First X Prize Winner

A special-education teacher from Davison, Mich., will soon travel to Moscow and up to 85,000 feet at two-and-a-half times the speed of sound aboard a Russian MiG-25 as the first winner in the ‘YOUR TICKET TO SPACE’ sweepstakes.  The first-of-its-kind quarterly sweepstakes is sponsored by the X PRIZE Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to promote space-tourism. Contestants are entered in the sweepstakes by using the ‘X PRIZE Platinum VISA’ from First USA.  Each use of the card entitled cardholders to an automatic sweepstakes entry.The MiG-25 flight is the first of many space-related prizes leading up to the grand prize, a sub-orbital trip into space, which will be awarded upon the development of a commercial vehicle capable of sub-orbital flight. The next quarterly drawing, in December, will award a first-prize zero- gravity flight aboard a wide-body jet.

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MDC Acquisition Update

MDC Communications Corporation of Toronto announced this week that it has completed the acquisition of all the assets of Canadian cheque producer Custom Cheques of Canada, Canadian card producer BA Custom Cards, and U.S. direct-to-consumer cheque producer Custom Direct Inc.

MDC paid $55 million in cash and issued 1,250,000 MDC Class A Subordinate Voting Shares as consideration for the acquisitions.

As reported previously, all regulatory preconditions for closing the transaction have been fulfilled, including notification from the Canadian Competition Bureau of the conclusion of their review of the transaction.

“We are thrilled to have completed this strategically important transaction,” said Miles S. Nadal, President & Chief Executive Officer of MDC. “These operations further enhance our presence in the Canadian market for personalized transaction products including personal and business checks, as well as credit, debit and smart cards. In addition, we have enhanced our growing presence in the U.S. direct to consumer check market by gaining an additional brand to further enhance our market positioning”.

MDC is a leading provider of secure transaction products and services as well as communications and marketing services to customers in over 65 countries around the world from its operating units in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. MDC has a strong record of growth, generated both internally and from strategic corporate acquisitions.

MDC offers secure transaction products and services through four primary areas: personalized transaction products such as personal and business cheques & credit, debit, and smart cards; secure ticketing products such as airline, transit, and event tickets; stamps, both postal and excise; and business and technology services such as customer communication design, database management, information presentation, statement outsourcing and business process services.

MDC shares are traded on Nasdaq under the symbol MDCAF and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol MDZ.A.

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VISA Infinite

As announced in yesterday’s CardFlash VISA International is launching a new global premium card called: ‘VISA Infinite’. The decision to launch the new upscale product was made this week at VISA International’s Board of Directors meeting in Buenos Aires. One of the new major features of the new card is a Web service that is exclusive to ‘VISA Infinite’ cardholders, offering them 24-hour access to personalized travel information, special cardholder retail and travel offers, and an online concierge service. The Web site feature can also be customized for the cardholder. The new card will feature a $20,000 minimum credit limit or a no pre-set spending credit limit. The card will carry most of  enhancements found on the ‘VISA Signature’ card. VISA says the card is targeted technologically savvy affluent international travelers. Among Infinite merchant partners: Ritz-Carlton and Avis.

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ZeitControl BasicCard

The Mifare Pro BasicCard consists of a combination of non-contact and contact technology. The chip card only contains a Mifare Pro Dual interface chip.

This technology is particularly suitable for local passenger transport. To buy a ticket the card has to be placed in a ticket machine which takes the required amount of money out of the contact chip and puts the data of the desired ticket into the noncontact part of the card.

The card is equipped with an 8Kbyte E2Prom which holds the user’s permanent data as well as the application program. The application program is developed in Basic on a PC, compiled into a virtual machine language known as P-Code and transferred into the chip. (The Java programming language uses the same technology.) In the chip a virtual machine executes this P-Code. The RAM contains run-time data. Thus an expensive development of screen images and long waits have become superfluous. A triple DES encryption protects the data reliably from unauthorized access.

This new development is based on a cooperation between Philips Semiconductors/Identification and ZeitControl GmbH.

Detailed information can be found in the internet under [www.basiccard.com][1]

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

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Fair, Isaac Makes Forbes List

Singled out as a ‘superstar,’ Fair, Isaac and Company, Inc. ranked 117 in Forbes’ annual list of “The 200 Best Small Companies.” This marks the sixth time that the leader in decision-making technology has appeared on the national business magazine’s annual list of top companies. Fair, Isaac is also one of just two San Francisco Bay Area companies to make the elite 1998 Honor Roll, which recognizes those businesses that outperformed others on the list with better-than-average returns and exceptional growth and that have appeared repeatedly on the “200 Best” list.

“Going forward, Fair, Isaac remains committed to developing ever more intelligent data-driven decision-making solutions,” said Fair, Isaac president and chief executive officer Larry Rosenberger. “The goal is to help our clients find better ways to acquire more good customers and to keep them longer by providing them with the products and services they really want.”

The 200 companies highlighted in the November 2 issue of Forbes are selected from a database of more than 11,000 public companies with annual sales of five to $350 million.

Candidates for the Forbes’ ranking are analyzed through a computerized screening and series of financial analyses on future profitability. Return on equity and share value continue to play a key role in the screening process. Fair, Isaac beat the list’s median five-year return on equity and showed a strong balance sheet that outshines 45 percent of its colleagues on the list.

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VISA Support

With the growing support of MULTOS and this week’s announcement by Microsoft to enter the smart card arena VISA announced yesterday that seven French banks are set to work with Carte Bleue and VISA International on a smart card program using the ‘VISA Open Platform’. Other supporters of ‘VISA Open Platform’ for smart cards include Citibank, Proton World International and Visa Espana. The French program will start next year and will involve active participation by seven banks, including BNP, Banques Populaires, Caisses d’Epargne, CCF, Credit Lyonnais, La Poste, and Societe Generale. The ‘VISA Open Platform’ was first piloted four months ago in Singapore.  Standard Chartered Bank and Visa have tested a multi-function smart card among bank employees and customers, offering a credit application, loyalty program, a bank relationship application, and a security function for shopping on the Internet.

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Concord EFS Sponsors EFTA EBT

Concord EFS, a leader in electronic transaction authorization, processing, settlement and funds transfer services in selected markets, has agreed to co-sponsor the Electronic Funds Transfer Association’s upcoming conference on Electronic Benefits Transfer.

The conference, called “EBT–The Next Generation,” will take place Nov. 8-10 at the Mariott Metro Center in Washington. It is being hosted by EFTA’s EBT Industry Council.

In making the announcement, EFTA Executive Director H. Kurt Helwig said, “Concord’s support of EBT–The Next Generation is further evidence of its vision and and leadership in the field of electronic funds transfer.”

Helwig noted that Concord EFS joins a long list of conference sponsors that include Citicorp Services Inc., a developer and operator of debit card systems; Burger, Carroll & Associates Inc., a leading management and technology consulting company; and Deluxe Electronic Payments Systems, a major provider of electronic-funds transfer services and solutions.

“Concord EFS joins a long list of companies that have put their faith in our EBT Industry Council’s leadership with respect to the business and policy issues of future EBT technology,” said Helwig.

About Concord EFS

Concord EFS, a publicly traded company headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., is a widely recognized name in the supermarket, petroleum, retail and fleet management areas of electronic payment services.

Founded in 1970, Concord EFS has earned over 35 endorsements from wholesalers and associations such as the National Grocers Association. For more information, visit its web site at .

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, 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 EDS, Deluxe EPS and Transaction Network Services.

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 Diebold Inc., Fleet Financial Group, Mag-Tek Inc., and Comerica Bank.

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Online Privacy

In response to this week’s decision by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to issue non-binding privacy guidelines for financial institutions, First Data Direct Banking unveiled a turnkey program yesterday that guides its ‘NetPrecision Home Banking’ clients through the creation and posting of consumer privacy policies on their Web sites. The company took a three-pronged approach to the privacy issue: First, it developed a suite of tools that includes a checklist, sample policies, an implementation guide and links to knowledgeable sources of information to guide financial institution clients who have not yet developed privacy policies through the necessary steps. Next, it developed an expedited process to aid existing clients to post privacy policies on their sites. Finally, it has integrated the development of privacy policies into its proprietary ‘NetSpeed’ implementation process. The FTC recently surveyed some 1,400 Web sites and found that while more than 90% collected information from visitors, only 14% disclosed how that information would be used. Only a slightly higher number of bank Web sites — 17% — were found to have posted information policies.

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Racom Contracts with Iris

Racom Systems Inc. , a leading provider of contactless smart card technology solutions, announced it has signed a manufacturing and marketing agreement with Iris Technologies of Malaysia (IRIS).

The agreement calls for Racom to contract its smart card and reader manufacturing to IRIS for several contracts that are in various stages of development. IRIS will use Racom’s marketing organization as its representative for smart card and peripheral equipment sales. The companies will also work jointly to design and develop new applications for the smart card market.

“This agreement is significant for Racom as we shift our focus from product manufacturing to becoming a technology provider of contactless distributed control technology,” says Art Rancis, Racom’s president and CEO. “Partnering with an industry leader like IRIS Technologies allows Racom to market its contactless smart card and RFID technologies without the burden and expense of operating a manufacturing facility.”

Racom designs and markets a broad range of turnkey smart card systems for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, education, transportation and more. It offers a unique combination of intellectual property, radio frequency engineering and contactless smart card systems design and implementation. Racom’s core technology encompasses patented ferroelectric memory technology, radio frequency technology, communications software and encryption software. The company’s core technology is protected by more than 100 patents that has been adopted by more than 100 customers.

“Racom is clearly a technology leader within the industrial, contactless smart card marketplace and we look forward to assisting them in serving this expanding market,” says Tan Say Jim, managing director for IRIS. “Their strategy of outsourcing the manufacturing of smart cards and equipment will allow Racom to build upon its leadership role and develop the most advanced technical solutions available.”

About IRIS Technologies

IRIS Technologies is a leading manufacturer of smart card systems and peripherals based in Malaysia, where it operates from a 330,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. The company has developed an integrated smart card technology process called Image Retrieval and Identification System, which is capable of providing very high identification and verification security. IRIS has extensive experience manufacturing both contact and contactless smart cards for customers around the world.

About Racom Systems Inc.

Racom Systems Inc., headquartered in Denver, Colo., develops and markets smart card-based technologies that automate transactions for electronic commerce, information technology, physical and logical access control, and industrial automation. Racom solutions provide secure, convenient and personalized access to money, information, property, and services. For further information about Racom, its technology and products, contact Racom at its Web address, , by telephone at 303/771-2077, or by fax at 303/771-4708.

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Technology Survey

A major international poll released today reveals that Americans and consumers worldwide favor home-based voting via the Internet.

The survey also provides perspective about worldwide Internet usage and other consumer opinions about technology’s role in retail, government and education.

Some 60 percent of U.S. respondents agreed that voting from home via the Internet would increase their participation in the electoral process. This compares to 52 percent of British respondents, 51 percent of those polled from Sweden and 47 percent from Germany. With only a 35 percent positive response, the French were far less enthusiastic about using technology for home voting; 63 percent of respondents in France were against the idea of home voting.

The study, sponsored by ICL, a leading supplier of IT systems and services in more than 70 countries worldwide, is one of the first international comparisons of how technology has affected consumer attitudes, lifestyles and shopping habits. During the summer of 1998, 3,500 confidential telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted with residents in five countries: the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. The questionnaires for each country were similar, with adjustments only when necessary to ensure questions were relevant to that particular country and culture. The research was conducted and tabulated by Market Opinion Research International (MORI), based in London.

Other significant findings are listed on the following pages.

General

— Forty-nine percent of American and 46 percent of Swedish respondents currently are using the Internet and just 17 percent of the French are doing so. Asked why they are not using this technology, 43 percent of French respondents said it is not relevant to them. Internet usage in Germany (24 percent) is also comparatively low, with lack of interest (34 percent) cited as the main reason.

— Americans differ with much of the world regarding Internet regulation. While at least two-thirds of all those surveyed in Europe thought an independent body should govern the Internet, more Americans disagreed than agreed with this statement.

— Technophobia is still prevalent in France (50 percent) and Great Britain (45 percent). In each of these two countries, slightly more respondents agreed than disagreed with the statement, “I find technology such as personal computers confusing.” — Americans and Swedes (63 percent both) scored highest in their confidence in their countries’ technological prowess and leadership.

Retail

— Nearly half of all loyalty cardholders regularly make use of the points or rewards they have collected through their cards, including 45 percent of Americans, and 72 percent of the British. This was the case even though Americans, at 66 percent, were especially emphatic in disagreeing with the statement, “My loyalty cards make me shop more often at places that provided them.” Nearly half of all respondents from Great Britain and Germany also disagreed with the statement.

— Americans also appear more willing to explore alternatives to traditional shopping, such as the Internet. Only 60 percent of U.S. respondents indicated they will not change their shopping behavior, while that number was 80 percent in France.

— Thirty-seven percent of Americans polled would be interested in a weekly food shopping service that delivers to the home or workplace, while the French, at 27 percent, were least interested. The British expressed the highest interest with 41 percent responding positively.

— Supermarkets — when compared to airlines, banks, gas stations, insurance companies and independent retailers fared best when asked what types of organizations had most improved their customer service during the last decade. Some 72 percent of Americans, 81 percent of the British and 75 percent of the French surveyed thought supermarkets had most improved their service over the past decade.

Government and Education

— Americans (82 percent) are the most committed to using technology in education, while the French, at 59 percent, are the most uncertain about it.

— 70 percent of respondents from all five countries believed that technology will improve children’s education. Americans gave the schools an only slightly better than average grade for their use of technology to date.

— Americans were more likely to want electronic access to additional government information at libraries (28 percent) or at home via the Internet (27 percent). According to the British, supermarkets (30 percent) would be the best places to install government information access kiosks, while the town hall got most of the votes from French (42 percent) and German (32 percent) respondents.

A leading supplier of IT systems and services, London-based ICL operates in more than 70 countries worldwide. ICL’s retail systems division is based in Dallas. Employing more than 19,000, ICL posted 1997 revenues of 2.477.1 million pounds (approximately $4 billion) with a pretax profit of (pound)30 million pounds (approximately $51 million). The company implements IT systems for major projects and provides innovative services to a range of industries, including retail, finance, travel, telecommunications, and utilities, as well as education and local and central governments. ICL services include outsourcing, helpdesks, network services, Inter/intranets, electronic commerce solutions, interactive kiosks, smart card systems, digital cities and Web sites.

MORI is the largest full-service independent research firm in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1969 and based in London, it is best known for its political polling and worked for more than 500 public and private sector clients in 1997.

For more information, contact Roy Miller or Matt Ricketts at Michael A. Burns & Associates Public Relations at 214/521-8596, or via email, at [rmiller@mbapr.com][1] or [ricketts@mbapr.com][2].

[1]: mailto:rmiller@mbapr.com
[2]: mailto:ricketts@mbapr.com

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Decision Optimizer

Austin, TX-based Trajecta, Inc released a predictive optimization solution that provides a dashboard for customer decisioning based on an integrated view of revenue, cost and risk. ‘Decision Optimizer 1.6’  takes data mining to the next level by providing a robust, multi-dimensional picture of a customer’s value over time. Most of the current decisioning tools merely look at a narrow field of risk or revenue possibilities. ‘Decision Optimizer’ allows companies to look forward, using patented nonlinear algorithms to generate the best possible strategic plan. Users can also test what-if scenarios against historical plans to analyze potential customer behaviors and to optimize responses to future strategic decisions.

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