Smarty VISA Platinum

Fischer International Systems Corporation (FISC) today announced that its Smarty(TM) Smart Card Reader/Writer will be offered as an important element within Visa International’s Visa Platinum product for Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The initiative sets the stage for widespread growth of electronic commerce in Latin America. The product, presented this week at Visa International’s Regional Member Meeting, Latin America and Caribbean Region, offers the Visa Platinum card — a credit card enhanced with a micro-chip that can provide programmability, increased data storage, security and off-line transactions — together with Fischer’s Smarty smart card reader. The Smarty looks like a 3.5 inch diskette, has a slot in the back that accepts a smart card, and fits into any personal computer’s 3.5 inch floppy disk drive to access smart card information. The Smarty requires no cables or connectors.

“Visa International’s research indicates that a significant share of the upscale cardholders in the region use the Internet regularly. Therefore, Smarty is a viable option enabling usage of the Visa Platinum micro-chip on the Internet,” said Lisa Brito, Vice President of Credit and Commercial Products, Visa International Latin America and Caribbean Region. “Though there are other smart card reader choices available, the Smarty, with its very easy implementation for the end-user, is a very innovative product and an attractive feature for banks to offer consumers,” she added.

To demonstrate how the Smarty can be used in connection with the Visa Platinum card, Visa International set up a private network of 30 personal computers at the meeting, each with a Smarty and a Visa Platinum card. In combination with the Smarty, the Visa Platinum card was able to access a customized electronic wallet, containing a virtual Visa Platinum card, and an exclusive Web site. The Web site features travel and entertainment information, as well as Visa Platinum rewards program account updates.

“We are very pleased to work with Visa International and to support the goals of Visa Platinum in the region. Smarty, again, has taken on the role of facilitator, easily linking the Visa Platinum card to the PC,” said Art Burton, vice president of sales and marketing at Fischer International. “We see the interaction of Visa Platinum with Smarty as a real world example of a strategic solution for organizations and individuals committed to Internet-based business. Smart card technology is a natural complement to our expertise in the areas of token design and security software. We look forward to an ongoing, productive partnership with Visa International.”

About Visa Platinum

Visa Platinum has as its core benefits throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region a minimum US $20,000 credit limit, 24-hour customer service, a concierge service, a comprehensive package of travel insurance, and a flexible point program redeemable for travel and entertainment rewards on any airline, selected hotels and selected car rental agencies, among other rewards.

About Visa

Visa, “the world’s best way to pay,” 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 its 21,000 member financial institutions, their card holders and the global economy. As the leader in emerging products, Visa has 65 chip programs underway worldwide, including more than 6 million Visa Cash cards, and is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction programs in more than 25 countries for secure Internet commerce. Visa’s 600 million cards, generating over US$1 trillion in annual volume, are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including nearly 370,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is

About Fischer International Systems

Fischer International Systems Corporation (FISC) was founded in 1982 by Addison M. Fischer to develop electronic mail and PC data security software. FISC designs, develops, markets, licenses and supports a family of enterprise-wide office automation (electronic mail and scheduling) software, computer security software and the SmartDisk family of products. These products focus on electronic commerce and security for the Internet, intranets/extranets, LANs, desktop PCs, laptops, and large mainframe environments. FISC has a diverse international customer base and is headquartered in Naples, Florida with offices in North America and Europe. Please contact the FISC web site at

VISA Smart Card Milestone

Visa International today unveiled the Visa Open Platform Card Specifications 1.0 for multiple-function cards using JavaCard Technology. These specifications enable credit, debit, stored value and other applications to function on a micrchip, leading the way for the payment services industry to standardize its services.

The new specifications will also allow cardholders of Visa’s member financial institutions to have a customized card in their wallet, with products and services unique to and chosen by the individual.

With JavaCard version 2.0 and Visa Open Platform Card Specifications 1.0, industry standards for chip card technology to meet security and functional requirements of financial payments have been established.

Since its announcement in late 1996 of an open specification, JavaCard has received enthusiastic industry-wide support form leading financial institutions, payment associations, chip vendors and card suppliers.

The Visa Open Platform Card Specifications 1.0 are a key component of Visa’s Partner Program, announced in March. The Partner Program consists of a set of applications, open technology platform, tools and processes, acceptance infrastructure standards and rules, and systems required to migrate credit and debit services to chip, and to add other functionality to payment cards.

By combining the JavaCard standards with the adaptations defined by the Visa specifications, vendors can differentiate their offerings to the marketplace. Visa has already received commitments form leading card manufacturers to implement its specifications. Physical cards will be available to member financial institutions in early 1998 form a number of suppliers, including Bull, De la Rue, Gemplus, IBM, Motorola Smart Cards, Schlumberger and Toshiba.

Visa applications on JavaCard will include credit and debit, migrated from magnetic stripe technology, and Visa Cash, the worldwide stored value system for small purchases, such as subway fares, telephone calls, and snacks in vending machines. In addition, early-adopting member financial institutions will develop and implement proprietary applications, such as loyalty, electronic banking, facilities access and consumer preference programs on their Visa payment card.

Visa is working with leading chip suppliers to optimize the implementation of JavaCard. This will result in significant gains in price/performance and security, as well as provide adopters with innovative and leading-edge services.

“The release of the Visa Open Platform Card Specifications 1.0 represent a significant milestone for the payments industry,” said Francois Dutray, group executive vice president, Visa International. “Open acceptance and interpretability are keys to establishing the infrastructure necessary for the widespread adoption of chip cards, and we at Visa are proud to once again demonstrate our commitment toward open, non-proprietary industry standards. Together, with a cross-section of businesses, as well as financial institutions, we can drive fundamental smart card technology through innovative partnerships and can ensure that results are delivered quickly and efficiently,” he said.

Visa, “the world’s best way to pay”, 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. As the leader in emerging products, Visa has 65 chip programs underway worldwide, including more than 7 million Visa Cash cards, and is pioneering SET Security Electronic Transaction programs in more than 25 countries for secure Internet commerce. Visa’s 600 million cards, generating more than US$1 trillion in annual volume, are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including nearly 370,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com][1]

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

SMARTALK Update

SMARTALK Teleservices, Inc. (Nasdaq: SMTK), a leading manufacturer and distributor of prepaid long- distance calling cards and enhanced telecommunications products and services, reported 1,770,574 new PIN activations and 91,207,466 decremented minutes for the third quarter ended September 30, 1997, as compared to 693,447 PINs activated and 54,824,541 decremented minutes for the quarter ending June 30, 1997, and 262,872 PINs activated and 23,510,042 decremented minutes for the quarter ended September 30, 1996.

Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are used by certain of the Company’s customers to access the SMARTALK system. “Decremented minutes” represent the number of minutes of usage of the Company’s services. SMARTALK manufactures and distributes prepaid calling cards and other enhanced telecommunications products that are sold at retail.

SMARKTALK recently announced an agreement to acquire ConQuest Telecommunication Services Corp., a Dublin, Ohio-based developer and marketer of prepaid calling cards and other enhanced telecommunications services, which is expected to close this quarter. ConQuest currently distributes its cards through more than 6,000 storefronts and provides domestic and international calling card services for the tour and travel industry.

SMARTALK also maintains distribution agreements with mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets and home office superstores, such as Office Depot, Future Shop, Venture Stores, The Good Guys, Staples, Service Merchandise, Jewel/Osco Combo Stores, Osco Drug, Sav-On Drug, OfficeMax, Dominick’s Finer Foods, Eckerd Drug, Food4Less, Ralphs Supermarkets, Bradlees, Marshall Field’s, Best Buy, and Builders Square, as well as university book stores and convenience stores nationwide. SMARTALK also offers specialized value-added promotional phone card programs to clients including Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo Bank, Nabisco, Pfizer and Prudential Securities. The Company maintains strategic marketing partnerships with Choice Hotels and HFS, the two largest hotel franchisors in the US, along with Simon Brand Ventures, one of the largest operators of shopping malls in the country.

SMARTALK is a member of the Telecommunications Resellers Association, International Telecard Association and the Consumer Electronics Manufacturer’s Association.

The Company is scheduled to announce earnings for third quarter ended September 30, 1997 on Wednesday, November 12 before the close of business. A conference call to discuss earnings will follow on Thursday morning, November 13 at 11:00 AM (EST). Please contact SME Financial Communications at 310-312-7880 for information on conference call participation.

Unisource to Use Proton

In cooperation with Banksys, Unisource NV is extending its Internet electronic payment system to include payments using electronic purses based on the Banksys’ Proton operating system.

“This dramatically increases the number of customers who will be able to make fast, efficient and safe transactions over the Internet”, says Julian Wilson, director Unisource Smart Access. “It is also ample proof of the flexibility of our technology to accommodate various payment vehicles and systems”.

“This agreement is a first step ensuring interoperability between the different Proton technology based smart card schemes in Europe first and worldwide later ” says Armand Linkens, Banksys’ Director of Marketing and Sales, “it will benefit all Proton World members in offering an efficient application in the fast growing sector of the payments over the Internet”.

The Unisource smart access project is based on enabling users to make payments via the Internet on a low cost and secure basis, by simply using their smart card with either a PC, hand-held computer or advanced telephone screen, which needs to be equipped with a smart card reader. The money transaction provides the user with the requested result instantly, without having to go through a lengthy and costly subscription process with the information provider. The transaction also has the benefit for the merchant of being much more efficient at lower cost than other payment systems such as credit cards. Any means of Internet access, e.g. fixed line, dial-up or GSM, is suitable.

As the result of technological cooperation with Banksys, customers will be able to pay for digital goods with their local Proton based electronic purse in their own currency, independent of their own location or the nationality of the Internet merchant. The next in a series of electronic payment trials will provide customers using Proton technology the opportunity to purchase network products in a controlled environment. Following that, full scale operation of the system will be pursued.

Banksys is a subsidiary of the Belgian banks and is the national EFT/POS operator and authorisation centre. It has been created in 1989 with the merger of Bancontact and Mister cash debit card schemes. Banksys also handles all EFT/POS related activities from the design and production of payment terminals & security devices to the edition of pin mailers. Banksys has been licensing the Proton smart card scheme to 14 countries or organisations so far, all linked in a global association called Proton World. The objective of this organisation is to promote the worldwide marketing, interoperability and multi-application of the Proton electronic smart card scheme.

Unisource NV is a pan-European telecommunications company, created in response to the changing European business environment and customers’ requirements for pan-European and global communication services. The company was established in 1992 by Telia of Sweden and PTT Telecom of the Netherlands. Swisscom of Switzerland became a partner in 1993. In 1994, Unisource gave its pan-European venture a global reach by forming a joint venture with AT&T, called AT&T-Unisource Communications Services. Unisource is also a founding equity partner with AT&T, KDD of Japan and Singapore Telecom of the WorldPartners company. AT&T-Unisource Communications Services is a member of the WorldPartners Association, which today consists of 17 telecom service providers, distributing services in over 30 countries around the world. Unisource shareholders also hold a majority stake in Infonet, whose WorldNetwork data communications services now cover 180 countries world-wide.

Java Card Expands

Nokia’s Research Centre is testing a new smart card application which implements an existing remote banking security solution in a new way. Based on the new Java-compatible Cyberflex smart card from Schlumberger, the application handles a combination of one-time and fixed passwords. This technique is already used by a number of banks for their remote banking services. The smart card implementation makes the security technique easier and more secure to use.

“Cyberflex is very attractive because it opens up many development possibilities” says Martti Granberg, Senior Consultant, Nokia Research Center. “We like the idea of a smart card compatible with Java, as the ability to dynamically download applications is extremely interesting. Cyberflex is a strong platform for the development of telecommunications security applications such as user authentication, data integrity and data confidentiality, and is also good for implementing multi-functional cards, such as one combining payment and loyalty schemes for example.”

Schlumberger’s Cyberflex product provides an interoperable Java platform for smart card applications. Thanks to the interpreted nature of the Java language, applications can now be written and trialled in a matter of days, eliminating the mask creation cycle required for conventional smart card projects. This approach makes smart cards much more like conventional computers, allowing them to run Java Card-compliant application, and adapt to meet the needs of card users. Applications can also be added or removed from Cyberflex cards after they are manufactured, bringing much lower costs for support and new product roll-out.

The Java Card security test application has been developed by the Nokia Research Center in Helsinki, Finland. This is one of the world’s leading centres for communications technologies and systems concept research, and it interacts closely with Nokia business units worldwide. Headquartered in Finland, Nokia is a leader in digital technologies including mobile phones, cellular and fixed telecommunications networks, wireless data solutions and multimedia terminals. With sales in approximately 130 countries, net sales totalled FIM 39.3 billion ($8.5 billion) in 1996. Nokia employs more than 34,000 people in 45 countries. Nokia’s shares are listed in Helsinki, New York, London, Stockholm, Frankfurt and Paris.

HONOR’s Annual Conference

HONOR will host its 1997 Annual Conference–“A Meeting of the Minds”–on October 26-28, 1997, at the Buena Vista Palace & Spa, located at the Disney World Village in Lake Vista, Fla. This will be the first network-wide meeting since the merger of the HONOR®, MOST® and ALERT® networks in January.

“The conference provides an excellent opportunity for financial institutions and processors to learn more about HONOR’s upcoming plans and the overall state of the EFT industry,” said Mary A. Kilby, senior vice president of marketing and strategic planning at HONOR. “We have assembled an impressive list of speakers in many areas of expertise, and we look forward to meeting our new members and clients.”

Conference activities will begin on Sunday afternoon, October 26, with a series of training and educational sessions. On Monday, T.O. Bennion, president and CEO of HONOR, will officially open the meeting with his welcoming address. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Susan Dentzer, chief economics correspondent of U.S. News & World Report, who will discuss the economy and its impact on banking and electronic funds transfer. Other Monday morning sessions include a panel discussion on “The Future of Retail Delivery,” featuring Jack Benton of Benton International, Jeffrey Kutler of the American Banker, Deborah McWinney of Visa, Richard Redick of Barnett Bank and Mary Jo Winterer of MasterCard.

Subsequent program topics include such wide-ranging issues as marketing, fraud prevention, smart card technology, electronic benefits transfer (EBT), off-line debit card programs and home banking.

“With the many changes at HONOR and in our industry, this conference takes on special significance,” said Kilby. “We look forward to an enjoyable, informative and productive three days with our members, clients and industry associates.”

HONOR Technologies, Inc. is headquarted in Mainland, Fla. and serves more than 40 million cardholders and 1,870 financial institution members with more than 28,000 ATMs and 350,000 merchant Point of Sale terminals. HONOR processes more than 80 million transactions per month, and offers a variety of EFT services such as terminal driving, card production, MasterMoney and Visa Check Card processing and home banking.

HONOR serves members across the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States, with primary operations in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. In addition to its Maitland headquarters, HONOR has offices in Birmingham, Ala; Reston, Va; Columbia, S.C.; and Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Java 2.0 API Ready

Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ:SUNW) announced today that the Java(TM) Card Application Programming Interface (API) 2.0 specification is now final and available for download at [http://java.sun.com/products/javacard.][1]

Java Card 2.0 is a blueprint for building applications to run on smart cards. A smart card is a plastic card that looks almost exactly like a credit card. The difference is that a smart card has a computer chip that stores and processes information. For example, a smart card might contain bank account information, medical records or even money that acts just like cash at retail outlets or on the Internet.

Java Card 2.0 enables any card manufacturer to build smart cards that can interoperate, not only with each other, but with existing cards and card reading terminals. The cards integrating Java Card 2.0 technology will be used to store and update account information, money and personal data. The smart cards created will span a variety of industries, including financial services, telephony, healthcare, Internet access and electronic commerce.

“Java Card 2.0 is the catalyst that will launch the widespread use of multi-function smart cards worldwide,” said Alan Baratz, president of Sun Microsystems’ JavaSoft division. “With the ‘Write Once, Run Anywhere(TM)’ capabilities of Java, the smart card industry can provide the consumer with a card that can store money as easily as it can track frequent flyer miles or provide secure access to a cellular phone.”

The Java Card API, a specialized application programming interface, was unveiled by Sun on October 29, 1996. Sun’s Java Card has been licensed by companies representing more than 90 percent of worldwide smart card manufacturing capacity. The Java Card API 2.0 was developed in collaboration with the industry, including smart card manufacturers, card issuers and smart card associations.

Companies who have endorsed Java Card 2.0 include Bull, Citicorp, First Union, Gemplus, Giesecke & Devrient, Hitachi, Motorola, Schlumberger, Toshiba, VeriFone, Visa and many others (see attached addendum).

Many of Sun Microsystems’ Java Card partners will be introducing Java Card 2.0 applications and products at Cartes `97 in Paris France on October 16, 1997.

Java Card API 2.0 Features

— The Java Card API 2.0 includes support for code reusability. With the memory limitations in cards, efficient use and reuse of code is indispensable.

— Java Card supports secure inter-applet communication. For example, a payment applet can exchange payment transaction information with a cooperating loyalty applet.

— Support is provided for ISO standard card/terminal communication.

— A standard cryptography API is included for access to commonly used cryptographic functions.

— The Java Card API is compliant with ISO standards 7816-4 and 7816-5. With 7816-4, ISO has standardized a number of important functions included in the Java Card API such as I/O and file system access. 7816-5 has standardized identifiers and naming conventions which are supported by Java Card.

About Sun

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision, “The Network Is The Computer(TM)” has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ:SUNW) to its position as a leading provider of hardware, sofware and services for establishing enterprise-wide intranets and expanding the power of the Internet. With more than $8 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 150 countries and on the World Wide Web at http://www.sun.com .

Press announcements and other information about Sun Microsystems are available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at [http://www.sun.com.][2] For inquiries about Java technologies and services, telephone 1-800-528-2763 (512/434-1591 for international callers) or visit [http://java.sun.com.][3]

[1]: http://java.sun.com/products/javacard
[2]: http://www.sun.com
[3]: http://www.java.sun.com

Wachovia Opens New CC Center

Wachovia Bank Card Services today announced plans to open a credit card customer service center in Chesapeake, Va.

The center will be located in the Crossways facility at 1400 Crossways Boulevard, currently occupied by some Central Fidelity operational functions. The credit card center is expected to employ more than 100 by the end of 1998 and initially will occupy approximately one-fourth of the 50,000-square-foot building. Assuming consummation of its mergers with Central Fidelity Banks Inc. and Jefferson Bankshares Inc., Wachovia Bank Card Services expects to begin operations in Chesapeake in the first quarter of 1998.

“The decision to establish this center is indicative of the growth of our credit card function and the need for additional capacity for providing customer service to our credit card customers,” said Wachovia Chief Executive L.M. Baker Jr. “We are pleased to be able to locate the center in Chesapeake where we will be able to provide continuing employment opportunities for some employees of Central Fidelity and Jefferson.”

Wachovia expects to receive all required approvals and to complete mergers with Central Fidelity and Jefferson by year-end, and to merge their subsidiary banks into Wachovia Bank, N.A., effective March 20, 1998.

Wachovia Bank Card Services is a subsidiary of Wachovia Corporation (NYSE: WB), an interstate banking company with dual headquarters in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C. Wachovia is the 20th largest bank holding company in the U.S. with assets totaling $48.5 billion. Upon completion of its mergers with Central Fidelity, Jefferson and 1st United Bancorp of Boca Raton, Fla., Wachovia will be the 17th largest bank holding company in the country with assets exceeding $60 billion. U.S. Banker magazine recently rated Wachovia Corporation the No. 1 banking organization in the U.S. for 1996 among banking organizations with assets of more than $25 billion.

Bank Declares War on ATM Fees

USAA Federal Savings Bank has made automated teller withdrawals essentially free for its customers by offering rebates on domestic ATM user fees. USAA FSB waives its $1 fee on the first 10 ATM withdrawals per statement cycle from any non-USAA ATM. Also, the USAA bank rebates up to $1.50 on each of the first 10 non-USAA ATM withdrawals per statement cycle when the ATM’s owner assesses a fee or surcharge. All ATM transactions at any USAA FSB ATM are already free for the bank’s cardholders. USAA FSB operates without branches, yet offers worldwide financial services to 1.8 million customers via phone, mail and personal computer.

Sears Card Concerns

Sears’ card loans rose to $27 billion for the third quarter compared to $25 billion for third quarter 1996 but the company is very concerned about adverse industry trends as it heads into the fourth quarter. The company said yesterday: “Sears continues to experience an increase in the rate of delinquencies and charge-offs while a number of other credit card issuers have recently reported a flattening in their charge-off rates. If our delinquency and uncollectible accounts could have a significant adverse effect on the company’s overall operating results in future periods. We are taking steps to mitigate the effect of these trends on earnings, and are assessing their expected magnitude and duration.”

Consumers Want More ATM Services

Many consumers want their banks to provide additional services such as event ticketing, coupons and internet access through their ATMs, according to a nationwide survey carried out by NCR Corporation. The survey shows that these new services can help banks justify charging ATM fees. While 32 per cent of respondents agree with paying fees for ordinary ATM usage, the figure rises to 37 percent for those more advanced services. Among young people – 18 to 35 – the figure rises to 42 per cent. There is also a demand for personalized services from banks. Almost half – 48 per cent – of the respondents felt happy with banks using personal data if it would lead to better, more individual services, while 47 per cent of 18-34 year olds said that this was an important factor in their choice of banks.