Virtual Gift Certificate

Are you one of the millions who dread the thought of teeming malls filled with frazzled holiday shoppers?  Then the Webcertificate is for you.

The newest and most convenient way to shop is the first and only online gift certificate, Webcertificate ([][1]).  It can be emailed to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, and can be redeemed at virtually every one of the estimated one million online retailers.

Webcertificate functions just like a paper gift certificate, except that it’s virtual.  It works this way:  select the design you desire for the particular occasion (Christmas, holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.); choose the denomination of the gift; give the name and e-mail address of the recipient; add a personalized e-mail gift message.  That’s it!  The buyer has the opportunity to preview the completed certificate before paying by credit card, and receives an email receipt confirming the name of the recipient and the gift amount sent.  The recipient receives the Webcertificate instantly over the Internet.

The Webcertificate recipient will be issued an account number and expiration date, similar to a credit card, which they can use at any online merchant on the Web.  Online purchases are instantly deducted from the Webcertificate gift account, where the available balance can be reviewed online at any time.  A convenient shopper’s guide of suggested online merchants is also available.

This new website will be launched on Black Friday – traditionally the “darkest” shopping day of the year, – November 27, 1998.  Lighten the shopping load for yourself and a friend by giving a virtual gift certificate.



Specialty Retail Remains Hot

Nearly 80% of the more than 100 merchants polled by Shoppers Charge Accounts Co. are projecting that their 1998 holiday season sales will exceed prior year levels. The largest group, 47%, look for an increase in the 5% to 10% range, while 21% anticipate gains in excess of 10%, and 11% forecast growth of less than 5%. Among the remaining retailers surveyed by the private label credit card company in late October, 16% believe their sales will be unchanged from last year and 5% anticipate a decline of under 5%. Asked which marketing programs they plan to employ, 67% said they will do special mailings to inactive charge account customers, 40% will go with new account solicitations, 20% will offer a deferred billing option, and another 20% will promote their ‘Prestige Points’ frequent shopper program.


VISA Gift Card

First USA rolled out its new ‘Gift Card’ yesterday, the first-ever pre-paid VISA card designed to serve as a universal gift certificate. The ‘First USA Gift Card’ is available in amounts from $50 and up. There is a $5 service fee for amounts up to $200. For ‘Gift Cards’ loaded with $200 or more, there is no fee. ‘Gift Cards’ expire six months from the date of issue. Any remaining balance at expiration will be refunded to the ‘Gift Card’ recipient.The cards can be sent directly to the recipient or to the purchaser, within 10 days of the order. Expedited delivery within four business days is also available for an additional fee. Purchasers are required to use their First USA credit card to purchase the ‘Gift Card’. The card features 11 card designs, including four created specifically for the holidays, and offers a personal greeting on the front of the card. First USA says it has applied for a patent for the new card.


SCF Adds 7 More

The Smart Card Forum (SCF), a multi-industry organization working to accelerate the widespread acceptance of smart card technology, Thursday announced that seven new members have joined its expanding ranks:

    Centura Software
    Dione Plc
    First Data Corporation
    Greater Cleveland RTA
    Iridium LLC
    Ministry of Transportation of Ontario

With the joining of these seven leading organizations, the Forum has attracted nearly 50 new members during the past year alone, says SCF President and CEO Donna Farmer. That speaks volumes about the continued ascent of smart card technology and the broad interest in its application. It also shows how companies and government agencies see the Forum as the place to be for cross-sectoral dialogue on smart cards. We welcome these new members to our table and to the many benefits each will receive as a Forum member.

The announcement of the new members comes as the Forum holds its latest Educational Institute and Work Group Meetings in Tampa. SCF Work Groups — including education, health care, interoperability, legal and public policy, multi-application, network applications, retail, technology, telephony, transportation, and travel and entertainment — serve the specific needs of several key sectors and reflect the diversity of both the Forums membership and the new applications being developed and implemented by them.

Centura Software, CIARSE S.A., Dione Plc, First Data Corporation and Iridium LLC all have joined as auditing members of the Forum, while Greater Cleveland RTA and Ministry of Transportation of Ontario each come on board as government members. Both classes of membership offer the organizations access to several Smart Card Forum member services.

— Centura Software was the first company to create fully relational client/server embedded database management solutions for the personal computer.

— CIARSE S.A. specializes in tailored software developments, with a strong focus on smart card advancement in the credit card and banking environments.

— Dione Plc are worldwide market leaders in smart card integrated electronic cash register terminals.

— First Data Corporation is one of the worlds leading providers of transaction processing services — including credit, debit and pre-paid card processing; payment systems; electronic commerce and information-based services — to both businesses and consumers.

— Greater Cleveland RTA is an industry leader in the use of modern technology to improve transit.

— Iridium LLC is a company established by Motorola in 1991 to develop and deploy a network for global wireless communications.

— Ministry of Transportation of Ontario plays a large role in ensuring that transportation supports local job creation and facilitates trade and commerce, and has developed 100 initiatives

to keep this Canadian provinces highways safe.

The Smart Card Forum ([][1]) is a non-profit, multi-industry organization of 200 members working to accelerate the widespread acceptance of multiple application smart card technology by bringing together, in an open forum, leading users and technologists from both the public and private sectors.



I-Shopping Popularity

MasterCard and Opinion Research Corporation released a poll yesterday showing that 10% of Americans plan to shop on the Internet for holiday purchases, double the number for 1997. The survey also found that 22% of Americans will use a debit card to do holiday shopping. More than half of those surveyed said they would use credit cards for holiday purchases if they receive an additional discount at the point of sale. About one-third said they would be motivated to use credit cards if they receive rebates with their statements, while 38% said they would use a credit card if the purchase is covered under a purchase protection plan.


Discover MULTOS

Discover Financial Services announced Thursday its commitment to ‘MULTOS’. The company joined MAOSCO, the consortium driving the adoption and development of ‘MULTOS’. Discover joins MasterCard, Europay, American Express and Mondex as backers of the ‘MULTOS’ platform. Discover’s 46 million cards brings the group’s collective cardbase to more than 800 million cards worldwide. Discover said yesterday the multi-application operating system has become the platform of choice.


OrdaCard Gets VISA Approval

After only three years of operations, OrdaCard was granted VISA International approval to manufacture VISA credit cards, and join the prestigious club that includes 77 manufacturers world wide – a market that is estimated at over 1 billion cards per year.

OrdaCard has secured its first order from VISA Alpha, the new VISA clearing house in Israel, and expects to get orders from neighboring countries in the region in the upcoming months. Says Eli Garber, CEO of OrdaCard: “With the VISA approval OrdaCard joins the ranks of the largest card manufacturers in the world, this is the beginning of our new expansion strategy to the international market.”

Ordacard’s many unique capabilities include: Digital printing using new and upgraded Indigo printers, cutting edge software developed by Clal Imaging and state of the art equipment for smart card manufacturing. These technological advantages allow customers to transmit encrypted graphics over the internet and enjoy quality products in short turn around times.

Mr. Garber adds: “This is a recognition of the high technology and high security available at OrcaCard. Along with the ISO 9002 certification, the VISA Approval positions OrdaCard among the elite of card manufacturers.”

The VISA Certification received by OrdaCard not only allows OrdaCard to produce standard magnetic stripe cards, but also the VISA Cash smart card. OrdaCard is positioning itself to be a leader in the move from magnetic strip cards to smart cards in Israel and around the world.

About Ordacard

Ordacard is Israel’s oldest and largest manufacturer and supplier of plastic cards.Partly owned by American Banknote Products include; ID, banking, health- care, insurance, security access, employee, loyalty and smart cards. Ordacard has signed a letter of understanding with Ambient Corporation to merge the two companies. Ambient Corporation develops smart card technology and systems. The company’s contactless cards satisfy an increasing need for multi purpose smart cards. Ambient is also developing a large memory smart card for applications requiring secure, stored records


SmarTalk 3Q

SmarTalk TeleServices, Inc. announced financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 1998.

For the third quarter of 1998, revenues were $59.8 million, representing a 39% increase from $42.9 million in restated revenues reported for the second quarter of 1998, and a 222% increase from $18.6 million in revenues reported for the third quarter of 1997. The Company also reported a net loss of $0.82 per share, compared to the net loss of $1.26 per share for the restated second quarter 1998 and a net loss of $0.14 per share for the third quarter of 1997.

The majority of SmarTalk’s revenues come from decremented minutes, which are the number of minutes of usage that the Company services. Minutes decremented for the third quarter of 1998 increased by 31% to 270.1 million, compared with 205.4 million for the quarter ending June 30, 1998 and increased by 196% compared with 91.2 million decremented minutes for the quarter ended September 30, 1997. Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) are used by the Company’s customers to access the SmarTalk system. The Company also tracks PINs activated as an indication of unique, new card accesses into the Company’s call processing network. In the third quarter ending September 30, 1998, the Company reported a 16% increase to 5.1 million new PIN activations compared with 4.4 million PINs activated for the quarter ending June 30, 1998, and a 183% increase compared with 1.8 million PINs activated for the quarter ending September 30, 1997.

The Company also announced that is has engaged Salomon Smith Barney to assist the Board of Directors in evaluating the Company’s strategic alternatives.

SmarTalk will conduct a conference call for investors and analysts on Monday, November 16, 1998 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. To access the call, please dial 1-800-491-3988 and reference the call identification number 438046. International callers may connect to the conference call by dialing 303-267-1001 and referencing the call identification number 438046.

SmarTalk TeleServices, Inc. currently maintains distribution agreements with the U.S. Postal Service and leading mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets, hotels, home office superstores and convenience stores throughout North America and the U.K. The Company also creates promotional phone card programs for advertisers and corporate clients.

For 3Q/98 Report for SmarTalk visit [][1]



PULSE Oct Record

The number of electronic banking transactions  processed by PULSE EFT Association hit an all-time high of more than 31 million in October, demonstrating that the public continues to take advantage of alternate banking and payment options.    Transactions processed through the PULSE network in October totaled 31,068,270. This figure includes transactions at both automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (POS) terminals operated by merchants. POS transactions also hit a record high of 12,001,678, more than 38 percent of the total volume for the month.

“The continued strong growth in PULSE’s transaction volume confirms that the public is increasingly embracing self-service banking and electronic payment services,” said Stan Paur, president and chief executive officer of PULSE.

“As more and more merchants accept the ATM card as a form of payment for goods and services, PULSE expects the POS component of the EFT network will continue to experience above-average growth throughout the remainder of the decade,” Paur added. He predicts that more than 130 million POS transactions will be processed by the network in 1998.

PULSE is a not-for-profit, shared electronic funds transfer network comprising nearly 2,000 banks, credit unions, and savings and loans in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The network features more than 30,000 ATMs and more than 156,000 PULSE PAY point-of-sale terminals.