Polaroid Smart Cards

Polaroid Smart Security Card Systems will now be available to high-volume customers and smart card vendors. The new smart card production system, announced this morning, is based on Polaroid systems used by more than 100 state and national governments around the world. These systems produce smart Polaroid Electronic ID cards — storing biometrics and digital signatures in the smart card while personalizing the card surface with text, photos and other variable data. These systems are designed to offer governments and large commercial customers the unique ability to produce high-volumes of secure, smart Electronic ID cards. Polaroid produces more than 300 million secure IDs annually. Polaroid currently produces driver’s licenses in 37 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces and territories, several Mexican states and eighteen international jurisdictions.


Online Spending

Goldman Sachs and PC Data Online reported yesterday that home Internet shoppers spent $274 million online in the week prior to Thanksgiving, an increase of over $66 million from the prior week. Of all product categories, toys had the second largest number of buyers after computer software, which attracted more than 500,000 purchasers. The GS/PC survey specifically asked potential buyers why they would not buy on the web. One month ago (October 31), 15.7% stated that they would not buy online because prices were too high. A week later (November 7), only 11% said they thought prices were too high. In more recent data (November 14), only 6.3% thought prices were too high. PC Data Online surveyed 2,810 home-based Internet users.


ATM Volume Shrinks

ATM volume appears to be slipping due to the availability of cash back at POS, the growing use of signature-based debit and consumer reaction to ATM convenience fees. PULSE and Dove Consulting says their new study indicates the annual growth in online debit transaction volume will rise more than 17% over the next two years while ATM volume growth will flatten, with a likely industry increase of only 1.3% annually. The study points out that ATMs are a relatively mature payment product, with more than 227,000 now deployed nationwide, while POS, or online debit, is just now achieving critical mass and is on the upswing of the growth curve, with significant volume potential remaining. The report points out that total industry online debit volume averaged 68% annual growth over the five-year period from 1994-1999.


FT Switcharoo

M&I Data Services announced an agreement to provide electronic bill payment capability to First Tennessee. As part of the agreement, M&I Data Services will migrate all of First Tennessee’s existing bill pay customers to its platform from Integrion, First Tennessee’s current bill pay provider. The relationship takes effect in May 2000. M&I Data Services currently has relationships with over 1,200 bill payment partners. M&I Data Services began this year with 795 bill payment partners and has added more than 400 so far this year.


Wireless Grey Cup

IVI Checkmate Corp. Monday announced that its Elite 780RF mobile transaction terminal was used at the Grey Cup Game, Canada’s version of the Super Bowl, this past Sunday. Grey Cup fans taking part in the festivities at BC Place in Vancouver required no cash to enjoy refreshments and snacks thanks to IVI Checkmate’s new wireless point-of-sale technology that accepts on-line debit and credit transactions. These terminals will be used on a continued basis for special events at BC Place.

“IVI Checkmate is leading the way with a truly portable, all-in-one payment solution that allows transactions to be processed anywhere a data cellular network signal is present,” says L. Barry Thomson, President and Chief Executive Officer of IVI Checkmate. “With this added flexibility, consumers will enjoy the use of their debit or credit cards at a sporting event, through home delivery or anywhere they need to pay for goods or services. Retailers are also looking at this form of transaction as it reduces wiring and costly telephone line installations.”

“When large events such as the Grey Cup come to BC Place, it’s important that we be able to increase our operations significantly to accommodate the increase in traffic and sales volumes at our concessions throughout the stadium,” says Howard Crosley, General Manager of BC Place. “These new point-of-sale devices allow us the flexibility to move around and still be able to accept debit and credit card transactions on the spot. Beyond eliminating the need for cash, these units process transactions fast. That means less waiting for our fans, and less work at the end of day for reconciliation.”

“With wireless point-of-sale technology, we’ve made it easier for our merchant clients to accept credit and debit card payments no matter where they are,” says Frank Moore, Vice President, Merchant Services at Royal Bank. “With cards outranking cash as Canadians’ favorite way to pay, it is important to offer consumers and businesses the convenience of mobile payment solutions.”

“Our expertise in Enterprise Solutions provided the foundation for our `next generation’ wireless point-of-sale technology,” says Juliana Cafik, President and CEO of Vancouver-based Soft Tracks. “Our understanding of merchants’ back-end systems allowed us to take an approach that solves their reporting problems and provides the benefits of a mobile cash register while away from the traditional store-front. Since wireless coverage in concrete structures like BC Place is also a challenge, Soft Tracks has developed a special protocol that allows quick and efficient transaction processing on the Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) network.”

“Wireless Point of Sale is a significant part of the growing trend for companies to utilize wireless technology, not only for voice communications but for new and innovative data based applications as well,” said Neil Cusati, Vice President, Wireless Business Units, TELUS Mobility. “TELUS Mobility will continue to play a lead role in that evolution with our Cellular Digital Packet Data network in British Columbia and Alberta. We are proud to be partnering with Royal Bank, Soft Tracks and IVI Checkmate to deliver wireless point-of-sale solutions to our customers such as BC Place.”

IVI Checkmate is the third largest electronic transaction solutions provider in North America. The Company designs, develops and markets innovative payment and value-added solutions that optimize transaction management at the point-of-service in the retail, financial, hospitality, healthcare and transportation industries. IVI Checkmate’s software, hardware and professional services minimize transaction costs, reduce operational complexity and improve profitability for its customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. For more information on IVI Checkmate, please visit its website at [www.ivicheckmate.com][1].

Royal Bank (RY) is a global financial services group and a leading provider of personal and commercial banking, insurance products, wealth management, and corporate and investment banking. The bank and its key subsidiaries Royal Trust, RBC Dominion Securities, RBC Insurance, and Royal Bank Action Direct have approximately 52,000 employees (on a full-time equivalent basis) serving 10 million clients through more than 1,400 branches and offices in over 30 countries.

Soft Tracks is a leader in integrated software solutions and service for the resort industry in North America. Its expertise in Enterprise Solutions provided the foundation for the development of SkyPay as a wireless point-of-sale solution that meets the needs of enterprise merchants. SkyPay is supported by major telecommunication companies and financial institutions in North America to enable secure and reliable payment transactions over wireless data networks. Soft Tracks’ web site is at [www.softtracks.com][2].

TELUS Mobility is the wireless division of TELUS, Canada’s second largest telecommunications company. TELUS provides a full range of advanced communications services and products connecting Canadians with the world. TELUS shares trade on the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges under the stock symbols BTS (Common) and BTS.A (non-voting). For further information on TELUS, please visit its website: [www.telus.com][3].

[1]: http://www.ivicheckmate.com/
[2]: http://www.softtracks.com/
[3]: http://www.telus.com/


HotOffTheWire.com Biz Card

HotOffTheWire.com, the world’s first retail buyers’ Web site, Monday announced an alliance with First USA to provide HotOffTheWire.com’s customers with the ability to apply for and receive up to a $100,000 business credit line. Now retail customers can easily visit one site to both conduct their purchases and secure a line of credit. This means that even small retailers going online for the first time can take advantage of the purchasing benefits provided by HotOffTheWire.com to help their business.

“The two most precious resources for a small retailer are time and money,” said Joe Hosey, president and CEO of HotOffTheWire.com. “In the past, small retailers often had to take the time to establish credit with each manufacturer directly. Now, our alliance with First USA helps retailers save time by quickly applying for a Platinum Visa Business Credit Card and establishing a universal line of credit. They can then use this credit to save money by purchasing merchandise for their stores on our site. This is another great example of how HotOffTheWire.com is actually an eResource for small- and mid-sized consumer goods retailers.”

Under terms of the agreement, a retailer can apply for a First USA Platinum Visa Business Credit Card on the HotOffTheWire.com site and find out if they are approved for a line of credit. The Business Credit Card, which is used by small businesses and is rapidly becoming the standard way of paying for business products, has a low competitive interest rate, no annual fee and itemized expenditure tracking.

About First USA

First USA ([http://www.firstusa.com][1]), a subsidiary of BANK ONE CORPORATION (NYSE:ONE), is the world’s largest Visa credit card issuer. First USA offers credit cards for consumers and businesses under the First USA, First Card and Bank One names and on behalf of more than 2,200 marketing partners. BANK ONE CORPORATION, with assets of more than $256 billion, is the nation’s fifth-largest bank holding company.

About HotOffTheWire.com

HotOffTheWire.com is the first business-to-business wholesale consumer goods exchange on the Internet, offering customers more than 3,000 products. HotOffTheWire.com helps small- and mid-sized retailers gain access to an international breadth of products while saving them time and money. HotOffTheWire.com connects manufacturers and resellers with new retailers in new markets, without increasing their sales force. In addition to products, HotOffTheWire.com provides their members with industry news, shipping logistics and financial resources. HotOffTheWire.com is located in Medfield, Mass., and on the Web at [http://www.HotOffTheWire.com][2].

[1]: http://www.firstusa.com/
[2]: http://www.hotoffthewire.com/


Sears Online

Sears, Roebuck and Co. unveiled a major expansion of its Web business this morning. Consumers visiting sears.com can now apply for instant credit or purchase, online, a ‘Sears Gift Card’. Consumers can, upon approval, use their new credit line immediately to complete online tool purchases on sears.com. After customers receive their Sears Card in the mail, it can be used at approximately 3,000 Sears locations. The ‘Sears Gift Card’ can be purchased in $5 increments (with a minimum of $10, a maximum of $100) and may be applied toward in-store purchases at Sears store locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. For a limited time, there is no charge for shipping and handling when the card is purchased through sears.com. Shoppers may purchase Sears Gift Cards with a Sears Card, Sears Premier Card, Discover Card, American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Sears Commercial Card or JCB Card.


Mexican Card Bonds

Standard and Poor’s says Mexican credit card securitizations performed well over the past several years, even as other sectors of the Latin American debt market did not show as much strength. S&P says a hot cross-border travel boom has helped these securities, which are backed by the receivables from non-Mexico-issued credit cards being used in Mexico. The S&P report points out that the volume of credit card merchant vouchers, which are created when a credit card issued by a non-Mexican bank is used in Mexico, has grown at an even faster pace than the booming tourist industry, mainly because of an influx of Americans. Two Mexican banks, Banamex and Bancomer, have regularly issued securitizations of merchant voucher receivables. As of this month, these two issuers accounted for all merchant voucher securitizations from Mexico rated by Standard & Poor’s. Together, these banks hold an approximately 70%-80% market share of foreign credit card usage. PROSA, an association of 26 banks, controls the remaining share of the market.


Xmas Sales Up 8.5%

First Union predicts holiday retail sales will grow 8.5% from 1998, with most of that gain coming at department and discount stores. First Union also says the Internet will get the headlines this holiday season, but traditional retailers should be very happy with sales this year. While sales are expected to be up solidly all across the nation certain areas of the country may see even stronger increases. The southeast United States, where jobs and income growth have consistently outpaced the rest of the country, is expected to see sales increase 10% this holiday season. Some of the biggest gains will be in Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Orlando metro areas. First Union notes that job growth in the Atlanta metro area topped 4% during 1999, and the metro area has added another 90,000 residents over the past year which should produce a 12% gain for Atlanta area merchants this year.


OpenCard Specs

The OpenCard Consortium announced last week that OCF for Embedded Devices Specification 1.2 and OCF Version 1.2, will be available in early-January of 2000. OCF 1.2 will offer Terminal locking, Application Management, Internal and External Authentication, and Java(TM) Card support. The OpenCard Consortium will open its process for suggesting improvements and extensions to OCF to the public at that time.

Smart Card Application Development Using Java is the title of the newly published book about OpenCard Framework which provides a guide for the rapid development of smart card applications using Java and the OpenCard Framework. This book provides an overview about smart cards and how they work and demonstrates how to develop applications that use smart cards. Various examples, ranging from simple to complex are also provided to show how smart cards can be integrated into on-line brokerage or on-line payment solutions. A smart card is included with the book to provide real hands-on experience.

OpenCard Consortium was formed last year as an industry work group to address the interoperability of smart cards and computing devices. OpenCard Framework (OCF), developed by the OCC, is an open standard for smart card access in smart card acceptance devices. OCF provides an architecture and a set of APIs that enable application developers and service providers to build and deploy smart card-based solutions in any OpenCard-compliant environment.

Membership in the Consortium is open to any corporation, partnership, governmental body, or organization who is interested in working towards achieving interoperability of smart cards and computing devices. The list of current members and additional information on the OpenCard Consortium and OCF are available on the world wide web at [www.opencard.org][1].

[1]: http://www.opencard.org/


MC & Applegate

Furthering its position as a premier online resource for small businesses, MasterCard International announced a relationship with noted small business expert Jane Applegate and her new Web site [www.ApplegateWay.com][1].

MasterCard is sponsoring the “Expert Network” section at ApplegateWay.com, a series of Web casts of in-depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs. In addition, MasterCard is offering free copies of its Small Business Financial Resource Guide, providing valuable information and state-by-state resources intended to help small businesses grow.

In return, Applegate is writing a monthly column for the small business section of the MasterCard Web site ([www.mastercard.com/business/s mallbiz][2]) discussing issues affecting small business owners today.

“This is just one more step by MasterCard to offer rich advice and endless resources to help entrepreneurs and small business owners realize their goals,” said Steve Abrams, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Products, MasterCard International. “It’s a natural alliance with Jane as we both have been committed to serving the small business owner for many years.”

Applegate, a nationally recognized small business expert, recently launched her ApplegateWay.com site to serve the small business community. It offers access to an exclusive mix of features, products and services on one comprehensive site open for businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Here, entrepreneurs can find solutions to problems, researched and written up by the savviest business columnists on the Web.

“MasterCard is an ideal partner to be working with,” said Jane Applegate. “It offers excellent services to small business owners and these are my constituents.”

MasterCard recently launched its newly designed Small Business Connections Web site ([www.mastercard.com/sma llbusinessconnections][3]), which provides online access to financial resources, news and information, buying opportunities and technology solutions that small businesses need to compete efficiently and cost-effectively in today’s highly competitive marketplace. A leading provider of payment products to businesses and consumers, MasterCard now is working with leading online business and commerce companies that are also committed to the small business market segment.

About Jane Applegate

Jane Applegate is an award-winning syndicated business columnist who reaches 10 million readers a week. She is the author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business, published by Bloomberg Press. The book features powerful new approaches for managing, organizing and promoting a more successful enterprise. Applegate was named one of the nation’s most influential business journalists in 1998 by the Journal of Financial Reporting. The Applegate Group, her multimedia communications company, covers small business issues for major news organizations and creates events for corporate clients. [www.applegateway.com][4]

About MasterCard

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. Nearly 700 million MasterCard(R), Maestro(R), Cirrus(R) and Mondex(TM) cards are in circulation today. With more than 16.2 million locations, no card is accepted in more places and by more merchants than the MasterCard Card. In 1998, gross dollar volume exceeded $650 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [http://www.mastercard.com][5].

[1]: http://www.applegateway.com/
[2]: http://www.mastercard.com/business/smallbiz
[3]: http://www.mastercard.com/smallbusinessconnections
[4]: http://www.applegateway.com/
[5]: http://www.mastercard.com/