First SET Mark

GlobeSet became the first company to be awarded the right to use the ‘SET Mark’ for merchant servers. The company was approved for its ‘GlobeSet POS’. Yesterday’s milestone follows a June 4 announcement that the ‘GlobeSet Wallet’, a cardholder application that communicates with the merchant POS application via the SET protocol, was awarded a SET Mark by SETCo.

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VISA’s Smart Purse

VISA International has the “midas touch” in venture capital investing after watching an experimental $10 million fund grow to more than $200 million in four years. According to this week’s issue of the San Francisco Business Times, VISA has had only one “dog” among its fifteen investments over the past four years. Among VISA’s biggest winners are Yahoo Inc. and VeriSign. VISA participated in the early funding of both companies. The Business Times predicts VISA’s next big winner will be Nuance Communication of Menlo Park, CA. Nuance has successfully commercialized voice recognition software and is expected to go public shortly. VISA joined Nuance’s first round of outside venture capital funding when the company made plans to integrate its technology into the telephone response systems of VISA’s members. The typical VISA investment is about $1 million.

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VeriFone & Contact/Contactless Smart Cards

VeriFone and On Track Innovations Ltd. announced last week that they have signed an agreement to market and integrate OTI’s ‘EYECON’ smart card technology with VeriFone’s products. The agreement calls for the development of contactless smart card products for a wide range of smart card solutions and markets, including government, healthcare, petroleum and retail. Last week’s agreement is actually an extension of an existing alliance between OTI and VeriFone’s Petroleum/C-Store Division on the ‘VeriPass’ program. ‘VeriPass’, which uses contactless smart card technology from OTI, is a control, monitoring, and administration system for the automated customer authorization, tracking and billing for vehicles at retail gas stations. OTI says it has 8 years of extensive experience working with microprocessor-based contactless cards.

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Wireless Golf Transactions

As the ‘Motorola Western Open’ gets underway this morning at the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, IL, Motorola, VeriFone, Global Payment Systems and American Mobile are jointly providing a wireless EFT-POS solution for merchandise sales at the event. A total of five wireless locations will be set up throughout the golf course. VeriFone POS terminals will process and verify credit card transactions using a Global Payment Systems retail payment application. The terminals will transmit to and receive transaction data from Global Payment Systems via Motorola ‘Series 500 Integrated Wireless Modems’ over American Mobile’s ‘ARDIS’ two-way, nationwide data network. ‘ARDIS’ uses a ‘DataTAC’ system from Motorola. The wireless solution can deliver a six-to-ten second transaction. Motorola said Friday the companies are also working together on nationwide wireless EFT-POS pilots in other industries, including taxi cab, limousine service and tow-truck businesses in the Midwest, and itinerant merchant businesses on the West Coast and in Alaska.

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Digital Sigs in UK

Barclays Bank and CertCo launched a smart card-based digital signature service last week called ‘Barclays Endorse’. The UK government is the first to make use of the service by enabling individuals to register new businesses via the Internet in a six-month trial which commenced Friday. The trial is part of the country’s Better Government Programme.  CertCo’s ‘CertAuthority Solution’ technology provides Barclays with the “root” certificate authority technology needed to ensure that the digital signatures on the forms are just as reliable as manually signed paper documents. UK citizens who are starting their own businesses are required to register with three government departments: Contributions Agency, Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise. Using smart cards and readers in their home personal computers or in select Barclays branches, the ‘Barclays Endorse’ trial enables users to submit streamlined electronic intelligent forms,  digitally sign the documents and transmit them to the government.

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Japanese Toys ‘R’ Us Card

The co-branded ‘Toys ‘R’ Us’ card has been a hit by international standards. Since its launch last November in Japan the program has exceeded its goal by 50%. At the end of May, the card, issued by Aeon Credit Service Company, has signed up 300,000 cardholders.  The Aeon-Toys ‘R’ Us partnership projected 200,000 cardholders in Japan. The British and Spanish programs have about 150,000 cardholders total. The company reportedly said this weekend that consumers were “fighting” for card applications when the program was announced November 7.

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Platinum Fees

While ‘Platinum’ VISA and MasterCards have generally come to signify the issuer’s highest credit limits and issuer’s lowest pricing, a ‘Platinum’ offer may also include some of the highest fees for making a late payment, going over the credit limit or taking a cash advance. According to a sampling of  ‘Platinum’ solicitations dispatched in June and captured by CardWeb’s new ‘CardWatch’ service, ‘Platinum’ late payment fees are averaging slightly above $25, or about 31% higher than the industry average. Over-the-limit fees are also running 31% higher, $24.45 versus an $18.66 industry average. ‘Platinum’ cash advance fees are about 27% higher.

PLATINUM  COATED  FEES
ISSUER             LPF OLF        CAF
Citibank ‘Platinum Select’      $25 $25   2.5%w$2min
Advanta ‘Platinum Edge’ $25     $25   4.0%/w$5min
MBNA ‘Platinum Plus’ $25 $25   2.0%/w$2 min
Capital One $25 $25   2.5%/w$2.50 min
AT&T Universal $20 $20   2.0%/w$2 min-$20 max
Mellon $25 $25   3.5%/w $5 min
NationsBank ‘Platinum Priority’ $25 $25   3.0%/w$3 min
First USA $29 $25   2.0%/w$10 min
GE Capital $29 $25   2.5%/w $2 min
Platinum Averages $25.34 $24.45   2.67%/w $3.73 min
Industry Averages $19.42 $18.66   2.11%/w $2.05 min

LPF- late payment fee; OLF- over-the-limit fee; CAF- cash advance fee. Source: CardWeb’s new CardWatch service and Card Management Information Services’ Bankcard Barometer

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Air Travel Card is SET

Air Travel Card, the world’s first business travel payment system, announced the successful completion of an end-to-end test of the first phase of its Electronic Commerce Program. The test ensures a highly secure virtual environment for Air Travel Card airlines and cardholders when purchasing over the Internet.

The test, comprised of a full electronic consumer transaction through a simulated airline merchant to a gateway based on the SET protocol, was held at Electronic Data Systems (EDS) of Dallas, TX and conducted in conjunction with VeriFone, Inc. of Santa Clara, CA. VeriFone, a leader in the electronic commerce field, has partnered with Air Travel Card to deliver secure end-to-end Internet payment solutions. The software programs tested by Air Travel Card include vGATE software, which provides seamless transaction delivery from the Internet merchant to a financial institution; vPOS software which captures order and payment data for the merchant and transmits appropriate credit authorization and processing information; and vWALLET software which gives the consumer a highly secure means to make Internet purchases from the convenience of their PC.

Elizabeth Ames, general manager, Merchant Services at VeriFone said, “By bringing this technology to the business travel industry, Air Travel Card is putting together a robust solution that will keep its members’ transactions safe in the virtual world.”

“With the end-to-end test successfully completed, Air Travel Card will now begin Internet transactions with pilot airlines American Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines. Air Travel Card cardholders will now be able to enjoy all the benefits SET technology has to offer.” stated Charles Fischer, managing director of Air Travel Card. The completion of this initial test demonstrates Air Travel Card’s commitment and leadership in providing this technology.

Air Travel Card is the business travel payment system offered by nearly 30 airlines and accepted by more than 200 carriers around the world. As part of its global network, Air Travel Card owns and licenses brands AirPlus (Europe) and PassAge (Asia) that provide value-added benefits to travelers.

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E-Giving

The first ATM deployed in a church recently went on-line to facilitate electronic donations. The Unity Church of Christ in Chapel Hill, NC is leasing an ATM for a six month pilot. According to the AP, it is common for major churches to accept donations via credit cards, which are usually processed manually. The church indicated that the newly installed ATM is adding about $100 to the collection plate each Sunday.

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Pathways Expands Board

The Pathways Group, Inc. reported that its Board of Directors has convened a meeting in which a corporate resolution was passed to expand the number of directors serving the board.  The resolution authorized the appointment of two new outside directors which expands the total board to five members.

The first addition, Monte P. Strohl, is currently the president of MS Digital.  Mr. Strohl founded MS Digital in 1994 and has acted as the president and CEO since that time.  MS Digital is a company specializing primarily in corporate communication and cable broadcasting.  MS Digital provides hardware and software solutions to companies wishing to communicate over cable TV (public or internal) or intranets.  MS Digital’s client’s include universities, municipalities and Fortune 500 companies.  Before founding MS Digital, Mr. Strohl worked as VP of Sales for OMNI International, which sold video production solutions internationally.

Mr. Strohl is one of the original founders of Pathways International, Ltd., the core company of The Pathways Group, Inc., and a major contributor to the corporate vision.

The second addition, Linda Wing, teaches Strategic Management at Metro State University/Minneapolis Campus.  Mrs. Wing has an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and several undergraduate degrees from Mankato State University in Finance and Industrial Relations.  She has recently enrolled with both the Adler Institute of Minnesota and the Jung Association of Minnesota, studying both group and individual psychology.  She is preparing for her Ph.D. in Organizational Development with the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara.

Carey Daly, Chairman of the board of Pathways was quoted as saying, “These additions to our board will only further strengthen the team of professionals who will guide our company into the next century as a leader in the transaction processing field.”

The Pathways Group, Inc. provides clients with innovative and unique solutions for securely creating, capturing and processing data and electronic transactions using custom application software and hardware systems. The company was established in 1987 by Carey Daly and has evolved into a leader in the development of custom software and hardware for electronic banking, data and transaction processing, and smart card applications.  Pathways creation of proprietary “back room” systems allows for the capture and processing of data and transfer of funds via “ACH” protocol, the standard used in the banking industry for transfer of funds in retail, medical and institutional environments.

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Equifax Increases Spanish Ownership

Equifax today announced it is extending its investment and commitment to the pan-European information market by acquiring the majority shareholding of its Spanish operation, ASNEF-Equifax.

The company has increased its ownership to 58 percent, resulting in consolidated revenues of approximately $35 mi1lion on an annualized basis.

This latest investment has been made by Equifax to enable a greater commitment to the provision of information solutions for profitable business decision-making throughout Spain and Portugal. It also marks the next stage of Equifax’s plans to extend its services throughout Europe.

Thomas F. Chapman, Equifax president and CEO, said, “Equifax is committed to facilitating commerce by extending our knowledge-based information solutions throughout Europe. This latest investment demonstrates our continuing commitment to growth and innovation worldwide.”

Equifax entered Spain in 1994 when it joined the Spanish association of banks and finance companies – Asociation Nacional de Entidades de Financiacion (ASNEF) – to establish a joint venture to provide consumer financial information. In 1995 the company created Portuguese consumer credit information business, CREDINFORMACOES and in July 1997, the Spanish commercial information company, INCRESA, was acquired to complement Equifax’s commercial information services for Spain and Portugal.

Serving the financial services, motor finance, retail and communications markets as well as general business and industry, ASNEF-Equifax manages information on more than 38 million individuals in Iberia, as well as providing sophisticated tools for effective consumer risk management, to support profitable consumer lending. Its business information services, featuring performance data on more than half a million Spanish companies, support the selection of the right customers and suppliers in the business-to- business market. ASNEF-Equifax also provides analytical expertise and data resources for consumer and business-to-business marketing in both countries.

Nick Bevan, executive vice president and group executive of Equifax Europe, said, “Our investment in ASNEF-Equifax provides us with the facility to develop new services and solutions on the Iberian peninsula, enabling our customers to enhance their performance and profitability.”

Managing Director Miguel Rueda remains at the head of the ASNEF-Equifax organization. The ASNEF organization, comprised of Spain’s leading banks and finance houses, however, retains control of its members’ own data, in order to sustain the principles of reciprocal information sharing which have been at the heart of its operation since its founding. ASNEF will also continue to play a significant and integral role in the development of Equifax’s services.

Equifax’s worldwide knowledge-based information, transaction processing, consulting and software businesses are designed to bring buyers and sellers together, thus changing the shape of global commerce. Equifax serves the banking, financial, retail, credit card, automotive, telecommunications/utilities, government and health care industries. It is a leading supplier of business information solutions in Canada, the UK and Latin America. Equifax operates in 17 countries with sales in 42 countries. Founded in 1899 in Atlanta, GA, Equifax today has 10,000 employees around the world. Revenues for the 12 months ended March 31, 1998, were more than $1.4 billion. Visit the company’s Internet web site at .

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