Datastrip Barcode

Datastrip has released a new version of its 2D barcode which is capable of storing over 2kbytes of machine-readable text, image, or binary data, on a compact strip that can be printed on plastic cards or documents. This capacity is more than enough to store multiple biometric records – plus high quality photo images and text – allowing organisations to implement highly secure identification (ID) systems at a fraction of the cost of other technologies.

Called 2D Superscript, Datastrip’s unique new implementation of this technology provides 10-30 times more capacity than the typical magnetic stripe card, and comparable capacity to many chip-based cards – at virtually zero cost.

The storage capacity of the new Datastrip portable database is enough to accommodate all common biometric techniques including fingerprint, signature, facial, and iris characteristics. With an average size of biometric templates of 500 bytes or less, a Datastrip ID card can even store multiple or ‘layered’ biometrics in conjunction with text and high quality photographic images, providing the means to implement highly sophisticated ID schemes. For example, biometric verification can be used to authorise banking transactions, building access, and the distribution of government benefits. Storage of biometrics on a portable medium, such as a PVC card, additionally allows ID systems to operate in off-line modes, safeguarding privacy and the freedom of the individual.

Another potential application of Datastrip’s 2D Superscript technology is in automated document handling. A compact Datastrip can be printed onto documents at extremely low cost. With around 1kbytes/inch2 (160 bytes/cm2) available, the Datastrip code provides the capacity to store large volumes of data within a small space, making it an economical means of automating data storage and retrieval. This reduces the cost of processing major paper-based records such as driver’s licences, vehicle registration documentation, and bills of lading.

The new coding scheme incorporates extensive Reed-Solomon error correction as standard – enough to support up to 50% data destruction – assuring high reliability over the lifespan of card or document systems. When printed in the form of a 3 x 5/8 inch (76×16 mm) strip on a standard CR-80 card for example, over 2kbytes is free for application data storage. If required, as many as four strips may be printed on a standard plastic card, providing a total capacity in excess of 8kbytes.

Datastrip’s 2D barcode system is particularly applicable to ID applications. Many of its built-in security features can be customised for individual applications. The coding algorithm is not in the public domain and may be post-processed to ensure that the same data results in different printed codes – making it extremely difficult to copy or decipher.

Datastrip’s Unique ID feature supports the establishment of a closed network, supported by specifically authorised readers. Furthermore, data may be stored in modular fields making it easy to create multi-application cards. And each field may be assigned different security levels, further structuring record access and protecting users’ privacy. For highly sensitive applications, data may also be encrypted.

Datastrip codes can be produced using a variety of popular and economic card and code generation systems including Quik Works from Datacard, FreezeFrame from ESP-Systex, FoxID32 from Fox Technology, Mosaic from NBS Technologies and Polaroid’s ID Card Maker from Imaging Technology Corporation.


Providian Lawsuit

The law firm of Girard & Green announced this weekend that a class action lawsuit has been filed in the San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of all persons who were holders of credit cards issued by Providian Bank. The complaint alleges that, Providian engaged in deceptive, unfair and oppressive business practices directed at their credit cardholders. Some of the practices include failing to post payments received from cardholders in a timely fashion. Imposing unauthorized charges for credit protection and other services. Failing to respond to cardholder complaints, correct overcharges and remove improper charges assessed to cardholders.



Wells Fargo & Co. and GTE CyberTrust announced this morning a new service to provide secure e-commerce transactions. The new service ‘SureServer’ will utilize digital certificates so that business can be securely conducted over the Internet. Customers will use Wells Fargo’s ‘SureServer’ certificates to authenticate their identity, thus assuring both parties that on-line transactions are legitimate and secure. When customers see the ‘SureServer’ seal on the merchant’s website, they can click on logo and see a copy of the certificate, with validated merchant information. The certificates will be available to both current Wells Fargo merchant account holders as well as non-Wells Fargo merchants starting June 1st .


Price Chopper

Hypercom announced late last week that Price Chopper Supermarkets is purchasing Hypercom’s touch screen, multi-lane ‘ICE’ (Interactive Consumer Environment) payment terminal system and controller application packages. Hypercom’s ICE multi-lane payment terminal system supports traditional electronic payment functions and new applications such as signature capture, loyalty programs, check truncation, stored value and, most importantly, e-commerce. Hypercom’s ‘ICE’ solution is specifically designed to meet the needs of the multi-lane payment terminal and systems market, which includes the top 100 US and selected global retailers, including supermarkets, department stores and mass merchandisers.


Right Relationship

Friday Chase Manhattan and Foote Cone & Belding announced the launch of a new global brand campaign. The campaign notes the brand difference of Chase using the tagline: ‘The Right Relationship is Everything’. The campaign began Sunday and appears in various newspapers and magazines today. All the ads will look similar and will convey the theme that relationships between people are the same throughout the world.


S&P Rates Euronet Services

Standard & Poor’s Friday revised its outlook on Euronet Services Inc. to negative from stable. At the same time, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its single-‘B’-minus long-term corporate credit and senior unsecured ratings on Euronet.

The outlook revision reflects Euronet’s slower-than-anticipated revenue growth in the second half of 1998 and the first quarter of 1999, mainly because of slower-than-expected growth of credit and debit card usage in some of the company’s main Central European markets. This has lead to a delayed improvement of operating margins and cash flow generation compared with the initial business plan. For Euronet to maintain its current ratings, it is therefore necessary that the company’s profitability and operating cash flow improve considerably during 1999.

The ratings on Euronet reflect the challenges the company faces to grow the size of its operations sufficiently to service its debt obligations. With a network of close to 1,600 automatic teller machines (ATMs) at April 30, 1999 — mainly in Germany, Hungary, and Poland — the company is the leading independent provider of ATM services in Central Europe. While these markets offer great growth potential for ATM services, the growth rate is closely linked to the general issuance of new debit and credit cards, the level of which is hard to predict. Furthermore, Euronet faces competition from networks set up by consortiums of banks with larger scales and resources. It must also negotiate favorable deals with banks and card-issuance organizations in order to attract customers to its ATMs. Euronet’s competitive advantages are its early market entrance — which has given it access to prime site locations — and its modern network and focused operations, which make it possible to offer a full range of ATM services at low cost. Furthermore, the company’s geographic diversity limits its dependence on one specific market, and makes it possible to direct investments toward the most profitable locations. Euronet’s service offerings were broadened following the $18 million acquisition of the U.S. computer software company Arksys in December 1998, and the company is now able to offer vertically integrated products to customers. While the acquisition had a negative effect on Euronet’s liquidity position in the short term, the company still expects to have sufficient cash to fund its initial ATM roll-out plan. In 1998, Euronet had $12 million revenues and a negative $23 million operating cash flow after working capital needs, while Arksys had $12 million revenues and a slight negative operating cash flow. At March 31, 1999, Euronet’s total debt to capital was 88%. Because the company is constantly installing new ATMs, and it takes a certain time for new machines to become profitable, Euronet also expects to have negative operating cash flow and operating losses during 1999. During the first quarter of 1999, revenues were up to $8 million ($5 million excluding Arksys) compared with $2 million in 1998, while cash and short-term liquid assets amounted to $38 million at March 31, 1999, down from $59 million at year-end 1998.


CheckFree & Intuit Settled

CheckFree Corporation and Intuit, Inc. today announced they have amicably resolved the issues that had led to the filing of a lawsuit last March, and to subsequent arbitration. Other than noting that neither party makes any payment for the settlement, the specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In commenting on the resolution, Pete Kight, chairman and CEO of CheckFree said, “We have enjoyed a long and close relationship with Intuit, but we had an honest disagreement about how to apply our contract in a rapidly-changing environment. I’m very pleased that we were able to find a solution that allows our two companies to match our collective and respective strengths to address the full spectrum of the market’s approach to electronic billing and payment.”

Bill Harris, president and CEO of Intuit said, “We are pleased to be back on track in our relationship with CheckFree in a manner that benefits both companies. We look forward to our continued relationship and renewed dedication to meeting customer needs.”

About Intuit

Intuit Inc., a financial software and Web-based services company, develops and markets Quicken, the leading personal finance software; TurboTax, the best-selling tax preparation software; and QuickBooks, the most popular small business accounting software. Intuit’s Web site () is a leading financial Web site, offering a comprehensive set of financial news, information and tools, including insurance, mortgage, investment and tax preparation services. Intuit’s products and services enable individuals, small businesses and financial professionals to better manage their financial lives and businesses.

About CheckFree

Founded in 1981, CheckFree (), the operating subsidiary of CheckFree Holdings Corp., is the leading provider of financial electronic commerce services, software and related products. CheckFree designs, develops and markets services that enable nearly three million consumers to receive and pay bills over the Internet or electronically through a variety of bill aggregation points, including banks, brokerage firms, portals and interactive content sites on the Internet, and personal financial management (PFM) software. CheckFree’s range of services and products are focused on enabling customers to make electronic payments and collections, automate paper-based recurring financial transactions and conduct secure Internet transactions. After more than a year of beta testing, CheckFree launched the nation’s first fully integrated electronic billing and payment solution, CheckFree E-Bill, in March of 1997. Today, the Company has multi-year contracts with nearly 50 of the nation’s top billers to provide online billing and payment through the CheckFree distribution network.


No Big Deal

American consumers are not concerned about Y2K problems with ATMs. Results of a new Gallup survey, commissioned by Star Sytems, were released Friday and showed that 8 out of 10 ATM/debit cardholders in the US expect ATMs to function normally on January 1, 2000. In fact, 79% said they expect Y2K to have little to no effect on their personal finances. 64% said they plan to withdraw and set aside extra cash prior to January 1, but half of these said the amount they withdraw would not be any more than other weekends or holidays. The respondents also noted the information they received from their own bank was the most influential regarding their banking plans in preparation for Y2K.


Zebra cards & more

Zebra Technologies Corp., the worldwide leader in bar code and plastic card printing solutions, Friday announced that its partnership with cards & more LP has resulted in a new integrated system for producing personalized, state-of-the-art proximity cards.

The use of contactless smart cards for access control applications is accelerating. Embedded in these cards is a metallic antenna coil, which allows them to communicate with an external antenna. Referred to as “prox” cards, because they require only close “proximity” to an RF antenna, the cards are read in less than a second. Because the cards do not have to be “swiped” or passed by a “line of sight” they can be read while being carried in a pocket, wallet or handbag. The ability to read cards in this manner facilitates access without the delays associated with removal of the card from pocket or purse in order to “swipe” it through a card reader. “Our installed base of thousands of cards & more customers includes such interesting applications as access control for formula one racing events worldwide. Various types of contactless smart cards, including complimentary guest passes, race team season passes, and VIP Paddock passes are part of a total access solution,” said Peter Lippold, president of cards & more LP.

“Combining quality products, with our experience, service and support makes this a winning solution for our customers,” Lippold concluded. Rain, extreme temperatures, dirt and dust do not affect the functionality of the cards or card readers. Because of their durability, and since they can be reprogrammed, prox cards do not have to be replaced nearly as often as traditional access control cards. cards & more uses Zebra’s Eltron plastic card printers, including MaxSecure ID Printing Systems and Eltron P Series printers to personalize proximity cards of all types. The printers use cards & more’s integrated contactless smart card encoding station, permitting the cards to be printed and encoded in one process.

The printers personalize the encoded cards with a name, location, phone number or whatever text or image the application calls for. “Combining Eltron card printers with cards & more’s contactless smart card encoder and extensive knowledge and experience in prox card technology provides customers with the best of both worlds,” said Holly Sacks, vice president of marketing for Zebra’s card printer business. “With the accelerating growth of proximity card applications, our partnership with cards & more will allow more customers to deploy prox card solutions faster, confident in the knowledge that we are working together to implement their applications reliably,” remarked Sacks. cards & more recently demonstrated its proximity card personalization solutions using Eltron card printers at CardTech/SecurTech ’99, held May 12-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago. cards & more, one of the foremost systems integrators of smart card business solutions, provides turnkey ID badge and access control systems solutions. With its focus on contactless chip technology, combined with one-process graphic personalization, cards & more delivers complete smart card access control application solutions to companies worldwide. Information about cards & more products and solutions can be found at [][1].

Zebra Technologies Corp. manufactures and distributes Zebra and Eltron brand on-demand bar code label printers, secure ID printing systems and plastic card printers used in automatic identification and plastic card personalization applications worldwide. The company also offers software and related supplies, including more than 300 label and ribbon combinations. Zebra’s customers include more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500. The company’s stock is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol ZBRA. Information about Zebra products can be found at [][2].