Polish Banks Go BASE24 & CO-ach

Applied Communications, Inc. , a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc., announces the licensing of an integrated suite of BASE24 software and CO-ach high-volume payments processing software to Bank Gospodarki Zywnosciowej Spolka Akcyjna , the third largest bank in Poland.  BGZ SA will use BASE24-atm, BASE24-pos and BASE24 Remote Banking products operating on a Tandem NonStop computer server to integrate and upgrade its retail banking services.  BGZ SA also will use ACI’s CO-ach multi-institution payment clearing and settlement system to automate clearing, settlement and distribution of electronic debit and credit transactions for its more than 1,200 branches and affiliate members.

“Our customers want the same anywhere-anytime financial services enjoyed by bank customers around the world,” said Adam Kapica, managing director of BGZ SA’s Development and Strategy Office.  “In response to our customers’ needs, we initiated ‘Automation of the Bank’ — a project designed to automate and upgrade our processing capabilities.  BASE24 and CO-ach will help us modernize our operation with a proven system that delivers around the clock availability and reliability.”

Migration to the integrated BASE24 platform offers BGZ SA the ability to consolidate retail delivery processing while increasing performance.  BASE24’s scaleable, modular design enables the bank to integrate its current ATM and POS processing onto a single platform — and add Remote Banking services– while handling ever-increasing transaction volumes.  The BASE24 applications chosen by BGZ SA share the same customer account information and communication links to third-party networks, giving the bank the ability to offer its customers consistent account information from a variety of access points.  The BASE24 system also gives BGZ SA the flexibility to add emerging technologies like smart cards and Internet banking to its processing platform as needed.

BGZ SA will use CO-ach to establish a clearing center that provides online, automated clearing and settlement for its branches and corporate banking customers.  CO-ach gives BGZ SA the ability to process, track, settle and clear demanding transaction volumes under the control of a highly sophisticated risk management function.

“BGZ SA joins more than 600 financial institutions, processors, switches and retailers around the world using ACI solutions to meet never-ending demand for convenient, around-the-clock financial services,” said Tom Boje, managing director of ACI’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Operation, based in the United Kingdom.  “Whether the need is to process EFT transactions from retail banking or corporate banking sources, our customers enjoy high performance, availability and reliability every minute of every day.”

Applied Communications, Inc. is a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. (Nasdaq TSAI).  Transaction Systems’ software facilitates electronic payments and electronic commerce by providing consumers and companies access to their money.  The company’s products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, home banking services, checks, wire transfers and automated clearing and settlement.  Its solutions are used on more than 2,800 product systems in 69 countries on six continents.  Visit TSA and ACI on the World Wide Web at .


Principal Bank

The Principal Financial Group launched a nationwide pilot of a virtual bank yesterday that initially offers checking accounts with ATM access and will eventually offer electronic bill payment and credit cards. Based in Des Moines, the Principal Bank, began testing its service with employees of The Principal and a limited number of outside customers. The branch-less, virtual bank will open to the general public April 1. During the testing period participants will be able to open checking accounts or savings accounts and purchase CDs. When the bank’s doors open April 1 the service will be expanded to include telephone banking, transfer of funds between accounts, and consumer loans. Principal Bank says it will introduce bill payment and credit cards on July 1.


Card-to-Card License

VISA International has secured exclusive, worldwide, patent and technology rights for smart card-to-smart card value transfers. WA-based Net 1 U.E.P.S. Technologies, Inc. announced the licensing agreement Thursday. VISA is utilizing the technology in its ‘COPAC’ or ‘chip, off-line pre-authorized card’, which was launched in Russia last year. Net 1 says it will continue to offer other systems based on the technology including the company’s ‘Universal Electronic Payment System’ which provides for secure non-cash payments on an off-line basis while maintaining a full audit trail for all transactions.


MasterCard Platform

MasterCard and Toronto-based Oasis Technology are joining together to develop an on-line transaction processing system that can process and route financial transactions locally. Initially the project will be limited to Australia, supporting the migration of MasterCard’s system to an open and adaptable client-server environment. The Oasis ‘IST Foundation’ software enables MasterCard to build proprietary solutions offering unique functional requirements within EFT, ATM and POS applications.


ICT – IMA Alliance

ICT Group, Inc. announced that it has signed a strategic alliance agreement with Information Management Associates, Inc. (IMA) of Shelton, CT. The agreement is for ICT Group and IMA to offer each other’s call center products and services in conjunction with their own products and services with the objective of providing single source solutions to existing and prospective customers.

“This agreement with IMA underscores ICT Group’s commitment to align ourselves with significant information technology outsourcing partners to better service our targeted markets,” says John Brennan, chairman and CEO of ICT Group. “This is a continuation of our corporate strategy that we believe will enhance our client offerings and promote the growth of the company.”

IMA is a recognized leader in providing advanced software products and consulting services designed to meet the customer care systems needs of global companies in major vertical markets, such as financial services, insurance, telecommunications and utilites. IMA supplies a full-range of software supporting the call center industry that includes EDGE®, a suite of client server applications and tools that enhance account management, telesales, telemarketing, customer service support and other business activities.

Al Subbloie, president and CEO of IMA, says, “We view ICT Group as a key strategic partner. Through this alliance agreement both companies will be able to leverage the other’s expertise and extend the value of our respective products and services.” This agreement presents an opportunity for IMA’s more than 225 client companies and 30,000 users worldwide to take advantage of the call center services and expertise of ICT Group.

ICT Group previously announced and alliance with ALLTEL Corporation to provide customer support services for the financial services industry and with SCT Corporation to provide call center and telemarketing services supporting SCT’s SinglePoint SolutionsTM clients in the utility industry. Similarly to what it has done for financial services and utilities, ICT Group is pursuing strategic relationships with systems integration and marketing services companies active in its other targeted markets of insurance, telecommunications, health care and information media.

ICT Group, an independent provider of call center teleservices for sales, marketing and customer care, employs more than 300 professionals in management, sales, systems and operations and approximately 3,750 telephone sales and service representatives and research interviewers. The company manages 29 call centers in 10 states, Europe and Canada, from which it supports outbound and inbound calling for domestic and multinational corporations and institutions, primarily in the financial, insurance, telecommunications, health care, information media, energy and hospitality industries.

In addition to its corporate staff, ICT Group’s sales and marketing divisions as well as its market research division are headquartered in Langhome, PA. ICT Group has sales offices in Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Stamford, CT; Scattle, WA; Amherst, NY; London, England, and Dublin, Ireland. Facilities conducting international operations are located in Miami, FL; Dublin, Ireland; London, England, and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

To learn more about ICT Group, visit its web site at [www.ictgroup.com][1]. ICT Group is traded on Nasdaq:ICTG. For more information on IMA, visit its web site at [www.ima-inc.com][2]. IMA is traded on Nasdaq:IMAA.

[1]: http://www.ictgroup.com
[2]: http://www.ima-inc.com


Frst of Omaha Snags NE Contract

The State of Nebraska will accept payment by credit card for a variety of fees and services, beginning this month with the University of Nebraska system and the Game and Parks Commission, according to State Treasurer David Heineman and Lieutenant Governor Kim Robak.  The announcement came during a joint news conference Thursday at which First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a division of First National Bank of Omaha, was named as the official credit card processor for the State.

“The primary benefits of this expanded service are the flexibility and convenience it will provide to Nebraska consumers and small businesses.  In addition, the State will see reduced administrative costs plus increased cash flow which ultimately will benefit the taxpayer,” said Heineman.

Examples of transactions that may be covered under the new arrangement include payments for tuition, licensing fees and accommodations at Mahoney State Park.

“The State is responding to the needs of Nebraska citizens who have been requesting the ease and convenience of making payments via credit cards,” Heineman said.

Robak and Heineman agreed that the effort to bring this service to Nebraskans was a cooperative effort between the Department of Administrative Services and the Treasurer’s Office, designed to meet the needs of today’s fast-paced society.

“This step forward dovetails very nicely with other efforts in state government to increase public accessibility through the Internet and will ultimately lead to other improvements as the State of Nebraska strives to become more efficient,” said Robak.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing was chosen as the credit card processor from among five financial institutions from around the country responding to the State’s request for proposal.  The agreement with the State is expected to generate more than 3 million credit and debit card transactions annually, with an estimated annual volume of $152.8 million, said Elias Eliopoulos, president, First of Omaha Merchant Processing.  Initially, Visa and MasterCard will be the only credit cards accepted by state agencies, he said.

“Municipal and county government will maintain local control and determine which cards will be accepted and to what degree,” Robak said.

Prior to this agreement, the University of Nebraska, Chadron State College, Peru State College, Wayne State College, the Game and Parks Commission and the Military Department (Camp Ashland) had each negotiated credit card processing contracts with several different processors. Converting to First of Omaha Merchant Processing will save the University of Nebraska 15 percent — approximately $35,000 — in credit card costs annually, said Heineman.

“The Game and Parks Commission is expected to reduce credit card costs by roughly 30 percent, or about $8,500 annually,” he added.

“First of Omaha is committed to providing more value to the State of Nebraska,” said Eliopoulos.  “Leveraging automation, service and competitive pricing will reward state constituencies with annual savings by reducing overall operating expense.”

Nebraska is one of only a handful of states to authorize credit card payments throughout all state agencies.  LB70, which authorized the establishment of this service, also provides cities, counties and other political subdivisions the option of participating in the State’s contract. Participants would receive the State’s discount rate for processing but would maintain local control over the use and operation of credit cards.     Grand Island, Kearney and North Platte, plus the Cornhusker Public Power District have expressed interest in the State’s contract with First National Bank.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing, a wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha, contracts with merchants to process credit, debit and other forms of payment.  First of Omaha authorizes and settles transactions and pays merchants for these sales.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing ranks 6th as a national credit card processor and is the 2nd largest in-house bank processor in the country. Serving over 92,000 locations in all 50 states, First of Omaha has experienced an average yearly increase in credit card sales volume of 28% since 1987. Credit card sales volume in 1997 was $16.7 billion, representing 235 million credit card transactions.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing operates out of seven major cities in addition to its national headquarters in Omaha  Atlanta, Dallas, Naples, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Houston.


Hispanic Focus

Central Financial Acceptance Corp. announced it will expand its consumer financing services for the low-income Hispanic community in Southern California by acquiring Mission Savings & Loan of Riverside, CA. CFAC says the acquisition will accelerate the growth of CFAC’s ‘Efectiva’ credit card. Since May of last year CFAC has issued about 90,000 ‘Efectiva’ cards, which provide customers with the ability to access a credit line by withdrawing cash from CFAC cash dispensing machines deployed in Kmarts throughout Southern California.


Starting Gate

Yesterday’s GSA announcement of the awarding of payment card contracts to six suppliers (see CardFlash 2/11) is seen as a boon by existing contractors, despite the increased competition from new suppliers. American Express, which has held a GSA travel card contact since 1993, says the addition of contracts to also provide purchase cards and fleet cards represents a “multi-billion dollar opportunity for the company”. Currently AmEx has 1.5 million federal employee cardholders using its travel card for official travel, generating about $3.5 billion in annual charge volume. Last year AmEx teamed up with Wright Express, the current government fleet card provider, to offer a dual branded fleet card solution. AmEx recently won a contract to provide charge card and ‘Travelers Cheque’ services to 80,000 employees of the Canadian Federal Government.

Meanwhile the existing purchasing card contractor, U.S. Bank, says it will “vigorously expand” its ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card to integrate fleet and travel programs. The ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card program was established in 1989 by a contract between the GSA and Rocky Mountain BankCard, which was later absorbed by U.S. Bank. ‘I.M.P.A.C.’ card volume slightly exceeded $5 billion last year.

The new GSA payment card contracts will provide 120 government agencies with payment card choices from six contractors including Citibank, NationsBank, First Chicago, Mellon Bank and the two existing GSA contractors American Express and U.S. Bank. AmEx, U.S. Bank and Citibank are the only suppliers to win contracts in all three categories purchase, travel and fleet.


Forbes & McCann to Speak at EC Show

Electronic commerce may be the present marketing trend, but how can a company, big or small, ensure that it is ready to do business on the Web? The 1998 Internet & Electronic Commerce Conference & Exposition has captured the electronic commerce experience and expertise of several industry leaders to answer questions and predict the future of EC. In addition to GartnerGroup presentations and industry case studies, iEC keynote speakers provide powerful examples of EC success stories. This year Malcolm “Steve” Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes Inc.; Jim McCann, president of 1-800-FLOWERS, Inc.; Michael S. Dell, chairman and CEO for Dell Computer Corporation; and Halsey Minor, chairman and CEO of CNET, will each share their views and expectations on electronic commerce.

“This is a conference about learning first-hand the dos and don’ts of implementing a successful EC strategy,” said Rich Westerfield, iEC show director. “We are thrilled to have all four of these distinguished gentlemen talk to our attendees about how the Internet is generating additional revenue for businesses. The addition of Steve Forbes as a keynote speaker underscores the point that electronic commerce is truly integrated into the plans of mainstream business.”

GartnerGroup has planed this year’s conference with four distinct program tracks to appeal to a myriad of professionals.

— Track 1 Industry EC Case Studies. Prioritizing, supporting and     funding online initiatives and then measuring the success or     failure of EC programs has become a crucial element as companies     look to determine the effectiveness of their Web-enabled business     strategies. Case studies from the insurance, retail, publishing,     and entertainment industries will be used to effectively explore     this topic.

— Track 2 EC Over the Internet. Leading Web commerce merchants are     fast becoming aware of the previously “hidden” complexities and     expenses of EC ventures. Discussions such as How to Organize for     Web EC Success, EC and Extranet Applications, E-Marketplace,     Managing Purchasing on the Internet, and The Future of EC will     analyze the risks and rewards of doing business on the Internet.

— Track 3 Interactive Marketing. Interactive marketing isn’t just     about having a Web site. It’s about engaging customers in a     continuous two-way dialogue in order to better hone marketing     messages. Sessions such as Marketing in a Multichannel World,     Interactive Marketing, Push Technology, Personalizing Web Sites,     Value Networks, and Customers in the Driver’s Seat identify the     opportunities and pitfalls of using the Internet as a marketing     medium.

— Track 4 Online Financial Services. Banking, brokerage,     Smartcards and payment schedules are all essential elements of     the online financial services industry. E-Banking Case Studies,     “Cyber-Venture” Funding, Internet Security Futures, E-Payments,     and SET conference sessions will generate important discussions     on the challenges facing the industry.

“The four tracks in the GartnerGroup conference program offer a variety of solutions to executives from diverse backgrounds,” said Dave Taylor, GartnerGroup vice president and research director. “Case studies will cover many industries, including publishing, entertainment, financial services, and travel, to name a few. The speakers, moderators and panelists for the conference provide answers through first-hand experience as well as research.”

Developing and supporting a successful EC strategy is never easy, but the 1998 iEC keynote speakers have set new industry standards. These industry leaders will share their personal experience and insights into their EC strategies and solutions.

— Malcolm “Steve” Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes Inc. Mr.     Forbes will discuss how to create the perfect match when marrying     target audience with advertiser. On a national scale, he will     address the powerful effects electronic commerce will have on the     American economy.

— Jim McCann, president of 1-800-FLOWERS Started as a small     family-owned flower shop in New York, 1-800-FLOWERS grew to be     the world’s largest florist. As an early adopter of electronic     commerce, Mr. McCann began selling over the Internet six years     ago and will share his success story and strategy.

— Michael S. Dell, chairman and CEO for Dell Computer Corporation     Building a Web site that generates $3 million in sales per day is     virtually unheard of. But Mr. Dell has done it and might be the     first to make a billion dollars over the Internet alone. He will     share his successful EC initiative.

— Halsey Minor, chairman and CEO of CNET Can CNET’s new SNAP do for     the Internet what AOL did for online services? And if so, will     Halsey Minor become the new king of “content?” Mr. Minor will     discuss how he is partnering for EC success.

With over 200 exhibits, 80 conference sessions, and more than 10,000 attendees, iEC is the nation’s largest event dedicated to electronic commerce.

Returning for its fourth year, GartnerGroup leads iEC with its high-level conference focusing on strategies for senior-level executives and decision makers. For the first time at iEC, the International Computer Security Association (ICSA) will cover security issues and Forbes magazine will host a conference focusing on electronic commerce initiatives for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition, iEC will launch the first technical skills conference for MIS and IT managers responsible for EC implementation. All four conferences will be held at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on April 27-29, 1998.

In addition to the conference program and keynote speakers, over 200 vendors including sponsors AT&T, GE Information Services, IBM, KPMG Peat Marwick, Manugistics, Mastercard, Microsoft and UUNET will demonstrate the latest products and services available. Exhibitors include hardware manufacturers, software developers, and business integrators.

As the world’s leading authority on information technology (IT), GartnerGroup provides its clients with cutting-edge insights that support competitive decision making across the IT spectrum. With expertise in the areas of IT research, decision support, analysis, measurement, consulting and training, GartnerGroup is at the center of a global community of more than 33,000 individual clients, representing over 9,000 discrete organizations served by more than 750 analysts in over 80 locations around the world. Its unique “value-added” resources are the intellectual capital of GartnerGroup and its robust proprietary databases. Through those resources, together with formal methodologies, GartnerGroup offers the integrated products and services that bring clarity to the current and future direction of the world’s hottest and most volatile industry. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at .

Advanstar Communications is a world-wide business information company, which publishes more than 70 business magazines and professional journals, produces over 100 exhibitions and conferences throughout the world, as well as related direct marketing, database, directory and reference products. In addition to serving the electronic commerce industry, the company’s portfolio serves health care, pharmaceutical and scientific fields and a variety of retail and service industry segments. The company currently operates from multiple offices in the United States, Latin America, United Kingdom, and Asia. For more information, visit the events Web site at .


Canada’s Largest Prepaid Calling Card Supplier

DataWave Systems Inc.,  manufacturer of the world’s only intelligent prepaid calling card dispensers, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with DCI Telecommunications, Inc., an international supplier of telecommunication services and the parent company of Cardcaller Canada Inc., to create a joint venture for the marketing, sale and service of prepaid long distance telephone calling cards in Canada.

This new joint venture will create Canada’s single largest independent entity devoted solely to the sale of prepaid calling cards. With combined revenues of over $12 million (CDN) the joint venture will control more than 40 percent of the Canadian marketplace. The joint venture will be twice as large as any other company in Canada that is dedicated to the sale of prepaid calling cards.

According to the agreement, both companies will contribute all existing Canadian business to the joint venture. Until now, DataWave’s Canadian business has been transacted through Phone Line International (PLI) Inc., a 100 percent owned subsidiary of DataWave. PLI retails prepaid calling cards in over 800 locations throughout Canada.

Commenting on this exciting new partnership, Charles Zwebner, President of Cardcaller Canada, noted that “DataWave’s technology was extremely compatible with our needs, adding a powerful new dimension to the services that we offer our customers.” Based in Toronto, Cardcaller Canada was the first company to introduce prepaid calling cards to the Canadian marketplace. The company operates its own switching platform, and retails its product under the “Cardcaller” name in over 2,500 retail locations.

Card Caller Canada is a 100 percent owned subsidiary of DCI Telecommunications Inc., a publicly traded company based in Stratford, Connecticut. “By joining forces, this new joint venture will become more competitive in the market place and aggressively pursue greater market share” … said Joseph Murphy – President & CEO of DCI.

DataWave’s state-of-the-art Telecard Merchandisers (DTMs) and Over-The-Counter Devices (OTCs) are intelligent electronic merchandising systems with a propriety real-time feature called Point-of-Sale Activation. The calling cards in the dispenser have no value until credit or cash payment is made, at which time the calling card is automatically activated to the specified denomination. This eliminates costs associated with inventory control. DataWave currently distributes its prepaid products in over 2,500 retail locations in Canada and the United States and has recently signed an agreement with AT&T in the United States.

Both DataWave and Cardcaller Canada are confident that this joint venture represents the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for increasing market share and consolidating the fragmented Canadian marketplace. According to Clive Barwin, CEO and President of DataWave, “The Canadian marketplace offers significant opportunities for growth. This new partnership will allow us to aggressively focus on increasing market share while consolidating and acquiring other prepaid calling card companies. This, in turn, will allow us to offer consumers an improved product through more efficient streamlined service operations.”


ORCC Signs 73 CUs

Alliances between Online Resources & Communications Corporation and a distinguished group of suppliers to the nation’s credit unions are expected to solidify the company’s reputation as the premier provider of interactive services to credit unions. New partnerships and milestones in existing ones were announced today at CU TECH, the national technology forum and trade show of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

Online Resources, which began providing interactive services to its first credit union client in 1993, now has 73 credit unions under contract. And through its alliance partners, it now has access to more than 1,200 credit unions with assets exceeding $25 million, a full 50% of that market, according to Ray Crosier, executive vice president, client services. He contributes the company’s success to its high quality bill pay services and its ability to unbundle its turnkey solution so it might complement services its partners offer. “We provide credit unions the entire full service package or the missing pieces to complete in-house technology platform,” Crosier said. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to ally ourselves with other established, trusted vendors in the credit union industry – vendors whose dedication to the industry and standards of service are the same as ours.”

Developments announced today include

THE CO-OP has announced the availability in March of its third option for home banking and bill payment. Access Anywhere Expanded provides for an open account relationship, where members can pay bills and transfer funds among all the accounts they hold with the institution, except investment accounts.

Cardinal Services Corp. (CSC), which designs Web sites for credit unions, will sell Online Resources’ complete home banking and bill pay services. CSC, serves more than 30 institutions and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Stanford Federal Credit Union.

The Credit Union Service Corporation (CUSC) leverages the Online Resources’ service platform for the more than 400 credit unions in its network. CUSC institutions serve 10.2 million members.

AFTECH, a leading provider of software systems to credit unions, has announced its seventh customer to sign up for the Online Remittance Service — JAX Navy Federal Credit Union, one of the nation’s largest credit unions with more than 220,000 members .

Computer Marketing Corporation, providing equipment procurement, fully integrated accounting system software, conversion, training and on-going support services for credit unions nationwide, announced it will resell the Online Remittance Services.

SOS Computer Systems, Inc., a reseller of hardware and provider of custom applications software programming services specializing in credit union management applications, has announced it is piloting the Online Remittance Services for use with its Web-based home banking solutions.

ULTRADATA is extending its reseller agreement with Online Resources and continues to offer the Online Remittance Service to users of its UltraAccess software module.

Crosier said today’s announcements underscore the attraction Online Resources’ services have among credit unions. Some of its partners are offering the company’s comprehensive, “one-stop shop” service. Others are offering the Online Remittance Service (ORS) because of its reputation for being the most reliable and cost-effective bill pay service in the industry. Still others are leveraging the company’s Web design and hosting services.

McLean, Va.-based Online Resources & Communications Corporation () is a leading wholesaler of interactive consumer financial services to financial institutions. The company provides a “one-stop shop” for its institutional clients. It integrates a large variety of consumer access options (PC, ScreenPhone, Telephone via internet or private network) with an extensive set of financial transaction services (billpaying, banking and other services). Using its patented ATM network-based architecture, the company’s real-time transactions offer major cost and quality benefits. The company’s core services are augmented by a host of products and support services. Online Resources, a privately-held company founded in 1989, serves 225 financial institutions nationwide.


Internet ATM & Net Precision

The Home Financial Network and First Data Direct Banking agreed yesterday to combine HFN’s ‘Internet ATM’ home banking software with First Data’s ‘NetPrecision’ Internet banking service to create a seamless, OFX-compliant Internet banking solution that can be customized for each financial institution. First Data says it is packaging the solution and making it available as part of its service to mid-sized and community financial institutions.