Red Roof Cards

Red Roof Inns and AT&T  have joined together to market AT&T ‘PrePaid Cards’ at all company-operated Red Roof Inns.  The custom-designed ‘Red Roof/AT&T PrePaid Cards’ will be available in 30-, 60- and 100-minute denominations. Red Roof Inns is one of the only hotel chains in the U.S. to implement an automated point-of-sale solution for selling ‘AT&T PrePaid Cards’. Red Roof Inns, Inc. has 280 properties in 36 states and the District of Columbia.


Freedom ATM Network

Nineteen Pittsburgh-area banks announced Thursday the formation of the ‘Freedom ATM Alliance’.  This new ATM network will give the customers of each participating bank surcharge free access to the ATMs of all the participating banks. Collectively, the banks have 177 ATMs in southwestern Pennsylvania, 110 of them in Allegheny County, and over 300,000 ATM cards.The network is scheduled to begin operations on Jan. 4.  Each bank will communicate to its customers the location of the surcharge free ATMs, which will be identified by a special logo. Dollar Bank is the largest participant with 58 ATMs, 46 sites and 165,389 cards.


Euronet Up 126%

Euronet Services Inc. , operator of the only independent automated teller machine network in Central Europe, announced a 19% increase in revenues between the second and third quarters of 1998. Total revenues for the first nine months of the year increased 126% over the comparable period last year, to $7.8 million from $3.4 million. The Company expects year-end revenues from its ATM business to be approximately $11 million in 1998.

Transactions processed on the Company’s ATM network, its main source of revenues, increased 16% between the second and third quarters of this year. Transactions for the month of October totalled 1,524,444, an 11% increase over September. Approximately 5% of the total third quarter transactions and 8% of the total October transactions were processed for client bank ATMs under network management service agreements. At the end of the second quarter, the Company was driving 46 ATMs under network management service agreements. By the end of the third quarter, that number had increased to 75 ATMs.

Total operating costs, comprised of ATM operating costs and other operating costs, increased 18% between the second and third quarters of 1998. The increase in ATM operating costs from $3.0 million in the second quarter to $3.7 million in the third quarter was due primarily to the 14% increase in live ATMs over the quarter, the cost of relocating certain underperforming ATMs in Poland, and increased maintenance fees as ATM warranties begin to expire. Other operating costs, consisting of indirect overhead costs, increased from $4.3 million in the second quarter to $4.9 million in the third quarter.

Other expenses of $379,000 for the third quarter are due mainly to foreign exchange losses on the Deutsche Mark-denominated bond issued by the Company in June. Net interest expense in the third quarter was $3.5 million, of which $2.5 million results from accrued interest on the bond.

The Company’s net loss for the third quarter was $9.3 million. Cumulative net loss for the first nine months of 1998 was $17.2 million, or $1.13 per share, compared with approximately $4.0 million, or $0.41 per share for the comparable period last year.

The number of ATMs in Euronet’s network was 1,123 at September 30, 1998, more than double the 538 ATMs on line one year ago. At the end of the third quarter of 1998, Euronet was operating 423 ATMs in Hungary, 399 in Poland, 210 in Germany, 62 in Croatia, 28 in the Czech Republic, and one in France. Of this total, 7% or 75 ATMs were operated by the Company for client banks under network management service agreements.

As of November 3, 1998, the Company’s network comprised a total of 1,199 live ATMs, including 474 in Hungary, 411 in Poland, 214 in Germany, 62 in Croatia, 37 in the Czech Republic, and one in France. Of this total, 11% or 126 ATMs were operated by the Company for client banks under network management service agreements.

Established in 1994, Euronet operates the only independent, non-bank owned ATM network in Central Europe. Through agreements with local banks and international card issuers such as Visa, MasterCard, Europay, American Express and Diners Club International, Euronet’s ATMs are able to process ATM transactions for holders of credit and debit cards issued by or bearing logos of such banks and card issuing organizations. In addition, Euronet offers outsourced ATM management and card issuance services to local banks with proprietary ATMs.


IVI Buys Debitek

IVI Checkmate announced Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Debitek Holdings Limited in exchange for IVI Checkmate stock. It is anticipated the transaction will be complete by year end. Debitek, of Chattanooga, TN, supplies smart card and magnetic stripe card application program interfaces that interface with unattended point-of-sale equipment (copiers, printers, vending machines, revalue stations and laundry equipment) of systems integrators.These system integration partners supply cashless payment solutions to closed user groups such as universities, public libraries, commercial laundries, correctional institutions, corporate campuses, cruise ships, resorts, and military facilities and ships.


Iris ID

PINs and passwords may become a thing of the past following yesterday’s announcement that Citibank, NCR, J.P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch’s KECALP Inc. have joined together to make a $28 million equity investment into NJ-based Sensar. Sensar manufactures iris identification products for transaction systems. Sensar’s iris identification products use standard video cameras and state-of-the-art real-time image processing to acquire a picture of a person’s iris, digitally encode it, and compare it with one on file, all in less than a few seconds. The company says research shows the matching accuracy of iris identification is greater than that of DNA testing. The strategic partners expect to incorporate Sensar’s products into several banking and consumer applications such as ATMs and in-bank teller stations. The ‘Sensar Secure Iris Identification System’ is currently being used in NCR ATMs and at teller stations at Nationwide Building Society, the UK’s largest savings and loan.


Euro Conference

In anticipation of the euro, the common European currency that will debut in 11 European countries on Jan. 1, Travel Weekly, the leading newspaper of the travel industry, is bringing together key executives from top North American travel companies to discuss the implications and effects the euro will have on their businesses, the industry and travelers.

The conference, the first of its kind for the travel industry, will be held at the Marriott Financial Center here Nov.11. Co-sponsoring the event are Visa and Marriott Hotels.

“Many people think the euro is just another currency,” says Dinah Spritzer, Travel Weekly’s Europe editor. “It’s much more complex than people realize, and that’s why we felt it necessary to go beyond the obvious issues that have been previously explored in public venues.”

Spritzer, who has been tracking the euro since its inception, says experts in fields from software to pricing have equated the problems posed by the introduction of the new currency with those of the year 2000 computing debacle.

“The possibilities for financial profit or loss are huge,” she says. “We want to make sure members of the travel industry understand the impact the euro will have on their business; the best way to package travel products, particularly with regard to pricing, and ultimately how to market them to their clients — the traveling public.”

Speakers for the Euro Conference include:

— Chris Matthews, U.S. representative of the European Union, who will explain the fundamentals of the currency.

— Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Tourist Office of Spain here and a member of the executive board of the European Travel Commission, who will present an overview of the euro’s significance to travelers.

— Simon Jarvis, senior vice president of global support services for Visa International, will provide details on how travelers will pay for goods and services in Europe once the euro has arrived.

— Sarwar Kashmeri, president of Niche Systems, who will discuss how the euro will affect legal, accounting and software.

— Zanny Minton Beddoes, Washington correspondent for The Economist magazine, who will deliver an address on the economic and social consequences of the euro.

Panel discussions will address two key issues: how the euro will affect supplier pricing and how travel agents and travelers can prepare for and benefit from the euro.

The Euro Pricing Panel includes Peter McCormack, vice president of sales and marketing for Trafalgar Tours, New York; Ravi Rao, president and chief executive officer of Jet Vacations International, El Segundo, Calif.; Gary Rosenthal, senior vice president of international lodging finance for Marriott International, and Ian Taylor, vice president of corporate foreign exchange dealing with Thomas Cook, Toronto.

Panelists discussing the Agency Challenge include Sandy Cutrone, president of European Connection, Roslyn, N.Y.; Charles Roumas, senior vice president of strategic planning for Travel One, Mount Laurel, N.J.; Ken Sause, president of Travelworks, Wallingford, Conn., and Tom Lacny, executive vice president of international development for World Travel Partners -BTI Americas, Northbrook, Ill.

The Euro Conference starts at 8: 30 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m. The conference includes lunch, during which Zanny Minton Beddoes will deliver her keynote address.

Attendance, which is free, is by invitation only and seating is limited. To obtain an invitation or to confirm attendance, call Arline Innis at (201) 902-2021 or send e-mail to [][1].



Holiday Spending

According to the fourth annual American Express Retail Index on holiday shopping, consumers expect to spend an average of $1,342 on holiday gifts, entertaining, travel and other related expenses this year.  This represents an 8% increase from spending indicated by a similar survey last year, which revealed holiday budgets at $1,233.  However, AmEx says this holiday season, 59% will set a budget for gifts and other expenses. To pay for their purchases consumers will use a combination of cash (88%) and credit cards (64%, up from 48% in 1997).  Forty-nine percent of consumers will also use checks.  Although credit card usage is up, more than half (54%) say they plan to pay their holiday bills in full when the statement arrives. Sixteen percent will redeem credit card reward program points to obtain items they plan to give as gifts.


[1]: /graphic/americanexpress/amexholidayspending1998.gif


Extensity T&E Seminars

Extensity, Inc., a leading provider of Web-based operational cost management applications, will sponsor three free West Coast seminars in November on Travel & Entertainment Best Practices.  During the half-day seminars, financial and travel managers will hear from major corporations who have achieved significant cost savings by automating T&E processes.  In addition, leaders in travel, accounting, and software will discuss T&E Best Practices and options for implementing automated T&E processes via corporate Intranets.

The seminars will be held:

Tuesday, Nov. 17, Hotel Sofitel, Los Angeles      Wednesday, Nov. 18, Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers, Seattle      Thursday, Nov. 19, The Westin San Francisco Airport, Millbrae

Featured speaker Greg Hammermaster, director of commercial card products, VISA USA, will begin the session with a presentation titled, “T&E Management Best Practices: Maximizing Efficiency while Minimizing Costs.”  In addition, Extensity partners Internet Travel Network (ITN), U.S. Bank and Deloitte & Touche will present information about the various components of achieving T&E Best Practices, including compliance and administration, corporate cards and methodology.

Major corporations will share their experience in automating various parts of their travel processes, including on-line booking, T&E expense reporting, leveraging corporate card services, and integrating with back-end accounting systems.

With T&E expenses representing the third largest operational cost in the budget of an average corporation, the savings can be significant.  Extensity helps companies achieve dramatic savings in the T&E budget by helping to address the cost associated with paper-based expense reporting.  The company will demonstrate how automating the T&E process can be done very quickly and easily, leveraging a corporation’s Intranet.

“I wish I’d had a resource like this seminar five years ago when I began looking for a solution to our T&E needs,” said James Copeland, vice president of administration at RELTEC Corp.  “Financial and travel managers who attend these seminars will take home expert information that will help them begin streamlining their T&E processes — and saving money — right away.”

Financial and travel managers interested in obtaining more information or attending a seminar should call Britt Kristensen at 510-596-5744, or register online at .

About Extensity

Extensity is pioneering the development of Web-based enterprise applications that reduce the major operational costs in corporations.  By automating these business processes, Extensity’s customers can achieve greater productivity and tighter control over corporate spending to realize dramatic bottom-line cost savings and improved employee satisfaction.  Established by Scopus Technology co-founder Sharam Sasson, Extensity is funded by premier venture backers including Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ Java Fund, Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners, and Visa International.  Extensity customers include Franklin Resources, Incyte Pharmaceuticals, Nationsbanc Montgomery Securities, RELTEC, and the @Home Network. For more information on Extensity, go to .


Discover Expands Online

Discover Financial Services Inc., a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co, is expanding its current account services to provide customers with a direct connection to their account information online.  The new service is driven by the Innovision Financial Server, an XML multi-protocol server that delivers OFX functionality through software applications such as Quicken or Money.

The Innovision Server offers a complete solution for implementation of OFX.  With this functionality in place, Discover Financial Services customers will be able to view and download an array of information from their credit card, and Saver/CD accounts such as balance availability, transaction histories and current interest rates.

Built using distributed object technology, the Innovision Financial Server provides a flexible architecture that is engineered to support all existing and emerging open financial protocols and applications, including OFX.  It can be installed, integrated and maintained with minimal resources.  The Innovision server runs on leading platforms including Sun’s Solaris and Microsoft’s Windows NT.

Discover Financial Services, a business unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., operates the Discover Card brands with more than 48 million Cardmembers and the Discover/NOVUS Network.  The Network is the third largest credit card network in the United States with more than 3 million merchant and cash access locations.

Innovision Corporation develops software solutions that leverage industry-defined data interchange standards allowing corporations to reduce technology costs and expand market reach.  Innovision XML server technologies work with existing Web, database and middleware products.  They are in use at leading companies including Morgan Stanley, Dreyfus Corporation, T. Rowe Price and American Century Investments.

For more information about Innovision or its products, please call (913) 226-8700 or send e-mail to [][1].  The Innovision Web site is located at .



Entertainment Edge MC

Affinity king MBNA and Marketing Services Group, Inc. lifted the curtain yesterday on the new ‘Entertainment Edge Platinum Plus MasterCard’. The new card program offers cardholders entertainment benefits that include show discounts, preferred seating, and advance ticket sales. The program will also tie in merchandise and concession discount offers and allow patrons the ability to join theater tours and educational seminars tied to selected theater party performances. In addition, the card will provide discounts on restaurants, accommodations and parking. The ‘Entertainment Edge’ program will initially focus on the Boston-Washington corridor. MSG says the program will expand to regional destinations that have a high concentration of live entertainment buyers, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, London and Toronto.


Hypercom & Horizon

Hypercom Corp.acquired the assets and business of The Horizon Group Inc. yesterday. The Horizon Group will be operated by Hypercom as an independent subsidiary with sales, distribution and support operations based in St. Louis. Horizon will retain its current management structure and corporate identity. The Horizon Group is a national distributor of equipment from Hypercom and other POS equipment manufacturers. In addition to sales of new equipment, the company provides a variety of services, including refurbishing equipment, help desk, PIN pad key loading, terminal deployment and other custom programs.The acquisition will allow Hypercom to meet the needs of a segment of its customer base that requires direct-from-manufacturer terminal services.


SPC vs NeuralTech

NE-based legal publisher Mealey Publications reported this morning that an attorney for credit card processor SPC has confirmed his client has settled a federal lawsuit filed in October against its processing system supplier NeuralTech. Terms of the settlement were not revealed. SPC, which operates as First of Omaha Merchant Processing, was asking the U.S. District Court here to order NeuralTech to provide a Year 2000 compliant ‘CADRE’ software system.  SPC charged that its existing system experienced significant problems processing retrievals and merchant chargebacks.  Under its contracts with VISA and MasterCard, SPC would have been responsible for any of the 250,000 disputes it failed to timely resolve because of failures in its $5 million CADRE system.