IT Budgets

Nearly forty-five percent of retail IT budgets will increase in 2002 thanks to consumer interest in payment technologies. A Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Retail IT Research report found that consumers are generally interested in technology applications that provide greater convenience, speed, and cost savings. For example, nearly 80% of consumers used, plan to use, or would use an automated payment facility at gas pumps. Consumers also use automated teller machines (75%) and debit/credit self-operated keypad machines at checkout (66%). Technology that is least likely to be used by consumers includes Internet access in stores (25%), automated meal planners/budgeters (12%) and promotions/specials that can automatically be sent to wireless devices (11%). Approximately 80% of survey respondents indicated that their current IT objectives are largely geared toward reducing costs.

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SMART LABELS

Rudolstadt-based ExypnoTech GmbH has signed a deal to supply smart labels to Munich-based Schreiner LogiData GmbH. Schreiner and NanoPierce, the parent of ExypnoTech GmbH, have been collaborating since November 2000 to evaluate and test NanoPierce’s Connection System technology for the production of smart labels. RFID labels are increasingly being used in a wide range of applications, such as express mail services, baggage tracking, article monitoring, product authentication, inventory management and library administration. They are viewed as the next generation of technology to replace barcode labels.

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VISA ATM Locator

VISA and InfoNow have teamed to offer VISA member banks the option to add a co-branded referral and locator service to their Web sites that will supply multi-lingual data and information on VISA’s 400,000 ATM locations in 130 countries worldwide. Using InfoNow’s technology, Visa member banks can follow a simple wizard to build their own locator within minutes. Click-down menus within the wizard allow the member bank to choose specific fonts and colors to create a customized look and feel. Users are then able to browse their bank’s Web site or the Visa site to find ATMs or locations where they can use their credit or debit card.

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AEROPLAN PARTNERS

Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flyer program has added two partners. By the end of this year, Aeroplan members will be able to accumulate up to one Aeroplan Mile for every one dollar of purchases made at hardware retail outlets operating under Sodisco-Howden national banner PRO or under the Do-it, Ferplus and Bâtitout banners, as well as up to 10,000 Aeroplan Miles on purchases of residential VOXCOM security systems. More than six million members earn Aeroplan Miles toward reward travel to destinations served by Air Canada, its regional airline, Air Canada Jazz, and worldwide partner airlines comprising the Star Alliance network.

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Elite 640

Ingenico yesterday introduced a customer-activated payment terminal with integrated EMV approved smart card reader, for use by U.S. major multi-lane retailers. The Elite 640 supports credit, check cards, debit cards, EBT, loyalty, gift cards, phone cards and smart card-based transactions. Available with the integrated EMV approved smart card reader is an optional four SAM slots. The Elite 640 exceeds INTERAC and VISA SPED specifications for transaction security. The Elite 640 features a simple keypad, large LCD display, a backlit LCD display, and 4 screen addressable keys.

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Oberthur 32K Card Certified

Oberthur has received FIPS 140-1 Certification for its CosmopolIC 32K smart card. The award means that Oberthur Card Systems is compliant with the stringent Common Access Card specifications issued by the Department of Defense, an existing customer. This certification is the minimal required level of security for all DoD and other government applications involving smart cards used for authentication and identification.

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Citi Card VAN

Citibank will officially launch a free, Virtual Account Number service today for its 100 million North American cardholders. Using Orbiscom’s Control Payment Number technology, a random, substitute account number is generated for each online purchase. To participate, cardholders download the Virtual Account Numbers payment software after registering at Citibank’s Web site, and assigning themselves a user name and password. When making a purchase, the customer enters that user name and password for authentication and with one click a random substitute credit card number is generated and transferred into the retailer’s checkout form. Orbiscom’s Controlled Payment Platform also supports Verified by VISA and MasterCard’s SPA services, as well as emerging authentication protocols such as smart cards and biometrics.

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BuyCell

MA-based Cerylion has launched BuyCell, a new, mobile payment service that integrates POS devices and the e-Wallet services of major cellular carriers, enabling restaurant and hotel patrons to make payments using their mobile phone or other handheld device without divulging credit card information. Cerylion’s technology provides each individual user with a secure mobile Webspace where he or she can store and create links to personal information, such as contact lists, calendars, loyalty programs, and credit card information. When a user opts to pay using BuyCell, the point-of-sale device communicates to the credit card portion of the user’s Webspace and then sends an SMS to the user’s mobile phone, enabling the user to view a record of the transaction and approve it. Any credit card information in a user’s Webspace is stored securely behind a firewall, not on the device or the phone.

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Traveler Assistance

American Express has launched a new, free benefit for Travelers Cheque customers. When necessary, AmEx representatives will assist cheque customers with passport and credit card replacement, even for credit cards issued from other financial institutions. The new service is now available to all AmEx Travelers Cheque purchasers and does not require pre-registration. Travelers Cheques are available in a wide range of foreign currencies, including the EURO. AmEx also offers a Cheques for Two product that two people can use, but only one of them has to be present to purchase or cash them.

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Smart Card Costs

VISA has again muscled the price of multi-application smart cards down by an average of 10% to as low as $2.60 each. Last year, a 32K GlobalPlatform PKI 96K ROM smart card was going for $4.83. Under the new preferred pricing for VISA members, the price falls to $4.08. Five years ago, the price of a smart card hovered at $8 a piece. In September 2000, VISA announced the availability of the first $3.00 Open Platform smart cards. Two new multi-application smart cards have also been added to the program bringing the total number of cards to nine. The cards range from simple, single application payment cards with a choice of security options to suit different market conditions to sophisticated Java-based GlobalPlatform cards that can carry several other applications, such as loyalty, transit, identification, and site access. Prices for entry-level, single application cards start at less than US$1, less than one fifth of the price five years ago. Card manufacturers participating in the Visa program include Comcard, CPI Card Group, Dai Nippon, Gemplus, Giesecke & Devrient, Incard, KBC Corporation, KYODO Printing, Oberthur Card Systems, ORGA, Rosan Finance, SchlumbergerSema, Setec Oy, SHOEI Printing, Taiwan Name Plate, and Toppan Printing. More than 14 million VISA low cost smart cards have been issued. (CF Library 9/12/00)

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NFCC CEO

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has named Charles Brown, former head of consumer banking and credit at JC Penney, as President and CEO. Charles Brown was an active member of NFCC’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 1999, and has an extensive career in financial services management. His tenure of more than 34 years at JC Penney concluded with his last appointment as Corporate Vice President/Director of Credit and Consumer Banking. While serving in this position, he was responsible for leading a $5 billion retail credit portfolio, annual credit sales of more than $13 billion, and 2,800 employees. He also led service to 25 million cardholders from eight national call centers and two processing centers.

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Wells to EPN

Wells Fargo has begun moving volume over to the Electronic Payments Network private sector electronic payments system. The ongoing conversion by EPN member banks from the Federal Reserve to EPN’s ACH system fueled a 110 percent increase in transaction volume since June of last year. Even before Wells Fargo initiated transactions this week, EPN hit a record volume of more than 167 million transactions in May. EPN expects to process more than 1.8 billion transactions in calendar year 2002, up from 1.02 billion transactions in 2001.

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