The high stakes poker game between VISA USA and CitiGroup has apparently ended. Both sides confirmed late Tuesday that two of CitiGroup’s top executives have quit VISA’s U.S. board after failing to get the board’s approval to move the VISA logo on CitiGroup’s card to the back of the card and to prominently re-brand the card “CitiCard”. CitiGroup has reportedly pledged to move its credit card business to MasterCard. It has been rumored that CitiGroup is negotiating a deal with MasterCard that will lower CitiGroup’s card association dues as well as give it the blessing to move the MasterCard logo to the back of the card. The developments could have far reaching effects on the bank credit card landscape. According to CardData (www.carddata.com), CitiGroup’s 33.5 million VISA cards represents about 13.5% of VISA’s U.S. total cards-in-force. Based on charge volume, CitiGroup’s portfolio generates about $68 billion in charge volume or roughly 14% of VISA’s estimated $475 billion 1998 charge volume, according to CardData (www.carddata.com). If CitiGroup successfully migrates all of its VISA cards to MasterCards, then MasterCard stands to add nearly seven percentage points to its market share. Of far greater impact is the prospect of other issuers joining the MasterCard migration, should CitiGroup successfully lower its costs and increase its marketing flexibility.Details
First Data Merchant Services Corp. and iMALL, Inc., yesterday launched a new solution that not only enables Internet merchants to setup credit card acceptance quickly but also helps to drive sales for merchants. The fully integrated solution is being launched through MerchantStuff.com. The comprehensive solution includes: site creation and hosting services; e-Commerce services; merchant credit card account; payment gateway; and capabilities to drive traffic and transactions to merchant stores. One of its key components is ‘VirtualApp.com’, the first-ever automated Internet approval and activation system for merchants. VirtualApp.com allows merchants to securely establish accounts, receive on-line credit decisions and begin accepting credit card payments over the Internet within a day. Ultimately, FDMS technology will enable this merchant approval process to be completed within minutes. To increase traffic and transactions to the participating merchants’ physical and virtual stores, two shopping portals are integrated into the solution: ‘StuffMall.com’, a shopping portal that aggregates merchant stores and ‘Stuff.com’, a shopping portal and search engine that aggregates product-level data.Details
PaySys International named James W. Locke as EVP and COO yesterday. Locke most recently served as VP of the International Software division of Deluxe Data Payment Systems. Prior to that, Locke was Managing Director of all international software operations for Deluxe, based out of the United Kingdom. Locke also served in marketing, sales and account management for Tandem Computers and Control Data Corporation. Overall he has more than 15 years of technology and management experience.Details
A class action shareholder suit alleging securities fraud has been filed against SmarTalk Teleservices, Inc. and three of its officers and directors. The complaint alleges that SmarTalk misled the market by materially overstating revenues and underreporting expenses for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 1998. On Jan. 7 SmarTalk sent its common stock into a tailspin by disclosing its need to restate its previously reported results for the third quarter, despite prior assurances that an internal accounting review would ensure the accuracy of the company’s third quarter financials. As a result, SmarTalk’s stock plunged more than 75% and shortly thereafter the firm commenced a Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Two weeks ago AT&T agreed to acquire all of SmarTalk’s assets for up to $192.5 million in cash. Last week SmarTalk’s CEO and COO resigned.Details
Associates First Capital announced yesterday it completed its acquisition of the Shell proprietary credit card program on Feb. 1. Associates says the acquisition, along with its 1997 acquisition of the Texaco credit card program, will create at least 200 new jobs in the Houston area during the upcoming year. The company will support both programs at the Houston Center, growing the employee base to more than 700 people. Associates said Monday that the Shell private label program will add approximately $256 million in receivables and 2.3 million active cardholder accounts to The Associates private-label oil card business.Details
Cardxx, Inc., a leading smartcard manufacturer and developer of the System T-9 smartcard manufacturing process, Monday announced it received an order for RFID smartcards from PEC, New Zealand, a worldwide integrator of access control systems.
Cardxx is currently in full production of PEC’s order. The PEC Production-run cards contain low frequency long-range radio-frequency devices for the access control market. Volume forecasts for 1999 are 500,000 cards.
“The receipt of this order signals the growing market acceptance for our contactless smartcard technology in the access control market,” said Harry Tiffany, President and COO of Cardxx.
The System T-9 is a state of the art, cost-effective, new core technology that is a superior alternative to the lamination process for the production of contactless (RFID), contacted smartcards and intelligent tags.
The System T-9 card manufacturing system utilizes a unique proprietary low pressure, room temperature process that encapsulates an integrated circuit and/or an antenna while the card is being formed. Because the process does not use high temperatures or pressures associated with the lamination process, the resulting encapsulated devices are not subject to stresses that can adversely affect the performance of the card. This results in a longer life card with less field failures.
The System T-9 is currently being used for both short and long runs providing for minimal waste and damage to the implanted devices.
The Company is continuing to reserve capacity to fill production orders for the balance of 1999.
Cardxx manufactures contactless smartcards utilizing a proprietary break-through process that securely encapsulates an integrated circuit within a plastic card. In addition, the Company supplies and licenses its proprietary technology to current card manufacturers and systems integrators.Details
A federal court jury in San Diego yesterday awarded $17.5 million in damages to Humetrix, Inc. in a breach of contract and breach of partnership action against Gemplus, S.C.A.. The jury ruled that Gemplus’ actions caused a $15 million loss in potential profits for Humetrix. The jury also awarded $2.5 million in additional damages. The dispute centered over a 1995 agreement in which Gemplus agreed to a five-year contract designating Humetrix as a reseller of health-care applications of Gemplus smart card products in the U.S.. The contract also provided Humetrix with royalties for 10 years. Humetrix was in the process of developing ‘VaccicardT’, a smart card to track immunization records for infants, in the U.S., as well as other health care applications, when Gemplus breached its contract and partnership with Humetrix. Humetrix also filed a claim seeking priority trademark rights over the trademark “VaccicardT.” The jury awarded Humetrix with ownership of the trademark, but Humetrix made no claim of monetary damages on that count.Details
The Frequent Traveler e*Assistant application combines usage-motivating rewards — air miles for air time — with personalized and on-demand flight information to create a value-added service with special appeal to business travelers. In addition to providing frequent flyer miles as a reward for airtime usage, the Frequent traveler e*Assistant application from Schlumberger uses smart card-enabled push/pull technology to deliver personalized flight information. When a subscriber books a flight on a participating airline, the subscriber will have the option of automatically receiving the following information and alerts delivered via his/her hand set:
— Flight confirmation and schedule
— Two-hour reminder alert before flight time
— Gate information when assigned
— Alerts about gate changes, flight delays or cancellations
— Alert when the plane is beginning to board
The subscriber also has the option at any time to access information, including:
— Flight status
— Information on earlier and later alternate flights
— Direct connection to airline travel assistance operators
This program enables mobile phone operators and airline companies to combine the air-time for air-miles reward program with a complementary service for their most important common customers.
“GSM operators must differentiate their services in order to retain customers and grow their subscriber base,” stated Sami Nassar, director, Telecom, Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals, North America. “Smart cards enable operators to quickly, easily and cost-effectively offer a wide range of services that appeal to high usage groups within their subscriber base. Business travelers are typically intensive users of mobile phone services; and GSM providers can use the Schlumberger smart card-based Frequent Traveler e*Assistant loyalty application to win and retain `road warrior’ business.”
Nassar noted that awards programs were identified as one of the leading services preferred by consumers in a recent nationally projectible omnibus phone survey sponsored by Schlumberger. “Next to prepayment options, consumers named frequent caller reward programs as the most appealing mobile phone service.”
Schlumberger provides smart card-based solutions that enable operators to offer value-added services aimed at growing subscriber base and increasing airtime usage. In late 1998, Schlumberger introduced Schlumberger Mobile Solutions, a complete suite of smart cards, software systems, services and application development expertise that meets GSM operators’ current needs, while offering Java(tm)-based technology to enable a new generation of downloadable, value-added services.
Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals is the leading provider of smart card-based solutions worldwide, shaping the new world of smart solutions by providing leading-edge technology to enable innovative smart card and terminal applications that enhance the security and convenience of businesses and communities of all kinds. Schlumberger smart card solutions encompass a wide range of cards, terminals, development tools and support in open configurations for operators, developers, integrators and distributors worldwide. As part of the Smart Village(R) vision, the Schlumberger offer includes the milestone Cyberflex(tm) card, the industry’s first Java(tm)-based smart card. The Smart Cards & Terminals group operates 45 facilities in 34 countries across the globe. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at .
Schlumberger Test & Transactions is the parent division for Schlumberger Smart Cards & Terminals and Schlumberger Automated Test Equipment, leveraging the combined strengths of the two business units to provide leading-edge, cost-effective solutions to customers.
Schlumberger Test & Transactions is a business unit of Schlumberger Limited, a $11.82 billion global technology service company providing oilfield services, natural resources management, transactions-based technology and associated systems, and semiconductor test equipment.
Cyberflex is a trademark and Smart Village is a registered trademark of Schlumberger. Java is a trademark of Sun Microelectronics.Details
GO Software and NOVA Corp., rolled-out a new Internet end-to-end payment solution Monday. The new solution brings together NOVA’s new NOVA ‘TransPort’ technology and GO Software’s suite of new merchant payment processing software products. The GO suite includes: ‘PC-Charge’, ‘Win-Charge’, ‘active-Charge’ and ‘IP-Charge’. The NOVA-GO product will enable any Windows PC with an Internet connection to process credit card payments in real time over the Internet. NOVA ‘TransPort’ provides a mechanism to process encrypted credit card transactions over the Internet using standard TCP/IP protocol directly to NOVA for processing. Both Georgia firms said that sending encrypted transactions directly to NOVA the typical processing time will drop from 15-20 second to 3-5 seconds.Details
MasterCard announced this morning a special “Shop Smart! For Your Sweetheart” Internet site packed with special offers for MasterCard cardholders. Shop Smart! is a MasterCard Internet-based program designed to help consumers benefit from the choice, convenience and value offered by over 400 Shop Smart! online retailers. More than 160 Shop Smart! merchants offer special values for customers who pay with a MasterCard.Details
Carrier Services, Inc., TWA and Sprint have all teamed up to offer the ‘Prepaid Aviators Phone Card’. The prepaid card will offer members of TWA’s ‘Aviators’ program long distance service, plus the benefit of bonus miles credited directly to their Aviators portfolio. Each $50 card carries 170 minutes of high quality Sprint calling time along with 500 Aviators miles. OR-based CSI operates under the proprietary brand 1-800-PRE-PAID.Details
Paymentech announced from the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s Wireless ’99 convention that PageNet, Western Wireless and AccessLine have selected Paymentech to process their automatic payment programs for recurring billing. The recurring billing, or recurring payment, electronic solution enables these wireless and enhanced communication service providers to automatically receive payments from customers that are billed on a monthly or regularly scheduled basis.Details