FAR POINT Consulting and Gemplus are joining up to provide ‘SmartGift’, a smart card-based gift certificate solution for retailers.  SmartGift, which was developed by FAR POINT using Gemplus smart cards, does away with the need for cash refunds, eliminates incidents of fraud from counterfeit gift certificates, and reduces accounting errors common in labor-intensive paper-based systems, while keeping the customer linked to the store for the full value of the gift certificate. Retail store personnel will simply insert the smart card into the reader, which will then decrement a specified amount from the value of the card for the purchase being made.


DataCard’s New Driver

DataCard Corporation debuted the new DataCardr Smart Driver printer driver for its family of digital photo ID printers this week at the CardTech/SecurTech Conference in Washington, D.C.

The new smart driver is now a standard feature for the DataCardr ImageCard Express photo ID printer, the company’s value-priced, low-volume printer.

It also will be a standard feature on the DataCard ImageCardr IV photo ID printer, a high-volume printer that will be available this summer.

The smart driver greatly simplifies printer operation and maintenance by allowing two-way, on-screen communication.  Highlights include operator prompts, online help and instructions designed for simple error recovery.

Graphical tabs also allow users to manage key functions without deciphering blinking lights.

“The smart driver makes photo ID printing a simple, point-and-click process,” said Steve Blake, vice president of DataCard’s photo ID printer group.  “If you can use a mouse, you can produce high-quality IDs quickly and easily.”

Operators can follow on-screen directions to configure ribbon type, card orientation, duplex printing, image intensity and cleaning intervals.

The new smart driver also allows users to monitor the printer’s status and perform diagnostics to determine if the printer needs attention.

“The driver allows operators to perform routine maintenance and troubleshooting, even if they have very basic PC skills,” Blake added. “This reduces downtime, increases productivity and minimizes service costs.”

“When the printer needs maintenance, visual alerts automatically appear on the screen.  Users simply point and click through intuitive, step-by-step instructions,” said Blake.  “Operators find these messages and help screens a great relief, because they eliminate the blinking lights that have to be deciphered on most other photo ID printers.”

DataCard Corporation, is a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of financial, identification and healthcare applications.  In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers complete lines of digital photo ID systems and printers, card personalization systems and transaction systems. ()


Bill Collect

A new  electronic service to help banks solidify their relations with commercial  customers was announced yesterday by Priority One Electronic Commerce Corp.. The new program permits banks to offer their depositors the unique ‘BILL COLLECT’ service of Priority One. Priority One’s system allows the bank’s business customer to submit a batch file containing both credit card and ACH transactions which are then automatically processed for payment. The company says clients who use the ‘BILL COLLECT’ system report that they have cut receivable days outstanding  from average of 40 to 62 days down to as little as 10 days.


Delivering Online

Jim Wells, director of strategic alliances, of Electronic Funds & Data Corp., will demystify electronic bill presentment and payment and the issues it presents for regulators at the annual meeting of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors in Nashville, Tenn., May 1-3.

As a member of the May 1 panel “Delivering Online,” Wells will address the question “What is electronic bill presentment and payment and why should billers, consumers, bankers and their regulators be interested?”

“Every year more than 15 billion bills are sent to American households,” said Wells, formerly an analyst with the consulting firm of Furash & Co. “To maintain their preeminent position in the payment system, banks must function as the link between billers and bill payers – before someone else does. Bank regulators need to understand how critical these non-traditional activities are to the long-term viability of banks and their role in helping banks under their supervision make this a reality. This could include working with banks to convince the local public service commissions to allow on-line electric bills to replace paper ones.”

Some of Wells’ key points will include the specific challenges for regulators regarding interstate billing and on-line consumer protection; privacy and confidentiality of on-line data; network security; and the industry’s need for standards to ensure that bills efficiently get to and from consumers nationally and internationally. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors is considered the largest annual gathering of the nation’s top state and federal regulators and bankers. Each year, the prestigious group meets to discuss the most important issues facing the banking industry. This year, one of the hottest issues facing these regulators is electronic banking.

“EF&D wants to help regulators come to grips with the difficult choices facing banks on all levels as a result of the technological revolution and the encroachment of non-banks,” Wells said. “Electronic delivery is the future of banking. We look forward to contributing to the exchange of ideas among conference participants.”

Other panel participants include Linda Garvalink of Grant Thornton who will serve as moderator and Steve Simpson of Texas Industrial Bank.

EF&D, founded in 1993 and located in Southampton, N.Y., develops and markets comprehensive, bank-centric billing solutions for both the current paper environment and electronic media. The company sees EBPP as the critical front-end to PC banking programs and to the growing world of electronic commerce.



MasterCard International announced this week that MasterCard issuers participating in the GSA Master Contract for card services will now have access to Constructive Key Management, a data encryption application developed by TECSEC Inc., that will run on a MULTOS chip. TECSEC is the first applications developer to unveil plans to bring a MULTOS-based security application to market. TECSEC expects to have their MULTOS-based version of CKM available by year-end. In the future, government employees could be issued a MasterCard smart card that would provide a cardholder with secure access to government buildings and computers as well as provide the ability to encrypt data for transmission over the Internet. MasterCard projects the GSA card contracts will cover $100 billion of transactions over 10 years.


SCIA Chat Room

The Smart Card Industry Association (SCIA) has formed the SCIA Discussion Mailing List (DML), a free e-mail membership list-service, to provide a vibrant communications mechanism for smart card industry dialogue.

The formation of the DML further demonstrates the SCIA mission of promoting the understanding and acceptance of smart card technology worldwide. “The DML serves as a forum for discussion about smart card technology, applications and issues,” said SCIA President and CEO Dan Cunningham. “It’s an easy-to-use method for people to network, find answers and discuss issues concerning the burgeoning smart card market.”

DML members send e-mails with questions, comments, topics, etc., to a host computer, which disseminates the information to the entire list; responses to the host computer build the group discussion. DML members are also given the option of replying only to the original sender. The DML is open to both SCIA members and non-members, but remains private in that only those that have joined the SCIA DML are included in distributions.

While the DML is similar to a newsgroup or message board, the privacy of the list and rules prohibiting advertising or promotional material prevents e-mail spamming and inappropriate messages from burdening DML members. Messages from non-DML members are rejected by the host computer and DML members can be removed from the list for not complying with rules. “The DML provides a way to get helpful, useful information without hassle,” noted Cunningham. “When members receive mail, they will know it’s useful and relevant.”


Dual Interface Contactless Cards

American Microdevice Manufacturing, Inc. has become the first company in the world capable of volume production for dual interface and contactless smart cards.

The company is best-known for its secure ABS injection molding process that provides the highest level of physical, environmental and secure protection to the IC, which cannot be removed from the card without destroying the card body.

By adapting its production process to produce dual interface and contactless cards the same way standard smart cards are produced, AMMI has become the first supplier to be able to meet volume, cost and quality requirements for the enormous potential markets these cards will serve.

The introduction of contactless and dual interface cards in the mid 1990s signaled a new era for smart cards. Industry analysts have forecasted that they will play an important role in the electronic payments, public transport and access control markets, but the main obstacle has been the lack of cost-effective production capabilities.

“AMMI is proud to make major contribution to this market development, making possible today what others have promised for years,” said Friedrich Plankensteiner, director of product marketing. “Besides the fact that all our smart cards have the highest temperature range in the industry of up to 85(Degree)C, our contactless and dual interface cards always have the IC in the same position which eliminates bad results during card printing.” AMMI has a production capacity of 500,000 dual interface or contactless smart cards per month and further expansion is planned.

About Smart Cards

A smart card is a plastic card that carries a microprocessor chip and resembles a credit card or other magnetic strip cards. A smart card, however, can be used in many more applications because it contains a programmable microprocessor that allows the user to both store and change information on the card, much like a PC.

Additionally, because they can utilize very sophisticated cryptographic techniques, smart cards provide extremely high security, which also makes them more appealing for a wider range of applications than traditional magnetic strip cards.

Applications to date include electronic commerce (including purchases over the Internet), stored value with loyalty point schemes (e.g. merchant communities – supermarkets, etc.) and contactless technology with a combination of applications: transportation and electronic purse (e.g. highway tolls or bus fares).

About AMMI

Founded in 1991 in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, Calif., American Microdevice Manufacturing, Inc. (AMMI) is a leading manufacturer of Smart cards and Smart card related services. The company offers a wide variety of products to meet the varying needs of customers, including contact, contactless and dual-interface smart cards. AMMI is a smart card solution provider serving customers around the globe with its network of partners in all major countries.

AMMI’s diverse product line serves the telecommunications, banking, security, travel, transportation, consumer shopping, healthcare and entertainment industries. In addition to a full range of smart card services like printing, personalization and packaging, AMMI provides consulting services and software development to develop entire card systems, including card readers and terminals.

AMMI is headquartered at 1830 Bering Dr., San Jose, CA 95112-2046. Telephone 408-573-7070. Fax 408-573-7607. E-mail: [[email protected]][1]; [][2].

[1]: mailto:[email protected]


DataCard’s VISA Cash Solution

DataCard unveiled a smart card personalization and data preparation solution for reloadable ‘Visa Cash’ cards.    Major card issuers in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America have begun using the new hardware and software solution to issue Visa Cash cards. The system consists of two components that are networked with the DataCard  ‘9000 Series’ card issuance system.  One component is a server that automates the key management process.  The other is a security module that offers high-speed encryption. The DataCard  ‘9000 Series System’ is a modular card issuance system that offers a full range of inline capabilities, including full-color printing, smart card initialization, embossing, indent printing, magnetic stripe encoding, label affixing, topcoat application, forms printing, card affixing, envelope insertion and fixed metering.


Finger Cards Coming

Siemens Semiconductors said Wednesday it will roll-out a fingertip sensor chip by the Fall of this year. Siemen’s fingertip sensor chip digitizes the user’s fingertip directly onto the chip, which can be integrated into a phone, an ATM, an automobile or other applications. The sensor is based on standard 0.8 micron CMOS technology and features 50mW power consumption and 500 dpi resolution. The sensor can register fingerprints in less than 100ms.


Credit Store Acqusitions

SD-based Credit Store, Inc. said it has acquired two non-performing card portfolios representing a combined gross principle of $16.0 million. Since the company’s inception in October 1996 the firm has acquired a total gross principal of $2.0 billion in bad credit card debt. The Credit Store negotiates settlements and offers new credit cards to credit-impaired consumers.


Bull Java Terminal APIs

Bull  announced Wednesday it has been selected by Visa to develop Java Terminal APIs supporting the Visa Open Platform. The Visa Open Platform is destined to accelerate the creation and deployment of smart card-based applications for cards and terminals. Bull is the only supplier working on both card and terminal Java technologies with Visa and for the general market. Following its long-standing collaboration with Visa, Bull is developing the Open Platform terminal software specifications to make it easier and faster for software developers to write applications that accept smart cards. Bull will develop a simulator including the Java Virtual Machine, the APIs and applications on a PC. The APIs use an object-oriented approach that can take advantage of the “write once, run anywhere” features of Java.

“Our final beta-version of the simulator will be ready for June,” said Christian Goire, manager, advanced projects, Bull Smart Cards & Terminals, and president of the Java Card Forum. “This project is consistent with our work on Java, in particular our Java Odyssey I card, based on the specifications of the Java Card Forum, and Odyssey II card that will support Visa Open Platform Card APIs. This cooperation with Visa is an additional step for us to develop Java solutions, to give its Members the most advanced solution currently available.”

“The Visa Open Platform supports the multifunction capability needed to realize our vision for smart cards,” said Judy Smythe, senior vice president, Chip Products, Visa International. “We are pleased to have Bull’s experience with smart cards and multi-application terminals in the development of the terminal software API. The development of the Visa Open Platform Terminal API is a major next step in responding to Visa Member requirements to hasten smart card acceptance worldwide.”

About Bull Smart Cards and Terminals

Bull designs and markets a wide range of contact and contactless microprocessor smart cards, electronic payment terminals and automatic points of contact, including cash dispensers and multimedia kiosk POS terminals. In 1997, these activities generated revenue of $237 million, an increase of 32 percent over 1996.

The history of smart cards at Bull goes back to 1979 when Bull’s Michel Ugon, in collaboration with Motorola, invented the world’s first microprocessor card (CP8 technology). Today, all microprocessor cards worldwide still use Bull CP8 technology for the micro-electronic part (SPOM – Self-Programmable One chip Memory) patent. More than 420 million microprocessor cards use CP8 technology, either as patents, applications or operating systems. Bull is world leader in the electronic purse segment with more than 27 million cards in use in ten countries. Approximately 60 percent of the world’s smart cards used in banking today have been designed by Bull. Bull also is a leader in electronic payment terminals, with 650,000 machines installed worldwide. More information on can be found on the World Wide Web at: [][1], on Groupe Bull at: [][2].



Cendant Card

PHH/Paymentech announced this week it will change its name to Cendant Business Services. The firm has also revised the look of its MasterCard-branded corporate card to the ‘Cendant Card’.  The MasterCard corporate card program was created through a joint venture between PHH Vehicle Management Services and Paymentech and was the first to offer the ‘MasterCard Corporate Fleet Card’.