Lee Auto Goes Jigsaw

DataCard Corporation announced Thursday that Smart Card Solutions (SCS) has selected the DataCard Jigsaw transaction platform for a new loyalty program it is currently implementing in Lee Auto stores throughout the greater Chicago area.

Under the new loyalty program, Lee Auto customers receive a personalized smart card. Each time they make a purchase they receive points, which are tallied on the card and tracked in Lee Auto’s central database. Points may be redeemed at Lee Auto stores for gifts, which range from golf balls to leather recliners.

“The customer’s smart card is inserted into a Jigsaw terminal when they make a purchase,” said John Mamalakis, senior vice president for DataCard’s financial systems group. “The terminal automatically loads points onto the card, depending upon the amount of the purchase.”

“At the end of the day, the terminal generates a printed report of the day’s activities and transmits the information to a central database,” Mamalakis said. “It’s a very quick and easy process. It creates very little extra work for the cashier and it doesn’t slow the transaction.”

SCS chose the Jigsaw terminals because they offered the best mix of functionality, simplicity and value, according to Bill Biwer, president of SCS.

“It was critical that the smart card terminal offer intuitive operation, because we don’t want to create a training burden for the customer. Jigsaw clearly offers that advantage,” Biwer said. “Plus, Jigsaw provided us with superior functionality at an affordable price. That’s important to our customers as well.”

The loyalty program has received an enthusiastic reception at Lee Auto stores throughout suburban Chicago_from both customers and employees.

“We are beginning to see deployment of smart card applications in a number of industries, especially as programs like this one demonstrate measurable success,” Mamalakis said. “And Jigsaw terminals will be a preferred solution for many of these new applications because it offers a perfect mix of convenience, value and functionality.”

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 transaction systems, digital photo ID systems and printers, and card personalization systems. ([www.datacard.com][1])

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


Axiohm Acquires AP Print

Axiohm Transaction Solutions, Inc. announced that it has signed a binding agreement to acquire AP Print, S.A, based in Angers, France.

AP Print is a developer and manufacturer of plastic card printers used in applications such as driver’s licenses, membership cards, access control badges and smart cards. In 1997, AP Print had revenues of approximately $2 million and was profitable. The transaction is subject to final due diligence by Axiohm and is expected to close within 30 days.

“AP Print has an excellent reputation for developing high quality dependable plastic card printers,” commented Patrick Dupuy, co-Chairman of the Board of Axiohm.

“However, the company has almost no direct sales outside of France. Through our existing sales channels, we plan to significantly expand AP Print’s presence in Europe and in the United States. Additionally, we will look to extend the breadth of their product line to take advantage of Axiohm’s advanced printing mechanism expertise. We look forward to working closely with the AP Print team to accomplish these goals.”

Axiohm Transaction Solutions is one of the two largest non-captive designers, manufacturers and marketers of transaction printers in the world and is the only transaction printer manufacturer currently manufacturing its own thermal and impact printheads.

Axiohm’s transaction printer products are used in retail, financial and commercial transactions to provide transaction records such as receipts, tickets, register journals, checks and other documents. Axiohm also has an increasing sales presence in the markets for magnetic stripe and computer chip card readers and bar code printers and related consumable supplies.


Prepaid Phonecard Marketer Settles

A seller of prepaid phone cards has agreed to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s and the New York State Attorney General’s charges of deception in the advertising and sale of prepaid phone cards. According to the Commission, Rajesh Kalra, through his corporations, Trans-Asian Communications, Inc., Raj Telekom, Inc., and TransAmerican Systems, Inc., operating in New York City, attracted consumers with promises of prepaid phone cards at extremely low rates. Consumers, however, often never received their prepaid cards or could not get through to designated access numbers, the FTC alleged in a complaint filed on August 7, 1997 in federal district court. In addition, according to the complaint, many of the cards’ personal identification numbers (“PINS”) did not work or stopped working before the card’s value was depleted. In other instances, the FTC alleged, the card’s value was reduced too quickly. The proposed settlement announced today would prohibit the defendants from making any misrepresentations; requires a $1,000,000 performance bond before Kalra can market prepaid phone cards; requires a $40,000 payment; and imposes a $1 million judgment if he is found to have misrepresented any material financial information provided as a basis for the settlement.

Prepaid phone cards embody a right to exchange the card’s monetary value for telephone calling time, often at specified rates. According to the FTC, some prepaid phone cards are issued by long distance carriers. Others are issued by companies that purchase long distance minutes at volume-discounted rates, either from long distance carriers or from other companies that have purchased volume- discounted minutes from the long distance carriers. Prepaid phone cards have been used abroad since the mid-1970s and were introduced in the United States in 1992. According to the industry’s trade association, International Telecard Association, they have undergone astounding sales growth, from 15 million cards sold in 1993 to 200 million cards in 1995 to a projected 500 million cards in the year 2000. Corresponding dollar sales are $75 million in 1993, $1 billion in 1995, and a projected $4 billion in 2000.

Trans-Asian/Raj Telekom targeted their prepaid phone cards to members of the Indian- American community. Through advertisements in Indian newspapers published in the U.S., its home page on the World Wide Web, and promotional displays in retail outlets, Trans-Asian and its codefendants attracted purchasers with the promise of prepaid phone cards enabling users to call India and neighboring countries from anywhere in the U.S. at any hour of the day or night at extremely low rates. Most consumers purchased phone cards in $100 and greater denominations, the FTC said.

According to the FTC and the NYS Attorney General’s complaint, when a consumer inquired about the purchase of prepaid phone cards, the defendants’ representatives reiterated the advertised claims of inexpensive minutes of calling time to India. The purchasers were told that the value of the card would be reduced only for calls made and at promised per-minute rates and were told to send a check to the company for the total cost of the card. The complaint alleges that consumers who called to obtain their cards were often put off for days or weeks with various excuses, despite the fact that their checks had cleared. In many cases, consumers or distributors received no benefit of their purchase because no cards were ever issued to them or the cards issued did not function. In other instances, consumers or distributors received cards that functioned initially, but inexplicably ceased to function after a short period of usage. Still other consumers were unable to ever reach the companies’ toll free access numbers to ask about delivery of their cards.

The proposed settlement would prohibit Kalra from advertising or selling prepaid phone cards or related products or services unless he first obtains a performance bond in the principal sum of $1,000,000. If he does participate in this business again, he and his corporations would be prohibited from misrepresenting that (1) consumers or distributors of their prepaid phone cards will promptly receive cards or personal identification numbers and toll free access numbers immediately after they are paid; (2) Kalra’s prepaid phone cards or PINS will be reduced in value for minutes of calling time only commencing after the party called answers the phone and until either party to the call hangs up or is disconnected; (3) Kalra’s prepaid phone cards or PINs will be reduced in value only at the advertised per minute rates; and (4) he will, within a reasonable time after request, provide dissatisfied consumers or distributors with refunds or with viable replacement prepaid phone cards in exchange for nonfunctioning prepaid phone cards.

The defendants also must pay $40,000. The settlement further would establish $1,000,000 as the total amount they would be liable for should the Commission or the Attorney General’s office determine it necessary to reopen the case and the Court finds that there was false or omitted material information in defendants’ financial statements.

The proposed settlement also contains record keeping and other compliance requirements.

A free FTC brochure for consumers, titled “Buying Time The Facts About Pre- Paid Phone Cards,” provides information about consumers’ rights and gives consumers tips on how to avoid scams.

Before purchasing a prepaid phone card, consumers should

— Ask if the retailer will stand behind the card if the telephone service is unsatisfactory.

— Look for the rate for domestic and international calls on the card’s package or on the vending machine. These rates may vary depending on where you call. If you can’t find the rate, call the card’s customer service number.

— The prepaid phone card industry is highly competitive. Beware of very low rates, particularly for international calls. They may indicate poor customer service.

— Look for disclosures about surcharges, monthly fees, or per-call access.

— Check on expiration dates.

— Look for disclosures about surcharges, monthly fees, or per-call access.

— Be sure the card comes with instructions that you can understand.

— Make sure the card comes in a sealed envelope or has a sticker covering the PIN.

The FTC and the Office of New York State Attorney General filed the settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 17, 1998. It is subject to the approval of the judge. The Commission vote to file the settlement was 5-0.

NOTE The Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for Permanent Injunction is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.


Home Banking Smart Card Demo

SCM Microsystems a leading provider of secure access solutions, and other members of a consortium of companies at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Germany, have demonstrated a smart card-operated home banking network. The demonstration by backers of the “GeldKarte,” Germany’s largest electronic purse scheme, highlighted a smart card-based network offering banks a secure authentication process and secure networking capabilities over the Internet. Home banking is one of the key Internet application highlights in Hannover this year due to the growing interest by consumers in banking from home. Smart cards with electronic purse functionality are key components of this system to identify and authenticate users.

The consortium includes German software developer ADI, a home banking software specialist, Compaq, Microsoft, smart card manufacturer Giesecke & Devirent and SCM Microsystems, who brings the smart card interface expertise. The technology is based on the Microsoft Windows NT Server operating system and leverages the DNA FS banking framework, a key software component for distributed financial services with communication links using Internet protocols.

“Microsoft is committed to supporting smart card technology in Windows and has established the PC/SC workgroup to define a standardized interface for the cards and smart card reader technology,” said Mike Dusche, Microsoft’s worldwide financial services industry manager. “ADI’s Internet banking solution demonstrates how easy it can be to handle high level security for smart cards within DNA FS architecture.”

The consortium’s demonstration consists of a bank terminal application designed to meet the requirements of a typical bank branch service terminal. Internet browser technology is another key element of the system, providing an open and flexible architecture running under Windows NT. During the show, the branch terminals will be linked across the booths distributed over different halls. BBBank, the largest Credit Union in Europe, located in Germany, is backing the consortium’s move towards smart cards and Internet-based banking.

“The GeldKarte home banking solution is one of the first major applications for SCM Microsystems’ smart card reader technology,” said Robert Schneider, chairman and founder of SCM Microsystems. “By providing standards-based smart card interface solutions, our customers and end-users are able to use any smart card which opens the door for other wide-scale applications including network security and health care.”

SCM Microsystems is presenting a range of new products at CeBIT. Smart card readers will be shown for a variety of interfaces including RS-232 and PCMCIA. SCM Microsystems’ smart card interface products provide OEM customers with cost-effective solutions that maximize interoperability between the widest range of smart cards, operating systems, and industry standard APIs such as PC/SC. SCM Microsystems will also be demonstrating the SwapBox(R) PC Card adapter which integrates PC Card slots into desktop PCs and into the more complex architecture of server-systems.

About the Company

SCM Microsystems, Inc., with headquarters in Los Gatos, California, European headquarters in Germany, research and development centers in Germany and France, and offices in Japan and Singapore, is a leading provider of products and technologies which give individuals the ability to quickly and securely control access to, and effect the exchange of, digital information. By bridging smart cards and other secure devices with PCs and workstations, SCM Microsystems provides cost-effective solutions for conditional access to mobile, handheld and desktop computers, workstations, digital video broadcasts, virtual private networks, electronic files, e-mail and Internet firewalls. For additional information, contact SCM Microsystems in the United States at 408/370-4888 or in Europe at 49-84-418960 or e-mail adapter@scmmicro.com. The company maintains a Web site at [ http://www.scmmicro.com. ][1]

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


DataCard’s Photo ID System

DataCard Corporation introduced a digital photo ID system for the Windowsr NT platform today at CeBIT Fair in Hannover, Germany.  The new system extends DataCard’s industry-leading line of fully integrated photo ID systems and provides the company with a strategic platform for future photo ID solutions.

“This new Windows NT system is important for many of our resellers and end-users, especially for those needing the security features of the NT operating system,” said Renée Garpestad, vice president of DataCard’s photo ID systems group.

“Corporations, government agencies, universities and other DataCard customers often want to integrate our photo ID systems with databases, access control systems, time and attendance systems and other systems,” Garpestad said.  “Those applications often are Windows NT-based.  So, this new system will fill that market need.”

The new Windows NT system features proven DataCard components, including the ImageCardr III printer, QuikWorksÖ 4.0 software and the Auto-2000Ö camera.

“These are the fastest and most productive components in our family of photo ID solutions.  We chose them because the systems will be used primarily for high-volume applications,” Garpestad said.  “Like all DataCard photo ID solutions, this new NT system will set industry standards for quality, reliability and ease of use.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., U.S.A., 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.  [ http://www.datacard.com ][1]

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


EFTA Names Board

H. Kurt Helwig, Executive Director of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA), Thursday announced the election of five respected leaders to the EFTA Board of Directors.

The announcement was made from the EFTA Member Summit, the first in a series of three conferences scheduled this year for EFT industry innovators.

The growth of the Board is representative of the increased importance of electronic commerce and payment systems to an ever-widening range of businesses and industries.

“Participation in EFTA within traditional industries like ATM manufacturing, information processing and banking remains robust.  However, the Association’s growth is coming from emerging entrants into this field, such as stock market and financial services leader Merrill Lynch,” stated Helwig.

According to EFTA Executive Committee Chairman Deborah McWhinney, “We welcome the strategic insight and different perspectives these organizations will bring to the leadership of the Association.”

Elected at this week’s Board meeting were    Lynne B. Barr, Partner at Goodwin, Procter & Hoar LLP;    Rita L. Champ, General Manager and Senior Vice President at     Fujitsu-ICL Systems Inc;    Marcia J. Donner, Senior Vice President for Wells Fargo Bank;    Allen N. Jones, Senior Vice President and Director of Private     Client Marketing, Merrill Lynch; and    William W. Neville, President of TOTALPLUS(R) Division, BISYS Inc.

Since 1977 EFTA has maintained its position as the nation’s leading inter-industry trade association dedicated to the advancement of electronic payment systems and commerce.

The Association continues to be at the forefront of legislative and regulatory EFT proposals including EFT ’99, privacy and security, optional ATM convenience fees, and Electronic Benefits Transfer.

Its members include NCR, Cash Station Inc., American Express, Star Network, EDS, MasterCard International, Huntington Bank and First Data Corporation.

A complete list of EFTA Board members follows

Robert Albin President, Payment Services First Data Corporation

Robert P. Barone Chairman Electronic Funds Transfer Association

Lynne B. Barr Partner Goodwin, Procter & Hoar LLP

John F. Beahn Chief Marketing Officer Electronic Payment Services, Inc.

Thomas O. Bennion (a) President & CEO HONOR Technologies, Inc.

John B. Benton (a) Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Benton International, Inc.

Edgar Brown Senior Vice President First Union National Bank of North Carolina

James L. Brown Director, Center for Consumer Affairs University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Rita L. Champ Senior Vice President, Financial Systems Fujitsu ICL Systems, Inc.

Stephen Cole (a) President & CEO Cash Station, Inc.

Ronald V. Congemi President & Chief Executive Officer STAR SYSTEM, Inc.

Frank D’Angelo Vice President & General Manager, EFT Services M&I Data Services

Wolfgang R. Dalichau Vice President, Financial Systems Division NCR

Eugene DeSilva Vice President, Network Services American Express

Marcia J. Donner Senior Vice President Wells Fargo Bank

Kiran Gandhi Vice President, Business Development Mag-Tek Inc.

Norman Goldberg Vice President, Fin. Services Industry Marketing Tandem Computers, Inc.

Patrick C. Green Vice President & GM, Self-Service Systems Diebold, Inc.

Judith A. Hartlieb Vice President Applied Communications, Inc.

James Hayes Senior Vice President & General Counsel Cash Station, Inc.

Robert B. Hedges Senior Vice President, Direct Fin. Services Group Fleet Financial Group

H. Kurt Helwig Executive Director Electronic Funds Transfer Association

Robert Hill Vice President, Change and Installation Services Deluxe Data

William C. Hussey Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Touch Technologies, Inc.

Allen N. Jones Senior VP & Director, Private Client Marketing Merrill Lynch

Arthur D. Kranzley Senior Vice President ADVANTA Corporation

Matthew P. Lawlor Chief Executive Officer Online Resources & Communications Corp.

Dennis F. Lynch President & Chief Executive Officer NYCE Corporation

Richard G. Lyons, Jr. Senior VP, Electronic Banking & Marketing Comerica Bank

John MacAllister Executive Vice President Benton International, Inc.

Mark E. MacKenzie Executive Director Citicorp Global Cash Mgt. Services Treasurer, EFTA

Howard Mandelbaum Director of Smart Card Technology Hypercom, Inc.

Neil P. Marcous Executive Vice President & General Manager Electronic Data Systems

John J. McDonnell, Jr. President & Chief Executive Officer Transaction Network Services, Inc. Past Chairman, Executive Committee, EFTA

Deborah D. McWhinney Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning VISA International Chairman, Executive Committee, EFTA

G. Henry Mundt, III President & Chief Executive Officer Cirrus System Inc./MasterCard International

William W. Neville President, TOTALPLUS(R) Division BISYS Inc.

Walt Patterson President ACS/TransFirst, Inc.

Stan Paur President & Chief Executive Officer PULSE EFT Association

Gary S. Roboff Senior Vice President Chase Manhattan Bank

Paul Schmelzer Executive Vice President HONOR Technologies, Inc.

Jeffrey Schumacher Director, Product Management SPS Payment Systems Inc.

Michael Shade Vice President, Consulting Services VeriFone, Inc.

Bruce G. Wilson Chief Operating Officer CyberCash, Inc. Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, EFTA

(a) Director Emeritus


VISA Names Chaffee EVP

Visa International today announced the appointment of Todd C. Chaffee to executive vice president of Corporate Development & Alliances. In this position, Chaffee will direct Visa International’s advanced technologies, technology research, business development and alliance management groups. He will also continue managing Visa International’s global strategic investment portfolio.

Chaffee has been instrumental in building strategic partnerships and alliances for Visa with both large, multinational corporations and small, emerging technology firms. He has also established Visa’s highly successful strategic investment program which has grown more than ten fold under his leadership.

Chaffee joined Visa International in 1994 as senior vice president of Advanced Payment Systems. In 1996, his responsibilities were expanded to cover Visa International’s Emerging Markets & Technologies function. The same year he was appointed president of Visa Marketplace, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Visa International, which holds Visa strategic investments. Chaffee’s responsibilities were increased again in 1997 when he was named senior vice president of Corporate Development & Alliances.

Prior to joining Visa, Chaffee held management positions at several Fortune 500 companies, including Norwest Corporation, American Express and TRW Information Systems Group. Chaffee has also helped to launch successful new businesses in several different industries. He is currently a member of the board of directors for Nuance Communications, Inc. and Visa Marketplace, Inc.

A native of Minnesota, Chaffee graduated with a bachelor of science degree with honors from the University of Minnesota Business School of Management. He also completed the Stanford Graduate Business School’s advanced management program, the Harvard Business School’s venture capital program and the ABA’s graduate banking school.

As the world’s best way to pay, Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders and the global economy. As the leader in emerging technologies, Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 30 countries and on the Internet, with 22 million Visa chip cards, including 8 million Visa Cash cards. Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction™ programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. Visa’s 618 million cards, generating more than US$1 trillion in annual volume, are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including over 400,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network.


New Cash Dispenser

Diebold unveiled its new ‘1070ix’ through-the-wall cash dispenser yesterday at the CeBIT show in Germany. The new dispenser is designed to fit the smallest wall opening. The ‘1070ix’ will fit wall openings as small as 24 inches by 20.4 inches and walls as thick as 13.4 inches. Among other features a 15-inch color monitor, full motion video capability, high speed card reader and a multi-lingual thermal printer.


American Banknote Buys Two French Firms

American Banknote Corporation announced the acquisition of MCE S.A., the fourth largest check personalizer in France, and CPS Finances S.A., the fifth largest card personalizer in France for an undisclosed amount.  MCE and CPS together generated sales of over $15 million in 1997.

American Banknote will now be the leading check personalizer in France with expanded printing services, outsourcing and electronic printing capabilities (EPA) through the combination with the Sati Group, acquired by American Banknote in August, 1997.

The acquisition of CPS marks American Banknote’s entry into Europe within its Transaction Card & Systems group, which has been the company’s highest growth area.  CPS is  MasterCard, VISA, and Europay certified, which attests to its strict security standards, and offers card personalization and distribution for both magnetic stripe and smartcards.

Morris Weissman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We’ve continued our expansion in Europe where we see exciting growth opportunities with the emergence of the European Union.  We plan to increase operating efficiencies through the consolidation of the acquired businesses with existing production facilities in France.”

Weissman concluded, “Smartcard technology was originally developed in France and we look forward to working with some of the leaders there. Smartcard applications within major industries such as transportation, communication, health and banking are numerous and growing rapidly, and we are planning to participate in that growth.  We are fortunate to have Francis Lavelle, former CEO of Solaic, one of the pioneers in smartcard technology that was purchased by Schlumberger, as Managing Director of the Sati Group spearheading our entry into the smartcard arena in Europe.”

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.  Additionally, American Banknote, via its Holographics subsidiary, is the world leader in security for financial transaction cards, including VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club International, and Europay.

This release contains forward-looking statements relating to future financial results.  Actual results may differ materially as a result of factors over which the Company has no control.  These risk factors and additional information are included in the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.