Sig & PIN Debit

VISA made it official yesterday that it plans to introduce a new ‘VISA Check Card’ this fall that will offer both on-line and off-line capabilities. The new, dual function product will be optional for ‘VISA Check Card’ issuers. VISA says the card will carry a new merchant rate for PIN-based or on-line transactions that is lower than the current off-line or signature-based ‘VISA Check Card’ merchant transaction rate. The upgraded card, to be available October 1, was created in response to the growing number of PIN pad terminals for debit POS at certain types of merchant locations. VISA estimated there are now 1.3 million such terminals in the U.S. with new installations growing 70% annually. VISA insists the new on-line option is superior to competing on-line POS systems because of VISA’s extensive package of consumer protections, including VISA’s $0 liability policy for unauthorized transactions.


Citibank Call Center Contract

Melita International says it has signed a contract with Citicorp Credit Services for the installation of Melita’s intelligent call center management solutions and agent workstations in five U.S. CCSI credit card call centers. The multiple-year ‘PhoneFrame Explorer’ and ‘MAGELLAN’ product and service order totals more than $10 million. ‘PhoneFrame Explorer’ is based on the Melita’s ‘MPower’ open, standards-based, scalable, object architecture, and incorporates new software applications, new adoptive interface components and new highly-resilient system packaging. ‘MAGELLAN’ is a user-customized application that guides call center agents through each customer interaction. The software supports transparent, real-time access to enterprise-wide customer and product information, presenting disparate information at the agent’s desktop.


Credit Card CareMiles

St. Willibrord Community Credit Union of London, Ontario, is launching a new MasterCard credit card with a community-based affinity program that helps sick kids in southwestern Ontario get well. Through a partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario, the St. Willibrord MasterCard is donating a small portion of every dollar spent by its members when they use their Gold or regular cards. The decision by St. Willibrord to support the community is directly in line with a main element of its mission statement:

“Our purpose is to contribute to the well-being of the persons, families, enterprises and communities we serve.”

The new St. Willibrord MasterCard delivers all the benefits other financial institutions offer but with the added advantage of donating funds back into the local community. St. Willibrord cardholders simply use their MasterCard and, in turn, benefit the children who receive care at Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario.

“We think of it as giving Care Miles instead of air miles,” says Jack Smit, St. Willibrord President and Chief Executive Officer. “Both Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario and St. Willibrord are leaders in our community and this program is a great expression of that leadership for both our organizations. St. Willibrord is taking everyday banking and making it better by investing in a healthy future for our kids.”

Children’s Hospital provides acute care services for all the children of Southwestern Ontario. It is dedicated to serving families with excellence and compassion, recognizing and caring for the special physical, emotional and social needs of our children. “Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario is pleased to have been selected as the beneficiary of the new St. Willibrord MasterCard affinity program,” says Dr. Tim Frewen, Pediatrician-in-Chief of the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario. “St. Willibrord’s Care Miles will help ensure the care we provide continues to operate at a high level for our children from the region.”

St. Willibrord Community Credit Union is Southwestern Ontario’s premier full service financial institution that is operated by a community of owners and open to everyone. Currently, St. Willibrord has 9 locations with over 26,500 members and $415 million in assets. Its services include a variety of chequing, savings and investment products, loans and mortgages, financial planning, mutual funds, financing farm and commercial enterprises, Interac, MasterCard, and telephone banking.


BlockBuster ATM Deal

Citibank and Blockbuster reached agreements Wednesday to install Citibank ATMs in up to 3,000 Blockbuster Video stores across the country, beginning this summer. Yesterday’s deal will dramatically expand Citibank’s national presence to a total of  39 states, plus the District of Columbia, by mid-year 1999. The announcement stems from a successful collaboration between the two companies in Latin America, which began last fall. Under that agreement, Citibank sites were established at Blockbuster locations in Peru and Columbia, and the program is now being expanded to include locations in Chile and Argentina. Blockbuster operates approximately 6,000 video and 400 music stores in the U.S. and has retail operations in 26 other countries.


Back In The Sky

After being dumped by Chase Manhattan earlier this year, ‘The British Airways VISA’ is back in the market as it was re-launched yesterday with First USA. The new product is loaded with a lot of punch as it offers a waiver of the first year’s annual fee, one of the lowest interest rates of any major airline card and automatic membership in the airline’s ‘Executive Club’ frequent flyer program. The FUSA/BA VISA offers a 4.9% five-month intro rate and a 16.99% go-to rate. The card is available as a ‘Classic VISA’ for $50 per year or as a ‘Platinum VISA’ at $65 per year. New cardmembers who apply for the card via a special toll-free number automatically earn 10,000 bonus miles when they make their first purchase with the card. They will also receive an additional 5,000 miles after their first British Airways flight. The airline co-branded card offers the standard one airmile for each dollar charged.


NatWest Awards ATM Contract

NatWest awarded ATM/IT service contracts yesterday worth more than $80 million over the next three years to NCR. The deal, which is one of the country’s largest single-supplier service agreements for a bank’s branch network, gives NCR responsibility for NatWest’s 2,800 NCR ATMs and over 100,000 items of IT equipment in 2,000 locations.  Under NCR’s maintenance and support agreement it is estimated that 95% of all equipment problems will be corrected  in less than four hours.  Also part of the contract: NCR will utilize its remote ATM monitoring service for NatWest’s ATM network via a new dedicated ATM monitoring center.  This service will help maximize ATM hardware availability by receiving fault codes, predicting potential problems and providing remote diagnostics.


Credit Store Picks Up Financing

The Credit Store, Inc. said Tuesday it has entered into a senior revolving credit facility with Coast Business Credit for an initial amount of $5.0 million.

The facility is The Credit Store’s first senior credit arrangement since the Company began operations in Oct. 1996, and is secured by the Company’s base of performing consumer credit card receivables, and by other tangible and intangible assets of the Company.

The facility will be used to fund operating expenses, to acquire portfolios, and for other corporate purposes, the Company said. Coast Business Credit is a division of Southern Pacific Bank, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Credit Industries, Inc. based in Torrance, Calif.

Martin J. Burke, Chairman and CEO of The Credit Store, Inc., said, “The Credit Store’s first senior credit facility is an important milestone in our growth and development. We can now gain broader access to credit markets.” Previously, the Company had financed its start-up capital and operating expenses through private equity and subordinated debt placements, Mr. Burke said.

The Credit Store, Inc. is a nationwide financial services company that markets credit cards to consumers who previously had had an interruption in the repayment of their debts and may be excluded from the more traditional sources of consumer finance. The Company uses sophisticated methods to analyze, value and purchase portfolios of non-performing consumer debt from major institutional lenders at a substantial discount. The Company then uses its direct marketing expertise to contact and negotiate settlements with the consumer, most of the time placing the settlement on the new unsecured credit cards offered through The Credit Store. The Company offers an innovative and practical way for the consumer to rebuild their creditworthiness and gain access to an unsecured credit card. The Credit Store, Inc.’s stock trades on the Electronic Bulletin Board under the symbol PLCR.


Intershop +  vPOS + SET

INTERSHOP Communications, Inc., a world-leading provider of electronic commerce software, and VeriFone, Inc., the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions, announced Tuesday the completion of the integration of INTERSHOP 3 with VeriFone’s vPOS software, based on the SET Secure Electronic Transaction protocol.

Available immediately for Windows NT, the new plug-in called the INTERSHOP Add-On for VeriFone vPOS SET offers Internet merchants a secure payment option based on the SET protocol. The Add-On provides greater flexibility for merchants, more payment options for online shoppers and gives banks better access to the eCommerce market. INTERSHOP currently supports 25 different payment systems worldwide more than any other eCommerce software on the market.

![][1]     VeriFone’s vPOS software allows Internet merchants to send transactions directly to financial institutions, eliminating time-consuming, costly and error-prone manual handling of sensitive customer data. The vPOS software also supports online acquisition of digital certificates, split shipment and multiple security levels.

“Convenience and simplicity are crucial for the widespread acceptance of SET. That’s why we are pleased to join forces with a market leader such as VeriFone to offer Internet merchants and commerce service providers unprecedented plug-and-play convenience for conducting secure electronic transactions on the Internet,” said Stephan Schambach, president and CEO of INTERSHOP Communications.

“We are excited about INTERSHOP’s leading role in the adoption of vPOS and the SET standard,” said George Hoyem, vice president and general manager of VeriFone’s Internet Commerce Division. “Together with industry leaders such as INTERSHOP, we hope to facilitate the implementation and acceptance of SET, which is an important security standard for Internet commerce.”

SET is endorsed by all the major payment brands including American Express, JCB, MasterCard and Visa. Both Visa International and MasterCard International have changed their operating regulations to protect merchants from charge-backs for online SET transactions. In an effort to encourage adoption of SET, the Visa U.S.A. Board of Directors approved a two-year waiver of service fees for SET transactions, eliminating fees that both acquirers and issuers pay to Visa with an estimated savings of 3 cents to 15 cents per $100 transaction.

“It’s exciting to see market leaders like INTERSHOP and VeriFone working together to deliver SET solutions which will enable consumers and merchants alike to benefit from the great potential of Internet commerce,” said Steve Herz, senior vice president of Internet Commerce for Visa International.

To take full advantage of the vPOS software, online shoppers can install VeriFone’s vWALLET software on their computer. vWALLET provides secure communication between the shopper and the merchant’s server using the SET protocol, minimizing risk of fraud. During the transaction merchants do not see the shopper’s credit card data, which is transferred directly to the merchant’s bank.

About VeriFone

VeriFone, Inc. ([][2]), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Company, is the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than six million electronic payment systems, which are used in over 100 countries.

About INTERSHOP Communications, Inc.

Founded in Germany in 1992, INTERSHOP Communications, Inc. is one of the world’s leading providers of electronic commerce software. INTERSHOP provides eCommerce solutions to many of the world’s largest telcos, such as Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and New Zealand Telecom, and to more than 100 ISPs worldwide. Major corporations have chosen INTERSHOP as their premiere eCommerce platform including:  Celestial Seasonings, Electronic Arts, Hard Rock Hotel, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton, K-Tel, Motorola, Palm Computing, Silicon Graphics, and Zip2. Upside Magazine has named INTERSHOP one of its Hot 100 Technology Companies of 1998. Headquartered in San Francisco, INTERSHOP maintains offices in the United States, Germany, France, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

For more information, call INTERSHOP at 800-736-5197, send e-mail to [][3] or visit the company’s Web site at [][4]

[1]: /graphic/verifone/verifone.jpg


U.K.’s Britannia Subs Out ATM Contract

Britannia, the third largest building society in the UK, has outsourced its money transmission services to ATMOS – a consortium between LINK (the UK’s largest ATM network), NCR (the world’s market leader in self service banking) and ACI (a leading international supplier of electronic payments solutions for the financial industry).

Peter Morrill, General Manager of ATMOS commented: “The ATMOS consortium now provides an end-to-end managed money transmission service for Britannia – the first of many. It uses the most up-to-date software and is Year 2000, EMU and chip card friendly. The positive working relationship of the parties involved has proved instrumental to the success of the project.”

Nigel Johns, Controller of Distribution and Development at Britannia Building Society commented: “ATMOS allows us to deliver a higher level of service to our customers through increased cash availability. Due to the high level of technical support the consortium provides, we will also be able to develop significant new services.”

LINK is responsible for the overall management of ATMOS; NCR is providing remote ATM management, ATM maintenance, installation and disaster recovery services; and ACI provides solutions for delivering services through ATMs using BASE 24 software.


AmEx First Asian Co-brand

American Express and Hong Kong property giant Cheung Kong Holdings rolled out the ‘American Express Cheung Kong Card’ yesterday. The new card offers a rewards program the generates credits toward property-related expenses such as down-payments and agency fees. The card also offers the option of revolving a credit line of up to HK$300,000. The program is the first co-branded AmEx credit card in Asia and Hong Kong.


TABNet E-Commerce King

TABNet, the world’s largest Internet domain name registrar and Web site hosting service, announced Tuesday that it has signed a joint promotional partnership and licensing agreement with ICVERIFY.  Under the terms of the agreement, TABNet will provide turn-key commerce hosting and services-including ICVERIFY’s ‘NetVERIFY’ payment processing software, to 1,000 merchants conducting business on the Internet. This partnership agreement, which is effective immediately, will make TABNet the world’s largest electronic commerce solution provider. The agreement also calls for both companies to participate in joint promotional activities and collaborate in marketing online commerce solutions domestically and abroad.


Ambient & Ordacard Merge

Ambient Corporation a developer of leading-edge smart card technology, and Ordacard Hi-Tec Industries, Ltd., Israel’s largest manufacturer of plastic ID and bank cards, announced today the signing of a letter of intent to merge the two companies under the Ambient name. The merged company, a powerhouse of smart card technology and manufacturing, is planning rapid expansion of its international sales in the growing smart card industry.

Ordacard currently has production capacity of 60 million cards per year, including 10 million smart cards. The company provides ID cards for major Israeli corporations and organizations, as well as cards for applications in banking, health care, and retail shopping. Ambient develops technology for smart cards and for smart card systems, technology that includes the company’s patent-pending, contactless, close-coupled smart cards. Close-coupled cards support the highest levels of smart card security and memory capacity, and are seen by many as the next generation of bank cards. Eli Garber, President of Ordacard, will take over as President of the merged Ambient Corporation. Mr. Garber, with 30 years of industry management experience, is also a highly regarded innovator, responsible for the introduction of Ordacard’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the company’s patented processes for card manufacturing and personalization. Jacob Davidson, currently CEO of Ambient Corporation, will assume the position of Chairman of the Board.

Ambient’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Yehuda Cern, brings the company a wealth of smart card industry experience, having formerly worked as Manager of R&D at News DataCom (now News Digital Systems), the leading smart card manufacturer for pay TV systems. Under Dr. Cern, News DataCom developed the turn-key smart card systems for the SKY (UK) and DirecTV networks. According to Eli Garber, “The manufacturing and marketing prowess of the combined company, together with its advanced technologies, will drive tremendous growth. Our ability to offer customers complete smart card solutions, from chip through system roll-out, puts the company in a leadership role within the industry.

About Ambient:

Ambient Corporation is a publicly traded company incorporated in the United States that develops smart card technology and systems. The company is also developing large memory smart cards for applications requiring secure, stored records. Research and development is currently conducted at the company’s Israeli office: Jerusalem Technology Park, Building 9, Jerusalem. International phone: (+972) 2 649-1250; Fax (+972) 2 649-1280; web: [][1]; email: [][2]

About Ordacard:

Ordacard Hi-Tec Industries, (1995) Ltd. employs 60 people, including 10 engineers and programmers. The company provides full card program services, including card personalization, mail distribution, and POS integration. The company’s POS systems are year 2000 compliant and support mag stripe and smart card transactions, as well as functions of ID medical records retrieval.

Among the company’s current systems integration projects are the following: a tax refund program, planned for the UK and South Africa; a medical payments card planned for Israel’s main HMO, Kupat Holim; and an emergency medical records card, being implemented in conjunction with major hospitals in the State of Massachusetts, with $1 million of funding from the BIRD foundation.

The company’s world-leading manufacturing technologies are supported by strategic technology partnerships with American Banknote (ABN) and with Indigo, Ltd.. The company is 25% owned by ABN, a major world manufacturer of security printing, including passports, national currencies, and travelers’ checks. ABN is also a leading provider of transaction clearinghouse services for banks and governments. Through a recent marketing agreement, Ordacard’s services are also sold worldwide through ABN’s international sales offices. Ordacard operates sales offices in New York and in Tel Aviv and sells to Arab countries in the Middle East through a sales agent in Jordan. Manufacturing and corporate headquarters are based at 2 Alon Hatover St., Industrial Park, Caesarea 38900, Israel. International Phone: (972) 6 627-2424. Fax: (972) 6 627-1127.