POS Terminal Projection

A new study released yesterday by Frost & Sullivan says the U.S. POS terminal market is at cross-road with industry players finding themselves adjusting to new smart card technology and a fresh breed of card applications. The market research study says the market is currently experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%. F&S projects market revenue will hit $2.3 billion by 2003, compared to $1.4 billion in 1996. The study covers two main subsets: electronic cash register terminal with card reader interfaces and electronic fund terminals.

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ATM Air Tickets

Bank of Hawaii will announce this morning it will begin dispensing flight coupons via ‘Bankoh Bank Machines’ on March 1. The program will enable ATM customers to purchase tickets for interisland travel aboard Hawaiian Airlines. Customers and non- customers of Bank of Hawaii will be able to buy the tickets by using either the ATM account or a VISA/MasterCard. Coupons will be good for one year and will sold in quantities of one, two, four or eight. Bank of Hawaii says it is awaiting regulatory approval for the new program.

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Drexler Lands Major Non-Gov Deal

Drexler Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:DRXR) today announced the receipt of a $900,000 purchase order for LaserCard optical memory cards, its largest non-government order for optical cards.

The optical cards are estimated to be delivered at a rate of about 25,000 cards per month within calendar year 1998.

The purchaser has been effective as a value-added reseller (VAR) of LaserCard(R) products by expanding the LaserCard usage of its existing customers and by adding new customers, leading to the achievement of this record-size order for a non-government application.

Drexler’s patented optical memory card is a recordable, credit-card size, data-storage device that offers multiple security safeguards and functions off-line or with computer networks.

LaserCard commercial applications include immigration cards, cargo manifests, access control cards, healthcare records, high security/interactive ID cards, automotive records, medical image storage, portable records with audit trails, and consumer transaction systems.

Headquartered in Mountain View, Drexler Technology Corporation manufactures 4-megabyte LaserCard(R) optical memory cards and “microchip ready” Smart/Optical(TM) cards. Drexler has been granted about 50 U.S. patents plus foreign counterpart patents on laser recording of data on thin-metal films, on laser-recordable optical memory cards, and on related systems and equipment. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, LaserCard Systems Corporation, develops system software for PC-based optical memory card systems.

Forward-Looking Statements: Certain statements made above relating to plans, objectives, and economic performance go beyond historical information and may provide an indication of future results. To that extent, they are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and each is subject to factors that could cause actual results to differ from those in the forward-looking statement. Such factors are described in the company’s Report on Form 10-K and other documents filed by the company from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For Drexler Technology news on the Internet: .

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ASE Top Technology

Aladdin Knowledge Systems Ltd. (www.aks.com), a global leader in information security and licensing, announced Monday that ASE — The Aladdin Smartcard Environment — has been singled out in Byte Magazine’s key January feature, “1998’s Top 25 Technologies.”

In a feature entitled “The Smartcard Invasion,” Byte predicts that the United States is about to be “hit” by the “ubiquitous” smartcard, at last catching up with Europe where they have been in use in for over a decade.

Byte highlighted Aladdin’s ASE development platform as part of the Smart Card Forum, the industry’s consortium which includes major card producers Schlumberger and Gemplus. The Smart Card Forum also includes Microsoft, who have approved Aladdin’s technology as a development partner for PC/SC, the interoperability standard for PC-based smart card applications.

“Smartcard technology has been singled out as a mainstream technology in the USA, and we are pleased our pioneering role in the development of easy-to-use tools for smart card applications has once again been recognized,” says Aladdin’s Director of Smart Cards, Eyal Manger. “The response to our launch of ASE-II in November has been very encouraging. The market is ready for PC-based smart card applications, and so are we!”

Aladdin’s ASE II is invaluable for designers of virtually all kinds of smart card applications and Internet-based commerce. Successful applications developed and deployed with the first generation of ASE products include access control, prepayment vending systems, authentication, digital signature, health care, electronic purse, biometric recognition systems and software distribution. Further details of such applications can be seen on Aladdin’s Web site — [www.aks.com][1].

The key components of ASE II are:

– ASEDrive Pro, the most versatile PC-based smart card drive on the market with highly secure architecture supporting industry standards, internal and external connection interfaces and various power options. Other new features include support for additional memory card protocols, optional real-time clock for time signatures, and a new ergonomic design.

– ASESoft, the smart software environment is PC/SC compliant. ASESoft offers same host multi-drive and multi-application support, asynchronous tracking of reader/drive events, a comprehensive library of administrative, diagnostic and script tools as well as card editing utilities. ASESoft is designed so that even a relatively inexperienced programmer can easily develop applications and bring them rapidly to the market.

– ASECards include memory, protected memory, CPU and cryptographic cards, all of which can be accessed via a single base Application Programming Interface (API). This facilitates the easy integration of various card types into user applications.

Aladdin Knowledge Systems is a global leader in the secure licensing, management and distribution of digital content. Aladdin’s product range includes HASP(R) and Hardlock(R), key-based software security systems which monitor software licensing and prevent unauthorized use of computer programs; Privilege(TM), a suite of software licensing and metering tools for developers and corporate IT managers; and ASE(R) — The Aladdin Smartcard Environment — a set of smart card application development tools for integrating smart cards with PCs. Aladdin is an ISO 9002 accredited company with headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, 5 international offices and distributors in more than 40 countries, serving over 20,000 clients worldwide. For more information, visit the Aladdin home page at .

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

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Proffitt’s Card Bank

The OCC approved the acquisition of the National Bank of the Great Lakes by Proffitt’s Inc. Monday. The credit card bank is a subsidiary of Carson Pirie Scott & Co.. On December 10 Proffitt’s announced its merger with Carson’s. The merger is expected to consummated January 31. Proffitt’s said yesterday’s approval will enable the merged company to strategically expand its credit card operations.

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Linking Up

BankBoston rolled out a new service yesterday that enables customers visiting its Web site to connect immediately with a sales associate in BankBoston’s ’24-hour Telebanking Center’. Consumers simply click on the ‘Call Now’ icon, type in their phone number and within seconds a BankBoston sales associate will call to continue the process of opening a ‘HomeLink’ account. BankBoston says its Web site draws 8,000 to 9,000 visitors each week.

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MPS Offers Skipjack IC

Evolv is the emerging technology company that specializes in harnessing the dramatic power of artificial intelligence to create the business and internet “killer apps” of the future. Recent product innovations have included the introduction of Skipjack IC (Internet Commerce), a secure internet transaction software snap-on for Microsoft Internet Information Server. This inexpensive program supports credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, Diners Club and JCB), debit cards and even checks. It is completely secure owing to Evolv’s proprietary encryption technology.

The philosophy behind Skipjack IC is simple: it is an easy-to-use, cost-effective, turn-key solution for merchants. As such, it allows companies of any size to instantly and confidently open up shop on the Internet.

In that spirit, Evolv has forged their first credit card processor alliance with the highly respected Midwest Payment Systems. MPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank and one of the top ten processors in the nation. With 25 years in the business, the firm provides unparalleled service and support for a customer base of over 17,000 representing more than $22 billion in credit card volume.

“They have a great track record and are very dedicated to service. We feel confident that MPS will be able to meet and exceed merchant expectations,” says Brad Hoeweler, Evolv’s CEO. “This new technology is very exciting and we’re looking forward to welcoming a whole new breed of merchant to a profitable Internet experience,” adds Ray Neugebauer, Sales Officer at MPS.

Skipjack IC requires Microsoft Windows NT Server version 4.0 with Service Pack 3, Internet Information Server 3.0, Active Server Pages, a modem and an analog phone line. It retails for $1,495.00 US (introductory price), and includes online documentation, a sample web site, 800 number, test credit card account and email support.

To purchase Skipjack IC, contact Scott Valetti at scottv@e-volv.com or 513-563-2907. Additional information about Skipjack IC and the product itself is available at Evolv’s website: .

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Transamerica Buys Whirlpool Cards

Transamerica Corporation said it completed the previously announced purchase of the consumer finance business of Whirlpool Financial Corporation, including Whirlpool Financial National Bank, a credit card bank, effective Jan. 1, 1998.

The agreement for the acquisition was originally announced by Transamerica and Whirlpool Corporation on Sept. 18, 1997, as part of an overall agreement for Transamerica to acquire approximately $1.23 billion of receivables and other assets of Whirlpool Financial Corporation’s inventory finance, consumer finance and international factoring businesses. The acquisition of the inventory finance business and certain of the international assets closed on Oct. 16. Acquisition of most of the remaining international assets has also now been completed.

The consumer finance operations, which provide credit card financing for retail customers of appliance dealers, will become part of Transamerica Distribution Finance Corporation, a Chicago-based Transamerica subsidiary which specializes in providing financing to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of consumer durable, home and recreational products.

Transamerica Corporation, based in San Francisco, provides financial and life insurance services to individuals and organizations worldwide. Its primary businesses, in addition to its finance businesses, include life insurance, asset management, leasing and real estate-related services. Consolidated assets were $50 billion as of Sept. 30, 1997.

Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

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Discover Card Bonds Rated

Discover Card Master Trust I’s $350 million floating rate class A credit card pass-through certificates, series 1997-5, are expected to be rated ‘AAA’ by Fitch IBCA. The corresponding $18.4 million floating rate class B certificates are expected to be rated ‘A+’.

Series 1997-5 expected ratings reflect the high quality of the receivables generated by Discover Card holders, 12.5% available subordinated amount supporting class A, 7.5% cash collateral account protecting class B, sound legal and cash flow structures, and excellent servicing provided by Greenwood Trust Co.

Economic and credit stress scenarios were applied to the collateral pool to determine the appropriate levels of credit enhancement for the certificates. One of the more severe ‘AAA’ scenarios involved decreasing yield by more than 30%, cutting monthly payment rate by 40% and increasing chargeoffs over 30%. The less stringent ‘A+’ stress decreased yield by 25%, payment rate by 30% and increased chargeoffs to 23%. With the credit enhancement currently available, the securities could withstand these stresses simultaneously and still make full and timely payments of principal and interest to class A and class B investors.

Investors are protected from a deterioration in asset quality, seller insolvency or servicer default by early amortization triggers. If certain adverse events occur, an accelerated payout of investor principal will begin possibly earlier than expected. During such an amortization event, finance charge collections normally allocated to the seller will become available to cover trust expenses through a structural feature that fixes the finance charge allocation based upon preamortization invested amounts. Allocating finance charge collections in this manner allows funds otherwise designated to the seller to flow through to the trust. Greenwood has the option the allocate collections on a floating basis, which would require enhancement levels to be increased to 17.5% for class A and 12.5% for class B.

Class A certificateholders will receive monthly interest payments of one- month LIBOR plus 0.09% throughout the revolving and accumulation periods and on the expected final payment date, provided an early amortization event does not occur. Interest will be paid monthly to class B certificateholders at one-month LIBOR plus 0.27%. Following a variable accumulation period, principal is expected to be paid to class A on the February 2001 distribution date and to class B one month later. As a part of Group One, series 1997-5 will share excess finance charge and principal collections with other Group One series.

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SAFE KID Phone Cards

1998 should be the year of child safety, says Independence Blue Cross (IBC), which is encouraging its members to provide their children with special telephone cards that can automatically speed dial any of nine different numbers in an emergency. The cards also store emergency medical information.

IBC will introduce the McGruff SAFE KID Phone Cards, now available through its award-winning Child Safety program, at the Blue Cross RiverRink KidsFest at Penn’s Landing Saturday, January 3 and Sunday, January 4. IBC will be giving away 200 free McGruff SAFE KID Phone Cards during the two day festival.

The McGruff SAFE KID Phone Card, designed for children ages eight to 15, is available at cost to IBC members of managed care plans (Keystone Health Plan East, Personal Choice and Blue Choice). The $2.95 card includes 10 pre-paid minutes. Additional minutes can be added using a credit card. Order forms for the phone cards will be available at KidsFest.

“The McGruff phone card program offers peace of mind for parents,” said Independence Blue Cross President and CEO G. Fred DiBona, Jr. “In an emergency situation, it is important for a child to be able to make a telephone call quickly and be sure that help is on the way. These phone cards are easy to use and provide our members and their families with a sense of security in case of an emergency.”

Other special features of the McGruff SAFE KID Phone Card include:

— Emergency medical information stored on the card

— Personal child ID information stored on the card

— Track-A-Call & Find-A-Kid

— Directions recorded in a parent’s voice

— Speed dials to nine different emergency contacts

— Remote Programming

— Message Center

— All cards are rechargeable

As part of the Independence Blue Cross’ Health Lifestyles Child Safety program, the company will distribute free child safety guides to parents who visit its Wellness Van at KidsFest. Children will be photographed and have their pictures placed on the identification record inside the guide; which also includes safety tips, a fingerprinting kit and child safety poster. Free fingerprinting also will be available.

IBC members may order cards by sending a $2.95 check made payable to Phone Card c/o Digital Direct, 975 Hemlock Road, P.O. Box 155, Morgantown, PA 19543- 0155. They must include their name and their IBC health plan ID number on their check.

Independence Blue Cross is the largest health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania, providing coverage to nearly 3 million people.

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Premiums Drop to 13.27%

1997 CARD SALES MORE THAN TRIPLE 1996 LEVEL

Thousand Oaks, CA — The volume of card portfolio assets sold for all of 1997 rose dramatically compared to 1996 numbers, according to a release by R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, a California-based bank advisory firm which specializes in such card deals.

Deal Highlights for 1997:

Over $20 billion involving 22 transactions have been announced in the card industry during this year, which compares to $7.1 billion and 21 transactions for all of 1996. This data excludes the impending sale of the AT&T card deal, not closing until 1998.

Average premium price for 1997, at 13.27%, is down from an average of 17.70% for 1996, recognizing the larger size and pre-approved solicitation nature fo some deals in the current reporting period.

The largest deals this year were: Bank of New York, $4.0 billion going to Chase; and Advanta, $10.5 billion going to Fleet, both announced in the Third Quarter.

Other card portfolio buyers this year: Bank of America, GE Capital, Associates, Metris Companies, PNC, FNB Omaha, NOVUS, and MBNA.

These figures do not include mergers of equals or whole institution purchases (i.e. Bank One/First USA, Dean Witter Discover/Morgan Stanley, NationsBank/Barnett, First Union/Signet, First Union/CoreStates, and National City/First of America); small portfolio sales, less than $15MM, this smaller segment producing an estimated 70-80 private deals each year; nor over $1 billion in private label/oil company portfolio sales during 1997.

Average earnings multiples for premiums paid have been 5.10% (Average card pre-tax ROA of 2.60% divided into average premium price of 13.27%).

The estimated range of prices for card portfolios this year has been from less Par value (or no premium) to over 24% for the highest quality assets, with the average being 13.27%.

Other Observations from the 1997 Hammer research:

1. New portfolio purchasers successfully entering the hunt for card assets.

Long-time successful bidders such as GE and Associates, previously enjoying a large market share of deals done each year, have shared the victory percentages this year with such newer card portfolio acquisition players as Bank of America, Metris, and Fleet.

Former players also successfully back in the hunt.

Former winning bidders such as Chase, earlier a perennial favorite in deals like this back in the 1980’s, have jumped back in with several large acquisitions in 1997. As evidenced by a very hefty 25% ($270 per account) premium on the pending AT&T deal, we also look for Citicorp to again be in the quest for portfolio purchases.

Expect some other surprise sellers in 1998.

With AT&T’s $14 billion card business expected to close in the 2Q 1998, next year is expected to produce even larger numbers and volumes of card assets traded. Several other larger card companies are looking at valuing their card programs, to make decisions about growing vs. divesting. Most boards of directors are asking, “what would our market value be, if we were to sell, too.”

4. Unusual Sale Alliances Seen

Some very unusual sale situations developed in 1997, and are expected to continue into 1998. Some of these involved the common purchase of only card receivables, but the far more unusual structuring of facilities and people into the transaction mix and establishing local charitable foundations as well. Buyers this year seemed to be smarter in recognizing the concern for selling management is not just asset redeployment, but the concern for the people on site who helped them build a marketable business to begin with.

CARD PORTFOLIO SALES — TWELVE YEAR HISTORY
1997 UPDATE

Range of Estimated Avg. Wtd. Assets Sold
Gross Premiums Gross Premiums #Transactions ($ Billions)

1997 N/A – 24.0% 13.2% 22 $20.80

1996 0.0% – 23.0% 17.7% 21 $ 7.12

1995 5.0% – 27.5% 20.7% 19 $ 0.91

1994 7.0% – 21.0% 18.0% 18 $ 0.75

1993 7.1% – 23.0% 18.1% 14 $ 0.82

1992 16.8% – 25.0% 16.8% 17 $ 0.88

1991 7.0% – 24.0% 14.0% 32 $ 3.80

1990 7.0% – 27.0% 18.7% 26 $ 5.40

1989 3.0% – 25.0% 18.9% 25 $ 6.60

1988 7.8% – 25.5% 20.3% 15 $ 1.60

1987 10.5% – 16.0% 20.3% 6 $ 0.86

1986 14.3% – 29.0% 20.4% 3 $ 1.60

NOTES:

1) National Brand deals only (MS-VISA); not privately label or retail transactions

2) “Gross” Premiums, prior to discounting for delinquent/statused accounts

3) Does not include numerous smaller deals, typically 4) Does not include “mergers of equals” or total organization purchases

5) Excludes AT&T sale to Citicorp (2Q98).

Re: Variables Impacting Sale Price, for a Card Portfolio Transaction

The following are some examples of the kinds of attributes and situations which prompt a premium valuation to be calculated:

1. Credit Quality, as evidenced by original credit criteria, credit bureau risk scores, behavior scores, bankruptcy scores, and the trends of those score patterns.

2. Attrition Rate, the percentage of accounts and balances (and the profitability of those accounts) which close voluntarily (customer requested closure) vs. involuntarily (bank revoked).

3. Income Yields, the APR, annual fee structure, nuisance fee structure, teaser rates outstanding, the percentage revolving.

4. Open vs. Closed, the percentage of accounts and balances which are open to buy vs. those which are closed (but who also may be paying as agreed, and therefore not delinquent).

5. The Policies and Processes at the seller, and the degree to which those vary from those of the buyer, creating improvement opportunities.

6. The Data Processor of the seller, and that of the buyer, necessitating a conversion of accounts or merely a simple transfer of BIN/ICA.

7. The ROE/ROA hurdle rates at the buyer, the minimum returns required.

8. The Operating Expense of the buyer.

9. The Life-span/Premium amortization period used by the buyer, typically 7-10 years.

10. Any unusual liabilities or other conditions which are to be assumed by the buyer (i.e. facility, staff, equipment, etc.).

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