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San Francisco, August 9, 1995 - Visa Interactive and Worlds Inc. will announce today an alliance to develop virtual banking and retailing applications delivered via the Internet. The partners will combine the power of multi-user virtual reality and secure transaction processing to create advanced online environments for consumers, merchants and financial institutions.

A prototype called The Electronic Courtyard, will be demonstrated during today's announcement by Visa U.S.A. President and CEO Carl Pascarella and Worlds Inc. President and CEO David Gobel. The prototype includes an interactive bank in which consumers can check account balances, transfer funds and apply for loans.

"The flat, two-dimensional 'home pages' available on the Internet today will eventually evolve into compelling three-dimensional web sites where people bank, shop and interact," says Todd Chaffee, senior vice president at Visa International. "This alliance represents a powerful combination. The advanced technologies developed by Worlds Inc., coupled with Visa's global transaction processing systems, gives us the ability to deliver compelling new electronic services to Visa members and their customers."

"Commercial activity is one of the underpinnings of modern society," says Gobel. "We're excited to be working with Visa to bring this all important aspect of the real world into the virtual one, and in a manner that promises accessibility, ease of use and security. We have always felt this was a vital aspect of social computing: It's a piece of reality that cannot be left out of virtual reality."

The Electronic Courtyard is an example of a three-dimensional, commercial online environment that can be deployed today over the Internet. It is a radical departure from traditional text and icon-based applications. Rendered in rich three-dimensional graphics, environments like The Electronic Courtyard allow users to explore their surroundings from a first-person perspective using their mouse or keyboard. Within virtual rooms and spaces, individual users can interact with other people such as bank tellers, loan officers, financial advisors and salespeople who can help the user conduct business online or purchase merchandise electronically. This technology has already proven itself in Worlds( Chat, the only 3-D online chat environment available in the world. Combined with and enhanced by Visa's transaction processing capabilities, users will be able to do much more than chat - they will be able to shop, bank and access an array of financial services within a shared virtual world.

The Electronic Courtyard will use Visa's remote banking subsidiary, Visa Interactive, to provide connectivity between financial institutions and consumers. Leveraging the Visa infrastructure to provide the back-end processing will enable banks to reach their customers in new and innovative ways without creating costly new systems.

"Our members know that investing in bricks and mortar is no longer the way to reach new customers," says Pascarella. "This new interface will give financial institutions the opportunity to use cyber bricks and mortar to build environments in which they can offer services to consumers - at a fraction of the investment of the traditional branch."

Like other services offered by Visa Interactive, the virtual branch will be bank-branded and designed to the specifications of the member financial institution. Working with Worlds Inc., Visa members will be able to tailor the virtual environment to suit the needs of their market and their customers.

Worlds Inc., the worldwide leader in social computing, produces unique 3-D virtual environments for entertainment and business applications. The privately held company's mission is to offer people compelling shared virtual reality experiences. Worlds' ground breaking technology connects 3-D interactive environments over regular phone lines today in a way no other company can match. The first generally available application offered by the company, Worlds Chat, is currently accessible as a freeware download from the Worlds Inc. web site ( Hardware requirements for Worlds' applications are a 9600 baud modem (or better) and a 486 PC (or better): no special equipment is needed. Macintosh availability will follow later this year.

Visa, the world's largest consumer payment system, plays a pivotal role in developing and implementing new technologies which benefit member financial institutions, their cardholders, businesses, governments and the global economy. San Francisco-based Visa and its 19,000 member financial institutions worldwide serve more than 12 million merchants and service more than 402 million cards. Visa also owns and operates Visa Interactive, which provides remote banking solutions to members and Visa/PLUS, the largest global automated teller machine (ATM) network. In 1994, Visa card (credit and debit) transactions totaled more than $630 billion worldwide. More information on Visa can be obtained through its home page on the Internet's World Wide Web at