EIS International announced yesterday that it will preview its ‘Call Processing System’ next week at the CTI Spring Expo. ‘CPS’ utilizes a new credit card authorization process which allows the processing of a customers credit card while remaining on the line with the customer. This is made possible through the integration of ICVERIFY software from CyberCash. This new feature also streamlines record administration by reducing the number of calls incorrectly marked as sales because of card rejection. With ‘Instant Credit Card Authorization’, the agent can mark the record as a no sale, request an additional credit card to complete the sale, or verify the customer-provided credit-card information during the call session, eliminating the need to update the record at a later time.


VHS Network To Enter US

VHS Network announced yesterday that according to recent reports, a group of payment companies, including Visa, are working to create a standard specification for smart card readers. The readers will allow customers to use smart cards for electronic commerce and Internet banking services across Europe. According to the research company Datamonitor, Europe leads the world in smart card spending with almost $1 billion expected to be spent on new projects in 1999. More than 80% of the smart card market, which looks set to exceed $3.5 billion by 2002 is centered in Europe.

“Even though Europe is far ahead of the United States, we believe that once major companies learn about the benefits of smart card technology, the U.S. will catch up with Europe very quickly,” says Elwin Cathcart, president of VHS Network. VHS Network Inc. recently entered into a major agreement with Groupmark Canada Ltd., to exclusively license its SmartCARD(TM) technology in the U.S.

According to Cathcart, increase in Internet usage will fuel the rapid expansion of SmartCARD(TM) technology in the U.S. “Banks and other major financial institutions have a growing concern over the vulnerability of the magnetic strip cards to fraud. With the growing use of card transactions over the Internet, the concern becomes even greater. SmartCARD technology effectively eliminates most of these safety fears, making it the ideal method of payment for Internet transactions. And since the Internet market penetration in the U.S. is much higher than in Europe, it should be just a matter of time before the SmartCARDmarket will explode in the U.S.,” Cathcart explains.

But SmartCARD technology is not just for the Internet. SmartCARDs store up to 8,000 characters of valuable information, vs. 125 characters in a typical magnetic charge card, making them an ideal choice for retail loyalty card programs and charge and debit cards. SmartCARD(TM) can also act as a preloaded electronic purse.

Many grocery and convenience stores already have loyalty programs in place. Cardholders get additional savings when they purchase certain advertised items. SmartCARDs can take these programs one step further. Because of the huge amount of information that can be stored in your card — and not in the retailer’s information system — your card is practically a portable database.

“The retailer can offer instant point of sale special promotions on high-margin merchandise or instant rewards or gifts based on your past consumption patterns. They can use the system to increase both the average order size as well as the total amount of monthly spending. Stores are able to attract more repeat business, and even decrease the importance of advertising low prices to attract customers. In fact, with SmartCARD(TM)-based loyalty programs, retailers can do individualized marketing within the store without ever posting sale prices on store windows or walls. This makes it harder for the competition to know what and how much the store is discounting,” explains Cathcart.

But it is not just the industry that benefits from VHS Network’s SmartCARD technology either. “Loyal customers will benefit by getting additional discounts on the items that they have a track record of being interested in. Consumers own their consumption profile. That can be a powerful tool,” says Cathcart.

Because the information is accessed instantly and further data is collected without linking to a network, SmartCARD is also extremely cost-efficient. The retailer can load updates on the central database just once a day.

However, SmartCARD may not be for everyone, at least in the beginning. As with all new technologies, a certain demographic segment typically adapts the technology in its early stages. “SmartCARD technology seems to appeal most to 25-50 year olds, who already have high expectations of advanced technology to simplify their lives. From both VHS Network’s and our client companies’ perspective, this doesn’t matter. That demographic segment includes approximately 50% of the population and the majority of the purchasing power,” Cathcart says.

In Europe, credit card associations and banks are promoting smart cards as a convenient and safe method of payment. “It really is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Even though merchants will have to buy a card reader that may cost $50-$400, they are relieved of the safety risk of handling cash. Banks like the system, because they can issue cards to people with a less than perfect credit records. And customers can manage their credit better and don’t have to fumble for change for small purchases that normally couldn’t be charges,” points out Cathcart.

VHS Network is one of the emerging players in the SmartCARD market. Groupmark Canada, the licensor of SmartCARD technology, has been a leading Canadian loyalty marketing firm for over 25 years. Groupmark was the first company in North America to offer a service totally dedicated to the implementation, marketing and management of the SmartCARD.


4anything.com board of directors

4anything.com yesterday announced the appointment of Alex W. “Pete” Hart to its Board of Directors. Hart, former Chief Executive Officer of MasterCard International and Advanta Corporation, adds e-commerce and financial services expertise to the board of directors. 4anything.com is the world’s first branded network of 2,500 vertical community portals, providing Net users quick and easy access to the best content, community, and shopping available online.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Pete Hart join our board of directors,” said Vincent J. Schiavone, founder and chief executive officer of 4anything.com. “With over 30 years of management, financial services, and emerging technology experience, Pete is an invaluable resource as 4anything.com establishes the next-generation of Internet portals.”

Hart served as chief executive officer of Advanta Corporation, a diversified financial services company, from 1994 to 1997. Prior to joining Advanta, he was president and chief executive officer of MasterCard International, and a member of the board of directors for Europay International.

Before joining MasterCard, Hart spent ten years with First Interstate Bancorp. In 1978, he joined as president and chief executive officer of First Interstate Services Company, a system-wide technology and operations subsidiary. In 1981, he was named executive vice president, responsible for consumer banking and operations. He also became the founding chairman of the board of the CIRRUS System, a global network of shared automated teller machines. Hart is currently a member of the advisory board of the Internet Capital Group.

“There is a simple brilliance to the 4anything.com network,” said Alex W. “Pete” Hart. “I look forward to helping the company further develop its easy- to-use approach to the best information, products and services on the Internet.”

About 4anything.com

4anything.com redefines Internet search through its branded network of over 2,500 vertical community portals, offering an enhanced Net experience through direct access to the best content, interaction and commerce available online. Each site is branded with the number “4” and the topic, creating easy-to-remember names, such as 4wine.com, 4baseball.com, 4autoinsurance.com, and 4Philadelphia.com.

Free of charge, the 4anything.com network delivers the brands and services users expect to find on the first page of results, neatly organized under useful headings. Further, each portal provides online community built around users common interests.

4anything.com has formed alliances with some of the leading content providers and directories on the Internet. By partnering with other content providers and distributors of information, 4anything.com is able to reach an international community of millions, and still cater to each individual’s most specific needs. The company has a strategic partnership with Safeguard Scientifics and a technology partnership with Inktomi. The company also has business alliances with Reuters, AccuWeather, and InfoSpace. 4anything.com is headquartered near Philadelphia in Wayne, PA and has offices in Los Angeles, CA.


Lucky Strike

Bingo and Gaming International announced Thursday that the Los Angeles Superior Court has ruled that the ‘Lucky Strike’ machines are not gambling devices. The machines, which resemble the one-armed bandits sell pre-paid phone cards. At the same time of purchase, the machines enter the customer in a promotional sweepstakes which offers cash prizes from $1 to $1,000. What makes this legal is the fact that no purchase is necessary to play and the odds of winning are posted on the side of the machine. Look for the ‘Lucky Strike’ pre-paid phone card vending machines to start appearing by the years end.


VISA Hosts

VISA International will host the first-ever international Government Payment Card Conference for international, federal and state government agencies. Representatives from the U.S. and the UK will discuss the various aspects of implementing and running Government Purchasing and Travel & Entertainment Card programs, similar to the U.S. Government Services Administration’s ‘Smart Pay Program’. A ‘Government Payment Card’ is a payment card in which there are no revolving interest payments. The ‘VISA Travel’ card provides government agencies with a method of payment for employees’ travel needs while limiting ATM access and setting total spending limits.



Electronic Identification, announced yesterday a new ID card technology called ‘e*PICS’. The card combines radio frequency technology and biometric identification to identify the user without the use of passwords and PIN numbers. A digital profile of the individual is created by capturing a digital fingerprint, photograph and personal details. This information is then burned into a chip on the card. The information is then extracted from the card via radio frequency which checks the validity against the network information.



Ukraine’s ‘PrivatBank’ announced Wednesday that Hypercom will provide end-to-end solutions for their precessing network. The agreement includes 30 ‘Integrated Enterprise Networking’ nodes and more than 1000 ‘T7P’ POS terminals. One Hypercom ‘IEN 6000’ network controller will be installed at the bank’s central computer centre in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine with smaller IEN 2500 models to be installed at 16 major regional bank branches throughout the Ukraine.


ACE Names VP

ACE Cash Express, Inc., the nation’s largest check-cashing chain and a significant provider of related retail financial services, has named Debra A. Bradford as the vice president of finance. Bradford was previously at IPS Card Solutions, a division of First Data Corp.

The vice president of finance position was recently created to oversee all finance-related activities. Bradford will direct all external and internal financial reporting, treasury, planning and analysis, and general accounting.

Before joining ACE, Bradford was the chief operating officer for IPS Card Solutions where she led the overall operations of the company. Bradford spent 14 years at IPS Card Solutions in various leadership roles including controller and vice president of finance and operations.

“As ACE continues to grow and expand, our management team must also evolve,” said Jay B. Shipowitz, senior vice president and chief financial officer of ACE. “We are excited to welcome Debra to our senior management team, and feel her transaction processing experience combined with a strong operational focus is ideal for ACE.”

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 897 stores, consisting of 779 company-owned stores and 118 franchised stores in 29 states. ACE offers a broad range of financial and check-cashing services and is one of the largest providers of MoneyGram wire transfer transactions. In addition, ACE offers money orders, small consumer loans, bill payment services and prepaid local and long distance telecommunication services.

The company’s web site is found at .


Hypercom Terminals to Turkey

Hypercom Corporation, a global provider of electronic payment solutions and the largest supplier of point-of-sale (POS) payment systems in Turkey, Wednesday announced an agreement toprovide 10,000 POS terminals and 52 Integrated Enterprise Networking (IEN) nodes to IsBank. This latest agreement increases the total number of Hypercom terminals ordered by this leading Turkish bank during the last two years to more than 25,000, and is in direct support of IsBank’s card acquisition activities.

“Our retail merchants have told us that they prefer the Hypercom terminal because it is extremely reliable, easy to operate, requires minimal counter space and processes transactions extremely quickly” said Mr. Kadir Akgoz, DP Manager, IsBank. In addition to that, Hypercom’s solutions allow us to better protect ourselves against fraudulent transactions because every transaction is authorised reliably on-line. Hypercom is a perfect fit for IsBank’s card acquisition activities.”

Hypercom’s T7P is a compact, high-performance point-of-sale terminal that supports credit and debit card processing. The highly popular terminal speeds up transaction times and helps prevent long queues at the checkout counter. Equally important, the ‘plug and play’ Hypercom T7P is designed to save on cashier training, installation time and costs, processing and settlement time. Upgrades or re-configurations can be handled remotely.

“IsBank and Hypercom are working very closely together to bring the latest international transaction processing solutions to the Turkish market” said Rob Meli, Managing Director of Hypercom Europe. It is a distinct pleasure to provide this leading bank with proven electronic payment solutions.”

IsBank is installing the 52 IEN controllers in regional branches to extend its geographical network coverage and add capacity in those areas experiencing increasing credit and debit card authorisation transactions. Incorporating Hypercom’s advanced IENView(TM) network management system, IsBank can remotely manage all of the nodes from its central computer center.

Hypercom’s POS and networking equipment is being supplied to IsBank by Hypercom’s local Turkish partner, SERVUS. Based in Istanbul, SERVUS is a diverse information technology group providing sales, support and third-party maintenance services for computer systems ranging from mainframes to personal computers. SERVUS has to-date provided over 550 IEN networking nodes and more than 67,000 Hypercom POS terminals to banks and retailers throughout Turkey. Hypercom Corporation (NYSE: HYC) is a global provider of end-to-end software, networking and hardware electronic payment solutions, including multi-functional point-of-sale terminals, peripherals, networking products, Ascendent(TM) payment and transaction software and Internet-based and electronic commerce payment solutions. On a global basis Hypercom delivers the services and technology infrastructure required to quickly integrate and deploy new payment applications. These applications provide competitive value-add programs, improved business performance and lower total cost of ownership.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Hypercom markets its products on all continents, with installations in over 60 countries. European sales and support offices are located in the United Kingdom, Hungary and Russia. In addition local EMEA distributors have been appointed in Germany, Poland, Romania, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Mauritius, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Bahrain, Jordan, Czech Republic, Croatia, Israel and South Africa. More information on Hypercom and its products can be found at [www.hypercom.com][1].

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


The Phantom Menace?

Credit card volume soared for the opening day of the much awaited Star Wars prequel. Atlanta-based National Data Corp. says a record number of movie tickets were purchased over the Internet and through online kiosks with credit and debit cards. NDC says Star Wars charge volume rivaled Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day in terms of credit card peaks. NDC also says its credit card volume increased by more than 25% at its West Coast center, during the first day of the movie’s ticket sales. NDC handles more than 3.7 billion transactions annually.


PeopleSoft eMarketplace

PeopleSoft yesterday announced PeopleSoft eMarketplace, a new application for business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce. Integrated with the PeopleSoft e-business backbone, PeopleSoft eMarketplace provides a multi-channel solution including sales, customer self-service, product marketing, order fulfillment, and closed-loop analytics. PeopleSoft eMarketplace will allow organizations to deploy Internet sites to sell goods and services. PeopleSoft eMarketplace is built on the leading Internet commerce technology of Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition. The first phase of PeopleSoft eMarketplace is on schedule to be generally available in the summer of 1999.

PeopleSoft eMarketplace is the first offering from an ERP vendor to combine sophisticated closed-loop analytics and dynamic transaction generation capabilities with traditional e-commerce functionality. PeopleSoft eMarketplace will leverage PeopleSoft Enterprise Performance Management analytic capabilities to create the most personalized experience for the end customer, and maximize revenue, profitability, and other strategic business objectives for the seller.

In addition to closed-loop analytics, the PeopleSoft eMarketplace solution will include an Internet storefront; customer self-service functionality enabling buyers to view order history and preferences; product merchandising and marketing functions allowing targeted promotions; and tight integration with PeopleSoft’s supply chain management solution for real-time pricing, inventory availability, speedy order fulfillment, and access to order, shipment, and delivery status.

“Today’s announcement of PeopleSoft eMarketplace brings enterprise power to Internet commerce by providing an end-to-end solution that will integrate the Internet storefront, back-office fulfillment, and analytic applications,” said Jeff Carr, PeopleSoft senior vice president of marketing and strategy execution. “PeopleSoft eMarketplace provides the complete ‘dot.com-in-a-box’ functionality that today’s companies — from startups to multinationals —

will need to compete in the Internet economy.”

Intelligently Linking Enterprise Applications and Internet Commerce

The tight integration between PeopleSoft eMarketplace and PeopleSoft supply chain management solutions allows organizations to deploy their commerce solutions in “Internet time” and reduce total cost of ownership. Built on Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition technology, PeopleSoft eMarketplace provides customers with a proven technology platform upon which to deploy their e-commerce solutions.

“Today’s announcement of PeopleSoft eMarketplace provides a compelling solution to PeopleSoft customers who are looking to leverage the success of their enterprise applications to build an integrated center for e-commerce,” said Charles Stevens, vice president of Microsoft’s Application Developers Customer Unit. “The proven enterprise backbone and analytic capabilities of PeopleSoft combined with the comprehensive Microsoft Site Server Commerce Edition will provide customers with a cost-effective platform that is integrated, scalable, and primed for e-commerce.”

“It is imperative to provide the best possible service to our customers, whether they choose to do business with us by Internet, phone, or mail order,” said Jim Prevo, chief information officer of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. “In the past, we needed several different systems to be able to meet these needs: one for mail order processing, one for wholesale order processing, and another to run our GreenMountainCoffee.com storefront. Integration was a big challenge for us. Now, PeopleSoft’s integrated eMarketplace and enterprise backbone will power all of these sales channels for us.”

PeopleSoft eMarketplace will be a separately licensed application that leverages PeopleSoft’s e-business backbone and Enterprise Performance Management technology and applications. Pricing and licensing information will be forthcoming in future announcements. In addition to the alliance with Microsoft, PeopleSoft has leveraged several other relationships for PeopleSoft eMarketplace, including alliances with Vertex, Inc. and Taxware International, Inc. for sales and use tax processing, and CyberSource Corp. for credit card processing.

The PeopleSoft Business Network

PeopleSoft eMarketplace is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to deliver the PeopleSoft Business Network (PSBN), a comprehensive network for electronic business including an Internet-enabled e-business backbone, Enterprise Performance Management, eBusiness Communities for the workplace, an Enterprise Portal, and now PeopleSoft eMarketplace. PeopleSoft introduced PSBN in November 1998, and was the first enterprise software vendor to demonstrate a portal-based enterprise software solution.

About PeopleSoft

PeopleSoft (Nasdaq:PSFT) is a global supplier of Internet-based, electronic business network solutions. PeopleSoft solutions for manufacturing, supply chain, government, education, financial, project and human resource management are used by more than 3,000 customers worldwide.

PeopleSoft is currently developing the PeopleSoft Business Network (PSBN), a network of e-business applications and content that unleashes the power of people to work and transact business in the Internet-enabled world. PSBN incorporates business transactions, knowledge and sophisticated analytics within and across enterprise boundaries, and makes all of this content available to employees, customers and suppliers through a personalized, easy-to-use Internet portal.

Headquartered in Pleasanton, PeopleSoft employs more than 6,600 people and had 1998 revenues of $1.3 billion. PeopleSoft is on the World Wide Web at [www.peoplesoft.com][1].

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


Pushing The Envelope

Providian Financial Corp., formerly known as First Deposit, is under investigation for alleged fraud by the San Francisco district attorneys office. The king of subprime VISA cards may be subject to criminal charges if prosecutors firm up the evidence. According to yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Better Business Bureau alone received about 850 letters from irate Providian customers. Prosecutors allege that Providian distributed deceptive credit card solicitations, failed to fully disclose terms of its credit card offers, and failed to properly post payments to accounts for existing cardholders. Some of the complaints center on Providian’s perceived requirement that cardholders buy so-called “credit protection” for $12.95 per month. Providian’s “credit protection” plan, unlike most plans, only provides cardholders with a “freeze” on finance charges and fees if the cardholder becomes disabled or loses a job. Providian/First Deposit has a long record of alleged unfair business practices. The firm is largely credited with the passage of legislation for the so-called “Schumer Disclosure Box” for credit card issuers by Congress in the late 80’s. Providian/First Deposit solicited consumers nationally for a no-annual-fee ‘VISA Gold’ card with an undisclosed no-grace-period in the late 80’s. In more recent years the firm is notorious for requiring cardholders to take a cash advance to activate a new account and assessing exorbitant fees/interest for cash advances or foreign transactions.