Consumer Confidence Up

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which was flat in April, rebounded sharply in May.

The Index now stands at 144.4 (1985=100), up from 137.7 in April. The gain was caused by a rise in both components of the Index. The Present Situation Index rose to 183.1, up from 179.8 in April. The Expectations Index hit 118.7 in May, up from 109.7 last month.

The Consumer Confidence Index is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by NFO Research Inc., an NFO Worldwide Company, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

CONFIDENCE WILL STAY STRONG THROUGH THE SUMMER

“With unemployment at a 30-year low and the short-term Conference Board forecast projecting favorable labor market conditions, confidence is expected to remain strong through the summer,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “Volatile financial markets and interest rate hikes are not expected to have a significant impact on consumers’ spirits.”

Consumers’ assessment of current business conditions is upbeat in May. The percentage of consumers calling business conditions “good” edged up to 44.7 percent in May, from 44.5 percent last month. Those rating conditions as “bad” declined to 7 percent, from 8.4 percent in April. Consumers claiming jobs were “hard to get” dropped to 11.4 percent, from 12.1 percent in April.

The percentage of consumers expecting improved business conditions over the next six months jumped to 18.8 percent, up from 15.5 percent in April. The proportion expecting conditions to worsen declined to 4.8 percent from 5.3 percent. The job outlook was also more favorable. The percentage of consumers expecting more jobs to become available in the coming months rose to 19.7 percent from 16.5 percent in April. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available declined to 10.2 percent from 11.7 percent. Income prospects are also more optimistic today than in April. Now, 26.7 percent of consumers anticipate an increase in their income, up from 24.6 percent in April.

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BankServ & eCredit.com

BankServ announced it has signed an agreement with eCredit.com to form a strategic partnership. The two companies said they plan to integrate their services into a one-stop suite of real-time online payment and financing options for business-to-business exchanges and business-to-consumer merchants.

eCredit.com is a leading provider of real-time credit, financing and receivables solutions for B2B and B2C e-commerce. BankServ is a leading provider of payment solutions for online businesses, retailers and financial services companies.

“We believe that together eCredit.com and BankServ can fill a major gap in the e-business marketplace by enabling e-merchants and B2B exchanges to seamlessly access the broadest set of financing, payment and settlement choices across all different transaction scenarios,” said Peter McKay, president of eCredit.com, based in Dedham, Mass.

“eCredit.com has brought credit decisioning options to e-businesses, providing them with a variety of financing solutions not available previously on the Internet,” said Dave Kvederis, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based BankServ. “BankServ adds settlement options, such as Internet checking, purchasing cards and wire transfers, and the functionality to go with those to execute and track payments swiftly and securely. With this alliance, we are taking another important step in the evolution of e-commerce.”

According to Kvederis, a cash management pioneer who helped build the country’s private automated clearing house (ACH) system, the two companies will work together in three ways.

“First, we will integrate the eCredit.com Global Financing Network(tm) into BankServ’s suite of online payment solutions,” said Kvederis. “Next, we will explore ways to integrate our two companies’ services to create a combined suite of credit decision and payment options for online businesses, one that we can both offer.”

Third, Kvederis said that BankServ and eCredit.com will work together on sales and promotion efforts, sharing customer opportunities and marketing campaigns.

“To date, B2B exchanges have mostly handled payments and settlements offline,” said Cory Gaines, vice president in charge of BankServ’s Internet strategic alliances. “Most exchanges would clearly benefit from an alliance between an experienced payment processor, like BankServ, and a respected leader in enabling real-time credit and financing services for e-businesses, like eCredit.com. eCredit.com has sped up major credit decisions to mere minutes and significantly enhanced transaction liquidity and the value-added service offerings of B2B exchanges. Together, we believe we can help B2B step up to the next level.”

According to Gaines, who recently joined BankServ from Visa U.S.A., BankServ’s Internet check and its Internet wire transfer product will be ready for launch within 60 days. BankServ’s Internet check, he said, is 80 percent less expensive to merchants than processing credit card transactions, and just as reliable. “Reliability,” said Gaines, “is the most important element in the transfer of funds.”

About eCredit.com

eCredit.com is a leading provider of credit, financing and receivables management solutions for business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce. Its software solutions and services run on the eCredit.com Global Financing Network, an Internet-based platform that connects businesses to financing partners and global information sources in real time at the point-of-sale. eCredit.com is headquartered in Dedham, Mass. For additional information, visit eCredit.com on the Web at [www.ecredit.com][1].

About BankServ

Founded in 1996 by CEO Dave Kvederis, BankServ is one of the country’s leading providers of payment solutions for online businesses, retailers and financial services companies. BankServ processes more than $1 billion a day in global and domestic wire transfers on behalf of more than 50 U.S. financial institutions.

BankServ is also one of the nation’s leading check conversion service providers to large and small U.S. financial institutions and to merchants. Its customers include Wells Fargo Bank, First Union Corp. and Visa U.S.A.

The company’s Internet payments division offers a new electronic check for Internet business built on the backbone of BankServ’s secure, proprietary, brick-and-mortar check data-capture and ACH system. The Internet division also offers a full suite of settlement applications for both business-to-business exchanges and consumer-to-business payments, as well as reporting services for businesses on the Internet.

Headquartered in San Francisco, BankServ also maintains offices in Atlanta, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Las Vegas, and Lafayette, La. More information about BankServ can be found online at [http://www.bankserv.com][2].

[1]: http://www.ecredit.com/
[2]: http://www.bankserv.com/

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Behavior Mapping

MA-based Verbind Inc. announced this morning it has formed a partnership with Quadstone to add fast data analysis products to its tool kit for developing real-time intelligent marketing solutions. Verbind’s marketing solutions, based on patented behavior mapping technology, help companies understand when their customers’ behavior indicates an opportunity or need to communicate with them at the very moment their behavior changes. Changes in key behavior could indicate a customer needs an incentive to buy, or needs service to resolve a problem. After identifying significant behavior through a Web site, call center, financial transaction, or other customer touch point, the Verbind system instantly triggers a response such as an e-mail message or an outbound call. Verbind’s real-time marketing solution is effective in attrition management, needs-based cross selling, and channel optimization. Quadstone began operations in 1995 at its technology center in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company now has US headquarters in Boston and an operations center in London. Quadstone’s list of customers includes Marshall & Illsley Bank and Barclays Bank.

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Diebold E-Initiatives

An abundance of advanced technologies and a growing number of electronic resources are creating a mass of choices in today’s business environment. The challenge for businesses is how to best apply this wealth of technology for their individual needs.

For Diebold , Incorporated, the business case for e-strategies has arrived. The company is investing in e-tools and resources to improve productivity and quicken its internal processes , while leveraging the capabilities of the Internet to develop various solutions , namely Web-enabled ATMs , which provide unmatched consumer services for its customers.

“This is only the beginning of our effort to leverage e-tools to improve productivity and achieve creative , technology-enabled relationships with our customers,” said Walden W. O’Dell , Diebold chairman , president and chief executive officer. “Our ultimate goal is to make the Diebold brand name synonymous with e-business in the markets we serve.”

A key element in Diebold’s e-initiatives for the company’s product solutions is to convert the primary role of the automated teller machine (ATM) into that of a ‘retail outlet,’ where businesses can offer customized products and services to consumers. Diebold’s OPTinet application , which allows financial service providers to use existing network infrastructure to connect ATMs to the Internet , will play a major role in this effort. Major companies such as American Express , Wells Fargo and e-Trade have recently announced plans that incorporate ATMs into their overall e-business strategies.

By utilizing the Internet and other technologies to personalize the ATM , Diebold can allow customers to choose how their ATM screen is configured , what language they want to use , access certain information from their accounts and print it on site.

From an internal , operational standpoint , use of e-tools is becoming mission critical. Diebold is in the process of applying comprehensive e- business strategies that will be integrated throughout many activities. One major strategy is the development of dedicated customer extranets , which will allow customers to subscribe to personalized information and process orders with contract pricing.

Other strategies will include Web-based supply chain management and advanced Intranet applications. These can streamline processes and improve financial systems , resulting in enhanced productivity and faster flow of information between customers , suppliers and employees.

“As the Internet and e-commerce continue to influence business around the world , particularly in the financial self-service industry , Diebold will provide progressive solutions for its customers to keep them ahead of the curve,” O’Dell said. “We also are utilizing the right technologies internally to keep us operating at peak efficiency.”

Diebold , Incorporated is a global leader in providing integrated self- service delivery systems and services. Founded in 1859 , Diebold employs more than 10,000 associates with representation in more than 75 countries worldwide and headquarters in Canton , Ohio , USA. Diebold reported revenue of $1.3 billion in 1999 and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘DBD.’ For more information , visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.diebold.com][1].

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

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32K Moltos

Philips Semiconductors, Australia’s Keycorp Limited and MAOSCO Ltd announced this morning their joint support of the ’32K MULTOS’ smart card platform. The move will enable companies to implement more complex and varied transactions via smart cards, such as mobile purchases over the Internet, transport ticketing and PC network access. Under terms of the deal, Keycorp will develop and implement ‘MULTOS’ on Philips Semiconductors ‘WE’ smart card controller family. In return Philips Semiconductors will manufacture ‘P8WE5032’ smart card controllers with a memory of 16K EEPROM and 32K EEPROM equipped with Keycorp’s ‘MULTOS’ operating system, which will then be embedded into smart cards and supplied to card-issuing firms. MAOSCO, Keycorp and Philips Semiconductors have agreed to jointly market this first 32K MULTOS version in the third quarter.

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Pay IIP Certification

GlobeID, Inc., a SafeDebit’ partner, announces that the certification testing of @Pay IIP, the issuer component of the SafeDebit specification is underway. GlobeID has been actively participating in the formulation of the specification over the past year to provide a convenient, Internet PIN-secured debit payment solution benefiting financial institutions, merchants and consumers. Innovated by NYCE Corporation, one of the leading electronic payments companies in the U.S., SafeDebit is the first PIN-based debit option for Internet payments that doesn’t require special hardware for consumers. SafeDebit relies on a unique card that operates in the CD-ROM drive of a PC and offers the advantages and features of the existing ATM and POS infrastructure.

@PayIIP (Internet Interceptor Processor) is part of @Pay’Issuer SafeDebit Edition, GlobeID’s comprehensive suite of products designed to initiate POS transactions over the Internet with a financial institution branded debit card. It enables a new Internet payment method, leveraging the existing ATM payment network infrastructure in a cost effective, secure, fast and brandable format. The application allows issuers and issuer processors to acquire, route, and switch debit card based transactions in return for an interchange fee that is significantly lower than the existing credit card fees. @PayIssuer SafeDebit Edition is targeted at debit card issuers, transaction networks, and debit card processing agents servicing or engaging in B2B and B2C e-commerce payment transactions.

“The highly flexible architecture of its products has made GlobeID a highly responsive partner for SafeDebit. The company’s quick delivery of @PayIIP is greatly contributing to the timeliness of the SafeDebit initiative,” said Paul Turgeon, Senior Vice President, Advanced Product Group, NYCE Corporation. ‘As a result, testing is on schedule.’

‘SafeDebit lowers the risk model for card issuers and improves payment transaction economics for merchants,’ said Daniel Aghion, Senior Vice President, Sales, GlobeID Inc. ‘It provides a convenient and secure payment option to consumers and we are looking forward to contribute to the first SafeDebit commercial transaction with @PayIIP.’

About SafeDebit

SafeDebit is a patent-pending payment option that offers secure Internet debit payments. Introduced by NYCE at BAI’s 1999 Retail Delivery Conference, SafeDebit uses the existing infrastructure of EFT networks. Internet shoppers may use their SafeDebit card for purchases at participating merchant Web sites. Explosive annual growth in POS transaction volume indicates consumer support of this payment option both in the physical world and while shopping online.

About NYCE Corporation

Headquartered in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, NYCE Corporation is one of the largest electronic payments companies in the U.S. The NYCE Network provides financial institutions and retailers with shared network services for automated teller machines (ATMs), on-line debit point-of-sale and electronics benefits transfer transactions. Currently, the Network has 2,400 financial institution participants and services more than 45 million cardholders through 35,500 NYCE-branded ATMs and 215,000 point-of-sale retailer locations. The company processes nearly 77 million transactions each month. In addition, NYCE Corporation provides financial institutions with electronic funds transfer processing services that support ATM deployment and debit card issuance solutions. With innovations such as SafeDebit, a PIN-secured debit payment solution, NYCE is a frontrunner in the payments industry. NYCE’s web site address is [www.NYCE.net][1]. About GlobeID

GlobeID, Inc., a subsidiary of GlobeID.com NV, which was founded in 1997, is a pioneer and leader in developing and marketing advanced Internet payment solutions. The company offers user-centric solutions to card issuers and issuer processors that can be quickly deployed as simple packaged applications for vertical markets. GlobeID’s products include @Pay’Issuer and @PayIssuer SafeDebit Edition, server-side digital wallet applications that allows card issuers and issuer processors to provide value-added services to e-commerce consumers and merchants.. US headquarters are located at 303 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, CA. GlobeID’s website is [www.globeid.com][2].

[1]: http://www.nyce.net/
[2]: http://www.globeid.com/

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Equitex Buys Key/Nova

Equitex, Inc. announced last week it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Key/Nova Financial Systems, Inc. based in Clearwater, Florida. A definitive agreement is expected to be signed within 30 days. Key is a three year-old financial services call center organization that markets and services credit card programs and provides customer service support for online applications. Under the agreement, Key will receive cash and stock. The acquisition will be subject to customary regulatory, board of director and stockholder approvals.

Key processes and services credit cards marketed through the Internet, direct mail, and telemarketing for a number of financial institutions.

Key offers an innovative credit card product to customers with little or poor credit called the “Pay As You Go” credit card. This card is issued with a $500 credit limit with zero availability at issuance. Customers must make payments to have available credit on their account. The account balance is not subject to any interest charge. If customers successfully complete the two-year program, they can graduate to a traditional credit card account.

“Key’s target market is still under-served with millions of consumers needing to establish or restore their credit,” said Scott Lucas, President of Key Financial Systems, Inc. “MasterCard has indicated that the potential market size is significant.” Key markets through alliances with a number of popular Internet web sites including: CNN interactive, NetZero.com, Mail.com, NBCi.com, LendingTree.com, GetSmart.com and USA.net. Key’s credit card web site, [http://www.1st-netcard.com][1] is among the top ten most popular credit card sites on the Internet according to [http://www.top9.com][2]. “The acquisition of a customer service support center is important to the success of any financial services organization. Today, consumers expect immediate quality customer service on the telephone and over the Internet,” said Henry Fong, President of Equitex. “Most of these credit card customers have Internet access and are comfortable performing financial transactions online. Key has the proprietary technology and resources to accommodate the expected growth in Internet based transactions.”

Equitex, Inc. is a holding company currently operating through its wholly-owned subsidiary First TeleServices Corp. of Atlanta, Georgia and its majority-owned subsidiaries nMortgage, Inc. of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Triumph Sports, Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. nMortgage is a mortgage lender licensed to operate in 29 states offering both retail and wholesale mortgage financing including conventional, sub-prime and commercial mortgage loans. Consumers can apply online through its web site [http://www.nMortgage.com][3].

First TeleServices Corp. is a financial services marketing company marketing various financial products targeted to the sub-prime consumer. Equitex currently owns 7.5% of, and has executed a definitive agreement to merge with, First TeleBanc Corp., a single bank holding company, which owns Net 1st National Bank; a nationally chartered bank based in Boca Raton, Florida. In connection with that acquisition, Equitex has applied to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for approval to become a bank holding company. First TeleBanc Corp. is not affiliated in any way with TeleBanc Financial Corporation.

[1]: http://www.1st-netcard.com/
[2]: http://www.top9.com/
[3]: http://www.nmortgage.com/

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DoughNET

The teen payment card bandwagon picked up another competitor this morning. San Francisco-based DoughNET.com has teamed-up with USABancShares.com to launch the first ATM card designed specifically for teens that enables them to withdraw money directly from their own personal online bank accounts. Under the program teens can access their money on the Internet through DoughNET.com as well as off the Internet through cash withdrawals at Cirrus, Plus, Mac, Most and Honor ATMs. With a $1 opening deposit and a parent or guardian’s co-signature, young adults can now go to DoughNET.com and open a USABancShares.com joint bank account offering an optional ATM card specially designed for DoughNET.com members. The no-fee ATM card option limits withdrawals to $40 daily and refunds five ATM service fees (up to $10) monthly. In addition, USABancShares.com will donate $5 for every online donation of $10 or more a DoughNET.com member makes to one of DoughNET.com’s nine featured nonprofits. DoughNET.com will match the USABancShares.com $5 donation for a minimum total donation of $20 to the member’s chosen nonprofit. DoughNET.com launched online banking directly connected to online shopping in August 1999.

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VISA Canada

Canada’s newest trust company has become the eleventh ‘General Member’ financial institution authorized to offer VISA cards in Canada. Home Trust Company recently received its federal charter to operate as a trust company across Canada. The company specializes in sub-prime lending. General Members of VISA Canada are: Bank of America Canada; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Citibank Canada; Citizens Bank of Canada; Home Trust Company; Laurentian Bank of Canada; La Confederation des Caisses Populaires et d’economie Desjardins du Quebec; Royal Bank of Canada; The Bank of Nova Scotia; Toronto Dominion Bank; and Vancouver City Savings Credit Union. According to Card2000 (www.card2000.com) there are now more than 23 million VISA cards in Canada.

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Top Banners

Capital One’s “0% Intro . . . Not Just Another Pretty Card” Internet credit card banner ad ranked as the second most viewed banner ad for the week ending May 21. A complementary Capital One banner ad also ranked as #9 according to the latest Nielsen/NetRatings survey. Providian’s ‘Aria’ and ‘Get Smart’ banner ads also earned top view levels by Web surfers. In fact credit card banner ads dominated Internet advertising. Nielsen/NerRatings said the average click rate for top banners is 0.32% for at-home surfers and 0.20% for at-work surfers. CardWeb’s consumer ad slots continue to deliver unprecedented response click rates above 5.0%. The current Internet universe is estimated at 134.7 million.

Top 10 Ad Banners Viewed At-Home

Rank/Advertiser Reach % Creative
1. Bonzi Software 6.4% “Warning: Your Internet Connection Is Not Optimized”
2. Capital One 6.0% “0% Intro — 9.9% Fixed — Not Just Another Pretty Card”
5. Aria 5.3 % “Instant Approval — Instant Savings — 0% Intro APR”
7. GetSmart 5.0% “Find a mortgage. On your terms”
8. GetSmart 4.5% “New Home Loans — Refinance – Debt Consolidation”
9. Capital One 4.4% “9.9% Fixed Rate — Not Just Another Pretty Card”

Top 10 Ad Banners Viewed At-Work

Rank/Advertiser Reach % Creative
1. Bonzi Software 12.6% “Warning: Your Internet Connection Is Not Optimized”
2. Capital One 10.0% “0% Intro — 9.9% Fixed — Not Just Another Pretty Card”
4. GetSmart 9.0% “Find a mortgage. On your terms”
6. GetSmart 7.5% “New Home Loans — Refinance — Debt Consolidation”
8. GetSmart 7.0% “Find: Loans for Me Refinancing — Debt Consolidation”
9. Aria 6.5% “Instant Approval — Instant Savings — 0% Intro APR”
10. Capital One 6.4% “9.9% Fixed Rate — Not Just Another Pretty Card”

Source: Nielsen/NetRatings May 15-21, 2000

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Bates to PaylinX

PaylinX Corporation, the recognized leader in payment solutions for Internet businesses, call centers and large enterprises, announced the appointment of Brian Bates as president and chief operations officer.

Bates assumes leadership for U.S. business operations, with direct responsibility for development, sales, marketing, information systems, and customer support. Legal, finance, mergers and acquisitions, will remain under the supervision of John (Jack) J. McDonnell, PaylinX CEO and chairman of the board.

“We’re building a solid infrastructure through integrations, sales, marketing programs, and alliances,” says Bates. “This base will result in not only meeting, but exceeding, our 2000 financial goals.”

“Our customers confirm for us every day that our solutions add ongoing value by streamlining processes and reducing costs,” continues Bates. “Capitalizing on this, I see PaylinX becoming the global leader of enterprise payments.”

Most recently, Bates was executive vice president and general manager at Transaction Network Services (TNS), a PSINet company, and was responsible for the North American e-commerce division. His role included responsibility for sales, marketing and customer care. During Bates’ tenure, TNS grew from a start up phase to a $180 million company, which was sold to PSINet for $800 million in November 1999. Under Bates’ direction, TNS captured more than 90% of the dial-up ATM (automated teller machine) transaction market, and became the dominant carrier of EBT (electronic benefits transactions).

“Brian has great leadership, focus and drive,” says McDonnell. “This, combined with his understanding of the payment industry and experience in managing a high-growth company, will help PaylinX continue to grow market awareness and market share.”

About PaylinX

PaylinX(R) Corporation is the recognized leader in payment solutions for Internet businesses, call centers and large enterprises. In 1996, PaylinX pioneered a new approach to enterprise-wide payment processing, a payment server. The PaylinX payment server is a robust transaction processing platform that operates behind the scenes to authorize and settle credit card and other payment transactions in real-time through built-in connections with third-party processors and merchant banks, all in seamless integration with legacy front-end, customer relationship and financial management systems. The fully scalable PaylinX payment solution enables organizations to accept and process payment transactions across multiple channels – Web storefronts, call centers, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, in-store point-of-sale systems and kiosks – all through a single, uniform payment architecture. PaylinX may be reached at 314/692-0929 or .

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FONCARD Plus

Sprint Canada, wholly owned subsidiary of Call- Net Enterprises Inc., announced the launch of its new FONCARD Plus enhanced calling card service for business utilizing state-of-the-art swipe technology and incorporating additional security features.

The FONCARD Plus calling card allows Sprint Canada customers to place long distance calls from a touch-tone telephone or by swiping the card at any card-reader capable phone in Canada. Calling card users can self-select their four-digit PIN and multilingual voice prompts can be selected to guide the cardholder through the process. Prompts are offered in English, French or Chinese.

“Sprint Canada’s enhanced calling card service greatly improves the business person’s efficiency and makes it easier for a mobile workforce to do business around the world,” said Ken F. Wilson, president, Enterprise Communications Solutions. “This year, we will be launching a record number of products and services such as this, that help Canadian businesses improve their efficiency and effectiveness in the new economy.”

By activating one of the International Class of Service options offered with the FONCARD(TM) Plus calling card, business customers can expand their calling capabilities worldwide to suit specific communications needs. A single toll-free number can be used to call from more than 22 countries. Individual toll-free numbers are available for those countries not currently following the Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) protocols.

Additional FONCARD(TM) Plus calling card benefits include:

– Full interactive voice response with prompting throughout the call process

– Automatic language preference

– The customer’s 10-digit calling card number can be the cardholder’s business phone number if the number is a unique, universally recognized number

– Self-selectable four digit PIN used in conjunction with the 10-digit calling card number

– Default Class of Service only allows calls to and from anywhere within North America

– International Class of Service including termination to locations outside of North America that are considered high fraud areas as determined by SCI network security

– A single UIFN which is a toll-free access number which can be used from over 22 countries

– Re-origination of sequential calls during the same dialing session

– Real time fraud control with 24 x 7 security.

Call-Net Enterprises and Sprint Canada

Call-Net Enterprises Inc. is a leading Canadian integrated communications solutions provider for data, e-business and voice services to businesses and households primarily through Sprint Canada Inc. In 1999, the company achieved revenues of $1.3 billion. Headquartered in Toronto, the company owns and operates an extensive national network with operations in the United States and the United Kingdom.

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