Check Automation

NPC and VeriFone have joined forces to provide merchants with an advanced check payment solution at the POS using check truncation. VeriFone has upgraded its ‘CheckPak’ solution with NPC’s ‘CheckThru’ electronic processing service. ‘CheckPak’ consists of an ‘OMNI’ terminal, fast thermal printer, ‘CR 600 MICR’ check reader and the company’s ‘SoftPay’ terminal software. Merchants simply run the check through the check reader which captures and transmits the ABA and account number to NPC. NPC’s system then approves the transaction, creates an authorization receipt which the customer signs and then records the transaction electronically for prompt, off-line settlement.

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Japanese Gretsky Phone Card

Valu-net Corporation announced that Valu-net, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, Team Canada and Dentsu Inc. of Japan, an International Communications firm, have initiated a Japanese phone card program bearing the images of NHL Superstar, Wayne Gretzky.

Under the terms of the Agreement and to coincide with hockey events during the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Valu-net supplied Dentsu Inc. with images of Wayne Gretzky which were used to manufacture Prepaid Phone Cards, exclusively for the Japanese market. The initial production run was limited to 999 two (2) card sets. One card depicts Wayne Gretzky in his Team Canada uniform, while the other shows him wearing his New York Rangers uniform. A further 99 promotional sets will also be produced. Dentsu Inc., who is responsible for all marketing activities in Japan, have indicated that, given the strong demand for these cards, they expect all the sets to be completely sold out before the end of February, 1998.

David Lucatch, President and CEO of Valu-net Corporation stated; “This introductory offer of Wayne Gretzky Phone Cards to the Japanese marketplace opens the doors to future business opportunities with the National Hockey League, particularly in the area of international marketing of products and services. The scale of this undertaking and the speed with which it was accomplished, is a testament to the high degree of cooperation we received from all concerned.”

Valu-net Corporation, with operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, is a New Media corporation whose business is electronic commerce and marketing on the Internet. By working with leading financial institutions and technology companies, Valu-net has developed a bank endorsed “virtual” retailing system that is secure for both consumers and businesses. According to a recent Ernst and Young study (“Web sites can make money for retailers”), by the year 2000, a staggering 81 percent of retailers project profitable web sites. The study also predicts that by that date, half of on-line sellers expect to generate at least 20 percent of their total sales on the Internet. While waiting for this huge potential market to develop, Valu-net has taken the initiative of launching a niche marketing strategy, in the professional sports arena, to showcase Internet Marketing and Electronic Commerce opportunities and to demonstrate that Internet sales/commerce can be conducted profitably and securely.

Valu-net Corporation was posted for trading on The Alberta Stock Exchange on October 16, 1997 under the symbol “VNE”. There are currently 22.25 million common shares issued and outstanding. Management and insiders collectively hold 78 percent of the issued and outstanding shares and all are subject to restrictions on release. The public float consists of 4.9 million common shares.

We invite you to visit our web site at www.vncorp.com or The National Hockey League’s web site at www.nhl.com or Dentsu Inc.’s web site at [www.dentsu.co.jp][1]

[1]: http://www.dentsu.co.jp

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Equifax’s Argentina Ownership

Equifax Inc. announced yesterday it has increased its ownership in Organizacion VERAZ S.A. to 66-2/3%.  VERAZ is Argentina’s largest consumer credit information company, serving Argentina’s banks and other financial institutions with over 9 million records in the financial database and 25 million consumer names and addresses.

“Increasing our investment in VERAZ demonstrates our belief in the company’s strength and its continuing potential for growth,” said Thomas F. Chapman, Equifax President and CEO.  “VERAZ will continue to provide high quality information products to facilitate commerce throughout Argentina.”

Equifax entered into a joint venture in May 1994 with Gabriel Yelin, a founding family member and BANELCO, a consortium of Argentina’s largest banks, for ownership of VERAZ.  Gabriel Yelin, who is also the current President will continue in that role for the present time.

“We are delighted with this increased commitment Equifax has made to VERAZ and Argentina,” said Santiago E. de Paul, Executive Director, Bank Boston, Argentina and President of BANELCO, “and we anticipate solid growth for our partnership well into the future.”

With BANELCO, Equifax will continue to expand the services of VERAZ in response to the increasing development of credit in Argentina, incorporating new information sources, broadening geographic reach, and increasing value to the products and services offered.

William R. Phinney, Equifax Executive Vice President and Group Executive for Latin America said, “This partnership with BANELCO plays a key role in Equifax’s strategy for the region and demonstrates a strong belief in the future business potential for Argentina and all of Latin America.

Equifax is a global leader in providing information, processing, consulting and software solutions that facilitate buyer-seller transactions worldwide.  The company serves businesses in banking, finance, retail, credit card, telecommunications/utilities and health care administration and the consumer.  Equifax is changing the shape of global commerce through growth, innovation, driven by technology and people.  It operates in 17 countries with sales in 40 countries.  Founded in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax today has 10,000 employees around the world.  Revenues for the 12 months ended December 31, 1997, were $1.4 billion.  Visit the company’s Internet web site at .

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Another Health Charge Card

Health Charge Corporation and McCready Hospital announced the execution of a contract to provide the Health Charge credit card program to patients of McCready Hospital. The program will begin in February.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with McCready Hospital to assist their patients with their uninsured medical bills,” said Christopher L. Gillock, Chief Executive Officer of Health Charge Corporation. “The Health Charge credit card program will help with their patients’ uninsured medical expenses and will help McCready Hospital improve patient relations and reduce bad debts.”

“Health Charge will reduce the costs of hospital operations and improve patient relations. These outcomes are very important to McCready Hospital,” said Frank Collins, Director – Patient Accounts of McCready Hospital. “The Health Charge Program will help the Hospital to reduce write-offs and will also reduce the burdens faced by our patients that have significant medical bills.”

McCready Hospital serves patients in Crisfield and the surrounding areas on the eastern shore of Maryland. Health Charge Corporation, founded in 1979, provides private label credit card programs to hospitals and other healthcare providers that enable those providers to better manage patient pay obligations and receivables. In addition, Health Charge also provides business office consulting services and proprietary receivables management software to hospitals. Please contact our WEB SITE at [www.healthcharge.com][1] for more information.

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

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Cleaning Up

First Tennessee Bank and IL-based ServiceMaster are looking to mop-up the competition with a new credit card offering home services rewards. The ‘ServiceMaster Rewards MasterCard’ offers cardholders a 1% rebate for general purchases and a 3% rebate from ServiceMaster’s ‘Quality Service Network Companies’. Bonus rebates are offered for using multiple ServiceMaster brands and for transferring credit card balances. Rebates, in the form of a $25 ‘ServiceMaster Bucks Certificates’, are redeemable towards ServiceMaster home services ranging from bug protection to lawn maintenance to maid service. First Tennessee has set card pricing at prime +7.9% with no-annual-fee. A six-month intro rate of 5.9% is also offered. ServiceMaster has eight subsidiaries with more than 5,800 U.S. business locations. Subsidiaries include Terminix, TruGreen-ChemLawn and Merry Maids.

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Ingenico for S. Africa

Global Payment Technologies Inc. , a leading manufacturer and innovator of currency acceptance systems used in the worldwide gaming, beverage and vending industries, today announced that GPT-SA  Ltd., the company’s 50 percent-owned South African distributor, has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Ingenico S.A., a major worldwide provider of Electronic Funds Transfer Point-of-Sale systems.

The agreement provides GPT-SA with the exclusive right to sell Ingenico EFTPOS products in the South African market and may be extended to other areas in Southern Africa.

Ingenico, based in France, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of EFTPOS systems used in banking, health services, post offices, public transportation and a broad range of retail applications. Ingenico’s products are designed to address a variety of electronic payment options, including checks, credit cards, debit cards and smart cards.

Ed Seidenberg, GPT vice president and chief operating officer, said, “GPT-South Africa is already a leading provider of payment acceptance and cash management products and services in the South Africa market. This agreement will significantly extend our product offering and help us expand our overall market presence in South Africa. We are also excited about working with Ingenico — a recognized leader in POS systems technology — to develop additional product capabilities for the GPT line of currency acceptance systems, such as the integration of non-cash payment options like credit, debit and smart cards.”

Global Payment Technologies Inc. is a U.S.-based designer, manufacturer and marketer of currency acceptance systems used to automate payment and validation in the gaming and vending industries worldwide. The company’s proprietary technologies are among the most advanced in the industry.

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements A number of statements contained in this release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the applicable statements.

These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to potential difficulties in manufacturing operations; potential shortages of key parts and/or raw materials; difficulties in managing growth; dependence on a limited base of customers for a significant portion of sales; the risks that its current and future products may contain errors or defects that would be difficult and costly to detect and correct; dependence on key personnel; the possible impact of competitive products and pricing; possible risks of product inventory obsolescence; and other risks described in more detail in GPT’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

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By-the-Minute

Brightpoint, Inc. announced that it had reached an agreement with US/Intelicom and SecurFone America, Inc. to provide prepaid cellular solutions for the United States market.

The prepaid cellular solution, Buy-the-Minute(TM), is scheduled for market launch on March 1, 1998. Buy-the-Minute(TM) features USI-150 handsets with debit software provided by US/Intelicom, Inc., airtime services by SecurFone America and fulfillment and distribution services by Brightpoint.

US/Intelicom is a leading provider of prepaid cellular software to the wireless industry and has recently announced a series of key software enhancements to its prepaid system. The partnership with Brightpoint will significantly expand US/Intelicom’s ability to provide its prepaid cellular solutions to manufacturers, network operators, resellers, agents, dealers and retailers across the U.S. and foreign countries.

SecurFone America, founded in 1996, is a telecommunications company specializing in prepaid communications service. SecurFone markets its prepaid services directly under the name Buy-the-Minute(TM). Through its prepaid network product, SFA Network Services, SecurFone offers its prepaid wireless platform to other communications companies on a complete turnkey or component basis. SecurFone America stock trades on NASDAQ under the symbol SFAI. The company is based in San Diego, California.

Brightpoint is a leading provider of distribution and value-added logistics services to the wireless communications industry. The Company facilitates the effective and efficient distribution of handsets and related accessories from leading manufacturers to network operators, agents, resellers, dealers and retailers.

“Forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 may be included in this news release. A variety of factors could cause the Company’s actual results to differ from the reported results expressed in such forward-looking statements. Investors are referred to the Company’s Cautionary Statements (Exhibit 99 to the Company’s most recent Form 10-Q), which statements are incorporated into this news release by reference.

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Recurring Cellular Billing

Paymentech, the nation’s third largest electronic payment solutions provider, today introduced its automatic payment service for recurring billing to the cellular industry. The program enables cellular providers to automatically receive payments from customers that are billed on a monthly or regular scheduled basis. The announcement was made at a major industry conference in Atlanta.

With Paymentech’s recurring payments program, consumers can choose to have their credit card, debit card or checking account automatically cover their service bill. Cellular service providers can then electronically collect receivables. The resulting benefits include improved cash flow and faster credit to providers’ accounts, as well as streamlined operations.

Paymentech, the largest processor of credit card payments for direct marketers such as cataloguers and on-line service providers, sees growing interest within the service industry for non-face-to-face electronic payment solutions.

“Recurring payments not only produce operational savings for cellular providers, but also improve customer service and retention” said Gary Beck, senior director for Paymentech’s recurring payments program. “In a recent survey of merchants, 82% cited customer service enhancements as the greatest reason for upgrading to recurring billing.”

“Research conducted by MasterCard shows that 34% of surveyed consumers prefer recurring payments by credit card,” said Beck. “Cellular customers find recurring payment is convenient and easy. There are no checks to write, stamps to buy or bills to mail.”

Other advantages of recurring payments include streamlined operations as delays associated with check payments are eliminated. Lock box fees, collection agency fees and insufficient fund bank charges are also reduced.

As an electronic payment solutions provider, Paymentech arranges for customer payments to be handled according to their preference. A monthly billing file of non-check payments is processed by Paymentech with all authorized and successfully cleared card transactions.

Paymentech also provides electronic check processing, which automatically debits a customers bank account for the payment. The consumer’s bill becomes a notice of the debit. Overall, recurring billing reduces the payment cycle time and assures quicker access to funds. Paymentech currently processes recurring payments for merchants such as major on-line service providers.

Paymentech, founded in 1985, is the leading provider of full-service electronic payment solutions to the direct response industry. The company processed approximately 476 million total transactions in the December 1997 quarter and approximately $46 billion in sales volume during 1997. Paymentech ([www.paymentech.com][1]) is the largest processor of bankcard transactions and a leading issuer of commercial cards in the United States.

Recurring Payments Fact Sheet

Recurring payments (RPs) account for over $500 billion in annual payments. Less than 2% is currently captured on cards. Approximately 5% of payments are made through direct debits of consumer checking accounts (Nilson Report, August 1996).

According to a MasterCard survey, 93% of all recurring bills are paid by writing a check; however, 36% of consumers use some type of recurring payment for at least one bill. Automatic payment type preferences were — automatic checking account debit (electronic check processing) automatic paycheck deduction credit card recurring

Consumer Research 34% of consumers would prefer a recurring payment About one in four consumers (24%) mentioned they would switch to a competitor, where the option exists, if they could do automatic recurring payments.

Benefits of RPs

Merchants (service industry): secure transactions streamlined processing improved collections improved customer service and retention incremental sales

Consumers convenient, saves time and money option to revolve earn points in co-branded and frequency award programs

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

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Checking In

Global Payment Systems rolled-out ‘Global Hospitality LAN’ Tuesday to accelerate the check-in/check-out operations for hotel/motel guests. The new front desk folio management and credit card payments system operates in a LAN environment and enables property managers to simultaneously process transaction information and use reporting functions from any credit card terminal at any time. Integration of restaurant and retail outlets for transaction reconciliation prior to settlement is also offered.

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CreditCard Online

Concorde Solutions, Inc., a Bank of America company, announced Tuesday that with Bank of America and Hitachi, Ltd. the deployment of BankAmericacard online access using Concorde CreditCard OnLine (CCOL). The system allows all BofA cardholders inquiry access to their accounts over a secure Internet link.

CCOL is the first fruit, with much more to come, of the cooperative agreement announced one year ago between Concorde Solutions, Inc. and Hitachi, Ltd. to develop Internet-enabled software for banking applications using Hitachi, Ltd.’s TPBroker Object Transaction Manager.

BankAmericard online access demonstrates the potential of this new category of banking applications through the richness of its feature set. Customers may retrieve up-to-the-minute account balances and credit available and view up to 7 months of historical activity.

The deployment of new technology is important for three reasons

1. Bank of America’s consumer credit card customers now have access to their information through this increasingly important channel using world-class, cutting edge technology. While many credit card companies offer account information over the phone via an 800 number, now Bank of America can also offer customers up to 7 months of statement history that is viewable online and downloadable directly into financial management software.

2. In conjunction with Bank of America’s Interactive Banking Division, Concorde Solutions, Inc. and Hitachi Ltd delivered the project using new object-oriented technologies producing a code base that can be substantially reused in follow-up applications. Hitachi’s TP Broker is now proven in a production environment.

3. Concorde will now market CCOL to a wide range of financial institutions. The deployed application demonstrates strong competency in Internet applications for financial applications. “CCOL is ready for fast track implementation in any bank that deals with credit cards and wants to provide state of the art for its customers. Banks can save themselves from building from scratch the extensive infrastructure required to implement this complex technology,” said Isaac Appelbaum, President of Concorde Solutions, Inc. In the future, Concorde plans to develop other groundbreaking customizable financial applications and application packages based on object-oriented component methodology combining the strengths of Concorde in object-oriented development and Hitachi, Ltd.’s TPBroker technology, as well as its lead market position in banking systems.

About TPBroker

TPBroker integrates a custom state-of-the-art implementation of Object Management Group (OMG) compliant Object Transaction Service (OTS) 1.1 with a CORBA 2.0 compliant Object Request Broker (ORB). TPBroker is the first Object Transaction Monitor (OTM) in the market. Hitachi is a market leader in the mission critical market in Japan. TPBroker is tailored with Hitachi’s leading-edge technology backed with experience in mission critical systems. TPBroker is the product to satisfy real mission critical requirements.

About Concorde Solutions, Inc.

Concorde Solutions, Inc. is the technological leader in object oriented applications. Founded in 1996, Concorde assembled a crack team of object- oriented programmers, many from the Bank of America, to solve the most exciting problems facing financial institutions today accessing existing legacy systems and connecting them to internal and external customers through cutting edge software applications. Concorde has developed Framework, a flexible advanced infrastructure which will serve as a base for the development of a wide range of financial software applications, including Concorde CreditCard OnLine. Concorde is a subsidiary of the Bank of America, the third largest bank in the United States.

About Bank of America (NYSEBAC)

BankAmerica Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries provide diverse financial products and services to individuals, corporations, small and mid- size businesses, government agencies and financial institutions throughout the world.

About Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSEHIT)

Hitachi, Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world’s leading global electronics companies, with fiscal 1996 (ending March 31, 1997) consolidated sales of $68.7 billion (at an exchange rate of 124 yen to the dollar). The company manufactures and markets a wide range of products, including computers, semiconductors, consumer products and power and industrial equipment. For more information on Hitachi, Ltd., please visit Hitachi’s Web site at .

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Perinatal Smart Cards

DataCard is developing a portable patient information solution this spring in cooperation with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The medical center will issue 700 smart cards to about 700 expectant mothers during the pilot. The chip card will store medical data on the mother. After delivery, another smart card will be issued to the newborn containing medical data for antenatal applications. The pilot is an application of DataCard’s ‘SmartRec’ solution. If successful the program will be expanded to cover more than 7,000 expectant mothers who use the facility each year.

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Souping It Up

U.S. Bancorp’s Colorado National Bank subsidiary announced yesterday it is beefing up its ten-month-old ‘King Soopers VISA’ with a new airline partner. Next month ‘King Soopers’ cardholders will be able to earn free airline tickets with Frontier Airlines. Cardholders will also be able to transfer points earned towards travel with former partner Western Pacific airlines to the new Frontier program. The cobranded, grocery store rewards card offers cardholders a 1% rebate on general purchases and a 2% rebate on King Soopers purchases. Rewards include free groceries, airline travel and ski lift tickets.

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