UltraCard China

China’s migration from paper identification cards to smart ID cards is taking shape after agreements were reached this week with an American firm. CA-based UltraCard sealed a deal Tuesday to supply two million second generation 20 megabyte smart ID cards and 10,000 ‘UltraDrives’ to the Chinese government as part of a pilot program. The ‘UltraCard’ utilizes ultra high capacity portable data storage technology in a credit card format, and an inexpensive read/write device. Currently, the ‘Chinese National ID Cards’, which are valid for 20 years, consist of a laminated paper card featuring a person’s name, photo, birth date and ID number. According to The RAM Report, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced last month it will begin to issue a national smart ID card by the end of this year to replace the cards currently issued within each province. The PSB indicated the new plastic smart cards will most likely contain a photo. The State Council, which approved the plan, will begin pilot programs in large Chinese cities by year’s end. College students may also be one of the first groups to receive the new cards. The PSB projects it will take five years to make the changeover to 1.2 billion smart cards. Counterfeit ID cards have been a growing business in China, according to The RAM Report. ([www.ramreport.com][1] – China)

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


Cyota Acquisition

NY-based Cyota has acquired privately-held Auripay, a provider of e-payment security technology, in an all-stock deal. The acquisition will provide buyers of surrogate number technology a wider array of front-end and customization options. Cyota recently announced the launch of ‘Cyota SecureSuite’, an integrated online payment security platform designed to seamlessly integrate a wide range of authentication and credit card security products into a single user experience. The acquisition of Auripay will allow Cyota to enhance the ‘SecureSuite’ user experience by providing issuer’s with additional customizable options for enhancing their brand online. The company’s flagship product is ‘Cyota SecureClick’, which enables consumers to shop online without revealing their real credit card number, replacing it with a surrogate number that expires after each transaction and thus cannot be used fraudulently.


VISA Business Partners

VISA U.S.A. announced Tuesday the addition of Thrifty Car Rental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites by Holiday Inn hotels to the ‘VISA Business Partner Advantage’ program. Thrifty Car Rental is offering a 20% discount off all ‘VISA Small Business’ rates on car rentals. Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites hotels all provide up to a 14.5% discount off corporate rates at participating hotels. VISA has 6.5 million ‘Business’ cardholders nationwide.


Personas 77

With 40% of ATMs now deployed in retail locations in the U.S., NCR unveiled yesterday a new ATM designed specifically to display dramatic graphics in the smaller footprint while offering more standard features than any ATM in its class. The new ‘Personas 77’ is advertising-ready, featuring a 15-inch color screen and high-performance audio system to intensify high impact video clips and graphics screens. The new ATM also includes a thermal graphics receipt printer for coupon dispensing and advertising. The ‘Personas 77’ also offers front and rear access panels, allowing easier replenishment regardless of where it is deployed. The unit can also be upgraded with a sidecar to allow cash and check deposit collection. The sidecar’s image scanning check processing module and bunch note cash acceptor permits the addition of deposit capability at a later date. The ‘Personas 77’ also offers optional flashing media indicators to extend beyond anticipated ADA requirements.


InterCept Offering

The InterCept Group, Inc. announced that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed offering of 4,000,000 shares of its common stock. A total of 3,100,000 shares are to be issued and sold by InterCept, and 900,000 shares are to be sold by several selling shareholders of InterCept, including 610,000 shares by SLMsoft.com, Inc. InterCept has also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an additional 600,000 shares to cover over- allotments, if any. Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation and Robertson Stephens, Inc., as joint lead managers, and First Union Securities, Inc. and The Robinson-Humphrey Company, LLC, as co-managers, will manage an underwriting syndicate offering the shares to the public.

The InterCept Group, Inc. is a leading provider of banking technology products and services for community financial institutions, including core data processing, check processing and imaging, electronic funds transfer, data communications management and related products and services.

A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. This release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any State in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such State. Copies of the prospectus relating to the offering may be obtained from Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation at Eleven Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010, from Robertson Stephens, Inc. at 555 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94104, First Union Securities, Inc. at 7 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21202, and The Robinson-Humphrey Company, LLC at 3333 Peachtree Road, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30326.


FoneCash Money Orders

FoneCash Inc., announced Tuesday that it has entered into a joint venture agreement for the issuance of money orders with Insta-Cash International, a Florida based company. ICI has developed a proprietary, patent pending, software program that allows neighborhood merchants to issue and sell money orders. This new software can be downloaded into the existing FoneCash Point-of-Sale Terminal, enabling merchants to participate in the offering of an estimated 2.8 billion annual money orders. An ICI money order will cost the purchaser under $1.00. According to Daniel Charboneau, CEO and President of FoneCash, “The low cost of this transaction, along with the ease of access, will provide potential customers a much needed solution to the high cost of current products.” FoneCash and ICI plan to make its terminals and software application available to small businesses such as, corner grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations.

ICI president, Reginald Clarke, pointed out a recent development: “According to the March 2, 2001, New York Times Article, Mexico Seeks Lower Fees on Funds Sent From U.S., money sent home by Mexicans who work in the United States totals $8 billion a year or more. A substantial amount of this money vanishes from fees that are charged for the transfer of the money. This is especially true in cases of people without legal status or those without bank accounts. These fees can run from 10 percent to 25 percent or more of the transaction,” said Mr. Clarke quoting the New York Times. In response to this article, Charboneau added that “FoneCash/ICI money order can be obtained at a minimum cost which means more money from hard working immigrant laborers will reach their families at home.”

About FoneCash Inc.

Under an exclusive licensing agreement, FoneCash, Inc designs, develops and manufactures electronic terminals for processing credit and debit cards of all the major banks issuers whose cards are accepted for payment by merchants worldwide. The Company’s products includes software and proprietary processing services that provide end-to-end support of electronic financial transactions, utilizing wired and wireless networks for the transmission of data. The Company intends to market a complete processing system that is high quality and simple to operate. Revenues will be generated from sales/rentals of the terminals and from transaction charges.



The proof of identity conundrum which makes it almost impossible for the homeless to get a bank account has been solved thanks to a ground breaking partnership between The Co-operative Bank and The Big Issue in the North. Up till now, Big Issue vendors have not been able to bank their day’s takings – and have often been mugged for the cash they have earned.

From today , a pilot scheme will enable Big Issue vendors in Manchester to visit the Bank’s Balloon Street branch and open a ‘Cashminder’ bank account, without the need to produce the types of proof of identification which are often not available to those selling the Big Issue.

Anti-money laundering regulations dictate that financial institutions demand strict forms of identification from potential customers, e.g. passport, driving licence, utility bills, none of which vendors are likely to possess. What forms of ID they do have are often lost, stolen or destroyed through life on the street.

Now The Co-operative Bank working with The Big Issue in the North, and its vendors, have come up with some solutions. The Bank will accept a letter of recommendation from the Trust, or a Big Issue in the North badge as proof of ID. Members of staff at the Bank’s Balloon Street branch have been trained to meet the special banking needs of vendors.

The account will give vendors a card to draw out money at cash machines, and enable them to set up direct debit and standing order facilities. Vendors will also be able to deposit cash at the counter and, outside of banking hours, at the Bank’s night deposit facility. This will enable vendors to save their day’s earnings, and will also give them extra security as they will not have to carry around amounts of cash.

Val Chinn, Chief Executive of The Big Issue in the North, said “Our vendors are often the victims of violence because people see them on the streets all day earning money and know that they often have nowhere to keep it safely. The new Cashminder account offered by The Co-operative Bank is a great example of partnership working. The flexible approach adopted by The Co-operative Bank will make a real difference to our vendors and help them build up funds for their future.”

Paul Sirman, Branch Manager at The Co-operative Bank’s Balloon Street branch, said “The Co-operative Bank is delighted to be linking up with The Big Issue in the North for this pilot scheme.

“Financial institutions have had to abide by strict regulations concerning identification of customers and this has led to certain people being excluded from the banking system. We have worked hard with The Big Issue in the North to look for solutions to this problem. Hopefully this pilot scheme will prove to be successful and we can launch this scheme on a national level.”

The Big Issue in the North is a business solution to a social problem. It enables homeless people to earn an income by selling the magazine.

The Big Issue in the North is a registered charity (No. 1056041) with a business-like approach to ending homelessness. It works to help homeless people move on from homelessness and into good homes, good jobs, good health and a good life.

The Trust’s work covers the North of England – an area which includes more than 124 towns and cities.

The Cashminder basic bank account and this pilot are only two of many ways in which The Co-operative Bank is tackling the problem of financial exclusion. The Bank has also designed a basic bank account to meet the needs of refugees; provides cash machines and other financial services in local communities through Co-operative retailers and is a strong supporter of the Credit Union movement.


May Slowdown

While revolving credit, mostly credit card debt, crossed the $700 billion milestone during May, consumers have applied the brakes for the first time this year. The pause may be attributed to the consolidation of credit card debt into home equity lines of credit, driven by lower interest rates and aggressive competition in the home equity markets. During May, American consumers added $3.2 billion to total revolving debt representing an annual growth rate of 5.5%, according to preliminary figures released yesterday afternoon by the Federal Reserve. The May increase was sharply lower than the $9.2 billion increase in April, $6.8 billion in March, and the $11.1 billion increase in February. The May 2001 consumer debt figures were also significantly lower than May 2000’s 12.7% growth rate. Since the first of this year, American consumers have piled on more than $37 billion in revolving credit, mostly credit card debt. Total U.S. revolving consumer credit now stands at $700.5 billion which includes about $673 billion in credit card debt. Overall, consumer credit is growing at a 4.9% annual rate. At the end of May, American consumers were $1.591 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.


May01 Apr01 Mar01 Feb01 Jan01 Dec00 Nov00
%GRWTH: 5.5% 16.0 11.9 20.8 11.6 5.0 10.9
$OWED: $700.5 697.3 688.2 681.4 670.3 663.4 660.6

Oct00 Sep00 Aug00 Jul00 Jun00 May00 Apr00
%GRWTH: 4.7% 7.8 12.6 6.7 11.2 12.7 13.5
$OWED: $654.8 649.3 645.1 638.2 634.7 628.9 622.5

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 07/09/01;
For complete historical data visit www.carddata.com.



EdgeWare Technologies Corporation, Canada’s leading developer of smart card
software, announced full
support for the MULTOS operating system with the upcoming version of its
application software suite. The EdgeSmart solutions include Loyalty,
e-gift, Transit, Hospitality, Leisure and Event Ticketing, Campuses and
Municipalities. The suite offers its own set of multiple private purses, but
can also be integrated with an international stored value purse such as
Mondex. The comprehensive end-to-end software set matches EdgeSmart with
SelectSmart, EdgeHost and AnalysEdge to provide a seamless web-
enabled architecture for transaction settlement, activity analysis and
reporting, and consumer card management features.

Technology migration planning, project management, server hosting and
software support are also available.

“EdgeWare is pleased to be adding the flexibility and security of MULTOS
as an underlying platform and card management structure to the inherent
strengths of our application solutions”, said Vice President Engineering,
Claude G. Beaudoin.

Offering support for all card types and a variety of device platforms
including wireless, EdgeWare delivers

“EdgeWare Technologies are renowned for high performance loyalty, transit
and campus products. The combination of EdgeSmart(TM) with the premier
performance and security of the MULTOS platform is a winning team”, said Steve
Everhard, Marketing & Commercial Director for the MULTOS Consortium.

MULTOS card issuers will find these robust offerings to be reliable and
of significant value to their clients; as experienced by EdgeWare’s
diversified clientbase.

About EdgeWare Technologies

EdgeWare Technologies is a Canadian software and services firm that
designs, develops, markets and supports multi-application, scalable, platform
independent smart card software solutions for business, institutions and
governments worldwide. For more information about EdgeWare, visit www.edgeware.ca.


MULTOS is a highly secure multi-application smart card operating system
specification and supports a wide range of applications including e-cash, PKI
and interactive loyalty. This open standard is managed and developed by a
consortium of 13 of the worlds leading smart card companies, and is the only
commercial operating system to attain the security requirements of ITSEC
E6-high. (ITSEC is an independent and rigorous security evaluation scheme
supported by more than 14 countries worldwide, whose results are openly
published.) Third party software developers provide a broad catalogue of
MULTOS applications and value-added services for card users and issuers that
can be deployed consistently across all implementations of MULTOS. Leading the
booming m-commerce market, the MULTOS hosted SecureSIM environment provides
the world’s most secure multi-application SIM card for mobile phones.


AirRewards MasterCard

In a effort to stem attrition, CT-based People’s Bank introduced yesterday a new MasterCard offering air mileage. The bank also announced it is launching an aggressive plan to market home equity loans. People’s first quarter credit card receivables declined to $2.8 billion from $3.5 billion for 1Q/00. Active accounts have also dropped by 400,000 over the past twelve months, according to CardData (www.cardata.com). The new ‘People’s AirRewards Plus Platinum MasterCard’ offers one point for each dollar spent on purchases. Points earned can be redeemed for free travel on all major U.S. airlines with no blackout dates, for a variety of hotel and car rental benefits, or as a credit toward any travel booked through the program. Rewards are available beginning at just 3,500 points. People’s ‘Advantage Plus’ and ‘Investor Plus’ checking customers in Connecticut will be offered the card without an annual fee. The home equity loan push has been made possible by the redesign of the bank’s underwriting process, enabling People’s to turn around nearly 80% of applications in just one day, compared with only 10% previously. According to CardWatch (www.cardwatch.com), People’s also offers the ‘U.S. Ski Team Platinum VISA’ and ‘Long Island Sound VISA’ in addition to its ‘Platinum MasterCard’.

1Q/01 4Q/00 3Q/00 2Q/00 1Q/00
RECV: $2.8b $3.1b $3.1b $3.3b $3.5b
VOL: $1.2b $1.6b $1.4 $1.5b $1.6b
ACTIVES: 1.3m 1.4m 1.4m 1.5m 1.7m
b-billion m-million SOURCE: CardData (www.carddata.com)



Euronet Worldwide announced that it has successfully completed certification to the LINK Interchange Network Limited, the national ATM network in the United Kingdom.

This certification enables the company to process transactions on 425 Euronet ATMs and potentially on any of the other 33,000 ATMs connected to LINK in the UK. Euronet is the first independent ATM operator and transaction processor to drive ATMs in the United Kingdom from a processing center located outside the UK.

Until now, Euronet had outsourced the operation of its ATMs in the UK to a local organization. As a result of the certification, Euronet will drive its own ATMs and process transactions from those ATMs through the company’s EMEA operations center (EOC) in Budapest, Hungary. This result will reduce Euronet’s costs in the UK. In addition, Euronet’s EOC can provide transaction and software capabilities at Euronet ATMs that are not currently available through other UK ATM processors. By the end of July, Euronet hopes to gain Certified Service Bureau status within LINK, which would enable the company to drive ATMs for other organizations in the UK. Euronet already provides ATM outsourcing services to banks in many other European markets.

LINK’s rigorous certification program required Euronet to satisfy stringent LINK requirements encompassing all of the operation center’s functions, particularly in relation to the security of transaction data.

“The LINK certification is a significant achievement after an intensive, six-month process,” said Miro Bergman, Euronet Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the EMEA region. “The coordinated effort between Euronet’s UK office and our operations center required, among other things, two operation center audits, establishment of communication links and reconfiguration of our ATMs.”

“The LINK organization congratulates Euronet Worldwide on becoming the first to drive ATMs from outside the UK with the successful certification,” said John Hardy, LINK CEO. “Euronet has a long track record of ATM processing in many countries, and I think the new services that Euronet will offer in the UK can benefit all current and future LINK members.”

“We are excited by the opportunities that this certification has opened for Euronet,” said Michael Brown, Euronet Chairman and CEO. “The United Kingdom is an important market for us and promises to be very lucrative, both in terms of ATM operation and potentially ATM driving and transaction processing. I am proud of the dedicated effort made by Euronet staff to achieve this success.”

About Euronet Worldwide

Euronet Worldwide is an industry leader in providing secure electronic financial transaction solutions. The company offers financial payment middleware, financial network gateways, outsourcing and consulting services to financial institutions and mobile operators. These solutions enable their customers to access personal financial information and perform secure financial transactions — any time, any place. The company has processing centers located in the United States, Europe and Asia, and owns and operates the largest independent ATM network in Europe. Euronet was recently ranked number two on the Deloitte & Touche Technical Fast 500, a ranking of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America. With corporate headquarters in Leawood, Kansas, USA, and European headquarters in Budapest, Hungary, Euronet serves more than 200 clients in 60 countries. Visit our web site at www.euronetworldwide.com.

About LINK Interchange Network Limited

LINK is the UK’s cash machine network, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, and employs over 85 staff. Today, the LINK network, with connections to over 48 institutions, offers access to approximately 33,000 UK ATMs. LINK undertakes settlement of more than 120 million ATM transactions each month and over 4 million transactions per day for its 80 million cardholders. LINK is the only shared branded ATM network in the UK.



TX-based Alliance Data Systems has signed a six-year agreement to provide a full-service private label credit card program, along with transaction processing and bankcard settlement services, to branded gasoline supplier and convenience store retail operator Alon USA. Alliance Data will provide a comprehensive range of services to 1,600 FINA-branded stores located primarily in the Southwest. Services will include account acquisition and activation; card authorization and data capture; private label credit card issuance to nearly 190,000 customers; payment processing; statement generation; and customer service. Alon USA offers products and services under the ‘FINA’ brand.