consumers. Merchant members will become the nucleus of the value-added merchant network; employees of the chambers and their members’ firms, the nucleus of the consumer base.”

Valu’ Card will begin marketing the product in the first quarter of 1997. Once the program has been introduced in the three South Florida markets, Valu’ Card plans to roll out the card through chambers of commerce throughout the U.S.

The Valu’ Card program will enable South Florida Valu’ Card merchants to handle all traditional transactions from Visa to MasterCard, Discover, American Express and their own private label cards, as well as Valu’ Card reward transactions when they upgrade from their older credit card machines to Provident’s electronic processing terminal. The terminal collects and reports data on member sales at the point of sale.

The value to the retailer comes from the increased traffic and frequency of sales, market share, customer share and lifetime sales growth driven by Provident’s on-line, real-time rewards approach to marketing. The data collected by the Valu’ Card electronic processing terminals will enable many of the network merchants to conduct customer-specific marketing for the first time.

Valu’ Card “money”, which is earned by members as a rebate on purchases from Valu’ Card merchants, is valuable to members because it can be redeemed just like cash for either service or merchandise any time at any participating merchant.

Provident President and Chief Executive Officer, Allen L. Davis, said, “Our strategic alliance with Valu’ Card to market our MeritValu concept through chambers of commerce is only one of the ways we plan to roll out MeritValu across the country. The technology is here and the time is right for a merchant network frequent shopper rewards program.”

Provident Bancorp, Inc. is a $6.8 billion Cincinnati, Ohio based financial services company with 72 banking offices in Ohio and Kentucky.

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