Lynk Goes WEPS

U. S. Wireless Data announced that another major card transaction processor, Lynk Systems, Inc., has contracted to offer USWD’s Wireless Express Payments Service to its merchants.

This agreement will expand the reach of WEPS to Lynk’s 400 sales representatives in 34 offices nationwide, serving more than 53,000 merchants.

WEPS provides a seamless interface among a merchant’s wireless point-of-sale terminals, wireless carriers, and credit card transaction processors. It enables credit, debit, and other card transactions to be processed almost as fast as cash, without the cost and inconvenience of being tethered to telephone or electrical lines. In fact, WEPS is opening new markets for card payments among merchants and venues for which telephone dial-up is not feasible, by providing both the speed and mobility needed to make card transactions practical. These include taxis and limousines, delivery services, quick service restaurants, home maintenance and repair services, outdoor fairs and markets, sports stadiums and arenas, performance halls, and outdoor recreational facilities such as golf courses and amusement parks.

“Now that we have the ability to offer WEPS to our merchant base, we can give them transactions that don’t require ties to phone lines or electricity and are faster than cash,” said Wayne Damron, senior vice president of national sales for Lynk. “This opens up new markets and also completes our point-of-sale offering. With WEPS, we now can provide on-line, real-time reporting to our wireless merchants, which is an invaluable tool. We also are excited to have the ability to offer our merchant base access to Motient, the most state-of-the-art data network available today.”

U.S. Wireless Data’s CEO, Dean M. Leavitt, explained that, “We are focused on establishing WEPS as the standard for wireless point-of-sale transaction processing. Partnering with processing leaders like Lynk enables us to reach a broad merchant base that is in need of the solution that WEPS provides.”

About U.S. Wireless Data

U.S. Wireless Data, Inc. ([www.uswirelessdata.com][1]), founded in 1991, has developed and is marketing its proprietary technology that brings together three large, rapidly growing industries – transaction processing, wireless data transport and the Internet – to enable wireless payment processing. The Company’s WEPS technology provides a gateway among all of the parties within a wireless point-of-sale transaction; and enables businesses that require mobility and/or faster transaction speed to accept wireless point-of-sale payments. In addition, WEPS’ Internet-based tools offer on-line, real-time transaction monitoring, remote diagnostics and automated terminal activation. The company is headquartered in New York City.

About Lynk

Lynk ([www.lynksystems.com][2]) is a national provider of electronic payment, cash dispensing and e-commerce services. The company processes transactions initiated by credit and debit cards, checks and EBT cards from merchant point-of-sale terminals, ATMs and via the Internet. Lynk also provides ATM cash management and monitoring services, card issuing, electronic funds distribution and Internet-based storefront management, design and hosting.

Lynk controls the entire processing sequence, including sales, end-user equipment, transaction authorization, capture, settlement and customer service. This “in-sourced” model facilitates a truly integrated solution that gives Lynk customers one-call support for all their processing needs. Lynk’s proprietary technology and comprehensive network connectivity offer merchants of all sizes unsurpassed processing performance. Founded in 1991, Lynk is located in Atlanta, Georgia and has earned recognition as one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry.

[1]: http://www.uswirelessdata.com/
[2]: http://www.lynksystems.com/

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Diebold Promotes Ducey

Diebold, Incorporated announced the promotion of Charles E. Ducey to vice president and corporate controller. He will play an integral role in developing e-tools for streamlining the company’s financial processes and implementing high-tech financial systems to improve productivity and speed the flow of information within the organization and between Diebold and its customers. As a corporate officer, he reports directly to Gregory T. Geswein, the company’s senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Ducey joined the company in 1978 as a cost analyst and has held various field and home office positions. Most recently, he held the position of vice president, service operations and finance for the North American Sales and Service division. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The University of Akron in Ohio and a master’s degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio.

Diebold, Incorporated is a global leader in providing integrated self- service delivery systems and services. Founded in 1859, Diebold employs more than 10,000 associates with representation in more than 75 countries worldwide and headquarters in Canton, Ohio, USA. Diebold reported revenue of $1.3 billion in 1999 and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘DBD.’ For more information, visit the company’s Web site at [http://www.diebold.com][1] .

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

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Coinstar’s Printing Network

Coinstar Inc. announced it will use its nationwide network of more than 7,500 supermarket based machines to deliver printable items ordered over the Internet. The service will give consumers a convenient place to pick up tickets to entertainment or sporting events, as well as coupons and other high value items. Coinstar plans to begin offering these added services early next year.

“Today’s announcement is an important step toward unlocking the tremendous power inherent in our coast-to-coast network,” said Dan Gerrity, president and CEO of Coinstar. “Coinstar will soon be in a position to deliver printable items securely from the Internet to supermarkets nationwide and the more than 100 million people who walk by a Coinstar machine each week. In this way, we will be adding more value to our customers.”

In addition to having machines in one of the most convenient places on earth, Coinstar also has a secure printing system. This means tickets, coupons, and other items are only printed once and on paper that cannot be copied or altered in any way. Already, Coinstar has printed more than $2.3 billion through this system.

Coinstar has received positive reaction to this new service from consumers and the supermarket industry. Today’s announcement follows news late last week that Coinstar is exploring the delivery of pre-paid cards such as debit, credit and phone cards through its network.

Coinstar’s 89 percent-owned subsidiary, Meals.com Inc., will become the first company to utilize this new service. Meals.com will use personalization technology to offer relevant coupons to consumers visiting its recipe and meal planning Web sites. Consumers can pick up those coupons at any one of Coinstar’s 7,500 machines. Once they arrive at the supermarket, all consumers would enter a special number into the Coinstar machine. The Coinstar machine would then call an Internet server, retrieve the coupons, and present the consumer with a print out containing their selections.

“Research indicates that 70 percent of brand decisions are made once consumers are in the store,” said Jens Molbak, CEO of Meals.com. “Meals.com’s ability to target coupons to people thinking about food and then deliver those coupons in the supermarket is a winning combination for consumers and packaged goods manufacturers.”

Coinstar is in discussions with several companies that are interested in distributing products through Coinstar’s secure in-store network.

About Coinstar Inc.

Recently ranked the country’s eighteenth fastest growing technology company, Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSTR) and its subsidiaries, Meals.com and Coinstar International, use technology to deliver time and money saving services to consumers in their local supermarkets. Coinstar’s 7,500 strong network of machines is currently available to 125 million consumers in 40 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom. Consumers can visit [http://www.findcoinstar.com][1].

About Meals.com

Meals.com helps consumers bridge the gap between the Internet and the store. Its network of branded and private label Web sites features more than 10,000 recipes, which can be sorted by theme and cuisine. The network also contains extensive search and scaling features, as well as helpful commentary and useful cooking tips. Meals.com’s Shopper kiosks serve as in-store consumer access points. Consumers can use the Shopper to print out meal plans, shopping lists, and to receive money saving offers. Consumers save time and money when planning meals and shopping for groceries while manufacturers and retailers receive the opportunity to communicate one-to-one with consumers through Web site advertising and the sponsorship of recipes, which highlight their products.

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

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DOJ Trial Begins

Opening statements were heard yesterday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in regard to the government’s antitrust lawsuit against VISA and MasterCard. The government said VISA and MasterCard violated antitrust laws by establishing rules that prevent banks from issuing cards from American Express and Discover. The government also said both card associations jointly decided not to compete thereby cheating consumers of lower costs and innovations. The government cited the smart card as one of the examples of innovative technology that was stunted in the US by the VISA/MasterCard conspiracy. The government said it took 15 years for smart cards to come to market in the US and it was not through VISA or MasterCard but rather American Express. VISA countered that the business case for smart cards does not exist in the US and that the American Express ‘Blue’ card is largely a non-functional smart card. MasterCard summed up yesterday by saying that “For all of the government’s arguments, consisting of four years of investigation, eight million pages of documentation and two hundred depositions, they can’t show any lack of competition. Somewhere along the line, the government has lost sight of the interest of consumers. They seem to have gotten the American consumer mixed up with American Express; and American Express, the largest card issuer in the United States, doesn’t need help to compete.

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VehicleVantage VISA

OH-based National City recently rolled out a new credit card that offers up to $2,500 in rebates on the purchase or lease of a new or used car, truck, SUV, van, or motorcycle. The ‘VehicleVantage VISA’ offers up to a 1% rebate on purchases. The no-annual-fee card carries a six-month prime +0% APR for purchases and cash advances. Thereafter the APR goes to prime +7.99%. For National City relationship customers, the APR is prime +6.99%. The new VISA card is available in the bank’s marketplace of PA, OH, MI, IL, IN and KY. The card is also available online from National City’s website. The card is patterned after the Citibank ‘Driver’s Edge’ program.

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Cobaltcard CEO

Zowi.com, the parent company of Cobaltcard, the buying card for the online generation, announced Monday that Randall M. Chesler will be its new president and chief executive officer. Chesler brings nearly 20 years of credit card-focused financial and sales experience and expertise to the Zowi.com team. The company, which launched its Cobaltcard Web site in April 2000, also announced that co-founder and former CEO, Roberta Jacobs, will continue to play an integral role with Zowi.com as chief strategy officer.

Before joining Zowi.com, Chesler served as executive vice president at Associates First Capital Corporation, where he was the general manager of their bankcard business and was responsible for significantly expanding the size of their portfolio. Prior to joining the Associates, Chesler was executive vice president of Visa, U.S.A., where he helped drive Visa’s market share to record levels. Previous to his term at Visa, Chesler was senior vice president at Citicorp where he held a variety of staff and line positions over 12 years with the company.

“Randy brings great depth of knowledge and a keen sense of what it takes to build a new financial service,” said Seth Neiman, managing partner at Crosspoint Venture Partners and Zowi.com board member. “As an investor and board member I have every confidence that under Randy’s leadership, Zowi.com will be the leader in this market.”

“Randy’s diverse background in credit card management, business development and operations makes him a great leader for our strong team of executives who are all committed to establishing Cobaltcard as the leading buying card to empower the online generation,” said Philippe Bouissou, general partner at Media Technology Ventures and Zowi.com board member.

Cobaltcard members can register themselves, fund themselves and monitor their spending through their own monthly statements. As a buying card, not a debit or credit card, Cobaltcard offers built-in protection from debt. Membership is free.

About Cobaltcard

Cobaltcard is a product and service of Zowi.com. Cobaltcard ( [http://cobaltcard.com][1] ) is the buying card for the online generation. Cobaltcard empowers users to buy online and in stores, wherever Visa is accepted in the United States. Cobaltcard is free to get, free to use and free of debt. The registration process requires a social security number, driver’s license or State ID and a bank account. Once members receive their Cobaltcard account number and transfer funds online from their bank account into their secure Cobaltcard, they can make immediate online purchases by entering their Cobaltcard account number in place of the Visa number. For persons 15 years and younger, parental approval is required. The company is currently registering members through the Cobaltcard Web site.

[1]: http://cobaltcard.com/

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Concord Wawa

Wawa Food Markets has signed a multi-year contract with Concord EFS for end-to-end credit and debit card payment processing. Wawa is a regional convenience store chain, operating over 500 convenience stores including 46 new prototype stores which include gasoline in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Wawa will use Concord for card-based payment transaction authorization, data capture, and settlement. Wawa said it chose Concord due to its long-time focus on the petroleum/convenience store industry.

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Smart Card Protection

VISA International announced Monday it has developed and published a ‘Protection Profile’ for VISA-branded ‘Open Platform’ smart cards. This means that card vendors and issuers are aware of the security requirements for downloading payment and other applications to cards that have been issued. It does this by identifying potential threats to the cards and detailing the necessary security requirements to counter them. Developed under the ‘Common Criteria for Information Security Evaluation’, the ‘Protection Profile’ recasts current security requirements into the correct terminology to enable evaluation under the global ‘Common Criteria’ or ‘ISO 15408’ standard. Originally defined by VISA, the ‘Open Platform’ has evolved into a cross-industry specification for complete multiple application smart card management. The ‘Open Platform’ is now owned, managed and developed by GlobalPlatform.

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Texas Gets Iced

Hypercom announced this morning it will deploy 15,000 ‘ePic ICE 5500′ touch-screen based payment terminals as part of the State of Texas’ EBT system. The deal is in conjunction with Texas’ five-year contract with ACS. Texas operates the nation’s largest EBT system, which delivers ‘Temporary Assistance to Needy Families’ and food stamp benefits to more than 1.5 million individuals. Hypercom will deploy and maintain the terminals in partnership with ACS. This is the first time that a card payment web appliance with browser capability is being used in a state-based assistance program.

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Revised WebMiles

UT-based WebMiles announced yesterday that members who earn enough rewards for a free or discounted airline ticket will not be subject to restrictions such as a Saturday night stay or cost caps. ‘WebMiles’ also announced it has dropped its advance notice requirement from 21-days to 14 days when members request a free airline ticket and now requires no advance notice when members redeem their ‘WebMiles’ rewards for a discounted ticket. Next week, the firm will announce details to the ‘WebMiles MasterCard’, which allows consumers to earn one ‘WebMiles’ reward per dollar spent on card purchases and bonus miles when shopping within the ‘WebMiles’ partner network. The new credit card is being issued through Direct Merchants Bank. Members who are also enrolled in airline frequent flyer programs can earn airline frequent flyer points when redeeming a ‘WebMiles’ ticket, since ‘WebMiles’ (through travel partner Martiz Travel) purchases tickets on the open market. Members can also use airline frequent flyer points to upgrade their ‘WebMiles’ ticket from economy to business or first class.

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Debt Uptick

Revolving consumer credit continues to grow briskly for the fourth month in a row. However the rate of increase nudged down a bit compared during April. According to preliminary figures released Friday afternoon by the Federal Reserve, Americans added nearly $6.0 billion in outstanding revolving credit during April. This translates into an 11.4% annual growth rate for April 2000. One year ago revolving consumer debt grew a mere 5.6%. Over the past twelve months consumers have added more than $51 billion to revolving credit. Approximately 80% of revolving credit is bank credit card debt. Overall consumer credit is now growing at a 7.8% rate, according to the FRB. At the end of April, American consumers were $1.439 trillion in debt, exclusive of home mortgages.

REVOLVING CREDIT HISTORICAL
Apr00 Mar00 Feb 00 Jan 00 Dec99 Nov99 Oct99
%GRWTH: 11.4% 13.8% 9.4% 18.5 12.5 10.2 -0.5
$OWED: $621.4 615.5 608.5 605.0 595.8 589.8 584.3

Sep 99 Aug99 Jul99 Jun99 May99 Apr99 Mar99
%GRWTH: 0.0 2.5 12.1 13.8 4.5 5.6 -0.9
$OWED: 584.5 584.5 584.6 578.5 572.2 569.9 567.3

Source: Federal Reserve; revised figures as of 06/07/00; For complete
historical data visit www.carddata.com.

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Proton World Award

At a gala dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington DC on 5 June, a Computerworld Smithsonian Award (CWSA) in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate category was awarded to Proton World.

Proton World was nominated as a CWSA candidate by Mr George McNeil, Executive Vice-President of Bull Americas, for innovative use of information technology to benefit society in its electronic purse systems. Bull is a long-standing technology partner of Proton World, and helped to develop the first Proton cards that were launched in Belgium in 1995.

The Award was presented by Mr Patrick J. McGovern, founder and Chairman of International Data Group, Mr Spencer Crew, Director of the National Museum of American History and Ms. Maryfran Johnson, Editor-in-chief of Computerworld magazine.

The Award was accepted on behalf of Proton World by Mr Daniel Skala, Executive Vice-President, Sales, who said, “We at Proton World firmly believe that technology is making everyone’s lives better, easier and more secure, and I thank you for recognising our contribution, and that of smart cards in general, to this. With our industry partners, such as Bull, we are actively developing useful smart card applications to solve people’s everyday problems.This award has encouraged Proton World to further strengthen its presence in North America, which we see as a key long-term market for our products and those of our partners.”

The electronic purse (e-purse) was the first application to be developed using the Proton technology, which now offers a full multiple application range, all with the world-renowned Proton high security features. Bull, with its unparalleled experience in the development of the first smart cards in the 1970s in France, has been a technology partner of Proton World since Proton World’s creation in 1998.

“Proton-based smart cards supplied by Bull are in use in Belgium, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland” said Mr Philippe David, Vice-President , Sales & Marketing, Banking Sector at Bull Smart Cards & Terminals “Clearly the well-known strengths and flexibility of the Proton technology are responsible for this success.”

“One of our challenges and goals for the year 2000 is to convert this overwhelmingly positive international response into commercial success in the United States,” said Mr George McNeil, Executive Vice-President at Bull, Americas. “We hope that this success for Proton World will encourage the accelerated deployment of their extraordinary range of smart card-based applications, including secure e-commerce, telecommunications, transportation and loyalty.”

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