ECHO Interchange Module

Electronic Clearing House, Inc. announced the release of a freeware payment module for the Interchange open-source e-commerce shopping cart. The new feature allows users of Interchange to process real-time payments using credit cards and electronic checks through ECHO’s online payment gateway. “Increasingly merchants are using open-source web infrastructure services to manage their online businesses,” said Rusty Russell, ECHO’s Internet Marketing Director. “ECHO has been developing e-commerce payment solutions for the Linux open-source community since 2001 and our services are designed to enable merchants to operate as cost-efficiently as possible. Our latest release of real-time credit card and check processing software presents a low-cost, yet comprehensive, online payment processing alternative for merchants using the Interchange application.”

The new Interchange module integrates seamlessly with ECHO’s platform of payment processing services. In addition to the credit card and electronic check payment services supported by ECHO, the new software includes real-time address verification, security code capture, check verification and electronic check processing through the Automated Clearing House (ACH). Russell continued, “Similar applications can cost from $199 to $699 and tie the merchant to a third-party platform with monthly gateway access fees. By offering free software modules and a low $99 set-up fee for online processing, the cost advantage and simplicity of processing with ECHO is clear.”

Interchange is an open-source alternative to commercial commerce servers, which uses publicly available computer language that can be readily downloaded and either used as is or customized by web developers. To explore ECHO’s open-source solutions for e-commerce websites, interested parties should visit www.openecho.com and to deploy the ECHO freeware payment module for Interchange users, interested parties should visit [www.icdevgroup.org][1] for a free download from the Interchange development area.

About ECHO:

Electronic Clearing House Inc. provides a complete solution to the payment processing needs of merchants, banks and collection agencies. ECHO’s services include debit and credit card processing, check guarantee, check verification, check conversion, check re-presentment, check collection, and inventory tracking.

[1]: http://www.icdevgroup.org

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LaserCard Order

Drexler Technology Corporation received a $7.4 million U.S. government order for its LaserCard multi-biometric ID cards, through Information Spectrum, Inc. ([www.informationspectrum.com][1]), a government prime contractor headquartered in Annandale, Virginia.

The new $7.4 million order is part of a five-year, U.S. government procurement subcontract authorizing up to $81 million for optical memory cards used for U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) “Green Card” Permanent Resident Cards and U.S. Department of State (DOS) “Laser Visa” Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). Under the U.S. government subcontract, awarded to the Company in June 2000 for up to 24 million LaserCard(R) optical memory cards, approximately 11,320,000 cards have been ordered thus far under seven purchase orders, including the latest order.

The $7.4 million LaserCard order calls for deliveries beginning next month at a rate slightly above $1 million per month for seven months.

U.S. Department of State Laser Visa cards are used by more than five million frequent visitors from Mexico for crossing the border, allowing travel up to 25 miles into the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas for 72-hour visits for shopping and other consumer activities. According to a May 17, 2002 news release by the INS, with the enactment of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, the Laser Visa Border Crossing Cards are also referred to as the “new biometric BCC, Form DST-150” and as the “new biometric, machine-readable cards.” The INS news release is headlined, “More Than Five Million New Biometric BCCs Have Been Issued.”

Headquartered in Mountain View, Drexler Technology Corporation ([www.lasercard.com][2]) develops and manufactures optical data storage products and systems, including LaserCard(R) optical memory cards and chip-ready Smart/Optical(TM) cards (a combination of optical memory card and smart card). Drexler’s wholly owned subsidiary, LaserCard Systems Corporation, makes optical card read/write drives, develops optical card system software, and markets card-related data systems and peripherals. The Company is a supplier of optical memory cards for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, Government of Canada, Government of Italy, and a state government of India. The LaserCard optical memory card is capable of recording and storing up to 2,800 kilobytes (2.8 megabytes) of digital data.

[1]: http://www.informationspectrum.com
[2]: http://www.lasercard.com

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RS2 BANKWORKS

Moscow Industrial Bank has signed a contract to implement the “BankWORKS”
card management and electronic transaction processing system. While RS2 has
provided service and software support to financial organizations in Russia
and other east European countries since 1995, this agreement along with the
opening a regional office in Moscow recognizes the expansion of new
products and services related to plastic. RS2 says the contract resulted
from broad based negotiations and mutually managed workshops. The
“BankWORKS’ solution is a business driven end-to-end solution for payment
systems, supporting all aspects of online authorization and message
switching, merchant acquiring, card issuing, domestic and international
clearing, including full multi-currency facilities for cross border activities.

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Rapid Rewards Extended

Bank One/First USA has renewed its co-branding contract with Southwest Airlines. The “Rapid Rewards VISA” was launched in 1996. The program is unique since it offers flight credits instead of air miles. Cardholders earn a free round-trip flight for sixteen credits. Two credits are earned for each round-trip fight. VISA cardholders may also earn one credit for each $1,200 in purchase volume. Southwest is currently offering double credits for those purchasing their travel online at Southwest’s Web site by April 4. New VISA cardholders also receive four bonus credits upon with their first purchase. Available as a “Classic VISA” or “Platinum VISA”, the card carries an annual fee of $39 for “Classic” and $59 for “Platinum.” Inside Flyer magazine recently recognized Southwest’s 15-year-old “Rapid Rewards” program as “Program of the Year.” (CF Library 9/26/96)

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Trilegiant CEO

Trilegiant Corporation, f/k/a Cendant Membership Services and Cendant Incentives, has promoted Nathaniel Lipman to President/CEO. He joined the individual membership division of Cendant in June 1999 as senior vice president, Business Development and Strategic Planning. From 1996 until June 1999 he served as senior executive vice president, Corporate Development and Strategic Planning, for Planet Hollywood International, Inc. Earlier, Mr. Lipman was senior vice president and general counsel of House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. Mr. Lipman was also senior corporate counsel for The Walt Disney Company and started his career as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Mr. Lipman graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1989 and earned his BA from UC Berkeley in 1986.

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JCB EMV CARDS

JCB International has begun issuing EMV smart cards in Taiwan which
feature a contact chip with the “J/Smart” credit payment application and a
contactless “Mifare” chip to offer an access control function. Taipei Bank,
which is one of 30 JCB card issuers in Taiwan, has begun issuing the smart
cards to about 3,000 employees of First International Computers. The
National Credit Card Center in Taiwan is providing support for the smart
cards issuing program. The “FIC Employee Smart Cards” provide five
functions: credit payment, office building access control, office car park
access control, payment at the company cafeteria and employee
identification. In the past five years in Taiwan, the number of JCB
cardmembers has grown ten-fold to 1.2 million and the number of merchants
has doubled to 140,000. Five NCCC member banks began issuing JCB cards in
1994, and 25 other banks have followed.

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Rate Inaction

By a vote of 10-2, the Federal Open Market Committee decided Tuesday to keep its target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1.75%. The Committee says aggregate demand is growing at a moderate pace. Over time, the current accommodative stance of monetary policy, coupled with still robust underlying growth in productivity, should be sufficient to foster an improving business climate. However, considerable uncertainty persists about the extent and timing of the expected pickup in production and employment owing in part to the emergence of heightened geopolitical risks. Consequently, the Committee believes that, for the foreseeable future, against the background of its long-run goals of price stability and sustainable economic growth and of the information currently available, the risks are weighted mainly toward conditions that may generate economic weakness. Govenor Edward Gramlich and Govenor Robert McTeer preferred a reduction in the target for the federal funds rate.

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VISA Gift Card

Just ahead of the 2002 holiday season, VISA U.S.A. this morning announced it has expanded its suite of prepaid products to include the “VISA Gift” card. The new card includes four primary product applications targeting consumers, employers, and corporate clients. According to VISA, prepaid products are designed to serve a large market opportunity comprised of mostly cash and check transactions estimated to be more than $2 trillion. VISA estimates the overall market for gift cards to be nearly $300 billion, which corresponds to approximately $174 billion for consumer gift cards and another $124 billion for commercial applications. The four distinct product applications within the “VISA Gift” card category include consumer load for consumer gift-giving; commercial/corporate load for employee bonus/incentive; commercial/corporate load for consumer rebate; and, commercial/corporate load for promotional participants such as special events, sponsorships, contests, grand openings or other promotions. The card can be issued on a personalized or non-personalized basis. It can also be disposable or reloadable. VISA says some members have begun issuance of “VISA Gift”. VISA’s prepaid products include “VISA Buxx” and “VISA Payroll.”

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SEARS CLUB PERK

Sears Canada and Coldwell Banker Canada have joined to offer more than 9.1
million “Sears Club” members benefits when buying or selling a home through
Coldwell Banker. When a Sears card member registers with the program and
then buys or sells residential real estate through Coldwell Banker, Sears
will reward the “Sears Club” member with points for each transaction
registered. Eligible transactions will earn 1,000 “Sears Club Points” for
every $10,000 in real estate value. Another key aspect of the marketing
alliance is the participation of “Sears HomeCentral” in Coldwell Banker
“Concierge”, a value-added program
of home-related services. Coldwell Banker “Concierge” offers one-stop
shopping for all a homeowner’s needs. Sears “HomeCentral” will be the
exclusive home repair and improvement provider.

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