GS Buys ATTM Card

GS Telecom, Ltd. announced it has received an executed definitive Agreement with World Netcom Services, Inc, thereby acquiring all intellectual property, including patents pending, proprietary hardware and software – and all current business relationships surrounding – the ATTM Universal Card, for a consideration of 333,333 restricted shared of GS Telecom, Ltd. common stock.

The Agreement is subject to a 28-day “due diligence,” during which GS Telecom, Ltd. retains the right to cancel.

World Netcom Service, Inc. will act under an exclusive licensing agreement as a distributor of ATTM Universal Card products to network marketing companies in the United States only.

The ATTM Universal Card technology can be used to create a preloaded hybrid “Smart-Card,” that may enable transactions in 53 currencies, throughout the world, including the Pacific Rim and the Former Soviet Union. The card can also be used as an anonymous currency card, designed to make possible instantaneous, anonymous transactions over the Internet.

The execution of the final agreement was delayed from an expected date in late March, due to a redrafting as a technology acquisition instead of a simple marketing and development license. Andrew Castle, GS Telecom President, explains.

“Initial negotiations for this acquisition focused on only the licensing and marketing rights (of the ATTM Universal Card.) When the opportunity presented itself to acquire the exclusive IP, we were pleased to restructure the final document to take advantage of the offered acquisition of the proprietary technology and in-place distribution agreements.

“We look forward to developing these alliances, and to forming new strategic partnerships to enhance and deliver ATTM technology- based products to a global market.”

GS Telecom, Ltd. is a U.S. high-tech development and marketing company with offices in San Francisco and London. For more information on the company’s vision, visit GS Telecom, Ltd. on the web, at [][1].

Please note: GS Telecom, Ltd. is not affiliated in any way with GST Telecommunications, Inc. of Vancouver, Washington and no inference of any relationship is suggested in any area of industry.



GM Price Hike

The nation’s second largest co-branded program, the ‘General Motors MasterCard’, is beefing up pricing next month, according to CardWatch ( Household Bank, the card’s issuer, has notified U.S. cardholders, that effective May 1, it is adding an annual fee for closed accounts with outstanding balances, raising the minimum cash advance fee and increasing its punitive interest rate. Cardholders opting to close an account but continuing to make payments on an existing balance will now face a $29 annual fee. Household also increased the minimum cash advance fee from $3.00 to $15.00. The ‘GM MasterCard’ cash advance fee is 3% with no maximum. Household has also ratcheted up the punitive interest rate from prime +12.4% to prime +15.4%. Household states it has expanded its punitive interest rate policy to include cardholders who have become delinquent on other non-related accounts and cardholders with a significant change in credit worthiness. The Household punitive rate policy mirrors the current policies of other major players, notably Capital One and Discover.


B of A 2.5% $20.00 Prime +12.99%
Household 3.0% $15.00 Prime +15.4%
Wells Fargo 4.0% $10.00 23.90%
First USA 2.0% $10.00 22.99%
Wachovia 4.0% $ 5.00 Prime +12.9%
Citibank 3.0% $ 5.00 Prime +12.9%
Fleet 4.0% $ 5.00 Libor +16.302%
Providian 5.0% $ 3.00 23.99%
Capital One 2.5% $ 2.50 24.99%
Chase 3.0% $ 3.00 Prime +13.99%

CAF-cash advance fee; MIN CAF-minimum cash advance fee;
Source: CardWatch (


Coinstar Europe

Coinstar Inc. yesterday announced that it has installed its first machines in stores operated by the two largest grocery retailers in the United Kingdom.

Coinstar(R) self-service coin counting machines are now available in seven London-area Sainsbury’s Savacentre stores and one London-area Tesco store, marking the initiation of Coinstar’s European operations.

“We are really pleased to be working with Coinstar,” said Paul Wilson, retail innovation manager for Sainsbury’s. “We hope that existing and new customers will see Coinstar machines as an attractive new service which saves them time. So far, customer reaction has been very positive.”

Sainsbury’s operates 398 supermarkets and 13 Sainsbury’s Savacentres and Tesco operates 639 stores in the United Kingdom. Together, these two retailers account for more than 40 percent of all U.K. grocery sales.

“We are encouraged by the early market acceptance we are experiencing in the U.K.,” said Jens Molbak, CEO of Coinstar Inc. “British consumers are confirming what our research told us: coin hoarding is a problem in the U.K. because, until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to cash in coins.”

Coinstar’s patented coin counting mechanism was adapted to count the full range of British coins, including the (pound)1 and (pound)2 coins. Coinstar’s device is easily adapted to the currency sets of most countries.

“One of the challenges of entering a new market is determining how best to work within the retailers’ operational needs and the logistics of the banking system,” continued Molbak. “I am pleased to report that our service is functioning very smoothly from an operational perspective. This is a positive first sign as we expand our presence in the U.K. and position ourselves for future euro conversion opportunities.”

Coinstar Inc. and its subsidiaries provide consumers and retailers with value-added services that increase customer loyalty and retailer profitability. The Coinstar network currently delivers the company’s self-service coin counting product to more than 5,300 leading supermarkets in 38 U.S. states, the United Kingdom and Canada. The company’s new Coinstar Shopper product is designed to bridge the gap between the Internet and the store. Consumers can call 1-800-928-CASH, or visit for the location of the nearest Coinstar machine.


CTST 1999

More than 10,000 professionals from 80 nations will attend the 1999 CardTech SecurTech (CTST) conference from May 11-14 at the McCormick Place South Convention Center in Chicago to learn about a host of practical innovations in the smart card, biometrics and cryptography industries through seminars, tours of the exhibit hall and interaction with experts and peers. The conference will cover more than six acres, and feature more than 1,000 high-tech booths and 200 expert presentations focusing on financial, transportation, security, government, health care and communications sectors. The exhibition is nearly twice as large as any other card event in the world.

CardTech/SecurTech 99 workshops, each of which has five to eight presentations, include:

— Microsoft’s SmartCards for Windows(tm),

— Developing Applications with Java Card,

— Changing the Face of Money,

— Foundations in ID Technology,

— Biometrics Technology,

— Retail & Loyalty Applications,

— Government Applications,

— Telecommunications Platforms,

— Transportation Applications,

— Large-Scale ID Applications,

— Cryptography Technology,

— University Applications,

— Health Care Applications,

— Practical Biometrics Applications

Hands-on Application Developer Workshop

s An exciting new feature of this year’s conference will be a series of hands-on workshops for SmartCard application developers and programmers presented by Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and MULTOS. “These sessions offer unique opportunities for technical professionals to learn the `How to’ of developing applications on smart card platforms,” said Benjamin Miller, CTST founder & conference chairman.

Smart Cards for Windows(tm) application developers will get to run live desktop and card-based applications with hands-on instruction. The Developers’ Workshop will show you how to include smart cards in applications such as secure network access, e-commerce, payment and loyalty, and medical solutions. The sessions will include lecture and lab work, and attendees will receive smart card developer kits, including smart cards and sample applications on both the PC (host) and card sides.


From massive corporate systems to individual Internet browsing, new ways are needed to ensure that data and identities are protected in cyberspace. The cryptography technology used for this task is called public key infrastructure (PKI). PKI generates digital signatures that prove who sent an e-mail or made an Internet purchase. Building the infrastructure to support this process is one of the most important subjects in the evolution of the network economy.

The new seminar on Public Key Infrastructures Integrating with Smart Cards and Biometrics will address authenticating the identity of the user, securely storing electronic certificates and generating digital signatures. The seminar will also answer the question of what it will take to achieve widespread deployment of PKI enhanced by biometrics and smart card readers. Biometrics

The use of biometrics continues to expand across a wide range of applications throughout the world. From banking to welfare, user organizations increasingly recognize that precise identification and user authentication are key requirements for reducing fraud and for increasing information and enterprise security. After decades of limited use, sales have begun to soar as the number of applications for biometric devices measuring hand, finger and face geometry continues to expand. Major electronics manufacturers are incorporating the technology into their keyboards, ATMs, PCs and other portable devices for increased user flexibility and security.

Biometrics seminars will examine the latest industry changes and the status of the industry’s efforts to create a generic standard for the easy integration and interchangeability of biometric devices. The current state of biometric applications in banking, welfare, immigration and information security will then be examined. Issues related to personal privacy and the “friendliness” of various legislative environments also will be explored.

Keynote Presentation

The keynote presentation will be delivered on Wednesday, May 12 at 8:30 a.m. by James Burke, author of “The Day the Universe Changed” and host of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Connections” television series about the impact of technology on society. Burke, who writes a monthly column for Scientific American, will discuss the roles of information and personal technologies as they relate to empowerment of the individual.

CardTech/SecurTech (CTST), founded in 1991, is the world’s most comprehensive conference and exhibition covering advanced smart card and security technology. Purchased by Faulkner & Gray Inc., publisher of Card Technology, ID World and Smart Card Alert, CTST focuses on applications of card and related technology solutions for banking, the Internet, telecommunications, mass transit, security, retail, loyalty, government and health care. Information about the organization, sponsors, program topics and exhibition can be found at [][1].



AirTouch Prepaid

San Francisco-based AirTouch Communications announced a rate cut yesterday for ‘AirTouch Cellular Prepaid’ cardholders. AirTouch cut prices for prepaid service across all its cellular markets in 17 states to as little as $0.35 a minute. The company also announced major distribution deals with 7-Eleven, Circle K, Radio Shack and Best Buy stores. AirTouch prepaid service cards are now available in denominations of $30, $50 and $100. The life of the cards has also been extended from 60 days to 90 days. AirTouch says only about 5% of U.S. cellular customers are prepaid, compared to 35% in Europe. European cellular carriers now count on prepaid for two-thirds of all new customers. In the USA, on the other hand, service providers still typically turn away a third or more of walk-in customers because they lack credit or are too young to sign a contract. AirTouch serves 8 million U.S. cellular customers.


Currency Exchange

After a steady stream of negative publicity, First USA is reportedly holding off implementing its policy of surcharging for currency exchange transactions. First USA began notifying cardholders in March, that effective April 1, it will charge an extra 2.0% of the dollar amount on foreign transactions requiring conversion into US dollars. The currency exchange transaction fee is in addition to the standard 1.0% to 2.0% fees charged by VISA and MasterCard. Citibank reportedly instituted a similar policy late last year. According to CardWatch (, Travelers Bank, a Citigroup unit, also charges an extra 1.5% for currency exchange transactions.


Smart Move

Barclaycard told the London Financial Times yesterday it will save more than US$50 million annually as the result of its ongoing migration to smart cards. The savings will largely be produced by reducing losses from counterfeit cards used outside the UK. The UK’s largest card issuer has already converted 500,000 of its 17 million cardholders to smart cards and upgraded more than 400 of its ATMs. Barclaycard says it has plans to convert another 2.5 million cardholders to smart cards by year’s end. The issuer will also upgrade another 700 ATMs to accept smart cards and replace more than 20,000 Barclaycard-owned terminals in small businesses this year. The Times says the biggest consumer complaint so far has been the extra processing time required at the point-of-sale.


FDC Up 10%

First Data Corp. reported Wednesday afternoon that first quarter net income margins were 11.1%, up from last year’s 10.8%. First quarter revenues from continuing operations hit nearly $1.3 billion producing net income of $141 million. Card Issuer Services worldwide revenues increased 5% in the quarter to $351 million producing an operating profit of $59.8 million. Volume trends remain positive with total accounts on file up 13%, to 214.6 million. Merchant Processing Services revenues grew 10% in the quarter to $346 million as compared to $313 million in 1998. Total domestic merchant card dollar volume for the quarter grew 17%, from $54 billion last year to $63.3 billion Payment instrument transactions or Western Union money transfers soared over the past twelve months from 14.2 million to 17.5 million. For additional information on First Data’s first quarter 1999 financials visit CardData ([][1]).



eFunds Corp

Deluxe Corporation announced this morning it will combine its information and payment protection businesses with its electronic transaction processing business to form eFunds Corporation. Deluxe also announced an initiative to sell its collections business, National Revenue Corporation. eFunds will combine, under single management, Deluxe Electronic Payment Systems, Debit Bureau, Chex Systems, SCAN and Deluxe’s recently purchased electronic check conversion business. The creation of eFunds is part of the new business model which consists of a holding company and four independent operating units. Besides eFunds, the operating units are Deluxe Paper Payment Systems, Government Services, and Deluxe’s software development and business process outsourcing business, which was formerly HCL-Deluxe. The new leadership team consists of Debra Janssen as president of eFunds; Ronald Eilers as president of Deluxe Paper Payment Systems; Nikhil Sinha as president of Deluxe’s India-based software and business processing subsidiary; and Chuck Feltz, who will be president of Government Services.


Data Mining Deal

HNC Software Inc. and Abacus Direct Corp. Wednesday announced that they have entered into a multi-year agreement to cooperate in significant product development and distribution initiatives.

Abacus, the leading provider of information products and behavioral marketing research services to the direct marketing industry, will use HNC’s Content Mining(TM) technology to enhance the data mining of billions of mail order merchandise purchasing transactions maintained within the proprietary Abacus Alliance database of 88 million households.

In turn, HNC Financial Solutions, a leading provider of predictive customer relationship management software to large banks and other financial institutions, plans to apply the Abacus aggregate prior purchasing data to further enhance the value of HNC Financial Solutions products to its clients.

Commenting on the new agreement, Abacus Chairman and CEO Tony White said, “HNC’s Content Mining technology will allow Abacus to maximize use of the huge amount of product-level (SKU) data that flows through the Abacus Alliance database, for the direct benefit of the 1150 plus catalogers who rely on us for highly effective target marketing activities.”

“This agreement is strategically important for both HNC and Abacus — both get the opportunity to leverage our special capabilities in different markets, ” said Robert L. North, president and CEO of HNC Software. “And it’s good news for HNC Financial Solutions clients, as well, because the Abacus view of consumer buying patterns will add a new dimension to the ability of financial organizations to better manage their customer relationships and marketing programs.”

HNC Financial Solutions is in the process of enhancing its suite of Predictive CRM products that leverage real-time information technology to understand financial customers at the individual and account level, predict behavior based on that understanding, and enable the firm to structure actions and strategies so that treatment is consistent and profitability-driven across all points of customer contact.

About Abacus Direct Corp.

Abacus manages the premier membership database, the Abacus Alliance, which is the nations’ largest proprietary database of consumer catalog buying behavior used for target marketing purposes. The Abacus Alliance database currently contains records from 1,100 merchandise catalogs, with more than 2 billion consumer catalog transactions representing virtually all U.S. consumer catalog buying households. Abacus applies its proprietary modeling techniques to the power of shared data to improve profitability, to improve targeting efficiency, and reduce unwanted mailings.

Founded in 1990, Abacus Direct Corp. is headquartered in Bloomfield, Colo. and has offices in New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, and Hawthorne, NY. For more information, visit Abacus Direct’s Web site at or contact Cindi Gallucci, Abacus Direct Corp, 22 Saw Mill Rd, 3rd Flr, Hawthorne NY 10532, 914/345-0441.

About HNC Software

With headquarters in San Diego, HNC Software Inc. (Nasdaq: HNCS) is one of the world’s leading providers of Predictive Software Solutions for service industries, including financial, retail, insurance, Internet, and telecommunications.

HNC’s suite of Predictive Software Solutions can provide real-time insight into customer relationships based on transaction-level data, helping business-to-consumer companies manage their relationships with individual customers.

By accurately predicting customer behaviors, these companies can create initiatives to mitigate risk and attrition; improve customer service; develop marketing programs to enhance profitability; optimize store replenishment activities, and detect fraudulent customer transactions.

For more information, visit HNC’s Web site at or contact Jane Leonard, HNC Software Inc., 5935 Cornerstone Court West, San Diego, CA 92121, 619/799-3880. For the investor relations hotline, call 800/396-8052.


Metris to NYSE

Metris Companies Inc. announced that it has filed an application to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Pending final approval from the NYSE, Metris will begin trading its shares under the symbol “MXT” on May 7, 1999. Metris Companies has approximately 19 million shares of common stock outstanding that are currently traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol MTRS.

“Our rapid growth over the past several years has generated significant returns for our current investors and heightened interest among new investors,” said Ronald N. Zebeck, president and chief executive officer. “In response to investor demand, we are listing our shares on the New York Stock Exchange in order to provide our shareholders with the broadest and most efficient trading market possible. We expect to experience reduced price volatility and narrower quotation spreads that are typically available on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, our new listing should expose the company’s shares to an increased potential investor base and provide us with improved liquidity in the future.”

Metris Companies Inc. is an information-based direct marketer of consumer credit products and fee-based services primarily to moderate income consumers. Based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Metris also has operations in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Baltimore, Maryland; Champaign, Illinois; Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona and currently employs approximately 2,200 people.


Stadium Card

CyberMark unveiled an advanced smart card system for stadiums complexes in North America and Latin America. The ‘SmartWorld Stadium Card’ can be designed to provide sport teams and fans with a multi-applications smart card for issuing season tickets, loyalty applications for merchants, payment for parking, long distance calling card services, and credit/debit capabilities. The card is also designed for future use with transit systems and GSM cellular phones. POS terminals can be integrated into a facility’s existing electronic cash register system or the devices can stand-alone. Microsoft, Gemplus, and First USA, are CyberMark partners via the ‘SmartWorld Partnership Program’.