AmEx Rewards

American Express has beefed-up its ‘Membership Rewards’ program to include two new program levels: ‘Membership Rewards Plus’ and ‘Membership Rewards Options’. ‘Membership Rewards Options’ is available today and ‘Membership Rewards Plus’ will become available later this month. Membership Rewards Plus is designed for cardholders who travel frequently and desire maximum flexibility of rewards. ‘Plus’ cardholders have all the benefits of the existing ‘Membership Rewards’ program plus two new, specially designed features ‘Your Ticket’ and ‘Your Reward’. ‘Your Ticket’ permits enrollees to obtain airline tickets to any destination in the world from any airline without blackout dates and frequent flyer seat restrictions. ‘Your Reward’ allows enrollees to use ‘Membership Rewards’ points to pay for any item charged on their AmEx card, including the card’s annual fee. The annual fee for the ‘Plus’ option is generally $75. ‘Membership Rewards Options’ is designed for cardholders who desire lower redemption levels and a lower annual fee. With an annual fee of $15, ‘Membership Rewards Options’ points earned have a different redemption value compared to the other ‘Membership Rewards’ programs. For example, a $25 gift certificate to Champs Sports would require 3,500 points for ‘Membership Rewards Options’ enrollees and 2,500 points for ‘Membership Rewards’ enrollees. The rewards program was first launched in the U.S. in June 1991 under the name ‘Membership Miles’. In 1995, retail and other non-travel rewards were added to the program, and it was re-named ‘Membership Rewards’. There are now 32 ‘Membership Rewards’ programs around the world. For more details on the new AmEx program options visit CardTrak ([][1]).



Carolina Phone Signs ORGA

ORGA Card Systems Inc., one of the world’s leading providers of advanced smart cards, has been contracted to deliver its most advanced 16K dual-mode GSM SIM cards to Carolina PCS I Limited Partnership, which does business in South Carolina as Carolina Phone Company.

Scheduled to launch its new network during the fourth quarter of 1999, Carolina Phone will additionally utilize ORGA’s Over-The-Air Application Platform as well as the company’s unique GSM Yellow Pages.

According to Mike Green, President & CEO of Carolina Phone, ORGA’s selection as a business partner was based on its proven industry performance. “The smart card specialist received top grades in engineering quality and customer service from other PCS operators who worked with the company to successfully launch their own wireless networks,” Green said.

“In 1998 we introduced an innovative program to help small to mid-sized PCS operators across the U.S. get their new networks up and running with smooth efficiency,” reports Frank Barbalace, ORGA’s Business Development Manager for U.S. Telecom Services. “Many of these same customers are also taking advantage of our OTA Express Gateway and GSM Yellow Pages to simplify and add value to their subscribers’ service.”

Carolina Phone owns wireless licenses for the nine contiguous Basic Trading Areas (BTAs) in South Carolina as well as portions of Georgia and North Carolina. Carolina Phone’s licensed area covers approximately 3.5 million potential subscribers throughout the region.

ORGA USA is the North American subsidiary of ORGA Kartensysteme GmbH Germany, has been a pioneer in the development of microprocessor-based smart card technology since 1985. The company is one of the largest global suppliers of SIMs, with over 75 million SIM cards delivered and future commitments for millions more. Visit our Web Site at [][1]



Sprint Renames Cards

Underscoring that brand is everything, Sprint announced Friday it will migrate the branding of the Sprint name back to its prepaid phone cards. The cards have been marketed under the ‘Spree Foncard’ name since 1993 and will gradually be replaced by a new Sprint prepaid calling card, the ‘Sprint Prepaid Phonecard’. Besides a new look, the phone card will offer consumers a recharge option for adding more minutes. Sprint also says it will eliminate the $100 phone card. This month, Sprint will begin offering a rechargeable minutes option whereby card users call a toll-free number and use a major credit card to add more minutes to their existing card. Sprint says that recent research showed three times as many prepaid calling card users described the card as a ‘Sprint’ card rather than a ‘Spree’ card. The Sprint Phonecard, available at more than 30,000 retail outlets including the Sprint Store at Radio Shack, Sprint PCS stores, grocery chains and discount merchandisers, includes dollar denominations of $5, $10, $20, $30 and $50. Analysts project market-wide prepaid sales to grow close to $3.5 billion in 1999 and nearly $4 billion in 2000.


Marbles Card

Household International’s U.K. bank, HFC Bank, announced over the weekend it will unveil an Internet-based credit card in about two weeks. The new card, to be called ‘Marbles’, is the second Internet-based card to be launched in the U.K. Last month Prudential Corp. Plc introduced the ‘Egg’ credit card through its British Internet bank under the same name. Both cards will accept applications online and will deliver card statements via the Internet. However the HFC ‘Marbles’ card will also offer support and accept applications over the telephone. Prudential’s ‘Egg’ credit card is exclusively an online card product. ‘Marbles’ is offering a six-month 5.9% intro rate followed by a 14.9% APR. The ‘Egg’ card currently offers a six-month 4.5% intro rate followed by a rate as low as 9.9%. ‘Egg’ also offers up to a 2% rebate for online purchases. HFC will reportedly spend more than US$16 million to promote the ‘Marbles’ product. The card will be extensively promoted over Britian’s largest internet service provider, Freeserve Plc. HFC has signed a marketing agreement with Freeserve to pay US$8 million over five years plus a fee for each new account acquired and a portion of the interchange fee. FULL STORY:



MBNA Auburn Card

MBNA America, N.A., has been selected as the new credit card provider for the Auburn Alumni Association’s Alumni Spirit Card program.

The program offers no-fee, low interest MasterCard and VISA cards to Association members and royalties from the program are returned to Auburn University through the Association. These royalties benefit the Association’s academic support efforts which include providing scholarships, professorships, and teaching and research awards for outstanding students and faculty.

“The success of the Auburn Spirit Card program through the years has allowed the Alumni Association to benefit the university in a variety of ways,” said Bill Porter, Auburn Alumni Association president. “We look forward to our new relationship with MBNA, one of the leading credit card providers in the nation. They have an outstanding reputation for customer service and are very experienced in the collegiate card arena. We will be working closely with them in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.”

MBNA and the Association will offer several card options, including a Platinum Plus VISA with credit lines up to $100,000, low introductory annual percentage rates for cash advance checks and balance transfers, $1 million in common carrier travel accident insurance, and inclusion in MBNA’s Platinum Plus registry, which offers card and document registry, emergency cash, and replacement airline tickets. A preferred VISA will also be available.

Current Auburn Spirit Card holders will receive more information on how to obtain their new MBNA cards in October. Only MBNA-issued cards will return royalties to Auburn through the Alumni Association. Alumni and friends who do not currently have a Spirit Card but who wish to obtain more information on how to get one can call the Association at 334-844-2960.

“We selected MBNA in order to provide our cardholders with the very best customer service and card benefits available,” said Porter. “The cards provide alumni and friends with a great way to support Auburn while receiving excellent benefits.”

MBNA Corporation (NYSE: KRB), a bank holding company and parent of MBNA America, N.A., a national bank, has more than $66 billion in managed loans. MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, also provides retail deposit, consumer loan, and insurance products.



Transaction Network Services, Inc. announced Friday that it has, through its UK holding company, TNS TransXpress Holding Company (UK) Ltd., acquired Sligos Payment Services (SPS), PLC, currently owned by Paris-based Atos S.A.

The company will now be known as Switchtran (UK) Ltd. and its operations will remain located at its current location in the London area.

Switchtran (UK) Ltd. provides a full range of services to manage Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) throughout the UK. The purchase creates a greater opportunity for TNS to capture the fast-growing dial-up ATM market in the UK. TNS will transfer its dial-up ATM switching platform, which it acquired through its purchase of Suntech Technology in 1998, to Switchtran (UK) Ltd.

In March of 1999, TNS completed the purchase of Atos Ireland Ltd., now Switchtran Limited. Switchtran Ltd. provides ATM processing services for banks and other financial institutions in Ireland. “The acquisition of SPS in the UK is a further step toward the offering of a full-service ATM management and processing platform to customers in both Ireland and the UK,” said TNS president and CEO John J. McDonnell, Jr. “We expect the introduction of dial-up ATM services to proliferate throughout Europe. Our international expansion strategy calls for Switchtran (UK) Ltd. to support that growth.”

“The wave of dial-up ATM placement is energising the UK ATM market,” commented Mark Collins, newly appointed Managing Director of Switchtran (UK) Ltd. “Through the industry expertise of our new colleagues in Welwyn Garden City and the use of the TNS switching platform with its unique transaction network capabilities, TNS will truly be able to provide an end-to-end service to support the UK ATM market, working with all ATM manufacturers.”

Transaction Network Services, Inc. (TNS), headquartered in Reston, Virginia, provides data communications services for transaction-oriented applications. TNS operates subsidiaries in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol TNI. Additional company information is available on the TNS website at [][1].

Certain statements and information contained in this news release that are not descriptions of historical fact may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors, including competition, technological changes and changes in government regulation. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the UK and European markets for electronic payment services will continue to expand and develop or that TNS will be successful in its efforts to penetrate these markets.



High Gear

Oberthur Smart Cards USA will announce today the launch of its new microelectronics facility with the capacity to produce over 200,000 smart card modules a day. In limited operation since July, the 3000 square-foot facility can process unsawn silicon wafers into encapsulated modules completely within Oberthur’s Southern California manufacturing operations. The sealed microelectronics clean room features wafer sawing, die bonding, wire bonding and encapsulation capabilities. It is located adjacent to Oberthur’s existing smart card manufacturing and personalization centers, placing all smart card production activities in one location. With the capability of expanding its microelectronics facility to 5,000 square-feet, Oberthur has plans to increase micro-module production to 400,000 a day.


Regency & DCI Renew

Regency Voice Systems, Inc. , an industry leader in IVR and Internet banking technologies, announced Friday they have renewed their strategic partnership with Data Center, Inc..

Under the terms of the agreement, Regency Voice Systems’ XPRESS Banking IVR System will be DCI’s solution of choice for customers wanting to implement an IVR banking system.

Regency’s XPRESS Banking solution is an interactive voice response system designed for community banks wanting to provide their customers with fast, easy access to important account information such as balances, check clearances and loan payoff amounts. Bank customers are able to access this information, and much more, 24-hours a day through a touch tone telephone.

“When DCI recognized the continuous demand from our customers for an IVR solution, we immediately knew that our successes with Regency Voice Systems would continue to make them a strong partner,” said Richard King, executive vice president of Data Center, Inc. “Because Regency already has a reliable system in place in 1,400 banks across the country and they share our commitment to customer service and support, they are a natural fit,” said King.

Data Center, Inc., a bank processing company headquartered in Hutchinson, KS, performs computer processing for more than 200 banks through remote processing sites in Kansas City, KS; Denver, CO; Springfield, MO; Oklahoma City, OK; Wichita, KS; Salina, KS, and development offices in Baton Rouge, LA, and Dallas, TX.

“We are very pleased to continue our relationship with Data Center, a company whose unsurpassable reputation in the industry provides a strong foundation for our partnership,” said Clay Hamlet, president of Regency Voice Systems. “We look forward to continuing and expanding our business relationships with DCI’s well-established customer base,” said Hamlet.

About Data Center, Inc.

DCI is a leading provider of mainframe and client/server process services to more than 200 banks nationwide. As a full-service processor, DCI provides item and image processing, backroom services, ATM and debit card programs, Internet banking, disaster recovery services, remote banking solutions and PC/LAN sales, installation and support.

About Regency Voice Systems, Inc.

Regency Voice Systems, Inc., a division of TSA (NASDAQ:TSAI), was founded in 1991 and has gained recognition as an industry leader in remote banking technology. Based in Dallas, Texas, Regency services more than 1,400 community banks and financial institutions nationwide. The company has exhibited proven performance in service and support, offers depth of product line, technical proficiency, and expertise in the banking market. Regency is committed to keeping in step with the ever-changing technology and financial services marketplace to ensure a full-service solution to position banks for the next millenium. Regency Voice Systems is accessible online at [][1].

About Transaction Systems Architects, Inc.

Transaction Systems Architects’ software facilitates electronic payments by providing consumers and companies access to their money. Its products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, home banking services, checks, wire transfers as well as automated clearing and settlement. Transaction Systems’ solutions are used on more than 3,200 product systems in 76 countries on six continents.




Building on its successful WE-range, Philips Semiconductors this morning launched MIFARE PROX, the first family of powerful high-security dual interface smart card controller ICs suitable for multi-service cards. The applications for the new dual interface IC range are manifold, ranging from banking to e-commerce and secured network access, which demand a very high level of security. The convenience and speed of the contactless interface will also benefit applications such as ticketing, electronic purse and identification – providing the technical platform for a person’s ‘mobility card’.

The extended level of security and functionality needed for multi-service cards, previously only possible in contact applications, is for the first time achievable with the contactless interface on MIFARE PROX dual interface ICs. Additionally, Philips Semiconductors’ unique smart card hardware firewall, with memory management unit (MMU) implemented on-chip, allows for secure separation of different applications from one another, allowing a particular application to run in ‘virtual memory space’, with no access to other memory on the chip and therefore other applications.

“Being ideally suited to high level languages and operating systems, such as Java or Multos, MIFARE PROX will become the target platform for multi-service cards, which end users can use for both contact and contactless applications”, comments Alexander Harrer, product line manager Chip Card ICs at Philips Semiconductors. ” Supporting recently defined banking industry standards, including EMV (the Europay, Mastercard and Visa standard for credit and debit) and CEPS (Common Electronic Purse Standard), this new range enables service providers to offer user-friendly e-purse schemes.”

The MIFARE PROX dual interface IC family is based on the evaluated high-security features of the WE-range, the world’s first and widely accepted smart card controller family manufactured on 8-inch wafers with 0.35 µm feature size. In addition to a triple-DES coprocessor and the optional 32-bit FameX crypto-engine, this new range provides a contact and a contactless MIFARE interface on a single chip as well as a unique smart card hardware firewall. P8RF5016 is the first member of the MIFARE PROX range, with FameX, the most accepted accelerator for public key encryption such as RSA or elliptic curves, and a triple DES coprocessor. The chip offers memory of 64 Kbytes user ROM, 2.3 Kbytes RAM and 16 Kbytes EEPROM.

The contactless interface of the MIFARE PROX is fully compatible with the widely installed and accepted MIFARE interface technology, complying with ISO/IEC 14443 A, the international standard for contactless smart cards, while the contact interface complies with ISO/IEC 7816.

With products available by Q2 year 2000, the MIFARE PROX range is based on a proven and security evaluated contact and contactless technology platform. The ICs will undergo security evaluations according to ITSEC and Common Criteria (CC), two widely recognised evaluation guidelines, in the second half of the year 2000.

MIFARE PROX was defined within the context of a project funded by the German government (BMBF), supporting the development of an IC-card based solution (MobiChip) to optimise traffic and transportation in large cities. Not only the technical basis for this project, MIFARE PROX also extensively supports the idea of a multi-application mobility platform and related security requirements, allowing services to migrate to the MobiChip concept.

Fully in accordance with ISO/IEC 14443 A, Philips Semiconductors’ MIFARE interface technology is the industry standard for contactless smart cards and used in 85 % of all contactless smart card schemes; with more than 45 million card ICs in use and over 450,000 read/write units in operation worldwide.

Philips Semiconductors, a division of Royal Philips Electronics, headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, is the eighth largest semiconductor supplier based on Dataquest’s 1998 report*. Philips Semiconductors is a leader with a proven reputation in the development and production of high security controller ICs and contactless smart card ICs as well as in components for radio frequency identification. Philips Semiconductors’ innovations in digital audio, video and mobile technology position the company as a leader in the consumer, multimedia and wireless communications markets. Sales offices are located in all major markets around the world and are supported by regional application labs. Additional information on Philips Semiconductors can be obtained by accessing its home page at [][1]

*Based on Vendor Revenue from Shipments of Total Semiconductors Worldwide according to Dataquest’s 1998 Worldwide Semiconductor Market Share report published in May, 1999.

MIFARE® is a registered trademark of Royal Philips Electronics.



Tidel ATM/ITM Components

Tidel Technologies, Inc. announced Friday new components available for its popular Ignition series automated teller machine platform and its newly introduced Chameleon Internet transaction machine platform. The enhancements include the ValiCash Module for all Ignition series models and six new peripheral devices for the Chameleon ITM.

Tidel will exhibit the ValiCash Module and the new Chameleon peripherals at the upcoming NACS show at McCormick Place in Chicago from Sunday, October 3, 1999 through Tuesday, October 5, 1999. Attendees are encouraged to visit the Tidel booth for a personally conducted demonstration.

According to Mark Levenick, COO of Tidel, “With ValiCash, consumers can now purchase products, such as prepaid phone cards, directly from the ATM with cash instead of a credit or debit card.” The new module includes a currency validator for accepting cash payments and may be outfitted with an optional card dispenser for delivery of prepaid cards and other card-sized media. The module, which is housed in an attractive, matching cabinet that affixes to the ATM, is compatible with all models of the Ignition series ATM and is field upgradeable.

An exciting array of peripherals for the versatile Chameleon ITM will pave the way for future applications such as check-cashing, electronic bill payment, online banking, teleconferencing and the purchase of products for cash instead of credit or debit. The six new peripheral devices now available are:

Optical Scanning Module. Scans and captures front and back of documents, including MICR code, to facilitate check cashing and electronic bill payment applications. The module is also available with an optional printer.

Sensar Iris Scanning Module. Positively identifies user with state-of- the-art biometric identification system to facilitate advanced security and PIN-less transaction applications.

Document Printer. Prints 8 1/2 inch wide documents of any length with on-board, drum-roll thermal printer to facilitate printing of documents such as bank statements, loan and insurance applications, and travel itineraries.

Currency Validator Module. Accepts U.S. currency of any denomination and validates its authenticity to facilitate cash-for-services applications such as the sale of prepaid cards or event tickets.

Card Dispenser Module. Dispenses card-sized media to facilitate applications such as the sale of prepaid phone, gas or credit cards.

Digital Camera. Transmits real-time video of user to facilitate teleconferencing and live customer service sessions.

In addition, Tidel indicated that preliminary fourth quarter and fiscal year 1999 sales information would be released on or about Thursday, October 7, 1999.

About Tidel Technologies, Inc.

Tidel is a Texas-based manufacturer of automated teller machines and cash security equipment designed for specialty retail marketers. Tidel pioneered the dial-up ATM in 1992 and is the fastest growing major U.S. manufacturer of ATMs. Tidel’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market(R) under the symbol “ATMS”.


Smart Egg Card

Prudential’s Egg Internet bank will announce this morning that it has chosen Schlumberger for its ‘Egg’ smart card. Schlumberger will also assist Egg to identify and develop new electronic services that will use the multi-application and personalization capabilities of a card chip.The new ‘Egg’ smart card will conform to the UK’s national standard for smart credit cards, ‘UKIS’, ensuring compatibility with existing clearing systems as well as the major worldwide EMV smart financial card standard.


Stable Chargeoffs

More evidence that chargeoffs have leveled off Standard & Poor’s reported Friday that credit card charge-off rates, among card-backed securities in August, were relatively stable for the third consecutive month. The monthly charge-off rate for August, and reported in mid-September, stayed flat at 5.7%. S&P says the 5.7% charge-off rate represents the lowest charge-off rate since May 1996, when losses barely topped 5.5%. However charge-offs tend to decline for many trusts in August, due to seasonal patterns. Still, S&P says positive delinquency trends suggest that losses will stay at these levels, if not move down in the upcoming months. Delinquencies have held steady at around 4.6% for the past several months. S&P tracks the performance of approximately $294 billion in receivables held in trusts of publicly rated credit card-backed securities, which make up nearly two-thirds of the total bank card market.

Performance month Aug 97 Aug 98 June 99 July 99 Aug 99
Outstandings(bil.$) 240.1 259.9 285.1 290.2 294.3
Yield (%) 19.0 19.9 20.7 19.2 19.8
Charge-offs (%) 5.7 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.7
Weighted base rate(%) 7.5 7.8 7.2 7.2 7.5
Excess spread (%) 5.7 6.1 7.6 6.3 6.6
Delinquencies (%) 5.0 5.0 4.4 4.5 4.6
Payment rate(%) 13.9 15.9 16.4 16.5 17.1

Source: Standard & Poor’s