Link2Gov Signs KY

Link2Gov has inked a two-year deal to provide credit card, debit card and electronic check payment options for Kentucky state agencies by the end of this year. The agreement encompasses the following payment methods: credit cards, debit cards and electronic funds transfers (EFT) electronic checks. Citizens can make payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the Internet and telephone.

Galileo & MasterCard

Galileo International, a value-added distributor of travel inventory, has partnered with MasterCard to offer travelers using their MasterCard card to book RCI Holiday Network vacation rentals through Galileo-connected agencies a $50 to $100 MasterCard “Gift Card”. The gift card is valid for six months and can be used to purchase goods and services anywhere MasterCard is accepted — more than 28 million locations worldwide. The exclusive offer is scheduled to run through the end of 2002, or while supplies last.

Parking Payments

Off-street beachfront and marina parking in Los Angeles County has gone high tech with the deployment of SchlumbergerSema solar powered parking payment terminals. Under the SchlumbergerSema solution, the motorist will be able to pay for parking using coin, currency and credit cards. replacing lot attendants and the unsecured honor boxes. A motorist who wishes to park in a beach lot will be able to purchase a ticket from a SchlumbergerSema unit located in the lot and display the ticket behind their windshield. To access a marina lot, the motorist will pay at the gated unit, providing them access to marina parking. Since the parking terminals have wireless communication capabilities, they are able to transmit every payment event to the SchlumbergerSema centrally managed “Parkfolio IT” platform, which then processes the data and redirects the relevant information back to LA County, in real time. This data management feature offers the county the ability to monitor the status of their equipment via the Web on a twenty-four-by-seven basis. SchlumbergerSema has an installed base of more than 5,000 units controlling approximately 150,000 spaces in cities across the United States and Canada.

M/Chip 4.0

MasterCard unveiled a new version of its “M/Chip” payment application which is based closely on the global EMV specifications for smart cards. “M/Chip 4” implements a new EMV defined session key algorithm, benefiting card issuers that want a single authorization process regardless of application provider, while providing additional protection from differential power analysis attacks. “M/Chip 4” also has the ability to store the last ten transactions, including information such as: transaction amount, transaction currency, transaction date, the card’s cumulative transaction counter and whether the transaction was approved, declined or went online for authorization. It can also be used to decline off line transactions at specific merchants. “M/Chip 4” is available in two programs, “MasterCard M/Chip Lite” and “MasterCard M/Chip Select.” The M/Chip payment application was first introduced in 1998, and to-date more than 200 MasterCard members have either issued or are implementing chip based credit or debit cards in Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

The University of Ulster has found that banks throughout Europe had anticipated significant cost savings through a migration to Internet banking, but costs have actually risen, because customers choose to adopt all available delivery platforms rather than choosing the Internet over others. Early indications from the ongoing Ulster research conducted with bank customers in Northern Ireland shows that it is younger customers who will adopt the Internet most readily for their banking. As age and the complexity of financial needs increase, there is a decline in the adoption levels of Internet banking and an increase in the need for face to face interaction. Customers feel that the branch will remain as the most important interface in the foreseeable future.

Household & Best Buy

Household’s private label credit card unit has received Best Buy’s top partnership award. Winners were selected from criteria including year over year revenue growth, gross margin return on inventory, share of Best Buy’s business within the category, shipping performance, cost control and return on investment.

SMART PARTNER

Dublin-based CardBASE Technologies has been selected for the VISA EU “Smart Partner Program.” CardBASE is offering its “MASCOT” multi-application smart card management solution to VISA’s EU members. CardBASE is discounting the product for the first five members who choose “MASCOT” under the VISA program. CardBASE is targeting card issuing banks who have yet to complete EMV
migration by the 2005 deadline. CardBASE has to date established over 45 Smart Card solutions around the world.

Gateway Fees

American Express has begun notifying its merchants that it will begin passing through the gateway access fees charged by VISA and MasterCard. Beginning April 1, merchants who route more than 50% of their AmEx card authorizations through VISA/MasterCard gateways will be charged the fees levied by VISA and MasterCard. AmEx says over the past year VISA and MasterCard started charging AmEx transaction fees for any and all AmEx card authorizations that either the merchant or its third-party processor route through the VISA or MasterCard processing gateways to AmEx for authorization. AmEx says it will no longer subsidize these fees after April 1st. AmEx is suggesting to merchants to route authorizations directly or switch processors. AmEx says the gateway access fee will not be assessed on transactions that flow through third-party processors that do not utilize the VISA/MasterCard Gateways to route AmEx authorizations. AmEx is offering merchants a list of more than 50 such third-party processors.

SUREFIRE MERGER

Montreal-based SureFire Commerce has signed a merger agreement with privately-held Munich, Germany-based Electronic Billing Systems AG. Initially, SureFire will acquire 51% of EBS in exchange for approximately 28 million newly issued shares of SureFire, representing approximately 21% of SureFire. It is contemplated that upon completion of the transaction, SureFire will acquire 100% of EBS in exchange for common shares of SureFire representing approximately 63% of the common shares of SureFire Commerce on a fully diluted basis. Based on current run rates, SureFire expects the combined entity will generate approximately $90 million dollars in revenue, with operating profi before minority interests of more than $15 million dollars in the first year. The deal is expected to close in early January.

Gen X PIN

Paymentech says the debit survey it conducted last month shows that Americans within the 25-34 age group are quickly adopting debit as a form of payment, preferring to use PINs when making debit card purchases. The number one benefit cited by respondents preferring PIN debit is that PIN debit transactions are faster than signature debit transactions. The same group rated security as the second most important reason to use PIN debit transactions. Additionally, more than a third of this group said they would be more likely to shop at a store honoring PIN debit cards as a form of payment. Paymentech processed approximately 3.7 billion total transactions and $114 billion in bankcard sales volume in 2001.

SMART CARD TESTER

Lille-based MICROPROSS has created terminal emulator to test electrical and protocol parameters for smart cards. The new “MICROPROSS 3290” is part of the company’s “STAR” range, launched in 1997. Compliant with the standards (ISO 7816, EMV, 3GPP TS11.11), it may be adapted to non-standard smart cards. Perturbations can be added to check the card against unaccustomed conditions (forced parity errors, change of any signal at any moment, allowing glitches on clock for example, all timings from the standard can be modified, ETU width adjustable, protocol level perturbations). For smart card validation, test scenarios require reproducibility, which is one of the main features of this tester, included 1.8v smart cards. The test functions include open / short test, dynamic ICC measurement, current and voltage measurement on any contact and many more.

Privacy vs Piracy

Chicago-based Stealth MediaLabs has developed a Microsoft-compatible plug-in that can be used to stealthily embed credit card numbers into a digital audio signal to protect against music piracy. In most cases, data hidden in the StealthChannel can be embedded without increasing filesize. Patent applications have been filed leveraging a breakthrough in the obscure science of steganography.