Holiday Recap

According to the ‘American Express Retail Index’ second annual holiday spending re-cap, consumers reported they spent 15% more this year versus last year. More than half of retailers reported that the 1998 holiday season was stronger than 1997, with 33% of those saying sales improved by 10% or more. The spending re-cap is based on two surveys, one of 500 consumers and one of 275 retailers, conducted Dec. 28-30. According to the study, shoppers spent an average of $1,148 on total holiday expenses, 14% less than they said they would spend when surveyed just before the holidays. According to the American Express Retail Index, 39% of retailers reported more frequent use of credit cards this year compared with last year. Consumers used a variety of other payment methods to purchase holiday items including checks (39%) and ATM/debit cards (15%).  Seventy-two percent of holiday credit card users report they will pay off their holiday bills by February.

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New DataCard Tools

DataCard introduced two new software products Monday that will make the smart card personalization process faster and easier for developers, integrators and value-added resellers. The new DataCard ‘Smart Card Framework for QuikWorks’ software and the DataCard ‘QuikWorks Production API’, which uses ‘Microsoft ActiveX’, provide all the tools needed to personalize smart cards as part of a seamless, inline card issuance process. The company said they expect the new software products will be used initially for data security applications, but they’re designed to accommodate a full range of smart card-based applications.

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Drexler’s Strong 4Q

Drexler Technology Corp. , a supplier of PC-based optical memory cards and related systems software and peripherals, today reported substantially higher profits for its fiscal 1999 third quarter and nine months ended Dec. 31, 1998.

Net income rose 48% for the three months ended Dec. 31, 1998, to $1,003,000, or 10 cents per share diluted, from $676,000, or 7 cents per share, for last year’s third quarter. Revenues increased 26% for the third quarter ended Dec. 31, 1998, to $4,056,000 from $3,229,000 for the year-ago third quarter.

For the nine months ended Dec. 31, 1998, net income rose over 200% to $2,971,000, or 30 cents per share diluted, versus $978,000, or 10 cents per share, for the nine months ended Dec. 31, 1997. Revenues for the first nine months of fiscal 1999 rose 52%, to $11,563,000 from $7,620,000 for last year’s first nine months.

At Dec. 31, 1998, the company’s cash and cash equivalents totalled approximately $7,750,000 compared to approximately $4,800,000 at March 31, 1998. The company has no debt.

On Nov. 19, 1998, the company announced receipt of a $3 million LaserCard order that included optical memory cards for use as “Laser Visa” cards by the U.S. State Department. Initial shipments of some of these cards were included in third-quarter revenues.

Based in Mountain View, Drexler Technology Corp. manufactures LaserCard(R) optical memory cards. Drexler’s wholly owned subsidiary, LaserCard Systems Corp., develops system software for PC-based optical card systems. At Dec. 31, 1998, Drexler Technology had 9,781,670 shares of common stock outstanding.

              Drexler Technology Corp. and Subsidiaries
      Summary Consolidated Statements of Operations (Unaudited)
                (In thousands, except per share data)

                         Three Months Ended       Nine Months Ended
                         12/31/98  12/31/97       12/31/98 12/31/97 
                                                        
Revenues                 $  4,056  $  3,229       $ 11,563 $  7,620 
Cost of sales               1,982     1,709          5,674    4,214 
Operating expenses          1,072       893          2,997    2,508 
Other income, net              33        72            170      115 
Income tax expense             32        23             91       35 
                                                        
Net income               $  1,003  $    676       $  2,971 $    978 
Net income per share                                    
  Basic                  $    .10  $    .07       $    .31 $    .10 
  Diluted                $    .10  $    .07       $    .30 $    .10 
                                                        
Shares used in computing                                
net income per share:                                   
  Basic number of shares    9,781     9,525          9,736    9,324 
  Diluted number of shares  9,918     9,780         10,016    9,579

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4Q/98 Update

Among issuers reporting strong fourth quarters: Wachovia, Norwest and SunTrust. According to CardData’s ‘4Q/98 Portfolio survey’ Wachovia’s cards-in-force jumped by one million during the last three months of 1998.

4Q/98  PORTFOLIO  STATISTICS
              RECEIVABLES      YTD  VOLUME     ACCOUNTS   ACTIVES      CARDS
Wachovia    $5,511,228,734   $7,896,785,002   5,026,940   2,449,729  7,424,877
Norwest     $1,254,679,737   $2,283,248,147   1,348,075    702,797   1,713,829
SunTrust    $1,053,818,000   $2,092,741,000   1,123,369     545,799   1,572,717
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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AmEx Super Bowl

American Express will debut a new, 60-second TV spot during the Super Bowl featuring Jerry Seinfeld. AmEx is mum on the content except to say the new spot will include references to Seinfeld episodes and will also include another Seinfeld celebrity. AmEx says the commercial tells a story with a surprise ending.To promote the new Super Bowl commercial, AmEx launched four 15-second teaser ads during the playoffs this past weekend. The commercial is a collaboration by Jerry Seinfeld and Ogilvy & Mather. The spot was directed by Backyard Productions and edited by Big Sky.

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Honored Fans

VISA and the Pro Football Hall of Fame will honor the 31 “Greatest NFL Fans” in new VISA ‘Hall of Fans Exhibit’ next week. On Jan. 19, the 31 die-hard fans will be honored in Canton, OH, for the first time in NFL history. On hand for the ceremony will be NFL legend, Hall of Famer and VISA ‘Hall of Fans’ spokesperson Art Donovan. VISA and the Pro Football Hall of Fame conducted a nationwide search for the most dedicated fans. Selected by a panel of judges from the Hall of Fame, NFL and Visa, these ultimate fans are among the most loyal, knowledgeable and enthusiastic in pro football.

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Lowest Calling Card

On the heels of announcing its plans to mirror Amazon.com by being first to offer long distance calling cards online, GTC Telecom Thursday announced that it will lower its national rate for residential long distance in selected states to an unprecedented 5.9 cents per minute any time, any day.

GTC Telecom challenges AT&T to meet its rate.

“Because of the technology available to us and our contractual relationships, GTC Telecom is able to offer its customers a great value, quality/reliable service at a very attractive price. This residential campaign is a natural extension to our existing small business product portfolio and current infrastructure. We are ready to support a significant increase in volume of new customers, both small business and residential,” stated Mark Fleming, formerly of MCI/Worldcom and current executive vice president of GTC Telecom.

According to Gerald DiCiccio, formerly of National Telephone & Communications Inc. and current chief financial officer of GTC Telecom, “GTC Telecom has established itself as a low cost provider of long distance by taking a 21st century approach to its infrastructure. By keeping our costs down we can offer lower rates, which will enable us to gain market share and still retain good profit margins. We are constantly looking at ways to decrease our costs. Through the advent of the Internet and a mixture of advertising and direct and indirect telemarketing, we are able to expand our customer base and still offer low cost service.”

Eric Clemons, GTC Telecom’s chief operating officer stated, “Our 5.9 cents per minute long distance rate is designed to retain residential customers. We believe that a simple, flat rated product for seven days a week at 5.9 cents per minute cuts through all of the clutter and confusion of today’s volume of advertised long distance products. It is a simple fact that large telecom companies typically do not offer rates this low because they would lose a considerable amount of revenues. We want customers to be informed about what they are paying in long distance, and we are confident that we are going to be the right choice for a long time. At 5.9 cents per minute, we are going to be hard to beat!”

This offer is available today. To sign up and/or receive more information, access GTC Telecom’s Web site at www.gtctelecom.com. GTC Telecom also has an array of Internet services, including its upcoming online calling card center, www.ecallingcards.com that is scheduled to be launched on Feb. 15, 1999.

Founded in 1997, GTC Telecom is an interexchange carrier, providing long distance service to small and medium sized businesses as well as residential customers throughout the United States. Currently, GTC believes that they have the lowest long distance rates nationwide.

GTC’s long distance service offerings include outbound service, inbound toll-free 800 service, and dedicated private line services for data. GTC’s position as an interexchange carrier gives the company the ability to function as a large telecom company but alleviates the overhead, thus allowing GTC to have rates lower than many of their competitors. Visit GTC’s Web site at [www.gtctelecom.com][1]

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

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E-Euro

Who put the “e” in “euro? MasterCard did. MasterCard subsidiary Mondex International demonstrated the first multi-currency smart card capable of carrying an electronic version of the new European currency unit, the Euro. The demonstration was made at this week’s German smart card event, ‘Omnicard’. Mondex distributed a Mondex card and balance reader to each of the delegates at the conference. Each Mondex card was pre-loaded with Mondex value in Euros, Deutschemark, French Franc, Pound Sterling and US Dollar. Using their cards, delegates were able to conduct cash-like transactions at the show. Unlike other stored value smart cards, Mondex is the only e-cash system that can accommodate the Euro and multi-currency capabilities.

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Smarty Investment

SmartDisk Corp. announced Thursday a strategic alliance with NEC Corp. NEC will become an investor and manufacturing partner of SmartDisk and will distribute ‘Smarty’, the smart card reader/writer, on a worldwide basis. The ‘Smarty’ smart card reader/writer acts as a bridge between a smart card and a PC. ‘Smarty’ has the same dimensions as a 3.5 inch floppy disk and includes a slot into which a smart card can be inserted. To use it, one simply inserts a smart card into the slot and slips ‘Smarty’ into a PC’s floppy drive.

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PubliCARD Hires Professor

PubliCARD, Inc. announced it has appointed Professor Zehev Tadmor to its newly formed Technology Committee. The Technology Committee is comprised of several members of the Company’s Board of Directors and the chief technology officers of its smart card related businesses. It was established in September 1998 for the purpose of providing strategic and technological direction to the Company.

At present, Professor Tadmor is Chairman of the S. Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology and a Distinguished Institute Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (“the Technion”), a full-scale scientific technological teaching and research university. In addition, Professor Tadmor is an elected member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and an elected Foreign Associate of the United States Academy of Engineering. He joined the Technion 30 years ago and has held several senior executive positions during that time, including President of the university from 1990-1998. Professor Tadmor holds a D.Sc. degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey and a M.Sc. and a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from the Technion.

Commenting on this announcement, James J. Weis, president and chief executive officer, noted, “We are extremely pleased to have attracted such an eminent technology professional as Professor Zehev Tadmor to be a member of our Technology Committee. Professor Tadmor has been extremely influential in Israel’s technology community for many years and he brings to PubliCARD a depth of experience at the highest level in the world of science and technology. His skills will be instrumental to us as we further our involvement in the rapidly emerging smart card industry.”

Professor Zehev Tadmor stated, “PubliCARD is well on its way to establishing a forceful presence in the smart card community. Smart cards are currently under development in Israel and I firmly believe their use will be widely adopted there as it has been throughout Europe. I am proud to be part of this quality organization as it is on the forefront of a most exciting technology.”

PubliCARD Inc., headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, owns businesses engaged in the development of smart card systems and technology, manufacturing and engineering. More information on PubliCARD can be found at [www.publicard.com][1].

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

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President Kendrick

Former AT&T Universal and MasterCard SVP, Keith Kendrick, was named President of the newly created eCommerce Division of Finance One Corporation, a subsidiary of Bank One Corp. The post includes responsibility for developing the new operational infrastructures and interfaces needed by Finance One’s businesses to support electronic commerce. Kendrick is currently president of Message Media, Inc., formerly known as First Virtual Holdings.

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