E-Scribe Service

Maagnum E-Commerce Services, a global electronic commerce company, yesterday announced a new web site subscription management and billing service called Maagnum E-Scribe. The new service simplifies the process of managing web site subscription member databases, security, credit card processing, recurring billing, and activity reporting.

The new E-Scribe service will include

-Plug and play management program for web site merchants and ISPs

-Secure credit card processing service

-Credit card fraud screening

-Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and annual billing periods


-Multiple web server and authentication methods support

E-Scribe is designed for businesses selling access to information, chat rooms, personal advertisements, discussion groups, interactive games, and other content sold on a subscription basis. The service comes bundled with customer service, technical support, payment, and back-office services and runs on new and existing web sites.

E-Scribe will be generally available in March of 1998.

For more information on how to take advantage of proven electronic commerce outsourcing solutions from a reputable industry leader, call Maagnum E-Commerce Services at 1-203-699-8225.

About Maagnum E-Commerce Services

Maagnum E-Commerce Service is a division of the Maagnum Internet Group, a global provider of comprehensive electronic commerce services. More than 250 companies from around the world have turned to Maagnum for secure Internet order management, transaction processing, bill presentment and payment, business-to-business catalog development, electronic software distribution, customer support, web site development, warehousing, call-center, consulting, and Internet banking services. Founded in 1994, Maagnum is a privately held company headquartered in Cheshire, Connecticut.


Another Health Charge Card

Health Charge Corporation and Clarian Health System announced the execution of a contract to provide the Health Charge credit card program to Clarian’s patients. The program will begin in March.

“We are excited that Clarian Health System has selected Health Charge as its patient financing partner,” said Christopher L. Gillock, Chief Executive Officer of Health Charge Corporation. “Clarian is one of the premier integrated healthcare delivery systems in the United States, and has elected to implement the Health Charge credit card program as part of its effort to implement best practices in healthcare business management. Our program will help Clarian Health System improve patient relations and reduce bad debts.”

“We view Health Charge as an important tool in the collection of self-pay balances,” said Debbie Winkle, Director of Patient Accounts. “The Health Charge credit card program will allow us to assist patients and reduce our operating costs.”

Clarian Health System is a large, integrated healthcare delivery network. Clarian owns and operates Indiana University Medical Center, Methodist Hospital of Indiana, and Riley Hospital for Children.

Health Charge Corporation, founded in 1979, provides private label credit card programs to hospitals and other healthcare providers that enable those providers to better manage patient pay obligations and receivables. In addition, Health Charge also provides business office consulting services and proprietary receivables management software to hospitals. For more information, please contact our WEB SITE at [www.healthcharge.com][1].

[1]: http://www.healthcharge.com


PMT Swallows Another

PMT Services, Inc. announced the acquisition Wednesday of Money Transfer Systems, Inc., an independent service organization headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. MTSI provides electronic credit card transaction processing services to a portfolio of approximately 5,000 merchant accounts, which currently generates annualized charge volume of approximately $200 million. In addition, its field sales force produces between 400 to 500 new merchant accounts each month.

“We are pleased to be formally joining forces with MTSI,” remarked Mr. Roberts, “a company from which we have previously purchased several account portfolios. >From these prior relationships, we have come to know the MTSI management team very well, and we welcome them to PMT confident of their skills and entrepreneurial drive.

“This transaction, which is the fourth completed in fiscal 1998, highlights PMT’s dual strategies for growth through internal development and acquisition. While we are again acquiring a high quality merchant portfolio from MTSI, the primary focus of this transaction was to bring the company’s people – its management and seasoned sales force – into PMT. MTSI benefits from having access to PMT’s buying power in pricing and purchasing, as well as from utilizing PMT’s service platform, which is one of the best in the market place. PMT benefits from the expansion of its ability to generate internal sales by increasing its sales and marketing infrastructure to achieve its future growth targets. This acquisition represents the ninth transaction in the last 20 months through which we have increased PMT’s internal account generation capabilities from an average of approximately 600 per month to approximately 3,500 per month.

“It is also representative of the ongoing opportunities we have to pursue the further consolidation of our markets. PMT continues to enjoy one of the strongest financial positions in its industry and has built an outstanding record of successfully completing and integrating acquisitions into its business. As a result, we expect industry consolidation pressures to continue to favor PMT. As one of the largest and lowest cost providers among its peers, PMT remains well positioned to pursue appropriate acquisition opportunities aggressively.”

Investors are cautioned that this release contains forward-looking statements, such as those relating to the benefits of the MTSI acquisition, that are based upon current expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual operations and results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements made by the Company. The factors that could cause actual results to vary include PMT’s ability to retain the field sales force and the ongoing performance of the field sales force; the Company’s ability to integrate the acquisition successfully with its processing systems and products; the attrition of merchants from the acquired portfolio; and other trends or uncertainties as noted in PMT’s periodic filings with the SEC.

PMT Services, Inc. is an independent service organization which markets and services electronic credit card authorization and payment systems to small retail and professional businesses located throughout the United States. PMT’s account portfolio has grown through the internal development of accounts using telemarketing and a field sales force as well as through the purchase of account portfolios. PMT is one of the largest independent service organizations in the country.


IVI Earnings Up 300%

International Verifact reported, for the fourth quarter, revenues of $17.9 million – a 13% increase over the $15.8 million recorded in the same period in 1996. Net earnings was $1.0 million or $0.11 per share, a 293% increase in comparison with an operating profit in 1996 (before unusual items) of $258,000 or $0.03 per share. Unusual items recorded in the fourth quarter of 1996 consisted of a $1.7 million product writedown after the Company’s alliance with Ingenico S.A. f Paris, France, and a loss of $201,000 which represented the Company’s share of losses in a discontinued company.

Revenues for the year of $71.2 million were at record levels, an increase of 49% over the $47.8 million recorded in the previous fiscal year. Net earnings which also reached an all-time high of $3.7 million or $0.42 per share, was a significant turnaround from last year’s operating loss (before unusual items) of $755,000 or $0.11 per share. In addition to unusual items recorded in the fourth quarter of 1996 as mentioned above, the Company had also written off in 1996 goodwill of $9.3 million.

Commenting on the Company’s results, IVI’s President and CEO Barry Thomson said that he was extremely pleased with the successes in 1997 and how these accomplishments were consistent with the Company’s long term objectives.

Since late 1996, the Company focused on several objectives to expand its product portfolio; to be recognized as one of the leading providers of smart card solutions in North America; to expand its software expertise through the growth of National Transaction Network; and to increase its U.S. marketshare such that at least 50% of the Company’s total revenues were derived from non-Canadian sources.

Fourth Quarter 1997 Highlights

Accomplishments in the fourth quarter further the Company towards these objectives

–  Expand product portfolio. The Company filled an industry void through the development of its CheckManager 3000, a first-of-its-kind dial checkreader which can be easily installed without modifying the retailers’ existing payment terminals. Market interest in the product is high and IVI has already received several significant contracts.

–  Recognized as smart card leader. IVI is now participating in its third North American smart card pilot. The Company’s Elite 730T is the only portable payment terminal to be used in the joint Mondex/Visa Cash project in New York City, and was the first payment terminal to be certified by both Mondex and Visa Cash. Capable of handling credit, debit and EBT transactions, as well as other smart card platforms, the Elite 730T is the terminal most widely used during this trial.

–  Expand software expertise. IVI announced that its subsidiary, NTN, has signed a letter of intent to purchase the assets of BancTec Open Payment Systems Group, which will complement NTN’s existing software capabilities. This purchase was subsequently completed in January 1998.

–  Increased U.S. marketshare. Approximately 44% of fourth quarter revenues came from non-Canadian sources. As a result, revenues for the year from non-Canadian sources accounted for 42% of total revenues, compared with 34% in 1996 and 26% in 1995.


The Company believes that continued focus on these objectives in 1998 will enable the Company to continue its long term growth, and become a major industry player in the Americas. As a major step towards achieving this success, the Company announced in January 1998 that it has entered into an agreement to merge with one of its U.S. competitors, Checkmate Electronics Inc. of Roswell, Georgia. The merger is expected to close in May 1998, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

The Company believes that such a merger will allow the two companies to combine their individual resources to enhance their ability to more effectively compete in the U.S. market for electronic payment automation equipment. More specifically, there would be substantial synergy opportunities through broader product offerings which would create a stronger competitive position; increased purchasing power and cross-selling opportunities; and significant cost savings through the elimination of redundancy, product rationalization and improved manufacturing efficiencies.

IVI is engaged in the design, development and sale of electronic payments solutions for retailers, financial institutions, governments and other businesses. IVI’s hardware and software products include point-of-sale debit/credit/EFT/EBT terminals, check readers, smart card readers, POS printers and secure PIN entry devices. Additional Company information is available on the Company’s website at .

    as at December 31, 1997 and 1996
    (unaudited in thousands of Canadian dollars)

                                                     1997         1996
                                                 ———-   ———-
    Current assets
    Cash and marketable securities                $ 16,090     $ 14,443
    Accounts receivable                             12,098        9,463
    Inventories                                      8,408        9,529
    Other                                              604          411
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                    37,200       33,846

    Capital assets                                   3,451        3,214
    Other assets                                     8,845        6,209
    Goodwill                                           917        1,021
                                                 ———-   ———-

                                                  $ 50,413     $ 44,290
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Current liabilities
    Accounts payable and accrued liabilities      $ 11,852     $ 12,055
    Deferred revenue                                   298        1,100
    Current portion of capital lease obligations        54           35
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                    12,204       13,190

    Long term capital lease obligations                 33           26
    Minority interest                                   75          126
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                    12,312       13,342

    Shareholders’ equity                            38,101       30,948
                                                 ———-   ———-

                                                  $ 50,413     $ 44,290
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                 ———-   ———-

    for the three months and year ended December 31
    (unaudited in thousands of Canadian dollars,
      except per share amounts)

                                         Three Months             Year
                                     ——————-  ——————-
                                        1997      1996       1997      1996
                                     ——————-  ——————-

    Revenue                          $ 17,863  $ 15,837   $ 71,208  $ 47,801
    Cost of sales                      11,615    10,733     47,193    32,388
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———
    Gross margin                        6,248     5,104     24,015    15,413
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———

    Selling, administration and
     general                            3,931     3,554     14,576    11,524
    Research and development            1,003       926      4,612     3,248
    Depreciation and amortization         523       442      2,019     1,626
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———
                                        5,457     4,922     21,207    16,398
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———

    Earnings (loss) before interest,
     minority interest and
     unusual items                        791       182      2,808      (985)

    Interest income                        37        60        264       203
    Minority interest                     187        16        620        27
    Share of losses of associated
     company                                –      (201)         –      (201)
    Write-off of goodwill                   –         –          –    (9,285)
    Ingenico alliance product
     writedown                              –    (1,660)         –    (1,660)
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———

    Net earnings (loss) for the year $  1,015  $ (1,603)  $  3,692  $(11,901)
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———

    Net earnings (loss) per share    $   0.11  $  (0.19)  $   0.42  $  (1.67)
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———
                                     ——— ———  ——— ———

    Weighted average common shares
     Outstanding (thousands)                                 8,803     7,120
                                                          ——— ———
                                                          ——— ———

    for the year ended December 31
    (unaudited in thousands of Canadian dollars)

                                                     1997         1996
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Cash provided by (used in)
     operating activities
    Net earnings (loss) for the year              $  3,692     $(11,901)
    Non-cash items
      Depreciation and amortization                  2,019        1,626
      Minority interest                               (620)         (27)
      Loss on disposal of capital assets                 –           29
      Share of losses of associated company              –          201
      Write-off of goodwill                              –        9,285
      Ingenico alliance product writedown                –        1,660
                                                 ———-   ———-
    Cash from operations                             5,091          873

    Change in non-cash working capital              (2,712)         613
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                     2,379        1,486
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Cash provided by (used in)
     financing activities
    Issuance of common shares                        3,461       12,952
    Received from minority shareholder                 569            –
    Change in capital lease obligations                 26          (38)
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                     4,056       12,914
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Cash used in investment activities
    Purchase of capital assets                      (1,344)      (1,537)
    Capitalization of development costs             (3,444)      (2,470)
    Purchase of technology licensing rights              –       (1,351)
    Acquisition of
     National Transaction Network, Inc.                  –         (817)
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                    (4,788)      (6,175)
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Net change in cash and marketable securities     1,647        8,225

    Cash and marketable securities
      – beginning of year                           14,443        6,218
                                                 ———-   ———-

    Cash and marketable securities
      – end of year                               $ 16,090     $ 14,443
                                                 ———-   ———-
                                                 ———-   ———-


Smart Health Card Pilot

For years, healthcare professionals have heard how smart cards will streamline processes, boost profitability and improve patient care.  Now, thanks to DataCard Corporation, they’ll have evidence to support those claims.

Officials from DataCard’s newly formed Healthcare Solutions Group discussed a pilot program currently underway with Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) today at the 1998 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Orlando.

Woody Frost, general manager of DataCard’s Healthcare Solutions Group, said a test group of CHP employees and physician’s patients will test DataCard’s new portable patient information solutions at hospitals, physician’s offices and pharmacies at selected CHP facilities.

The new DataCard® SmartRec™ portable information solution will allow CHP members to carry critical medical information on a personalized smart card, which can be read anywhere they go for service—including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and ambulances.

“SmartRec will measurably improve the quality of patient care for those participating in the pilot,” Frost said.  “Any time they access a CHP facility, the care provider will be able to insert the patient’s personalized smart card into a reader and instantly retrieve accurate, up-to-date medical information, such as allergies, current medications, immunization records and other critical data.”

Sister Marjorie Bosse, RSM, vice-president for CHP, said customer satisfaction, patient loyalty and quality care are the driving forces behind the pilot program.

“We’ve been watching smart card technology and waiting for a solution that can help us make the patient-provider relationship more satisfying for the healthcare consumers we serve,” Sister Marjorie said.  “We believe DataCard’s solutions will help us accomplish that objective and help us reduce our operating costs.”

If Sister Marjorie deems the pilot program a success, CHP will extend smart card use to all of its eight regions in a five state area.

“We’re a forward-thinking organization.  We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of care we provide—and smarter ways to run our business,” Sister Marjorie said.  “We’re excited about our application design for the pilot and we’re looking forward to making even greater strides in the coming months.”

DataCard Corporation, a privately held company based in Minneapolis, Minn., provides customers around the world with fully integrated solutions for a variety of healthcare, financial and identification applications.  In addition to turnkey solutions, the company offers complete lines of digital photo ID systems and printers, card personalization systems and transaction systems.  ([www.datacard.com][1])

[1]: http://www.datacard.com


Potential Cyberbankers

The potential users of home banking services has soared to nearly a quarter of U.S. households, however the actual number of users remains at fairly low levels. According to a report released this morning by SRI Consulting, the potential home banking market is comprised of 27 million households while the number of households who have ever used online banking services is about 7.5 million. SRI found a significant upward shift in the number of households with high familiarity in the use of computers/online services and a stronger willingness to use alternative financial delivery options such as ATMs, debit cards and telephone banking. The two-year analytical study shows while financial institutions have had little problems marketing to “early adopters”, attracting the next layer of users, the “market followers”, remains a challenge.


Multi-Currency Mondex

MasterCard CEO Robert Selander made the first successful international e-cash transaction yesterday as he used a Mondex smart card, issued by Hongkong Bank and carrying Hongkong dollars, to pay for breakfast in NYC with U.S. dollars. The Mondex card was loaded with U.S. dollars at a Chase Manhattan ATM. The multi- currency capability of Mondex was heralded as a breakthrough by MasterCard as the world’s first truly global chip card solution for smart cards. The ‘Mondex’ card is capable of handling up to five different currencies on a single card. Mondex also reported it has issued 110,000 cards in Hongkong, within a two month period, and has signed 6,000 Hongkong merchants to the program.


Check Automation

NPC and VeriFone have joined forces to provide merchants with an advanced check payment solution at the POS using check truncation. VeriFone has upgraded its ‘CheckPak’ solution with NPC’s ‘CheckThru’ electronic processing service. ‘CheckPak’ consists of an ‘OMNI’ terminal, fast thermal printer, ‘CR 600 MICR’ check reader and the company’s ‘SoftPay’ terminal software. Merchants simply run the check through the check reader which captures and transmits the ABA and account number to NPC. NPC’s system then approves the transaction, creates an authorization receipt which the customer signs and then records the transaction electronically for prompt, off-line settlement.


Japanese Gretsky Phone Card

Valu-net Corporation announced that Valu-net, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, Team Canada and Dentsu Inc. of Japan, an International Communications firm, have initiated a Japanese phone card program bearing the images of NHL Superstar, Wayne Gretzky.

Under the terms of the Agreement and to coincide with hockey events during the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Valu-net supplied Dentsu Inc. with images of Wayne Gretzky which were used to manufacture Prepaid Phone Cards, exclusively for the Japanese market. The initial production run was limited to 999 two (2) card sets. One card depicts Wayne Gretzky in his Team Canada uniform, while the other shows him wearing his New York Rangers uniform. A further 99 promotional sets will also be produced. Dentsu Inc., who is responsible for all marketing activities in Japan, have indicated that, given the strong demand for these cards, they expect all the sets to be completely sold out before the end of February, 1998.

David Lucatch, President and CEO of Valu-net Corporation stated; “This introductory offer of Wayne Gretzky Phone Cards to the Japanese marketplace opens the doors to future business opportunities with the National Hockey League, particularly in the area of international marketing of products and services. The scale of this undertaking and the speed with which it was accomplished, is a testament to the high degree of cooperation we received from all concerned.”

Valu-net Corporation, with operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, is a New Media corporation whose business is electronic commerce and marketing on the Internet. By working with leading financial institutions and technology companies, Valu-net has developed a bank endorsed “virtual” retailing system that is secure for both consumers and businesses. According to a recent Ernst and Young study (“Web sites can make money for retailers”), by the year 2000, a staggering 81 percent of retailers project profitable web sites. The study also predicts that by that date, half of on-line sellers expect to generate at least 20 percent of their total sales on the Internet. While waiting for this huge potential market to develop, Valu-net has taken the initiative of launching a niche marketing strategy, in the professional sports arena, to showcase Internet Marketing and Electronic Commerce opportunities and to demonstrate that Internet sales/commerce can be conducted profitably and securely.

Valu-net Corporation was posted for trading on The Alberta Stock Exchange on October 16, 1997 under the symbol “VNE”. There are currently 22.25 million common shares issued and outstanding. Management and insiders collectively hold 78 percent of the issued and outstanding shares and all are subject to restrictions on release. The public float consists of 4.9 million common shares.

We invite you to visit our web site at www.vncorp.com or The National Hockey League’s web site at www.nhl.com or Dentsu Inc.’s web site at [www.dentsu.co.jp][1]

[1]: http://www.dentsu.co.jp


Equifax’s Argentina Ownership

Equifax Inc. announced yesterday it has increased its ownership in Organizacion VERAZ S.A. to 66-2/3%.  VERAZ is Argentina’s largest consumer credit information company, serving Argentina’s banks and other financial institutions with over 9 million records in the financial database and 25 million consumer names and addresses.

“Increasing our investment in VERAZ demonstrates our belief in the company’s strength and its continuing potential for growth,” said Thomas F. Chapman, Equifax President and CEO.  “VERAZ will continue to provide high quality information products to facilitate commerce throughout Argentina.”

Equifax entered into a joint venture in May 1994 with Gabriel Yelin, a founding family member and BANELCO, a consortium of Argentina’s largest banks, for ownership of VERAZ.  Gabriel Yelin, who is also the current President will continue in that role for the present time.

“We are delighted with this increased commitment Equifax has made to VERAZ and Argentina,” said Santiago E. de Paul, Executive Director, Bank Boston, Argentina and President of BANELCO, “and we anticipate solid growth for our partnership well into the future.”

With BANELCO, Equifax will continue to expand the services of VERAZ in response to the increasing development of credit in Argentina, incorporating new information sources, broadening geographic reach, and increasing value to the products and services offered.

William R. Phinney, Equifax Executive Vice President and Group Executive for Latin America said, “This partnership with BANELCO plays a key role in Equifax’s strategy for the region and demonstrates a strong belief in the future business potential for Argentina and all of Latin America.

Equifax is a global leader in providing information, processing, consulting and software solutions that facilitate buyer-seller transactions worldwide.  The company serves businesses in banking, finance, retail, credit card, telecommunications/utilities and health care administration and the consumer.  Equifax is changing the shape of global commerce through growth, innovation, driven by technology and people.  It operates in 17 countries with sales in 40 countries.  Founded in 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax today has 10,000 employees around the world.  Revenues for the 12 months ended December 31, 1997, were $1.4 billion.  Visit the company’s Internet web site at .


Another Health Charge Card

Health Charge Corporation and McCready Hospital announced the execution of a contract to provide the Health Charge credit card program to patients of McCready Hospital. The program will begin in February.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with McCready Hospital to assist their patients with their uninsured medical bills,” said Christopher L. Gillock, Chief Executive Officer of Health Charge Corporation. “The Health Charge credit card program will help with their patients’ uninsured medical expenses and will help McCready Hospital improve patient relations and reduce bad debts.”

“Health Charge will reduce the costs of hospital operations and improve patient relations. These outcomes are very important to McCready Hospital,” said Frank Collins, Director – Patient Accounts of McCready Hospital. “The Health Charge Program will help the Hospital to reduce write-offs and will also reduce the burdens faced by our patients that have significant medical bills.”

McCready Hospital serves patients in Crisfield and the surrounding areas on the eastern shore of Maryland. Health Charge Corporation, founded in 1979, provides private label credit card programs to hospitals and other healthcare providers that enable those providers to better manage patient pay obligations and receivables. In addition, Health Charge also provides business office consulting services and proprietary receivables management software to hospitals. Please contact our WEB SITE at [www.healthcharge.com][1] for more information.

[1]: http://www.healthcharge.com


Cleaning Up

First Tennessee Bank and IL-based ServiceMaster are looking to mop-up the competition with a new credit card offering home services rewards. The ‘ServiceMaster Rewards MasterCard’ offers cardholders a 1% rebate for general purchases and a 3% rebate from ServiceMaster’s ‘Quality Service Network Companies’. Bonus rebates are offered for using multiple ServiceMaster brands and for transferring credit card balances. Rebates, in the form of a $25 ‘ServiceMaster Bucks Certificates’, are redeemable towards ServiceMaster home services ranging from bug protection to lawn maintenance to maid service. First Tennessee has set card pricing at prime +7.9% with no-annual-fee. A six-month intro rate of 5.9% is also offered. ServiceMaster has eight subsidiaries with more than 5,800 U.S. business locations. Subsidiaries include Terminix, TruGreen-ChemLawn and Merry Maids.