Stockback MasterCard

Chase officially launched its Stockback MasterCard yesterday and reported there are now more than 85 retail merchants involved in the program. CardFlash and CardTrak first reported on the program in mid-December. The Stockback MasterCard from Chase is unique as it enables cardholders to earn cash rewards that can be automatically invested in a mutual fund with Merrill Lynch. Cardholders earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and up to an additional 10% cash back on purchases made at participating Stockback merchants. Cardholders can keep their rewards as cash, or they can have them automatically invested in a mutual fund. Cardholders can withdraw funds at any time and there is no limit on the amount of rewards a cardholder can accumulate by using the card. Participating merchants include Sunoco, Linens ‘n Things, Radio Shack, Hertz, Dell, CVS, Barnes & Noble, L.L. Bean, US Airways, Hallmark.com and The Sharper Image. Stockback was launched in June 2000 with $33 million. Merchants pay Stockback a flat rate or percentage fee. Stockback’s investors include RRE Ventures, TH Lee Putnam Internet Partners, NeoCarta Ventures, and Ernst & Young. The new card carries no annual fee and an introductory rate of 2.99% on purchases and cash advances, according to Cardwatch (www.cardwatch.com). Afterwards, interest rates for relationship cardholders range from 9.24% to 13.24% depending on the balance. APRs for non-relationship cardholders range from 10.24% to 14.24%. (CF Library 12/12/01)

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VOICE AUTHENTICATION

SchlumbergerSema, a business
unit of Schlumberger Limited, and Domain Dynamics Limited, the UK voice and
signal specialist, announced a security breakthrough for mobile phones
which safeguards access to handsets by means of voice authentication.
This new system runs on a SIM (subscriber identity module) card and
requires no
additional hardware, making it cost-effective and simple to introduce.

The technology ensures that only legitimate users can access a phone by
using a
locking mechanism, which operates in the familiar fashion of a PIN code.
Authentication simply requires the user to speak a phrase or word as the phone
is switched on, which is compared in real-time with a reference voiceprint
stored inside the tamper-proof SIM card’s memory.

Voice authentication is the most natural method of introducing state-of-the-art
security into the mobile phone marketplace,” said Jorgen Rasmussen, president,
Cards at SchlumbergerSema. “By basing the solution on the standardized SIM
platform, it becomes cost-effective and simple, providing a highly flexible
mechanism for operators to address the widespread public concern over privacy
and security.”

The new system has been developed through a partnership between
SchlumbergerSema, which provides the SIM ToolKit applet, Domain Dynamics Ltd,
which provides the voice authentication algorithm, and Mitsubishi Electric
Telecom, which has implemented the technology on the Trium Mondo GSM/GPRS PDA
phone.

The system is provided as a SIM ToolKit applet, which may be loaded onto any
standard Java Card(TM) SIM. Leveraging the unique nature of the signal
processing algorithm designed by Domain Dynamics Ltd, and the lean nature of
the man-machine interface program, the applet is extremely small — requiring
just 2.5 Kbytes of memory in total.

SchlumbergerSema (www.slb.com) is a leading information
technology services
company providing consulting, systems integration, managed services, and
products to the telecommunications, energy and utilities, finance, transport,
and public sector markets.

Domain Dynamics Ltd (www.ddl.co.uk) the voice and
signal
specialist provides
powerful, compact, and cost-efficient solutions for word recognition, voice
authentication biometrics, signal processing, and machinery condition
monitoring and is focusing primarily on solutions to applications in noisy or
restricted environments.

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ABNH 4Q/01

American Bank Note Holographics returned to sales growth and profitability during 2001, reporting net income of $600,000 compared to a net loss of $1.9 million 2000. Total revenue hit $20.5 million last year, a 5.2% increase over 2000. ABNH says the increase in revenue was primarily due to an increase in the sales of security holograms for credit cards. The Company remains optimistic as it believes the investments made in developing better solutions to protect the authenticity of credit cards, bank notes, ID cards, and pharmaceuticals, will be rewarded as governments and corporations are increasingly recognizing the need to improve the security of the documents and products they produce. For complete details on ABNH’s 4Q/01 performance visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

[1]: http://www.carddata.com

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Datastrip

PA-based Datastrip now offers a high-density two-dimensional bar code technology called “2D Superscript” that not only prevents use by impostors but also allows for easy integration of biometrics, photographs, and text in a single magnetic stripe-sized bar code that holds twice the data of other systems in one-third the space. The “2D Superscript” bar code symbology can be used to embed one or more forms of identification in passports, national ID cards, voter cards, driver’s licenses, access control badges, school ID cards, and other identity documents. It can also store exceptionally large volumes of information on medical insurance cards, bank cards, credit and debit cards, loyalty program cards, and other smart cards. Identity verification is performed either online or offline with Datastrip’s DS Verify 2D, the first handheld bar code/smart card reader capable of decoding text, fingerprints and photographs with one swipe. The Republic of Yemen is using Datastrip’s technology for a project to combine photographs and fingerprints on more than 5 million national ID cards. Diamond Bank in Nigeria is using the system on customer ID cards that enable tellers at all 23 bank branches to verify customers’ identity simply by inserting cards into a small desktop reader.

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Lockbox Checks

New NACHA rules authorizing “Accounts Receivable Check Conversion” go into effect this Friday. The rules will give financial institutions the ability to significantly reduce processing costs by transforming paper checks into electronic debits at lockbox locations. The Western Payments Alliance says an ACH debit can be processed for as little as 25 cents to 35 cents per item, compared to $1.00 to $1.50 per check received at lockbox locations. Checks sent to lockbox locations account for almost one quarter of the approximately 50 billion checks written annually by U.S. consumers. The new rules allow financial institutions to provide electronic descriptions of paper checks and eliminate the requirement of returning original checks to consumers. Customers whose banks implement Accounts Receivable Check technology will also have more information about each check on their bank statement, including to whom the check was written. Under the new NACHA operating rules, companies can create electronic payments at the lockbox location, transmit them through the ACH network, and then dispose of the paper check. As a result, financial institutions have the opportunity to send a description of the payment, instead of the original draft.

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Net2Phone Card Enhanced

Net2Phone, Inc., a leading provider of Voice over IP (VoIP) services, announced a significant enhancement to its rechargeable calling card service by providing originating access in 25 countries outside of the United States. Net2Phone’s easy-to-use calling card service now lets callers utilize their Net2Phone Direct accounts while traveling abroad by conveniently accessing a single universal origination number, regardless of the country the user is calling from. By dialing 800-TRAVEL-25 (800-8728-3525) outside of the United States, users can connect to Net2Phone’s managed IP network and make international phone calls at reduced rates.

Net2Phone will offer its universal access service in the following 25 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

“The expansion of Net2Phone Direct greatly extends our international presence and further enhances access to our IP network for consumers and business users alike,” said David Span, Senior Vice President of Net2Phone. “Travelers can now avoid painfully high direct dial hotel rates and keep in touch while abroad for a lot less, while businesses can realize sizeable savings on their international phone bills by routing their calls over Net2Phone’s VoIP network.”

“The rollout of 800-TRAVEL-25 clearly demonstrates our commitment to intelligently growing our core businesses, particularly internationally,” said Stephen Greenberg, CEO of Net2Phone. More information on the Net2Phone’s international phone-to-phone service is available at .

About Net2Phone

Founded in 1995, Net2Phone is a leading provider of voice services over IP networks to consumers, businesses and carriers worldwide. With millions of users around the world, Net2Phone enables toll-quality calls between computers, telephones, and broadband devices utilizing IP networks. Recognized as the first company to bridge the Internet with the public switched telephone network, Net2Phone has routed billions of minutes of traffic over its award-winning network. Traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol NTOP, Net2Phone’s strategic partners and investors include Liberty Media, AT&T, America Online, and IDT. For more information about Net2Phone’s products and services, please visit .

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Coinstar Exec Retires

Coinstar Inc. announced two executive promotions along with the retirement of Carol Lewis, its chief administrative officer and corporate secretary.

Don Rench, who has served as Coinstar’s corporate counsel for two years, will assume the additional role of corporate secretary while Sara White, who has served as Coinstar’s director of training for five years has been named vice president of organizational development and human resources.

Mr. Rench and Ms. White will assume responsibilities currently performed by Ms. Lewis, who is retiring after more than five years at Coinstar.

“My time at Coinstar has been among the most rewarding experiences of my professional career,” said Lewis. “However, after five and a half wonderful years at Coinstar, I have decided the time is right for me to take a break and spend more time with my family.”

“Over the past five years, Carol has made a tremendous contribution to Coinstar in many capacities, including her role managing human resources, legal, and training, and as corporate secretary,” said Dave Cole, chief executive officer of Coinstar. “Moreover, she has been an invaluable part of the senior management team and a constant source of sound business judgement and leadership during her tenure with the company.”

About Coinstar Inc.

Coinstar Inc. owns and operates the only nationwide network of supermarket-based machines that offer coin counting and other electronic services. The company has more than 9,500 machines, linked by a sophisticated interactive network, throughout North America, as well as in the United Kingdom.

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CARDHOLDER LAWSUIT

A class action lawsuit against some of
Canada’s largest banks was filed in the Supreme Court of British
Columbia. According to the Statement of Claim, the Royal Bank of Canada, the
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the Bank of Montreal have been
overcharging their credit card customers by back-dating the interest on
purchases.

The suit was filed by Cheryl Dahl of Mission, B.C. and Donna Lewis of
Vancouver. According to their lawyer, David Rosenberg, “If you don’t pay your
credit card bill on time, interest is charged from the time of each purchase
even though the bank doesn’t pay the merchant until many days later. The
effect is that the bank is receiving interest on money it hasn’t lent, and is
misrepresenting the interest rate.” According to Mr. Rosenberg, this practice
violates the Consumer Protection Act, the Trade Practices Act, and the
Interest Act.

The action is brought on behalf of all persons who have incurred interest
in the use of credit cards and seeks reimbursement for the interest that the
banks have collected. If successful, the suit could force the banks to repay
millions of dollars to their credit card customers.

David Rosenberg is a Vancouver lawyer who, in 1998, chaired the British
Columbia government’s task force on bank mergers.

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USTT Vending Deal

MEI, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of payment systems and vending solutions, has signed an agreement with USA Technologies, a top provider of cashless payment systems for the vending industry, to market credit card payment systems with associated financial services. The credit card payment system is expected to be available as part of the MEI global portfolio of vending industry offerings by fourth quarter 2002.

As part of the agreement, the new payment credit card solution will be integrated with MEI EASITRAX vending management solutions. MEI EASITRAX vending management solutions is a comprehensive suite of software and hardware products, enabling operators to capture transaction data from their vending machines and transfer it to their office computer system for analysis and planning. The deal combines the best-in-class wide area network communications solution of MEI EASITRAX vending management solutions with USA Technologies’ highly regarded credit card payment solution.

“This capability is another step in MEI’s commitment to offer the operator integrated solutions to drive greater profitability,” said Jeff Jordon, vice president of Sales, MEI. “Credit cards are a fast-growing alternative payment method of consumers and we want to prepare our vending clients to best meet these changing market needs with reliable and proven solutions.”

“This is a tremendous acknowledgment from one of the world’s pre-eminent manufacturers and suppliers of note acceptors and coin changers that the cashless marketplace has arrived,” said Michael K. Lawlor, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, USA Technologies. “Our credit card solution and turnkey financial services allow MEI to meet the growing demand from soft drink bottlers and vending operators for a vending credit card payment solution.”

The vending industry has seen a significant growth in cashless transactions over the past two years, with announcements from major beverage and consumer product companies and vending machine manufacturers, which are incorporating credit card payment systems as a necessary consumer payment option. A recent CBS Market Watch report announced that bottling companies plan to add credit card payment systems to their vast network of vending machines.

The agreement between MEI and USA Technologies is expected to favorably impact the vending industry by giving consumers more purchasing options, while making operators more profitable. The added consumer convenience of making a vending purchase with the swipe of a credit card has been shown to increase vending machine sales revenue by 15-20 percent, according to USA Technologies. By combining this proven credit card solution with the operational route efficiencies gained by the MEI EASITRAX vending management hardware and software capabilities, vending operators, and soft drink bottlers can rapidly drive greater profits.

MEI is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic bill acceptors, coin mechanisms, and other electronic payment systems for the vending industry. The company developed the world’s first electronic coin validator in the late 1960s and introduced the electronic bill acceptor several years later. MEI has the world’s largest installed base of electronic coin mechanisms. Its products are in widespread use in the vending, coin telephone, gaming, retail, amusement, lottery and transportation industries. For more information on MEI and its products, visit [http://www.meiglobal.com][1], [http://www.meieasitrax.com][2] or call 1-800-345-8215.

[1]: http://www.meiglobal.com/
[2]: http://www.meieasitrax.com/

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PayStar Gets Choice

PayStar Corporation, the nation’s leader in providing content based Internet Kiosks, Cashless ATM devices, Prepaid Wireless Banking Services and Telecom Services, announced the signing of a strategic alliance agreement with Choice Hotels International, naming PayStar as the endorsed provider of Public Internet Access Terminals via PayStar’s InfoStation Network (ISN) to more than 3,200 Choice brand hotels throughout the United States. Choice franchise brands included in the agreement are Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion, Quality, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, and MainStay Suites. “PayStar is proud to partner with Choice and looks forward to serving the franchise owners and their guests by providing the most proficient interactive experience in the industry,” stated Carla Buckner, V.P. Sales and Marketing, PayStar InfoStation Division. “PayStar’s Internet Kiosk and its content is an important communication tool for both the business and leisure traveler. Choice franchisees will benefit by receiving a percentage of the revenue generated at the ITM.”

PayStar and Choice will undertake cooperative efforts for marketing and placement of PayStar’s Internet Transaction Machines (ITM). Once a Choice franchisee signs on for the program, a PayStar ITM will be placed in the public space of the hotel. The ITM will allow guests a fee-based interactive experience ($0.25 per minute), and immediate access to an array of products and services via the Internet. The ITM allows guests the opportunity to check email, send flowers to a loved one, browse the Internet, get the latest news, check stock quotes, book travel, access driving directions, send electronic post-cards, and play games. PayStar’s Cyber Concierge will supply guests with complimentary information and discounts on local dining and entertainment. Guests can use the ITM to sign up for special programs such as Choice Privileges, Choice’s frequent guest program, and make reservations for their next stay through Choicehotels.com.

“PayStar’s Internet kiosks will make an excellent amenity for our guests and bring added value to the Choice brands,” said Daniel Rothfeld, senior vice president, partner services and emerging businesses group for Choice. “We are pleased to partner with Choice as part of PayStar’s vertical market expansion strategy into the hospitality industry,” stated W.D. Yotty, PayStar’s Chairman and CEO.

About Choice

Choice Hotels International (NYSE:CHH) franchises more than 5,000 hotels open and development in 43 countries under the Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Clarion, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn and MainStay Suites brand names. For more information on Choice, visit the company’s Internet site at [www.choicehotels.com][1].

About PayStar

PayStar Corporation, a premier global distributor of telephony and financial services, provides its customers with an array of enabling devices. PayStar is comprised of three fully integrated divisions: Commercial Telephony Switch Services, Consumer Internet and Telephony Products including prepaid cards, and Consumer Services providing service and maintenance of Cashless Teller Machines (CTMs) and Internet enabled kiosks. PayStar is the location services provider (LSP) to retail merchants and is considered a “carriers carrier” for wholesale telecom services worldwide. Success is driven by internal sales as well as mergers and acquisitions. PayStar’s global strategy centers on expanding its network of thousands of locations that utilize state-of-the-art enabling devices.

[1]: http://www.choicehotels.com/

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ID CERT PLATFORM

Baltimore Technologies announced that Peruvian-based ID CERT S.A. has selected
Baltimore
security technology to form the platform behind a managed service offering to
businesses, government agencies,and financial institutions in Peru and the
Andean Pacific region of South America, including Venezuela, Colombia,
Ecuador,
Bolivia, and Chile.

Public key infrastructure technology forms the security platform for ID CERT’s
managed service offering, including digital certificate issuance, the ability
to digitally sign legal documents and Online Certificate Service Protocol
(OCSP) for real-time transaction validation. Baltimore’s technology provides
the confidentiality, authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation functions
necessary for conducting secure e-business.

“Initiatives are underway throughout the Andean Pacific region that require
superior security technology,” said Augusto Isla, CEO at ID CERT S.A. “Our
offering is designed to provide the cost-effective and flexible security
services necessary for these initiatives to succeed. With Baltimore as the
foundation, we have the technology to do that. In fact, we are currently
working on two key government initiatives and major corporate clientele that
clearly demonstrate the need for highly-secure, digital identity-based based
security in the Andean Pacific region.”

ID CERT S.A. is currently deploying its service offering to a government
agency
for use in a national identification card application. They are also
partnering
with another government agency to authenticate more than 230 independent
customs brokers with the goal of creating a seamless, paperless process for
efficiently handling the clearance of shipments.

“With the development and rapid deployment of the managed security service, ID
CERT is defining the standard in the Andean Pacific region and is clearly
answering a previously unfulfilled need in that region,” said Kelly Tsongalis,
vice president, Baltimore Technologies. “Its an honor to be part of this
initiative, which acts as a further testament to the dedication Baltimore has
to the Latin American market, as well as to the superiority of our products.”

About Baltimore Technologies

Baltimore Technologies’ products, services and solutions solve the fundamental
security and trust needs of e-business. Baltimore’s e-security technology
gives
companies the necessary tools to verify the identity of who they are doing
business with and securely manage which resources and information users can
access on open networks. Many of the world’s leading organizations use
Baltimore’s e-security technology to conduct business more efficiently and
cost
effectively over the Internet and wireless networks. Baltimore also offers
worldwide support for its authorization management and public key-based
authentication systems.

Baltimore’s products and services are sold directly and through its worldwide
partner network, Baltimore TrustedWorld. Baltimore Technologies is a public
company, principally trading on London (BLM). For more information on
Baltimore Technologies please visit
http://www.baltimore.com

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