Euronet Up 152%

Central Europe’s only independent ATM network, Euronet Services Inc., reported yesterday that first quarter revenues of exceeded $2,000,000 an increase of 152% from the first quarter of last year.  ATM transactions on Euronet’s network passed the 1 million per month level during March. Cardholders in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Croatia, and the Czech Republic made 911,246 transactions in February and 1,053,364 transactions in March. The number of ATMs in Euronet’s network has increased to 798 at the end of the first quarter compared to 261 one year ago. Euronet currently operates ATMs in five countries: 359 in Hungary, 332 in Poland, 64 in Germany, 35 in Croatia, and 8 in the Czech Republic, including 45 ATMs operated for a client bank under a network services management agreement.

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Hot in Latin America

PaySys International said Wednesday that its recent efforts to gain market share in Latin America have yielded spectacular results. Since 1994, over 30 businesses in virtually all Latin American countries have selected ‘VisionPLUS’ to handle their card processing requirements, servicing more than 200 banks and financial institutions in the region. Two recent licensees of the system, Bancared, the powerful eight-bank association in Guatemala, and Banco Mercantil, a major banking presence in the Dominican Republic represent PaySys’ success in Latin America. Both are the company’s first clients in these countries.  Included among those choosing VisionPLUS are processors such as Cardsystem UPSI and Unnisa, some of the largest card processors in Brazil, Nexus S.A., the largest processor in Chile, the Puerto Rican GM Group, and Unibanca, the Peruvian processor association, which is PaySys’ newest client. Other PaySys clients in the region include ArgenCard in Argentina, Banco Commercial De Panama, Transbank in Chile, Banco Popular and Banco Credito, Banco Santander, and Banco General, all of Peru.

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Cash Out Flag

Electronic Payment Services announced Wednesday the availability of cash monitoring for the majority of ATMs across the MAC network.  The optional cash monitoring product provides clients with a tool to improve ATM availability by notifying them or their service provider when the cash in an ATM reaches a predetermined amount.  This flag enables the ATM owner to make provisions for replenishing the cash well before depletion, reducing the likelihood of an ATM running out of cash. There are currently 34,000 ATMs and 36.5 million cards bearing the MAC logo.

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BarclayCoin Expands

CyberCash announced yesterday that the ‘BarclayCoin’ service, the U.K.’s first application of electronic money, is now able to accept payments from credit and debit cardholders with Internet access worldwide. Launched last October, Barclays and CyberCash formed an alliance to provide customers in the UK with the ability to make small purchases, between 25p and 10 pounds, of soft goods and services such as computer software, business research, newspaper articles, computer games and clips from films or CDs. In response to the growing demand from international consumers and merchants, CyberCash and Barclays introduced the pilot of the ‘BarclayCoin’ service to include cards from other issuers. The BarclayCoin service operates by enabling consumers to download an ‘electronic wallet’ and complete a registration process linking the wallet to their debit or credit card account.

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DataCard’s New Financial Company

DataCard Corporation has formed a new strategic unit that will develop and market a wide range of financial solutions for banks, retailers, service bureaus, insurance companies, government agencies and other organizations around the world.

Francois Conchon, president of the new Financial Company, said DataCard plans to extend its leadership position in financial card issuance and leverage core competencies–such as smart card technology, digital imaging, thermal transfer printing and laser engraving–to create breakthrough solutions for financial customers.

“DataCard is clearly the brand of choice for the world’s leading financial card issuers,” Conchon said. “Whether it’s high-volume, centralized issuance of credit and debit cards or instant, on-site issuance of EBT, ATM and stored value cards, DataCard systems are at the heart of most programs.”

“We will continue to strengthen that leadership position by introducing new modules and new capabilities for the DataCard(R) 9000 and 7000 Series Systems,” Conchon said. “Plus, we will apply our technology and expertise to create new solutions for a wide range of financial customers that address emerging consumer needs.”

Conchon said the new solutions will provide DataCard’s customers with many new revenue-generating opportunities they can use to grow their businesses and they will provide consumers with new levels of convenience, privacy and choice. New solutions currently being implemented or field-tested include photocard and picturecard systems, self-service card issuance systems and high-speed, high-security smart card personalization systems.

“Major card issuers have used photocards and picturecards to increase cardholder bases and boost revenues,” Conchon said. “We’ve made this technology affordable and manageable for branch banks. It provides our customers with a very powerful way to attract and retain consumers.”

DataCard’s new line of self-service banking solutions will allow financial consumers to conduct a variety of financial transactions–such as acquiring debit, stored value and ATM cards–at conveniently located kiosks.

“We expect a strong global market for these self-service solutions. They’re perfectly in line with business strategies currently being developed by the world’s leading banks,” Conchon said. “They’re currently being tested in Latin America, because consumers there are demanding convenient, self-service solutions. The immediate potential is tremendous.”

The new Financial Company has launched a number of smart card personalization solutions over the past several months and much of the company’s development money will be spent on creating new smart card solutions.

“We’re working closely with Visa, MasterCard and Mondex to develop solutions for their stored value cards and other smart card-based products,” Conchon said. “Smart card personalization poses a number of security and productivity challenges–but we’ve developed solutions that make the process secure, fast and easy to manage.”

Rapidly changing banking strategies and more informed, more demanding consumers are the driving force behind many of DataCard’s new financial solutions.

“Consumers want to be able to access financial services anytime, anywhere–and they demand security, privacy and choice,” Conchon said. “Our new and evolving solutions will allow financial institutions, retailers, service bureaus, insurance companies, telephony providers and other organizations to meet those demands.”

The new Financial Company also includes DataCard’s established transaction terminal business. The company’s flagship point-of-sale (POS) product is the DataCard Jigsaw transaction processing system. “Jigsaw offers both smart card and magnetic stripe capabilities in one, low-cost platform. Plus, it can be configured as a transaction terminal, a LAN terminal or a PIN pad,” Conchon said. “So, it’s a perfect fit for the smart card evolution.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn, provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers complete lines of digital photo ID systems and printers, card personalization systems and transaction systems. ([www.datacard.com][1])

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

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NCR Joins VISA Smart

NCR Corp confirmed yesterday it has signed a letter of intent to join Visa International’s ‘Visa Smart’ initiative. The news follows similar announcements made last week at the industry’s CardTech ’98 show. ‘Visa Smart’ brings together  leading suppliers and a comprehensive group of providers of chip-based products and services to help Visa’s member banks  launch smart card programs quickly and cost-effectively.

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Maestro Names Board Chairman

Maestro International, a joint venture of MasterCard International and Europay International, today announced the election of Dr. Paul Ribourdouille as Chairman of the Maestro International Board of Directors.

Maestro International delivers to banks around the world an acceptance mark that offers to customers of those banks, global access to their deposits at ATMs and at the point of sale. All such transactions can take place under full control of the card issuing bank.

Dr. Ribourdouille was until recently a member of the Managing Board of ABN/AMRO Bank. During most of his career he had primary responsibility for Information Technology and Payment Systems.

Dr. Ribourdouille brings 22 years of banking experience to Maestro International. He established a prominent reputation as a pioneer in the introduction of chip technology and electronic cash in the payments industry in the Netherlands, where he chaired all major banking ventures in the field of payment systems. Prior to launching his successful career in financial services, Ribourdouille held senior management posts at a large European clothing retailer and at Phillips Electronics.

Dr. Ribourdouille is a five year veteran of the Board of Directors of MasterCard International. He also has been a member of the Europay International Board of Directors since 1992.

Maestro is the leading global, on-line debit brand, with more financial institutions, merchants, cards and acceptance locations in more countries than any other debit program in the world. “We will benefit from the vision, experience, and commitment that Dr. Ribourdouille brings to this key position at this critical time in the evolution of Maestro International. The active involvement of the new Chairman of the Board should lead to positive bottom-line results for Maestro International and its members globally,” says Francis van den Bosch, CEO, Maestro International.

Developed jointly by MasterCard International and Europay International, Maestro was introduced to offer cardholders an electronic payment alternative that provides access to cash and checks. The Maestro acceptance mark now has been expanded to the ATM to provide consumers with a single global point-of-sale and ATM brand. This means that the more than 375,000 ATM’s currently accepting MasterCard and Cirrus cards will now be able to accept Maestro cards. Maestro already has over 150 million debit cards worldwide and is accepted for purchases at over 2.5 million merchant terminals in over 60 countries and territories on 6 continents.

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 exceeded $600 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at [http://www.mastercard.com.][1]

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

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American Banknote Takes Sub Public

American Banknote Corporation announced the registration of an initial public offering of its wholly owned subsidiary, American Bank Note Holographics.  American Banknote Corporation expects to raise more than $120 million from the offering, which it plans to use to retire its senior secured debt.

American Banknote is also considering raising money in the public markets via its Australian subsidiary, Leigh-Mardon, by selling part of the company to the public, later in the year in Australia.  Likewise, the Company is exploring a variety of strategies to raise capital through its 77-1/2% owned Brazilian subsidiary in order to fund its continued growth. Discussions are underway with its minority owner, Banco Bradesco, as well as other financial institutions.

Morris Weissman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in commenting on these initiatives stated:  “As previously indicated, we intend to de-leverage and are taking the necessary steps to insure the success of this program.  In addition, we hope to raise capital for our subsidiaries so that they can continue to grow, unencumbered by the burden of heavy corporate debt.”

Weissman concluded:  “Our most important goal in 1998 is to enhance shareholder value.  We hope to prove to the market that the inherent values of our underlying operating subsidiaries, not apparent when evaluating American Banknote on the basis of traditional consolidated earnings per share, are indeed significant.”

American Banknote Corporation is a leading global full-service provider of secure transaction solutions in carefully selected markets along three major product groups: Transaction Cards & Systems, Printing Services & Document Management, and Security Printing Solutions.  A combined strategy of operating along product lines and constant expansion of transaction activities worldwide reflects the rapidly changing field of electronic commerce.

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No-ATM-Fee Alliance Stands

The ‘No Surcharge Alliance’ formed by several California banks may have lost one partner but remains solid as Sanwa Bank California renewed its commitment Tuesday not to levy surcharges on noncustomers who use any of its 109 ATMs. Sanwa and its alliance partners together now offer more than 2,500 ATMs throughout California where consumers can withdraw cash without having to pay an extra fee. Although at least one of the original alliance partners, Glendale Federal Bank, has since dropped out of the group after deciding to impose the surcharge, the alliance has grown over the past year, with many midsized and smaller community banks joining the campaign.

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Superior Bankcard Triples Space

In a move to support their rapid expansion, Superior Bankcard Service of Golden Gate, the leading ISO for Superior Bankcard Service, one of the leading processors on the west coast, is moving to a larger facility in Mission Hills(suburb of Los Angeles), which will more than triple their existing space, announced Bill Graham, Regional Manager, Superior, and President, Single Source Electronic Transactions(SSET), a single source vendor of all electronic transactions at the point of sale. The new building will house both companies’ sales and marketing staff, while the corporate offices and data center for all credit card transactions will remain in Woodland Hills.

“This expansion is a direct result of an increased demand by retail merchants, chain stores, and new businesses for low-cost, accurate processing of consumer credit and debit transactions,” explained Graham. With over a billion dollars in processed funds since its inception four years ago, Superior Bankcard Service has grown over 306%, according to ban trade surveys.

The alliance between Superior Bankcard service of Golden Gate and SSET offers merchants a full range of state-of-the-art electronic payment options. One of SSET’s newest products, Check Truncation, is a process of converting account information from a consumer’s check, along with a transaction value, into an electronic payment deposited directly into the merchant’s account, thereby eliminating most manual handling of paper checks and significantly reducing costs associated with verification and processing.

SSET also markets free-standing, off-premise cash-dispensing automated teller machines (ATMs)and, with its newest division that designs and develops Web pages/sites, they are now one of the largest single source vendors in the United States. Their new address is:

15545 Devonshire Street, Suite 200
Mission Hills, CA 91345

TEL-818/891-1665 or 800/341-4412
FAX-818/891-9223

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The Casino Quest

Wells Fargo’s wholesale bank formed a joint venture with Mr. Payroll Corp. on Tuesday to develop and distribute a new generation of financial services vending machines targeting the gaming industry. The joint venture, InnoVisions, Inc, will be based in Las Vegas.  Assets of the joint venture consist in part of the approximately 200 ATMs Wells Fargo now operates in gaming establishments. The financial services vending machine, to be known as the ‘Quest’ machine, will initially be tested in up to 10 casinos in Nevada.  Quest will integrate various cash sources into a single device and will have the ability to perform a variety of financial transactions without a picture I.D., ATM card or credit card.  Customers’ identities will be verified using TrueFace Engine, a patented face recognition system licensed exclusively to Mr. Payroll by Miros, Inc. Quest also will incorporate a second video display monitor on which informational and promotional messages will be displayed.

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Stopping Identity Theft

Arizona State Representative Tom Smith says identity theft is a much larger problem than the credit industry may realize or acknowledge, and the only way to protect consumers and lenders from the fastest growing type of credit card fraud is to raise the seriousness of the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. Smith, who authored Arizona’s tough identity theft law,  said that since Arizona’s law took effect in July 1996, prosecutors have had great success in bringing identity thieves to justice. He indicated in the first four months of this year more than 76% of  identity theft cases investigated in the greater Phoenix area alone have resulted in charges being filed. Statistics from the Phoenix area show 105 identity thieves have either been convicted or pleaded guilty since the law took effect nearly two years ago.. One thief prosecuted in Arizona was so adept at stealing others’ identities that he was in possession of 47 credit cards, each bearing a different person’s name, when he was apprehended.

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