MobileMinutes Card

People in Pittsburgh can now get cellular service with no monthly bills, no monthly access fee, no credit checks, and no security deposit.  Bell Atlantic Mobile has introduced MobileMinutes, a pre-paid cellular calling card.

MobileMinutes cards are available for $25 or $50, and can be used for both local and long distance cellular calling.  Cards can be purchased individually and used with a customer’s existing equipment or may be bought in conjunction with a new or refurbished phone.

MobileMinutes customers will never receive monthly cellular bills and are not bound by long-term contracts.  It is a pay-as-you-go system, designed for people, seeking control over their cellular expenses.

“A MobileMinutes card is like a bank debit card that allows you to pay up- front and then reduce the balance as you use the service,” said Jerry Fountain, regional vice president for Bell Atlantic Mobile in Pittsburgh.

“We expect MobileMinutes to be popular for gift giving, for those who haven’t yet established credit, and for those who simply want the comfort and predictability of paying as they go,” Fountain said.  “This service is ideal for parents who want to give their college-bound children the security and convenience of a cellular phone, yet want to control the cost.”

At the beginning of each call, the customer is informed of the balance remaining on their account for that particular call.  They will receive a reminder tone when four minutes are left on the account, and each minute thereafter.  To buy additional MobileMinutes, customers can go into any Bell Atlantic Mobile Communications Store.  Customers can also call an 800 number and use their credit card to process payment on-line and update their MobileMinutes balance immediately.

There is a one-time activation fee of $15.  Each card is good for 60 days. When customers leave the Bell Atlantic Mobile Pittsburgh region, depending on the area visited, they may be able to place calls using their MobileMinutes card or a major credit card.


Romanian Card System

IFS International, Inc. The Romanian Bank for Development, headquartered in Bucharest, Romania and one of the largest banks in the country, has licensed the TPII product to manage its ATMs, POS devices, provide Voice Authorization and to produce international and domestic payment cards.

The systems integrator is Digital Equipment (Romania).  TPII will run on Digital Alpha Server 4100 “Tru Cluster” hardware and will provide a system to drive a network of devices accepting various types of payment cards, including Visa and Mastercard, that will grow to approximately 100 ATMs and 1000 POS terminals.  The value of the contract to IFS International exceeds $400,000.

Adrian Apolzan, the Chief of the Cards Department at RBD, stated “Our ambition is to be the largest payment card services provider in Romanian banking.  For this reason, we selected the system of Digital Equipment and IFS’ TPII product as this will provide a scaleable, reliable and fully functional solution, in line with the high status of the Romanian Bank for Development.”

Mihai Pascadi, Sales Manager, Banking and Finance, Digital Equipment, Romania commented “This project is consistent with our mission in Romania: to provide Romanian customers with state of the art fully integrated solutions to help them compete and win in their business.  Digital Romania has developed over the years a special relationship with IFS International not only due to their excellent products, but also to their proven capacity to deliver their promises.  This is the second major TPII project in Romania and we are happy to already see the signs that the project will be at least as successful as previously.”

Simon J. Theobald, Senior Vice President, IFS International added “IFS International is proud to be associated with another major Romanian bank and our worldwide partner Digital Equipment.  We look forward to assisting the Romanian Bank for Development in their ambition to become the largest payment card services provider in Romania.”

IFS International products are used to provide ATM, POS, smart card, debit card management, bank teller, bank platform, home banking and call center solutions to the financial industry.

IFS is headquartered in Troy, NY, with offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Singapore.  For additional information in the U.S., call 518-283-7900, fax 518-283-7336, E-mail [][1], web page [][2]  For information about Europe, the Middle East or Africa, call +44-1895-823626 or E-mail [IFS-UK@IFSINTL.COM.][3]  For information about Asia call +65-97-393-474.

[3]: mailto:IFS-UK@IFSINTL.COM


New Oregon ATM Firm

TRM Copy Centers Corp. confirmed plans to form an ATM Division using a $20 million equity investment by ReadyCash Investment Partners, LP. TRM says its ATM Division will enable the company to bring ATM services to its 25,000 customer relationships in North America, as well as increase utilization of the distribution and service organization the firm has in the US and Canada. TRM is the world’s leading provider of self-service photocopying and owns over 33,000 TRM Centers located in independent retailer and multi-site national and regional retailer locations in 75 metropolitan service areas in the U.S., U.K. Canada,  Belgium and France.


Acme VISA Card

Acme Markets and U.S. Bancorp rolled-out the ‘Acme American Rewards VISA Card’ yesterday. The new Visa will allow customers to earn free food at Acme supermarkets, free airline tickets from American Airlines, free ski lift tickets at Camelback Ski Resort in Tannersville, Pa., and other travel benefits. The rewards program will award cardholders with two points for every dollar spent at Acme, and one point for every dollar spent on the card at other retailers. Cardholders begin  earning rewards once 1,500 points have been acquired.  At that level, customers can earn $100 off select vacation packages with Apple Vacations, American Vacations or Delta Vacations  Some of the other rewards customers can earn include certificates for $25 worth of free food at Acme for 2,500 points, or free American Airlines airline tickets at 25,000 points. The VISA program  will also be integrated Acme’s SuperCard loyalty program.  Acme Markets has 175 retail stores in NJ, DE, PA and MD.


Citibank’s Task Order

Citibank confirmed Monday the award of a ‘Task Order from the U.S. General Services Administration’ to provide purchase and travel charge capabilities on one integrated card platform. The two year agreement is part of a master contract award announced by the GSA in February 1998. In addition, as part of this Task Order, the GSA may also order pilot programs from Citibank, including those using smart card technology. The contract also follows on the heels of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ recent decision to award Citibank a Task Order to provide Fleet, Travel and Purchase card services.  Citibank estimates that yesterday’s Task Order will require servicing in excess of $100 million in transactions.


Delta Boosts SkyMiles

Delta Air Lines is offering a double miles promotion to members of its SkyMiles program for all paid travel on Delta in First Class and Business Class worldwide on domestic and international flights between June 15 and September 1, 1998.

Not only will SkyMiles members receive the double miles when flying on Delta, but they also will receive the standard 50 percent class of service bonus for paid First Class and 25 percent class of service bonus for paid Business Class.  In addition, the class of service bonus miles earned for travel between June 15 and September 1, 1998, on Delta, Austrian Airlines, Sabena or Swissair will apply toward 1999 Medallion qualification.

As always, Medallion level members will continue to earn their standard 25 percent or 100 percent Medallion level bonus.

Double miles for paid travel in First Class or Business Class consists of the actual mileage flown, or the Delta 500 mile minimum per qualifying flight, whichever is greater, plus a bonus equal to that same amount.

Delta carried more passengers worldwide last year than any other airline. Delta, Delta Express, the Delta Shuttle, the Delta Connection carriers and Delta’s Worldwide Partners operate 5,016 flights each day to 330 cities in 53 countries.  Delta SkyMiles members earn mileage by flying Delta, the Delta Connection carriers, Delta Express, the Delta Shuttle and Delta’s airline partners.  The Delta SkyMiles program offers many other mileage building opportunities including participating hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, more than 2,000 restaurants, investments with Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., mortgages with North American Mortgage Company, the SkyMiles Optima Credit Card from American Express and MCI’s services.



For just one round trip between New York and Rio de Janeiro, a Gold or     Platinum Medallion member traveling as a paid First Class passenger would     earn a total of 33,523 miles-enough miles for one Coach Class ticket for     travel within or between the continental U.S. and Canada which requires     25,000 miles or for one Coach Class ticket for travel between the     continental U.S./Canada and Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hawaii or Mexico in     Delta’s SkyMiles program which requires 30,000 miles, and still have miles     left over.


    New York – Rio de Janeiro round-trip mileage (from timetable) 9,578 miles
    +Double mileage bonus                                         9,578 miles
    +100% of base for Gold/Plat. Medallion bonus                  9,578 miles
    + 50% bonus for First Class                                   4,789 miles
    TOTAL:                                                       33,523 miles

SALT LAKE CITY – ROME BY GENERAL SKYMILES MEMBER IN BUSINESS CLASS:     For just one round trip between Salt Lake City and Rome, a general     SkyMiles member traveling as a paid Business Class passenger would earn a     total of 25,938 miles, — enough for one Coach Class ticket within or     between the continental U.S. and Canada which requires 25, 000 miles in     Delta’s SkyMiles program.


    Salt Lake City – Rome round-trip mileage (from timetable)    11,528 miles
    +Double mileage bonus                                        11,528 miles
    + 25% bonus for Business Class                                2,882 miles
    TOTAL:                                                       25,938 miles


For just one round trip between New York and San Francisco, a Gold or     Platinum Medallion member traveling as a paid First Class passenger would     earn a total of 18,116 miles.  So, with just two round-trips, a Gold or     Platinum SkyMiles member traveling in First Class could earn a total of     36,232 miles– enough for one Coach Class ticket within or between the     continental U.S. and Canada which requires 25,000 miles or for one Coach     Class ticket for travel between the continental U.S./Canada and Bermuda,     the Caribbean, Hawaii or Mexico which requires 30,000 miles in Delta’s     SkyMiles program.


    New York – San Francisco  round-trip mileage (from timetable) 5,176 miles
    +Double mileage bonus                                         5,176 miles
    +100% of base for Gold/Platinum Medallion bonus               5,176 miles
    + 50% bonus for First Class                                   2,588 miles
    TOTAL:                                                       18,116 miles


Sri Lanka Debit Cards

Hypercom announced Monday a $650,000 contract to provide Sampath Bank with Hypercom POS terminals, PIN pads and networking accessing controllers. This will be the first debit card system in Sri Lanka. Under yesterday’s contract, Hypercom will supply T7 Series POS terminals, primarily the T7E and T77, S7 and S7GCB PinPads and Networking Access Controllers.   Sampath Bank is one of Sri Lanka’s top three commercial banks and the most technologically advanced with 325,000 customers.


DCI Finishes Edge Comm Buy

DCI Telecommunications, Inc., an international supplier of telecommunications services, announced today the completion of the acquisition of privately owned Edge Communications, a Maryland-based prepaid phone card company.  The transaction involves an exchange of common stock valued at $8 million.

Since its founding in 1994, Edge has been engaged in the prepaid telephone card business.  It has achieved success by directing its activities primarily to urban and ethnic markets throughout the United States.  An onsite Customer Service Division is equipped with a state of the art IVR (Interactive Voice Response) protocol.  Its staff consists of bilingual representatives ready to service their diverse customer base.  In 1997, its revenues reached $5.4 million, representing growth of 990% over 1996 results.  Edge is currently profitable and is doing over $8 million in sales for the trailing twelve months ended March 31, 1998.  For calendar 1998, its sales are projected to reach $15 million.

This acquisition, along with the recently announced Global Telecommunications transaction, will add $16 million in sales to the company for the trailing twelve month period.  Daniel J. Murphy, DCI’s vice president, financial planning said, “Bolstered by the addition of Edge Communications to the DCI family, revenues should reach $45 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999.  We also should see a reduction in costs as a result of an increase in the volume of minutes.”

Edge has successfully marketed different prepaid phone card brands of its own design, customized to specific markets.  Its marketing programs include alliances with an array of long distance carriers.  WorldCom, Frontier, Enhanced Communications, the Telephone Company of Central Florida, and Cable & Wireless.  In the coming months, Edge is planning to launch marketing campaigns for new products such as 800 number foreign origination, prepaid dial tone, prepaid pagers, and point-of-sale activation.

DCI Telecommunications is an international supplier of telephone services, including long distance service, prepaid telephone cards and Internet products.  The company has an extensive distribution network throughout North America, Europe and the Far East and owns telephone switching facilities in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark.  DCI recently announced a quarterly cash dividend of one cent per share.  Through its buyback program the company has reacquired over one million shares of common stock.

The company recently reported sales of $6.2 million and $1.3 million in profit (13 cents per share), for the first nine months of fiscal 1998, and has 12 operating facilities, serving customers in eight countries.


Phone Cards Get S.A.F.E.R.

LCI International unveiled the industry’s first universal point of sale activation system for prepaid phone cards yesterday. As of June 1, LCI will make the ‘S.A.F.E.R.’ system (Secure Activation for Every Retailer) available to retailers regardless of size. The new system enables retailers to activate prepaid cards at the time of purchase utilizing their existing credit card authorization terminal and LCI’s proprietary network architecture. Traditionally prepaid cards have either been activated by the retailer by dialing a toll-free number and entering a passcode printed on the back of the card, or automatically when the first call is placed. To safeguard against theft and use of stolen cards, retailers often keep prepaid cards in a secure place, such as in a cash drawer or behind the counter, making them difficult to effectively merchandise and sell. With LCI S.A.F.E.R., retailers can display LCI prepaid cards in high-traffic, visible locations so the product is easier to purchase which can equate to increased sales. The LCI S.A.F.E.R. system can also generate prepaid activation reports for electronic reconciliation, eliminating the need for monthly invoicing.


New T&E Expense Tool

Ariba Technologies announced plans yesterday to deliver a new travel and expense management system in September,  as a part of its Release 5.0 of the Ariba ORMS.  This new application, ‘Ariba Travel and Expense Management’, will extend the functionality of the Ariba ‘Operating Resource Management System’.  Using the new application, travelers will automatically download expenses from their corporate credit cards to avoid manually keying entries, and then easily generate and submit expense reports on-line, routing them for approval according to configurable business rules.  Once approved, the system will then pass information to the company’s payables or payroll system for payment.


Prepaid Wireless Alliance

SmarTalk TeleServices and Boston Communications Group announced a strategic alliance Monday to market prepaid wireless products. BCG is the leading provider of prepaid wireless services to the wireless telecommunications industry, with five of the six largest cellular carriers as its customers. Through the alliance, both parties will promote the use of the SmarTalk prepaid phone card as a nationally available prepaid currency to enable consumers to recharge time on prepaid wireless programs of wireless carriers utilizing the BCGI platform. The objective of the alliance is to process in excess of 250 million prepaid wireless minutes over the next four years.