NCR Forms OEM Group

NCR Corporation, the world leader in self-service solutions for the retail banking industry, is to begin supplying some its most innovative products under original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreements.

The company has established a new division within its self-service headquarters in Dundee, Scotland to service OEM customers with products such as cash dispensers. Developed by NCR as the state-of-the art technology for dispensing banknotes and other small media from its own automated teller machines (ATMs), the dispensers will be used by OEM purchasers to integrate into their own products.

“NCR has received a lot of positive attention for key technologies we have developed, like our vacuum dispenser architecture,” said Danny O’Brien, vice president, self-service. “We now have an opportunity to broaden the reach of those technologies through OEMs who recognize it is more effective to sell proven solutions than develop their own.”

The new division will be headed by Ekkehard Fabel who said that: “the OEM channel represents another way for NCR to meet that demand while strengthening the marketplace position of NCR self-service solutions.” He added that OEM customers would receive after sales support via NCR’s 20,000 service consultants around the world.

NCR last year maintained its position as the world’s leading supplier of ATMs, shipping more than 44,000 terminals around the world.

About NCR’s Financial Solutions Group

NCR supplies banks and other financial institutions with Banking Solutions in the Age of the Consumer – solutions that are tailored to our customers’ individual needs so that they can offer the best services to their consumers. These solutions cover the areas of self-service, payment, channel delivery and customer management.

About NCR

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a recognized world leader in scalable data warehousing, self-service and store automation solutions for the retail, financial and communications industries and other select markets. NCR’s solutions are built on the foundation of the company’s long-established industry knowledge and consulting expertise, value-adding software, world-leading hardware technology, global customer support services and a complete line of consumable and media products.

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Natl Bnk Canada Securitizes Card Loans

On March 31, 1998, National Bank of Canada securitized a portfolio of credit card receivables representing total outstandings in excess of $687 million. This off-balance sheet financing will enable the National Bank to diversify its sources of funding, strengthen its capital base and improve its return on common shareholders’ equity.

The $500 million in bonds issued by Canadian Credit Card Trust as part of this transaction will mature in seven years. These bonds have also been assigned the highest credit rating by the Canadian Bond Rating Service, Dominion Bond Rating Service Limited and Standard & Poor’s.

Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion Inc. acted as lead manager for the group of underwriters, the two others being Nesbitt Burns and Goldman Sachs Canada. Moreover, Canadian Credit Card Trust is represented by two trustees, namely, General Trust of Canada acting on behalf of purchasers of the bonds issued by Canadian Credit Card Trust and The Trust Company of Bank of Montreal acting on behalf of Canadian Credit Card Trust beneficiaries. Lastly, State Street Bank and Trust Company issued a letter of guarantee for a maximum of $27.5 million.

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USA Technologies – Strong Buy

Wharton Asset Management Inc. research analyst Rick Joshi, based in the firm’s New York office , has updated coverage on USA Technologies Inc. with a “Strong Buy” rating. USA’s patented technology makes possible unattended credit card-operated use of equipment including personal computers, copying machines, printers and fax machines.

Joshi’s 12-month price target is $2.15 per share.

“We believe that USA Technologies is grossly undervalued at current levels,” said Joshi. “One reason for this may be that the investment community is not aware of recent developments at the company and especially their far-reaching implications for company valuation. As investors begin to recognize the potential of technology for electronic commerce, and as the company continues to gain analyst following, we believe that this value will be reflected in the stock price over time.

“USA has significant operating leverage in its core unattended credit card-operated equipment business, which we expect to be substantially amplified by its increasing focus over the longer term on interactive advertising that leverages the same customer base and is mostly supported by the same infrastructure, staff and strategic relationships as the core business,” added Joshi. “It therefore affords investors the opportunity to participate in the fast-growing internet sector, with downside risk mitigation from market leadership and earnings from the existing core business, wherein USA’s customers already include leading hotel chains.

“USA Technologies is in the process of establishing itself as the leader in unattended credit card technology. The company has a decisive technological lead, promising new products targeting vast potential markets, including electronic commerce and internet advertising, and major strategic partnerships with Mail Boxes Etc. and others in place. Given its unique technological position, superb growth characteristics and earnings potential, USTT is an outstanding vehicle for risk tolerant investors with a short-term as well as a long term view,” said Joshi.

USA Technologies’ flagship product is MBE Business Express(TM), a joint venture product with Mail Boxes Etc.(a subsidiary of U.S. Office Products). MBE Business Express(TM), using USA’s patented technology and previously marketed by USA as Business Express(TM), provides credit card-activated self- service office systems for business travelers and consumers who need to access the internet or e-mail or use personal computers, printers, copiers and fax machines while they are away from their office or home. Future plans call for each unit to feature a dial through telephone to a nearby Mail Boxes Etc. location for additional services and support such as color copying projects, binding and packing and shipping. A simple swipe of any major credit card activates the office equipment and computer stations which offer many popular software programs as well as access to the internet and e-mail. To maintain security, MBE Business Express(TM) is equipped with TransAct(TM), USA Technologies’ proprietary payment and management system that processes secure, real-time credit card transactions, billing customers for actual services used while ensuring timely payments to the business center owner.

USA Technologies is a leading owner and licensor of networked credit card- activated control systems for the personal computer, photocopier, facsimile and laptop printing capabilities. The company’s proprietary technologies make available unattended, point-of-sale control systems for credit card payments.

Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act

With the exception of the historical information contained in this release, the matters described herein contain forward-looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties that may individually or mutually impact the matters herein described, including but not limited to product acceptance, economic, competitive, governmental, results of litigation, technological and/or other factors, which are outside the control of the Company.

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CMS Promotes Jean Rompre

Cardholder Management Services, L.P. (“CMS”) announced today that it has promoted Jean Rompre to Vice President as part of its commitment to recognizing those individuals who make a direct contribution to existing and projected business growth.

CMS, a privately held company located in Plainview, New York, was founded in 1986 and provides credit card servicing to banks, thrifts, credit unions and retail organizations. In addition to risk management and marketing expertise. CMS currently services 118 portfolios for more than 70 financial institutions with assets from $50 million to $90 billion.

Ms. Rompre began working with CMS on a consulting basis, and has served as Director of Financial Institution Sales since 1994. During her tenure with DMS, she has brought on many servicing clients, including several of the Top Ten credit card issuers. Ms. Rompre has extensive experience in consulting with major card issuers, helping many clients to enter the credit card and national debit card businesses with start-up programs and helping other issuers improve the levels of service and profitability of existing, mature portfolios.

Donald M. Berman, President and Chief Executive Officer of CMS, said “Our continued success depends on our dedication to provide increasing challenges and opportunities to all of our employees and recognizing individual contributions to our growth. Jean Rompre, as one of CMS’ most talented sales professionals, brings a unique combination of experience, knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm to our business. Her promotion reflects both her commitment and contribution to CMS.”

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Family Golf Joins AmEx Prog

Family Golf Centers, Inc. announced Wednesday that it has entered into a marketing relationship with American Express that will enable American Express cardmembers to earn or purchase gifts, golf practice privileges and golf instruction at Family Golf Centers nationwide.

More than three million enrollees in the Membership Rewards(R) Program from American Express will be introduced to the Family Golf Centers offers in their membership mailings.

Dominic Chang, chairman and CEO of Family Golf Centers, noted the benefits of these alliances. “Linking the Family Golf Centers name with American Express heightens the visibility of Family Golf, adds to our potential customer base and offers a valued benefit to those who choose one of our programs,” said Chang.

Family Golf Centers is the largest owner/operator of golf-related practice facilities in the U.S., with 75 locations in 20 states.

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Surcharge Spiral

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its third annual ATM fee survey yesterday which showed more banks are surcharging non-customers. According to the PIRG study, 83% of major banks, 65% of smaller banks and 13% of credit unions charge ATM access fees to non-customers. The per-transaction-fees averaged $1.35 for major banks, $1.16 for smaller banks and $1.04 for credit unions. PIRG surveyed 470 banks in 28 states for the study. Sen. D’Amato said if the bank’s regular ATM fees are factored in with the surcharges, American consumers are paying an average of $2.41 per transaction. He indicated legislation banning ATM surcharges would pass this year.

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New DataStrip Biometrics

Diamond Bank Ltd (Nigeria) is implementing a biometric security system based on an innovative low-cost ID card from Datastrip Limited.

The customer’s photograph and signature are printed onto the ID card in the form of a two-dimensional code known as a DataStrip. When the customer wishes to make a transaction, the card is inserted into a small desktop reader which instantly displays the information on an LCD screen, allowing the teller to verify identity.

Already installed at 16 of Diamond Bank’s 23-branch network, the system is providing the bank and its customers with a very high degree of security at low cost. This is because the ID cards can be produced much more economically than alternative card technologies, and the verification system functions standalone – without the need for connection to further computers or networks.

Established only seven years ago, Diamond Bank has grown rapidly thanks in great part to a major investment in technology. All branches are linked, via a state of the art on-line real-time communications network, to the bank’s headquarters in Lagos. In conjunction with the ID card system, this now allows customers to make transactions at any branch. This service is attracting many new clients as some banks in Nigeria cannot offer this flexibility.

“The versatility of this ID card technology has allowed us to install this new security system very rapidly” noted a spokesman for Diamond Bank. “It’s an important step in extending the level of service we offer to our customers, and it has given us a competitive edge in our marketplace.”

DataStrip is a portable, high-capacity data file, providing secure storage of text, photograph and biometric information which makes it ideal for many ID card applications. It is well suited to printing on ISO-standard plastic cards, and provides a cost effective solution for cardholder verification within the financial, banking, building society and credit union sectors at a fraction of the cost of smart card or other competitive card technologies.

“Organizations worldwide are now considering the high security potential offered by biometrics” notes Datastrip’s Steve Blackmore, “but are being held back in many instances by the cost of implementing them. High-density printed codes provide a solution for many of these applications at a fraction of the cost of competitive technologies, as this application demonstrates.”

Although the Diamond Bank ID system currently functions standalone, card data can be imported into a PC, and Diamond Bank is currently investigating this aspect with a view to capturing data to speed transactions.

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UK Phonecard Merger

Two of the UK’s leading phonecard providers have merged to create Europe’s largest independent telephone card services company. The new company combines the expertise of Interglobe Telecommunications Plc and TCS Consumer Services to create a stronger phonecard offering for the UK and Europe. The new company will continue to operate under the Interglobe brand.

The merger will facilitate the addition of economical local European calls, virtual office services and hot key access to information lines to existing international phonecard services.

“Interglobe has a proven record of developing value-added telecoms solutions for leading organizations throughout the UK. The merger builds on this foundation and accelerates our ability to rapidly roll out our services into Europe,” says Philip Ochtman, Chief Executive Officer of Interglobe.

“The merger enables the new Interglobe to offer a range of enhanced services to new and existing customers. Initially we intend to build the business with our existing partners, enabling them to develop new services for their customers and to extend their products into new markets. We’ll also want to take advantage of our extended global reach and focus on Europe’s GBP 440m phonecard market.”

Interglobe’s phonecards can now be developed to include hot-key access to retail and information services. For instance card users can call to buy tickets, send flowers, check up on share portfolio, local weather or even the hear the results of last week’s game. Free access to information lines, help lines, special offers and reward schemes can also be developed. The options for patching into other services are limited only by the imagination.

Virtual office services, including voice mail, fax store and forward and follow- me numbers can also be developed to create the complete corporate card. Interglobe’s technology can also be used to turn an existing card, such as a credit card, store card or loyalty card into a phonecard.

With service platforms in seven countries and a planned deployment into twenty more, the TCS network gives the new company an unmatched global reach. This places Interglobe in a strong position for developing competitive local telephone tariffs throughout Europe.

The enhanced services and new global reach, combined with Interglobe’s existing, multi-lingual Customer Call Centre and product development and fulfillment capabilities, creates the strongest possible offering for the European calling card services market.

Interglobe expects to duplicates its UK success in Europe by demonstrating what it has already achieved with leading travel companies such as Airtours, British Airways, Cosmos, EuroChange, Going Places, Hertz Europe, Lunn Poly, and Virgin Holidays.

The merger is the result of the GBP 12m buy-out of Interglobe Telecommunications Plc by TCS Consumer Services’ US-based parent company Hemisphere Investment Inc.

Notes to editors: 1. Established in 1992 Interglobe is the UK’s longest established provider of value added telecoms services though phonecard products. Interglobe pioneered calling card services with travel Industry growing Its share of the market to more than 70%. TCS Consumer Services enter the UK calling card market In 1996, establishing Itself as a premier provider of sophisticated calling card solutions and related high-end telephony services.

2. The new Interglobe Telecommunications Plc uses Excel switching technology, which Is viewed as the Industry standard In programmable switching technology. Alpha DEC server technology ensures fast call processing and use of an Oracle database provides powerful data access with full hierarchy capabilities and database redundancy. The Integration of the two companies technologies and expertise has created an enterprise that often technical solutions second-to- none.

3. Interglobe and TCS were founding members of the European Calling Card Services Association (ECCSA) the Industry’s self-regulation body. ECCSA`s mission Is: ‘To support the establishment and growth of the European remote memory calling card services market through the commitment of Its members to ethical business practices, the highest product standards and consumer protection.

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New UK Processor

Equifax and SearsCard announced Wednesday they will form a joint venture to create a new cardholder and merchant processing operation, based in the U.K.. SearsCard is a subsidiary of Sears Group in the U.K. and is not affiliated with Sears, Roebuck & Co in the U.S. The joint venture will combine SearsCard’s customer service skills with the advanced processing capabilities of Equifax Card Solutions to provide third party card management in the U.K. and Ireland. Equifax will own 51% of the new venture to be based in Birmingham, England. SearsCard currently manages 1.5 million cards in the U.K. for the Sears Group and other retailers.

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Providian Momentum

Providian is knocking on the ‘Top 10 Issuer’ door with the signing yesterday of an agreement to purchase another $1.1 billion of card loans from First Union. Following Wednesday’s news, Providian will hold more than $10 billion in receivables to rank as the nation’s 13th largest bank credit card issuer. Excluding Discover and Optima and the acquisition of the AT&T Universal portfolio by Citibank, Providian will become the nation’s 10th largest VISA/MasterCard issuer by the end of the second quarter. Yesterday’s deal is expected to close May 1. Providian closed a previous $1.1 billion First Union deal on January 30 of this year.

First Union says that both of the portfolio segments it sold were comprised of accounts acquired through national solicitations from 1994-1996. First Union is re-positioning itself to focus its card business on its core marketing area.

PROVIDIAN SNAPSHOT
RECV YTD VOL ACCTS ACTIVES CARDS
EOY 97 $7.8b $8.7b 6.4m 2.9m 6.1m
1Q 98* $10.1b $2.1b 7.4m 3.5m 7.6m
* projected; m-millions; b-billions;

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SunGard

NYCE unveiled an advanced recovery solution yesterday designed to restore the Network switching platform within two hours of a disaster declaration. The electronic vaulting solution provided by SunGard Recovery Services, Inc. is able to back-up transaction data processed on the NYCE Network, on-line, 24 hours a day. The data are transmitted between NYCE’s data center in NJ to SunGard’s Tandem system in Philadelphia.

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ORGA Czech Consulting

The Czech “Pilot Project on Chipcards,” one of the largest European field tests of the potential uses of smart cards in the healthcare and social insurance sector, has entered its second, expanded phase. ORGA Consult, a subsidiary of smart card expert ORGA Kartensysteme GmbH, has been hired as a consultant for the next stage of the project.

Launched in 1995 on the joint initiative of the Czech Ministry of Health and the State Health Insurance Fund, the project was promoted as part of the EU’s Phare program. The use of smart cards as patient and insurance fund IDs was tested under practical conditions in a small-scale trial involving the people of the town of Litomerice. ORGA helped to develop and personalize the patient cards.

The first stage of the pilot test has just been successfully completed. It showed that smart cards improve the flow of information between patients, insurers, doctors and pharmacists, and increase data security in healthcare, hence benefiting everyone involved. The second phase of the project, entailing an extended trial, is now underway, and will test additional functions on the card and harmonize the system with other European solutions. The Czech government will use the final results to decide whether to introduce a healthcare card nationally.

“We are pleased to be able to continue the successful work from the first stage of the project,” says Andreas Schwier, who is responsible for the project at ORGA Consult. “With our experience we are contributing to a smooth transition to Phase II and to the successful conclusion of the project.”

ORGA Kartensysteme GmbH Germany is one of the world’s leading developers of microprocessor-based smart card technology, with more than 685 employees worldwide. ORGA offers turnkey solutions for health care, banking, telecommunications and other emerging markets. ORGA has subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Great Britain, France, USA, CIS, China and South Africa as well as an agency in Singapore. Visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.orga.com.][1]

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

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