ICM EPIS Terminal

Lake Oswego-based ICM Telecommunications, a prepaid telecommunications services provider, said Thursday it has successfully completed beta testing of its “EPIS” terminal in the retail store environment. The EPIS terminal will achieve industry average gross margins of 25 percent on average gross sales of $1,100 per unit per month. ICM Telecommunications forecast is 1,500 units installed by years end.

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Smart and Final Digital Receipts

Warehouse grocery chain Smart and Final has delivered its 25th million digital receipt using AfterBOT’s “ReceiptsPLUS” solution, which creates and stores all POS transaction activity from its 240+ stores and delivers the data via real-time Web-access. AfterBOT’s Retail InSIGHT Management(TM) solution leverages an atomic- level POS database created by the ReceiptsPLUS(TM) platform to enable a host of customer, marketing and business services.

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One World Payment Systems

Las Vegas-based One World Payment Systems, a developer of electronic payment solutions and a processor of payment transactions for emerging markets, announced yesterday it has terminated its plans to acquire Golf Product Technologies. One World Payment System is a payment transfer company. It is a developer of electronic payment solutions and a processor of payment transactions for emerging and specialty markets.

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CARD VOLUME

The Financial Supervisory Service reported that credit card gross dollar
volume increased 60%, and credit card loans grew 39% last year. However,
profits among the top issuers in South Korea sunk by nearly 90%, as credit
card delinquencies soared during 2002. Credit card gross dollar volume for
2002 was 688 trillion won. Credit card loans ended 2002 at 270 trillion
won. The Korea Economic Daily says combined net profits among LG Card
Company and eight other independent card issuers came in at 318 billion
won, an 88% decline. The profit decline was blamed on higher credit card
reserves and marketing costs.

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Sears Canada MC

Sears Canada confirmed this week it plans to expand its “Sears MasterCard” program across Canada this year. The company launched the MasterCard in September in Ontario only, and at year-end 2002, had activated 125,000 accounts with $150 million in outstandings. Sears Canada has nine million retail cardholders, the largest store credit card program in Canada, according to The RAM Report ([www.ramreportcom][1]). At year-end 2002, the Sears Canada card had $2,753,000,000 in card outstandings. Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network of 123 department stores, 40 furniture and appliances stores, over 2,100 catalogue pick-up locations, 140 dealer stores, 17 outlet stores, 45 floor covering centers, 52 auto centers and 111 Sears Travel offices. In the U.S., Sears has $12.3 billion in outstandings in the “Sears Gold MasterCard” program, compared to $5.3 billion on year ago. U.S.-based Sears has $18.5 billion in store card outstandings.

[1]: http://www.ramreport.com

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GPT 4Q/02

NY-based Global Payment Technologies reported Thursday a 32% increase in revenues for the fourth calendar quarter compared to the previous quarter. However, the firm showed a net loss of $340,000 for the final three months of 2002, compared to net income of $118,000 in the prior year period. GPT says the reduction in gross profit is primarily the result of a 28% reduction in sales and an increase in operating expenses. Revenues for the fourth quarter were $5.96 million. GPT is a manufacturer of currency acceptance systems used in the gaming, beverage, and vending industries. For complete details on GPT’s 4Q/02 results visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Debit Card Miles

Cleveland-based KeyCorp confirmed yesterday it is taking its MasterCard debit card to a higher altitude with the addition of Continental “OnePass” miles for off-line purchase transactions. In the second quarter, Key will offer its two million “MasterMoney” debit cardholders the opportunity to upgrade to the new rewards debit card. The issuer becomes the second U.S. issuer to offer Continental “OnePass” miles for signature debit POS transactions. In February 1999, Chase Manhattan launched the first co-branded debit card program in the USA. Teaming with Continental Airlines, Chase offers one “OnePass” mile for every two dollars spent on both PIN and signature purchases. Chase has since launched a business debit card version of the program. In 1998 Chase took over the Continental co-branded credit card program from Marine Midland Bank. Chase charges a $30 annual fee for the card. Key says details of their program will be announced in several weeks. However, Key said it will offer additional bonuses upon program enrollment, and when the card is used to buy tickets for Continental flights. Existing or new Key clients will have the option to either enroll in the program to begin earning “OnePass” miles, or to maintain their current debit cards without earning “OnePass” miles. Continental Airlines is the world’s seventh-largest airline and has a hub in Cleveland. (CF Library 3/20/98; 5/4/98; 2/23/99; 8/3/99)

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Datakey Java Card

Minneapolis-based Datakey has introduced its “Model 330J Java Card” that features a highly efficient cryptographic and data management applet, built-in to ROM. With this built-in applet that supports a broad range of IT and security applications, the Model 330J card reserves most of its 32K EEPROM for other applications and data storage and enables rapid card deployment by virtually eliminating application personalization.

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Thin Loyalty Cards

London-based Black Sun and MORI have released a report on loyalty cards that shows 57% of the U.K. population have one or more of the 39 million loyalty cards in circulation; yet 25% of cardholders never redeem their points; only 40% say that having the card makes them shop at the store; 69% say they are not swayed by having a card; and 85% of card holders regard lower prices as preferable to loyalty points. Speaking this week at “Cards Europe 2003,” Black Sun`s Knowledge Management Director explained that the key reason for this is that the current loyalty programs are strong on volume and weak on value. Black Sun says the current loyalty programs are little more than thinly disguised discount programs. Not only is the discount “thin”, its usually 1%, but also the fact that it is simply a discount scheme is only slightly disguised by the issuing of points for earnings and redemption. Black Sun cited the “Nectar” loyalty card as an example.

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OPC & NYC

Official Payments Corporation has been authorized by the City of New York to provide electronic collection of credit card payment services for real estate taxes on behalf of the city, which collected more than $8.7 billion in real estate and other related taxes last year. New York City taxpayers should be able to pay their taxes by credit card through the program in time for the beginning of the city’s fiscal year in July. New York City real estate taxes for each fiscal year beginning July 1 are paid either quarterly or semi-annually.

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Collegiate Debt

A new survey on student loans has found that the percentage who reported using credit cards for part of their cost of undergraduate education has not increased from the 27% reported 5 years ago. However, those who used credit cards to pay for part of their education reported a median credit card balance of $3,400 at the time they left school, compared to a median balance of $1,600 for all students with a credit card. The “2002 Nellie Mae National Student Loan Survey” found the median credit card balance for all respondents was about $1,000. Nearly 40% of the group using cards to finance their education had credit card balances exceeding $5,000 when they left school. Although levels of credit card balances and levels of education debt are not correlated, those who reported using credit cards for undergraduate educational expenses have average undergraduate debt of $21,200, compared to average debt of $17,700 for those who did not rely on credit cards. The Nellie Mae survey also discovered that 18% of borrowers said they did not have a credit card when they left school.

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USTT Patents

PA-based USA Technologies has received “Notice of Allowance” for three more vending patents which enable the customer interface, including the card reader and LCD display, to be more easily and more cost effectively installed into a vending operator’s existing vending machines. The new, patented hardware operates in conjunction with the coin mechanism and bill validator and installs into the same space that is traditionally allocated solely for the bill validator. This gives USA Technologies the ability to quickly transform millions of vending machines into intelligent terminals at significantly lower cost.

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