Competition in self-serve business centers located in hotels picked up steam yesterday as AlphaNet Hospitality Systems introduced ‘The Office’. AHS says its new system goes beyond credit card access to offer hotels the option of offering a customized discounted debit card option for groups or frequent guests. Another key component of ‘The Office’ is AHS’ partnership with Sir Speedy, Inc. which links up 800 Sir Speedy printing centers with each AHS unattended business center. AHS launched the ‘InnFax’, in-room fax service, five years ago which is now in place in 47,000 hotel rooms.Details
National Data Corporation (NDC), announced today that Robert L. Walker has been named chief financial officer for the company.
He has served as chief financial officer of Providian Corporation. Providian, based in Louisville, Ky., is a major insurance and financial services company — including credit card and other consumer lending offerings.
In announcing the appointment, Robert A. Yellowlees, NDC chairman and chief executive officer, stated, “Bob brings the breadth of experience and personal qualities that we were seeking for this key executive position. Our company has continued to demonstrate significant growth in two dynamic market segments – health care and payment systems.
“We felt that we needed an exceptional person with the vision, energy and team spirit to help formulate and execute our future strategies. Bob brings those qualities to NDC. I’m looking forward to working closely with him and other members of our management team to help assure that we realize our full potential.”
Walker stated, “National Data has an exceptional reputation as the information services leader in its markets. I look forward to working with the entire NDC management team to help set the pace in the company’s next level of growth and development.”
National Data Corporation is a leading provider of information services for the health care and payment systems markets.Details
Destiny Software will unveil its success in the online credit card market during its upcoming presentation at Red Herring’s Venture Market East. This year’s event will feature 54 of the hottest emerging growth technology companies from the East Coast, and expects to draw over 400 attendees.
Destiny currently has three out of the top ten credit card issuers in the country as clients: First USA, GE Capital and Advanta. Destiny’s credit card clients collectively manage over 110 million credit cards and represent approximately $50 billion of credit card receivables, or 10% of the entire credit card receivables market.
Destiny Software builds customized online transaction systems for large financial institutions for the Internet, America Online (AOL), OFX and voice response units. Destiny established itself as a technology leader in the online retail banking marketplace in 1996 when it deployed the award winning HomeBanking system on AOL for Bank of America. In 1997, Destiny successfully added leading credit card issuers to its client roster.
Destiny has extended the functionality of its Granite(TM) Foundation middleware product to meet the challenging demands of credit card issuers. Granite Foundation supports online account summaries, transaction details, applications, bill payment/presentment and balance transfers.
“Our focus on credit card issuers is a natural extension of our leadership position in the retail banking marketplace,” commented Lucinda Duncalfe, Destiny’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Credit card issuers are aggressively pursuing the cardholder loyalty and acquisition opportunities presented by the Internet and other online media.”
Destiny Software was founded in 1994 to provide online transaction solutions to large financial institutions. Destiny’s advanced object oriented software enables a financial institution to deploy a completely customized online system with unprecedented speed to market. The company’s Web site is located at .
The Red Herring is a monthly publication covering the business of technology. Focused on high-growth markets of emerging technologies, The Red Herring delivers information to a worldwide audience of market leaders, technology executives and top level investors. Herring Communications, a San Francisco-based media company, also produces high-level industry conferences and daily news and analysis from Red Herring Online. More information about The Red Herring can be found at .Details
SMARTALK TeleServices, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, SMARTALK TeleServices (U.K.) Ltd., announced today the signing of a definitive agreement with DCI Telecommunications, Inc. (OTC:DCTC) to purchase the right to distribute SMARTALK prepaid calling cards in the United Kingdom through D Services, a WH Smith business which specializes in news trade distribution. This agreement gives SMARTALK the potential to access to 55,000 retail outlets in the UK. Under terms of this agreement, SMARTALK will purchase DCI’s prepaid phone card distribution channel for $9 million, consisting of $8 million in SMARTALK common stock and $1 million in cash.
“The European prepaid phone card market is more mature and sophisticated when compared to the U.S. market where phone cards were introduced less than five years ago. In fact, Europe was an early launching pad for the worldwide market. We are proud to have the opportunity to distribute SMARTALK branded prepaid calling cards in Europe. We look forward to living up to the responsibility of introducing a high quality prepaid calling card that will be worthy of the WH Smith name,” said Robert H. Lorsch, SMARTALK’s Chairman and CEO.
Michelle W. Fess, SMARTALK’s Vice President – International, added, “We are delighted to be partnering with a high caliber, `blue chip’ partner such as WH Smith. We believe that D Services’ solid reputation and proven distribution capabilities will provide us with a competitive advantage in the UK market.”
Trevor Martin, General Manager of D Services, said, “This is an exciting opportunity to continue our work in developing the UK phone card market and we look forward to working with SMARTALK which is one of the largest providers of prepaid calling card products in North America.”
SMARTALK manufactures and distributes prepaid calling cards and other enhanced telecommunications products which are sold at retail and marketed to advertising and promotional clientele. SMARTALK maintains distribution agreements with mass merchandisers, consumer electronics retailers, supermarkets and home office superstores, such as Office Depot, Future Shop, Venture Stores, The Good Guys, Staples, Service Merchandise, Jewel/Osco Combo Stores, Osco Drug, Sav-On Drug, OfficeMax, Dominick’s Finer Foods, Eckerd Drug, Food4Less, Ralphs Supermarkets, Bradlees, Marshall Field’s, Best Buy, and Builders Square, as well as university book stores and convenience stores nationwide. SMARTALK also offers specialized value-added promotional phone card programs to corporate clients including Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Wells Fargo Bank, Nabisco, Pfizer and Prudential Securities. The Company maintains strategic marketing partnerships with Choice Hotels and HFS, the two largest hotel franchisers in the US, along with Simon DeBartolo Group, the largest publicly traded real estate company and operator of shopping malls in North America.
Based in Los Angeles, with additional offices in Boston, Orlando and San Francisco, SMARTALK is a member of the Telecommunications Resellers Association, International Telecard Association and the Consumer Electronics Manufacturer’s Association.
Note: Certain statements made herein that are not historical are forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform act of 1995. Such statements include, but are not limited to, the ability of the Company to complete the transaction with DCI Telecommunications, Inc. which is subject to certain conditions, including, among others, the ability of the Company or its wholly owned subsidiary to enter into a new contract with WH Smith which is in form and substance satisfactory to the Company’s subsidiary. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, risks related to receptivity of retailers’ customers to the Company’s products and services; market acceptance and consumer demand for the Company’s products and services and pricing dependence on third-party vendors. The Company’s agreements with its distributors generally do not assure that the Company will generate a specific level of revenue and are terminable on relatively short notice. Investors who seek more information about the Company’s business and relevant risk factors may wish to review the Company’s SEC reports, including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K for 1996, and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.Details
National Comm Link, LLC (NCL) is introducing a national prepaid wireless program that requires no retailer activation or programming and makes wireless service available to anyone without the hassles of credit checks, deposits, contracts, or monthly bills.
Marketed as Wave Communications, the service will have particular appeal to credit-challenged consumers who otherwise would not qualify for traditional post-paid wireless service. Wave Communications’ products (phones and prepaid phone cards) will be available in over 40 retail locations in the greater Philadelphia and South New Jersey markets.
Juan Moragas, V.P. of Sales and Marketing, said: “The program is designed to make wireless service as simple as any other retail transaction for the distributor and end-user. Non-traditional wireless distributors such as check-cashing and convenience stores should find Wave Communications particularly attractive.”
After purchasing the “Wave” phone for about $99, customers call a toll-free number to activate the phone. The initial purchase includes $25 of free airtime. Airtime cards are then purchased from the retailer for $30, $60 or $100. Customers call a toll-free number to redeem the value of the card and replenish their account.
“With the phones priced at around $100, including $25 of airtime, and no programming or involvement required by the distributor in the activation process, we feel we have an affordable and easy-to-use product that can now be sold by any non-traditional wireless dealer,” added Moragas. “And with the customer returning to the retailer to purchase airtime cards, there is an attractive ongoing revenue stream.”
NCL is a national provider of wireless voice services having completed reseller agreements with most of the major cellular providers including AT&T Wireless, BellSouth Mobility, and Comcast Cellular. NCL is also a long distance provider as a reseller of MCI service. NCL plans on a build-out of a national network installing switches and providing prepaid wireless service in over 30 top markets within the next 18 months. NCL’s strategy is to leverage its national network and distribution system to provide seamless prepaid wireless service to the underserved credit-challenged market segment, which is currently estimated to be 15 million potential users with a projected growth to 24 million by the year 2000.Details
Touch-screen kiosks that don’t work are costing retailers billions of dollars annually.
An audience of major retailers at the KioskCom ’97 conference at the Regency Hotel today heard from a pioneer in the development of touch-screen kiosk technology that an estimated $4.5 billion is lost annually by retailers through poorly conceived and malfunctioning kiosks.
“More often than not when the customer approaches a kiosk it’s either not working or the desired information can’t be found,” explained John Glitsos, founder and chief executive officer of First Wave Inc. “The result is a frustrated customer and a lost sale.”
Glitsos told the group the retail industry is entering the early phases of marketing automation, not unlike the early days of desktop publishing.
“Interactive touch-screen kiosks that are being pieced together with software originally designed for slide shows produce kiosks that act like a slide show instead of a knowledgeable automated sales and marketing agent,” he added. “The goal should be to develop content for this new medium that gives the shopper a fast, fun way to find products and make informed purchase decisions that often lead to the customer deciding to purchase a higher margin item.”
He noted, kiosks that work well are on the sales floor seven days a week 24 hours a day ready to help customers with consistent, accurate information leading to a very high return on investment through increased customer satisfaction and sales.
“The key to maximizing return on investment and customer satisfaction,” Glitsos said, “is in careful planning of system development and information content, the use of proven kiosk technology and the appropriate location and promotion of the kiosk in the store.”
Glitsos established the human interface standard for interactive touch-screen technology with the release of his firm’s Information Rainbow kiosk development system in 1994. First Wave leads a kiosk alliance group supported by Apple Computer Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), MicroAge Inc. (NASDAQ:MICA), WavePhore Inc. (NASDAQ:WAVO), Mitsubishi, MicroTouch Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:MTSI), Okidata and Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE).
First Wave, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., is a developer and manufacturer of interactive multi-media touch-screen kiosk applications. Its Information Rainbow software is used to dispense information and gather marketing data through kiosks at retail stores, corporate lobbies, museums, hospitals and other public places.
Customers include large organizations such as Osco Drug, MicroAge, the City of Bridgeport, Honeywell, David Weekley Homes, Arizona Public Service, the U.S. District Courts and Samaritan Health Systems as well as many small, and medium-size businesses.Details
Huntington National Bank has launched a major direct mail campaign to sign-up customers for Huntington Web Bank. The campaign follows Huntington’s mid-October re-launching of its Web site. Huntington is offering three free months of ‘Internet Bill Pay’, $3 per month thereafter, for unlimited electronic payments. Consumers opening an online account by Dec 15 also receive a six month subscription to Wired or Money magazine or a leather CD travel case. Huntington says it will also offer online investment and credit cad services during the first quarter 1998.
EDS, HP and VeriFone jointly announced a new, global service to handle Internet credit card processing for financial institutions of any size. ‘ReadySET’ allows for the processing of Internet payment transactions by EDS, who will validate, decrypt and report the institution’s Internet transaction activity using VeriFone’s ‘vGATE Internet Gateway’ software, HP’s ‘Enterprise Business Servers’ and the SET protocol. The new service eliminates the up-front capital investment and the ongoing maintenance and staffing associated with establishing an Internet payment gateway. The new EDS service also integrates with the bank’s existing credit card settlement processing systems to enable banks to provide complete processing records to their customers. VeriFone estimated the cost of ‘ReadySET’ to be a fraction of what it would cost to build an in-house Internet gateway.Details
Mail Boxes Etc. has named Paymentech as its recommended provider for credit card processing for its U.S. franchise locations. MBE’s total domestic credit card sales volume is about $93 million. As of last Saturday Paymentech had signed up 1,400 MBE locations. MBE has a total of 3,400 centers in 58 countries. Besides credit card processing Paymentech will also provide ‘SCAN’ check verification with free check collection as well as on-line debit card acceptance.Details
Deloitte & Touche released its ‘Internet Technology Services’ survey this morning which shows that 82% of banks offer at least an informational Web page with approx. 59% offering transactional Web pages, including account information inquiries or money-transfer services. About 27% say they provide online bill payments, 9% offer online bank investment services while 5% offer insurance or brokerage services.Details
KeyCorp and Microsoft announced today an agreement that gives KeyBank customers on-line banking access to Microsoft(R)- Money, the award winning, personal financial management program. As part of this agreement, KeyCorp will be offering a special co-branded edition of Money, the Microsoft Money 98 KeyBank Edition, to customers enrolling in online banking or billpay services for the first time.
This agreement is Key’s third in a series of online banking services being introduced this year under the company’s Key2Your$ (Key to Your Money) brand. Additional announcements regarding Key’s Internet offerings will be made later this year.
Microsoft is the developer of many of the most popular PC software programs in use today, including Microsoft Money, a personal financial management program with several million users. KeyCorp’s banking unit — KeyBank — operates offices from Maine to Alaska and Key’s related financial- services companies have a presence in 46 U.S. states.
Through Microsoft Money, KeyBank customers can access account balances and transaction information directly and with a high degree of security. Basic transactions — such as cleared checks, deposits, and ATM withdrawals — are automatically recorded into the Microsoft Money account register, eliminating the time-consuming task of manual record-keeping. It automatically balances customer accounts with bank records. Customers can also transfer funds between accounts, send e-mail to Key and link to Key’s Web site located at http://www.keybank.com.
Using a bill payment feature with Microsoft Money, customers can also electronically initiate payments to third parties, like utilities, credit card companies and retailers. Payments can be scheduled for the future or set up to pay automatically on a regular basis. Reporting capabilities allow the customer to track cash flow and forecast future spending.
This service is now available to KeyBank clients using Microsoft Money 97 or 98. The agreement also allows Key to market its banking services to other Microsoft Money users.
“With Microsoft Money, Key builds on its initiatives to increase consumer- banking convenience by delivering a very popular, and powerful, on-line banking tool,” said Patrick J. Swanick, Key’s Vice Chairman for Distribution Management. “It’s an exciting addition to the suite of online banking services that we are developing for our clients.”
“We are pleased that KeyBank now offers its customers online banking and bill paying services with Microsoft Money,” said Lewis Levin, vice president of the desktop finance division at Microsoft. “This association is another example of Microsoft’s commitment to providing superior technological support to financial institutions, so that they, in turn, can provide their customers with the latest in online financial services.”
Key provides a toll-free telephone number to handle enrollment and inquiries from Microsoft Money users interested in using its online capabilities. The Key2Your$ Customer Service number is 800-539-1539.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
KeyCorp () is one of the nation’s largest financial services companies, and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. Through three principal lines of business — corporate banking, consumer finance, and community banking — the company’s operating units provide retail and wholesale banking, investment, financing and money management services. Key companies have a presence in 46 states, and operate a nationwide network of KeyCenters, 1,900 ATMs, and four telebanking centers (1-800-KEY2YOU).Details
“Advances in smart card technology now enable telephone companies including British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefonica to compete directly with banks for new payment markets.” This is one conclusion from a new study, “Smart Card Opportunities for Phone Card Providers,” to be released by Killen & Associates in December.
The study also concludes that “Increased competition among card issuers both within and without the telephone industry dictates that telephone companies now must apply smart cards to capture these new payment markets if they wish to grow their businesses.”
To date, phone card issuers primarily have helped customers pay for telephone calls. Many issuers have executed co-branding strategies to deepen their penetration of the calling card market. Some, including Bell Canada, GTE, and US West, plan to expand the calling card market by offering “global” acceptance of their phone cards.
“The next step for the phone card industry is to apply smart cards to replace cash, checks, and to some extent, even credit cards,” said Michael Killen, president of the company. “Several categories of payments present excellent opportunities for phone card usage. Low-value point of sale purchases are an ideal target market for phone cards. Other payment types well-suited for smart phone cards are business non-production payments, business and consumer passive payments, and Internet payments.”
The recommendation that telephone companies pursue new payment markets will not please issuers of VISA and MasterCard bank cards or the banks. They would prefer that telephone companies limit their financial services offerings to phone card payments.
Additional details about this study are available at the company’s Web site, . For additional information contact Karl Duffy at tel. 650/617-6130, FAX 650/617-6140, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Killen & Associates is a leading research and consulting firm that helps telecommunications, financial service, and information technology suppliers to seize emerging business opportunities.
The company’s studies and seminars enable high-level executives and their teams to identify business opportunities created by advances in computer and telecommunications technology, changing customer needs, and the competitive landscape.
Killen & Associates is the only research company that provides a series of half-hour video interviews with each study. Business dignitaries who have shared their insights in such interviews include the Minister of PTT, Germany; the head of Oftel, UK; the former chairman of AT&T, and the leaders of Europay, S.W.I.F.T., Mondex, VISA France, and 400 other companies.Details