Bankruptcy Reform

In a week of high-wire drama, the bankruptcy reform legislation looked dead-in-water yesterday afternoon but may get a second chance after House Republican leaders this morning dropped a controversial provision, and quickly passed it. The revised bill, which deletes the abortion clinic provision, now goes to the Senate. Yesterday, the House rejected the rule on the conference report to H.R. 333 by a vote of 172-243. The margin was provided by more than 90 House Republicans and pro-life Democrats opposed to the abortion clinic amendment. Also yesterday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to members of Congress, expressing concern that the abortion clinic language attacks the rights of peaceful pro-life protesters. The group stated that “the language will be used to take away the savings, homes and other property of low- and middle-income peaceful protesters to pay fines and the attorneys’ fees of their opponents.” Republicans have insisted the Democrats are to blame for the roller coaster ride over the legislations since they introduced the controversial abortion-related provision into the bankruptcy reform bill.

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V/MC Documents

Even though a trial date is five months away, the court of public opinion was in full session yesterday as attorneys representing VISA, MasterCard, and retailers tried to put the best spin on the release of thousands of sealed documents in the VISA and MasterCard debit card antitrust litigation. The lawsuit, filed in October 1996, by Sears Roebuck, Safeway, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, The Limited, three trade associations — the National Retail Federation, the International Mass Retail Association and the Food Marketing Institute — and 13 other large and small retailers, charges VISA and MasterCard with attempting to monopolize the debit transaction market and forcing merchants to accept offline debit transactions. Lloyd Constantine of Constantine & Partners, lead counsel for the merchants, said yesterday that the only substantial dispute now is what relief the court is likely to ultimately award against VISA and MasterCard. Constantine is confident merchants will prevail in light of the key legal issues already been decided against VISA and MasterCard in another antitrust case, which was partially won by the U.S. Government in October of 2001. In that case, the U.S. received all documents, depositions and the analysis of VISA and MasterCard’s conduct compiled by the merchants in their case, which was filed two years before the U.S. case. Steve Berman of Hagens Berman, another attorney leading the retailer’s debit card lawsuit, said they intend to prove that VISA and MasterCard conspired to create confusion among consumers about the difference between credit cards and debit cards, all intended to drive business through their “jack-legged system.” The documents were released in United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York. A trial is set for April 2003 before Judge John Gleeson.

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CALYPSO EUROPE

Transaction Network Services and Triton have teamed to form Calypso
EUROPE, a new Triton division that will enable ISOs to arrange an
end-to-end ATM management solution through just one point of contact.
Calypso and TNS have selected the Postilion software by Mosaic for their
EFT platform. Calypso was first created in 1999 as Canada’s first ATM
processor to deliver an ATM management and processing solution specifically
engineered for the Triton family of ATMs. Calypso EUROPE will offer a
turnkey package which incorporates processing, authorization, back-office
operations and settlement for many terminal types, including traditional
leased-line ATMs and dial-up off-premise ATMs.

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PaySpot

KS-based Euronet Worldwide is launching its prepaid recharge services program in the USA, following a successful deployment in nine European countries. “PaySpot” enables consumers to purchase wireless airtime and long distance calling plans from ATM and POS devices. Euronet is launching the “PaySpot” program in conjunction with Concord EFS, which drives 95,300 ATMs. Concord will offer the PaySpot service through Core Data Resources, its retail ATM processing subsidiary. PaySpot services will be supported by four ATM manufacturers with a combined installed base of over 75,000 ATMs in the USA. When fully implemented, PaySpot will allow consumers to go to ATMs or the checkout counter at PaySpot locations in convenience stores and other sites across the U.S. to recharge prepaid wireless accounts from all major and most regional wireless carries, including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile Wireless, Cingular, Tracfone and ALLTEL. Additionally, consumers can select from four domestic U.S., three U.S.-to-Mexico and three international prepaid long distance calling plans. The “PaySpot” program enables debit/credit card-based transactions at the ATM and cash-based purchases using a POS terminal. Approximately 15 million U.S. wireless subscribers hold prepaid accounts.

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SECURE PCS

NEC Computers International, Europe’s fifth largest manufacturer
of personal computers, and Wave Systems have launched the world’s first
trusted home PC solution. The trusted home PC is being marketed under NEC
CI’s “Packard Bell” consumer brand in Belgium, France and The Netherlands.
The launch encompasses ten thousand Packard Bell Secure PCs, each equipped
with a next-generation Wave Systems “TrustEdge” smart card reader with an
embedded “EMBASSY 2100” secure e-commerce chip. Using the Packard Bell
Secure PC, consumers are able to store credit and debit card numbers,
personal identification numbers, passwords and other data securely within
Wave’s chip in the smart card reader. A smart card and PIN number restrict
access to only authorized PC users.

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AuthentIC Bio-ID

Oberthur Card Systems and id3 Semiconductors have announced the launch of “AuthentIC Bio-ID,” the first authentication solution to combine all available high-security technologies: smart cards, biometrics and PKI. AuthentIC Bio-ID is a comprehensive solution comprising a multi-application Java card with a crypto-processor that is loaded with the AuthentIC Bio-ID applet; a smart card reader equipped to read fingerprints; and software that allows the reader to be connected to a PC or any other type of terminal.

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SFR TRANSACTIONS

SFR, the second largest mobile operator in France, has signed an agreement
with Baltimore Technologies and Atos Origin to provide the security
technology behind a new national mobile commerce service.
The service enables SFR’s mobile subscribers to digitally sign transactions
over their mobile phones. The project is one of the first pilots in France
that enables subscribers to digitally sign mobile transactions and
simultaneously authorize secure credit card payments. Baltimore was
selected by SFR as part of a consortium of partners led by Atos Origin, who
will integrate the pilot, provide the gateway and host the platform. The
consortium also includes Gemplus, who will provide the SIM cards and OTA
servers. The pilot programme was launched last week in Paris and will run
over 4 months. Initial mobile commerce applications will include remote
payments, credit top-up, authentication to loyalty programmes and premium
content.

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MC I-Coupons

Mastercard has inked a contract with MI-based Entertainment Publications to provide MasterCard cardholders the ability to save up to 50% at local merchants through a customized, Internet-based printable coupon program. Entertainment Publications says it is considered the pioneer of the “2-for-1” discount and is best known for its flagship product, the “Entertainment” book. Using its database of best-in-class offers from more than 100,000 merchant locations in 161 North American markets, Entertainment develops customized discount programs for hundreds of well-known corporations who wish to use discounts in their customer acquisition, retention and loyalty efforts. The specific program that MasterCard will offer is called “Entertainment Local Connections.” Entertainment Publications serves more than 160 major markets and does business with more than 70,000 local merchants and national corporations representing more than 275,000 North American locations.

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