American Express awarded $1 million to thirteen performing arts organizations yesterday. The ‘American Express Performing Arts Fund’ was established last year to support organizations in markets which are important to American Express. Yesterday’s announcement represented the first round of funding with RFPs for the second round being released in April. Funding competition is by- invitation-only. Among yesterday’s recipients $200,000 to the New York Philharmonic, $100,000 to the Chicago Symphony and $100,000 to the San Francisco Ballet.Details
Gemplus Group announced the introduction of the GTV100, a smart card-based TV signal-processing module. The GTV100, a smart card interface integrated into an industry standard PC Card, extends and upgrades the capabilities of a digital set-top box decoder, enabling new functions such as conditional access, electronic program guides, interactive applications, and electronic commerce solutions.
Simultaneously, the company announced the shipment of 90,000 Gemplus GTV100 modules to Nagravision, a division of the Swiss company, Kudelski S.A. Nagravision will provide the modules to Via Digital, a Spanish digital pay-TV service provider with more than 77 video channels and 200,000 subscribers. Via Digital will use GTV100 in a conditional access application in which the smart card-based modules will be incorporated into set-top box decoders. This will enable Via Digital to simply, remotely and securely manage conditional access and offer subscribers a broad range of pay-TV services.
Conditional Access Systems
Incorporating the Gemplus GTV100 into their set-top box decoders will enable companies like Via Digital to download and upgrade the operating system and applications via a satellite network in a matter of seconds. This functionality will save pay-TV companies time and money because these changes can be made online rather than by personnel that have to be sent to the site or by replacing existing hardware. Subscribers ultimately benefit by having the flexibility to dynamically upgrade or change their pay-TV services at their leisure.
The GTV100 can also reduce the significant cost of fraud by introducing multiple layers of security that prevent “hackers” from altering access privileges. This level of security is possible because security routines are maintained both in the smart card and in the module, and can be easily tracked and updated via satellite.
The GTV100 also enables the incorporation of electronic program guides and interactive applications that allow differentiation by means of this compact plug-in device instead of through the set-top box decoder itself.
Electronic commerce-based home shopping and payment systems can also be a reality. Coupled with debit, credit or electronic purse card, and the necessary application, the addition of a GTV100 could potentially transform a set-top box into a personal payment or banking system.
About the GTV100
Based on a powerful 32-bit RISC processor, the GTV100 contains a DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) standard descrambler and a standardized smart card interface. The GTV100 configuration includes as much as 512kb of FLASH memory and 512kb of RAM, and enables maximum flexibility to the operator with its unique software download capability.
The Gemplus GTV100 has an advanced hardware and operating system that can support various smart card-based conditional access systems, and is fully compliant with the DVB-CI standard.
The DVB Common Interface
The DVB-CI standard, specified by the DVB consortium, defines a common interface between set-top boxes and the conditional access module that is implemented as an independent component. This unique architecture brings openness to decoders and allows different conditional access systems to be supported by the same set-top box.
Gemplus has been very active in the definition of the DVB-CI standard and has lead the industry in delivering the most advanced smart card-based solutions available to both analog and digital pay-TV systems. With more than 12 million smart cards delivered to the major conditional access suppliers and pay-TV operators around the world, Gemplus has extensive experience in this market and understands the needs and requirements well, especially where customer security and quality are concerned.
Gemplus Corporation is the North American subsidiary of Gemplus S.C.A. (), 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$574 million in 1997, Gemplus employs more than 3,500 people in nine manufacturing facilities, four 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, access control, pay TV, electronic commerce, Internet security, and information technology.Details
Capital One announced yesterday it will expand its workforce by 2,000 people this year. The nation’s ninth largest issuer is in the midst of breaking ground for a second operations facility in Tampa. The new Tampa call center will open in September with about 600 associates to complement the current Tampa call center of 650 associates. Totally Cap One has 6,000 associates worldwide among operations facilities in VA, FL, TX and the U.K..Details
Vital Processing Services , announced today it has promoted Vicki McKee to vice president of corporate education, Jann McMahan to vice president of conversions and client training and Gene Walter to vice president of systems support.
Vicki McKee, Vice President, Corporate Education
As vice president of corporate education, Vicki McKee is responsible for the education efforts for both internal and external employees and clients. She will train clients on Vital’s products, their features and benefits. Specifically, McKee will be charged with a 1998 corporate initiative focusing on computer-based training for new internal and client programs.
McKee’s career began with a 13-year tenure at GE Capital. She served in a variety of positions in collections, sales, and finally as credit manager. McKee left GE Capital to join Providian as training manager in the dispute resolution area, then accepted a position at Visa as a Member education trainer. McKee joined Vital in 1996 as Director of Corporate Education.
Jann McMahan, Vice President, Conversions and Client Training
Jann McMahan’s current responsibilities as vice president of conversions and client training include the conversion of existing merchant and start-up portfolios onto the Vital merchant system. On the training side, McMahan manages the Client Training Department which educates financial institutions and Independent Sales Organizations (ISO’s) on how to use the system. McMahan operates out of the Columbus, Ga. facility.
McMahan began her career in the banking/credit card business in 1974 with Columbus Bank and Trust, Citizens and Southern National Bank, and American Express. At Total System Services, Inc.(sm), one of Vital’s parent companies, she worked for eight years as a merchant system client trainer, project manager, and held the title of assistant vice president. McMahan moved to Vital in 1996 as director of client training and documentation.
Gene Walter, Vice President, Support Services
Keeping Vital on the cutting edge of telecommunications, Gene Walter’s responsibility as vice president of systems support is building services, telecommunications services and complex technical support.
Walter began his career with AT&T and has worked in virtually all aspects of the telecommunications business, from installation, operations and marketing. After 31 years of service, he accepted a job with Fireman’s Fund as director of telecommunications. In 1994, Walter moved to Visa International to manage the Visa Voice Network. Walter joined the Visa MAC in preparation for the formation of Vital, serving as the director of systems support.
Vital Processing Services (Vital) is a leading full-service merchant processing company. Its clients include financial institutions that provide credit card processing to their merchant customers. Headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., Vital offers financial institutions operational services that enhance business solutions without competing for their merchant business. Its services include merchant POS products, electronic authorization and data capture; clearing, settlement and exception processing; merchant accounting, billing, and reporting; operational fulfillment services (including the outsourcing of chargeback and retrieval processing); risk management; and customer service. Vital is a merchant processing joint venture of Visa(R) U.S.A. and Total System Services, Inc.(R) (NYSE TSS) (TSYS(R)) (). Vital’s Internet address is .Details
Chase Manhattan relaunched the cobranded Bell Atlantic card yesterday by converting 70,000 Chase/NYNEX cardholders to the Bell Atlantic program. Bell Atlantic and NYNEX merged last year. Chase acquired the 500,000 cardholder, Bell Atlantic program August 21, 1997 from First Omni Bank. The relaunched card will be called ‘The Bell Atlantic Credit Card from Chase’ and will be issued as a no- annual-fee VISA or MasterCard. Chase indicated yesterday it will convert the existing ‘Bell Atlantic VISA’ cardholders to the ‘Bell Atlantic VISA Card from Chase’ in April. The rewards program connected with the card offers a 1% rebate on purchases, a 2% rebate on Bell Atlantic residential phone services and a 3% rebate on certain Bell Atlantic calling card calls. Rebates are good towards Bell Atlantic residential phone bills. Card pricing includes a 9-month intro rate of 6.9%, a tiered go-to purchase rate of prime +9.4% for balances under $2,500 and prime +7.4% for balances above $2,500. Interest rates for cash advances are prime +11.55%.Details
Applied Communications, Inc., a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. , announces the availability of BASE24-check auth 3.0, the latest version of ACI’s check authorization product for retail applications. BASE24-check auth 3.0 builds on the proven, flexible features of previous versions to offer retailers a fast, convenient method for authorizing checks with improved fraud detection capabilities.
“As the volume of checks continues to increase so does the incidence of check fraud — and the fraud is becoming more sophisticated,” said Ed Mangold, senior vice president of ACI’s Americas distribution channel. “Retailers are caught in the middle. They can’t refuse to accept checks, and at the same time need to reign in losses from bad checks. BASE24-check auth offers an ideal solution. Its comprehensive and flexible features enable retailers to quickly authorize checks and speed up the check-out process while limiting exposure to check fraud.”
ACI enlisted the help of current BASE24-check auth users to define enhancements contained in release 3.0 and partnered with PayPoint Electronic Payment Systems, Inc. for beta testing. Enhancements in the new release include the ability to authorize non-personal checks (business, payroll, government, etc.) using a personal ID to prevent the duplication or creation of fraudulent business and payroll checks; enhanced multi-dimensional linkage of a customer’s primary and alternate identification with programmatic capabilities that update all associated IDs to reflect the customer’s total check writing history; additional authorizing options for high-dollar transactions to minimize exposure from high-risk checks; and the ability to support additional check types — including mutual funds and home equity — that enable retailers to respond to changing market environments.
The BASE24-check auth system operates on Tandem NonStop Himalaya computer servers and supports the authorization of checks based on positive and/or negative information stored in a local database and both online and batch updates of database information. Additionally, the system can import data from third-party providers or a retailer’s own returned check database to ensure that the system has the most current information on which to base authorizations.
Applied Communications, Inc. is a subsidiary of Transaction Systems Architects, Inc. Transaction Systems’ software facilitates electronic payments and electronic commerce by providing consumers and companies access to their money. The company’s products are used to process transactions involving credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, remote banking services, checks, wire transfers and automated clearing and settlement. Its solutions are used on more than 2,800 product systems in 69 countries on six continents. Visit TSA and ACI on the World Wide Web at .Details
Mag-Tek Inc., strengthened its presence in the European marketplace with the opening of its office Thursday in Cheltenham, England, 100 miles west of London.
Mag-Tek Europe will be responsible for coordinating business development in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“Europe is a large market for card technology and is very important to Mag-Tek,” Lou Struett, executive vice president of Mag-Tek, said. “Our new office will enable us to work more closely with existing distributors while establishing new distributors and customers in other neighboring markets.”
Struett also announced Steve Poulston as the managing director of the new office. According to Poulston, the new office will dramatically raise the awareness of Mag-Tek and ensure that developments in Mag-Tek programs address the needs of European customers. Customer support will also be improved, allowing calls to Mag-Tek Europe during normal business hours.
Mag-Tek Europe will also be introduced March 19-25 at the annual CeBIT show, the world’s largest exhibition of information technology. Poulston and other Mag-Tek personnel from the Los Angeles headquarters office will be located at Hall 23, Stand A42, Booth 3.
Poulston was formerly the European operations manager for American Magnetics. He can be reached at Mag-Tek Europe by calling +44 (0) 1242 223830, faxing to +44 (0) 1242 223831 or e-mailing him at email@example.com.
Mag-Tek () manufactures an ever-expanding line of card readers, MICR check readers, encoders and motorized readers for financial institutions, OEMs and retailers. Since 1972, its headquarters have been in Carson, with sales offices throughout the United States and international distribution in more than 40 countries.
Mag-Tek, known worldwide as an industry leader in technology and innovation, pioneered magnetic-stripe readers more than 20 years ago.
Mag-Tek technology is used in millions of point-of-sale and financial transactions utilizing debit cards, credit cards, grocery- store checkouts, automated gas pumps, pay phones and airplane-seat phones throughout the world. For more information on Mag-Tek products, call 888/624-8350.Details
Imperial Technology Solutions, the healthcare technology division of Los Angeles-based Imperial Bank, and The Shams Group , a consulting and software integrator in the hospital industry, have joined together to enable hospitals with Meditech financial information systems to electronically verify and automate the collection of payment receivables.
! “We pursued a relationship with TSG because of our similar goals for the healthcare industry,” commented Debra K. Hubers, president of ITS. “Teaming with The Shams Group will allow the two of us to provide some genuine financial solutions to their hospital information systems customers around the country. These solutions will directly impact every hospital’s bottom line.”
Through this alliance, TSG will provide ITS’ Receivables Payment Manager (“RPM”) Internet product to Meditech’s hospitals. RPM can turn each hospital’s PC into a patient payment station and then instantly integrate that data into the patient records and financial systems.
Imperial Technology Solutions’ RPM credit/debit card system is the healthcare industry’s first Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 95 integrated payment card server. This system makes it easier for hospitals to collect co-pay and patient-responsible balances at the point of service. Rather than the traditional method of attaching a credit card receipt to a patient encounter form, which may take days to process, the RPM system integrates with patient records and accounts receivable systems, completing the transaction in a matter of seconds. This method will improve both the work flow process and the speed with which the funds are received.
“Our commitment to the healthcare industry requires that we associate with sophisticated technology innovators to nurture the most cost-effective solutions for hospitals’ emerging needs,” said Kamruddin Shams, president of The Shams Group. “Teaming with ITS will allow the work flow associated with processing patient payments to be cut from days to seconds.”
The Shams Group, Inc. was established in 1989 as a privately-held company based in Carrollton, Texas. Initially, the company provided consulting services for Meditech hospitals, but their capabilities have since evolved with the needs of the healthcare marketplace. TSG now provides software integration solutions, as well as consulting services to more than 300 hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. For more information on the products and services available, contact a TSG representative at (972) 484-9393 or visit the Web site at .
Imperial Technology Solutions, until recently known as Imperial Bank’s Health Care Technology Group, is the only division of a major bank in the country with a team of healthcare, technology and marketing specialists solely dedicated to providing financial technology solutions to the healthcare industry. For more information, contact Imperial Technology Solutions at (800) 716-9777, or visit ITS’ World Wide Web site at http//www.itsrpm.com. With nearly $5 billion in assets, Imperial Bank is one of the leading independent business banks in the West, offering a wide range of financial services tailored to corporate customers, entrepreneurs and professionals. Imperial Bank is the principal subsidiary of Imperial Bancorp (NYSE IMP) and can be found on the Web at .
Philips Semiconductors announced it is opening its MIFARE Technology for contactless smart cards to the market, in accordance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
As a result, any company will be able to manufacture and use products compatible with the MIFARE Interface Technology according to the ISO/IEC 14443 Type A international standard for contactless cards. The related patents will be made available under standard terms to everyone internationally recognized for access to patent rights.
“Philips Semiconductors has been developing MIFARE over the last seven years to become an industry standard for contactless smart card ICs,” said Arno Peels, business line manager identification, Philips Semiconductors. “To drive the market toward global acceptance, Philips is now opening the technology in line with the respective ISO standards.”
The existing comprehensive portfolio of MIFARE products satisfies demands ranging from contactless memory card ICs to sophisticated contactless microcontroller solutions. Philips Semiconductors and Siemens are already manufacturers of MIFARE products and recently have been joined by Hitachi Ltd., as the third silicon supplier. With the opening of the MIFARE Technology, the number of companies making MIFARE-based products is expected to increase.
With thirty million cards in use and more than a billion completed transactions, Philips’ MIFARE Architecture Platform has emerged as the industry standard for contactless smart card systems, covering about ninety percent of this fast growing market. The MIFARE Architecture Platform is a family of compatible card ICs and reader ICs based on the MIFARE Technology, which consists of card and reader components working at an operating frequency of 13.56 MHz.
“Contactless smart cards will be the key to the people’s mobility in the future,” said Arthur van der Poel, chairman and CEO of Philips Semiconductors. “Users will benefit from less queuing and will no longer need to search to find exact change. Compatibility ensures that people can choose to have just one card to cover all their daily transactions.”
An independent certification institute will be established this year to ensure compatibility between the various MIFARE products produced by different suppliers. The commitment to maintain backward compatibility within the MIFARE Architecture Platform provides a solid base for investment decisions.
Additionally, Philips Semiconductors will be establishing later this year a MIFARE User Group to allow users to exchange information, discuss their needs and available solutions, and generate ideas on enhancing the MIFARE Architecture Platform. This group will be open to all MIFARE users, such as service providers, system integrators, and reader, card and silicon manufacturers. This will be particularly useful for new partners to gain immediate access to MIFARE information, suppliers and expertise.
About Philips Semiconductors
Philips Semiconductors, Inc. is a subsidiary of Philips Electronics North America and an affiliate of Philips Electronics NV, headquartered in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Philips Semiconductors is a leader with a proven reputation in the development and production of cryptocontroller and contactless Smart Card ICs. Philips Semiconductors’ innovations in digital audio, video and mobile technology position the company as a leader in the consumer, multimedia and wireless communications markets.
Sales offices are located in all major markets around the world and are supported by regional application labs. For more information on Philips Semiconductors Identification, please visit [www.semiconductors.philips.com/identification].
Belco System Technologies, Inc. announced that it has taken a significant step forward in its research and development program for its Personal Reader Capture Transfer technology (PRCT) product. IMCI Technologies, with whom Belco has contracted for the development of the PRCT, has reported to Belco that it has confirmed feasibility of a specific design approach and fixed in scope the effort for the initial phase of research and development necessary to ultimately move the product to the manufacturing stage. Essentially, IMCI has engineered the basic hardware and software design and manufacturing methodologies required to produce the product on a full-scale basis.
The PRCT product is a personal credit card reader that connects directly to a consumer’s telephone, utilizing the same voice line to transmit data to the merchant simultaneously with voice interaction. Unlike verbally read credit card numbers, PRCT technology ensures the actual presence of the card at the time of transaction. The technology allows the merchant to directly capture information from the magnetic stripe on the card. The product has vast significance in its ability to disable the transfer of stolen credit card information and card numbers overhead verbally. Belco believes its PRCT technology will be effective in helping to lessen the cost of credit card charge-backs and fraud, which have historically reached billions of dollars annually.
Concurrently, Belco announced that it intends to appoint Fred Baradari, Director of Business Development for IMCI, to the Board of Directors of a new subsidiary the Company plans to form to manage its technology business. Lionel Beloyan, Chairman and President of Belco Systems Technologies, commented, “With our relationship with IMCI beginning to grew, and as we move closer to having a product ready to market Fred’s advice and counsel, based on his extensive experience in sales, marketing and new product and business development, will be a tremendous asset to out Company. We are fortunate to be able to add him to our senior management team.
“I am also pleased to note,” Mr. Beloyan added, “that out recently completed audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 1997, show that despite no operating revenues, our development stage company was still able to post a profit of approximately $46,500. This profit reflects the success of our investing activities, coupled with our very stringent cost controls. As a result, we believe we have the resources necessary to further implement our business plan and advance the development of the PRCT technology.”
Fred Baradari has more than fifteen years of experience in sales, business development and product management, with an emphasis on bringing new products to market. He currently oversees sales, marketing, and product management for IMCI. Prior to joining IMCI, he held several positions in product development, including for Microlog Corporation and Visa Interactive. Earlier, he served eight years with IBM Corporation in the sales and marketing Of Client/Server and Network Services to government clients.
Privately held IMCI Technologies, based in Vienna, Virginia, is an emerging leader in providing products and services to the telecommunications and information technologies industries. The Company has provided hardware R&D, software development and enterprise network integration to leading technology companies since 1992.
Belco System Technologies, Inc. is in the business of acquiring, developing, manufacturing and marketing new technologies.
Statements about the Company’s future expectations, including future revenues and earnings, and all other statements in the press release other than historical facts are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. Since these statements involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, the Company’s actual results could differ materially from expected results.Details
Canadian phone card issuer Valu-net Corporation signed a four year agreement yesterday with hockey great Wayne Gretzky. Under terms of the agreement Valu-net will have worldwide licensing rights to market ‘Gretzky’ prepaid phone cards and Gretzky has agreed to provide spokesman services and personal appearances. Valu-net markets its phone cards primarily through the World Wide Web.Details
Avis Rent A Car, Inc., announced yesterday that it has named Maria M. Miller senior vice president of marketing, reporting to Robert Salerno, president and chief operating officer. In her new position, Ms. Miller will be responsible for directing Avis’ marketing strategy and initiatives, marketing services, advertising, direct marketing, market research and retail pricing.
Miller comes to Avis with over fifteen years of marketing experience in consumer product and travel related financial services, including eight successful years as an executive with American Express Company.
At American Express, Ms. Miller served as vice president, Platinum Card operations. Here she led initiatives to improve service delivery and customer satisfaction to this highly profitable card member group. Ms. Miller also held the position of vice president, small business services marketing, where she grew Corporate Card membership through database development and the direct marketing of acquisition and loyalty programs. In addition, Ms. Miller held key positions in the Consumer Lending Group vice president, business development; director, Gold Card Line of Credit; and director, sign & travel. She began her career in brand management with General Foods Corporation.
“In striving to achieve our mission as the world’s pre-eminent car rental company, Maria’s impressive and unique background are a true asset to the Avis management team,” said Robert Salerno. “Her expertise in marketing, product development, and market research brings an important element to our Company. We are confident that Maria will play a significant role in building awareness of the Company and we welcome her to Avis.”
Ms. Miller received her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and her BS from New York University.
Avis Rent A Car, Inc. operates the second largest general use car rental business in the world, based on total revenue and volume of rental transactions. The Company rents vehicles to business and leisure travelers through over 600 locations in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Annually, the Company completes approximately 15 million rental transactions with a fleet that averages approximately 200,000 vehicles, generating over $2 billion in revenue, 88% of which is derived from its operations in the United States.Details