Associates Finishes Avco Deal

Associates First Capital Corporation announced Wednesday it has completed its acquisition of Avco Financial Services, Inc. for $3.9 billion.  The Associates agreed in August 1998 to acquire Avco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Textron Inc..

“This is an important day for both organizations, as Avco joins The Associates portfolio of businesses,” said Keith W. Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer of The Associates.  “This acquisition is an excellent strategic fit, bringing together two well-respected brands, solid financial services products, a strong branch network and combined operations in 16 countries.  We believe this acquisition will enable us to continue to lead the industry and raise customer service standards everywhere we do business.”

As a result of this transaction, The Associates has begun a comprehensive review of affected operations and will announce final plans for integrating the businesses later in the first quarter 1999.  The review will focus on overlapping operations in the U.S. and 15 international countries served by both organizations.

According to Hughes, the combined organization worldwide will have more than 22 million customers, 35,000 employees and managed receivables of about $79 billion.  The operations of the two organizations will be fully integrated during 1999.

Avco is a global, diversified financial services company with approximately $8.9 billion in assets, 8,000 employees, 1,265 branches and 2.5 million customers.  Its product offerings include real estate, retail sales finance and consumer loans, equipment, inventory and vendor finance, and credit and collateral-related insurance.  Avco has the fourth largest U.S. consumer branch network and a significant international presence with offices in Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Hong Kong, Spain, Ireland, India and Sweden.

Associates First Capital Corporation, established in 1918, is a leading diversified finance company providing consumer and commercial finance, leasing, insurance and related services worldwide.  The Associates has operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Costa Rica and Taiwan.  Headquartered in Dallas, it is one of the nation’s 100 largest companies, based on total market capitalization.

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Datakey Lands Top Bank Deal

Datakey, Inc., a Minneapolis-based provider of information security systems, has received an order for a customized SignaSURE smart card-based system from a top five ranked U.S. bank.  The new SignaSURE smart card system is intended to replace an existing system used for authentication of large value financial transactions.  It includes an undisclosed number of client seats and a Datakey Security Control Center that initializes and customizes the client smart cards. All system elements are expected to ship in the first quarter of 1999.

“This is a very important competitive award for us,” said Carl Boecher, president and CEO of Datakey.  “It shows the confidence the banking community has placed in our company and our SignaSURE product line.  In addition, the resultant new custom product has direct applicability to other financial services firms who need the same high-security authentication capability that we now can provide.”

Datakey, Inc. is an international supplier of electronic products and services.  The Company provides product, subsystem and system solutions to record, store, and transmit electronic information. Datakey provides products and systems directed to the information security markets that enable user authentication, secure data exchange, and information validation.  The Company also provides OEM products, consisting of proprietary memory keys, cards and other custom-shaped tokens that serve as a convenient way to carry electronic information and are packaged to survive in portable environments.

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Fee Freedom

Yesterday marked the start of operations for the ‘Freedom ATM Alliance’ in western Pennsylvania. The major supporter, Dollar Bank, joined 24 other Western Pennsylvania institutions to help its customers declare their independence from surcharging. A network of over 200 ATMs, the Freedom ATM Alliance prohibits ATM surcharges anywhere in the 5-county region surrounding Pittsburgh. However, Dollar, with 58 ATMs in the network, has established a $1.00 surcharge for customers of those institutions who have elected not to join the network as of this morning.

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Equifax E-Commerce

Equifax has introduced a range of next-generation e-commerce solutions that revolutionize individual identification, privacy and security over the Internet.  The new services, offered through Equifax Secure E-Commerce Solutions, enable companies to authenticate consumer identity, secure applications and manage digital certificates.  Equifax also announced the opening of its highly secure operations facility to support these new e-commerce offerings.

Equifax is the first in the industry to offer a comprehensive, outsourced security solution that integrates advanced authentication, digital certificate management and scalable directory services to help enterprises significantly reduce the risk, cost and complexity of assuring electronic transaction security, privacy and integrity over the Internet and other networks.

The outsourced e-commerce solution from Equifax enables enterprises to:

Significantly reduce costs and time to market.

Authenticate individuals beyond standard “wallet” information using Equifax’s patent-pending remote authentication technology.

Issue and manage large volumes of customer-branded certificates.

“Equifax has been actively helping its clients conduct commerce for nearly 100 years,” said Jeff Johnson, Equifax senior vice president and general manager of Equifax Secure, Inc.  “As we move toward the millennium, our clients will be doing more and more business over the Internet and other private networks.  We are now in a position to help them meet the challenges of doing business safely over the Internet.”

According to Privacy and American Business, nearly half of the consumers who use personal computers do not access the Internet, saying that ensuring the privacy and security of personal data and on-line transactions would influence them to start using the Internet.  According to Computer Security Institute, more than $130 million has been lost in 1998 from unauthorized insider access, theft of proprietary information, telecommunications and financial fraud, and other security breaches over public and private networks.

“Without secure identification, promises of privacy by companies on the Net simply lack credibility,” said Alan Westin, a professor at Columbia University and one of the nation’s leading privacy experts.  “Equifax Secure will enable its clients to offer Net users a meaningful privacy channel for conducting e-commerce.”

More specifically, Equifax Secure E-Commerce Solutions provides:

A remote authentication service that establishes a new standard for authenticating network users by requesting, comparing and analyzing information furnished by the individual against data from Equifax and other consumer and business information sources.  This allows us to establish whether the applicant is who they claim to be.  The engine offers several levels of authentication to establish proof of identity.

The engine can accept data on consumers either in real-time through a web interface, or in batch mode, for off-line analysis; Certificate management services to manage certificate lifecycles, including issuance, renewal and revocation based on a web model that obviates the need for dedicated client software; and Directory services to access hosted repositories of certificates, privilege data and certificate revocation lists (CRLSs).  Equifax uses an LDAP-compliant X.500 directory that fully conforms to international X.500 standards for electronic directories.

Equifax Secure e-commerce solutions are designed to support multiple applications, including, but not limited to: Consumer Direct: Bill Presentment and Payment and Online Customer Service; Home Banking; and Medical Records Access Control; Intra-Enterprise: Single Sign-On, Employee Benefits Management and Secure Document Exchange; and Business to Business: Purchasing, Procurement and Supply Chain integration.  The service is available for companies across a range of industries, including banking/financial services, healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, utilities, consulting and information technology.

“As more and more organizations extend the reach of their business applications to suppliers, customers and business partners, it’s imperative to assure the integrity — privacy and security — of the applications and associated data,” Johnson said.  “With this e-commerce solution, companies can authenticate individuals, secure business applications, reduce fraud and accelerate use and acceptance of the Internet and other networks for e-commerce.”

Supporting Technology, Facilities

Equifax Secure is supported by public key encryption technology, Equifax’s patent-pending remote authentication engine and IBM’s Vault Registry(TM) technology:

Public Key Infrastructure is the accepted method for addressing concern for security and privacy systems and data.  PKI consists of a Certificate Authority (CA) that issues digital credentials (digital certificates), a Registration Authority (RA) that approves the issuance of these certificates, and a Directory where certificate information is stored.

IBM Vault Registry technology uses encryption and certificate-based authentication for its own security and provides a hardened systems operating environment with high system availability, integrated system monitoring, and strong auditing and reporting capabilities.  A flexible registration application enables organizations to register users for its services and administer the issued certificates over their life cycle.  The application permits organizations to easily customize the registration pages and the policies associated with the registration process to their unique business environment.

Equifax Secure E-Commerce Solutions is supported by a new high-security operations facility that includes the latest in physical and network security features.

Equifax is a worldwide leader in shaping global commerce by bringing buyers and sellers together through its information, transaction processing, consulting and knowledge-based businesses.  Equifax serves the banking, financial, retail, credit card, transportation, telecommunications/utilities and healthcare industries and government.  Founded in 1899, Atlanta-based Equifax today has 14,000 employees in 18 countries and sales in more than 45 countries.  Revenues for the 12 months ended September 30, 1998, were more than $1.5 billion.  For more Equifax information, visit the company’s Internet web site at [www.equifax.com][1].

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

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TSR Card Laundering

The Federal Trade Commission’s first credit card laundering case under the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and its first multi-agency enforcement effort against Canadian firms targeting U.S. residents in foreign lottery schemes resulted in more than $1.3 million in redress for American consumers. The FTC settlement was reached yesterday with Woofter Investment Corporation, a Las Vegas firm that processed credit card sales drafts for over 50 Canadian foreign lottery telemarketers. The FTC alleged that Woofter assisted and facilitated the Canadian lottery telemarketers and laundered their credit card sales drafts. Woofter made its VISA and MasterCard merchant accounts available to the telemarketers for a 15% fee. Use of the merchant accounts to process credit card transactions for telemarketers violates the TSR. According to the FTC, the Canadian telemarketers, deceived consumers telling them that they had been “specially selected” to play for a large prize pool, that their odds of winning were “one in six” and falsely claiming that winnings were tax free in the U.S..

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US Airways Travel Card

US Airways introduced its new Air Travel Card this week, offering corporate air travelers enhanced benefits and a wider range of travel information capabilities.

“The enhancement to US Airways’ Air Travel Card represents our continued commitment to bringing greater choice and more flexibility to our customers,” said Steve Tracas, US Airways vice president of sales.  “Customers using the Air Travel Card will experience a higher degree of convenience than ever before.”

The new benefits of the card include:

* Management reports to summarize travel patterns and itemize costs.     * Simplified record-keeping, payment and cost accounting data.     * Customized billing statements to detail and track airfare expenses.     * Flexibility to choose how and when to receive monthly billing statements, as well as the number of statements to be received.     * Ability to receive billing statements electronically.

Corporate air travelers using the Air Travel Card still will receive benefits such as the ability to pay for all airline travel using only one credit card, worldwide card acceptance, no initial deposits, annual fees or extra card charges, cardless accounts to ensure against unauthorized use, and $200,000 worth of travel insurance at no charge.

US Airways is one of 27 airlines throughout the world that issues the Air Travel Card.  Today, the Air Travel Card is accepted by more than 200 airlines worldwide.

US Airways, MetroJet, US Airways Express, and US Airways Shuttle fly to more than 207 destinations worldwide, including 38 states in the U.S., Bermuda, Cancun, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay, Nassau, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and the Canadian destinations of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, and London, Ontario.

US Airways’ transatlantic destinations include Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris, and Rome.

For additional information on the US Airways Air Travel Card, contact US Airways at 1-800-528-3819 or e-mail US Airways at UATP@usairways.com. Information about US Airways, US Airways Express, and US Airways Shuttle flights is available by contacting your professional travel consultant or US Airways at 1-800-428-4322.  Low-fare MetroJet information also is available by calling 1-888-MetroJet (1-888-638-7653).

Visit US Airways’ Web site at or low-fare MetroJet’s Web site at .

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Heading North

Citibank Canada rolled-out its ‘Driver’s Edge VISA’ card for Canadians. The card enables consumers to accumulate up to a $2,500 cash rebate towards the purchase or lease of any make or model of a new car. Citibank cash rebates can be redeemed up to five years from the end of the calendar year in which they were earned. A maximum of $500 in rebates can be earned in any one year. The ‘Driver’s Edge VISA’ card launch is being supported by national print advertising and direct mail campaigns. The creative campaign targets a mainstream, aspirational audience and focuses on the card’s ability to earn rebates towards the cost of any new car, including luxury sedans, 5-speed sports models, 4X4s and minivans. Citibank Canada says a recent ‘Driver’s Edge’ survey showed the top three Canadian dream cars to be the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang and Jeep Cherokee.

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Kettell to R2

R2 Corporation announced Tuesday it has hired Tom Kettell as the company’s new VP of Marketing. Based in Eagan, MN, R2 provides reconditioned POS systems from manufacturers like IBM, NCR, Micros and others.  Before joining R2, Kettell served as VP of Marketing for DataCard’s financial systems business unit. He also held a number of positions at MasterCard, including Account VP for MAPP.

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Coinstar Promotions

Coinstar Inc. announced the appointment of Ian Melanson to the position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing and the promotion of Bill Booth to the position of Vice President of Retail Development.

“These key appointments add depth and stability to our marketing team as we begin the new year,” said Dan Gerrity, president and COO of Coinstar Inc. “Ian and Bill are respected industry professionals committed to rapidly growing our business.”

As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ian Melanson will be responsible for the overall growth of the Coinstar(R) network, the continued growth of top-line revenue, and the development of new products and services that leverage the company’s nationwide supermarket-based network.

Mr. Melanson’s experience includes McKinsey and Co., where he created business concepts for some of North America’s most respected retailers and consumer products companies. As a member of McKinsey’s marketing and retailing practices, Mr. Melanson developed leading-edge micro-marketing approaches for his clients.

Mr. Melanson is also a brand management expert, having developed and managed major product introductions in his nearly five years with Procter & Gamble Inc.

As Vice President of Retail Development, Bill Booth will lead the national sales force responsible for placing Coinstar units in new retail locations. In addition, he will oversee the relationships between Coinstar Inc. and its retail partners.

Mr. Booth joined Coinstar in 1995 as Director of Retail Account Development and was later promoted to Executive Director of Retail Development. The Coinstar network has grown during Mr. Booth’s tenure from roughly 50 installations to more than 4,800 today.

Prior to joining Coinstar, Mr. Booth was Senior Director of Retail Marketing Services for Catalina Marketing Corporation where he expanded their retailer network of electronic couponing systems. His experience also includes account development positions with Citicorp POS and Datachecker Systems Inc.

Coinstar Inc. develops, owns and operates a network of automated, self-service coin counting and processing machines that provide consumers with a convenient means of converting loose coins into cash. More than 4,800 Coinstar machines are installed in 37 states throughout the U.S. Consumers can call 1-800-928-CASH or visit for the location of the nearest Coinstar machine.

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Ambient Targets Japan

Ambient Corporation and Motah Corporation of Japan signed a marketing agreement to sell Ambient smart card systems and seek partners in Japan. Motah Corp. a Japanese technology consulting firm , specializing in targeting unique technologies for the Japanese market. Motah, will market and sell the Ambient smart cards and readers throughout Japan on an exclusive basis.

Ambient Corp. developed and patented a contactless interface for smart cards, that transfers power and data through capacitor plates. This state of the art technology allows for closed circuit, high energy, rapid data rate connection between smart card and its reader. Mr. Takahito Miyake, President of Motah says: “In 1998 Motah made a strategic decision to explore the smart card market Ambient represents the kind of cutting edge technology the Japanese market is looking for in contactless smart cards: High security, faster transaction times and low terminal maintenance.”

Jacob Davidson, CEO of Ambient adds: “By partnering with Motah Corporation, Ambient continues to grow and make a presence in the Asia Pacific market.”

About Ambient:

Ambient Corp (OTC BB: ABTG) is a publicly traded company incorporated in the United States that develops smart card and related contactless technologies and systems. The company is also developing large memory smart cards for applications requiring secure, stored records. Ambient is in the process of merging with OrdaCard, Israel’s largest plastic cards manufacturer.

About Motah:

Motah Corporation is a Japanese technology consulting firm helping major Japanese corporations to identify innovative new technologies outside of Japan for the purpose of creating strategic partnerships joint ventures, buying distribution rights. Today, Motah corp. represents several technology companies in the Japanese market.

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eCharge Lands ShopGuide

eCHARGE Corporation, developers of a unique e-Commerce transaction system, and ShopGuide, a search engine dedicated to online shopping, announced an alliance Tuesday that will bring the eCHARGE payment option to over 20,000 ShopGuide stores and malls. As an eCHARGE Agent, ShopGuide enables its merchants to offer customers the ease of billing online purchases to the consumer’s phone bill.

“ShopGuide’s unique search engine allows the online consumer easy browsing and shopping from the comfort of their homes. With eCHARGE, these shoppers now have the choice of charging purchases to their home phone bill, a purchase method that alleviates concerns about online security,” stated Ron Erickson, CEO of eCHARGE Corporation.

“The home-based online shopper will greatly benefit from the click and buy simplicity of eCHARGE transactions.  The ShopGuide merchants who choose to carry the eCHARGE system know that more payment choices mean more purchases,” commented Howard Kwak, President of ShopGuide.

By joining the ShopGuide Network, merchants offer more access and visibility and increase the potential to attract new customers who have not yet wandered into the electronic storefront.  The online consumer not only searches and browses but also searches and buys.  ShopGuide’s ease of use and comprehensive database keep bringing customers back to this unique search engine.  With the simplicity of the eCHARGE transaction system, merchants have the advantage of encouraging impulse buyers.

About ShopGuide

Shopguide.com is a shopping search engine and portal that connects online shoppers with more than 20,000 merchants across a range of 15 product categories.  Shopguide.com also publishes the Internet Sourcebook and the online retailing news site, ShopGuideNews.  For more information,

About eCHARGE Corporation

Founded in 1996 and based in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, B.C., eCHARGE Corporation is a leading provider of transaction processing systems on the Internet. eCHARGE is an Internet payment technology that enables consumers to charge digital goods and services to their phone bills in one seamless and secure transaction. eCHARGE offers payment solutions to Internet merchants worldwide in the ISP, ESD, subscription, information download, online games, and donations categories.  For more information, visit:

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