Santa Phonecard

FL-based Tri-Star Marketing Group and Cable & Wireless launched the ‘Call Santa and Rudolph’ interactive phonecard yesterday. The cardholder, or the child, dials the toll-free number on the back of the colorful phonecard. Santa and Rudolph talk to the child by way of a pre-recorded message, and Santa asks the child what he/she wants for Christmas. After Santa asks for a list, when the child answers the question, the wish list will be recorded. When the child is done, the parent can call a toll-free number to hear what their child wants. Both the child and the parent can call their toll-free number two times. The card will retail for $4.99.


MasterCard Canada Alliance

To capture a greater share of the US$2 trillion global travel & entertainment market and further their commitment to provide travellers with value-added benefits, MasterCard and the Canadian Tourism Commission Wednesday announced a strategic alliance that will grow the C$44 billion Canadian tourism industry and promote Canada as a top travel destination worldwide.

In a joint announcement at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada conference in Ottawa, MasterCard and the CTC signed an agreement to support the goals of both organizations. The alliance will provide support to Canadian tourism-related merchants to enhance the way they do business year-round while providing value-added products and services to MasterCard cardholders travelling to and within Canada.

“The agreement recognizes the opportunity that tourism represents to the Canadian economy and the reality of the competitive marketplace in which it operates today,” explained CTC president Doug Fyfe. “The association of MasterCard with travel to and within Canada, their assistance in developing professionalism standards and the broad acceptance of MasterCard cards in Canada will help CTC partners grow their businesses and increase profitability.”

“Through our alliance with the CTC, MasterCard will develop programs that help improve the merchant infrastructure within the Canadian travel community,” said Craig Penney, vice-president operations of MasterCard Canada Inc. “We are committed to provide emerging technology, professional development programs and promotional offerings that help advance and drive tourism in Canada.”

“This alliance with the CTC clearly demonstrates our commitment to the growing global T&E market by focusing on one of the world’s top travel destinations,” said Alan Brown, vice-president of global T&E marketing for MasterCard. “Our member banks, Canadian merchants and MasterCard cardholders around the world will benefit from this alliance with exclusive deals and value-added products and services-further distinguishing us from the competition.”

The agreement between MasterCard and the CTC follows MasterCard’s successful alliances with government tourist authorities including the French National Tourist Office (Maison de la France), China National Tourist Administration and Mexico’s National Tourism Secretariat.

The main aim of the strategic alliance between MasterCard and the CTC will be to help small- and medium-sized merchants in the Canadian Tourism Industry become more successful by:

(x) Creating professional development programs through in-market seminars, case studies, self-help guides and interactive CD-ROMs;

(x) Engaging in joint research to identify market segments by developing business profiles and pre-testing marketing and promotional campaigns;

(x) Developing and adopting technology related to commercial transactions in the tourism industry; and

(x) Integrating Canada into existing and prospective MasterCard promotions.

The Canadian Tourism Commission is a private-public sector organization that promotes the growth and profitability of Canada’s tourism industry by fostering partnerships between government and industry that lever their individual strengths.

Its partners include hotels, airlines, railways, travel agencies, attractions, tour operators, retailers, financial services and technology firms as well as local, regional and federal government agencies which have an interest in tourism. Its academic, econometric and research partners have also made the CTC the leading world supplier of tourism economic information and analysis. The Commission’s web site is located at [][1].

MasterCard International has the most comprehensive portfolio of payment brands in the world. With 23,000 member financial institutions, serving consumers in 220 countries and territories, MasterCard is the industry leader in quality and innovation. More than 600 million MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus and Mondex cards are accepted at more than 15 million locations worldwide. In 1997, gross dollar volume approached the equivalent of C$1 trillion. MasterCard can be reached through its web site at .



Waiting Room Gambling

Betting Inc. has begun to distribute free Pay Master units at public- waiting-room locations in Redondo Beach, Calif., that will provide Internet gaming operators with a self-service unit that enables present Internet gaming customers to open or to replenish their accounts by nonverbal credit-card cash advances or by ATM-card or smart-card, nonreversible cash payments.

Opening gaming accounts or replenishing them are legal, nonbetting transactions.

Additional cost savings to the Internet gaming operators are offered by the new player — sitting at a car wash or hair salon or hotel lobby — simply using the Pay Master alphanumeric key pad to input his/her name, address and other salient information needed by the Internet gaming companies.

By using the publicly located Pay Masters, Internet gaming customers can elect to send “card present” credit cards, which is a lower merchant charge rate to the gaming operators and which also offers the player the additional security of not sending his/her home address over the Internet and alerting burglars to where the Internet gaming player lives.

The player will be charged a small fee per transaction for this service that will be electronically paid to Betting Inc.

The Pay Masters are initially being distributed for free at waiting-room locations in Southern California as an electronic device that enables waiting-room customers to self-service shop from printed catalogs.

Gaming material will also be distributed at these same locations for self-service-Internet-gaming sign up or account replenishment.

Betting Inc. is presently offering Globallot Bingo information at its Pay Master locations, and is in discussions with sports book and other gaming operators.


Netroscope Study

Netroscope, a market-research and consulting firm focused on evaluating cutting-edge computer technologies and market trends, Tuesday announced a comprehensive study of electronic billing and its impact on financial institutions, billers, payment processors, technology providers, and consumers. The report entitled, “Electronic Bill Payment and Presentment(EBPP): A Road to Customer Loyalty” identifies potential market opportunities, examines bill payment and presentment integration approaches, evaluates various technology components, and discusses the missing opportunities for both banks and billers in customer profiling, billing standards, and new services.

According to this comprehensive study EBPP is poised to enhance and expand consumers’ relationship with their banks and billers. EBPP enables banks to offer a range of services, including Internet banking, financial planning, and tailored aggregation services that can help banks to sell, cross-sell, and up-sell. Billers can use EBPP approach to advance their call center operations, offer affinity programs, and establish dynamic bill management capabilities.

“We don’t expect EBPP to be a moneymaking business for banks,” said Natalie Shaheen, President of Netroscope. “But the value of a well expanded customer relationship far exceeds the benefits of short-term gains. A successful deployment of EBPP allows banks to better understand their customers’ spending patterns and relationships with other service providers. Nevertheless, consumer privacy is a sensitive subject. Most consumers won’t mind being cross-sold on products that they are interested in or need. However, customer profiling and cross-selling must be accomplished in a non-invasive and non-intrusive way.”

According to this report, at the heart of any EBPP model, banks are faced with four major challenges: (1) billers reluctance to participate at this early stage, (2) lack of consumer rally in support of EBPP, (3) insufficient data on EBPP cost savings, and (4) adverse impact on Lock-box operations.

A non biller-distributed approach could potentially compromise billers’ customer relationship. Billers are also facing five major challenges: (1) preserving their identity with customers, (2) selecting a successful EBPP approach to generate critical mass, (3) providing dual support for both electronic and non-electronic billing, (4) establishing widely accepted billing standards, and (5) bridging the gap between legacy systems and electronic delivery channels.

“Carefully orchestrating a user friendly solution capable of managing the customer relationship with both banks and billers is a key to making electronic commerce a true reality,” said Shaheen.

“Electronic Bill Payment and Presentment: A Road to Customer Loyalty” represents the kick-off of Netroscope’s e-commerce subscription services. To order this report, please contact Netroscope at 408/562-6350 or [][1].

About Netroscope:

Netroscope is a cyber-centric market research and consulting company focused on evaluation and assessment of leading-edge technologies and market trends, with the objective of supporting strategic business requirements of the industry. Netroscope’s services include syndicated and customized research, marketing and sales support services, assessment of corporate and vendor trends, “thinking council” advisory services, monthly newsletters, and daily alerts.



NYC Pilot Ends

VISA, MasterCard, Chase Manhattan and Citibank officially announced Tuesday they will conclude the ‘New York City Smart Card Program’ at the end of this year. The program was launched Oct. 97 to New York City’s Upper West Side. The four-way program was initially scheduled to last six months, but a decision was made to extend the program for another eight months to gain additional knowledge.  One of the main accomplishments of the program was the first successful joint implementation of both ‘VISA Cash’ and ‘Mondex’ at common point-of-sale terminals. More than 600 Upper West Side merchants participated in the undertaking. Approximately 100,000 smart cards were in circulation as part of the project. The average amount of stored value loaded by customers was $38, and more than $1 million in customer purchases have been electronically deposited into merchants’ accounts. Consumers will have until Dec. 31 to make purchases with their cards at participating merchants, and will have until six months after the card’s expiration date to unload any remaining value.


CheckFree & EDS

CheckFree and EDS signed a six-year agreement Tuesday in which EDS will use CheckFree’s remittance processing services for the electronic bill paying service that EDS provides to financial institutions. CheckFree is a provider of bill presentment and payment processing for financial institutions, processing more than 10 million electronic bill payment transactions per month. EDS has more than 5,000 financial institution clients in 32 countries.



BA Merchant Services reported third quarter net income of $11.2 million, an 11% increase over net income of $10.1 million for the comparable quarter of 1997. Net revenue of $136 million on sales volume processed of $30 billion for the first nine months of 1998 increased 17% and 24%, respectively, over net revenue of $116 million on sales volume processed of $24 billion for the same period in 1997. On Oct. 22, Bank of America NT&SA disclosed its intention to offer to potentially acquire all the Class A shares of BAMS which are publicly held. Bank of America indicated its willingness to acquire such shares at a cash price of $15.50. BAMS Board of Directors has formed a special committee, consisting entirely of directors independent of Bank of America, to review and evaluate the proposal.



Attendees from 31 states and territories and two foreign countries will convene in Washington beginning on Sunday for a discussion on the future of Electronic Benefits Transfer systems.

The occasion will be EBT–The Next Generation, a national conference being hosted by the EBT Industry Council of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association. The Conference begins Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Marriott Metro Center in the nation’s capital.

In making the announcement, H. Kurt Helwig, executive director of EFTA said, “The universal and widespread support of this conference speaks to the importance of EBT in future public policy, and the role of our EBT Industry Council in helping shape that future.”

In addition to government officials from 23 states, representatives from federal agencies such as the Agriculture and Treasure departments, the General Services Administration, the Federal Reserve System and the F.B.I will also participate in the conference, added Helwig.

“We are especially gratified at the breadth of interest that EBT–The Next Generation has drawn,” Helwig stated, noting that private and public sector representatives from as far away as Guam, Puerto Rico, Canada and the United Kingdom would attend the conference.

About EBT–The Next Generation

EBT–The Next Generation is a national conference to examine the conversion of existing government services from paper documentation to electronic payment technologies, the Internet and interactive media.

The conference will feature government and industry leaders in seminars on such topics as cost sharing partnerships, multi-program integration, recreational card services, digitized drivers licenses, government funded health and nutrition programs, campus cards and retail delivery systems.

For more information on EBT–The Next Generation, please visit the EFTA web site at .

About the EBT Industry Council

EFTA’s EBT Industry Council is the nation’s longest standing trade group dedicated to the business and policy issues involved in electronic benefits transfer systems. Its members include EBT processors, suppliers, equipment manufacturers and consultants. Current members include Lockheed Martin IMS, SPS Payment Systems, and HONOR Technologies.

About the Electronic Funds Transfer Association

Now in its third decade, the Electronic Funds Transfer Association is the nation’s leading inter-industry trade association dedicated to electronic commerce and payments. EFTA members include CyberCash, Inc., Online Resources & Communications Corp., and Chase Manhattan Bank.


DANYL Goes to School

Schlumberger DANYL Tuesday announced that it has expanded its smart card-based solution for the campus market. Combining its leading-edge Open architecture PUrse System smart card system with DataCard Corporation and Touch Technology International technology to offer expanded front- and back-end capabilities, Schlumberger is now positioned as the campus market’s single source “general contractor” for smart card-enabled solutions.

Encompassing cards, terminals, readers, software, administrative support and other expertise, Schlumberger OPUS is an expandable smart card platform that grows as applications are needed. Supporting multiple purses, loyalty, access and banking interfaces, the Schlumberger end-to-end offering provides long term stability, faster development time and reduced technical risk through coordinated development and integration of smart cards, readers and its unique “total solution” model.

“Today’s closed, multi-application systems in higher education are evolving as the staging ground for tomorrow’s global evolution in smart card-enabled electronic transactions and access/ID,” stated Louis Bisasky, general manager, Schlumberger DANYL. “As a result of the extensive research and manpower investments that we have made in perfecting smart card systems for the campus environment, Schlumberger DANYL is now positioned as the leading, single-source provider of these solutions for this rapidly growing market.”

Adding to its state-of-the-art capabilities and commitment to customer service and support, Schlumberger DANYL recently signed a reseller agreement with DataCard Corporation that adds ID card imaging services to its portfolio. The Schlumberger offering now incorporates DataCard’s industry-leading digital card printing technology and software, which supports integrated image capture, card printing, smart card programming and magnetic stripe encoding in a single pass process. “We are delighted to team-up with Schlumberger to provide seamless end-to-end solutions for the campus market,” stated Renee Garpestad, vice president, Market Development, for DataCard’s enterprise company. “Campus administrators will now be able to leverage our combined resources to move forward with next generation smart card-enabled services more quickly.”

Additionally, Schlumberger DANYL recently licensed TTI’s CardTouch software, providing comprehensive capability for automated back-end functions, including settlement, funds pool management and funds movement, which previously required manual efforts. “OPUS and CardTouch make an ideal combination for the campus environment,” stated Bill Hussey, TTI president and chief executive officer. “Packaging our two systems together provides a unique and unrivaled campus card solution that automates ID and campus commerce. The integrated solution can create significant time- and cost-saving benefits for campus administrators.”

“Combining OPUS with these other advanced technologies, the Schlumberger DANYL total solution campus offering now includes smart cards; readers for vending, laundry, library copiers and printers; point-of-sale terminals; bank debit and credit card-capable electronic purse revaluing stations; data collection systems; project management and installation,” stated Randy Vanderhoof, director, Product Marketing, Schlumberger DANYL. ” This combination of products, software and services makes OPUS the most complete smart card solution for the college and corporate campus markets.”

Schlumberger Drives Smart Card-Based Solutions on Campus

Schlumberger DANYL is a business group within Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals, the world’s leading provider of smart card-based solutions for businesses and communities. Drawing on this expertise, Schlumberger DANYL is North America’s only single-source provider of total smart card-based stored value solutions for closed and semi-closed environments, such as college campuses, corporate campuses, hospitals, municipalities and resorts.

The company’s current installed base of over 350 campuses, corporate offices, government bases and libraries benefit from over ten years experience delivering both magnetic stripe and smart card technology. The first Schlumberger DANYL smart card campus systems were installed in 1995 at the University of Michigan and at Western Michigan University. Since then, over a dozen additional campuses and corporate offices have implemented similar systems with the help of Schlumberger.

About Schlumberger

Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals is the leading provider of smart card-based solutions worldwide, shaping the new world of smart solutions by providing leading-edge technology to enable innovative smart card and terminal applications that enhance the security and convenience of businesses and communities of all kinds. Schlumberger smart card solutions encompass a wide range of cards, terminals, development tools and support in open configurations for operators, developers, integrators and distributors worldwide. As part of the Smart Village vision, the Schlumberger offer includes the milestone Cyberflex card, the industry’s first Java-based smart card. The Smart Cards & Terminals group operates 45 facilities in 34 countries across the globe. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at .

Schlumberger Test & Transactions is the parent division for Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals and Schlumberger Automated Test Equipment, leveraging the combined strengths of the two business units to provide leading-edge, cost-effective solutions to customers.

Schlumberger Test & Transactions is a business unit of Schlumberger Limited, a $10.65 billion global technology service company providing oilfield services, natural resources management, transactions-based technology and associated systems, and semiconductor test equipment.

About DataCard Corporation

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial and identification applications. Major markets for identification solutions include Fortune 1000 companies, educational institutions, government and healthcare. In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers complete lines of card personalization systems, digital photo ID systems, photo ID printers and transaction systems. ([][1]). About Touch Technology International

Founded in 1991, Touch Technology International provides software solutions, integration services and operations support for high-volume transaction processing systems using smart cards and other emerging technologies. Engineered to provide a common foundation for a wide variety of smart card applications, TTI’s CardTouch system delivers comprehensive back-office capabilities for a number of markets such as public tolls and transit, financial services, universities, and corporations. The CardTouch platform may be licensed by systems integrators and vertical market solutions providers who wish to build smart card payment and access systems. More information about CardTouch can be found at [][2]

Cyberflex is a trademark and Smart Village is a registered trademark of Schlumberger. Java is a trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc.



Chameleon ATM

TX-based Tidel Technologies introduced Tuesday the next generation of ATM technology. ‘Chameleon’ is an Internet-savvy, interactive multimedia kiosk that combines the security of traditional EFT banking networks with the limitless e-commerce options of the Internet, thereby taking the ATM far beyond its existing boundaries.  For example, an ATM user could make a cash withdrawal, and then buy airline tickets and book a hotel reservation, all while receiving high-impact advertising messages in broadcast-quality video and audio. With a direct hot link to the Internet via web-enabled screens, the ‘Chameleon ATM’ will allow consumers to process a variety of convenience-based transactions never before possible at their local ATM.


NetUSA Picks Up Another

NetUSA Telecom Division announced Tuesday that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire the GlobalCOM TeleServices, Inc. of Fremont, Calif.

Under the terms of the proposed merger/acquisition, NetUSA’s Telecom Division and GlobalCOM will merge their telecommunications operations. The new company will offer low-cost, high-quality Internet and traditional telecommunications services to a large number of countries.

GlobalCOM TeleServices was one of the first companies to offer prepaid phone cards for international telephone services to cut into the high cost of international long distance calls. Currently, GlobalCOM’s Enhanced Telephone Services (ETS) enjoys a large, nationwide customer base for services to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Canada, United Kingdom, and France.

It is the largest phone card service provider to Taiwan. It plans to enter into the China market in the near future. GlobalCOM also offers nationwide paging, international callback, international fax and voice mail services.

“GlobalCOM is a known winner in the business. They have high quality customer service and market savvy in letting customers know about their services,” said Michael Gallagher, NetUSA director of Business Development.

“They also have a large customer base, which is crucial to the development of new, better services. With this acquisition, the companies can pool their strengths together. We have the Internet technology and Internet marketing experience. They have the large customer base and experience in providing the telecom services. Together, we can offer new services such as the phone card sales via NetUSA internet online sales channel at an affordable price.”

NetUSA has three divisions. The Telecom Division ([][1]) employs cutting-edge IP technology for iphone and ifax that highly reduces the cost while preserving the quality of the services.

The WebCenter Division provides complete World Wide Web solutions for business and also owns, one of the largest software information centers and online sales on the Web.

The Software Technology Division ([][2]) produces critically acclaimed utility programs for personal computers using Microsoft operating systems, including award-winning Mac-In-DOS.