Getting Neural

Equifax announced this week it has given its ‘Bankruptcy Navigator’ solution more predictive power and have added neural network technology. ‘Bankruptcy Navigator Index ’99’ draws upon the combined strength of four variables: 1. The statistical power of a proprietary neural network; 2. The ‘Equifax Risk and Usage Forecast’ for semiannual metropolitan statistical area-based credit risk and usage forecasts for the 231 US MSAs; 3. The ability to help identify high-potential, surprise bankruptcies; and 4. Five bankruptcy scorecards to predict bankruptcy risk within the next 24 months. ‘Bankruptcy Navigator Index ’99’ can be used throughout the entire credit life cycle, from account acquisition through portfolio management to recovery/collections.


Hypercom UK Deal

Hypercom and the U.K.’s Cardsave Club announced yesterday that Cardsave has selected Hypercom as its provider of POS terminals for its 7,000 members. The Club is offering its members Hypercom’s ‘T7PS POS’ terminal that allows retailers to accept all card types, including the new chip-based cards which UK banks will start issuing this year. The Cardsave Club is a membership group for independent retailers. The Club’s members annually process more than (pound)750 million, or $US 1.2 billion, in credit and debit card volume. Cardsave’s members currently process their credit and debit transactions via NatWest Streamline, the card processing arm of the UK bank. The retailer group says 1200 members have already switched to Hypercom’s terminals.


GTC Sells Cards Online

GTC Telecom announced that on February 15 it launched its website, which sells and delivers long distance calling cards directly over the Internet.

Paul Sandhu, President & CEO of GTC Telecom stated, “Delivering instantaneous product online has allowed GTC to move to the next level of e-commerce. Other online retailers like, EBAY, UBID, and Skymall allow customers to order and purchase their products online, which cuts out the cost of the middleman. By going one step further and delivering our product online, GTC has also eliminated the need for large warehouses, warehouse personnel, inventory financing and shipping costs. Additionally, because of our infrastructure and the fact that we process our calling card requests electronically, GTC theoretically has a virtually unlimited supply of product to sell.”

Gerry DeCiccio, Chief Financial Officer of GTC Telecom stated, “Because GTC takes the calling card order online and delivers the product online, our administrative costs and overhead associated with this service is minimal. >From a cash flow standpoint, we feel is a cash positive program. The way this works is that we receive the money for the retail value, including profit, of the long distance calling card at the time a card is purchased. Once the customer begins using the card, we subsequently pay the transport costs based on usage. In addition, there is also an amount for breakage, (breakage is lost or expired cards) which also adds to our cash flow. We believe we are offering our calling cards at a rate which is 40 to 50% below current retail pricing, while still achieving a 30% gross margin.”

To purchase a calling card, simply go to and review the product and pricing information. Then, submit the ordering information and customers will instantaneously receive their long distance calling card Pin number online.

GTC Telecom currently offers a long distance rate of 5.9 cents per minute in selected states as well as flat rate programs starting at $29.95 per month. In addition, GTC offers an array of Internet services, including wireless T1 access. The Company has been adding customers at a steady rate and continues to generate new business daily. Founded in 1997, GTC Telecom is an interexchange carrier, providing long distance service to small and medium sized businesses as well as residential customers throughout the United States. GTC’s long distance service offerings include outbound service, inbound toll-free 800 service, and dedicated private line services for data. GTC’s position as an interexchange carrier gives the company the ability to function as a large telecom company but alleviates the overhead, thus allowing GTC to have rates lower than many of their competitors. Visit GTC’s web site at [][1].

Included in this release are “forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements will prove to have been correct. The Company’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors including sales levels, distribution and competition trends and other market factors.



Euronet Goes VSAT

Hughes Network Systems announced that its very small aperture technology (VSAT) satellite technology has been selected by Euronet for a pan-European network of ATM machines. The HNS VSAT solution offers economic benefits, reliability and flexibility not found in terrestrial-based network alternatives. Euronet’s evaluation process led to the selection of HNS because its VSATs met all of Euronet’s current requirements and offered capabilities for future applications such as broadcast advertising directly to the ATM machines.

“At Euronet, we needed a solution that would enable us to cost-effectively meet our market challenges,” said Dan Henry, Euronet’s chief operating officer. “The HNS VSAT network not only enables us to economically provide reliable 24-hour service, it prepares us to deliver long-range solutions for ATM locations throughout Europe.”

Euronet, which currently operates more than 1,000 ATM machines throughout Europe, the bulk of which are in central Europe, began its search for network technology based on the need for end-to-end network management and increased reliability, as well as the desire to secure fixed costs. Terrestrial-based networks such as ISDN and X.25 could not adequately meet these requirements. Additionally, Euronet needed a system that facilitated quick deployment and relocation of Euronet’s ATMs based on customer usage patterns. Terrestrial lines require a time and cost-intensive process for pre-wiring and circuit provisioning. Implementing a VSAT network ensures that Euronet can redeploy inactive machines or deploy new machines very quickly.

Said Vinod Shukla, vice president and general manager, Satellite Networks Division, HNS, “We’re delighted to have been chosen as Euronet’s supplier for its extensive European ATM network. The inherently broadcast nature of VSATs and combined with our turnkey, shared-hub network management makes it the most cost-effective solution for this type of wide-area network. In addition, our advanced and unique feature set ensures that Euronet can meet its customer demands and expansion goals.”

The HNS VSAT network centers on the company’s Personal Earth Station(TM) (PES(TM)) technology. A PES located at each ATM site will communicate with the network hubs located in Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary. HNS already has deployed over 500 VSAT sites throughout Europe for Euronet and another 1,500 sites will be completed within two years.

A world leader in satellite products and network systems, HNS has 60 percent of the global VSAT market and has shipped more than 200,000 terminals. Headquartered in Germantown, Md., the company has sales and support offices worldwide. HNS offers network solutions that include a complete line of integrated satellite, enterprise networking products, and fixed and mobile wireless networks. HNS is a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation and an ISO-9001-certified manufacturer. The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock. More information on HNS can be found at [][1].



NDC Investor Relations

Robert A. Yellowlees, National Data Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, announced Friday the appointment of Betty C. Feezor to the newly created position of Vice President, Investor Relations.

In this position, she will have responsibility for planning and coordinating all activity with the investment community.

“The creation of this position reflects the significant expansion of investor interest in NDC resulting from the company’s strong revenue and earnings growth record.  This action will provide even greater communications with shareholders and potential new investors.  New programs will complement our current extensive investor conference, company sponsored investor meetings and investor visit schedule.

“Betty brings to the position a clear understanding of the role that investor relations can play in building shareholder value, combined with an excellent record in managing successful programs.”

She is currently head of Stockwise, Inc., a consulting firm that she founded, specializing in investor relations and business development.  Prior to that, she headed investor relations for Sterling Software and MSA (D&B Software).  She has also had extensive experience in planning, product management and software development.  She is a graduate of Duke University, where she earned a degree in computer science/mathematics.

“We all look forward to working with Betty as we increase market awareness of our unique position as a value added information content provider.  One that has demonstrated a long history of strong cash flow and earnings growth.”



TRM Corporation announced last week that it has named Kurt M. Schusterman as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of its ATM Division.  Schusterman, is a respected veteran in the credit card processing and non-bank ATM deployment industries.

Since 1996, Schusterman held the position of Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for XtraCash ATM, Inc., a non-bank ATM deployer spun off from National Bankcard Association.  Prior to 1996 he was the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the Retail Banking Group of Texas Commerce Bank and the Senior Vice President of NaBANCO Merchant Services.  Schusterman holds a Masters of Science degree in Advertising from Northwestern University and a Bachelors of Science degree in Marketing from Miami University.

Schusterman had this to say about joining TRM:  “I am very excited to join TRM Corporation.  I believe TRM is uniquely positioned to emerge as a worldwide leader for ATM deployments for three reasons:  existing service network, capital for growth, and management culture.  The Board of Directors is very committed to the ATM business.  The plan is to grow the business through acquisitions and partnerships, and through the direct sales efforts of existing sales channels.  In order to be a world-class service company, I believe companies must support their employees with passion so that they, in turn, can serve their customers with passion.  From the moment I met the senior leadership team at TRM, I was impressed that they shared this same belief.  Fred Stockton has assembled an excellent team with a clear vision of how to leverage their existing service infrastructure to emerge as the finest ATM service provider in the world.”

“We are delighted to have Kurt Schusterman join TRM,” said Fred Stockton, President and CEO.  “Kurt brings a unique blend of consumer goods marketing experience along with excellent customer-driven principles in the credit card and ATM processing businesses.  His experience in building NaBANCO Merchant Services, and XtraCash ATM will be invaluable as we build our ATM Division.”

The announcement of Schusterman’s appointment comes on the heels of an announcement last week that TRM Corporation had just signed an agreement to be the exclusive ATM provider for The Pantry and Lil’ Champ convenience store chain. Once fully implemented, the agreement represents potential ATM installations at 1,100 locations and revenue for TRM of more than $10 million per year. The agreement is for an initial term of seven years.

In addition to its ATM services, TRM provides self-service convenience photocopy centers to a variety of retail establishments throughout North America and Europe; a total of 31,000 photocopy centers worldwide.  TRM’s photocopy center customers include independent retailers and large chain retailers, a sample of which include Albertsons, Eckerd, Marsh, Shaw’s and American Drug.


ATM Fee Ban

San Francisco’s proposed ordinance to forbid ATM surcharging is expected to be voted on Wednesday. Meanwhile the Oklahoma state Senate Finance Committee narrowly passed a bill last week putting a $1 cap on ATM surcharges. But, the co-sponsors of a bill banning ATM surcharges in Pennsylvania, have apparently given up in their fight. The San Francisco movement involves the creation of a prohibition in the San Francisco Police Code against ATM surcharging. Several consumer group representatives backed by organized labor supported the ordinance at the hearing last week. The heated debate also included representatives from the California Bankers Association. The Oklahoma committee voted 8-7 in favor of Senate Bill 317, authored by Sen. Angela Monson, to limit ATM fees. Monson indicated Friday that the likelihood of passage in its current form appears tentative. In Pennsylvania, State Senators Bodack and Belan said they haven’t decided if they’ll reintroduce ATM fee legislation since there appears to be little support for their effort.


NDI iLoader

Network Decisions, Inc. (NDI) announced the introduction of NDI iLoader, a smart card software system that financial institutions and merchants can deploy to securely load multiple loyalty or “frequent user” program files to a cardholder’s smart card over a standard Internet connection.

In addition to being able to load new loyalty program files to their smart card, the NDI iLoader system empowers cardholders with the ability to securely perform other transactions with their smart card – all from the comfort of their home or office.  These transactions include accessing their loyalty account information, updating their personal information and changing their PIN, which is embedded on the chip.

“The NDI iLoader system is a highly advanced concept in loyalty marketing. While empowering the cardholder, it also provides the financial institution or merchant who deploys the system real bottom line benefits by eliminating the need to reissue cards and, dramatically reducing the mailing and distribution costs typically associated with loyalty and affinity programs” says Emer B. Natalio, President of Network Decisions.

“This is because cardholders do not need to go to a special terminal to update their smart card with new application files; they simply do it from the comfort of their home or office.  For financial institutions and merchants, the combination of smart cards and Internet technologies is unstoppable.” continues Natalio.


Smart Card Technologies

Smart cards are the size of typical credit cards and have an embedded computer chip.  The chip processes information through sophisticated and highly secure mechanisms. Smart card terminals do not have to be attached to a host system; transactions can be processed off-line because the data and processing power are on the card’s chip.  Because of the chip’s processing power, smart cards are often referred to as “PCs on a card”.

Network Decisions, Inc.

NDI is systems integration and consulting firm that provides design, software application development, project management and installations for multi-application smart card systems.  Smart card systems developed by the company provide highly secure solutions for financial transactions, electronic commerce, network security, and frequency and loyalty tracking. NDI’s smart card technology is a fully integrated, multi-application, modular and scaleable system with more than 40 installations in 10 countries.  These systems range from small pilots, typically 500 to 1,500 cards in size, to larger systems with 10,000 to 75,000 cards.

NDI’s Internet Web site is at [][1].



Peach Sweep

The FTC announced Friday a settlement in a case involving an advance fee credit card scam that was uncovered during ‘Peach Sweep’. SOC Enterprises and Jeff Russell & Associates have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges over their roles as third-party telemarketers for SureCheK Systems, Inc., doing business as Consumer Credit Corporation.The defendants allegedly told consumers that they could get an unsecured VISA or MasterCard credit card, regardless of their past credit history, for an upfront processing fee. In July 1997, the FTC and the Arkansas Attorney General filed the complaints in federal district court against SureCheK Systems, doing business as Consumer Credit Corp. and Consumer Credit Development Corp., and their principals.


SC Patent Licensing

Lucent Technologies Inc. and London-based BTG International announced an agreement Monday to collaborate on the commercialization of a portfolio of smart card patents developed by Bell Labs. The broad portfolio includes about 50 patents covering technologies for both the design of the cards themselves and for smart card applications in several fields. Lucent said yesterday the main applications are expected to be in banking, mobile phones, and identity systems, transit, financial services, travel and tourism, network access control, subscription TV, healthcare, social services and other applications where secure transaction, privacy, and customer identification are essential. BTG is a leader in patenting and marketing intellectual property rights for technologies.


Gemplus MS Certified

Gemplus, the world’s leading provider of smart-card based solutions, announced Friday that Microsoft Corp. has certified Gemplus smart card readers for usage with Windows 98 and Windows NT. Both the Gemplus GPR400 for laptops, and the GCR410p for desktops, have received certification from Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) as compliant with the PC Smart Card (PC/SC) specifications.

“Gemplus is now able to provide customers with assurance that its products conform to industry standards that resolve compatibility issues and allow for quicker implementation of smart card technology,” said Alexandre Lorenzi, Director, Gemplus Reader Technology. “This certification signals the convergence of the PC and smart card industries that will bring smart cards into the mainstream of IT technology and enable a new era of trust and convenience in electronic commerce and enterprise network security.”

As a result of the certification, Gemplus will add the “Designed for Microsoft Windows 98 and Windows NT” logo to its products. The Gemplus GPR400 is a PC Card/(PCMCIA) type II smart card reader and the Gemplus GCR410p is a desktop serial port smart card reader.

“Gemplus has taken great strides to ensure that smart cards are an extension of the PC environment,” said Mike Dusche, director of Smart Card Marketing for Microsoft. “The certification of Gemplus products for Windows 98 and Windows NT demonstrates that the industry is rapidly moving to standardized solutions that will enable banking organizations, IT departments and Internet service providers to provide secure access to online resources.”

Gemplus last October endorsed Microsoft’s announcement of Smart Cards for Windows, a standards-based platform that provides secure storage for security, loyalty and ePurse solutions in the Microsoft Windows operating system. The Microsoft initiative extends to smart card developers the benefits of the PC software development model, including a common run-time environment, a language-neutral development environment and familiar tools such as the Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft Visual C++ development systems, to smart card developers.

Smart Cards for Windows extends Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to enable smart card deployment. This strategy includes the PC Smart Card initiative, which facilitates network authentication on logon with the Windows NT2000, as well as logo and certification programs for manufacturers of smart card readers.

“Microsoft’s expertise in operating systems and development tools will advance mainstream deployment of smart card technology,” said Michel Roux, Vice President, Strategic Alliances. “Gemplus is committed to continuing its leadership as the number one provider of smart card technology by delivering worldwide standardized smart card readers that will leverage Microsoft’s track record of providing solutions to industry and corporate applications developers.”

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

About Gemplus

Gemplus(R) () is the world’s leading provider of conventional and smart card-based solutions. Gemplus sells magnetic stripe cards, memory and microprocessor-based smart cards, smart contactless cards, electronic tags and smart objects. The company designs and markets software, development tools and readers. Gemplus also provides consulting, training and personalization services to deliver the industry’s most comprehensive and flexible card-based solutions to its developers, distributors, partners, and customers.

With sales of over US$590 million in 1997, Gemplus employs more than 4,100 people, in ten manufacturing facilities, five R&D centers and 41 sales and marketing offices located in 27 countries around the world. Founded in 1988, Gemplus has successfully implemented portable and secure smart card-based solutions to simplify applications such as public and wireless communications, financial transactions, loyalty, transportation, education, healthcare, identity, access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, and information technology.



NJ-based IDT Corp. launched Friday a new pre-paid phone card specifically designed for the international marketplace. The product, called ‘Debitalk’, is the firm’s first pre-paid callback phone card. ‘Debitalk’ allows users to place phone calls from anywhere in the world using a touch-tone telephone with a pre-programmed callback number. Users dial their access number, let it ring once, hang up, wait for the ring back, listen to their real-time account balance, and dial their destination number. Previously, callback users had to pay for accounts using credit cards in U.S. dollars. With ‘Debitalk’, users will be able to pre-pay in their own currency through direct distributors around the world.