Cash Back

American Express and Discover came to terms yesterday over the use of ‘Cash Back Card’. Discover uses ‘Cashback Bonus’ and filed for trademark infringement against American Express. AmEx says it has agreed to rename its program ‘Cash Rebate’. For displays of the disputed products visit CardWatch ([][1]).



VF Goes Wireless

A major wireless POS deal was struck Thursday between BellSouth and VeriFone. BellSouth Wireless Data and VeriFone, Inc. confirmed they will enter into a strategic alliance to develop state-of-the-art, wireless, point-of-sale solutions. By the end of this year VeriFone will introduce wireless terminals that will process over the BellSouth Intelligent Wireless Networks. BellSouth says merchants will be able to process wireless credit card purchases in less than 10 seconds.


First VA Sells Out

First Virginia Banks agreed to sell its credit card portfolio to MBNA yesterday. Under terms of the agreement MBNA will acquire First Virginia’s $103 million portfolio with an expected closing date of Mar. 31. First Virginia expects to recognize a net after-tax gain of approximately $11 million. As part of the agreement, First Virginia will enter into an agent relationship with MBNA to continue offering credit cards under First Virginia’s existing brand names. According to CardData ([][1]) First Virginia has approximately 200,000 gross accounts, 105,000 active accounts and 231,000 cards-in-force at the end of 1998.



MasterCard Shuffle

Positioning to meet the needs of its key members, MasterCard announced yesterday a down sizing of its International Board and the nomination of Citigroup to the MasterCard board. MasterCard says the reduced number of board members, from 31 to 17 voting members, will enable the association to be more “flexible” and respond more “quickly” to the needs of its members. The nomination of Robert B. Willumstad, head of Global Consumer Lending for Citigroup Inc., to the board, comes as no surprise following Citigroup’s resignation from the VISA U.S.A. board in January. The Wall Street Journal quotes a Citigroup spokeswoman as saying the reorganized MasterCard board will, over time, result in Citibank issuing more MasterCards than VISA cards in the U.S.. Following last month’s decision to streamline its organization into five key areas to serve “key members in top markets”, it is anticipated that MasterCard will move quickly to give members brand marketing flexibility, and the option of choosing the extent/cost of marketing support. Also nominated to the Global Board of Directors is Hiroshi Arai, president and chairman of Orient Corporation of Japan. For complete list of the MasterCard board visit CardFlash Online ([][1]).



VeriSmart Irish Roll-Out

VeriFone, the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions and a division of Hewlett-Packard Company, announced Wednesday that Telecom Eireann, Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks completed the first implementation of VeriFone’s VeriSmart software by a telecommunications company for hosting financial institutions’ smart card services.

The program marks a new era in electronic commerce as telecoms and financial institutions team up to deliver smart card services to the home.

Telecom Eireann is utilizing VeriFone’s VeriSmart software to host Visa Cash, a Visa International product, electronic purse load-application for both Allied Irish Banks and the Bank of Ireland. Telecom Eireann is distributing VeriFone’s Personal ATM (PATM) devices to as many as 500 consumers in Ennis, Ireland during the initial rollout this month.

Through the partnership with Telecom Eireann, both banks are able to immediately market and distribute smart card services by making an easy to use value loading system accessible in the homes of consumers.

VeriFone’s VeriSmart software is being implemented worldwide by several major telecommunications companies, enabling them to host smart card services for banks, utilities, retailers, healthcare and government agencies. VeriSmart software is an open and flexible middleware architecture that easily integrates into the telecommunications network infrastructure.

By leveraging a telecommunications company’s existing public infrastructure to run VeriSmart software, it is possible for financial institutions and retailers to save up-front costs and to offer smart card services almost immediately.

“VeriFone’s VeriSmart smart card application platform software has enabled Telecom Eireann to be the first telco to bring a new value load system to market,” said Fiona Tierney, head of Card and Payphone Services. “With the VeriSmart software we will be able to provide smart card solutions through devices such as cell phones, smart/screen phones, personal computers, public phones, Personal ATM devices and other smart card appliances.”

Europe has aggressively adopted smart card technology over the past 10 years. As new infrastructures are established, more flexible smart card solutions are becoming available.

Telecom Eireann, Ireland’s leading telecommunications company, is a primary example of this progressive technology focus and has invested significant resources to make the town of Ennis a technology center. Through the PATM devices connected to Telecom Eireann’s server system, consumers in Ennis will be able to check their Visa Cash card balance as well as load Visa Cash onto their cards at home.

“The VeriSmart software with PATM devices not only offers consumers the latest technology in smart card services, but will provide us with a guide to consumer attitudes and behavior in relation to this home banking concept,” said Frank Doherty, project manager, Electronic Banking, Allied Irish Banks. “The flexibility of the VeriSmart software allows us to work with the infrastructure of the telcos and deliver more smart card services to our customers.”

“VeriSmart software provides a value-added service to our customers by offering them the convenience of loading their Visa Cash card in their own home,” said Paddy Byrne, head of Payments and Electronic Banking Services at Bank of Ireland. “Smart card technology will play an increasingly important role in the growing area of home banking, and we are delighted to be working with Telecom Eireann and VeriFone on this exciting project.”

“VeriFone’s established leadership in electronic payment has helped enable the collaboration of banks, telecommunications companies, merchants and card associations to create a strong smart card infrastructure that brings new applications to consumers,” said Tom Kilcoyne, vice president and general manager of VeriFone’s E-Commerce Software Division. “VeriSmart software creates new services and revenue streams for all parties.”

About VeriSmart

VeriSmart software is a scalable client/server technology that enables financial institutions, telecommunications companies and other service providers to implement a complete multi-application consumer smart card solution seamlessly, from processor to consumer. Once a consumer appliance connects to the server, the appliance automatically accesses the latest smart card application including Visa Cash, Mondex and Proton, providing the flexibility for integrating future smart card capabilities into the existing architecture.

About Telecom Eireann

Telecom Eireann was established in 1984 and is Ireland’s leading provider of local, long distance and international telecommunications services, including mobile and data communications.

Telecom Eireann currently employs 11,000 throughout Ireland. Total revenues for Telecom Eireann in 199798 reached IR(pound)1.35 billion, with operating profits of IR(pound)241 million and after-tax profits of IR(pound)155 million. Capital expenditure for the year amounted to IR(pound)297 million, provided entirely from internal resources. Telecom Eireann has an installed base of 1.5 million telephone lines, which generated 8.3 billion minutes of traffic in 199798.

About Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland () was established by private subscription under Royal Charter in 1783. For over two hundred years the Bank has been pivotal to the Irish banking system. The group currently organizes its business into the Retail Division, the Corporate and Treasury Division and other group activities. At 30 September 1997, BOI had assets of IR(pound) 31 billion and 12,000 employees worldwide.

About Allied Irish Banks PLC

Allied Irish Banks PLC () is Ireland’s leading banking and financial services organization. It operates principally in Ireland, Britain, the United States, Poland and Asia. With assets of IR(pound) 41 billion and employing more than 23,000 people worldwide in over 900 offices, Allied Irish Banks PLC has 50,000 shareholders.

About VeriFone

VeriFone (), is a division of Hewlett-Packard Company and the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions for financial institutions, merchants and consumers. VeriFone has shipped more than six million payment systems used in over 100 countries.


Blood Cards

Optical cards have found a new application in the use of monitoring blood for drug testing. CO-based BSI2000, Inc. and Drug Intervention Services of America, Inc. signed an exclusive contract Wednesday to form a strategic marketing partnership to bring optical cards to the mandated federal and contractor drug and alcohol testing compliance market. The companies say the chose optical cards because of their superior capacity (750x that of smart cards), exceptional speed (30x that of smart cards), greater reliability and ruggedness. Besides monitoring drug or alcohol compliance, the cards will also be used to monitor and prevent heavy metal and other blood contamination of people in the industrial workplace. The firms expect the ‘DISA 2000’ optical drug compliance card system to have approximately one million employee cards in use by 2001.


MagIC 6000 POS Terminal

Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals also rolled-out the ‘MagIC 6000’ multifunction POS terminal yesterday at the ETA ’99 Annual Meeting in Hawaii. The new terminal supports multiple applications and provides a flexible platform for value-added services, such as smart card-based loyalty programs, gift certificate applications and time and attendance recording. The ‘MagIC 6000’ will process both magnetic stripe and smart cards and comes with a standard 1 MB of memory. To showcase the new terminal Schlumberger provided complimentary ‘Payflex’ smart cards to the 1,000 conference ETA attendees. The smart cards were pre-loaded with $5 in stored value. Additionally, four winning cards have been pre-selected to be valued at $25, another four cards will be valued at $100, and one lucky winning card will be valued at $500. During the three-day promotion, conference goers can use the Schlumberger smart cards to purchase goods and services at retail stores, restaurants and bars located in the Hilton Waikoloa resort. Retailers will process the cards on the new Schlumberger ‘MagIC 6000’ terminals that are being introduced at the conference, while restaurateurs will use Schlumberger ‘MagIC 9000’ terminals.


25 Micron Cards

Siemens Microelectronics announced Wednesday, Inc. that a new line of multi-application smart card ICs based on the company’s 0.25-micron technology will be available by the end of this year. Siemens says migrating to 0.25-micron technology enables the company to embed significantly more memory and functions on a maximum 25mm2 (5mm x 5mm) die size. This opens the door, especially for North America, to a new generation of smart cards that can support a number of consumer transaction-oriented applications. To be named the ’66Plus’ product family, the new Siemens technology can support up to 128 Kbytes of ROM, 128 Kbyte of EEPROM and 16 Kbyte of RAM on chip. The on-chip memory management unit extends total addressable space to 1 Mbyte. The MMU enables 66Plus-based designs to keep memory areas of multiple applications segregated both from one another and the operating system running on the chip.


NBS 620 Printer

NBS Technologies Inc. announced Wednesday a new thermal printer offering for the North American marketplace.

The NBS 620 thermal printer offers significant improvements from existing dot matrix printers. Customers enjoy increased print speed, quieter operation, and a reduction in the need for service calls with the new NBS 620.

“This printer allows our customers to take advantage of the latest thermal printer technology,” states Michael Mulcahy, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at NBS Transaction Systems. “With the NBS 620, we now have a state-of-the-art printer to offer our customers along with NBS’ advanced line of terminals and pinpads.”

Developed under an OEM agreement with Axiohm Transaction Solutions, Inc., the NBS 620 features a sleek design, small footprint, and simplified paper loading. With minimal moving parts subject to wear and tear, the need for fewer service call requests, and the absence of spools and ribbons, it delivers an efficient yet advanced product for the market. The new thermal printer is compatible with most emulation standards.

The NBS 620 is currently being implemented at several major Canadian banks for distribution to its merchant customers.

NBS Technologies Inc. is a multinational company that designs, manufactures and markets an integrated line of card, card issuance, identification and point-of-sale products, services and software. Customers, who cover a wide range of market segments and applications, include financial institutions, retailers, government agencies, and healthcare organizations. The Company is a Toronto-based public company that sells to customers in over 85 countries through facilities located in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.


ATM Disclosure

Efforts to limit ATM fees at the federal level appear to have little chance of success this year. Yesterday, the House of Representatives Banking Committee adopted a measure to require ATM operators to make better disclosure to consumers of any fees for using ATMs. The new measure would require operators to post notices prominently on their machines and to include fee information on screen during the transaction process. Most ATM networks are already in compliance either by voluntary action or state laws. The amendment was sponsored by Committee Chairman Jim Leach (R-IA), and ranking Democrat John LaFalce (D-NY). It was passed by a 48-1 vote. Leach says that although many lawmakers are advocating a complete ban of ATM fees, yesterday’s amendment was about as progressive as the committee could be at this time.


T8 POS Terminal

Hypercom announced yesterday at the ETA ’99 Annual Meeting in Hawaii, the newest member of its series of POS terminals. The new ‘Hypercom T8’ is a low-cost POS terminal that supports draft capture, debit, check and proprietary card processing, smart card-based credit/debit cards and stored value cards, as well as PINpads. The ‘T8’ also includes a 35-key keyboard for single-stroke “Hot Key” function activation, a high-contrast, 2 x 20 backlit LCD display and 256K of memory to store more than 1,000 transactions. The ‘T8’ supports most common printer types and can be used in dial or leased line environments.



Bond R. Isaacson has joined Visa U.S.A. as executive vice president of Member and Merchant Relations. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Isaacson will oversee the leading bankcard association’s financial-institution and merchant programs nationwide.

Isaacson, 41, will report to Carl F. Pascarella, president and chief executive officer of Visa U.S.A.

“Bond has an outstanding record in leading strategic business partner relationships, which are essential to delivering superior products and services,” said Pascarella. “His addition to Visa U.S.A.’s leadership team ensures that we will continue to deliver value-added solutions to our member banks and merchants in this rapidly changing and increasingly competitive marketplace. We must remain responsive to our customers and continuously look for innovative ways to help grow their profits and build their businesses.”

Prior to joining Visa, Isaacson enjoyed a 19-year career at IBM, where he gained substantial experience in finance, marketing and sales. Most recently, as a financial services marketing executive, Isaacson directed IBM’s sales and IT-implementation efforts for the retail and global-finance business units of Bank of America. He also worked with the bank-holding company (formerly NationsBanc) to negotiate the formation of the Integrion Financial Network, a leading home-banking and electronic-commerce joint venture among 18 banks based in the United States and Canada.

Isaacson earned a bachelor of arts degree in Economics from Wheaton College and participated in a range of corporate-education programs throughout his career at IBM.

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading card brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide, providing payment solutions for consumers, industry and government. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa is the only payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s more than 630 million cards are accepted at over 15 million worldwide locations, including more than 450,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [][1].