ACE EBITA Tops $6 Million

ACE Cash Express, Inc., the nation’s largest check-cashing chain and a significant provider of related retail financial services, recorded revenue gains from nearly all of its product categories and services during its second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 1999, resulting in a 26 percent increase in net income and a 27 percent increase in earnings per share from the second quarter of the prior fiscal year.

During the second quarter of fiscal 2000, total revenue increased 13 percent, to $32.3 million from $28.7 million in the second quarter of fiscal 1999. The increased revenue and net income produced diluted earnings per share of 14 cents, a 27 percent increase over diluted earnings per share of 11 cents in last year’s second quarter. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased 25 percent, to $6.2 million for the fiscal 2000 second quarter from $5.0 million for the fiscal 1999 second quarter.

ACE’s core revenue categories showed continued growth in the fiscal 2000 second quarter compared to the fiscal 1999 second quarter; check cashing fees increased 12 percent to a record quarterly high in excess of $20 million, and loan and bill payment fees each increased 11 percent. The ACE network expanded by 13 company-owned stores and 11 franchised locations during the second quarter. Same store sales recorded a 7 percent increase over last year’s second quarter.

“ACE had a strong second quarter of fiscal 2000,” said Jay B. Shipowitz, president and chief operating officer of ACE. “We expanded our total credit facility to $165 million, continued to build our management team with the addition of a chief marketing officer, and announced an alliance to provide prepaid internet services through the ACE retail network.”

Three-Month Financial Highlights
(in thousands, except per share data)

Three Months Ended Increase in Fiscal 2000
December 31, from Fiscal 1999
1999 1998 $ %
(unaudited)
Revenues $32,284 $28,656 $3,628 13%
Net income $ 1,403 $ 1,116 $ 287 26%
Earnings before
interest, taxes,
depreciation and
amortization $ 6,212 $ 4,987 $1,225 25%
Diluted earnings
per share $.14 $ .11 $ .03 27%

Six Month Results

Since the 2000 fiscal year began on July 1, 1999, revenue has grown 15 percent, to $62.9 million from $54.7 million for the first six months of fiscal 1999. Similarly, before reflection of ACE’s adoption of a new accounting standard, net income increased 27 percent, resulting in earnings per share growth of 26 percent and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth of 25 percent.

ACE opened 31 company-owned stores and acquired 3 stores during the first six months of fiscal 2000. In addition, 25 new franchises have opened in the same six months. Same store sales increased by 7 percent in the first six months of fiscal 2000 over the first six months of fiscal 1999.

“Overall, I am very pleased with the first half of fiscal 2000,” said Donald H. Neustadt, chief executive officer of ACE. “We have opened or acquired 102 new stores in the previous 12 months and increased our trailing 12 months EBITDA to $29.7 million.”

Six-Month Financial Highlights
(in thousands, except per share data)

Six Months Ended Increase in Fiscal 2000
December 31, from Fiscal 1999
1999 1998 $ %

(unaudited)
Revenues $62,872 $54,679 $8,193 15%
Net income $ 2,426 * $ 1,912 $ 514 27%
Earnings before
interest, taxes,
depreciation and
amortization $11,556 * $ 9,282 $2,274 25%
Diluted earnings
per share $ .24 * $ .19 $ .05 26%

* Before cumulative effect of change in accounting

ACE Cash Express, Inc. is headquartered in Irving, Texas and is the largest owner, operator and franchiser of check-cashing stores in the United States. Founded in 1968, the company currently has a network of 963 stores, consisting of 817 company-owned stores and 146 franchised stores in 29 states and the District of Columbia. ACE offers a broad range of financial and check cashing services and is one of the largest providers of MoneyGram wire transfers. In addition, ACE offers money orders, small consumer loans, bill payment services, and prepaid local and long distance telecommunication services. The company’s website is found at [http://www.acecashexpress.com][1].

For more information on ACE Cash Express pleaee visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][2])

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

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Steady Wachovia

Despite the brutal competition and irrational pricing among the nation’s top 25 issuers, Wachovia remains a steady ship. According to portfolio results released yesterday and gathered by CardData, Wachovia chipped out a slight increase in card receivables and added more than 500,000 accounts during 1999. However volume remained flat and the percentage of active accounts declined from 49% to 40%. Many of these same trends are evident among others issuers in the $1 billion to $8 billion category. Wachovia is renowned for its flexible, competitive pricing and tight risk management. Just before Christmas, Wachovia announced the acquisition of the Partners First portfolio from Harris Bank and Bank of Montreal. The sale includes more than 1.2 million accounts and $1,985,000,000 in card outstandings. Wachovia is paying an 8.3% premium for the portfolio. The purchase agreement includes a 5-year agent relationship between Wachovia and Harris Bank. Wachovia indicated it wants to align its credit card business with regional brands. For complete current and historical stats on Wachovia’s credit card portfolio, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

Wachovia Snapshot

EOY 1998 EOY 1999

CHG
RECV: $6,511,228,734 $ 6,592,384,955 +1.2%
VOL: $7,896,785,002 $7,878,863,092 -0.2%
ACCTS: 5,026,940 5,602,817 +11.5%
ACTIVES: 2,449,729 2,257,030 -7.9%
CARDS: 7,424,877 7,802,917 +5.1%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

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

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People’s Integration

People’s Bank announced late Thursday it is integrating its consumer lending department into the credit card division. The issuer says the action will enable it to build more long-term, profitable customer relationships through the synergy between consumer lending and credit cards. The decision follows several national and international pilots conducted last year. Meanwhile People’s reported that managed credit card yield for 4Q/99 increased 23 basis points compared to 4Q98 but decreased 39 basis points compared to 3Q99. The yield reduction from 3Q99 was due to 4Q asset growth at introductory interest rates. However managed credit card fees increased $3.7 million, or 12%. Credit card net charge-offs (as a percentage of average managed receivables) equaled 4.24%, increasing 53 basis points compared to 4Q98 and 12 basis points compared to 3Q99. Delinquencies as a percentage of quarter-end managed receivables (2.84%) declined 22 basis points from 4Q98 and decreased 4 basis points from 3Q99. Overall the average managed credit card portfolio increased $274 million or 7% compared to 4Q98 and increased $162 million from 3Q99. United Kingdom receivables accounted for $84 million of the year-over-year growth. For complete current and historical stats on People’s credit card portfolio, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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MBNA UK

MBNA now has a 12% share of the U.K. credit card market. Yesterday MBNA and AOL (U.K.) announced the launch of a new co-branded credit card and joint marketing program. Under the multi-year agreement, MBNA will be the exclusive issuer of both AOL and CompuServe branded credit cards in the U.K., and MBNA’s credit card services will be marketed through the AOL (U.K.) Service. AOL and CompuServe have a combined U.K. membership of more than 1 million. MBNA International Bank, established in the U.K. in 1993, now has more than 3 million cardholders. MBNA also has signed more than 750 affinity card deals, such as the Royal College of Surgeons, and sporting groups such as Manchester United.

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Drexler Income Top $1 Million

Drexler Technology Corporation manufacturer of LaserCard optical memory cards, LaserCard reader/writers, and related software, announced results for its fiscal 2000 third quarter and nine months ended December 31, 1999.

Net income for the three months ended December 31, 1999, was $1,378,000, or 14 cents per share diluted, versus $1,003,000, or 10 cents per share diluted, for last year’s third quarter. Revenues for the fiscal 2000 third quarter increased to $4,321,000 from $4,056,000 for the year-earlier quarter.

For the nine months ended December 31, 1999, net income was $3,610,000, or 37 cents per share diluted, compared with $2,971,000, or 30 cents per share diluted, for the nine months ended December 31, 1998. Revenues for the first nine months of fiscal 2000 increased to $12,314,000 from $11,563,000 for last year’s first nine months.

Net income for the quarter and nine months included recognition of a portion of the Company’s accumulated income tax benefits under Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 109 (SFAS 109), “Accounting for Income Taxes,” in the amount of approximately $660,000 for the third quarter and $1,740,000 for the nine months.

At December 31, 1999, the Company’s cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments totaled approximately $6,691,000 versus approximately $8,066,000 at March 31, 1999. The Company has no debt.

Other Information:

— On December 20, 1999, the Company announced that it received a $6.8 million order for digital identity optical memory cards to be used primarily for the U.S. Department of State (DoS) “Laser Visa” program and also for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Permanent Resident Card “Green Card” program. Deliveries of the LaserCard(R) optical memory cards are estimated at approximately 250,000 cards per month over an eight- to nine-month period beginning January 2000.

— The U.S. government has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a five-year, competitively bid contract for up to 20.6 million optical memory cards. It is anticipated that this procurement contract may be awarded in May of 2000. This RFP, for INS “Green Cards” and DoS “Laser Visa” cards, states that to qualify, the bidder must be capable of delivering 500,000 optical memory cards per month. The Company believes that it is presently the only qualified bidder for this program.

— In China, a value-added reseller purchased 1,000 optical memory cards for a pilot program involving a “VIP Health Care Card” system.

— The Company sold four of its LaserCard Development Kits during the third quarter, to companies in Silicon Valley, New York, Singapore, and China. The $2,200 kit, designed to enable rapid, low cost, product evaluation and application development, is being offered to application developers, value-added resellers, and end users. (See www.lasercard.com.)

Based in Mountain View, Drexler Technology Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer of optical memory cards — credit-card sized, portable, data storage devices with a user data capacity of up to 2.8 megabytes of digital data, including text, graphics, and images. Applications include digital identification, automated border clearance, electronic commerce, portable clinical records, customer loyalty, logistics management, and point-of-sale. Drexler’s wholly owned subsidiary, LaserCard Systems Corporation, produces LaserCard read/write drives and related software.

For more information on Drexler Technology please visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

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

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Proton World Gets Frosted

Proton World announced today that Mr Graham Frost is appointed Deputy Managing Director of the company, with immediate effect.

Mr Frost has 28 years’ experience in the computer industry working over five continents. After completing his Computer Science degree in the UK, he worked for Honeywell for 6 years, then spent 9 years with Prime Computer, before becoming founding Managing Director of Silicon Graphics Australia Ltd (SGI) in 1987. Four years later he became General Manager, Asia-Pacific Region and then Director of Global Business Development, based in California. In his eight years with SGI, he saw its turnover grow from USD 50 million to USD 3,000 million.

In 1995, Mr Frost returned to Australia as President of Tandem Computers, Pacific Region, leaving in 1997 when the company was taken over by Compaq. Since 1997, he has been a specialist business adviser to start-up companies in Australia.

As well as acting as Deputy to Proton World’s Managing Director, Mr Armand Linkens, Mr Frost will act as Executive Vice-President, Sales and Services, and will direct strategy for the Sales and Customer Services departments.

Mr Frost holds both British and Australian citizenship, is an alumnus of Stanford University and is married, with three children.

Armand Linkens, Managing Director of Proton World said: “Given the world-wide success of our technology in a market that is moving faster every day, we need somebody with Graham’s market knowledge to cope with our ambitions. He will be a key contributor to the continued success of Proton World and I sure we will quickly benefit from his experience and enthusiasm as our company’s rapid expansion continues.”

Graham Frost, Deputy Managing Director, Proton World, said: “It is a rare privilege to be invited to join the executive of a key player in a massive new emerging market. I look forward to the challenge of helping Proton World enhance its reputation as the world’s leading smart card solutions provider.”

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Providian Nears $20B

Providian reported $19.0 billion in managed credit card loans for fourth quarter 99, a stunning 58% increase over 4Q/98. Providian also reported Thursday that revenues from membership services nearly tripled last year from $238.5 million to $674.9 million. Overall fourth quarter net income totalled $159.4 million, an increase of 68%, over $94.9 million, for the fourth quarter of 1998. During 4Q/99, Providian added 1.1 million net new accounts bringing total customer accounts to 12.4 million. For the full year, the sub-prime specialist added 4.5 million net new accounts, a 57% gain over the 7.9 million total accounts at year-end 1998. The managed net credit loss rate increased to 6.78% in the fourth quarter, compared to 6.40% in the third quarter of 1999, and was better than expected. For the full year, the managed net credit loss rate was 6.94%, compared to 7.58% for 1998. The 30+ day managed delinquency rate was 5.66% at year-end 1999, compared to 5.20% at the end of the third quarter of 1999 and 5.33% at year-end 1998. For complete current and historical stats on Providian’s credit card portfolio, visit CardData ([www.carddata.com][1]).

PROVIDIAN’S RAPID RISE
98-4 99-1 99-2 99-3 99-4
CARD LOANS: $12.1b $13.1b $14.8b $16.6b $19.0b
TOTAL ACCTS: 7.9m 9.0m 10.1m 11.3m 12.4m
Source: Providian 4Q/99 Earnings Report

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

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CardSelect Patent

CardSelect International, a provider of consulting services to the banking, telecommunications and smart card industries, announced this week that it has received a United States Patent for its “Gateway Apparatus for Designing and Issuing Multiple Application Cards”.

This invention essentially provides an Internet-based apparatus and method to link card issuers, service providers and consumers in the effort to create multiple applications from different vendors on one card. Services can include credit, debit and loyalty, which can be combined on virtual cards, magnetic stripe cards and/or smart cards. Applicants choose from a menu of services on a network, thereby generating a data file that is used to issue their personalized card.

According to Holger Mackenthun, president of CardSelect International, the Internet is changing the way customers purchase their goods and services, and as a result, card issuers must rethink the way they attract new customers. “Low interest rates on credit cards are no longer enough because there are too many offers out there and margins are squeezed to the limit,” Mackenthun says. “Tailored programs on the Internet that deliver added value to specific customers will achieve success, from which banks and merchants will benefit.”

CardSelect has developed a business strategy that parallels the growing trend in the industry to utilize the Internet to build vertical sales channels, thus bringing customers, service providers and card issuers together. When CardSelect’s plans to create an e-commerce network are fully implemented, customers will be able to customize their own preferred services and vendors on virtual cards or ones they receive through the mail. Other Internet developments for adding more value to cards include Citibank’s “CitiWallet” and the “KlickReward” program as well as the Internet credit card from NextCard, which allows personalized photos on cards.

About CardSelect International

Founded in 1997, CardSelect International (CSI) is a start-up organization that has developed a patented technology for personalizing and issuing financial transaction cards, credit cards, smart cards and multiple application cards over the Internet. Headquartered in the Great Valley Corporate Center near Philadelphia, PA, the company also provides a broad range of consulting services to the global banking, telecommunications and card industries. More information on CSI can be found on the company’s web site at [http://www.cardselect.com][1].

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

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Aussie Smart Card Proc

Businesses in the UK and Ireland which trade via the Internet are being offered unprecedented levels of fraud and risk control by National Australia Bank Group, which includes Clydesdale, National Irish, Northern and Yorkshire Banks.

The Group has beaten-off competition from rivals and linked up with market-leading specialists Digital Courier Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: DCTI) to offer selected business customers and those who trade with them the chance to make payments via smartcards, including Mondex Electronic Cash.

National Australia business customers accepting payments via conventional credit and debit cards will also have the chance to enhance their security, thanks to the link-up.

Smartcards contain computer chips, rather than the magnetic strips of conventional credit and debit cards, and are the most secure means of on-line payment available.

National Australia customers accepting on-line payments via credit and debit cards will be offered Digital Courier’s transaction monitoring and fraud detection software, which contains information from credit card companies, card issuing banks and merchant banks. The software is easy to install and use, and works with a wide variety of hardware platforms and operating systems. It contains a range of tools which allow businesses to monitor and change transactions, at any point in their life-cycle, with data available in real time, and authorisation requests being answered in five seconds or less.

The Digital Courier link-up will also mean reports of transaction volumes and values being available to businesses, 24 hours a day, from a secure, password-protected Internet site. It is expected that businesses will find these useful for reconciling and managing accounts, as well as monitoring transactions for fraud.

Digital Courier currently manages half a million credit card transactions a month for merchant banks and Internet-based businesses. It aims to make credit card transactions safe and profitable for its clients, from card authorization, through transaction settlement, to robust fraud control.

Mr. Don Marshall, president of Digital Courier Technologies, Inc. said, “Digital Courier’s agreement with National Australia Group brings us a very important partner in our emerging Internet payment’s business.

“Developing this relationship, with one of the world’s leading banks, further solidifies the important role Digital Courier plays in the global market for Internet payment solutions that emphasize risk control, affinity marketing and smartcard technology innovations”.

Mr. Andrew Douglas, Head of Payments, Europe, National Australia Group, said, “National Australia Group has recognized the specialized capability which Digital Courier brings to select merchants and clients.

“Our respective strengths in the financial and Internet industries will deliver significant benefits for our customers”.

Mr. Brent Skeffington, Head of Smartcards Europe, National Australia Group, said, “National’s agreement with Digital Courier brings us an important partner in emerging areas of our Internet payments business. We expect our joint smartcard program to offer our customers a solution that lowers payment costs, reduces chargeback exposure and creates an affinity relationship between merchant and consumer.”

National Australia Bank Group is an international financial services group providing a comprehensive and integrated range of financial services across four continents and 15 countries including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and throughout Asia. National Australia Group has an asset base of over A$250 billion, assets under administration of over A$400 billion, almost nine million customers globally and is ranked as one of the 50 largest banks in the world. National Australia Group Europe Limited includes four regional banks (Clydesdale Bank PLC, Yorkshire Bank PLC, National Irish Bank Limited and Northern Bank Limited). For more information, visit the National web-site at [http://www.national.com.au][1].

Digital Courier is a payments organization supplying financial institutions, businesses and Internet merchants with sophisticated e-commerce and payment processing software as well as customized services to meet their needs. Data feeds, data management and business intervention are combined to provide a complete real time suite of Internet and physical payment services. Digital Courier specializes in risk management including chargeback and fraud control. Digital Courier’s broad array of software tools and database information is unmatched in enabling merchants and merchant banks to aggressively pursue electronic commerce opportunities. Digital Courier helps reduce the merchant cost of doing business by limiting incremental merchant discount and bank reserve increases. Merchant banks are given assistance to satisfy their fiduciary need to control and limit merchant risk. Beyond risk control services, payment authorization is available and merchant acquiring and settlement. This complete solution provides an unparalleled platform to the electronic commerce environment and because it is based on new technology, it is reliable, secure and cost-effective. For more information about this product, visit [http://www.dcourier.com][2].

[1]: http://www.national.com.au/
[2]: http://www.dcourier.com/

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Barnes & Noble Card

MBNA and barnesandnoble.com signed agreements yesterday to develop and market a co-branded credit card that allows customers who use the credit card to earn rewards at barnesandnoble.com and at Barnes & Noble retail stores. Under the terms of the agreement, MBNA will have the exclusive right to market credit cards to barnesandnoble.com’s customers and barnesandnoble.com will have the right to market its products to MBNA’s 20 million+ cardholders. Also as part of the agreement, barnesandnoble.com will be featured on MBNA’s three Web sites: MBNAnetaccess.com, MBNAwallet.com and MBNAoffers.com. MBNA will also become an affiliate of barnesandnoble.com, whose affiliate network now exceeds 300,000 members. No date has been set for the card’s release.

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ImageCard HiFX

Datacard Group launched a new desktop card printer that will dramatically increase end-user expectations and industry-wide standards for full-color plastic card printing. In addition to true “edge-to-edge” printing, the new Datacard ImageCard HiFX card printer offers color saturation and image resolution that is comparable to offset printing.

“Initially, we intended to introduce a high-resolution printer for mission-critical photo ID applications, such as issuance of driver’s licenses, national IDs and high-security employee badges,” said Eric Freudenheim, Vice President of Product Marketing for Datacard Group’s Credentia company. “And we succeeded. The printer is ideal for those applications–including more complex applications that require high-quality printing on proximity cards or smart cards.

“But the color saturation and image quality have exceeded our most optimistic expectations,” Freudenheim said. “So, we believe it’s a perfect fit for a number of consumer, government and business-to-business applications.”

Freudenheim said he expects those broader applications to include retail gift cards, multi-application campus cards, taxpayer IDs and multi-function visitor IDs for theme parks, resorts and hotels. In addition to end-users, the new ImageCard HiFX will also change card printing paradigms for authorized Datacard Channel Partners around the world, according to Freudenheim.

“We work with very innovative and forward-thinking channel partners,” Freudenheim said. “They’re anxious to get their hands on this printer and start developing new solutions for their traditional customers and entirely new markets.

A new category for plastic card printers

While Datacard Group is incorporating the ImageCard HiFX into its Ultima(TM) Class of card printers, Freudenheim said the new printer is not just a revamped or more feature-rich model.

“HiFX isn’t a simple line extension,” Freudenheim said. “It’s a whole new classification of printer. We offer the world’s largest selection of plastic card printers, but there’s nothing like this in our line.

“We’ve integrated this new printer with ID Works(TM), our modular and most advanced photo ID software package, and a wealth of image capture solutions to create a powerful, fully integrated system,” Freudenheim said.

In contrast to traditional technology that prints images directly onto the surface of a card, ImageCard HiFX first prints a composite, full-color image on a clear, intermediate transfer material, which is then bonded to the card surface using pressure and heat.

This process dramatically improves color saturation and allows for true edge-to-edge printing on a broad range of card types and thicknesses–including PVC, ABS, PET and polycarbonate, as well as proximity cards, smart cards and other cards with uneven surfaces. In addition, a highly durable topcoat layer can provide added image protection and card security.

The ImageCard HiFX prints at 300 dpi resolution. Standard features include duplex printing, magnetic stripe encoding, an external smart card connection, Datacard(R) TruImage(TM) color enhancement capabilities (up to 16,700,000 shades of color) and Datacard(R) TruEdge(TM) printing (edge-to-edge coverage).

Options include inline application of holographic topcoats and integrated contact and contactless smart card couplers. Like all Datacard card printers, ImageCard HiFX is backed by an aggressive warranty that includes printhead coverage with no pass restrictions and no prorating of printhead replacement costs.

Part of a seamless, fully integrated system

Datacard Group plans to sell the new ImageCard HiFX printer as part of a fully integrated system, including Datacard(R) photo ID software, cameras and workstations.

“We’ve thoroughly tested all system components–software, cameras, signature pads and other peripherals–to ensure 100% compatibility,” Freudenheim said. “No other card printer manufacturer offers fully integrated systems like Datacard Group.

“This guaranteed compatibility becomes more and more significant for high-profile, mission-critical applications,” Freudenheim added. “And we think that’s where we’ll see most of the initial interest for this printer.”

Datacard Group is a world leader in innovative plastic card personalization and identity management solutions. Datacard Group provides customers around the world with fully integrated systems for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications. The company offers a broad range of card-related products and services including the world’s best-selling plastic card personalization and printing systems. Datacard Group also offers smart card personalization systems and applications, custom solution development, and products designed to improve the efficiency and profitability of card issuing operations. Datacard Corporation, doing business as Datacard Group, is privately held and based in Minnetonka, Minn. Datacard Group serves customers in more than 120 countries. ([www.datacard.com][1])

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

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SPYRUS & VISA Team

SPYRUS, the Internet ID company for secure e-business, announced a strategic development agreement with Visa International enabling SPYRUS to develop Public Key Infrastructure products that support the Open Platform, a comprehensive system architecture for rapid development of globally interoperable smart card systems. SPYRUS and Visa will also work cooperatively in promoting and marketing Open Platform products to Visa member financial institutions.

The agreement is a natural extension of SPYRUS’ smart card and PKI business, which targets the high-assurance auditable requirements of financial risk management operations. By providing comprehensive integration of the installation and operation of the Open Platform smart cards with its Internet Enabling Security (IES) PKI systems, SPYRUS will provide a one-stop solution to Visa members, enabling more rapid, secure and economic deployment of business applications to the members’ customers. SPYRUS, a leading supplier of public key-based products and solutions that provide the critical foundation for secure Internet commerce, has been a primary contributor in defining security specifications for the Open Platform architecture since 1997.

“The Open Platform provides financial institutions with a broad choice of application suppliers so that Visa cardholders can be offered a range of different products and services on their smart cards, such as credit and debit functions, electronic purse, identification, and network and building access,” said Jim Lee, senior vice president, Emerging Technologies, Visa International. “Key to the success of the Open Platform is high-assurance smart card security. SPYRUS, as a leader in PKI and smart card technologies, will be able to offer our member institutions a totally integrated high-assurance solution for Open Platform transactions.”

“Smart cards will become ubiquitous as personal, portable financial services tools across all global institutions,” said Sue Pontius, President and CEO of SPYRUS. “By delivering technology based on the Open Platform, SPYRUS will offer financial institutions the most secure and complete method of integrating smart cards and PKI solutions into their business environment.”

User Security for Multiple Services

Smart cards will allow financial institutions to offer customers secure “anytime, anywhere” access to financial and value-added services. The Open Platform provides Visa member institutions the ability to implement a wide variety of applications, including

— Credit card services,

— Debit services,

— E-purse services, and

— Unique value-added services such as mass-transit applications, loyalty programs, and identification services.

The Open Platform eases development of smart card solutions by providing a rapid development environment, including card specifications, terminal specifications, and workbench tools. For example, Visa Cash will allow financial institutions to pre-load money onto a customer’s smart card; the smart card can then be used for transactions such as pay phone calls, bridge tolls, and Internet purchases, with the amount being debited from the cash stored on the card. To protect a customer’s money, the smart cards and the supporting PKI system require the highest level of secure authentication and authorization using digital signatures and certificate management technologies. SPYRUS delivers these capabilities to VISA member institutions with its IES solution.

High-Assurance SPYRUS Smart Card Solutions

With delivery scheduled for the third quarter of this year, Visa member institutions will also be able to use SPYRUS’ plug-and-play Portico product solution for the Open Platform. This bundled product application, which extends the ease and convenience of installation and integration of the smart cards with the PKI system, includes SPYRUS Personal Access Readers for secure Personal Identification Number (PIN) entry on Open Platform-based smart cards, and browser-based software components to securely support Internet transactions.

SPYRUS’ integrated Open Platform solution is also complemented by the SPYRUS SmartStation, an IES system component that combines Open Platform smart card issuance and management with digital certificate registration. To provide the most secure environment for deploying Open Platform smart cards, the SmartStation securely loads each customer’s digital identity onto the smart card without PC or browser software involvement. The Portico bundle adds to these features by providing a stand-alone Personal Access Reader that securely authenticates a user’s identity before communicating with the Internet browser.

“SPYRUS IES support of Open Platform smart cards with the SmartStation and Portico products will allow financial institutions to deploy the highest level of personal and portable security in the industry,” Pontius noted. “We will offer a single vendor responsibility for Visa members wanting to rapidly deploy highly secure smart card system solutions and the enabling PKI system solutions to enforce a robust chain-of -trust to all of their customers.”

About SPYRUS

SPYRUS, the Internet ID Company, is the leader in securing the Internet as a medium of exchange for valued data and transactions for businesses and their customers, and for federal and local governments. SPYRUS’ public key system solutions are designed for organizations that have unique business policy management requirements, valued digital information content and transactions to protect and operations that require auditable risk/liability management. SPYRUS Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solutions have been deployed in health care, utilities, government, financial and law enforcement markets, with operational systems scalable to millions of users worldwide.

The company’s flagship product line is the SYRUS Internet Enabling Security (IES) solution. SPYRUS IES is an integrated public key product suite comprised of its SPYRUS PKI, Rosetta smart cards, PAR smart card readers, cryptographic tool kits and professional services. The SPYRUS IES provides timely and cost-effective deployments with customizable public key solutions to meet unique customer and industry requirements.

SPYRUS, Inc. is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, with offices across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

SPYRUS has recently been named in the latest Deloitte & Touche “Technology Fast 500” technology growth company list. For more about SPYRUS and its public key system solutions, please visit our web site at [www.spyrus.com][1].

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

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