Stratos announces that it is the first to
make available a range of new, flexible Prepaid Calling Cards for multiple
satellite networks, including Inmarsat-A, -B, -M, mini-M, North America MSAT
(Marinesat/Landsat/Oceancell) and Iridium – a first for the Iridium satellite

Stratos Prepaid Calling Cards are the premium solution for vessel
crewmembers wishing to contact friends and family while at sea, for third
party users of satellite phones in any environment, or simply as an
alternative to reconciliation of monthly billing. Prepaid Calling Card users
are greeted with automated voice prompts that provide English, French, and
Spanish language options, with additional languages available in the future.

“Stratos Prepaid Calling Cards are a reliable, flexible and convenient
way for anyone to manage the cost of their satellite phone calls – from
individual users to larger corporate customers,” said Jim Parm, Stratos COO.
“Stratos Prepaid Cards represent another featured and innovative product in
the Stratos remote communications solution suite, and is the first and only
prepaid card for the Iridium network.”

“These cards allow users to make satellite phone calls at no cost to the
owner of the satellite phone, so that the owner no longer has to reconcile
individual calls for billing,” said Paul Downey, Stratos Product Manager.
“This method of satellite communication accessibility represents the next
stage of pervasive remote communications.”

Stratos Prepaid Calling Cards are a simple solution to a formerly complex
problem. The user simply scratches the 9-digit PIN number and follows the easy
instructions on the back of the card to complete the call. Cards are disposed
of when their value has been depleted.

Stratos is pleased to offer these Prepaid Calling Cards anywhere in the
world. To order Stratos Calling Cards, simply contact your authorized Stratos
distributor or visit our web site at

About Stratos

Stratos ( is a publicly traded
(TSE:SGB) international
telecommunication services provider offering customers operating in remote
locations a variety of wireless, IP, data, and voice solutions through a range
of newly emerging and established technologies such as Inmarsat, Intelsat,
Iridium, VSAT, and others. Stratos serves an array of diverse markets
including government, military, industrial, aeronautical, recreational and
maritime users anywhere in the world.



Official Payments Corporation announced Friday that the Commonwealth of Virginia has expanded its service

agreement with the company. Commencing at the end of October, the Commonwealth of Virginia will begin accepting credit-card payments for business bills and estimated taxes. Payments can be made over the Internet by visiting [][1] or via the telephone by calling 1- 800-2PAY-TAX. Official Payments has similar agreements with over 900 government entities within 49 states across the country. The company has contacts with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments including the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the District of Columbia to collect taxes, fees, and fines by credit card over the Internet and telephone.

Last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia collected over $2.5 billion in business taxes and $700 million in estimated taxes. Business bills are disseminated on a monthly or quarterly basis. Fourth quarter 2001 estimated taxes will be due January 15, 2002. A 2002 estimated tax coupon booklet will be mailed to taxpayers in late December of this year. American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard and Visa are the cards accepted by the programs.

“We are pleased to expand our services to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Adding these two new payment categories, to our existing categories, balance-due taxes and notices of assessments/consolidated bill statements, increases our market potential to over $3.2 billion in Virginia,” stated Thomas R. Evans, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Official Payments Corp. “The Commonwealth benefits from costs savings and error reduction, while bringing the benefits of convenience, cash management, and rewards to its taxpayers,” Evans added.

Official Payments charges taxpayers a 2.5% convenience fee for processing these credit card transactions. For example, a taxpayer who owed $500 in estimated taxes and charged their taxes would find a total of $512.50 on their credit card statement: $500 for the tax bill and a 2.5% convenience fee of $12.50. As a bonus, taxpayers using the service can earn rewards, points, and cash-back on airline frequent flyer miles for paying their taxes.

About Official Payments Corporation

Official Payments Corporation (Nasdaq: OPAY) is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities. The company’s principal business is enabling consumers to pay their government taxes, fees, fines, and utility bills by credit card, via Internet and telephone. The company is unequaled in market penetration and national footprint. Official Payments has agreements to collect and process credit card payments with the Internal Revenue Service, 18 state governments, the District of Columbia, and over 900 county and municipal governments in 49 states across the United States. In 2000, Official Payments collected and processed over $925 million in federal, state and local government payments.

Official Payments was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1996. Thomas R. Evans, the former President & CEO of the Internet company GeoCities, became Chairman & CEO of Official Payments in the summer of 1999. Mr. Evans brought Official Payments public in November of 1999, raising $80 million in its IPO on the NASDAQ national market. The company’s success in new client acquisition, increasing business with its existing clients and in building consumer awareness can be attributed to the combination of an enormous market opportunity with a highly skilled and experienced management and staff, aggressive sales and marketing, and a core competency in developing and implementing leading-edge technical systems.



Datacard Smart Card Record

Datacard Group announced it shipped the 800th smart card personalization module for its flagship card issuance systems early this month.

The module, which can be integrated with Datacard 9000 or 7000 Series Systems, provides card issuers with secure, reliable, high-speed smart card personalization capabilities. It’s used worldwide for a variety of applications, including financial, healthcare, transit, loyalty, telecommunications, identity and e-commerce programs.

“We’ve seen strong sales in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Clearly, the smart card issuance infrastructure is rapidly expanding on a global basis as card issuers move quickly to capitalize on new market opportunities,” said Bob Beer, Datacard’s vice president of smart card solutions.

“Personalization systems are only part of Datacard’s complete portfolio of smart card offerings,” Beer said. “The company also offers smart card operating systems, life cycle management systems, smart card personalization managers and a variety of consultative services.”

“Datacard offers everything you need to launch a successful smart card program,” Beer said. “We’re also the only solutions provider with a complete infrastructure for multi-application smart card issuance and life cycle management.”

Other inline capabilities for Datacard 9000 and 7000 Series Systems include full-color photo printing, magnetic stripe encoding, high-speed embossing, color topping, thermal printing of logos, text and bar codes, laser engraving, topcoat application and card delivery.

Datacard Group provides financial institutions, corporations, consumer marketers, governments, schools, healthcare providers, service bureaus and other enterprises with the software, systems and professional services they need to build successful card programs. The company’s portfolio includes the world’s best-selling smart card solutions and card issuance systems, as well as a complete line of digital identity systems. Consultative services include a smart card security laboratory that serves the world’s leading smart card issuers. DataCard Corporation, doing business as Datacard Group, is privately held and based in Minnetonka, Minn. Datacard Group serves customers in more than 200 countries. ([][1].)



Patriotic Cards

As Discover plows forward with a major direct mail and print campaign for its ‘American Flag Card’ in the wake of rising nationalism, other patriotic cards have emerged. 5Star Bank, formerly known AFBA Bank, has launched two ‘United We Stand’ bank credit cards. The 5Star patriotic cards offers applicants nationwide, the choice of a no-annual-fee card with go-to APRs ranging from 10.9%-16.9%, or a $35 annual fee card with APRs ranging from 8.9% to 14.9%. Either pricing choice carries a six-billing-cycle 5.9% promo APR for new purchases and balance transfers. 5Star does not charge fees for balance transfers or convenience checks. The ‘United We Stand’ VISA or MasterCards are available in both ‘Classic’ and ‘Platinum’ levels. The ‘Platinum Premier’ version offers $1 million in travel accident insurance. AFBA (Armed Forces Benefit Association), now known as AFBA – The 5Star Association, primarily offers life insurance to military personnel and government workers. The insurance programs do not carry war clauses or area restrictions. 5Star has approximately 175,000 bank credit cardholders according to CardData ([][1]).



No-Hassle Cards

Capital One has launched a significant print and direct mail promotion for its new ‘No-Hassle Platinum MasterCard’ which offers a package of unprecedented cardholder commitments not seen since the launch of the ‘AT&T Universal VISA/MasterCard’ in 1990. Among the unique features of the new program is the promise that consumers will not receive any telemarketing calls from Cap One. According to CardWatch ([][1]), other Cap One ‘No-Hassle’ guarantees include no balance transfer fees, no cash advance fees, no annual fees, and no foreign exchange fees “ever”. The new ‘Platinum MasterCard’ also carries a fixed APR of 8.9% or 9.9% for new purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. Cap One has been running full page ads in People and Newsweek with the message “Be Sure to Read the Fine Print” and “Introducing 7.2 Square Inches of Peace of Mind”.



First CCS-Teller Sold

Greenland Corporation announced that Mr Ship N’ Chek, a nine store, Nevada-based financial services retail chain purchased the first Check Central Solutions-Teller retail package for approximately $56,000, including a two-year software support and maintenance agreement. The purchase agreement provides for the installation of Greenland’s new Check Central Solutions single store back office processing system, which supports up to three kiosk locations from one store, a MAXcash Automated Banking Machine kiosk, and a PC-based point-of-sale teller package.

With operations in Reno, Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Phoenix, Mr Ship N’ Chek was an early customer of Greenland, having purchased two MAXcash ABMs prior to the termination of Greenland’s call center and check cashing services in March of this year.

Mr. T.A. “Kip” Hyde, Jr., President and CEO of Greenland stated, “Mr Ship N’ Chek was among the first thirty-one Greenland customers negatively impacted by our suspending centralized check cashing operations earlier this year. With the purchase of our new CCS-Teller integrated systems package, they will now be able to resume self-service check cashing operations very quickly.”

Introduced at the recently held FiSCA National Conference and Exhibition, the Check Central Solutions product line is designed so that current check cashing services providers of virtually any size can easily incorporate a MAXcash ABM into their current operations. The back-office transaction processing system can be used locally in each store, or, large check cashing operators can install a network solution connected to a central processing center.

Mr. John Odin, President and CEO of Chekline, Inc., the corporate parent of Mr Ship N’ Chek, and current vice president of the Nevada Independent Check Cashing Association, said, “When my Director of Operations returned from the FiSCA show, he was very excited to tell me that we could now operate our own MAXcash terminals, using our existing staff and customer database. We had already recognized the value of self-service kiosks to our stores and customers, and were pleased with their performance. Now that we have the ability to manage our own terminals, we hope to expand our automation program into all of our stores, and potentially into other locations such as local grocers and convenience stores.”

Hyde ended, “As indicated during the panel discussions at the FiSCA conference, I believe that self-service check cashing will be of similar or even greater benefit to the check cashing industry, just as ATMs have been to the banking industry. We are pleased that Mr Ship N’ Chek has embraced this technology and is the first to start working with the Greenland team again.”

About Greenland Corporation

Greenland Corporation is a holding company whose wholly owned subsidiary, Check Central, is the developer and manufacturer of the MAXcash(TM) Automated Banking Machine(TM) (ABM(TM)) and related Check Central Solutions(TM) transaction processing system software designed to provide self-service check cashing, ATM functionality, phone card and money order dispensing, as well as the capability for other future products and services. The Company’s common stock trades on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol “GLCP.” Visit Greenland Corporation on the Internet at [][1].



BofA 3Q/01

Bank of America reported this morning that 3Q credit card receivables are up more than 21% over third quarter 2000. However chargeoffs have edged up nearly 16% over the same period. BofA also reported that card fee income is up 4% over the past twelve months. At the end of the third quarter, BofA had $25.5 billion in managed card loans compared to $24.9 billion for 2Q/01 and $21.0 billion for 3Q/00. Charge-offs for the third quarter stood at 4.81% compared to 4.94% for the prior quarter and 4.16% one year ago. BofA has approximately 25 million accounts and 29 million cardholders. During the third quarter Bank of America launched new national TV ads carrying the theme of “ingenuity.” The company also announced during 3Q that it is increasing its advertising budget from approximately $100 million to $145 million to promote the Bank of America brand in 2002. For complete details on BofA’s 3Q/01 performance visit CardData ([][1]). (CF Library 8/14/01)



Vital e-Connections

Vital Processing Services, a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services, today launched Vital e-Connections, an easy-to-use, powerful and flexible web-based information reporting and access service for acquirers and their merchant customers.

On-line, through a web site hosted by Vital, Vital e-Connections delivers to merchants and acquirers information that is critical to managing their business.

Merchants can now see all the detail behind their daily or periodic bank deposits, including credit card, debit card, fees, chargebacks, and other electronic transactions, making it easy for a merchant to reconcile daily deposits. Access to detailed transactions simplifies the entire process of transaction retrieval, which for many merchants will lead to reduced chargeback losses.

Vital s acquiring clients derive many benefits from Vital e-Connections. In addition to the obvious fee income opportunity, acquirers realize productivity improvements in back-office operations and in customer service, as web-based access to transaction information and reports helps to streamline work processes and exception handling, as well as to manage risk.

“Vital e-Connections is a giant step forward in answering acquirer demands for back office efficiencies, for tools to better manage their merchant portfolios and for quick and easy access to transaction data for them and their merchants. It provides both merchants and acquirers new opportunities for revenue and earnings growth. We anticipate Vital e-Connections to be highly utilized by Vital acquiring clients and we expect their productivity gains to be substantial,” said Denise Lewis, executive vice president of products and marketing, Vital Processing Services.

About Vital Processing Services

Arizona-based Vital Processing Services® (Vital®) is a leader in technology-based commerce enabling services. Vital s clients include acquirers and merchant service providers that offer electronic payment processing and related services to merchants. Vital provides leading point-of-sale (POS) products and services, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; accounting, billing and reporting; risk management; and merchant support services. Vital also provides POS equipment management services through its subsidiary Vital Merchant Services and a full suite of Information Services in conjunction with Vital’s wholly-owned subsidiary GRS. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa U.S.A. and TSYS® (“NYSE: TSS”), a global leader in payments processing. Additional information regarding Vital can be found at [][1].




ClearCommerce Corp., a leading
provider of transaction processing and fraud protection software for
e-commerce, announced Barclaycard Merchant Services has selected and
implemented ClearCommerce’s online payment processing and fraud protection
software as part of its e-business initiative — ePDQ.

Barclay’s ePDQ product will provide online retailers with a hosted,
flexible e-commerce payment facility to enable them to trade on the Internet,
ensuring the secure transmission and custody of card data. The ClearCommerce
Engine(R), hosted by Barclaycard Merchant Services, will process all online
credit and debit card payments that occur at Barclaycard’s merchant websites
as well as provide the necessary fraud detection. Barclaycard Merchant
Services provides PDQ machines, which are used by shops and businesses to take
payment for goods by swiping the debit or credit card through the PDQ machine.
The ClearCommerce software will enable Barclaycard Merchant Services to offer
its merchants a virtual PDQ for their online stores — a natural extension to
their existing machines.

Both PDQ and online transactions are processed and handled by Barclaycard
Merchant Services. Currently, Barclaycard performs the role of acquiring bank
for a large number of manually-keyed Internet transactions. Using the
ClearCommerce Engine to drive the ePDQ initiative, Barclaycard can now manage
all aspects of security relating to the processing and transmission of data
and integrate this facility with its role as the acquiring bank.

Bill Thomson, Head of Internet Payments for Barclaycard Merchant Services
said, “ePDQ is being developed so Barclaycard Merchant Services can better
meet the demands and expectations of its merchant base by providing a simple
and effective online payment solution. By extending our role as the acquiring
bank and becoming involved at the transmission and secure transaction
processing level, we can add to the strength of our service and brand.
ClearCommerce has provided us with a highly functional solution that fits our
specific requirements to ensure ePDQ provides our merchants with highly
effective and secure online payment processing.”

Alan Scutt, vice president of ClearCommerce Europe said, “High street
stores are realizing the importance of an online presence and Barclaycard
Merchant Services is proactively addressing the needs of its merchants.
However, in order to succeed in the e-commerce market, payments must be
processed quickly and securely. ePDQ offers merchants highly effective
processing functionality and fraud protection with the security that it is
being offered by a trusted and familiar brand.”

Barclaycard Merchant Services is one of Europe’s largest acquirers and
processors of plastic card transactions. It is dedicated to providing a range
of e-commerce solutions to suit all types of business and was the first bank
to launch an Internet payment system, ePDQ. In 2000 1.2 billion purchases
were made with credit and debit cards in the 131,000 outlets belonging to
Barclaycard Merchant Services’ customers in the UK. Barclaycard Merchant
Services operates the largest on-line, real time bank owned EFTPOS (Electronic
Funds Transfer at the Point of Sale) system in the UK with a PDQ terminal base
of over 123,000.

Austin, Texas-based ClearCommerce is a provider of e-commerce transaction
software and services for enterprises and Commerce Service Providers,
including Apple Computer, Sony, Harrods, Chase Merchant Services,
and EDS. ClearCommerce provides transaction management technology directly
and indirectly through Commerce Service Providers for merchants worldwide.
Providing the ClearCommerce Engine to more than 40,000 merchants, features of
the company’s software include real-time credit card processing and Internet
fraud protection, as well as online reports, storefront integration, back-end
integration and shipping/tax calculation. For more information, please visit


Heartland Investment

Heartland Payment Systems Inc., an employee-owned, full-service credit card and payroll processing provider, Friday announced that it has received a $40 million private equity investment from Greenhill Capital Partners L.P., LLR Partners Inc., and their affiliated investment funds.

The $40 million infusion of new capital, representing a substantial minority stake, will be utilized to execute Heartland’s long-range strategic business plan. This plan includes continuing the build-out of Heartland’s national sales and service organization, developing the company’s innovative transaction processing platform, strengthening various vertical market partnerships, and retiring the company’s debt.

Brooks L. Terrell, Frisco-based chief technology officer, for Heartland Payment Systems, Princeton, N.J., stated, “The impact of this investment to our Frisco operation is significant. Heartland Payment Systems intends to continue to grow our face-to-face presence with local merchants and to expand our base of operations for both our Software Development Group and our Frisco-based Information Technology Team.”

Greenhill Capital Partners and LLR Partners share a focus on developing long-term partnerships with the management teams of portfolio companies, and supporting them in building their businesses through direct involvement from beginning to end of every investment transaction.

Additionally, both of these private equity groups have significant investment flexibility to structure transactions to meet the unique needs of business owners and managers.

Robert H. Niehaus, chairman of Greenhill Capital Partners, said, “Bob Carr and the world-class management team that he has assembled have built Heartland into one of the leading independent merchant payment processors.

“With one of the largest and most productive direct sales forces and a culture focused on customer service, Heartland is well positioned to capitalize on the robust growth in the payment processing industry.”

Mitchell L. Hollin, an LLR partner, said, “As a leading player in a fragmented industry, Heartland offers the scale and sophistication to leverage the trend toward alternative forms of electronic payments across its large and diverse merchant base.”

Launched in early 1997 as a merchant card processor, Heartland Payment Systems has now evolved into a multiple product transaction processor, and has recently introduced HPS Exchange, which offers the industry’s first client server based transaction processing platform.

“We are very pleased to find two strong financial partners to support our aggressive growth plans,” said Robert O. Carr, the chief executive officer and chairman of Heartland.

Carr continued, “We have built our portfolio to an annual run rate of nearly $13 billion over the last four years with minimal capital, and feel this equity infusion is the key to both expanding our sales program and introducing innovative technology solutions to our merchant clients. We also look forward to utilizing our financial partners’ substantial expertise in helping companies manage their growth.”

About the Investors

Greenhill Capital Partners

Greenhill Capital Partners is a $425 million private equity fund managed by Greenhill & Co., an independent merchant banking firm owned entirely by its partners. Greenhill Capital Partners identifies investment opportunities by focusing on the proprietary deal flow provided by Greenhill & Co.’s insights into, and relationships within, the telecommunications, technology, financial services and consumer products industries.

From their offices in New York, London and Frankfurt, Germany, Greenhill & Co. provides a broad range of advisory and investment services. They are a premier international merchant bank in the classic tradition — advising and investing, and when appropriate, committing firm capital alongside that of their clients. Their core principles include building important long-term client relationships and pursuing opportunities where they can add value. [][1]

LLR Partners

LLR Partners Inc. is a $260 million private equity firm providing capital to companies with strong growth potential, proven business models and outstanding management teams. LLR Partners primarily makes investments of $5 million to $20 million in a broad range of growth industries, with an emphasis on business services and information technology. Headquartered in Philadelphia, LLR Partners generally targets expansion capital investments, but will also consider recapitalizations and private investments in public companies. [][2]

About Heartland

Heartland Payment Systems is a full-service payment systems solutions provider, handling merchant card and payroll processing services for over 50,000 merchants of all types and sizes. Using a strategically located national sales force, Heartland builds long-term business relationships in local sales territories to provide merchants with enhanced technology tools that assist them in more effectively operating their businesses. [http://www.heartlandpaymentsystem][3].




UltraCard, Inc., a
subsidiary of Upgrade International, is pleased to announce that
it has been invited by officials in the Chinese Government Immigration and
Security offices to demonstrate the UltraCard reader/writer and UltraCard
technology during the first week of November, 2001. This demonstration will
showcase the UltraCard’s potential use as the Chinese national visa card for
immigration entry and exit across the Chinese border.

Mr. Arthur Zheng, Managing Director of UltraCard China, states, “UltraCard
technology could replace and dramatically improve the time-consuming and
antiquated paper/pencil entry process which is currently used. UltraCard has
already announced an ID-card pilot program in China, due to begin later this
year. Based on a successful demonstration and further negotiation, the
UltraCard ID pilot program may be expanded to include the Immigration
Department of China. Furthermore, a student visa and ID card is an obvious
application for the UltraCard.”

Tom Parkinson, Vice President of Business Development for UltraCard, Inc. adds,
“UltraCard has completed the demonstration software and we look forward to
presenting our technology to the Chinese government. We are confident that the
Chinese government will see the superior performance of our technology in the
visa and student ID applications.”

The UltraCard can store multiple factor biometrics such as FBI level
fingerprints, iris scans, and photographs, all on the same card, as well as
updatable border entry records, change-of-address, etc. Portions of the
UltraCard data memory can be rendered non-alterable, write-once, read-many
and/or re-write-able, similar to a hard disk drive in a computer. The data can
be encrypted and re-encrypted as required. The UltraCard technology, combined
with the appropriate initial identification and data base management process,
could prevent forgeries and duplication of immigration and entry records.
A unique application feature of the UltraCard is that due to its large data
storage capacity the use of a web-centric database is unnecessary. Unlike
current smart card technologies personal data stays on the card, not on a web
site, thus ensuring privacy and security.

About Upgrade

Upgrade International Corp. through its ownership interest in UltraCard Inc.,
Efornet Corp., and cQue Corporation is engaged in the development and
commercialization of a patented ultra high-capacity portable data storage
technology. UltraCard’s patented method for using existing hard disk storage
technology provides both highly durable media in a credit card format and an
inexpensive read/write device that together will become the next generation in
personal portable data storage for a broad range of existing and new markets.
Management believes that the UltraCard technology will potentially provide
numerous industrial users with a combination of high levels of security and a
vastly greater amount of personal transportable data storage at the lowest cost
in the industry. In addition the acquisition and development of existing
SmartCard solution providers represents a strategic market strategy designed to
accelerate the integration of the vastly superior technology inherent in the
UltraCard into existing and newly developing markets.


Satellite Cards

Toronto-based Stratos unveiled the first prepaid calling card for the Iridium satellite network. The new phone cards will also serve other satellite networks, including Inmarsat-A, -B, -M, mini-M, and North America MSAT. The ‘Stratos Prepaid Calling Cards’ are targeted at vessel crewmembers and third party users of satellite phones. Users are greeted with automated voice prompts that provide English, French, and Spanish language options.