The U.S. government, through a prime contractor, has awarded Drexler Technology a subcontract with an authorized maximum of $81 million over a period of up to five years. Under the subcontract, Drexler will supply up to 24 million ‘LaserCard’ optical memory cards at an average selling price of about $3.40 per card. The contract for 24 million optical memory cards, the largest in Drexler Technology’s history, provides that each order release to Drexler will be for quantities of not less than one million cards per order, under an initial one-year contract period and four additional one-year contract options. These Drexler digital optical memory cards are slated for use as U.S. Department of State “Laser Visa” cards for frequent visitors from Mexico and as U.S. INS ‘Green Cards’.Details
Providian Financial opened a new credit services center in Austin, Texas. This is the third Texas facility the Company has opened in the last year. Providian customer service centers opened in Arlington last June and in San Antonio in March of this year.
Providian’s 60,000 square feet of space at 6500 Tracor Lane in east Austin will be home to more than 500 new employees joining the Company’s credit services department, which works with past-due Providian credit card customers to help them repay their debt and continue to build a positive credit record. Providian will recruit essentially all of the employees at the new facility from the local Austin population.
“I’m very pleased that Providian Financial has selected Austin as a location for expanding their rapidly growing business,” said Austin’s Mayor Kirk Watson. “Providian’s reputation for providing a quality work environment while supporting the community fits well into Austin’s philosophy of responsible economic growth. I’m sure the company will be well served by an enthusiastic and skilled local workforce.”
Providian has hired about a quarter of the workforce it needs, with many of the early applicants bringing relevant experience from other service-oriented businesses in the area. Besides competitive pay, the Company offers its employees extensive training, including computer training, excellent benefits, opportunity for advancement and a supportive work environment.
To celebrate the opening, Providian held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at The Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. Local business leaders and elected officials attended the event, along with Providian senior management.
“Austin offers a very supportive business climate and a strong labor force that will help uphold Providian’s commitment to 100% customer satisfaction,” said Dennis Brady, executive vice president of Providian’s credit card operation and one of the Company’s senior managers in attendance at today’s event. “We’re proud to be joining the Austin community and we plan to be an active member of it.”
During the celebration, as part of its community commitment, Providian awarded $25,000 to the Fund for Child Care Excellence, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the quality, accessibility and affordability of child care in the Austin area. The Fund will use the donation to support its many efforts, including improving teacher training and wages, expanding materials and resources for child care centers, and providing families with child care scholarships. The donation is part of the Providian Child Care Initiative.
San Francisco-based Providian Financial (http://www.providian.com) employs more than 12,000 people in the United States and in the United Kingdom, with facilities in Arlington and San Antonio, Texas; Henderson, Nevada; Fairfield, Oakland, Pleasanton, Sacramento, and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Louisville, Kentucky; Concord and Tilton, New Hampshire; and London, England.
Providian is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the United States and offers credit cards in the United Kingdom. The sixth largest bankcard issuer in the U.S., Providian Financial was recently named one of America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, and the nation’s top financial institution by US Banker magazine. With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian helps customers build or rebuild, protect and responsibly use credit. Providian has more than $27 billion in assets under management and over 13 million customers.Details
Euronet Services Inc., a leader in the development of electronic financial transaction and payment systems, announced an agreement with Seylan Bank in Sri Lanka to provide the bank with the Arksys Integrated Credit Card System. Installation of the software is expected to be complete by October 2000 and will make Seylan Bank Euronet’s second credit card system customer in Sri Lanka.
Michael Brown, Euronet Services Chairman and CEO stated, “The credit card industry in Sri Lanka is still very much in its infancy and we’re see a growing interest in our customer base for this solution world-wide.”
Dr. Nihal Ramanayake, Seylan Bank’s Vice President for Information Technology stated, “Euronet technologies consolidate our electronic delivery services on a single platform ensuring protection of investment and scaleable growth. Today, it is ICCS and Internet banking. Next, possibly wireless and mobile banking.”
Dr. Ramanayake further added, “As Internet fosters globalization and opens up new markets, we would like to be a bank with a vision, to grasp the opportunities technology will offer.”
Since the first of the year Euronet has held eight credit card seminars throughout Europe and the Middle East with exposure to hundreds of industry professionals. The seminars highlight the features of ICCS, along with a demonstration of the product, and include an overview of industry trends.
The Arksys Integrated Credit Card System is a comprehensive card management system that supports bank cards, private label cards and simple interest consumer finance lending — all in one system. The system can fully integrate with ATM drivers, POS, and debit and credit card systems.
A significant differentiator of Euronet’s system is its dual currency capability, which allows a financial institution to maintain, balance, bill, and report two balances in two currencies simultaneously. Also enhancing the marketability and profit potential of this card operation is its multi-language screens and reporting capabilities within a single system.
In just over a decade Seylan Bank has established itself as the leading private bank in Sri Lanka. The bank has a network of 90 offices island-wide and has taken a strong position to offer its customers the latest technology available. The bank currently utilizes the Arksys ATM management and telephone banking solutions, and will soon install the Arksys Internet Banking solution.
Euronet Services is a leading provider of financial software and network solutions in the high growth markets of the world, a segment that represents approximately 3 billion people. As these markets move rapidly toward electronic financial transactions, Euronet is becoming the provider of choice. As an example of this, the company has recently expanded its business in Greece, Indonesia, Romania and the South Pacific.
Euronet provides banks and retailers with an advanced infrastructure for connectivity and transaction processing. The company’s Arksys Software Division offers a suite of integrated retail banking products that include ATM management, POS and Merchant systems, credit and debit card systems, internet banking, telebanking, and wireless banking. Euronet operates the largest independent ATM network in Europe and is building a growing electronic transaction processing capacity in the United States. The company serves customers in more than 60 countries around the world.Details
Coinstar Inc. announced the debut of a new $10 million television advertising campaign in support of its aggressive brand building goals for 2000.
Recently ranked the 18th fastest-growing technology company in the United States, Coinstar maintains a network of 7,500 self-service, coin counting machines and recently surpassed the U.S. Mint as the largest supplier and processor of coins to the U.S. economy.
Developed by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the two 30-second spots begin airing this week in 12 media markets. Those markets are Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. Coinstar will add additional markets during the third quarter of this year and add a third flight in November and December.
The media mix for the spots includes early morning programming on the morning news shows; early fringe talk shows such as Rosie and Oprah; and prime access and late night programming such as Friends, Frasier, Drew Carey, The Tonight Show, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Coinstar is planning to support the television advertisements with radio and outdoor advertising as well. Radio, which launches in June, will consist of three 60-second spots to air on a combination of formats including adult contemporary, classic rock, oldies, and soft rock hit stations.
“Kicking off our new ad campaign brings to fruition our company’s commitment to aggressively advertise our service and launch the Coinstar brand in 2000,” said Dan Gerrity, president and CEO of Coinstar Inc. “We expect that these sharp, memorable advertisements will communicate the message that treating coins the Coinstar way is fun and makes new things possible.”
Shot by the Norwegian director team Roenberg (Espen Sandberg and Yoachin Roenning) the two Coinstar television spots are humorous takes on how coins can be changed into something useful in unusual ways. The two Coinstar television spots — “Bullies” and “Waitress” — turn snapshots of common, everyday situations into inspired “what if” scenarios by using loveable characters and surprise endings that engage viewers by appearing to unfold naturally. The ad titled “Waitress,” for example, was un-scripted, with the dialogue ad-libbed by one of the featured character actors. “Bullies” on the other hand, tells the story without dialogue, instead using animated facial expressions and body language by the actors, interesting camera angles, varied film speeds, and evocative music.
“The new Coinstar campaign represents a notable evolution, both strategically and creatively, from previous advertising efforts,” explains Rich Stillman, vice president of marketing for Coinstar. “In the past, our ads focused on the rational benefits of our service, such as convenience and ease of use. To better connect with consumers, the new ads are designed to strike an emotional chord, conveying a brand personality for Coinstar that is human, empathetic, inspiring and fun.”
TBWA/Chiat/Day is currently the 12th largest ad agency in the U.S. with estimated billings of $1.8 billion. Clients include Nissan, Apple, Levi’s, Taco Bell, Infiniti, Absolut, ABC Television, Pets.com, OnHealth.com, Promus Hotels, Sony PlayStation, Seagram, barnesandnoble.com, and Energizer. TBWA/Chiat/Day is part of TBWA Worldwide, an Omnicom company and the 11th largest worldwide advertising network with billings in excess of $5.7 billion and offices in 65 countries and 106 cities.
About Coinstar Inc.
Recently ranked the country’s eighteenth fastest growing technology company, Coinstar Inc. (Nasdaq:CSTR) and its subsidiaries, Meals.com and Coinstar International, use technology to deliver time and money saving services to consumers in their local supermarkets. Coinstar’s 7,500 strong network of machines is currently available to 125 million consumers in 40 states and the District of Columbia, as well as worldwide in Canada and the United Kingdom. Consumers can visit www.findcoinstar.com or call 1-800-928-CASH to find the nearest Coinstar(R) machine.Details
The NextCard ‘eCommerce Index’, released yesterday, shows the top five online merchants for May are: AOL, Amazon.com, Earthlink, eBay and Buy.com. The NextCard index is a monthly listing of the top Web sites based on the number of online transactions by more than 330,000 NextCard cardholders. Consumers continue to use their credit cards to pay for ISP service. Nine Internet service-providers were among the Top 30 in May including America Online, Earthlink, MSN, CompuServe and Prodigy.Details
Motorola, Inc. announced the successful completion of the Automatic Fare Collection system field trial implemented for the Transport Authority of Berlin. The smart card electronic ticketing solution achieved a new standard of passenger convenience and operator efficiency.
“The ERG Motorola Alliance implemented the system on time and it performed exactly as planned,” said Francois Dutray, vice president and general manager, Motorola Worldwide Smartcard Solutions Division (WSSD). “The pilot established a clear business case by meeting all of the BVG’s goals: more efficient utilization of assets, helped reduced operational costs, increased customer convenience and improved operating information for transportation providers. They were able to measure passenger streams with much greater accuracy, allowing them to synchronize resources with demand. We were proud to take the lead in implementing this global showcase of next-generation AFC and multi-application smart card system technology,” said Dutray.
Dozens of transportation organizations from around the world visited to gain first-hand experience with the groundbreaking system. Many are considering contactless solutions and were impressed with the enhanced convenience, shorter lines and improved asset management – all of which were on display in Berlin.
“We were particularly pleased to be able to demonstrate the ability of the Alliance to deliver such a sophisticated system in a relatively short time frame,” commented Peter Fogarty, ERG Group’s chief executive.
Work began on this innovative system in March 1999, when the BVG contracted with the ERG Motorola Alliance to conduct a field trial to provide transport riders in Berlin and the surrounding greater Brandenburg area with an efficient smart card payment option. The first phase of the trial began in October 1999. Full pilot program implementation began January 15, 2000 and ended April 15, 2000.
During the field trial of the AFC “tick.et” system, a select group of public transit riders throughout Berlin and Brandenburg paid time- and distance-based fares using one smart card to access and transfer between buses, trains and trams run by the BVG, the S-Bahn Berlin GmbH (Rapid Train System of Berlin), and the VBB (Transport Authority of Berlin- Brandenburg). Public transport “units,” purchased with cash or electronic transfer payments, were loaded directly onto a smart card and then debited by special contactless check-in/check-out terminals at the stations or in buses and trams. Users were able to keep track of their available units by inserting the cards through readers at points-of-sale, information terminals or with the help of pocket-sized balance readers.
“Using bus and rail will become much easier in the future with cashless smart cards and the end of tariff zones,” said Peter Strieder, Berlin Senator for Urban Development. “That surely is a step in the right direction for the BVG because each and every passenger is important.”
“For the economy, electronic ticketing is of great importance,” said Wolfgang Branoner, Berlin Senator for Economy and Technology. “It will result in unique know-how, allowing Berlin to become the prototype for the development of similar solutions for other major cities in the future.”
What the future holds
The BVG’s ultimate objective is to design a multi-application smart card-based AFC system that can be applied to all national transportation services in and around Berlin, and also to the regional transportation services offered by Deutsche Bahn AG. An essential capability of the system will be to calculate the cost of a fare based on both the time and distance traveled. The BVG’s goal is to have this kind of system implemented by the end of 2002.
Eventually, public transportation authorities can award discount points to frequent users, redeemable for more public transport credits or for reduced admission prices to area events. In addition, retailers can offer discount points or special prices to shoppers using smart cards. The groundwork exists for e-purse applications allowing riders to purchase a cup of coffee and a newspaper, board a bus, and transfer to a subway or taxi without searching for cash. The smart card can be reloaded via ATM-style add-value machines.
“It is of paramount importance that electronic ticketing with multi-application capabilities be introduced to the entire network,” said Peter Giesecke, Chief Administrative Officer of the Teltow-Flaming District and Head of the Supervisory Board of the Transport Authority of Berlin-Brandenburg VBB). “The offer of multiple uses, such as information retrieval, payment, loyalty or parking, will generate new incentives to carry and use the card.”
The Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin)
Motorola currently is implementing a smart card system with multiple applications for the Technical University of Berlin — an identification card and application platform capable of securely accessing university services over the Internet. It is based on a contacted/contactless dual interface smart card that will be compatible with Berlin’s transit automated fare collection (AFC) system. This will mark the first time in Europe that an ISO 14443 Type B dual interface smart card will be used for a multi-application system, and the first time a university card system will be fully integrated with a smart card transit AFC system. Motorola will provide system integration, smart cards, card accepting devices and consulting for the TU Berlin CampusCard(TM) system.
The announcement of the completion of the Berlin field trial was made at the Smart Card Forum’s Quarterly Conference, “Cards on the Move,” hosted this week by Motorola’s Worldwide Smartcard Solutions Division at Motorola University in Schaumburg. The event showcases smart card transit applications from around the world and offers attendees – leading users and technologists from the public and private sectors — to examine how financial institutions, universities, government agencies and retailers are connecting to transit, toll and parking projects to use smart cards for multiple purposes.
About The ERG Motorola Alliance
The ERG Motorola Alliance combines ERG’s world-leading smart card and magnetic ticket based integrated fare collection application expertise with Motorola’s innovative M-Smart(R) world of flexible smart card platform solutions, its systems integration and its operational management capabilities. Complementary strengths of the Alliance include complete wireless voice and data communication systems; location tracking and management; revenue management expertise; systems integration and operating services capabilities; and electronic purse operating experience.
About Motorola Inc.
Motorola, Inc., (NYSE:MOT) is a global leader in providing embedded electronic and integrated communications solutions. Sales in 1999 were $33.1 billion. Motorola’s Worldwide Smartcard Solutions Division (WSSD) provides complete multi-application smart card system solutions including smart cards, application development, systems integration and operations management. The company’s platforms allow organizations to quickly deploy and build value-added smart card applications in areas such as transit, access control, campus, government and healthcare.
About the ERG Group
ERG Group is a world leader in the development and supply of technologically advanced smart card systems and services, automated fare collection products and systems and telecommunications products and services. ERG provides turnkey solutions to customers, from design and manufacture to supply, installation, commissioning and ongoing service and maintenance. ERG operates globally and has 22 offices in 14 countries. ERG is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and ranks in the S&P – ASX Top 50 Index, as well as the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International Index). For more information about ERG please visit: [www.erggroup.com]
New York City-based M2card and Inciscent, a wired-to-wireless, applications service provider announced a strategic alliance to develop wireless transaction services designed to complement M2card’s products and services. Set to launch in late summer, the ‘M2card’ offers teenagers a pre-funded cash card that can be used at all merchants that accept major credit cards. The collaboration with Inciscent brings ‘M2card’ into the mobile e-commerce marketplace, as customers can check payment balances wirelessly before POS purchases or to access real-time content from M2card. Inciscent and M2card are also jointly developing other billing and payment solutions for the mobile consumer to provide the ability to transact from handheld wireless devices.Details
First National of Nebraska announced another acquisition yesterday. FNN says it is acquiring the $49 million credit card portfolio of Eastern Financial Federal Credit Union of Miramar, FL. The credit union serves more than 155,000 members through 14 branch locations in Florida. Last week FNN announced it is also acquiring Atlanta-based InfiCorp Holdings, a privately held credit card portfolio management company. InfiCorp Holdings includes subsidiaries: Infistar, InfiBank, InfiLink and InfiCU. FNN expects to close the InfiCorp deal in July while the conversion of the EFFCU customer accounts is slated for October.Details
PaySys International announced that it has signed a licensing agreement with Sears, Roebuck and Co., the nation’s second largest retailer, for use of the TRAMS (Transaction Routing and Management System) transaction processing software.
Sears will utilize the PaySys software to process point-of-sale transactions for its approximately 3,000 domestic stores. TRAMS provides a multi-purpose, front-end data collection, processing and routing system that processes transactions from a variety of different sources. It is a part of PaySys’ VisionPLUS card management system that combines retail, bankcard and consumer loan billing and administration in one system.
! “Working with a retail giant like Sears is a great opportunity for PaySys,” said Stephen B. Grubb, PaySys CEO and President. “Sears’ choice of PaySys reflects the fact that we have solutions that will enhance the efficiency and profitability potential of very large credit operations such as Sears portfolio of 38.9 million active accounts.”
“The flexibility and functionality of PaySys’ processing software will allow us to consolidate the high volume of transactions from our extensive network of retail locations, reducing costs,” said Tom Foley, Credit IT director.
PaySys’ TRAMS software accepts multiple transaction types and prepares them for any destination, consolidating numerous application front-ends into a single input system. It also provides extensive job tracking, settlement, warehousing, reporting, reject and online reject and suspense handling capabilities.
PaySys experts will install the system and will provide training and operations assistance on a consultancy basis.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a leading U.S. retailer of apparel, home and automotive products and services, with annual revenue of nearly $40 billion. The company serves families throughout the country through approximately 860 department stores, more than 2,100 specialized retail locations, and a variety of online offerings accessible through the company’s Web site, [http://www.sears.com].
PaySys International, Inc. is an established global leader in financial applications, offering web-enabled transaction processing solutions. With industry-leading products such as VisionPLUS, CardPac and VISION21, PaySys has clients in over 30 countries and on 6 continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, PaySys has offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, China, Costa Rica and Australia. For more information, call PaySys at +1.770.564.8000, or visit the company’s web site at [http://www.paysys.com].
PaySys, VisionPLUS and TRAMS are registered trademarks of PaySys International, Inc. CardPac and VISION21 are trademarks of PaySys International, Inc. Other brands used in this document may be unregistered trademarks of PaySys International, Inc. or trademarks of their respective owners and should be treated as such. No investigation has been made of the registration status of any brand used.
American Express wants to put some “smarts” into its smart card. AmEx has launched a contest for technology developers to create new ‘Java Card’ technology applications for the AmEx ‘Blue’ credit card. AmEx, Oberthur Card Systems and Sun Microsystems jointly launched the ‘Code Blue’ contest that offers a first prize of $50,000. There are over two million ‘Java’ technology developers. AmEx says that through the use of Java technology, AmEx wants to demonstrate its commitment to making Blue an ‘evolving’ credit card by adding new features and services that meet open and interoperable standards. To-date, the smart card feature of the ‘Blue’ card has largely been a marketing ploy to demonstrate leadership in the emerging card technology arena. Currently the AmEx ‘Blue’ smart chip stores a unique digital certificate that, when used with a special smart card reader plugged into a PC, provides extra security when shopping online. The smart card readers are available free for a limited time to AmEx ‘Blue’ cardholders. Contest details are available via CardFlash Online.Details
eBay and Wells Fargo yesterday officially launched a new P2P payment option for eBay’s vast customer base. Called ‘Electronic Check’ the new Internet-based payment system is the result of the ‘Billpoint’ strategic alliance between eBay and Wells Fargo. ‘Billpoint’ was launched in early April to develop a cost-effective alternative to paper checks and credit cards where payment is guaranteed. Customers of eBay currently use other P2P payment systems such as ‘PayPal’, which combine credit cards and email. eBay, the world’s largest personal trading community, has an enormous customer base of 12.6 million registered users who, during the first quarter of 2000, generated annualized gross merchandise sales of approximately $4.6 billion. eBay members add more than 500,000 items to the site daily in more than 4,200 categories. The firm recently introduced a paging system to notify users of the status of personal bids placed through the eBay website.Details
First American Payment Systems, Inc. announced the purchase of 93 automatic teller machines from American Express.
The machines are located in Crown Central Petroleum gas stations and convenience stores in six states throughout the eastern and southeastern United States. Terms for the transaction were not disclosed.
Today’s acquisition is the second major ATM purchase of the year for First American Payment Systems. “The purchase geographically expands First American Payment Systems’ ATM division and furthers the company’s goal of increasing its presence as a national ATM provider,” said Neil L. Randel, president and chief executive officer of First American Payment Systems.
“We are excited about the strategic partnership with Crown Petroleum, and we look forward to the future growth of our relationship with additional ATM placements,” he said.
About First American Payment Systems, Inc.
First American Payment Systems, Inc., a privately owned corporation founded in 1990, provides full-service electronic credit card authorization and payment systems to retail, mail order, telephone order, Internet and home-based merchants throughout the United States. First American’s other divisions include national ATM deployment, Secur-Chex(TM) check guarantee, FirstPay.Net e-commerce payment gateway and Merimac Capital point-of-sale equipment and ATM leasing. For more information on First American Payment Systems, visit the company’s Web site at [www.first-american.net].