Boston Gas E-Bills

Princeton TeleCom Corp. announced Tuesday that it has been selected by Boston Gas Company to support a new state-of-the-art bill presentment and payment program to be offered customers of the Massachusetts-based utility.  The program allows Boston Gas customers to automatically or proactively pay variable monthly bills through electronic debits to their bank accounts.

Based upon Princeton TeleCom’s Presentment Server technology, the new program gives Boston Gas customers complete control of the payment process; a pre-authorized payment can be initiated or canceled up until the date it is due.

Customers retrieve summary billing information and initiating payment instructions using electronic access capabilities.  Also available is an automatic feature, where customers simply set their payment option to automatic pay and the transaction will occur each month without further action required by the customer.

“Boston Gas is committed to providing the most advanced payment options available to offer convenience and cost savings for our customers,” explained John Connors, Group Leader of Revenue and Accounting at Boston Gas.  “With postal rates slated to increase early next year, our new electronic bill presentment and payment program offers our customers a valuable opportunity to shave costs while retaining complete control over the payment process. Customers also gain the added comfort of real time integration across access methods,” Connors said.

“Boston Gas has contracted with Princeton TeleCom for the most advanced suite of bill presentment and payment options available in the market today,” said Martha Davis, Senior Marketing Manager, Princeton TeleCom Corporation. “Using the advanced technologies, Princeton TeleCom assures Boston Gas customers secure access to their billing statements and complete security of payment instructions and information.”

About Princeton TeleCom

Founded in 1983, Princeton TeleCom is a leader in developing and operating electronic bill presentment and payment services for large corporate bill senders. The company’s core product, the “els” Electronic Lockbox Service(R), serves as a value-added clearing house for electronic bill payment processing, validating account numbers on consumer-initiated bill payments and routing those transactions directly to billers’ accounts receivables host systems. The “els” Electronic Lockbox Service(R) currently supports in excess of 700 national and large regional billers, including Lucent Technologies, Discover Card, Western Union and Edison International.

About Boston Gas

Boston Gas was established in 1822, and today is the largest distributor of natural gas in the New England states.  The company delivers natural gas energy to more than 525,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 74 communities throughout eastern and central Massachusetts.

Boston Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastern Enterprises (NYSE EFU), a Weston, Massachusetts-based holding company.  Eastern’s other major subsidiary, Midland Enterprises, Inc., is a leading barge operator on the nation’s inland waterways.

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Bital ATM Expansion

Mexico’s fastest growing bank, Grupo Financerio Bital, signed agreements yesterday to take delivery of 1,500 Fujitsu ‘Series 7000 Advanced Platform’ ATMs. Bital says it will install 600 ATMs in new bank branches. The remaining 900 ATMs will be deployed in off- premise locations including supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping centers and airports. As part of the agreement Bital will use the Fujitsu-ICL distribution system to install and control software and graphics from a central location. The Fujitsu solution will also enable Bital to sell video advertising on its ATMs. Yesterday’s deal will bring the total number of ATMs in Bital’s network to 2,175.

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Value-Checker Mondex Approved

Oki Advanced Products announced that it has received approval from Mondex International for Oki’s Value-Checker Personal Smart Card Readers to be used for the Mondex Electronic Purse Systems. With this approval, Oki’s smart card readers can now be used in the Mondex electronic cash system.

Mondex is the most “cash-like” of the electronic cash smart cards which are beginning to be introduced around the world as a more efficient alternative to physical cash; for use in everyday shopping and as a future payment mechanism in a wide variety of areas such as the Internet and “pay-per-view” television.

Oki said that banks and other customers can now choose from Oki’s full line of Value-Checker brand Mondex Readers, which include:

— Value-Checker KR (key ring) readers that are low in cost and allow users to read balance and transaction history on their Mondex cards;

— Value-Checker PLUS readers have a keypad to lock and unlock the Mondex cards and scroll through a transaction list;

— Two-card wallet systems to directly transfer funds from customers to retailers or from one individual to another.

“Making Commerce Convenient(R) is Oki’s goal,” said Gerry Vandenengel, Marketing Director for Oki Advanced Products. He added, “This line of products is an important step in that direction. Smart Card Electronic Purse Systems are transforming cash, and Oki is giving users the power to use that new cash to make their lives easier. Innovative design and engineering of very compact and reliable products also allows customers to carry their readers with them at all times.”

Oki has nearly five years experience with the Mondex system, and provided the first Electronic Wallets for the initial trial in Swindon in the United Kingdom. This proven experience was a factor in the approval process. In addition to the processes used in the Mondex system, Oki also provides on-line access through its Value-Checker PLUS with an optional connector to link with a personal computer to perform home ATM functions and other electronic commerce programs. Value-Checker PLUS software development kits are also available to support PC applications.

Mondex International grants licenses to franchisees to allow them to exploit the Mondex electronic cash technology in a given territory. Since its incorporation in 1996, Mondex has issued 29 licenses across five continents. Mondex is being developed by franchisees in over 50 countries representing a potential market place of in excess of three billion people.

Mondex is the only electronic cash system in the world to operate with a single global technology allowing for cross-border payments. It allows up to five different currencies to be carried on the card at any one time in separate electronic pockets.

Mondex is currently being used in 21 implementations around the world including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, the U.K. and U.S.A. By the end of 1997, Mondex International will have produced in excess of one million reloadable Mondex cards; this figure is expected to rise to five million reloadable cards by the end of 1998.

MasterCard International acquired 51% of the company in February 1997 and has decided to adopt Mondex International’s technology as its future choice of strategic chip platform. The following companies are also shareholders (directly or indirectly) in Mondex International: National Westminster Bank, Ulster Bank, Midland Bank, Scotiabank, Credit Union Central of Canada, The National Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Canada Trust, Le Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Chase Manhattan, First Chicago NBD, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation (Australia), ANZ Banking Group (New Zealand), Bank of New Zealand, Countrywide Banking Corporation, The National Bank of New Zealand, ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation (New Zealand).

The new H8/3109 customized smart card chip being used features an on-board crypto co-processor, and offers 8Kbytes of EEPROM and 14Kbytes of ROM allowing for high speed numerical calculations and the longer key lengths which are required for public key algorithms, such as RSA, DSA, Zero Knowledge and others.

Oki Advanced Products, headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts, develops and markets electronic commerce, smart card and banking products aimed at Making Commerce Convenient. Oki Advanced Products also manufactures digital wallet designs and smart card controller and terminal interface chips. Oki Advanced Products is a group of Oki America, Inc., headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd., Japan’s first telecommunications manufacturer and a leading provider of products for the emerging global smart card market.

Further information can be obtained on the Internet for Oki at [www.oap.oki.com][1] and for Mondex at [www.mondex.com][2] and [www.mondexusa.com][3]

For more information please contact:

OKI ADVANCED PRODUCTS
Press:
Brian Dobson, Dobson Communications, Inc.
39 Mill Plain Road, Suite 5
Danbury, CT 06811 USA
T: (203) 790-6360
F: (203) 790-6292
E-mail: dobsonpr@eci.com

Business:
The Americas:
Fraser McNeilly, Oki Advanced Products
500 Nickerson Road
Marlborough, MA 01752 USA
T: (508) 460-8621
F: (508) 480-9635
E-mail: digitalmoney@oki.com
Web Site: www.oap.oki.com

European Liaison Office:
Joel Johnson, Oki Systems (Holland) b.v.
Kruisweg 765
2132 NG Hoofddorp NETHERLANDS
T: 31-20-653-45-80
F: 31-20-653-13-01
E-mail: joel@oki.com

MONDEX INTERNATIONAL:
Press:
Robin O’Kelly, Mondex International
T: 44 (0) 171 557 5036

[1]: http://www.oap.oki.com
[2]: http://www.mondex.com
[3]: http://www.mondexusa.com

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POS Terminal Projection

A new study released yesterday by Frost & Sullivan says the U.S. POS terminal market is at cross-road with industry players finding themselves adjusting to new smart card technology and a fresh breed of card applications. The market research study says the market is currently experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%. F&S projects market revenue will hit $2.3 billion by 2003, compared to $1.4 billion in 1996. The study covers two main subsets: electronic cash register terminal with card reader interfaces and electronic fund terminals.

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ATM Air Tickets

Bank of Hawaii will announce this morning it will begin dispensing flight coupons via ‘Bankoh Bank Machines’ on March 1. The program will enable ATM customers to purchase tickets for interisland travel aboard Hawaiian Airlines. Customers and non- customers of Bank of Hawaii will be able to buy the tickets by using either the ATM account or a VISA/MasterCard. Coupons will be good for one year and will sold in quantities of one, two, four or eight. Bank of Hawaii says it is awaiting regulatory approval for the new program.

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Drexler Lands Major Non-Gov Deal

Drexler Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:DRXR) today announced the receipt of a $900,000 purchase order for LaserCard optical memory cards, its largest non-government order for optical cards.

The optical cards are estimated to be delivered at a rate of about 25,000 cards per month within calendar year 1998.

The purchaser has been effective as a value-added reseller (VAR) of LaserCard(R) products by expanding the LaserCard usage of its existing customers and by adding new customers, leading to the achievement of this record-size order for a non-government application.

Drexler’s patented optical memory card is a recordable, credit-card size, data-storage device that offers multiple security safeguards and functions off-line or with computer networks.

LaserCard commercial 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.

Headquartered in Mountain View, Drexler Technology Corporation manufactures 4-megabyte LaserCard(R) optical memory cards and “microchip ready” Smart/Optical(TM) cards. Drexler has been granted about 50 U.S. patents plus foreign counterpart patents on laser recording of data on thin-metal films, on laser-recordable optical memory cards, and on related systems and equipment. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, LaserCard Systems Corporation, develops system software for PC-based optical memory card systems.

Forward-Looking Statements: Certain statements made above relating to plans, objectives, and economic performance go beyond historical information and may provide an indication of future results. To that extent, they are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and each is subject to factors that could cause actual results to differ from those in the forward-looking statement. Such factors are described in the company’s Report on Form 10-K and other documents filed by the company from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For Drexler Technology news on the Internet: .

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ASE Top Technology

Aladdin Knowledge Systems Ltd. (www.aks.com), a global leader in information security and licensing, announced Monday that ASE — The Aladdin Smartcard Environment — has been singled out in Byte Magazine’s key January feature, “1998’s Top 25 Technologies.”

In a feature entitled “The Smartcard Invasion,” Byte predicts that the United States is about to be “hit” by the “ubiquitous” smartcard, at last catching up with Europe where they have been in use in for over a decade.

Byte highlighted Aladdin’s ASE development platform as part of the Smart Card Forum, the industry’s consortium which includes major card producers Schlumberger and Gemplus. The Smart Card Forum also includes Microsoft, who have approved Aladdin’s technology as a development partner for PC/SC, the interoperability standard for PC-based smart card applications.

“Smartcard technology has been singled out as a mainstream technology in the USA, and we are pleased our pioneering role in the development of easy-to-use tools for smart card applications has once again been recognized,” says Aladdin’s Director of Smart Cards, Eyal Manger. “The response to our launch of ASE-II in November has been very encouraging. The market is ready for PC-based smart card applications, and so are we!”

Aladdin’s ASE II is invaluable for designers of virtually all kinds of smart card applications and Internet-based commerce. Successful applications developed and deployed with the first generation of ASE products include access control, prepayment vending systems, authentication, digital signature, health care, electronic purse, biometric recognition systems and software distribution. Further details of such applications can be seen on Aladdin’s Web site — [www.aks.com][1].

The key components of ASE II are:

– ASEDrive Pro, the most versatile PC-based smart card drive on the market with highly secure architecture supporting industry standards, internal and external connection interfaces and various power options. Other new features include support for additional memory card protocols, optional real-time clock for time signatures, and a new ergonomic design.

– ASESoft, the smart software environment is PC/SC compliant. ASESoft offers same host multi-drive and multi-application support, asynchronous tracking of reader/drive events, a comprehensive library of administrative, diagnostic and script tools as well as card editing utilities. ASESoft is designed so that even a relatively inexperienced programmer can easily develop applications and bring them rapidly to the market.

– ASECards include memory, protected memory, CPU and cryptographic cards, all of which can be accessed via a single base Application Programming Interface (API). This facilitates the easy integration of various card types into user applications.

Aladdin Knowledge Systems is a global leader in the secure licensing, management and distribution of digital content. Aladdin’s product range includes HASP(R) and Hardlock(R), key-based software security systems which monitor software licensing and prevent unauthorized use of computer programs; Privilege(TM), a suite of software licensing and metering tools for developers and corporate IT managers; and ASE(R) — The Aladdin Smartcard Environment — a set of smart card application development tools for integrating smart cards with PCs. Aladdin is an ISO 9002 accredited company with headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, 5 international offices and distributors in more than 40 countries, serving over 20,000 clients worldwide. For more information, visit the Aladdin home page at .

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

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Proffitt’s Card Bank

The OCC approved the acquisition of the National Bank of the Great Lakes by Proffitt’s Inc. Monday. The credit card bank is a subsidiary of Carson Pirie Scott & Co.. On December 10 Proffitt’s announced its merger with Carson’s. The merger is expected to consummated January 31. Proffitt’s said yesterday’s approval will enable the merged company to strategically expand its credit card operations.

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Linking Up

BankBoston rolled out a new service yesterday that enables customers visiting its Web site to connect immediately with a sales associate in BankBoston’s ’24-hour Telebanking Center’. Consumers simply click on the ‘Call Now’ icon, type in their phone number and within seconds a BankBoston sales associate will call to continue the process of opening a ‘HomeLink’ account. BankBoston says its Web site draws 8,000 to 9,000 visitors each week.

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MPS Offers Skipjack IC

Evolv is the emerging technology company that specializes in harnessing the dramatic power of artificial intelligence to create the business and internet “killer apps” of the future. Recent product innovations have included the introduction of Skipjack IC (Internet Commerce), a secure internet transaction software snap-on for Microsoft Internet Information Server. This inexpensive program supports credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, Diners Club and JCB), debit cards and even checks. It is completely secure owing to Evolv’s proprietary encryption technology.

The philosophy behind Skipjack IC is simple: it is an easy-to-use, cost-effective, turn-key solution for merchants. As such, it allows companies of any size to instantly and confidently open up shop on the Internet.

In that spirit, Evolv has forged their first credit card processor alliance with the highly respected Midwest Payment Systems. MPS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank and one of the top ten processors in the nation. With 25 years in the business, the firm provides unparalleled service and support for a customer base of over 17,000 representing more than $22 billion in credit card volume.

“They have a great track record and are very dedicated to service. We feel confident that MPS will be able to meet and exceed merchant expectations,” says Brad Hoeweler, Evolv’s CEO. “This new technology is very exciting and we’re looking forward to welcoming a whole new breed of merchant to a profitable Internet experience,” adds Ray Neugebauer, Sales Officer at MPS.

Skipjack IC requires Microsoft Windows NT Server version 4.0 with Service Pack 3, Internet Information Server 3.0, Active Server Pages, a modem and an analog phone line. It retails for $1,495.00 US (introductory price), and includes online documentation, a sample web site, 800 number, test credit card account and email support.

To purchase Skipjack IC, contact Scott Valetti at scottv@e-volv.com or 513-563-2907. Additional information about Skipjack IC and the product itself is available at Evolv’s website: .

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Transamerica Buys Whirlpool Cards

Transamerica Corporation said it completed the previously announced purchase of the consumer finance business of Whirlpool Financial Corporation, including Whirlpool Financial National Bank, a credit card bank, effective Jan. 1, 1998.

The agreement for the acquisition was originally announced by Transamerica and Whirlpool Corporation on Sept. 18, 1997, as part of an overall agreement for Transamerica to acquire approximately $1.23 billion of receivables and other assets of Whirlpool Financial Corporation’s inventory finance, consumer finance and international factoring businesses. The acquisition of the inventory finance business and certain of the international assets closed on Oct. 16. Acquisition of most of the remaining international assets has also now been completed.

The consumer finance operations, which provide credit card financing for retail customers of appliance dealers, will become part of Transamerica Distribution Finance Corporation, a Chicago-based Transamerica subsidiary which specializes in providing financing to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of consumer durable, home and recreational products.

Transamerica Corporation, based in San Francisco, provides financial and life insurance services to individuals and organizations worldwide. Its primary businesses, in addition to its finance businesses, include life insurance, asset management, leasing and real estate-related services. Consolidated assets were $50 billion as of Sept. 30, 1997.

Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

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