Portable E-Cash

C-MAC Industries yesterday announced the release of a test of a new portable e-cash device. Residents of Sherbrooke, Quebec will soon test a new smart card device designed and manufactured by C-MAC Industries. The new ‘C-MAC Electronic Wallet’ will allow Royal Bank clients to transfer electronic cash from person to person. Some of the features of the wallet include a calculator and a log of the cardholder’s last 10 e-cash transactions as well as being able to view the current balance on the card. New, capabilities, such as Internet loading or other smart card applications, are also expected to be added to the wallet in the future.


MagicLine Agreement

Magic Line, Inc., the Midwest?s leading electronic funds transfer (EFT) network, announced it has signed five-year Participation and Gateway Services Agreements with the two largest banks in Traverse City, Michigan Empire National Bank of Traverse City and Northwestern Savings Bank & Trust.

In addition to its current Magic Line agreements for Cardbase Management and Visa Check card services, Empire National Bank has signed five-year contracts with Magic Line for Participation and Gateway Service Agreements. ?We have a great relationship with Magic Line. We chose the network for their strength in Michigan they have a large cardbase and number of terminals and fine customer service. Their strong regional presence is crucial to use here in Traverse City where many of our customers travel from down state and out-of-state areas such as Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago and Columbus,? said Bruce Reavely, Division Vice President, Empire National Bank. Chartered in 1912, Empire National Bank currently holds $480 million in assets and has 12 ATMs, with approximately 9,000 Magic Line cardholders.

In addition to its current Magic Line agreements for ATM Terminal Driving, Cardbase Management and MasterMoney Card Services, Northwestern Saving Bank & Trust has signed a five-year contract with Magic Line for Participation and Gateway Services Agreements. ? Our long-standing relationship with Magic Line and its continuing cooperation with us are the main reason we selected the network again for these new contracts,? said Lynn Fricke, Assistant Vice President. Founded in 1955, Northwestern currently holds $205 million in assess and has 11 ATMs, with approximately 7,000 cardholders.

As one of the top regional EFT networks linked throughout the United States and globally, Magic Line supports 14 million cardholders with access to over 169,000 ATM, POS and remote banking terminals. Magic Line processes 15 million transactions monthly and serves over 1,049 banks, credit unions and thrifts in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin and 8 other states. The company offers: full-service ATM management, ATM terminal driving; cardbase management and authorization services; on-line POS debit services with ML Pay; off-line POS debit services with MasterMoney and Visa Check Card; remote banking/bill payment services; and marketing services. In December 1998, Magic Line signed a definitive agreement to merge with NYCE Corporation, the leading provider of electronic payments services in the Northeast. Magic Line?s Website address is www.magicline.com.


FUSA CyberMark

First USA Bank announced yesterday is has purchased an equity position in smart card innovator ‘CyberMark’. Together they will offer smart card services to partners including university campuses, corporate campuses, military bases and sports arenas. First USA and ‘CyberMark’ in January 1998 jointly issued the Florida State MasterCard, which was the first publicly available credit card with smart card technology.



Paymentech announced Monday that its commercial card unit is implementing a purchasing card program for PepsiCo, Pepsi Bottling Group and Frito-Lay. Paymentech is launching a MasterCard purchasing card program for PepsiCo that utilizes the Internet reporting system ‘PaymentNet’. Once the program is fully rolled out, Paymentech anticipates issuing 8,000 purchasing cards with an estimated annual charge volume of $100 million.


Go Software

Go Software, Inc., developer of PC-Charge the leading credit, debit/ATM card and check transaction processing software, Monday announced new versions of their electronic payment processing software products Win-Charge, PC-Charge and active-Charge. The new version contains an assortment of new features and enhancement mandated by industry regulations and requested by merchant end-users. These new features are required for merchants to receive the best processing rates from their financial institutions and also allow merchants to meet consumer payment expectations while ensuring reliability and ease of use.

As of this release, all GO products have been updated to meet the latest Visa and MasterCard processing requirements as of April 1999. By utilizing these latest releases, merchants can avoid additional fee assessments from their financial service organizations by providing all data by Visa and MasterCard. Existing end-users may obtain the new versions as an upgrade from GO Software or their authorized GO reseller.

With the federal government mandating electronic processing for all foodstamp programs by 2002 and 39 states already with programs running or in pilot, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) has become a requirement at the point of sale for most grocery and similar retail merchants. With the release of these latest product versions, GO Software becomes the first commercial payment processing software to offer this capability. Coupled with GO’s active-Charge product for integrating payment processing at the point of sale, GO Software is rapidly becoming the industry standard payment solution for grocery and other retail merchants.

Perhaps the most innovative new feature is the implementation of Microsoft’s industry standard Telephone Application Programming Interface (TAPI). TAPI provides a programmable interface between Windows and the end-user’s modem, and alleviates the need for the end-user to know the technical details of their modem to properly configure it for payment processing. This is especially important for payment processing because the financial services industry user different communications standard and modem setting than those used for web surfing and other typical modem uses. In addition, TAPI lets multiples applications share one device eliminating potential conflicts and making the PC more Productive.

‘We are really excited about the new features we have added to this version. Being the first to market with EBT and TPI once again demonstrates GO Software’s leadership in the electronic payment processing space’, Says Ken Boekhaus, VP of Sales and Marketing for GO Software. Adds Bill Pittman, Chief Technology Officer for GO Software, ‘We listen to our customers, and with the unique communication requirements for the payment industry, we recognized an opportunity to simplify the modem setup and configuration. Engineering this benefit into our product makes life easier for our customers and results in a competitive advantage for GO. This is an example of a win-win or the customer and exemplifies how GO Software likes to do business.’

About GO Software, Inc.

GO Software, Inc., is a privately held, venture capital funded corporation based in Savannah, GA, and is the leading provider of innovative Windows based software solution for processing credit, debit/ATM card, EBT and check transactions. The company’s PC-Charge and Win-Charge software products are alternatives to the stand-alone single-function bank terminals many businesses currently use to process payments, and their active-Charge and other products provide fully integrated, scalable payment processing solutions for POS systems and Electronic Commerce environments. GO Software has long-standing relationships with banks and financial institutions that process electronic payment transactions, and can be reached through the Internet at [www.gosoftinc.com][1] or by calling (800) 725-9264.

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


Phantom Gift Cards

Star Wars fans are soaring in at hyper speed to Borders Books and Music and Waldenbooks stores to snap up Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace electronic gift certificate cards. The electronic gift certificate cards resemble credit cards, but feature incredible color graphics of two Phantom Menace characters: the young Anakin Skywalker and the villainous Darth Maul. Like prepaid phone cards, Star Wars electronic gift certificate cards retain their unused balance. Each gift card redemption must include at least one Star Wars purchase. As an added convenience, customers can call a toll-free number to check the balance on their electronic gift certificate cards.


3-in-1 Installs

The Las Vegas Hilton and ten other properties have installed 3-in-1 Casino Cash Plus, a technologically advanced financial transaction innovation from Global Cash Access (GCA), the leading provider of cash access services to the gaming industry, and its partner, Bank of America. The 3-in-1 Casino Cash Plus product offers integrated ATM, credit and debit card transaction capability at a single location, providing added speed and convenience for patrons and diminished labor costs for the gaming property. Historically offered only in Las Vegas, GCA’s 3-in-1 Casino Cash Plus has recently been made available to gaming properties nationwide.

Gaming properties that have recently added 3-in-1 Casino Cash Plus include:

— Golden Nugget Laughlin – Laughlin, Nev.

— Hyatt Tahoe – Incline Village, Nev.

— Las Vegas Hilton – Las Vegas, Nev.

— Magic Star Casino – Henderson, Nev.

— Palace Station – Las Vegas, Nev.

— Players Island Casino – St. Louis, Mo.

— Pueblo Greyhound Park – Pueblo, Col.

— Rio Casino – Las Vegas, Nev.

— Riverside Laughlin – Laughlin, Nev.

— Sahara Casino – Las Vegas, Nev.

— Sky City Casino – Acoma, N.M.

“The convenience and speed of 3-in-1 Casino Cash Plus(R) have made a significant impact on our customers’ transaction numbers, with a 20 percent increase in debit card volumes, as well as increases in credit card cash advances,” said Kirk E. Sanford, GCA’s chief executive officer. “It also frees casino personnel to spend more time meeting other customer needs. “Our technology lets patrons quickly perform any one or more of these transactions and provides them with options to continue their gaming entertainment,” he said.

Global Cash Access was formed in 1998 through a joint venture of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), First Data Corporation (NYSE:FDC) and USA Processing, Inc. The company provides a full range of electronic funds transfer and other services to more than 1,200 gaming properties nationwide.


Top 25 – 1Q/99

Citibank bumps Bank One, Capital One nudges past Household, and Wachovia blows past US Bancorp during the first quarter. According to CardData, the top 25 bank credit card issuers accounted for $396.7 billion of the nation’s total 1Q/99 bank card receivables of $447.5 billion. 1Q/99 financial data for more than 350 top issuers is available via CardData (www.carddata.com)

TOP 25 1Q/99 (ranked by receivables)

1. Citibank $69.4b 14. US Bancorp $6.0b
2. Bank One $68.2b 15. Associates $5.8b
3. MBNA $56.2b 16. First Union $5.2b
4. Discover $32.1b 17. Direct Merchants $5.1b
5. Chase $31.4b 18. USAA $3.7b
6. BofA $20.7b 19. People’s $3.6b
7. Fleet $14.1b 20. Frst Natl NE $3.2b
8. Cap One $13.9b 21. Natl City $2.0b
9. Household $13.0b 22. Partners Frst $1.9b
10. Providian $12.7b 23. KeyCorp $1.3b
11. AmEx Optima $10.2b 24. Firstar $1.3b
12. Wells Fargo $7.9b 25. HSBC $1.2b
13. Wachovia $6.6b

chart excludes GE Capital and First North American National-both firms do
not release data

Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)


Pilot Payment

Yesterday in London, Visa International, Nokia and MeritaNordbanken Group announced the start of a pilot whereby wireless application technology and mobile phone will be used to make payments over the internet or at the merchant point of sale. Using a Nokia 7110 dual-band GSM phone, users will be able to pay securely over the Internet and at merchant point of sale as well as securely download applications to an EMV compliant bankcard. The phones are equipped with an additional “plug in” small size card providing Visa payment services to MeritaNordbanken Group customers. The pilot involves mobile payment functions using the WAP and Bluetooth technology. End-to-end security will be provided by WAP and a SET enabled bankcard.


Student Cards

While most card issuers charge an annual interest rate of 17.00% for student credit cards there are a number of lower priced offers by major issuers. CardTrak (cardtrak.com) expanded its consumer service this month with a student card listing. The chart is available in the hardcopy edition as well as the online edition of CardTrak. An expanded consumer report on student cards will be available next week for $10 per copy. The executive version of the student card report will be released June 15 and is available for $499. For more information: 301-631-9100.

(nationally available cards)
USAA College Start 11.65% None
Commerce bank Advantage Card 13.35% None
BankAmericard 13.74% None
American Express 15.65% None
First Tennessee 15.90% None

SOURCE: CardTrak (www.cardtrak.com or 800-344-7714)


Datastrip Barcode

Datastrip has released a new version of its 2D barcode which is capable of storing over 2kbytes of machine-readable text, image, or binary data, on a compact strip that can be printed on plastic cards or documents. This capacity is more than enough to store multiple biometric records – plus high quality photo images and text – allowing organisations to implement highly secure identification (ID) systems at a fraction of the cost of other technologies.

Called 2D Superscript, Datastrip’s unique new implementation of this technology provides 10-30 times more capacity than the typical magnetic stripe card, and comparable capacity to many chip-based cards – at virtually zero cost.

The storage capacity of the new Datastrip portable database is enough to accommodate all common biometric techniques including fingerprint, signature, facial, and iris characteristics. With an average size of biometric templates of 500 bytes or less, a Datastrip ID card can even store multiple or ‘layered’ biometrics in conjunction with text and high quality photographic images, providing the means to implement highly sophisticated ID schemes. For example, biometric verification can be used to authorise banking transactions, building access, and the distribution of government benefits. Storage of biometrics on a portable medium, such as a PVC card, additionally allows ID systems to operate in off-line modes, safeguarding privacy and the freedom of the individual.

Another potential application of Datastrip’s 2D Superscript technology is in automated document handling. A compact Datastrip can be printed onto documents at extremely low cost. With around 1kbytes/inch2 (160 bytes/cm2) available, the Datastrip code provides the capacity to store large volumes of data within a small space, making it an economical means of automating data storage and retrieval. This reduces the cost of processing major paper-based records such as driver’s licences, vehicle registration documentation, and bills of lading.

The new coding scheme incorporates extensive Reed-Solomon error correction as standard – enough to support up to 50% data destruction – assuring high reliability over the lifespan of card or document systems. When printed in the form of a 3 x 5/8 inch (76×16 mm) strip on a standard CR-80 card for example, over 2kbytes is free for application data storage. If required, as many as four strips may be printed on a standard plastic card, providing a total capacity in excess of 8kbytes.

Datastrip’s 2D barcode system is particularly applicable to ID applications. Many of its built-in security features can be customised for individual applications. The coding algorithm is not in the public domain and may be post-processed to ensure that the same data results in different printed codes – making it extremely difficult to copy or decipher.

Datastrip’s Unique ID feature supports the establishment of a closed network, supported by specifically authorised readers. Furthermore, data may be stored in modular fields making it easy to create multi-application cards. And each field may be assigned different security levels, further structuring record access and protecting users’ privacy. For highly sensitive applications, data may also be encrypted.

Datastrip codes can be produced using a variety of popular and economic card and code generation systems including Quik Works from Datacard, FreezeFrame from ESP-Systex, FoxID32 from Fox Technology, Mosaic from NBS Technologies and Polaroid’s ID Card Maker from Imaging Technology Corporation.