UTILBILL

The NKSoft Corporation a wholly owned subsidiary of NetKnowledge Technologies LLC., announced the release of UTILBILL an Internet/Intranet/Extranet enabled software that will allow Communications and Utility Companies to provide Self Service Customer Care and Billing on the Web.

“Today’s corporation is justifiably concerned about how to increase customer satisfaction without increasing operating expense.  UTILBILL will provide additional methods of customer service while reducing call center, bill printing and bill posting expenses. Customers will be able to receive bills on line, request services and pay their bill using our system. Cross and up selling opportunities_” said NKSoft CEO and President, John Chowdhury.

FEATURES OF UTILBILL:

Self Service Customer Care

UTILBILL operates on Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator browsers running Windows 95, Windows 3.x, Windows NT, Unix, and all other browser enabled clients.  Once the customer is signed up to receive the billing and customer care services on the Internet UTILBILL will enable companies to pre-send products and services to its customer as well as introductions of new products and features

Bill Presentation

UTILBILL will enable companies to pre-send bills on the Internet.  Users can view their bill, get an explanation of the charges, and pay bills if they wish. And customers with past history can view their bill history.

Payment Posting

UTILBILL will enable customers to setup preferred payment methods for their utility and communications bill.  Multiple options are available including Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) as well as the use of major credit cards.  Customers will have the option to change their preferred method at any given time prior to their scheduled billing date.

Meter Reading Posting

For remote utility users who are required to complete their meter reading manually there is an option to enter the meter reading using the UTILBILL system.  This will reduce the time required to complete the meter reading cycle for the utilities and will reduce data entry effort. The valid meter reading logic within UTILBILL will also reduce the data entry error from the customer entry point.

Audit Trail

The built in audit trail in UTILBILL will keep track of the changes with before and after images of the pertinent data.

Architecture and Security

The UTILBILL solution is developed using the Network Computing Architecture (NCA) with Object Oriented (OO) technology. With the three tier architecture, it keeps the legacy database out of direct access from the net, keeping it completely safe from the unexpected intruders.

Pricing and Availability

UTILBILL is available directly from NKSoft with prices starting at $250,000 including installation.  For more product and pricing information or to order contact NKSoft at 214-340-4330, or e-mail [nktinfo@nksoft.com][1].

[1]: mailto:nktinfo@nksoft.com

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Lasercard Market

Drexler Technology yesterday received a $2 million order for 525,000 ‘LaserCard’ optical memory cards and card reader/writers for a commercial application. The new optical memory card order is the industry’s largest non-government optical card order. Drexler says it will deliver the cards at the rate of  44,000 cards per month.  Drexler’s patented ‘LaserCard’ optical memory card is a recordable, credit-card size, data-storage device that offers multiple security safeguards and can function off-line or with computer networks, including the Internet. ‘LaserCard’ commercial and government applications include immigration cards, cargo manifests, access control cards, healthcare records, high security/interactive ID cards, automotive records, medical image storage, portable records with audit trails and consumer transaction systems.

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Speedpass Hits Wisconsin

Starting Tuesday, drivers pulling into participating Mobil service stations throughout Wisconsin will be introduced to Mobil Speedpass, a new technology that provides motorists with the fastest way yet to purchase gasoline. Customers enrolled in the Mobil Speedpass program will use a miniature electronic device attached to their key chain or affixed in their rear window and will be able to immediately fill up and drive away without ever opening wallets or purses for credit cards or cash.

“Our research tells us that customers are looking for the fastest and easiest way to get gasoline,” states Susan Hayden, Mid-America Mobil Manager. “With Mobil Speedpass, all you have to do is stop at a Speedpass pump, fill up and go. It’s the fastest way to get gas and just one of the ways we’re proving every day that we have the energy to make a difference.”

Similar to electronic payment methods used to reduce waiting time at highway tollbooths, Speedpass is a technology that employs radio signals. The electronic system located in the pump “talks” (communicates) with miniature “transponder” devices either in the form of a key tag that is attached to a driver’s key chain, or a window tag that is placed in a vehicle’s rear window. Either type of transponder provides motorists with quick, easy access to gasoline by automatically charging fuel purchases to a designated credit card.

To use a Speedpass key tag, motorists simply wave the key tag at the pump. Immediately, a light located at the pump turns on when the Speedpass system is activated to let the customer know when to begin refueling.

Customers choosing to use a Speedpass window tag merely pull up to and stop at a Mobil Speedpass pump to automatically activate the Speedpass light. The customer is then free to begin refueling.

How It Works

Drivers must enroll to acquire a Speedpass, which is a supplementary credit device assigned to a customer’s designated credit card. There are several ways to enroll:

1. by phoning (800) 459-2266;

2. through the Mobil Speedpass internet web site at ;

3. by completing an enrollment form available at any participating Mobil service station.

When they enroll, customers indicate which credit card they want their Speedpass transaction billed to. Customers can designate any of the wide range of credit cards that Mobil accepts. Customers also choose which form of transponder they prefer, either the key tag or the vehicle window version, and whether or not they prefer a receipt.

Initially, there is no cost to consumers for the Speedpass tag and no service charge for using the new technology to fill up.

Within a few days of receipt of the enrollment information, a Speedpass tag, preprogrammed with a unique secure ID number, is mailed to the customer. Customers simply phone in to activate the device and begin using Speedpass immediately — similar to the activation process for credit cards.

When a customer uses the key tag at a designated Speedpass station, the gasoline pump sends out a radio signal which powers the key tag allowing it to send back its unique ID code. Immediately, the Speedpass system recognizes the individual customer and activates the pump. The customer is then free to select the grade of gasoline and fill up.

Simultaneously, the Speedpass system contacts Mobil’s centralized credit system to verify the customer’s information, and, in turn, charges the customer’s designated credit card. The customer’s credit card number remains outside the Speedpass signal system, maintaining the confidentiality of that information.

A Team of Technology Leaders

The technology for Mobil Speedpass was developed for Mobil in cooperation with the TIRIS Division of Texas Instruments, and fuel pump manufacturers like the Wayne Division of Dresser Industries, and Gilbarco, Inc.

Mobil has been the first in the industry to develop customer-oriented electronic payment systems, including bank debit cards, pump-located Customer Activated Terminals (pay-at-the-pump) and the Mobil Go Card, a pre-paid card. Mobil is a leading oil, natural gas and petrochemical company. In the U. S., the corporation markets gasoline in 28 states and the District of Columbia through 7700 branded service stations.

TIRIS (Texas Instruments Registration and Identification System) advanced radio frequency identification (RFID) technology controls, detects and tracks valuable objects and people. TIRIS offers a range of both high and low RFID systems that are keys to reliable, accurate data collection for empowered information processing.

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Barclays Completes Darwin

Barclays Merchant Services, the card acquiring operating arm of  Barclays Bank confirmed Tuesday that it has completed its ‘Darwin’ program, a major client/server conversion.  The code-named program took five years to complete. The system handles the daily management of core credit and debit card merchant accounting. It evolved to the new multi-tiered client/server architecture from an IBM mainframe environment, consisting of ‘TCAM/3270’-based ‘IMS’ applications and large batch systems. Handling close to three million card transactions from 130,000 merchants daily, Darwin involved re-architecting critical sub-systems including customer services, collections, recruitment, settlement, Charging, and Statements. In addition, BMS had to migrate close to 400,000 merchant records, 40 million data fields, more than one million names and addresses, and a host of other information. BMS says up to 90% of the code was assembled using frames that had already been created. At most, BMS hand-cranked only 10% original code.

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100th AXI Client

American Express’ online corporate travel booking system, ‘AXI’,  jointly developed with Microsoft passed a  milestone yesterday in its sixth month of its general rollout. BFGoodrich Company became the 100th AXI site. The new ‘AXI 1.5’ version includes such new features as a new gateway area that provides travel-related content, plus information for first-time users on how to use the system and answers to frequently asked questions. ‘1.5’ also offers the ability to request a car service to and from the airport, as well as frequent flyer upgrades for any segment of the trip, and offers customizable display options for car rental and hotel companies that give precedence to suppliers based on corporate negotiated rate, the American Express Select rate, followed by others.

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MBNA NASCAR

MBNA America also announced Tuesday that it has extended its exclusive agreement with NASCAR making MBNA the official credit card issuer of NASCAR in conjunction with VISA’s NASCAR partnership. MBNA says it will expand its commitment to NASCAR and its motorsports sector through new marketing programs and sponsorships to benefit NASCAR, its drivers, and fans.  Beginning in 1999, MBNA will introduce a number of initiatives aimed at promoting NASCAR. MBNA currently has more than 400,000 NASCAR credit cardholders. The NASCAR-MBNA  credit card which was launched in 1993, offers the pictures of 48 drivers.  MBNA’s Motorsports unit has more than 300 affinity relationships including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Racing League, the National Hot Rod Association, Championship Auto Racing Teams, and American Motorcycle Association.  Last year, MBNA added a second sponsored race at Dover Downs International Speedway.  The addition of the spring MBNA Platinum 200 and the MBNA Platinum 400 expanded MBNA’s involvement with NASCAR and Dover Downs, adding to the continued sponsorship of the renamed MBNA Gold 200 and MBNA Gold 400 in Dover in September.  The two annual race weekends include the Busch Series Grand National and the Winston Cup Series.

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VISA Motorsports

VISA U.S.A. inked partnerships with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (better known as NASCAR) and the Daytona International Speedway, home of the ‘Daytona 500’. VISA said Tuesday it will leverage these relationships through integrated marketing programs encompassing advertising, consumer promotions, retail tie-ins, VISA preference programs, and track relationships. Additionally, all new and existing NASCAR and Daytona co-branded and affinity payment card products will bear the VISA brand.  As part of a three-year partnership with NASCAR, which takes effect January 1, 1999, VISA will become the “Preferred Card of NASCAR,” including the Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, as well as the NASCAR regional racing series. VISA also receives the exclusive right to provide the NASCAR-VISA marks to member banks and merchants in the U.S. and Canada for promotional purposes. As part of VISA’s partnership with Daytona, VISA will become an official corporate sponsor and the preferred card of the Daytona 500 and the Daytona International Speedway.

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GE Capital Gets Boeing

The Boeing Company selected GE Capital Monday to provide its T&E, purchasing and fleet vehicle card payment systems.  The agreement is part of ongoing cost-saving initiatives by the Boeing Shared Services Group. Business-wide, Boeing SSG has a goal to significantly reduce the cost of doing business.  The Boeing Company represents one of the top ten T&E programs in volume nationwide.  The T&E, purchasing and fleet card programs are launching in the second half of the year.  Total number of T&E, purchasing and fleet cardholders will exceed 60,000.

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Blau Gets Award

Snyder Communications said yesterday that its Blau Marketing subsidiary won seven ‘Tempo Awards’ for its work with Sears, SunTrust Bankcard and The Associates. The ‘Tempo Awards’ are awarded annually by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketers in recognition of leading marketing and creative programs. Blau won three ‘Business to Business Direct Mail’ awards for its Sears campaign designed to encourage store managers to internally promote the benefits of the Sears’ credit card. Blau’s work with SunTrust Bankcard N.A., targeting increased check usage by new and existing card members, resulted in two ‘Consumer Direct Mail’ awards. Finally, Blau won two additional Consumer Direct Mail awards for its programs targeting new college-age credit card consumers on behalf of The Associates.

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Triton gets New Partner

Triton Systems and McLane FSP signed an agreement yesterday to supply ATMs to the off-site ATM market. McLane FSP has been distributing ATMs since 1994 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of McLane Company, Inc., the only nationwide supplier of food and non-food products to the convenience store industry in the U.S.  FSP provides convenience store retailers with value-added programs such as prepaid phone cards, ATMs, check-cashing and other financial services. Triton sold 7,767 machines in 1997, a 39% jump over the previous year.

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NCR Gets Into Modeling

NCR announced Monday it is augmenting the power of its data-warehousing and professional consultancy services through an agreement with Quadstone, the Scottish-based developer of ‘Decisionhouse’, a fully-scalable suite of tools for integrated data access, visualization, and predictive modeling. ‘Decisionhouse’ is an integral part of the NCR propensity modeling offer. Propensity modeling enables banks to accurately predict customer behavior in a number of key business areas – for example, who is likely to buy a certain service or product, who might be thinking of moving to a rival bank, or who shows risks of defaulting on a credit card or loan payment.

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