Datastrip’s New Toolkit

Datastrip Ltd has released a 32-bit Windows development toolkit which allows companies to create ID cards rapidly and easily using a low-cost printed 2D symbology.

Known as a Datastrip, the 2D symbology will store around 1kbyte of data in a coded machine-readable form on a typical CR-80 card format, enough for text, photographic, or biometric information such as a signature or fingerprint.  This is ideal for implementing a wide range of high-performance ID applications at very low cost.  A printed Datastrip provides around an order of magnitude greater capacity than the typical magnetic-stripe card at the same kind of cost, or, comparable versatility to a smart card at perhaps a tenth of the price.

The new Windows Developer’s Kit is compatible with Windows NT and 95 and offers a suite of tools for creating Datastrip applications.  To simplify development, the software provides users with an application structure offering pre-defined fields for storing different types of information such as text, a photo, and binary or user-defined data.  A range of add-in utilities are available for handling specific biometric templates such as signatures or fingerprints.

The package also includes a ‘Datastrip Wizard’ utility which guides users through the software creation process, allowing novices to build applications without training.

Datastrip offers a full range of complementary equipment for Datastrip-based ID systems including card printers, card readers and computer peripherals.  These allow users to produce cards, and configure working systems to perform manual or automated checks, or both.  One peripheral, the DSView240T automatic card reader, offers what is believed to be a unique facility in the ID card market by integrating its own miniature LCD display.  This allows data to be viewed manually, which is ideal for standalone ID applications.  At security gates for example, cards could utilise the Datastrip for storing photo, confidential text or a biometric template such as a signature.

Any card-based data may be captured and logged, or verified automatically by connecting the peripheral to a PC or network.


Belgium AmEx Card

Belgium’s Generale Bank signed distribution agreements yesterday with American Express to offer AmEx cards to both its private and business customers. AmEx will continue to manage relationships with existing and new merchants. Generale Bank says it will position the AmEx cards to meet the demands of its affluent customer base. Last year American Express introduced the Platinum Card in Belgium. Applications for the Generale Bank American Express card will be available at the bank’s branches starting this coming Monday.



FAR POINT Consulting and Gemplus are joining up to provide ‘SmartGift’, a smart card-based gift certificate solution for retailers.  SmartGift, which was developed by FAR POINT using Gemplus smart cards, does away with the need for cash refunds, eliminates incidents of fraud from counterfeit gift certificates, and reduces accounting errors common in labor-intensive paper-based systems, while keeping the customer linked to the store for the full value of the gift certificate. Retail store personnel will simply insert the smart card into the reader, which will then decrement a specified amount from the value of the card for the purchase being made.


DataCard’s New Driver

DataCard Corporation debuted the new DataCardr Smart Driver printer driver for its family of digital photo ID printers this week at the CardTech/SecurTech Conference in Washington, D.C.

The new smart driver is now a standard feature for the DataCardr ImageCard Express photo ID printer, the company’s value-priced, low-volume printer.

It also will be a standard feature on the DataCard ImageCardr IV photo ID printer, a high-volume printer that will be available this summer.

The smart driver greatly simplifies printer operation and maintenance by allowing two-way, on-screen communication.  Highlights include operator prompts, online help and instructions designed for simple error recovery.

Graphical tabs also allow users to manage key functions without deciphering blinking lights.

“The smart driver makes photo ID printing a simple, point-and-click process,” said Steve Blake, vice president of DataCard’s photo ID printer group.  “If you can use a mouse, you can produce high-quality IDs quickly and easily.”

Operators can follow on-screen directions to configure ribbon type, card orientation, duplex printing, image intensity and cleaning intervals.

The new smart driver also allows users to monitor the printer’s status and perform diagnostics to determine if the printer needs attention.

“The driver allows operators to perform routine maintenance and troubleshooting, even if they have very basic PC skills,” Blake added. “This reduces downtime, increases productivity and minimizes service costs.”

“When the printer needs maintenance, visual alerts automatically appear on the screen.  Users simply point and click through intuitive, step-by-step instructions,” said Blake.  “Operators find these messages and help screens a great relief, because they eliminate the blinking lights that have to be deciphered on most other photo ID printers.”

DataCard Corporation, is 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. ()


Bill Collect

A new  electronic service to help banks solidify their relations with commercial  customers was announced yesterday by Priority One Electronic Commerce Corp.. The new program permits banks to offer their depositors the unique ‘BILL COLLECT’ service of Priority One. Priority One’s system allows the bank’s business customer to submit a batch file containing both credit card and ACH transactions which are then automatically processed for payment. The company says clients who use the ‘BILL COLLECT’ system report that they have cut receivable days outstanding  from average of 40 to 62 days down to as little as 10 days.


Delivering Online

Jim Wells, director of strategic alliances, of Electronic Funds & Data Corp., will demystify electronic bill presentment and payment and the issues it presents for regulators at the annual meeting of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors in Nashville, Tenn., May 1-3.

As a member of the May 1 panel “Delivering Online,” Wells will address the question “What is electronic bill presentment and payment and why should billers, consumers, bankers and their regulators be interested?”

“Every year more than 15 billion bills are sent to American households,” said Wells, formerly an analyst with the consulting firm of Furash & Co. “To maintain their preeminent position in the payment system, banks must function as the link between billers and bill payers – before someone else does. Bank regulators need to understand how critical these non-traditional activities are to the long-term viability of banks and their role in helping banks under their supervision make this a reality. This could include working with banks to convince the local public service commissions to allow on-line electric bills to replace paper ones.”

Some of Wells’ key points will include the specific challenges for regulators regarding interstate billing and on-line consumer protection; privacy and confidentiality of on-line data; network security; and the industry’s need for standards to ensure that bills efficiently get to and from consumers nationally and internationally. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors is considered the largest annual gathering of the nation’s top state and federal regulators and bankers. Each year, the prestigious group meets to discuss the most important issues facing the banking industry. This year, one of the hottest issues facing these regulators is electronic banking.

“EF&D wants to help regulators come to grips with the difficult choices facing banks on all levels as a result of the technological revolution and the encroachment of non-banks,” Wells said. “Electronic delivery is the future of banking. We look forward to contributing to the exchange of ideas among conference participants.”

Other panel participants include Linda Garvalink of Grant Thornton who will serve as moderator and Steve Simpson of Texas Industrial Bank.

EF&D, founded in 1993 and located in Southampton, N.Y., develops and markets comprehensive, bank-centric billing solutions for both the current paper environment and electronic media. The company sees EBPP as the critical front-end to PC banking programs and to the growing world of electronic commerce.



MasterCard International announced this week that MasterCard issuers participating in the GSA Master Contract for card services will now have access to Constructive Key Management, a data encryption application developed by TECSEC Inc., that will run on a MULTOS chip. TECSEC is the first applications developer to unveil plans to bring a MULTOS-based security application to market. TECSEC expects to have their MULTOS-based version of CKM available by year-end. In the future, government employees could be issued a MasterCard smart card that would provide a cardholder with secure access to government buildings and computers as well as provide the ability to encrypt data for transmission over the Internet. MasterCard projects the GSA card contracts will cover $100 billion of transactions over 10 years.


SCIA Chat Room

The Smart Card Industry Association (SCIA) has formed the SCIA Discussion Mailing List (DML), a free e-mail membership list-service, to provide a vibrant communications mechanism for smart card industry dialogue.

The formation of the DML further demonstrates the SCIA mission of promoting the understanding and acceptance of smart card technology worldwide. “The DML serves as a forum for discussion about smart card technology, applications and issues,” said SCIA President and CEO Dan Cunningham. “It’s an easy-to-use method for people to network, find answers and discuss issues concerning the burgeoning smart card market.”

DML members send e-mails with questions, comments, topics, etc., to a host computer, which disseminates the information to the entire list; responses to the host computer build the group discussion. DML members are also given the option of replying only to the original sender. The DML is open to both SCIA members and non-members, but remains private in that only those that have joined the SCIA DML are included in distributions.

While the DML is similar to a newsgroup or message board, the privacy of the list and rules prohibiting advertising or promotional material prevents e-mail spamming and inappropriate messages from burdening DML members. Messages from non-DML members are rejected by the host computer and DML members can be removed from the list for not complying with rules. “The DML provides a way to get helpful, useful information without hassle,” noted Cunningham. “When members receive mail, they will know it’s useful and relevant.”


Dual Interface Contactless Cards

American Microdevice Manufacturing, Inc. has become the first company in the world capable of volume production for dual interface and contactless smart cards.

The company is best-known for its secure ABS injection molding process that provides the highest level of physical, environmental and secure protection to the IC, which cannot be removed from the card without destroying the card body.

By adapting its production process to produce dual interface and contactless cards the same way standard smart cards are produced, AMMI has become the first supplier to be able to meet volume, cost and quality requirements for the enormous potential markets these cards will serve.

The introduction of contactless and dual interface cards in the mid 1990s signaled a new era for smart cards. Industry analysts have forecasted that they will play an important role in the electronic payments, public transport and access control markets, but the main obstacle has been the lack of cost-effective production capabilities.

“AMMI is proud to make major contribution to this market development, making possible today what others have promised for years,” said Friedrich Plankensteiner, director of product marketing. “Besides the fact that all our smart cards have the highest temperature range in the industry of up to 85(Degree)C, our contactless and dual interface cards always have the IC in the same position which eliminates bad results during card printing.” AMMI has a production capacity of 500,000 dual interface or contactless smart cards per month and further expansion is planned.

About Smart Cards

A smart card is a plastic card that carries a microprocessor chip and resembles a credit card or other magnetic strip cards. A smart card, however, can be used in many more applications because it contains a programmable microprocessor that allows the user to both store and change information on the card, much like a PC.

Additionally, because they can utilize very sophisticated cryptographic techniques, smart cards provide extremely high security, which also makes them more appealing for a wider range of applications than traditional magnetic strip cards.

Applications to date include electronic commerce (including purchases over the Internet), stored value with loyalty point schemes (e.g. merchant communities – supermarkets, etc.) and contactless technology with a combination of applications: transportation and electronic purse (e.g. highway tolls or bus fares).

About AMMI

Founded in 1991 in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif., American Microdevice Manufacturing, Inc. (AMMI) is a leading manufacturer of Smart cards and Smart card related services. The company offers a wide variety of products to meet the varying needs of customers, including contact, contactless and dual-interface smart cards. AMMI is a smart card solution provider serving customers around the globe with its network of partners in all major countries.

AMMI’s diverse product line serves the telecommunications, banking, security, travel, transportation, consumer shopping, healthcare and entertainment industries. In addition to a full range of smart card services like printing, personalization and packaging, AMMI provides consulting services and software development to develop entire card systems, including card readers and terminals.

AMMI is headquartered at 1830 Bering Dr., San Jose, CA 95112-2046. Telephone 408-573-7070. Fax 408-573-7607. E-mail: [][1]; [][2].



DataCard’s VISA Cash Solution

DataCard unveiled a smart card personalization and data preparation solution for reloadable ‘Visa Cash’ cards.    Major card issuers in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America have begun using the new hardware and software solution to issue Visa Cash cards. The system consists of two components that are networked with the DataCard  ‘9000 Series’ card issuance system.  One component is a server that automates the key management process.  The other is a security module that offers high-speed encryption. The DataCard  ‘9000 Series System’ is a modular card issuance system that offers a full range of inline capabilities, including full-color printing, smart card initialization, embossing, indent printing, magnetic stripe encoding, label affixing, topcoat application, forms printing, card affixing, envelope insertion and fixed metering.


Finger Cards Coming

Siemens Semiconductors said Wednesday it will roll-out a fingertip sensor chip by the Fall of this year. Siemen’s fingertip sensor chip digitizes the user’s fingertip directly onto the chip, which can be integrated into a phone, an ATM, an automobile or other applications. The sensor is based on standard 0.8 micron CMOS technology and features 50mW power consumption and 500 dpi resolution. The sensor can register fingerprints in less than 100ms.