Q Comm Names Interim President

UT-based Q Comm International, a provider of prepaid transaction processing and electronic POS distribution solutions, has named Terry Kramer as interim president and has promoted Marko Viitanen to Director of Information Technology. Mr. Kramer has been serving as an advisor or board member of several wireless telecommunications companies including 724 Solutions, FiberTower, and Sonim Technologies. Mr. Viitanen worked as a software engineer and quality assurance engineer for NextPage. Q Comm International provides proprietary prepaid transaction processing and information management systems that facilitate electronic recharge or distribution of prepaid products from service providers or their distributors to retail points of sale.

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Pearle Vision Test Drives Fifth Third POS Check Service

Pearle Vision is currently piloting the Fifth Third “POS Check Service” and intends to roll it out to their full chain next year. The Fifth Third POS Check Service routes check transactions directly to the participating financial institution for real-time authorization and settlement. For checks drawn on non-participating financial institutions, the transactions are routed to a third-party authorizer to provide real-time authorizations. Third party checks are then settled via an ACH debit to the consumer’s account.

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Ventus Networks Provides ATM Communications to Cardtronics

CT-based Ventus Networks has signed a contract to provide ATM communications services to Cardtronics and its nationwide network of more than 12,500 machines. Ventus Networks is a full-service end-to-end global communications provider that offers complete custom networks. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Cardtronics is the nation’s largest independent owner/operator of ATMs with a network of over 12,500 locations operating in every major U.S. market.

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KeyCorp Signs Four Banks to its SFA ATM Network

Cleveland-based KeyCorp has signed contracts with four additional banks in the states of Oregon and Washington to provide their respective customers with surcharge-free or surcharge-reduced access to Key’s ATM network. Through their partnerships with Key, customers of these institutions will be able to perform banking transactions using Key’s network of 373 ATMs in Oregon and Washington with no additional fees. Customers of Coastal Community Bank and Pacifica Bank also have access to Key’s entire network of 716 ATMs in ARCO am/pm retail locations along the West Coast.

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OpeN/2 Certified for Diebold’s Opteva ATMs

Certification testing has been completed to enable S2’s “OpeN/2” payment solution to drive Diebold’s “Opteva” advanced-function ATMs using “Agilis 91x” software. This agile, multi-vendor software solution enables ATM deployers to move to a single Windows-based application and protect their existing investments in states and screens while incrementally upgrading ATM delivery channels. Diebold’s Opteva family of advanced-function ATMs and cash dispensers provide a complete range of exclusive benefits to financial institutions, as well as enhanced security features, increased availability, improved usability and an enhanced maintenance interface. Diebold is a global leader in providing integrated self- service delivery systems, security and services.

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HBOS to Replace 15 Million Debit Cards with Smart Gemplus Cards

Gemplus has won a contract to provide Halifax Bank of Scotland with 15 million smart cards to replace the magnetic stripe system on the bank’s debit cards. HBOS current issues approximately five million debit cards per annum. The contract call for Gemplus to supply up to 15 million smart cards over the next three years. Although all banks are required to go through the EMV migration, HBOS will be among the first UK banks to do so. As part of HBOS’ migration to EMV the bank will also be introducing PIN based customer verification. This is in conjunction with the UK PIN at POS, or “Chip & PIN,” initiative. HBOS currently has more than 25 million customers.

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JCB Launches U.S. Co-Branded Card

JCB has teamed with California’s largest Japan-affiliated membership-only supermarket to launch a co-branded credit card, according to this week’s CardFlash International (www.cardflasinternational.com). The new “Marukai JCB Card,” to be launched November 8th, will function as both a membership ID card as well as a credit card. The Marukai membership bar-code information is built-in on the back of the new card. JCB piloted the card in Hawaii one year ago. The issuer says the Hawaii program generated over 10,000 co-branded “Marukai JCB Cards” within a six-month period. The new no annual fee card offers cardholders up to 3% cash back on purchases made at Marukai, and up to 1% cash back on purchases made anywhere else. Upon signing up for the “Marukai JCB Card,” the Marukai membership fee is waived for one year. Marukai currently has over 90,000 household members, making it the largest Japan-affiliated supermarket in the state.

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MRA Renews ABN AMRO Merchant Services Contract

The Michigan Restaurant Association has renewed its merchant processing contract for its 2,000 members/4,000 restaurants in Michigan with ABN AMRO Merchant Services, a joint venture of LaSalle Bank and National Processing Company. Under the terms of the agreement, AAMS will continue providing credit card authorization and settlement services for Michigan Restaurant Association members. Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) is the recognized leader of Michigan’s hospitality industry, providing assistance, representation, promotion and education to its members. LaSalle Bank Corporation is headquartered in Chicago with more than $107 billion in assets. Its primary subsidiaries are LaSalle Bank N.A. and Standard Federal Bank N.A., which is headquartered in Troy, Michigan, with more than $49.7 billion in assets.

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AmEx Receives Clear Card Patent

The U.S. Patent Office has awarded American Express a patent for the invention of clear card technology that can be used in infrared-beaming machines, such as ATMs. AmEx released its first translucent payment card in 1999 with the launch of “Blue,” which also sported an imbedded computer chip. However, there were immediate problems with using the card in ATMs and other payment machines. After further testing, AmEx solved the problem in early 2000. The issuer then went on to experiment with transparent cards, testing various inks, films and other materials. The company then introduced the first transparent card product in the U.S. in 2002 with its “Blue” card program. AmEx says the new patent gives it the right to prevent others from producing and marketing clear technology for both transparent and translucent card products that can be used in ATM or infrared-reading machines. AmEx says the transparent card technology is currently used for “Blue,” “Blue Cash,” and several other card products.

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Smart Chip Technologies Lands Broad Patent for a Loyalty System

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has approved Smart Chip Technologies patent for a card loyalty application. The patent for “Method and System for Allocating and Redeeming Incentive Credits between a Portable Device and a Base Device” is an expanded version of the patents owned in the USA, Mexico, Australia, and Japan. The Canadian patent is based upon SCTN’s U.S. patent with 36 claims for business processes and systems for allocating and redeeming incentive credits. The patents are key to SCTN’s end-to-end loyalty program management solution that is engineered for EMV, Global Platform, and MULTOS compliance for integration with credit and debit payments.

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U.S. Senate Passes S. 1753

The U.S. Senate yesterday overwhelmingly passed the “National Consumer Credit Reporting System Improvement Act” (S. 1753), which would permanently re-authorize the “Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The 95-2 Senate vote set up a permanent state preemption for FCRA. The preemption provision, set to expire January 1st, prevents state and local governments from enacting stronger protections for credit data. The bill passed the House of Representatives on September 10th with a 392-30 vote. The FCRA was first enacted in 1996. The bill will now go to a conference committee. President Bush has already indicated he will sign the legislation.

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Fifth Third to Distribute SLIM CD Processing Software

Fifth Third Bank Processing Solutions has signed a contract to distribute SLIM CD’s high-speed merchant credit card processing software. Transactions are processed through SLIM CD’s certified high-speed connection in 2-5 seconds, without requiring the merchants to have a leased line or dedicated Internet connection. The SLIM CD includes a desktop application, data on demand, built-in gateway services, fraud detection services, a choice of shopping carts and backup dial-in connection capability. SLIM CD, Inc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Online Commerce Corporation (OCC), a privately held E-Commerce service provider.

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