Best Western Launches Second STV Card

The world’s largest hotel chain has come up with a unique, re-loadable prepaid card that enables guests to pay for stays in units rather than dollar amounts. The new “Best Western International Unit Travel Card” is loaded with one unit for $25. Some BW hotels offer rooms for as few as two units, but the rate can vary between two and nine units depending upon the location and season. The “Unit Travel Card expires 12 months from date of issue, when last reloaded, or when the stored value of the card is used. After twelve months, a one unit service fee will be deducted every 60 days from the remaining balance. To kick off the program, Best Western is offering a free upgrade coupon from AVIS Rent a Car. For every purchase of $200 or more, the buyer receives a coupon for a third rental day free. The launch of the “Unit Card” follows the launch six months ago of the “Best Western Currency Travel Card” that is available in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, and Euros. The “Currency Travel Card” reached sales of more than one million dollars since launch. Best Western has more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries. (CF Library 12/4/02)

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SHOPRITE PIN-PADS

The Shoprite Group of Companies, Africa’s largest food retailer, has embarked on a three-year project to upgrade store equipment to EMV using “VeriFone SC 5000” programmable smart card PINpads. The US$4 million contract is being handled by Prism Holdings, an international partner of VeriFone. The “SC 5000” supports not only global smart card solutions based on the EMV specifications, but also existing magnetic stripe debit and credit cards, which are likely to remain in use for at least five to 10 more years in Africa. The “SC 5000” is PED-compliant and offers a range of security protections including tamper-detection circuitry, “VeriShield” file authentication, and the flexibility to develop and support virtually any key-management scheme.

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Netherlands’ Schiphol Airport Gets USD ATMs

ABN AMRO has installed the first US dollar ATMs in the Netherlands at Schiphol Airport. A second US dollar ATM will be deployed in mid-July. The installation of these US dollar ATMs will complement the following services that ABN AMRO already provides to leisure and business travellers at Schiphol including 8 branches, 5 foreign currency exchange machines, 6 sealed bag dispensers, 12 euro ATMs, 2 coin roll dispensers, and 15 cash card loading points.

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VASCO 2Q/03

VASCO reported that revenues for the second quarter are expected to be in the range of $6.3 million to $6.5 million, compared with $5.6 million for the first quarter of 2003 and $4.2 million for the second quarter of 2002. The Company indicated that its backlog at June 30th for firm orders to be delivered in the third quarter of 2003, was approximately $5.0 million, which was comparable to the backlog of orders on hand at the beginning of the second quarter for delivery in the second quarter of 2003. VASCO’s identity authentication software is delivered via its “Digipass” security products, small calculator hardware devices carried by an end user, or in a software format on mobile phones, other portable devices, and PCs.

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Internet Mileage Firm Abrupty Shuts Down

A firm offering Web surfers free air miles for visiting or shopping at a participating merchant or for transferring low-balance air miles from carrier-based frequent flyer programs is shutting down. Houston-based MileSpree notified members last night that accounts with less than 25,000 miles will have no redemption value. The firm, also well known for sending spam, is also limiting the number or miles earned from merchant clicks. Customers will be limited to using no more than 7,500 “Click Miles” towards a free airline ticket which requires 25,000 miles. Customers with valid miles have until August 7th to make redemptions.

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FREESTAR & TRANSAXIS

FreeStar Technology has executed a revised letter of intent regarding the potential acquisition by FreeStar of a minimum of 70% of the outstanding common stock of TransAxis. Through the acquisition of TransAxis, FreeStar would own a full spectrum of integrated processing services. In addition, this acquisition provides to the “ePaypad” product full back-end merchant administration capacities for online purchases or traditional point of sale transactions. FreeStar Technology is an international payment processing and technology company operating a robust Northern European “BASE24” credit card processing platform based in Helsinki, Finland, which currently processes approximately 1 million card payments per month. TransAxis, formerly Digital Courier Technologies, provides advanced authentication, validation, fraud screening, payment authorization, settlement, and real-time reporting.

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Bankrate.com Gains Credibility on Wall Street

Rate tracker Bankrate has been added to the “Russell 3000 Index” and the “Russell 2000 Index.” The Russell 3000 Index measures the performance of the 3,000 largest U.S. companies based on total market capitalization, which represents approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market. The widely used Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000.

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MOSAIK MASTERCARD & EPOST

Bank of Montreal is now offering its 3 million “Mosaik MasterCard” cardholders the option of receiving and paying their monthly statements online through Canada’s epost. BMO joins a list of more than 65 Mailers sending mail through the epost service, including national retailers such as Canadian Tire, Hbc, Sears and Future Shop. Additional Mailers also available through epost include: TELUS; Hydro-Québec; ENMAX; Union Gas; City of Ottawa; City of Toronto; City of Winnipeg, and City of Richmond. More than 330,000 Canadians have registered for their free epost mailbox to-date.

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CellCharge Receives V/MC Blessing

VISA and MasterCard have approved a California firm to offer credit card processing service via cellular or touchtone phones. Westlake Village-based CellCharge of California says it will target the new service to sub-contractors, handymen, electricians, plumbers, carpet and pool cleaner, taxis, entrepreneurs, swap meet vendors, in-home party consultants, delivery services, fundraisers for schools and churches as well as professionals in the health and beauty industry. CellCharge is charging no transaction fees, no monthly minimum fees, no annual renewal fees, and does not require a contract. Settlement fees vary by contract. CellCharge says it deposits transaction into the merchant’s checking account within 24-48 hours.

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ACTIVCARD 2Q/03

ActivCard announced that based on preliminary financial results, its second quarter revenue is expected to range from $9 million to $10 million. Unaudited net loss in accordance with U.S. GAAP for the quarte is expected to range from $0.15 to $0.25 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $0.11 per diluted share in the second quarter of last year. Revenues were primarily affected by a small number of government opportunities which did not close within the reporting period. ActivCard provides software for secure remote access, secure sign-on and digital identity card solutions.

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Spiegel Continues to Feel Card Impact

The Spiegel Group reported that net sales for June were down 19% compared to one-year ago as it continues to rebuild its credit card sales. The company says it believes that direct sales continue to be negatively impacted by the company’s decision in early March to cease honoring the private-label credit cards issued by First Consumer National Bank to customers of its merchant companies (Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog). In early May, the company launched new credit card programs using Alliance Data Systems. Prior to the shut-down of its FCNB cards, nearly 75% of Spiegel Catalog sales were made on its private label card, while 60% of Newport News sales and 20% of Eddie Bauer sales are made on their respective cards.

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MANULIFE & EXCHANGE

Ontario-based Manulife Bank accountholders can now use more than 1,350 ABMs across Canada through “THE EXCHANGE” network. The bank recently joined “FICANEX,” a limited partnership of member financial institutions that use “THE EXCHANGE” network in Canada. Member companies include six banks, sixty-two credit unions, and one co-op. The network also includes 26,000 ABMs in the continental United States for withdrawals, and offers no convenience fees for Ficanex member-company access cardholders in Canada.

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