Optimal Group Finalizes U-Scan Sale to Fujitsu Transaction Services

Despite a higher offer from NCR, Montreal-based Optimal Robotics approved the sale of the “U-Scan” business to Fujitsu Transaction Solutions. Fujitsu offered $35 million to acquire the self-checkout business of Optimal. However, NCR raised its offer to $38 million with an April 9th closing date. In February, NCR agreed to buy Optimal’s self-checkout business for $30 million. NCR indicated it will take legal action against Optimal and others related to Optimal’s solicitation of the bid from Fujitsu. NCR says it believes that Optimal’s actions to date are improper and in breach of its legal obligations.

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Multiple Application Loyalty Card Solution Launched

PA-based CardSelect International says its patented Internet-based co-branding and loyalty management solution enables issuers of mag stripe and smart cards to offer credit cards that users can customize with their favorite merchant reward programs. This new technology platform will allow consumers to select the merchant reward programs they use most often and link them either online or offline to their financial transaction card of choice. The system can be tailored for use in either magnetic stripe or smart card environments. CardSelect International was founded by former executives of a major international smart card manufacturer.

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Vendtek Deploys the First IP-Based POS Terminals

VendTek Systems has deployed what the company believes to be the first IP based POS terminals in operation in Canada selling prepaid services. The use of a high-speed Internet connection to connect with the “Now Prepay” transaction host server allows transactions to complete in less than 10 seconds. Vendtek’s wholly owned subsidiary Now Prepay Corp. has reached 3,500 “e-Fresh” POS terminal clients in Canada.
The Company announced 3,000 terminals less than two months ago. Now Prepay began selling services through POS terminals in December 2002.

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A2iA CheckReader Expands Check 21 Functionality

NY-based A2iA has expanded the functionality within its “CheckReader 3.1” to enable banks and financial institutions to verify check usability in real-time. Check 21 has accelerated the need and interest of banks to ensure that check images are usable and contain information in the required fields. The Check 21 Act establishes a Substitute Check’s or Image Replacement Document’s (IRD) legal status and X9, which is an American National Standard for substitute checks created under the Accredited Standards Committee X9 for the financial services industry. A2iA is a leading developer of technology for reading machine print and natural handwriting, including cursive handwriting from paper documents.

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NCR Raises Earnings Estimate for 2004

OH-based NCR has raised its earnings estimate for 2004 to $1.10 to $1.15 per share from the $0.85 to $0.95 range. The increased guidance is due to early indications that overall capital spending for information technology may be improving, as well as the company’s continued success in streamlining its operations and real estate portfolio. Revenue is expected to be roughly $1.27 billion to $1.29 billion, again led by strong performances in Data Warehousing and Financial Self Service. Including real estate gains of $0.04 per share, the company now expects $0.05 to $0.10 loss per share for the seasonally weak first quarter compared with a current First Call mean estimate of $0.27 loss per share. NCR Corporation (NYSE:NCR) is a leading global technology company helping businesses build stronger relationships with their customers.

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CUP CARDS

Four banks have signed MOUs with China UnionPay Company to become members and to jointly develop a range of renminbi-denominated credit card and ATM services. Under the proposed program, Hong Kong residents will be issued CUP credit cards denominated in renminbi that can be used in over 300,000 CUP merchant outlets accepting CUP cards in mainland China. Mainland residents carrying a CUP card will be able use their cards at Hong Kong merchants and ATMs. Standard Chartered says it will install CUP POS machines at designated merchant outlets and will commence merchant acquiring services in mid-April, to
capitalize on the surge in mainland tourist arrivals in Hong Kong during the “Golden Week” holiday in May. HSBC expects to issue CUP RMB cards in Hong Kong before the year-end. Hang Seng Bank says the well-developed cross-border payment system operated by CUP will provide new business opportunities for local banks. Bank of East Asia expects to launch its own CUP-branded RMB card in the near future. CUP is the national card payment network in mainland China, with a range of services covering credit card, debit card and ATM network operation.

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Credit Union Portfolio Sales Remain Brisk

Portland, OR-based AssetExchange reported it facilitated the sale of two credit union credit card portfolios to two buyers. InfiCorp Holdings purchased the credit card portfolio of Members First Credit Union of New Hampshire, and an undisclosed buyer purchased the credit card portfolio of Fiscal Credit Union, based in Glendale, CA. Atlanta-based InfiCorp has become a market leader in credit union portfolio acquisitions, and is joined by Elan Services, MBNA and TNB Card Services. Last year, 59 credit union credit card portfolios changed hands. AssetExchange is a credit card consulting and brokerage firm providing portfolio brokerage, performance assessments, market valuations, and best practices consulting.

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Ascom Monétel Changes its Name to Ascom SA and Targets Fare Collection

Ascom Monétel has changed its name to Ascom SA and is aiming to become the world leader in fare solutions and to assert a key position on the public telecommunications access terminals market. The Ascom SA entity still retains its former structure under the responsibility of Eric Jean, the Chairman of the Board of Directors. In addition to its Fare Collection activities, Ascom SA still retains its multimedia & pay systems under its new title while remaining one of the world’s leading specialists in public telecommunications terminals. Far beyond conventional payphones, these terminals can provide Web and e-business services that mobile telephones cannot contend with. Ascom SA has a work force of 450 persons.

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Global Axcess Signs Two Branded Cash ATM Deals

Newport News Municipal Employees Credit Union in Virginia, and Parkridge Credit Union in Chattanooga, Tennessee have signed deals for Global Axcess’ turnkey ATM network solution. The Company’s Branded Cash Program is a turnkey ATM network solution, owned and managed by Nationwide Money, that is marketed to credit unions, community banks, and regional financial institutions. Global Axcess Corp. was founded in 2001 with a mission to emerge as one of the nation’s leading network-based electronic commerce and transaction processing companies. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Nationwide Money Services, Inc., the Company provides turnkey ATM management solutions that include cash, project and account management services.

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VISA and MasterCard Top 1.7 Billion Cards Worldwide in 2003

VISA not only passed the $1 trillion card volume milestone in the USA last year, it also passed the one billion card mark globally. Together, VISA and MasterCard had 1,716,531,000 cards-in-force, worldwide, at the end of 2003, an 8% increase over the prior year. In the USA, VISA and MasterCard had 775.3 million cards, about 44% of the total global distribution. Europe and Asia-Pacific each make up approximately 19% of the total card distribution worldwide. In Canada, VISA and MasterCard are equally represented. VISA has 24.5 million cards versus MasterCard’s 26.6 million, in Canada. VISA continues to dominate Latin America with 147.2 million cards compared to MasterCard’s 47.7 million. Latin America makes up about 11% of the total global card distribution.

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VISA Offers Practical Money Skills for Life Educator Challenge

VISA USA and the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda is recognizing teachers this month in the “Practical Money Skills for Life Educator Challenge.” The Practical Money Skills for Life program offers consumers of all ages practical information and activities to enhance their money management skills. The Practical Money Skills for Life Educator Challenge will reward the winning teacher with a personal computer, $2,500 merchandise credit towards classroom supplies, and a mini-computer lab for his or her classroom. The Practical Money Skills for Life curriculum is teacher tested and teacher approved. Visa is the world’s leading payment brand and largest consumer payment system, enabling banks to provide their consumer and merchant customers with a wide variety of payment alternatives.

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