Chinese Smart Cards

Motorola and the Nanjing Public Transit IC Card Co. signed a cooperative agreement Monday to design and implement an integrated smart card system called the ‘Nanjing Public Transit Automated Fare Collection’ project. Yesterday’s agreement covers ‘Phase I’ of a multi-phased effort to implement smart cards as a form of payment for the entire city public transport network that includes buses, ferries and the Metro subway system in Nanjing, China. The first phase will involve automating the bus system. A field trial of the system is scheduled to begin in March of 2000 and last three months, with full-system implementation planned for July of 2000. During ‘Phase I’ of the project, Motorola will design and implement the smart card system for all three bus companies currently operating within the bus system of Nanjing providing more than 2,000 bus validators and issuing 400,000 Motorola ‘M-Smart Mercury’ contactless smart cards to riders. The system design, integration, implementation, training and system maintenance will be managed on behalf of Motorola by Huamin Smart Card Systems Co, a joint-venture company established by Motorola and Huaxu Golden Card Co. last year. Motorola also has contracted with Nanjing Eastide Co. to integrate the components for the validators and to establish an after-sale maintenance center in support of the Nanjing AFC project.

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New Control

UK-based Callmate Telecom International Inc. announced Friday it has agreed to buy controlling interest in FL-based American MultiCredit Inc. and Diaspora Finance Limited. American MulitCredit holds exclusive settlement processing rights for Internet credit card clearing transactions for two card issuing banks, South Bank and Trust Company Ltd and MultiCredit SA. South Bank has a primary membership status with MasterCard to conduct both an issuing and acquiring business. The MIPS or communication lines to MasterCard are held at the AMC offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL. MultiCredit SA has a primary membership status with VISA which allows both issuing and acquiring business. The VAPS or communication lines to VISA International are held in Guatemala City. The relationship with the two banks enables American MultiCredit to acquire transactions and issue cards internationally and domestically. AMC says since both SBT and MSA have their own MIPS and VAPS and a contract with AMC for their use, AMC is able to conduct business as a settlement processor offering payment services to other international and/or off-shore banks. Callmate says its stock acquisition will enable the firm to link its telecom expertise with the e-commerce expertise of AMC and Diaspora. Diaspora is a supplier of real time credit card processing over the Internet.

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Oasis IST/Switch in Turkey

Oasis Technology Ltd. Friday announced that Bankalararasi Kart Merkezi A.S., the Turkish inter-bank credit and debit card processing network, has selected the Oasis IST/Switch software to support its transaction authorization and processing. The Oasis IST/Switch, operational since May 18, 1999, is being used by BKM to route nearly a million credit and debit card transactions each day between 40 Turkish banks and the major international card associations such as Visa, MasterCard and Europay.

IST/Switch is an Internet-enabled e-payment system that routes credit and debit card payments originating from various electronic commerce channels (such as the Internet, point of sale devices, and ATMs) between the merchants, banks and the authorization/settlement networks involved in the transactions. According to Ercument Buyuksumnulu, head of operations for BKM, the new Oasis system replaces a proprietary system that was expensive to maintain and could not easily accommodate increasing transaction workloads. Buyuksumnulu estimates the new system is capable of processing 25% more transactions than the previous system and costs about 40% less to operate.

“We were looking for a cheaper solution in terms of software costs,” said Buyuksumnulu. “Furthermore, we were keen to link in our own applications with switch software. That wasn’t possible with our Tandem/Deluxe system, so we started to look around for a UNIX-based solution instead.”

In addition to supporting credit and debit card authorizations, BKM uses Oasis IST/Switch to check each transaction it handles against a list of lost and stolen cards. BKM also plans to integrate in-house applications with IST/Switch to support debit card transaction settlement and fraud control. Eventually, BKM expects to process transactions initiated online and protected by the Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) authentication process, scheduled for implementation later this year.

The new system also satisfies BKM’s most important installation consideration, says Buyuksumnulu: a reliable, fault-tolerant architecture that provides 100 percent uptime for member institutions and customers throughout Turkey. To ensure failover processing with minimal impact on existing processing performance, Oasis installed its Oasis Replication and Failover (ORF) system at BKM. ORF replicates transaction information to a mirrored external site, and provides for either automated or manual cutover to the remote mirror site to ensure uninterrupted performance.

On the planning board at BKM is an extensive e-commerce transaction processing system and a disaster-recovery site, each of which will require implementation of additional UNIX-based servers and Oasis e-payment software. BKM is now certified to route transactions through the Visa and Europay authorization and settlement networks.

“With BKM, we’ve again demonstrated how it’s possible to meet primary processing performance expectations and provide a scalable platform that is much less costly to maintain,” observes Mike Flaherty, senior vice president of client services at Oasis. “Oasis’ open architecture is enabling BKM to take a major step toward their vision of complete service integration, while ensuring optimal processing performance for the future.”

About Oasis Technology Ltd.

Oasis Technology Ltd. delivers leading e-payment technology to the world, empowering banks, card associations, retailers and third-party processors in more than 70 countries to process more than three billion e-payment transactions every year. Oasis e-payment systems are designed for every step in the payment chain and drive every major payment channel – the Internet, ATM, POS, and telephone. Oasis’ international client base includes ABN Amro, American Express, The Bank of Montreal, Citibank, Credicard Brazil, Diners, Europay, Golden Card (China), MasterCard and Visa. With corporate headquarters located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the company also operates offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Miami, Florida and California and supports an extensive network of international distributors and sales representatives.

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New Audiotex CEO

Imperial Bank announced Friday that Thomas R. Evans has been named Chairman and CEO of U.S. Audiotex, the leading provider of electronic payment options by credit cards to government entities.

U.S. Audiotex is a San Ramon, Calif.-based firm in which Imperial Bank, the principal subsidiary of Imperial Bancorp, owns an 80% interest. Mr. Evans was previously the President and CEO of GeoCities. He led GeoCities through a $92.4 million IPO in August 1998. GeoCities was subsequently purchased in May 1999 by Yahoo!, Inc. for $5 billion. Mr. Evans left GeoCities shortly after the completion of the merger in June 1999. Prior to his GeoCities tenure, Mr. Evans was President and Publisher of the U.S. News & World Report magazine group, which includes U.S. News & World Report, The Atlantic Monthly and Fast Company.

U.S. Audiotex enables consumers to make electronic payments by credit card to government entities including the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state governments and local municipalities. With U.S. Audiotex’s Internet and telephone systems, consumers can use their credit cards to electronically pay personal, federal and state income taxes, sales and use taxes, property taxes and fines for traffic violations and parking citations. These electronic payments are completed faster and more efficiently than traditional paper-based methods.

Founded in 1996, U.S. Audiotex has existing relationships with the IRS, the state governments of California and New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and over 400 local municipalities. In addition, U.S. Audiotex has existing relationships with major credit card companies including American Express, MasterCard, VISA, and Discover Card, ensuring ease of payment for the consumer.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Mr. Evans. “It is the stated goal of the IRS to have 80% of all tax and information returns filed electronically by the year 2007. With our Internet and telephone conduits, U.S. Audiotex is poised to help make these and other government payment processes more convenient and efficient for the consumer.”

Evans chose the U.S. Audiotex deal for three main reasons. “First,” Evans stated, “the company has an existing business, which is well suited as a foundation for a substantial Internet play. Second, there is a real consumer need for the service: because taxes are an inevitable part of life. And finally, this business model allows for the development of new market applications, the forming of strategic alliances and collaborations with software companies and financial service Internet sites,” Mr. Evans said.

“We pursued and chose Tom Evans because he has a truly unique skill-set and proven leadership acumen,” said George L. Graziadio, Chairman, President and CEO of Imperial Bancorp and Chairman and Co-founder of Imperial Bank. “Tom is highly regarded on Wall Street. He engineered one of the most successful Internet IPOs and mergers in history. He has managed and run large organizations and world-class brands.

“We are convinced that he can attract and lead a team that will allow U.S. Audiotex to execute its business plan,” Mr. Graziadio said. U.S. Audiotex also announced its intention to relocate its corporate headquarters to the New York metropolitan area. A portion of the firm’s operations will remain in California.

About U.S. Audiotex

U.S. Audiotex is the leading provider of electronic payment options to government entities enabling consumers to use their credit cards to pay, through the Internet or telephone, personal federal and state income taxes, sales and use taxes, property taxes and fines for traffic violations and parking citations. Through its interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system, using the toll free number 1-888-2PAY-TAX, consumers make payments and receive certain customer service information. The company has developed a Web site, [www.8882PAYTAX.com][1], and is working with its existing government clients, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to enable consumers to pay their taxes by credit card over the Internet.

About Imperial Bank

With over $6 billion in assets, Imperial Bank is one of the leading independent business banks headquartered in California and offers a wide range of financial services tailored to corporate customers, entrepreneurs and professionals. Serving mid-sized businesses, Imperial Bank’s strategy focuses on delivering customized financial products and services to manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, service, import/export, apparel and textile businesses; in addition to some of the fastest growing industries such as emerging technology, entertainment, residential construction, and title and escrow.

Founded in 1963 by two California entrepreneurs, Imperial Bank is the principal subsidiary of Imperial Bancorp, with 12 regional banking offices throughout California; in Phoenix, Arizona; and in Denver, Colorado. In addition, Imperial has emerging growth loan offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, Menlo Park and San Diego, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Austin, Texas; Reston, Virginia; and Kirkland, Washington. Imperial can be found on the Web at [www.imperialbank.com][2].

[1]: http://www.8882paytax.com/
[2]: http://www.imperialbank.com/

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Rocky Road

Online financial publisher Intelligent Life Corp., owner of bankrate.com, watched its stock price collapse 37% Friday from $3 27/32 to $2 9/32 after releasing projected financial results for the third quarter. Nearly 600,000 shares traded hands Friday. The NASDAQ traded stock was trading in the $5 to $6 range for most of last week. ILIF says it anticipates that revenue for the quarter will be between $3.2 million and $3.5 million instead of analyst estimates of $4.5 million. Analysts also projected third quarter losses of $4.5 million which the company said Friday will most likely fall between $9.5 million and $9.9 million. ILIF attributed the revenue shortfall primarily to fewer than expected visitors coming to its websites, due in part to the seasonally slow summer period for Internet use. The new projections also reflect significant increases both in marketing expenses and in the costs associated with two acquisitions. Advertising expenses for the third quarter will total approximately $7 million. ILIF acquired Pivot Online or Professional Direct Agency, Inc., an online and direct seller of term life and other insurance products, and Green Magazine, Inc., a personal finance magazine, during the third quarter. ILIF went public in May selling 3,500,000 shares for $13 per share. The stock briefly peaked at $15 per share.

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BrightStar & Trintech

BrightStar Information Technology Group, Inc., a leading e-business services company and SAP National Implementation Partner, and Trintech, a leading provider of secure electronic payment solutions, Friday announced a strategic partnership to provide real time e-commerce solutions based on SAP’s inter-enterprise software to Global 2000 companies.

The agreement between the companies means that BrightStar will now be able to offer its customers a proven e-payment solution for secure, real time payment card transactions in SAP e-commerce solutions. Under the agreement, Trintech will refer SAP implementation projects to BrightStar. In return, Trintech gets an implementation partner to better serve the SAP community, and the consulting organizations that support them.

“Many of our SAP implementations now involve an e-commerce element of one type or another,” said Mike Ober, Chief Executive Officer of BrightStar. “Trintech’s PayWare’ application provides the secure, real time processing capabilities that our customers demand from their e-commerce solutions.”

“BrightStar’s experience developing and deploying Web-enabled SAP solutions is exactly what our customers need in an implementation partner,” said John McGuire, Chief Executive Officer of Trintech. “SAP’s R/3 software combined with Trintech’s PayWare ERP and BrightStar’s expertise is a potent formula for delivering scalable, real time e-commerce solutions.”

Trintech’s PayWare ERP was the first credit card payment software to receive certification for SAP R/3. The certified interface links Trintech’s payment application to the Financials (FI) component as well as the Sales and Distribution (SD) component of SAP R/3. PayWare’s functions for the latest release of R/3 include authorization of online requests, request and response for settlement, and RFC protocols.

About BrightStar

BrightStar is a leading e-business services company, providing enterprise-wide business and technology solutions to Global 2000 companies and public sector organizations. BrightStar uses the Web to unify and extend mission critical information systems and applications to customers, suppliers, partners and employees, enabling companies to be more profitable while providing an increased range of services. For more information on how BrightStar can help your company automate business processes, use the Internet for business-to-business commerce, implement an E-commerce strategy, develop a corporate portal or outsource your application hosting and services call (800) 953-4727 or visit the company’s Web site at [www.brightstar.com][1].

About Trintech

Founded in 1987, Trintech is a leading provider of secure electronic payment solutions for card-based transactions in the physical world and over the Internet. The company offers a complete range of payment software products for credit, debit, commercial and procurement card applications, as well as being a world leader in the deployment of payment solutions for Internet commerce that are fully SSL- and SET-compliant. Trintech’s range of scalable open systems architecture solutions for UNIX(R) and Windows NT(tm) platforms covers consumer, merchant and financial institution requirements for physical payments and the burgeoning world of electronic commerce. Trintech can be contacted at 2755 Campus Drive, Suite 220, San Mateo, CA 94403 (Tel: 650/227 7000). Trintech can be reached on the Web at [http://www.trintech.com][2].

[1]: http://www.brightstar.com/
[2]: http://www.trintech.com/

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Exterra Rated

ExTerra Credit Recovery, Inc., a leading purchaser of non-performing credit card debt, announced Friday Standard & Poor’s Rating Agency has formally ranked the Company as an ‘Average’ loan collector. ExTerra is one of only eight loan collectors listed by the rating agency and approved as an Asset-backed Servicer.

“Above Average is the second highest ranking granted by Standard & Poor’s. Given ExTerra’s relatively short time in operation – just over two years – we feel this is a significant achievement for the Company,” said Suzanne Sheuerman, ExTerra’s president and chief executive officer.

ExTerra Credit Recovery ([http://www.exterra.com][1]), specializes in the purchase and recovery of non-performing credit card debt. Founded in 1997 by a team of banking and financial services executives, ExTerra currently owns and manages more than $450 million in credit card receivables. The Company has three call center facilities -Walnut Creek, California (east San Francisco Bay Area), Youngstown, Ohio, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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

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Pele MasterCard

MasterCard, soccer legend Pele, and Brazil’s Unibanco announced this weekend the creation of the ‘Pele Unibanco MasterCard’ benefiting Fundacao Abrinq, a not for profit organization benefiting needy children. The first television spots for the new card, using MasterCard’s Priceless theme, aired yesterday in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Santos. Print and outdoor advertising will appear shortly. Under the program ‘Pele Unibanco MasterCard’ cardholders will be able to contribute R$3,00, R$5,00 or R$10,0 per month, which will appear on their statements. Cardholders will also receive six annual reports explaining how the revenue generated is being used for Abrinq’s social programs. The Fundacao Abrinq Para os Direitos da Crianca (The Abrinq Foundation for Children’s Rights) is a not for profit organization formed in 1990 by representatives of the Brazilian toy industry with the objective of protecting the rights of needy children.

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Imperial Solution

Imperial Bank and San Jose-based CyberSource Corp. have formed a strategic marketing alliance to support secure online payment capabilities for Web merchants. The deal will expand Imperial’s e-commerce services to include the CyberSource ‘Internet Commerce Suite’, which offers real-time payment services, fraud screening, tax calculation, and delivery and address verification. By referring to CyberSource’s e-commerce services, Imperial Bank’s Internet merchants will be able to establish complete, fully automated electronic storefronts that minimize their exposure to Internet credit card fraud. Imperial’s clients may take advantage of the bank’s preferred rates for the ‘Internet Commerce Suite’ on a per-transaction basis.

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Canopy Express

Home Account, the leading developer of Internet-based financial services, Tuesday unveiled Canopy Express, an affordable, state-of-the-art Internet banking solution for community banks.

For an initial investment of just $12,000, community banks can now have a fully transactional, branded web site using Home Account’s preeminent Internet banking technology, in as little as two weeks. Canopy Express is a subset of the popular Canopy First(tm) 30/30 product (installed in 30 days for $30,000) introduced last year. Home Account continues to offer the 30/30 product to financial institutions that require more customer branding and additional functionality.

Canopy Express is a robust, secure Internet banking solution that offers a wealth of resources and functionality. Using Canopy Express, financial institutions can offer their customers the convenience of branded Internet services such as balance inquiries, stop payment requests, transaction history, bill payment, funds transfer and online Internet banking enrollment. Canopy Express also provides critical customer support functionality that allows banks to add new accounts, update customer profiles, change and delete account access, and more.

Home Account pioneered the concept of delivering sophisticated, secure, transactional web services, deployed by the nation’s largest banks to the community bank market. By streamlining its implementation process to offer unprecedented speed, efficiency and service to financial institutions, Home Account can offer many of the same sophisticated features used by large banks to the community banking market at an affordable price.

Last month, Home Account renewed its commitment to the community banking market with the creation of its Community Bank Division, which is dedicated to delivering affordable, cutting-edge web services to the nation’s community banks and headed by industry veteran Mark Nelson. Canopy Express is the latest of many solutions from Home Account tailored to the specific needs of community banks that will help them leverage Home Account’s broad set of Internet financial service solutions.

“Home Account’s first community bank installation at Amarillo National Bank (www.anb.com) was recognized last December as being the ‘Best Internet Banking Site’ of any size bank by Retail Delivery News,” said Mark Nelson, Vice President of Home Account’s Community Bank Division. “We’re now bringing much of the same functionality and security used by the best Internet bank in North America to community banks-at a fraction of the cost paid by large financial institutions.”

About Home Account

Home Account delivers patent-protected home banking, financial management and electronic commerce solutions to banks, brokerages and other financial service organizations. Home Account’s products include: Canopy Server(tm), an OFX (Open Financial Exchange) financial services platform that allows distribution of services through multiple channels; Canopy Advisor(tm), a strategic financial planning system for use by individuals and financial professionals; Canopy First(tm), a family of outsourced, scalable and brandable Internet products and services for financial institutions, card issuers and brokerages; Canopy Card(tm), innovative Internet account access programs for card issuers; Canopy Business(tm), Internet-based cash management services for business customers; and Canopy Clients(tm), a series of financial management user interfaces.

Home Account is headquartered in Emeryville, Calif., with offices in Charleston, S.C., Omaha, Neb., Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Please see Home Account’s website at

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Asia/Pacific Pulse

The latest MasterCard ‘MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence’ confirms the Asian economic crisis is subsiding. The survey measures consumer confidence in thirteen countries and territories in Asia/Pacific. Across the region, the most optimistic consumers are the Malaysians (89.3), Singaporeans (84.5) and Indonesians (82.1). The Korean MasterIndex is currently at 77, compared to last December’s 44.3 and pre-crisis (December 1996) levels of 43.7. Thailand exhibited similar optimism with last December’s index of 38.5 leaping to the current 67.9 — a far cry from a low of 25.3 in June 1997. Australian consumer sentiment has rebounded to 62.7 from record lows of 29.3 in the June 1998 survey. Hong Kong enjoyed almost a 400% leap in consumer confidence from a December 1998 reading of 14.4 to 51.5. The survey was conduced in June.

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