Online Gambling

Citibank’s recent decision to block online gambling transactions with its credit cards in the USA has been deemed “politically motivated” by the head of the largest online gambling firm. London-based Sportingbet.com Plc’s CEO says Citibank’s decision is linked to New York’s plans to build a new gambling center closer to home. Last month, Sportingbet Plc launched a major campaign in the USA to promote government regulation of the online gambling industry. The firm has nearly 400,000 customers in the USA and estimates it could generate US$11 million per year in new tax revenue if online gaming was legalized. Sportingbet.com says 30% of its American customers use credit cards to place bets on its Web site. To further its plans in the USA, the firm has taken out full page advertisements in The Washington Post and The Washington Times, hired D.C. lobbyist Greenberg Traurig, and, has scheduled meetings with various Congressmen. Under the agreement reached last week with the New York Attorney General, Citibank says it will block transactions that are identified by transaction code as casinos and Web sites as online gambling. Bank of America, Fleet, Direct Merchants Bank, MBNA, and Chase Manhattan Bank have already begun blocking such transactions. (CF Library 6/17/02)

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PRINTER RIBBON PATENT

The Japan Patent Office has granted a patent for Fargo’s Printer Ribbon Identification Sensor, which has been referred to as the pin core patent. Sensors in each Fargo printer detect specific configurations of small metal pins in the core of each dye-sublimation, resin, or over-laminate ribbon, preventing installation or usage of any incorrect ribbon. In addition to the U.S. and Japanese patents, the Printer Ribbon Identification Sensor is also covered by patents issued by the European Patent Office and the People’s Republic of China Patent and Trademark Office. To-date, Fargo has been granted 27 U.S. patents and has over 90 patent applications pending, related to specific card printer technology such as lamination, card flipping, ribbon technology, High Definition Printing, dual input hoppers, output stackers and inkjet card printing.

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CAC Biometrics

The Department of Defense is getting serious about adding biometric technology as an added layer of security for the DoD’s new “Common Access Card.” KPMG Consulting has been awarded a contract to test and evaluate biometric technology for the CAC smart card. Over 600,000 cards have been issued to date, with distribution expected to exceed four million in the next two years. Currently, a CAC is authenticated through a PIN. However, the DoD wants KPMG to review voiceprint, fingerprint, iris pattern, or facial contours as new layers of authentication. The Smart Card Solution Team includes: SAFLINK Corporation; SPYRUS; XTec Inc.; and, Precise Biometrics.

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Card Motivators

A prepaid gas card may be a bigger motivator to get consumers into automobile showrooms than such incentives as low-interest financing and cash-back deals. American Express Incentive Services says it found that 60% of car shoppers said a $50 gas card would most motivate them to take a new vehicle for a spin. Of those in the market for a new vehicle, the highest number, 45%, said that a two-years’ supply of gas would most motivate them to consider purchasing a vehicle. They favored gas over zero-percent financing, a $1,000 rebate, a trip worth $1,000 or a $1,000 gift card. American Express Incentive Services markets a “Fill It Up Card.” The card is available in pre-denominated amounts and can be customized with a logo. AEIS says its research found that more than 50% of current shoppers said a branded incentive Card would give them a more favorable opinion of an auto manufacturer. The AEIS survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

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TeleSpectrum Hires Pieper

PA-based TeleSpectrum has hired Bill Pieper, formerly SVP/GM for InteliData Technologies’ Card Solutions, as EVP of Sales. Prior to joining TeleSpectrum, Pieper was Senior Vice President of Sales and General Manager for InteliData Technologies’ Card Solutions strategic business unit in Omaha, Nebraska. Pieper also held the position of Senior Vice President of Sales for First Data Solutions. Before that, he held key positions at SITEL Corporation including Senior Vice President of Sales, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Business Development and was Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ITI Marketing Services.

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Reform Progress

There appears to be some glimmer of hope for a compromise over the language in the abortion amendment to the proposed bankruptcy reform legislation. This week, several key House and Senate bankruptcy conferees met privately, without their aides, to hash out some differences. The CongressDaily says Tuesday’s meeting was cordial and productive. The conferees apparently reached some agreements in principle over what types of clinic protest-related judgments should be dischargeable in bankruptcy and which should not. The meeting was attended by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

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BabyMint Cuts Teeth

Atlanta-based BabyMint, Inc. has added a matching scholarship program that gives its college savings credit card program a triple rebate feature. Last month, MBNA teamed with BabyMint to launch a new co-branded MasterCard which goes head-to-head with the Upromise MasterCard college savings program offered through Citibank. Both programs enable consumers to earn rebates from retailers towards tuition expenses of family members. Through a recently formed partnership with SAGE Scholars, BabyMint program participants will now receive a matching scholarship credit in addition to the merchant and credit card rebates they earn. The “Tuition Rewards” program matches or “doubles” the combined rebate earned through the credit card rebate and the merchant rebate. For example, a $100 transaction at PetSmart will produce a $7 merchant rebate, a $1 credit card rebate, and an $8 Tuition Reward. BabyMint’s network is made up of more than 700 retailers and 127,000 grocery stores. Merchant rebates run as high as 20%. BabyMint says it has filed for patent protection of the program. (CF Library 5/2/02)

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PERSONALIZED HOLOGRAMS

Caesaria-based SafeCard ID system 7 has introduced new technology enabling the creation of personalized holograms for ID cards and possibly payment cards. The hologram may contain the card bearer’s photograph which is embedded in the card and cannot be altered. The special process makes the card bearer’s face appear as a shiny face integrated within other holographic elements. SafeCard’s patented system can also be used as a platform for printed biometric data. The system can also handle smart cards. SafeCard can selectively metallize the card in any size and shape and in several colors. The company is currently moving its headquarters to Norfolk, VA from Caesaria, Israel.

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Fast Cheap Cards

MN-based Datacard Group has taken high volume card issuance for the loyalty and phone card market to a new level this week. The company has unveiled two new systems that offer magnetic stripe encoding and inkjet printing of bar codes, logos and alphanumeric characters on preprinted loyalty or phone cards at speeds of 10,000 cards per hour. The E6200 Card Personalization System is designed for loyalty card production while the E8200 is designed for telephone scratch-off cards. One configuration prints alphanumeric characters lengthwise on a card, while the other prints data in multiple print fields in any location on a card. Datacard says the E6200 can produce cards at a cost as low as $0.0033 per card while the E8200 can produce cards at $0.006 per card.

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SONY WEB-CONNECT

Hoofddorp-based GlobalCollect has inked a contract with Sony Online Entertainment to expand the online payment options available to gamers. WebCollect is an end-to-end, real time processing system for international payments that enables companies to give their customers a flexible suite of payment methods, currencies and languages. Sony multiplayer online gaming business is using a subscription-based revenue model for its successful EverQuest series, which has more than 430,000 subscribers. While most of the online transactions in the U.S. market are done by credit card, the rest of the world prefers local payment alternatives such as bank debits, checks and wire transfers. WebCollect combines all these payment methods into one interface, thus simplifying the payment and collecting process.

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