DuraGard Extends Card Life

DataCard Corporation today announced at the American Bankers Association (ABA) Bank Card Conference in Long Beach, a new polyester overlay and a new protective topcoat designed to extend the life of photo IDs, driver’s licenses, photo credit cards and other thermally printed plastic cards.

The new DataCard® DuraGard™ protective polyester overlay and the new DataCard® CardGard™ protective topcoat can be applied by the DataCard® 9000 Series or 7000 Series card issuance systems as part of the inline card personalization process. Users can simply add a module to their existing 9000 or 7000 Series System and apply topcoats or overlays to as many as 1,200 cards per hour.

“Thermally printed images—such as cardholder photos—can fade or streak over time when they’re repeatedly swiped through card readers or exposed to certain chemical agents,” said Bruce Erickson, vice president of marketing for DataCard’s central issuance business unit.

“Our new topcoats and overlays protect images and extend card life by providing a strong line of defense against wear, tear and chemical agents,” Erickson said. “This is especially important for applications such as national IDs, driver’s licenses and photo credit or debit cards.”

Three levels of protection to meet specific card issuer needs

The introduction of CardGard and DuraGard gives DataCard customers three choices when it comes to protecting images and extending card life.

The new DuraGard product, which was designed initially for driver’s license requirements, provides the highest level of protection. The .5 mil polyester overlay bonds to plastic cards and creates a tough barrier against scratches, abrasions, chemicals and other destructive agents.

“Independent lab tests show that cards with the DuraGard polyester overlay can last up to five times longer than cards with ordinary topcoats,” Erickson said.

DuraGard can be applied over clear or holographic topcoats to provide a powerful mix of security and longevity.

“The DataCard 9000 Series and 7000 Series Systems apply the holographic topcoat and the protective polyester overlay separately,” Erickson said. “This is an important security advantage. Even if a forger is able to remove the polyester overlay, the holographic topcoat remains affixed to the card.”

The new CardGard product is a 6.4 micron-thick topcoat that’s cured with a special UV process.

“CardGard provides much stronger protection against scratches, abrasions and chemical agents than ordinary topcoats,” Erickson said. “It’s a good fit for card issuers who want long card life, but don’t need the full protection of a DuraGard polyester overlay.”

Like the polyester overlay, CardGard can be applied over clear or holographic topcoats. “Card issuers who apply CardGard over a holographic topcoat can create tough, durable and tamper-evident cards,” Erickson said.

Cards protected with CardGard can be embossed after the topcoat is applied—an important advantage for financial card issuers, according to Erickson.

“CardGard is an excellent solution for photocards, picturecards and other financial cards with printed images on them,” Erickson said. “Card issuers can apply CardGard to protect the photo, then emboss the cards without damaging the topcoat.”

In addition to the new DuraGard polyester overlay and the new CardGard protective topcoat, DataCard also offers standard topcoats for applications that don’t require extra durability or security.

“We now offer our customers three distinct choices,” Erickson said. “So, our 9000 Series and 7000 Series customers can get the protection, durability and security that best meets their needs—and best fits their budgets.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., is a world leader in innovative plastic card solutions. The company offers a spectrum of card-related products and services, including digital photo ID systems, badging services, card personalization systems, systems integration services and transaction terminals.

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UltraForm Mailer Cuts Cost

DataCard Corporation expanded its line of high-volume, high-speed card issuance solutions by introducing a new, stand-alone card delivery system at the American Bankers Association (ABA) Bank Card Conference in Long Beach today.

The new DataCard® UltraForm Mailer™ card delivery system allows card issuers to fully automate the forms printing, card affixing and forms folding processes.

The software-driven system reads magnetic stripes or smart cards on as many as 1,800 personalized cards per hour, then uses that information to retrieve production records from a system controller. Data from those records is used to print highly personalized carrier forms on a high-speed laser printer. The system then affixes cards to the appropriate forms, folds the forms and stacks them in an output tray.

The UltraForm Mailer also may be integrated with an optional DataCard® UltraPac™ envelope insertion system. Together, the two systems allow card issuers to go from stacks of personalized cards to metered, ready-to-mail packages—completely inline.

“UltraForm Mailer automates many of the most time-consuming and error-prone steps in the card issuance process,” said Bruce Erickson, vice president of marketing for DataCard’s central issuance business unit. “The accuracy, speed and intelligence of this new system will help our customers compress their cycle times and dramatically reduce card issuance costs.”

UltraForm Mailer is a stand-alone version of the company’s inline forms handling module that’s available as part of the DataCard® 9000 Series and 7000 Series card issuance systems.

“Offering a stand-alone solution allows card issuers with older card insertion equipment to enjoy the benefits of fully automated card delivery,” Erickson said. “Plus, it provides an affordable migration path for customers who want to take a phased approach to building an inline card issuance solution.”

“We think most early applications will involve magnetic stripe cards, but the system can read up to 1,300 smart cards per hour as well,” Erickson said. “This capability will be critical as major card issuers start issuing stored value cards and other smart card-based products.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., is a world leader in innovative plastic card solutions. The company offers a spectrum of card-related products and services, including digital photo ID systems, badging services, card personalization systems, systems integration services and transaction terminals.

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Cyberflex Kits are Hot

Within weeks of releasing the first development environment for Java(TM)-compatible smart cards, Schlumberger Electronic Transactions today announced that market demand has exceeded expectations. Hundreds of the Cyberflex(TM) Development Kits have been sold to software developers around the world, confirming the prospect that Java will become the standard for smart card programming.

Fulfilling orders in all of today’s key smart card markets including banking, telecommunications, health care and information technology, company officials cite the kit’s widespread acceptance among developers as part of a growing trend to embrace inherent benefits of Java technology. Attractions for these users include the flexibility that an interoperable Java platform offers for product differentiation, combined with speedier and lower cost development. Java Card applications can be written and evaluated in a matter of days versus the several months required with standard technology.

As evidenced by Citibank, one of the first companies to develop a Java Card application with Cyberflex, industry support is strong. “Java Card provides an open, robust, multi-functional operating environment for smart cards,” notes Henry A. Lichstein, Vice President for Horizon Planning at Citibank. “Java Card will be a strategic delivery vehicle for Citibank, and offer important value to our customers. We have been pleased to participate in Schlumberger’s pioneering Cyberflex development program, and are using cards to demonstrate easy Java Card application loading and use.”

“Sun is pleased to see the continuing proliferation of Java Card products and salutes Schlumberger’s pioneering efforts,” said Jon Kannegaard, vice president of software products at Sun Microsystems’ JavaSoft division. “Java Card is widely acknowledged as the leading standard for interoperable multi-function smart cards. We hope that the arrival of products supporting the Java Card standard will help to dramatically accelerate the penetration of smart cards into the market.”

“The smart card industry is moving rapidly toward a multiple application environment,” notes Jacques Cosnefroy, Vice President and General Manager of Schlumberger’s Smart Cards division. “The Cyberflex card, with its Java virtual machine, supports this trend by providing a cost-effective interoperable platform which turns smart cards into conventional computers, allowing them to run any Java Card-compliant application, and adapt to meet the needs of card users.”

The benefits of the interpreted Java language are obvious for virtually all current smart card markets, where secure multiple application cards mean opportunities for differentiating products and services. For example, co-branding among multiple businesses, such banks, retailers, and telecom operators will be possible with Java cards. Plus, Cyberflex applications can be added or removed from the cards after they are manufactured, bringing much lower costs for support and new product roll-out.

Schlumberger’s Cyberflex Development Kit includes two Cyberflex cards, a smart card reader/writer peripheral, and a CD-ROM containing a suite of software tools for a PC.

Information on Cyberflex, and ordering details, can be found at:

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NPC Wins SW Contract

Southwest Airlines has signed a five-year contract with National Processing Co., keeping the company as its processor for MasterCard and Visa credit card transactions, the two companies announced today.

“National Processing is the best in its field when it comes to credit card processing for the airline industry. Just like our own customers, Southwest demands the best when it comes to service and value, so it was only natural that we would continue our relationship for the mutual benefit of both companies,” said Southwest chief financial officer Gary Kelly.

The contract renewal secures National Processing’s place as the nation’s premier provider of processing services for the travel industry. National Processing processes credit card transactions for six of the nation’s 10 largest airlines, including Southwest. It also provides processing and settlement services for every airline ticket sold through the nation’s 48,000 travel agencies.

Southwest chose National Processing to handle its credit card transactions after putting its contract out for competitive bids from the nation’s major processing providers this summer.

“The travel industry has and will continue to be a mainstay of our business. We’re quite pleased that a high-growth industry leader such as Southwest has chosen to continue its relationship,” said National Processing executive vice president Tom Wimsett. “While we’ve been working hard to diversify our customer base with the addition of many smaller customers as of late, we are still committed to the larger customers that have historically provided the bulk of our business. Southwest’s decision to stay with us demonstrates our commitment to this important segment of the market,” Wimsett added.

National Processing handled more than 14 million credit card transactions for Southwest in 1996. Because of the airline’s continued growth, National Processing is currently on track to handle more than 15 million transactions for the airline this year, the two companies reported.

Profile of National Processing Company

National Processing is the operating subsidiary of National Processing, Inc. (NYSE: NAP) and is a leading provider of transaction processing services and customized processing solutions. Deploying technology and applications software, the Company provides products and value-added services which include processing of card and check transactions for merchants, outsourcing of administrative and financial functions, and ticket processing and settlement for providers of travel-related services. National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC), a $52 billion financial services company based in Cleveland, Ohio is the majority owner of National Processing, Inc.

Profile of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines, the fifth largest domestic carrier in terms of Customers boarded, currently serves 51 cities in 25 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 2,200 flights a day with a fleet of 252 Boeing 737s with an average age of 8.0 years — one of the youngest pure jet fleets in the domestic airline industry.

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First Data Acquires Funds Associates

First Data Investor Services Group, Inc., the mutual fund and distribution services business unit of First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC), announced today that it has acquired Funds Associates Ltd. (FAL), a major provider of technical solutions for the financial services industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

FAL, based in Berwyn, Pa., is a privately held specialist data management company whose clients include Wells Fargo, BancOne and Edward Jones. Among its services, FAL has developed SuRPAS, one of the industry’s leading data processing and mutual fund shareholder capabilities systems. SuRPAS will enable First Data Investor Services Group to provide clients with the tools to access a variety of asset allocation and wrap product programs as well as entry into the mutual fund supermarket arena.

“The acquisition of FAL further expands our strategic commitment of ‘Redefining Distribution’ by enabling First Data Investor Services Group to provide the most innovative and complete mutual funds data services available in the industry,” said Jack Kutner, president of First Data Investor Services Group. “This capability is a key component of our strategy to provide clients with the technological tools, service platform and professional expertise to identify, sell and service customers across multiple distribution channels. We expect FAL to be an important part of our growth as we approach the new millennium.”

FAL will operate as a separate business unit of First Data Investor Services Group in the provision of sophisticated data processing solutions.

Commenting on the acquisition, Dick Lucas, president of FAL said, “Our proven capabilities and First Data Investor Services Group’s clear commitment to the bank, broker and fund marketplace form a natural alliance. This combination will enable us to reach our shared vision for the future.” With a servicing portfolio of more than $500 billion, First Data Investor Services Group is one of the nation’s leading providers of mutual fund services to banks, investment advisory firms and mutual fund complexes. With approximately 2,700 employees, the company currently services more than 16 million shareholder accounts and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to its headquarters in Westborough, Massachusetts, First Data Investor Services Group maintains operations in Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia.

Hackensack, N.J.-based First Data Corporation is a global leader in payment systems, electronic commerce and information management products and services. First Data and its principal operating units process the information that allows millions of consumers to pay for goods and services by credit, debit or smart card at the point of sale or over the Internet; by check or wire money.

For more information about First Data, please visit us on the Internet at .

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VISA’s Fall Promotion

Visa U.S.A. and 23 upscale retail stores nationwide today invited Visa cardholders to a “Tribute to Style” and the chance to win $25,000 of the world’s most chic clothing, jewelry and accessories.

By using a Visa card at any participating store from October 1 through the end of November, consumers will be given a unique fold-out “invitation to style” with the chance to win one of thousands of prizes. The “Tribute to Style” promotion is an extension of the Rodeo Drive charity event, co-sponsored by Visa, of the same name which took place on September 21.

The grand prize winner will receive a $25,000 Rodeo Drive shopping spree, two tickets to one of Hollywood’s hottest awards shows, personal wardrobe consultation by ‘stylist to the stars’ Patty Fox and a copy of her book, Star Style. Twenty-five first prize winners will enjoy a $5,000 shopping spree on Rodeo Drive, consultation with Patty Fox and a copy of her book. There will be 2,500 second prize winners who will receive Star Style. Everyone will win style advice through a fun and informative fashion tip in the fold-out invitation.

The “Tribute to Style” promotion marks a continuation in Visa’s efforts to promote upscale retailers. Visa recently completed two Visa Gold promotions: the “Shop, Dine and Stay” retail and destination promotion, involving more than 500 prestigious retailers, fine restaurants and luxury hotels across the country, and sponsorship of Bon Appetit’s Wine and Spirits Focus in Chicago.

“The ‘Tribute to Style’ promotion is really a tribute to Visa’s retail partners and cardholders,” said Tom Edwards, senior vice president, market development and acceptance, Visa U.S.A. “Retail promotions like ‘Tribute to Style’ help our retail partners increase traffic in their stores nationwide and at the same time reward our customers. In addition, retailers experience the benefits of accepting the world’s largest payment method — such as guaranteed payment, incremental sales increases with card usage, and higher average ticket purchases.”

Stores on Rodeo Drive and participating stores throughout the country will have the “invitations to style” for distribution to consumers who make purchases with their Visa cards. Merchants include Bang & Olufsen of America, Christian Dior, Cole Haan, David Orgell, Davidoff of Geneva, Denmark Jewelry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Escada, Escada Sport, Fendi, Fred Hayman Beverly Hills, Fred Joailler, Gianfranco Ferre, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Guess?, Hammacher Schlemmer, Harry Winston, J.P. Tods, Lalique, Lladro, Louis Vuitton, Nicole Miller, and Sulka.

“Partnering with Visa U.S.A. for the ‘Tribute to Style’ promotion is a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Ron Michaels, General Manager, Luis Vuitton, Rodeo Drive. “The level of awareness that Visa generates through support of their promotional partnerships has a substantial impact in creating interest and excitement among our current and potential customers.”

“We are very excited about the special Tribute to Style promotion, and the tremendous support Visa U.S.A. has shown to our 25th anniversary celebration in co-underwriting the ‘Tribute to Style’ event,” said Fred Hayman, owner of Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. “Visa is one of the strong cards on Rodeo Drive, and we are happy to have a close association with them in the many promotions that have benefited The Entertainment Industry Foundation/Permanent Charities, Rodeo Drive, our retailers and, of course, Visa.”

The promotion will be publicized through point-of-purchase communication and national print advertising. Details will be outlined in advertisements in a special 22-page section on a “Tribute to Style” in the October issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ. Advertising also will run in the same publications in the regular editorial section, including promotion details and contact information for consumers who do not live near participating retailers and would like to request a fold-out invitation.

Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It 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. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 370,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is .

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Corporate Card Leadership

The nation’s largest issuer of bank corporate cards, First Bank System, introduced a new version of its corporate card expense management system Thursday. ‘FirstView 3.0’ is a Windows-based system that enables card program administrators to mine purchasing cad and corporate card transaction data and provides enhanced capability to distribute data and cardholder statements via e-mail. First Bank’s Corporate Payment Systems will begin using the name U.S. Bank in the first quarter 1998.

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Blue AmEx Credit Card for Brazil

American Express Brazil today announced the launch of a new blue-colored revolving credit card, the American Express Credit. In addition to the quality service traditionally associated with American Express products, the card will offer a competitive monthly interest rate that may be further reduced through timely repayment and frequent card usage. Depending on the level of usage, cardmembers will be able to reduce or eliminate the annual card fee.

“We at American Express are dedicated to bringing a broad range of fine products to the marketplace in order to better serve our customers,” said Hélio Lima, president of American Express Brazil. “With the new blue card, American Express offers Brazilians a fresh and exciting new means of payment. American Express Credit has a look and personality all its own — dynamic, fresh and contemporary. With flexible card fees and interest rates, it will appeal to a younger, more active market segment.”

Noting that today’s announcement is the third revolving credit card product American Express has launched in Latin America this year, Roberto Cavalcanti, president of American Express’ Latin American and Caribbean region, added, “This further speeds our strong momentum in Latin America. This product launch follows closely on the heels of two similar and highly successful credit card launches in Argentina and Mexico. Additionally, this year we have announced card partnerships with BCN, Sony and Banco Excel Economico in Brazil; Banco Bital in Mexico; Banco Popular in Puerto Rico; and Credomatic Bank in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.”

Benefits and services offered with the new American Express Credit include:

Up to 100 percent discount on the annual fee through continuous card usage;

Up to 20 percent discount on interest rates, with monthly spending over R$200 and timely repayment;

Automatic billing to a cardmember’s bank account, for ease of settlement;

Access to participation in the Membership Rewards program;

Access to more than 135,000 ATMs worldwide; Access to 1,700 travel service locations in 130 countries;

Emergency assistance and card replacement when traveling;

Global Assist for medical and legal assistance when traveling;

Automatic Accident Insurance when a cardmember purchases airline tickets with American Express Credit.

American Express is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

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3Q LOSSES IMPROVE

Losses in card bonds dropped 20 basis points in August to 6.60% from 6.80% in July according to Standard & Poor’s ‘Credit Card Quality Indexes’. S&P says this mirrors last August when charge-offs dropped 40 basis points. Delinquencies have held steady all summer which suggests the outlook for the fourth quarter is positive. S&P says the August decline was largely attributable to charge-off declines by Discover, First USA and Advanta. Among major issuers, only Citibank and Capital One reported charge-off upticks for August.

A TALE OF THREE AUGUSTS
Distribution Date 9/15/95 9/15/96 9/15/97
Performance Month Aug 95 Aug 96 Aug 97
Outstandings $140.8b $208.8b $226.8b
Yield 17.9% 17.7% 18.8%
Charge-Offs 4.0% 5.2% 6.6%
Weighted Base Rate 8.5% 8.1% 7.8%
Excess Spread 5.5% 4.4% 4.5%
Delinquencies 4.3% 4.7% 5.2%
Payment Rate 14.2% 13.8% 14.2%
Source: Standard & Poor’s CreditWire

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Japan’s Record Bankruptcy Rate

Standard & Poor’s expects Japan’s consumer finance industry will face a much tougher operating environment in the years ahead, even though its current performance is strong. Concerns are mounting about a possible deterioration in asset quality, as loan portfolios have grown rapidly amid a depressed economy.

Further, intensifying competition and a potential increase in Japanese interest rates are expected to put pressure on lending margins. As this scenario evolves, the gap in creditworthiness between small, midsize, and large players is expected to widen.

Japan’s consumer lending market has already started to show warning signs. Personal bankruptcies reached an all-time high of 56,494 in 1996 and continue to grow at 20%-30% year on year in 1997. Reflecting this trend, consumer finance companies are expected to see an increase in credit costs in the near term. Further on, lending rates are expected to be forced downward as competition from existing players and new entrants intensifies. Margins are likely to come under further pressure should Japan’s low interest-rate environment — the primary contributor to expanding margins in the last few years — eventually come to an end. Finally, the anticipated lifting in fiscal 1998 of the Acceptance of Contributions, Money Deposits and Interest Law, which prohibits consumer-finance companies from accessing debt capital markets to fund direct loans, is likely to accelerate a divergence in credit quality among market players.

Industry performance is currently solid, as evidenced by the strong portfolio growth and financial performances of major players. The six leading industry participants recorded 16% portfolio growth on average in fiscal 1996 (ended March 31, 1997). This has been achieved in large part through newly introduced unmanned credit-authorization machines, which have improved customer access, as well as the finance companies’ easier access to loans. Other factors have been an increase in consumer demand for credit amid the prolonged economic slump and the aggressive growth strategies adopted by midsize players, particularly their strategies to expand distribution networks. Profitability ratios among the top six are impressive, with return-on-asset rates above 3% and return-on-equity rates between 15% and 20% on average, which is extremely high for Japanese financial institutions. The strong financial performances reflect improvements in already high net interest margins amid the low interest rate environment. Credit costs, while increasing, continue to be favorable.

Standard & Poor’s evaluation of the industry shows that some consumer finance companies are able to maintain satisfactory levels of credit quality despite the industry’s risky nature. Our evaluation takes into account a number of factors, including the quality of underwriting and collection skills, the degree to which loan portfolios are diversified among consumers, and a company’s ability to maintain a favorable financial profile (including profitability and capitalization). Overall negative factors are:

— A relatively risky customer base of low to middle-income individuals;

— Limited funding flexibility, reflecting the absence of ‘main bank’ relations common among Japan’s major corporates;

— Restricted access to capital markets; and

— Consumer finance companies’ limited track records as borrowers.

Small and midsize players are seen as especially vulnerable, as they are typically the most exposed to the asset quality problems associated with rapid expansion. Further, these smaller players often lack the funding flexibility or management skills to cope with intensified competition. Midsize players are pursuing aggressive expansion strategies to improve their market position and thus ensure their competitiveness against larger players. They will enjoy better odds of survival only if asset risks are addressed and managed pr.ply. Large players, who have superior name recognition and thus access to customers with stronger credit, will also be challenged by the industry’s dynamics. In an industry of shrinking margins, consumer finance companies that fail to pr.ply address asset quality problems and manage their funding and operating costs will be unable to survive, Standard & Poor’s said.

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DataMerchant Beta Test

Cognos(R) today announced the release of DataMerchant(TM) to beta testing. DataMerchant is the first product specifically designed to securely package, distribute and merchandise the contents of a relational database over the Internet, extranet or intranet.

DataMerchant was developed to address the growing requirement companies have to exploit the Internet to their business advantage. Corporations are already using business intelligence applications to leverage internal data assets to more effectively run their business. With the rise of the Internet and the release of DataMerchant, corporations will now be able to access business intelligence data from anywhere around the globe, anytime they want it.

Whether companies actually sell their data assets or provide them to business partners to enhance their existing business relationships, DataMerchant delivers the tools required to build and maintain a successful online data distribution and merchandising application. DataMerchant allows organizations to maximize their flexibility while minimizing the setup and management costs of data distribution.

“Corporations are acknowledging the Internet as a two-way transaction medium that offers increased customer service, global reach, low-cost distribution, round-the-clock service and new marketing opportunities,” said Alan Rottenberg, Cognos’ senior vice president of Marketing and Business Strategy. “DataMerchant provides companies with the means to leverage the Internet and World Wide Web to maximize the value in their data assets. By taking advantage of DataMerchant’s e-commerce functionality, data can be packaged, marketed, sold, and distributed globally.”

DataMerchant gives organizations the ability to package data into specific “data services,” each with unique access and pricing profiles. DataMerchant supports two models of accessing data — wholesale and retail. Wholesale data is accessed via the Internet using an ODBC-compliant application such as Cognos’ Impromptu(R). Retail data is accessed via a Web browser and can be offered by subscription, per-row retrieved or both. At all times, the data source is protected by the DataMerchant server against online intrusion.

Other key features and benefits of DataMerchant include:

— data vendors can choose from several off-line and on-line billing options, and integrate their Storefronts with third-party e-commerce software and in-house accounting systems;

— wizards make the task of defining data products and building Storefront interfaces easy and straightforward;

— data consumers can “help themselves” using DataMerchant Web Storefronts, which means 24-hour service for customers and lower overhead costs for vendors;

— data consumers interact with DataMerchant ‘Shopping Assistants’ – web- based query wizards that enable users to simply and intuitively retrieve only the data they need; and

— encryption protects payment information and data during transfer.

DataMerchant is in beta test at large data producers and publishers, which represent the initial market for the product. General availability and pricing will be announced in late 1997. Subsequent versions of DataMerchant will be targeted for internal data distribution over corporate Intranets and Extranets at existing Cognos customer sites and other Global 2000 organizations.

Cognos

Cognos is the leading strategic supplier of enterprise business intelligence tools, allowing users to easily extract critical information through data access, reporting, analysis and forecasting. Cognos products consistently deliver the highest productivity gains to the user, the most manageable solution to the administrator, and the fastest return on investment (ROI) to the enterprise.

Cognos also develops, markets and supports software tools for enterprise application development.

Founded in 1969, Cognos is a publicly held company with offices around the world. U.S. operations for the company are headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts. For more information, visit Cognos’ World Wide Web site at .

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