AmEx Gift Card

The gift card market is drawing-in all players this holiday season as Tower Records and American Express launched the ‘Tower Gift Card’ yesterday. Tower, the world’s largest independent music and entertainment retailer, will offer the new gift card in its U.S. retail locations and through its on-line store. Cards issued at a Tower sales counter can be purchased for any amount from $10-$100. Cards issued from Tower Records’ Website and through its call center are available in denominations of $10, $25, $50, $75 and $100. The cards have no expiration date. Tower operates 217 record, video and book stores, 2 art galleries and 6 outlet stores. Tower Records joins Chanel as one of two retailers to participate in the American Express ‘Gift Card’ pilot program.


Smart Card Initiatives

The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA), continuing its mission of promoting alliances within the smart card industry, Monday announced initiatives resulting from the first Smart Card Global Summit, held with the support of the Smart Card Forum (SCF) and the Smart Card Industry Association (SCIA).  The first in a series of bi-annual Global Summits, held on November 1-2 in Long Beach, Calif., the summit made smart card history by drawing leading non-profit smart card organizations together to guarantee the continued success of the industry.  Other participants included The Advanced Card Technology Association of Canada (ACT Canada), The Dutch National Chipcard Platform (NCP), The OpenCard Consortium, and The Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA). Attending organizations unanimously agreed to work together on five initiatives that will ensure continued worldwide success of smart cards as well as fuel developments in smart card interoperability and consumer privacy.

“Industry collaboration on initiatives such as consumer protection, a common infrastructure, and security is vital to the growth of global smart card adoption,” said David Anastasi, president of the GCA and vice president & general manager of U S WEST Public Access Solutions & Smart Card Division. “By founding and hosting the first Global Summit, we are proud to have begun the process of bringing key industry organizations together to collectively address obstacles hampering the global adoption of smart cards.  We forsee an effort in which summit participants share a common vision and support the designed initiatives and then spread them at a grassroots level locally and internationally.  Through business alliances and industry collaboration we can conquer the challenges that lie ahead for the industry,” added Anastasi.

Participants agreed to co-operate on five initiatives and designated representatives from individual organizations to ensure continued focus after the Summit.  In addition, they plan to develop a collection of tutorials on the state of the industry, smart card technologies, interoperability issues, privacy concerns, and security options.  These tutorials will be made available throughout 1999.  The collaborative initiatives that participants agreed upon include:

—  Industry-wide collaboration among non-profit smart card organizations     —  Development of a framework designed to create a common vision     —  Consumer privacy     —  Interoperability     —  Technology infrastructure

“Our goal is to examine what it will take to make interoperable smart card platforms feasible worldwide,” said William J. Barr, Chairman of the Board of the SCF and Executive Director of Information Networking at Bellcore.  “We look forward to working with our partners across industry sectors to overcome the technological and political hurdles to maximize the potential for global smart card use.”

“SCIA will help support these efforts to establish ways to enhance smart card industry-wide collaboration,” said Dan Cunningham, president of SCIA. “Collaboration is the keystone to establishing a global smart card community that will guarantee smart card use worldwide.”

The Smart Card Global Summit participants have agreed to host future summits on a bi-annual basis with informal meetings or conference calls when needed.  Upcoming Smart Card Global Summits are to be held at Card Tech/Secure Tech in Chicago, May 1999 and Cartes 99 in Paris, November 1999.

“This smart card summit was a unique opportunity to work with other leading non-profit card organizations,” said J. van Arkel, Secretary General of The Dutch National Chipcard Platform.

“We anticipate increased interest and involvement as we continue to meet around the world.”

The Global Summit welcomes additional non-profit smart card industry participants and sponsors.  For more information, contact Sheryle Wells at [[email protected]][1].

Note: David Anastasi, president of the GCA is chairing Cards UK’98 in Birmingham, UK on November 24 and is speaking on the future evolution of smart card technology.

About The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA)

The Global Chipcard Alliance was established in 1996 and comprises 30 member companies worldwide.  Its mission, to create an environment that accelerates the development of multi-functional smart card (chipcard) technology and related applications.  The GCA fosters business alliances that have a commitment to worldwide, open interoperable networks, public advocacy, the endorsement of standards and specifications, and advancement of cross- industry multiple-applications and solutions, electronic commerce, and communications-enabled applications and solutions.  For more information on the Global Chipcard Alliance visit its Website at [][2].

About The Smart Card Forum (SCF)

The Smart Card Forum is a 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.  For more information about the SCF, please visit their website at [][3].

About The Smart Card Industry Association (SCIA)

The Smart Card Industry Association is a global trade association active in the smart card industry which strives to stimulate the adoption, use, understanding and innovation of smart card technology in the marketplace.  For more information about the SCIA, please visit their website at .

About The Advanced Card Technology Association of Canada (ACT Canada)

The Advanced Card Technology Association of Canada represents more than 100 members from around the world.  A non-profit association formed in 1989, ACT Canada represents all advanced card technologies, including smart cards. Its mandate is to promote broad based acceptance of the technology and related applications.  In this role, ACT Canada is not an industry association or user group, but provides a voice for the technologies themselves.  In this capacity, ACT Canada works with legislators, regulators, governments, corporations and the media.

About The Dutch National Chipcard Platform

For information on the National Chipcard Platform visit its website at , or contact the organization directly at Postbus 262, 2260 AG Leidschendam, telephone 31-70-3010817 or fax 31-70-3206614.

About The OpenCard Consortium (OCC)

The OpenCard Consortium was formed in early 1998 to address the interoperability of smart cards and computing devices.  The Consortium has developed the OpenCard Framework (OCF) as an open standard providing architecture and a set of APIs that enable application developers and service providers to build and deploy smart card-based solutions in any OpenCard- compliant environment.  With 15 current members and growing, the Consortium brings together the technology providers as well as smart card users, with the objective of insuring that the specifications meet the requirements of all stakeholders.  Based on Java technology, OCF provides a common interface for both the smart card reader and the application on the card, with enhanced portability and interoperability.  Additional information on the OpenCard Consortium is available on the World Wide Web at .

About Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA)

PCMCIA is an international standards body and trade association for the modular peripheral industry. Founded in 1989 to establish standards for interface cards, the association promotes the interoperability of handheld devices where ruggedness, low power and small size are critical. The PC Card standard is used in applications ranging from notebook computers and handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) to digital cameras, smart cellular phones and set-top boxes. In addition to the PC Card standard, PCMCIA manages the Miniature Card, Smart Media, CardBus and emerging Card X standards.  Based in San Jose, California, the association has more than 300 member companies worldwide. More information about PC Card products and specifications can be obtained from the PCMCIA Website at .

[1]: mailto:[email protected]


ATM Alert

Mellon Network Services announced Monday it is offering ATM Alert, an advanced 24-hour monitoring system to help financial institutions manage their automated teller machine networks. The new system uses the industry’s next-generation Gasper4 software package to identify ATM problems quickly and accurately to keep downtime to a minimum.

The system automatically detects a problem at an ATM and calls or pages the financial institution’s technicians with a description and location of the problem.  All of this happens instantaneously, which greatly enhances ATM network service levels.

“ATM Alert helps financial institutions improve customer service,” said Paul A. Frank, head of Mellon Network Services.  “Maximizing ATM uptime also is essential to increasing both cardholder satisfaction and ATM profitability. Our new system creates value for Mellon Network Services’ clients and further demonstrates our continued commitment to ‘best in class’ processing.”

In addition to automatically notifying technicians of ATM problems, ATM Alert also enables financial institutions to review the status of their entire ATM network at any time by using a touch-tone phone and easy-to-follow prompts.

A leading provider of ATM and debit card processing, Mellon Network Services ranks among the top ATM processors in the country, driving 5,000 ATMs and providing 35 regional, national and international ATM and point of service (POS) gateways for more than 2,000 financial institutions.

A broad-based financial services company with a bank at its core, Mellon Bank Corporation ranks among the nation’s largest bank holding companies in market capitalization.  With approximately $2 trillion in assets under management or administration, including approximately $350 billion under management, Mellon provides a full range of banking, investment and trust products and services to individuals and small, midsize and large businesses and institutions.  Its mutual fund companies, The Dreyfus Corporation and Founders Asset Management, place Mellon as the leading bank manager of mutual funds.  Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Mellon’s principal subsidiary is Mellon Bank, N.A.

Press releases and other information about Mellon Bank Corporation and its products and services are available at on the Internet.  For Mellon press releases by fax, call 1-800-758-5804, identification number 552187.



Electronic Clearing House Inc. Monday announced record revenues and earnings for its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1998.

Revenue for the fiscal year 1998 totaled a record $21,063,000, a 13 percent increase over revenues of $18,623,000 for fiscal year 1997. Net income for the fiscal year 1998 rose to $1,154,000, $0.077 per basic share and $0.053 per diluted share, resulting in a 252 percent increase over comparable net income of $328,000, $0.025 per basic share and $0.017 per diluted share, in fiscal year 1997.

Revenue from bankcard processing and transaction processing increased from $16,007,000 in fiscal 1997 to a record $18,773,000 in fiscal 1998, a 17 percent increase. Terminal sales and lease revenue decreased from $2,348,000 in fiscal 1997 to $2,055,000 in fiscal 1998, a 12 percent decrease.

ECHO is a national transaction processor serving thousands of small- to medium-sized merchants and several thousand U-Haul dealers under a contract with U-Haul International. ECHO’s transaction-based services generate ongoing revenue each month that provides a consistent and growing income stream. ECHO transaction services include credit card processing, electronic check generation, cash advance services to casinos, Internet settlement services and inventory tracking.

ECHO’s Internet settlement services include direct acceptance of transactions over the Internet from a customer, a merchant or an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who serves many merchants. ECHO was one of the first and still one of the few processors who can directly and confidently accept Internet-based credit card transactions and electronically settle all funds distribution for both the customer and merchant without any active involvement by the merchant.

ECHO’s Internet suite of products includes fulfillment monitoring and the ECHOlink service which allows a merchant to access and respond to all transaction activity, including chargeback and retrieval requests, using the Internet.

ECHO is also a system design specialist and develops software and proprietary hardware for major accounts who wish to automate their transaction processing activities. In addition to its own transaction processing systems, ECHO has designed transaction processing systems for American Express (money order issuance and tracking applications), U-Haul International (inventory and dealer payment tracking applications) and the United States Postal Service (money order issuance and daily accounting tracking systems).

“Our growth in earnings can be directly attributed to ECHO’s proven ability to design, integrate, manage and sell services based on point-of-sale, Internet, and host-based financial transaction processing systems,” stated Joel Barry, CEO of ECHO, “and we believe ECHO’s growing technical capabilities in these areas gives ECHO a distinctive advantage over other less technical processors.”

Electronic Clearing House provides credit card processing, check guarantee, inventory tracking services and various Internet services to more than 17,000 retail merchants and U-Haul dealers across the nation. Through its subsidiary, Computer Based Controls, ECHO designs, develops and manufactures software and point-of-sale hardware that is utilized as credit card processing terminals, automated money order dispensers, utility bill payment systems, and inventory tracking devices.


AmEx Online Offers

American Express confirmed Monday it has made a minority investment in SaveSmart Inc., a provider of interactive promotions technology headquartered in Mountain View, CA. AmEx and SaveSmart have been working together on a pilot program launched last June, which provides San Francisco Bay Area residents and visitors with an easy and seamless way to redeem special offers. Called ‘American Express Online Offers’, cardholders can enroll in the service for free via the Web. Once enrolled, they can select special discount offers from nearly 1,000 participating San Francisco Bay Area retailers and restaurants simply by clicking on the appropriate promotions on the Web site. The discount is automatically credited to the cardholder’s account and appears on their monthly billing statement after the qualifying purchase is made.Cardholders do not have to print the promotions or present any documentation at the point of purchase. SaveSmart says it will expand the service to other markets next year.


Calif Xmas

As American consumers prepare to rack up $110 billion on credit cards and debit cards for the holiday shopping season, Californians will be the most active card users, charging more than $14 billion. Cardholders in the Northwest will lead the nation by posting $20.7 billion to their charge plates. CardData ([][1]) released figures yesterday projecting consumers will rack up $97.3 billion on credit cards and $13.2 billion on off-line debit cards between Thanksgiving and Christmas. CardData estimates Americans will swipe their cards about 1.8 billion times during the 28 shopping days.

Holiday Card Purchases By Region ($billions)
                Major Card     Store Card     Debit Card     Total Card
Southeast         $17.5           $3.0           $2.7          $23.2         
Northeast         $17.6           $3.1           $2.8          $23.5
Great Lakes      $14.4           $2.5           $2.3          $19.2
Great Plains      $ 5.4           $0.9           $0.9          $ 7.2
Mountain          $ 5.3           $0.9           $0.8          $ 7.0
Pacific           $15.9           $2.7           $2.5          $21.1
Southwest         $ 6.9           $1.2           $1.2          $ 9.3

Holiday Card Purchases By State ($billions)
                Major Card     Store Card      Debit Card     Total Card
California        $12.0           $2.1            $2.1          $16.2
New York          $ 7.1           $1.2            $1.3          $ 9.6
Texas             $ 4.6           $0.8            $0.7          $ 6.1
Florida           $ 5.9           $1.0            $1.1          $ 8.0
Illinois          $ 4.2           $0.7            $0.7          $ 5.6
        SOURCE: CardData (



Smart Card Projections

Dataquest released a new report, entitled “The Chip Card Evolution: Chip Cards Progress Towards Ubiquity,” which says chip cards are the highest-volume electronics end product in the world and smart cards constitute the largest and fastest growing segment of this market. Dataquest projects that smart card revenue worldwide will represent 70 percent of the chip card market by 2002, up from 56.2 percent in 1997.

The report also forecasts that Japan and the U.S. will be the two fastest-growing regions for chip card sales from 1997 to 2002, with sales increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 95% percent, from $14 million in 1997 to $390 million in 2002 for Japan, and 94 percent, from $19.5 million to $532 million for U.S. In the meantime, the European market will remain the largest region with 47.8% of global sales by 2002.

Dataquest defines chip cards as smart cards that include embedded microcontroller silicon, and memory cards that include embedded silicon memory and possibly other logical functions.

“Chip cards have entered a stage of explosive growth, which will see sales expand more than fourfold over a five-year period,” said Jonathan Cassell, Dataquest analyst responsible for the report. “Driving this growth will be the worldwide proliferation of chip card technology, combined with expansion of chip cards into new, high-value, high-growth applications.”

“We at Gemplus certainly share Dataquest’s positive view of the smart card market’ growth through 2002,” said Dominique Trempont, president of Gemplus Americas. “The market for smart card solutions is no longer emerging, it is here, growing fast, and extends far beyond conventional smart cards to embrace a wide variety of exciting applications in a broad range of industries. As the leading smart card technology company worldwide, we offer a comprehensive range of end-to-end solutions that not only include cards, but also smart objects, software, development tools, readers, and services.”

Market Drivers

According to Dataquest, chip cards are evolving from fixed-function microcontrollers into smart card-based programmable systems, capable of downloading, managing, and running multiple applications. In the future, they will perform essential identification and security functions in computing and Internet access.

Gemplus recently announced GemSAFE, a network security solution that uses a smart card to provide this type of authentication and network security. It was designed for companies seeking to secure Internet-based services or corporate intranets and extranets, and for individuals who want to protect the digital exchange of information. It offers the highest level of transaction security by storing a user’s digital identity on a smart card.

Ultimately, chip cards will evolve into computers unto themselves, capable of not only storing and processing information, but also of interfacing and interacting on their own with users and other pieces of electronic equipment, according to the report.

Regional Growth

According to the report, Europe had 76.8 percent of worldwide chip card revenues in 1997, and by 2002, Dataquest expects considerable growth to take place in the Asia Pacific and Americas.

The report forecasts that, by 2002, the Asia Pacific will account for 30.1 percent of worldwide sales, the Americas (excluding the U.S.) will account for 8.6 percent of sales, and the U.S. will account for 7.8 percent of sales. The Japanese market is expected to account for 5.7 percent of sales by 2002. Europe will still account for 47.8 percent of sales by 2002.

About Gemplus

Gemplus ([][1]) is the world’s leading provider of plastic 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 10 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, physical access control, Pay-TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, logical access control and information technology.

About Dataquest

GartnerGroup’s Dataquest is the recognized leader in providing market Intelligence on global IT markets for semiconductors, computer systems and peripherals, document management systems, interactive information systems and networks, multimedia, business and technical software, telecommunications, and IT services. For more information on the report, call 1-800-419-DATA, or 408-468-8009.



Rush to Ruth

MasterCard International announced Monday the appointment of David Ruth as senior vice president for global communications, effective Dec. 1. Ruth, vice president of public affairs at MasterCard since 1997, replaces Charlotte Rush, who is leaving MasterCard to become senior vice president of communications at Ziff-Davis. Ruth will be responsible for all of MasterCard’s global communications activities, including media relations, member communications, employee communications, government relations, consumer affairs, philanthropic and community efforts, and thought leadership platforms.


Concord-EPS Merger

Concord EFS, Inc and Electronic Payment Services will hold a news conference this morning to announce they have entered into a merger agreement. The tax-free transaction would be structured as a pooling of interests. Concord will issue 32 million shares of common stock, worth roughly $900 million to conclude the deal. Executives said Monday that Concord has been a marketing and service company focusing on growth while EPS has tremendous processing capabilities through the ‘MAS’, ‘MAC’ and ‘BUYPASS’ groups. The merged company will now broaden each of its markets by expanding into new industry segments of the transaction processing business. EPS, which will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Concord, is currently owned by Bank One, First Union, KeyCorp, National City and PNC Bank. Publicly-traded Concord’s primary activity is card services, including credit, debit and EBT card transactions to supermarket chains, grocery stores, convenience store merchants and other retailers. Concord also provides electronic payment, banking products and payroll services to trucking companies, truck stops and other niche segments of the market. EPS currently processes 2.7 billion EFT transactions annually which includes 1.2 billion POS transactions and 1.5 billion ATM transactions.


Dell 0% VISA

Dell Computer Corporation is offering several flexible payment options to help make it easier to buy personal computers this holiday season.

The options include a new Dell Platinum Visa credit card, the new Dell Gift Certificate and an improved personal leasing program.

“Imagine buying a PC this year and not having to pay for it until next year,” says Dave Hood, vice president and general manager of Dell Home Systems. “Now customers can do that with the new Dell Platinum Visa credit card.”

The Visa card is offered by Dell, the world’s leading direct computer systems company, in association with First USA, a leading credit card issuer. It enables customers of Dell Home Systems Co. to buy Dell PCs with no payment or interest for 120 days on the initial Dell purchase(1). After that, customers will pay a 9.99% fixed rate on their purchase..

With every card purchase, users earn Dell Dollars(SM) which they can use to buy a new Dell system in the future(2). With some of the latest instant credit approval technology, card applicants can be reviewed in one online visit to or one toll-free phone call to 800/BUY-DELL.

Dell’s new gift certificate enables customers to give high performance, customized Dell computers and accessories at great prices for the holidays.

“The gift certificate is a perfect present for those who don’t know exactly what to buy, and the recipient can build the PC they choose,” says Hood.

The gift certificates, which can be purchased online, come in increments of $100, are personalized and can be sent directly to the recipient..

Additional information is available at or by toll-free phone call to 800/BUY-DELL.

“Dell is making holiday shopping easy for customers,” Hood says. “Rather than being strapped for money this holiday season, these new payment options give customers flexibility when buying technology products. They are designed to fit our customers’ different needs.”

Dell’s personal leasing program, available through Dell Financial Services, is slashing rates by as much as 10% for leases beginning in the month of December. For example, those consumers who lease the Dell Dimension XPS R450 system(3), that recently won PC Computing’s 1998 MVP State of the Art desktop award, can save more than $300 over the life of a 24-month lease(4).

Also, during December, consumers who lease any Dell system from Dell Financial Services make no payment for 60 days — hopefully helping those who are feeling the holiday season squeeze. The Dell personal lease program, introduced by Dell Financial Services in August 1997, offers lease terms of 24 or 36 months with no payment for 30 days, no upfront cost and the ability to easily upgrade to the newest technology when the lease term ends.

For extra convenience and easy access, Dell’s new payment options are available online this holiday season at (5) And, Dell, who does more than $10 million daily in Internet sales, is poised to meet the needs of shoppers this holiday season..

Ranked No. 125 among the Fortune 500 companies and No. 363 in the Fortune Global 500, Dell Computer Corporation is the world’s leading direct computer systems company, based on revenues of $16.8 billion for the past four quarters. Dell designs, manufactures and customizes products and services to customer requirements and offers an extensive selection of software and peripherals. Information on Dell and its products can be obtained through its toll-free number 800/388-8542 or by accessing the Dell World Wide Web site at [][1] Dell is a registered trademark of Dell Computer Corporation. Fortune 500 is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

The Dell Platinum Visa card offer and Dell Dollars redemption is available only through Dell Home Systems Co.

The Dell Gift Certificate is available and redeemable only through Dell Home Systems Co.

(1) 0% APR for balance related to initial Dell purchase (Dell balance) for four billing cycles from date of such purchase (promotion period). Any balance that results from the initial purchase will be included in the Average Daily Balance on the first day of the fifth billing cycle after the cycle in which the charge is posted to your account. 9.99% APR for purchases and balance transfers and for Dell balance after the promotion period. 19.99% APR for cash advances. If payment is received late once during the promotion period on balances other than the Dell balance, the APR on the Dell balance will adjust to 9.99%. If at any time payment is received late twice in any six-month period, the APR on purchases and balance transfers will adjust to 19.99%. If you do not make payments for two consecutive months, the rate on all balances will adjust to 22.99%. The annual fee: NONE. A minimum monthly Finance Charge of 50 cents is payable if any Finance Charge is due. There is a Finance Charge for cash advances equal to or greater of 2% of the transaction amount or $5.00 for each transaction with a maximum of $25.00. Offer applies to Dell Home Systems purchases only; may not be applicable with other Dell System discounts.

(2) Not valid on balance transfers, convenience checks or cash advances. Dell Dollars expire after three (3) years. Complete terms and conditions included in Dell Platinum Visa Card introductory package.

(3) Award-winning configuration of Dell Dimension XPS R450 can be found at [][2].

(4) Leasing arranged by Dell Financial Services L.P, an independent entity, to qualified customers. Amount saved over the course of 24 months is based upon a 24-month personal lease. Above monthly lease payments exclude taxes which may vary (for example, for the award-winning Dimension XPS R450 configuration, the Hartford City, Ind., sales tax would be $2.45/month); shipping cost due with first payment; no security deposit required; subject to credit approval and availability. Lease terms are subject to change without notice. Business leases also available.

(5) Dell gift certificates are available for purchase online, but are currently not redeemable for online purchases.



IVI/NCR $15M Deal

IVI Checkmate announced yesterday a three-year agreement with NCR Corp.estimated to be worth over $15 million. The agreement specifies that IVI Checkmate will manufacture and supply, using IVI Checkmate’s ‘GEN4’ fourth generation architecture, the key technologies of the ‘NCR 5945’ retail debit/credit terminal and the ‘NCR 5992 Signature Capture Plus’ electronic payment terminal. The terminal products and supporting software will be sold as part of NCR retail solution offerings through NCR’s direct and indirect sales channels, replacing existing electronic payment products in NCR’s retail product family.