G&D Reorganizes

Giesecke & Devrient announced Friday from Munich that the firm’s North American holdings would be reorganized, effective Jan.1, in an effort to streamline research and development efforts. In announcing the reorganization, the company acknowledged that developments in the North American chipcard market had progressed more slowly than G&D had hoped. While the company supplied more than one million ‘VISA Cash’ stored value cards for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was the leading supplier of stored valued cards for Citibank in the Upper Manhattan smart card rollout involving Chase Manhattan, VISA and MasterCard, and was a major participant in Mondex and ‘VISA Cash’ stored value pilots in Canada, G&D says consumers have been slow to adapt to the new payments technologies. Since the migration from mag-stripe to smart cards has been so slow G&D plans to give greater emphasis to sales of conventional magnetic stripe cards and applications in North America while concentrating the bulk of the firm’s smart card development program in Germany. G&D says it is moving forward with plans for a manufacturing center in Bristol, PA and has implemented a strategic plan to strengthen research operations at its Bedford, MA facility.


VISA Humanitarian Athletes

Allen Johnson, an Olympic gold medalist in the hurdles, and Joetta Clark, a half-miler ranked among the top-ten Americans for 18 years, have been chosen as the Visa Humanitarian Athletes of the Year.

In an effort to emphasize the achievements athletes make on and off the field, Visa U.S.A. has partnered with USA Track & Field to bestow this honor on Johnson and Clark.  The award will be presented to the two athletes by Jennifer Hemmer, director, Event and Sponsorship Marketing, Visa U.S.A., at the Jesse Owen’s Banquet highlighting USA Track & Field’s Annual Meeting in Orlando.  In addition to an award for Johnson and Clark, Visa will make donations in their names to the Children’s Tournament of Champions in Freehold, New Jersey (Clark) and the new track at Lake Braddock High School in Burke, Virginia (Johnson).

Clark has been a longtime supporter of the Children’s Tournament of Champions, a non-profit organization that provides programs of physical fitness, sports training and athletic competition for learning disabled and physically challenged youngsters.

“It is an honor to receive this award.  It sets a standard to all athletes to try and give back to others,” said Clark.  “Seeing the children’s struggle to excel in these sporting activities gives me motivation and passion to strive to be my best in my sport.”

Johnson, a graduate of Lake Braddock High School, has undertaken the task of raising funds to rebuild the school’s track due to deterioration.  Working with the school’s track coach, Bob Bigby, the two have raised over $56,000 and Visa’s donation will help secure the completion of the new track.  “I believe strongly in my responsibilities to my community,” said Johnson. “It is an honor to receive this award and I am happy that my alma mater will be the beneficiary.”

“Joetta and Allen have used their status as outstanding track stars to bring awareness to two very important causes and we respect their effort to help others,” said Hemmer.  “Watching them focus their determination to help make a difference for these causes in the same way they focus on their sport is refreshing.  We want to acknowledge and create additional awareness of their causes by presenting them with this distinguished award.”

Clark, 36, is one of America’s most experienced half-milers.  She has competed in every outdoor USA Championship or Olympic Trials since 1979 — 18 straight, winning five of the last eight.  She was a nine-time NCAA champion at the University of Tennessee, and she collected 16 All-American titles.  Indoors, she has competed at the national championships in 18 of the last 19 years.  Clark has ranked among the top 10 Americans for 18 years.

Johnson, 27, started his track and field career as a decathlete, but due to injuries he focused his talents on the hurdles.  He started making an impact in 1992 when he won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship.  He continued to improve and went on to win the gold medal at the 1995 World Outdoor Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, and at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

“Allen and Joetta represent the highest values and standards of athletes around the world.  Their involvement in their communities and their sport have long been recognized by their peers as models to follow,” said Craig Masback, CEO of USA Track & Field.  “The award they are receiving from Visa formally recognizes their formidable athletic and civic accomplishment.  USA Track & Field is grateful to Visa U.S.A. for making this award possible.”

Visa U.S.A. is one of USA Track & Field’s longest-standing partners. Since 1986, the company has been providing support through educational, training and sports-science programs, coaching, travel, event sponsorships and advertising.

In an ongoing effort to support U.S. Olympic athletes, Visa is proud to continue the Visa Pull for the Team program in which every time a Visa cardholder makes a purchase with Visa card, a donation is made to the U.S. Olympic team to support its athletes.*  To date, Visa has committed more than $7 million since the program’s inception in 1986.

This award helps strengthen Visa’s involvement with the Olympic Movement that already includes partnerships with the International Olympic Committee, USOC, Sydney 2000 Games, and National Governing Bodies such as USA Hockey, U.S. Figure Skating Association, US Ski and Snowboarding Association, USA Gymnastics and USA Cycling.  Visa’s current event marketing portfolio also includes the National Football League, the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, and as of Jan. 1, 1999, NASCAR.

As the World’s Best Way to Pay, Visa is the leading payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide with more volume than all other major payment cards combined.  Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions and their cardholders.  Visa has more than 70 smart card programs in 33 countries and on the Internet, with 23 million Visa chip cards, including over 8 million Visa Cash cards.  Visa is pioneering SET Secure Electronic Transaction(TM) programs to enable and advance Internet commerce. There are more than 620 million Visa-branded cards, which generate over US$1.2 trillion in annual volume.  Visa is accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including at over 450,000 ATMs in the Visa Global ATM Network.  Visa’s Internet address is .

* Visa has guaranteed a minimum donation of $2.5 million to the USOC based on Visa card transactions by U.S. cardholders through September 30, 2000. Void where prohibited or restricted.


International RoundUp

RAM Research Group reports that India’s first smart card-based cash system will be launched tomorrow in Mumbai. The e-cash system will be the first to follow the ‘SMARS’ (Smart Rupees) e-cash standards. Others firms connected with ‘SMARS’ include the Reserve Bank of India, Gemplus, HCL Deluxe, and Canara Bank. — Bank of America has reportedly approached Barclays Bank with an offer to buy its Barclaycard business, which is valued at approx. pounds 3.8bn. Barclaycard is encountering slow attrition in the market place as new entrants from the U.S. such as MBNA and Capital One have moved aggressively into the U.K. market. Barclays announced earlier this year that it was cutting 1,100 positions out of a total employment of 4,400. — The Standard Chartered Bank of Malaysia is set to launch the first picture credit card in Malaysia, the ‘Lifestyle VISA’ card in conjunction with AKTIF Lifestyle Stores. The bank will permit applicants to select any picture they want to be printed on th e card. — More than 113 Japanese financial  institutions will link their ATM networks to ATMs operated by Japan’s postal savings system on Jan. 18.  As of this morning, 829 private financial institutions had filed applications with the Japanese ministry to link their ATM operations with those of the postal savings system.


IDRC Makes Inc. 500

IDRC (International Data Response Corporation), a world-class provider of outsourced teleservices and customer service, was recently inducted into the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame, acknowledging its fifth appearance on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest growing companies.

In its special Inc. 500 issue released in mid-October, Inc. magazine published its annual list of America’s fastest growing, private companies.  This special issue features firms and CEOs who are changing the face of American business and whose rapid five-year growth places them in an elite group of small and mid-sized business owners.  In November, Inc. 500 released the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame list, which includes companies that have appeared on the Inc. 500 five or more times.  Only 50 companies have received this distinction since the list’s launch in 1982.

IDRC’s ranking of #219 on the 1998 Inc. 500 list marks the fifth time that IDRC has appeared on the list.  As a result, IDRC was one of four companies to be inducted into the Inc. 500 Hall of Fame in 1998.

According to Inc. Magazine, “…to make the Inc. 500 even once is a great feat  it means that a company has grown its sales by astonishing amounts over five years…but to make the list five times?  That means that the company has exploded its growth not just over a five-year period, but over a full decade”

Companies on the 1998 list generated a combined total of more than $12 billion in sales.  To be eligible for the Inc. 500, companies had to be independent and privately owned through 1998, reflecting a sales increase from fiscal year 1996 to 1997.  Rankings are based on percentage growth of revenue over a five-year period and all revenue information is confirmed using tax forms and financial statements from certified public accountants.  For more information IDRC and ProMark One’s rankings on the Inc. 500 list, you may visit [http://www.Inc.com/500/][1].

One of the world’s leading telemarketing and customer service outsourcing firms, IDRC specializes in providing inbound and outbound telephone and Internet based solutions that target businesses and consumers in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, financial services, and insurance, among others.  Employing customized, state of the art computer and telephone based technologies in its operations; IDRC’s mission is to create value for our clients and opportunity for our people by providing customized call center solutions based on advanced telephony and Internet communications.  IDRC currently employs close to 6,100 professionals, operates more than 3,500 workstations, and has 23 locations throughout the United States and Canada.

The IDRC family of companies includes wholly owned subsidiaries ProMark One (Scottsdale, AZ) and S&P Data Corp. (Toronto, ON).  IDRC ranked #168 on last year’s list.   Previous Inc. 500 rankings were earned under the company name ProMark One.  ProMark One was ranked #228 in 1996, #299 in 1995 and #166 in 1994.

IDRC’s corporate office is located at 6041 La Flecha, Suite B, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. 92067.  For more information about IDRC or its operating companies, contact Dawn Wahler, Marketing Manager, at 800-933-0233.

[1]: http://www.inc.com/500


VF & Oracle

VeriFone, the leading global provider of secure electronic payment solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard, announced Thursday the completed integration of Oracle Payment Server with VeriFone’s vPOS (virtual point of sale) merchant payment software. Merchants like the Future Shop, the largest retailer of computers and consumer electronic products in Canada, now have a simple and secure commerce-enabled Internet storefront solution that is able to process live payment transactions directly with the merchant’s financial institution.

“Moving to the Internet was a natural progression for our retail business,” said Gary Patterson, chief financial officer at Future Shop. “With the integration of Oracle Payment Server with VeriFone’s vPOS payment software, we are now able to truly conduct business over the Internet and have a secure link to process transactions with our bank.”

“The completion of this integration exemplifies how VeriFone and Oracle are working together to help customers payment-enable their electronic commerce and other business applications,” said Andy Felong, vice president of the Internet Applications Division at Oracle. “Customers can now use this integrated payment solution to easily and cost-effectively establish a secure means to conduct payment transactions over the Internet.”

“Oracle Payment Server combined with VeriFone’s vPOS merchant payment software allows merchants to leverage the business opportunities the Internet offers,” said Tom Kilcoyne, general manager, Software Division, VeriFone, Inc. “vPOS software brings Oracle Payment Server customers SET and SSL-based payment processing allowing them to conduct online business in a secured manner.”

The integrated solution of Oracle’s Payment Server and VeriFone’s vPOS 4.0 software is generally available.

VeriFone, Inc.

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


UTG in the U.K.

UTG Communications International Inc. announced Thursday that it has established a distribution network for telecommunication cards in the United Kingdom through a joint venture with 8 individual distributors with an existing customer base of approximately 1000 customers and gross sales volume of approximately $750,000 per month.

The Company and the 8 distributors are partners in StarPoint Card Services Ltd., located in London, UK.  UTG holds 51% of StarPoint’s equity and UTG’s distribution partners hold the remaining 49%.  Under the joint venture agreement, UTG has a three-year call option to acquire its partners’ 49% interest for cash and/or UTG common stock.

In exchange for their 49% interest, UTG’s distribution partners have contributed their existing businesses and customer bases to StarPoint and agreed to work exclusively for StarPoint for a minimum of 24 months.  UTG will contribute cash in the amount of up to $700,000 to the joint venture.

StarPoint intends to distribute its own telephone card and other card services currently under development.  In addition, StarPoint plans to increase the number of its points of sale in the United Kingdom and to expand into other geographic areas if attractive opportunities arise.

Peter Holmes, who has been appointed Managing Director of StarPoint, said “I am very excited about StarPoint’s potential resulting from the combination of the business of our distribution partners and UTG.  Together, we have created an efficient Organization for the distribution of telecommunication cards and related services in the UK.  The StarPoint joint venture allows UTG to take advantage of an existing customer base and established customer relationships and should make it easier for UTG to exploit the tremendous opportunities which, I believe, the UK market offers.”

UTG believes that StarPoint should benefit from an increased margin on the resale of the card products previously sold by the 8 distributors as a result of StarPoint’s stronger buying power.  The Company expects that StarPoint will have a positive impact on its revenues and gross profit.


Goodbye E-Bill Gates

Oracle Corp. and EDS announced Thursday at the the ‘BAI Retail Delivery ’98 Show’ that they are working together to evaluate new Oracle technologies to support billers and banking partners that sign up for EDS ‘Interactive Billing Services’, electronic bill presentation and payment. Oracle’s e-commerce bill and present technologies can deliver bills through a biller’s own branded Web site. Alternatively, these technologies can route bills for presentment to any number of bill consolidators or consumer service providers such as TransPoint or Quicken.com. The plan is for billers and consolidators using Oracle technology to be able to interface directly with EDS Interactive Billing Services, enabling bill presentation through the EDS service. Billers and consolidators are expected to be able to use EDS Interactive Billing Services for bill payment and settlement. Oracle and EDS are also in discussions to cooperatively develop related electronic commerce solutions based on the Open Financial Exchange standard.


Diners Charity

Fourteen years ago Diner’s Club became the first charge card to offer its cardholders the opportunity to redeem points earned through ‘Club Rewards’ to charitable organizations. The travel industry’s first card-based mileage rewards program continues the tradition by designating yesterday a range of diverse charities where proceeds directly benefit those in need through points donated by ‘Diners Club’ cardholders. Cardholders may donate points in increments of 4,500 points as a $30 donation to one of these favorite causes: Junior Achievement; Literacy Volunteers of America; Variety Clubs International; Second Harvest Feed; and Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Club 13. Diners Club also offers cardholders earning more than 100,000 points, ‘Personalized Rewards’ with the opportunity to contribute points to personally selected charities.


First of Omaha Sales Rep

First of Omaha Merchant Processing announced this week the appointment of a new regional sales representative and the opening of the eleventh regional sales office.

Kathleen Butler received her bachelors degree in Business Administration and Economics from High Point University, High Point, North Carolina in 1987; graduating Cum Laude.

Butler is married to Brad Butler, Prosecuting Attorney, 19th Judicial District and lives in Rogers, Arkansas with their child, age seven.  Butler is involved with the Junior Auxiliary of Rogers-Bentonville, Poplar House Clinic, Head Start-Rogers.  She sits on the board of the Children’s Safety Center in Springdale, Arkansas and holds the positions of Treasurer for Benton County Republican Women and the Benton County Republican Committee.

Kathleen brings to the organization eleven years of credit card processing experience.  Butler draws her experience from positions held with First of Omaha Merchant Processing, Barclay, Yarborough and Evans, CPA’s, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School and KMB Business Services.  Butler’s appointment to First of Omaha Merchant Processing will open a state-based sales office to serve the Arkansas communities more efficiently.

First of Omaha Merchant Processing is a premier processor of domestic and international bankcard transactions for direct marketers, retailers, associations/franchise groups and banks.  Known for its superior customer service, First of Omaha specializes in providing the latest in card processing technology, including an interchange management system which helps clients receive one of the lowest effective interchange rates in the industry.  A wholly owned subsidiary of First National Bank of Omaha, First of Omaha is one of the few remaining in-house bank processors.  First National Bank of Omaha, founded in 1863, is the 32nd oldest nationally chartered bank in existence.


GECF & CommerceNet

The Global eCommerce Forum, an industry organization led by EDS, Hewlett-Packard Company and VeriFone, announced Thursday its alliance with the electronic commerce consortium CommerceNet to promote the development and deployment of open global electronic commerce solutions in the financial services industry. GeCF and CommerceNet will help shape the direction and drive the dynamic changes in electronic commerce technology for the financial services industry. Together, they will facilitate and foster the open exchange of information and ideas among more than 20 global technology providers and financial services institution members.


Free PaymentNet

PaymentNet, Inc. said yesterday it is gearing-up for a promotion that will help Web merchants extend the momentum of this breakthrough holiday selling season into 1999 by offering free payment processing services during the first quarter of next year. Any merchant who signs up for PaymentNet services during the month of December will receive free payment processing from the moment they begin processing transactions through PaymentNet until Mar. 31.


M&I Deal

M&I Data Services announced Thursday that it has signed a multi-year processing contract with the Advantage Network. The EFD Services Division will drive the network’s ATMs, route and switch transaction activity, plus issue debit cards for Advantage Network members. The EFD Services division of M&I Data Services processes more than 50 million dial and dedicated line transactions each month, supports more than 7,000 ATMs, and has issued more than 10 million ATM and debit cards.