European-based Melinex and Gemplus announced a jointly developed environmentally safe but extra durable plastic card this weekend. The ‘EarthCard’ incorporates a special Melinex polyester film featuring a chlorine-free and halogen-free composition that presents no risk of contamination if buried and, if incinerated, produces emissions comparable to those of wood or paper. Besides the ecological benefits, the ‘EarthCard’ also offers outstanding durability, able to withstand temperatures of up to 130 degrees centigrade with no change in physical properties. Most plastic cards today deteriorate at 50 degrees centigrade. Both firms have been working on the ‘EarthCard’ project for two years.Details
Leading fuel card services company Harpur Group has launched a new international operation to manage clients’ card transactions and billing worldwide.
Harpur has identified the outsourcing of billing activities as a key strategic growth activity for the future. The Group is therefore re- engineering its billing capability and forming a new company, International Card Enterprises (ICE), to concentrate on outsourcing.
ICE will have an international focus, particularly in Continental Europe and the Far East. Incorporating the former Harpur Card Services (HCS) and Australian Card Services (ACS), it will concentrate predominantly on private label cards.
ICE will provide card processing and billing services, as well as offering consultancy to customers in the development of card marketing, and the provision of value added services to its card bases.
ICE will be headquartered in Sophia Antipolis, France, with operations in Europe, SE Asia and Australia.
Carl Clump, the Managing Director of ICE, said: “This is a major step for ICE. It is a refocusing of our activity and a new emphasis. ICE will be one of the largest private-label providers in the market place with a technology base well ahead of our competition. We see major opportunities in our new areas of expansion – such as the Asia Pacific region
– and in our established markets in Europe.”
The Harpur Group manages in excess of GBP 600 million in fuel sales per annum and employs 400 people. Operating in six countries, the Group has 33,000 corporate customers world-wide and manages a card base of 1.3 million on a global basis.
The ICE range of services will be:
– Card centre operation management
– Card transaction processing
– Software development
– Software maintenance
– Software licensing
– Payment system consultancy to card issuers
– Facilities management of software/hardware
– Facilities management of card operationsDetails
Pan-Asian electronic retailer, TV Shopping Network (TVSN) is offering American companies a new and innovative way to advertise and sell goods and services directly to Asia via its 24-hour satellite-delivered home shopping channel.
TVSN today announced the opening of a sales office in San Francisco. The office will work with US-based marketers to develop advertising and sponsorship opportunities aimed at TVSN’s growing customer base in 46 Asian countries including China, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.
TVSN President & CEO, Bill Schereck, said “TVSN is a powerful new marketing and distribution platform for large and small manufacturers and designers to reach Asia. Advertising and selling products via TVSN is a fraction of what it costs to set-up a traditional retail distribution network in the region.”
“TVSN is changing the way people in Asia shop. Our theme programs let marketers explain in detail the benefits of their brands and sell directly to millions of people in their own homes, in their own languages.”
Since its launch in 1996, TVSN has expanded to become Asia’s leading electronic retailer, broadcasting all day, every day. TVSN’s hallmark is to offer a wide range of quality merchandise at a single competitive price backed by a deep level of product information and excellent customer service. TVSN reaches customers via satellite channels, direct-to-home services and cable TV systems and is available simultaneously in English, Mandarin, Japanese and Bahasa Indonesian.
To order, customers dial international toll-free numbers, pay cash-on-delivery or by check and credit card. Products are delivered to their doors for AUS$12 (US$9) in five to 10 days and backed by a 30-day full money-back guarantee.Details
National Data Corporation (NDC) has reached an agreement with the Ohio Restaurant Association to market a number of its payment systems products to more than 2,500 chain and independent restaurants throughout the state of Ohio.
The agreement provides NDC’s credit card authorization services to the restaurant association’s member base.
“Our relationship with the Ohio Restaurant Association gives National Data additional market representation for our full line of payment products,” said Tom Dunn, NDC’s general manager of Integrated Payment Systems. “We are confident that we can provide the resources and a wide range of solutions as the association’s preferred provider.”
Charles Blosser, president of the Ohio Restaurant Association, said the membership will benefit from the marketing agreement in a number of ways. “National Data provides cost efficiencies that we’re constantly looking for to pass on to our members, and it offers key training support to management.”
In addition to credit/debit card and check services, National Data offers several additional value-added solutions for the restaurant industry. They include folio management, terminal settlement, summary reports, at-the-table services, waiter banking support, central cashier support and tip pre- authorization.
The Ohio Restaurant Association is a not-for-profit organization that protects, promotes and educates the commercial food service industry of Ohio. Its membership includes independent restaurants, franchisees and national chains.
National Data Corporation is a leading provider of information services and systems for the payment systems and health care markets.Details
Kids Own America announced today that is has now added to its network a second major air carrier, Continental Airlines, which joins American Airlines in an exclusive national program allowing frequent flyer miles to be redeemed for extra cash in bank accounts for children.
The first-of-its-kind Kids Own America network will guide families to banks and brokerages throughout the United States offering higher-yielding savings accounts and commission-free brokerage accounts for children up to age 21. Banks and brokerages offering these accounts will be marketed exclusively by the two airlines’ frequent flyer programs to a membership base exceeding 43 million people.
“Everyone wins here,” says Kids Own America Chairman Clifford Brody. While only 33 percent of U.S. households have incomes greater than $50,000, he explains, almost 60 percent of active frequent flyer household incomes exceed $100,000. Among the most active frequent flyers in the two Kids Own America partner airline programs, over 11 million middle and upper income families are actively saving and investing over $101 billion for their children, often in informal partnerships with their kids, and almost always to build up long-term, high-balance accounts, according to Kids Own America research.
“This is a proven market in a day and age when banks are struggling to become smarter retailers,” Brody continued. “Every bank says it wants these customers, too. But these are the very same customers sending banks a missed signal that other retailers picked up ages ago: ‘I’ll bring plenty more of my own business in the door if I can trust you with the things my kids care about.’ Are there any children who don’t care about their money?”
Direct marketing by Kids Own America and the two airlines to their 43 million frequent flyers will recommend the partner financial institutions for offering the best value to families with children and grandchildren. The airlines will allow redemption of miles only for kids’ accounts opened at banks and brokerages in the Kids Own America program. Dramatic reductions in costs for marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention achieved by the financial institutions will open the way for them to increase interest paid to young savers, or to cut commissions for odd-lot stock purchases. It will make no difference if the money is set aside by the kids or for them, says Brody.
Each partner bank will allow Kids Own America members to open and keep no-fee kids savings accounts offering the same yield as the bank’s one year CD, just by redeeming 2000 miles a year. “That’s a very small price to pay considering the substantial financial benefits that active savers and investors will realize,” Brody said.
By comparison, the average interest rate that U.S. banks pay today to children saving their money in so-called “no-fee” savings accounts is about 2.4 percent, with some banks paying even less than 2 percent. No major brokerage programs cut commission costs for kids who start investing, whether in custodial accounts while they’re young, or after they reach the age of 18 and are on their own.
The same day it inked its agreement with Continental, Kids Own America opened the first-ever Web-based inventory of bank programs for children and young adults. Banks and brokerages are now accessing the site www.kids-own-america.com> to add to the growing Kids Own America database of programs set up for young kids and older children in college or on the job.
“Our site also points out how, why, and where kids save and spend money, especially older children in high school or college,” says Brody. “It takes your breath away to see how much money they control, and how much these families want to build up the child’s self-confidence in making decisions about money. Every focus group we’ve run shows how strong this demand is.”
Brody added: “With every one of my counterparts at the airlines having kids like I do, we all have reasons very close to home and heart to succeed at meeting this demand. Our mission is doing it in ways that are good for all families, not just ours.”
Negotiations are now underway between Kids Own America and banks in all 50 states to offer the special accounts. Agreements with other airlines are also in the works. Kids Own America projects that its online systems guiding consumers to the new accounts wil be operating later this fall.Details
September same-store retail spending rose a mere 0.4% this year based on the dollar volume of checks written by consumers. TeleCheck Services says the downshift in spending was impacted by the untimely death of Princess Diana. TeleCheck says that even though September offered an extra Sunday a significant number of consumers stayed home to follow news of her death. The effect was similar to the Summer Olympics and the Gulf War. TeleCheck’s data showed the Southwest lead the nation with a sales gain of 4.1% while the Mid-Atlantic region showed the greatest decline of 3.7%.Details
San Francisco taxpayers may now make their secured property tax payments by credit card from any touch tone phone, twenty-four hours a day, Richard A. Sullivan, San Francisco Tax Collector, announced today.
The Treasurer/Tax Collector Department has established a credit card payment system, called a Service Bureau, to accept secured property tax payments from taxpayers. The fully-automated Service Bureau is provided by Audiotex, a San Francisco based company, at no cost to the city, Sullivan stated, enabling taxpayers to pay by credit card their secured property tax by phone.
To utilize the system, at any time of the day or night, seven days a week, taxpayers may call 1-800-890-1950. A credit card and a tax bill number are required to complete the transaction.
The service bureau captures tax bill and credit card information from the taxpayer during the course of the call. At the same time, the system verifies that the credit card is valid and that sufficient credit is available on it to cover the secured property tax bill. Before the transaction is actually completed, taxpayers will be informed of a convenience fee to be added to their charged amount. This fee will be reflected in their next credit card statement.
“This additional payment option, simple and convenient to use, is one more demonstration of our continued commitment to improved taxpayer service,” Sullivan said.Details
Federated Department Stores, Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement with AmeriCash LLC to install Automated Teller Machines/Electronic Concierge Machines (ATMs/ECMs) in department store locations throughout the country.
Just in time for the busy holiday season, the first phase rollout of 55 units, to include every Federated division, will be in place by November 1. Upon the completion of a second phase rollout, anticipated to occur in early 1998, this convenience will be available to customers in all Federated stores across the nation. In addition to cash, Federated customers will be able to access store gift certificates and prepaid phone cards through the ATM/ECM machines.
“Convenience is already a major reason that our customers shop in department stores,” said Jim Zimmerman, Federated’s chairman and chief executive officer. “By enabling them to transact additional business in our stores, we are continuing to enhance the value that we offer.”
AmeriCash LLC, based in New York, operates one of the country’s largest networks of ATMs in non-bank locations, providing electronic goods and services through state of the art machines.
Federated, with corporate offices in Cincinnati and New York, is one of the nation’s leading department store retailers, with annual sales of more than $15 billion. Federated currently operates more than 400 department stores and more than 150 specialty stores in 36 states.Details
Unisys Corp. Thursday announced that AIR MILES a UK-based loyalty management company and wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways, has selected Unisys Customer Loyalty System (CLS) and consulting services in a contract valued at more than $3 million.
CLS will enable AIR MILES to enhance personalized service to its more than 4 million customers in the United Kingdom.
AIR MILES UK has one of the largest multi-collection loyalty programs in the world. Nearly seven percent of all UK households participate in AIR MILES promotions. Air travel is not a requirement for AIR MILES awards.
AIR MILES is an integrated multi-collection program, which enables customers to collect miles through purchases and transactions from more than 350 sources, including credit cards, supermarkets, restaurants and service stations.
The Unisys Customer Loyalty System manages all loyalty programs (e.g., frequent flyer, lounge, specialty programs) for an airline, loyalty management or travel enterprise to better implement preferred customer services. With CLS, the enterprise can track prior customer contacts to deliver services that customers value, because they are based on actual preferences, buying patterns, and travel experiences.
“We have a large, diverse customer base, and Unisys CLS gives us the flexibility to respond to our customers more efficiently and effectively with highly personalized service,” said Keith Mitchell, Information Technology Director, AIR MILES Travel Promotions Ltd. “We have to be adept and flexible in dealing with all relationship management issues – whether for credit card, fuel, retailing or airline travel – to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations.
“To achieve this goal, we need an integrated approach that addresses the whole customer experience. CLS will provide the core infrastructure around which all our communications, customer service and marketing will revolve.”
Nick Hynes, Travel Management Director, AIR MILES Travel Promotions Ltd. stated, “With CLS, we will be able to reinforce relationships with our customers on an individual basis.
“A major part of our business is selling leisure travel directly to our customer base, and we believe greater knowledge of our customers, the ability to communicate with them one-to-one, and our desire to offer them the best and most relevant travel offers can all be satisfied by CLS.”
AIR MILES awards from all AIR MILES sources can be combined to be used towards a reward. Depending on the number of miles redeemed, miles can be claimed for free air travel, hotel stays, discounted holiday packages, ferry, cruise and Orient Express trips; and free cinema tickets.
Said Steve Arsenault, Unisys Program Director for CLS, “Frequency programs alone will not satisfy customers or maintain customer loyalty. Unisys CLS enables loyalty management organizations and airline management to provide the consistently excellent, personalized service that cultivates high-level customer loyalty.”
CLS clients maintain one cost-effective, client/server-based loyalty program that is fully equipped for the new millennium. The CLS system also features static file maintenance, making the system easy to update and maintain.
Customer service agents work through simple graphical interface screens which can be accessed 24 hours a day without any downtime for database updates and system administration. The CLS database also will act as a centralized repository of customer data, which will enable an enterprise to provide other customer service improvements.
Implementation of Unisys Customer Loyalty System is currently underway at AIR MILES and is expected to be completed in 1998.
AIR MILES Travel Promotions Ltd. was established in 1988 to provide flexible loyalty programs across a wide variety of markets, ranging from business-to-business, to consumer, and to employee motivation.
The company employs more than 550 people at its offices in Crawley, West Sussex in the UK. The AIR MILES brand is one of the most recognized of all loyalty and incentive programs in the UK. AIR MILES Travel Promotions Ltd. works in partnership with a wide range of leading companies.
Unisys In Transportation
Unisys – a major supplier of technology, applications and services to the worldwide airlines market for 40 years – is helping transportation organizations transform their operations to identify profitable customers, increase marketing effectiveness, cultivate customer satisfaction, enhance revenues, make timely, effective decisions and better leverage resources.
Unisys serves over 200 airlines – including 17 of the world’s top 25 – and 31 major railroads, as well as ferry lines, freight forwarders and other major transportation-related businesses. Further information is available through the Unisys Transportation home page on the World Wide Web: .
Unisys Information Services
As one of the three core businesses of Unisys Corp., Information Services designs, builds, and integrates business solutions that help clients improve their competitive edge and responsiveness to customers. To learn more about Information Services, access on the World Wide Web.
Unisys — The Information Management Company
Unisys is one of a select group of companies with the portfolio of services, technologies and third party alliances needed to deliver the benefits of information management — helping clients use their information asset to enhance their competitiveness and responsiveness to customers.
Our expertise in information management is founded on the strengths of our three global businesses: consulting, solutions and systems integration; industry-leading technologies; and comprehensive services and products supporting distributed computing environments. Access the Unisys home page on the World Wide Web — — for further information.Details
Axiohm Transaction Solutions Inc. (formerly DH Technology Inc.) announced today that it has completed its previously announced business combination with Axiohm S.A., a private French company.
The series of transactions began with a cash tender offer completed in August 1997 by a subsidiary of Axiohm S.A. for 7,000,000 shares of DH Technology Inc.’s common stock and culminated today with the exchange of a portion of the tendered shares for the outstanding shares of Axiohm S.A. and the merger of Axiohm’s subsidiary into DH Technology.
The former shareholders of Axiohm S.A. now own approximately 85% of the approximately 6.5 million outstanding shares of common stock of the surviving company. Concurrently with the merger, DH Technology changed its name to Axiohm Transaction Solutions Inc. and its stock symbol to “AXHM.”
The transactions were financed by the sale by Axiohm Transaction Solutions in a private offering of $120,000,000 of 9-3/4 Senior Subordinated Notes due 2007, borrowings under a new Senior Credit Facility and existing cash. The financing was arranged by Lehman Brothers.
The headquarters of the company will continue to be in San Diego. William H. Gibbs continues as president and chief executive officer of Axiohm Transaction Solutions, Walter Sobon will remain as chief financial officer and Patrick Dupuy and Gilles Gibier have become co-chairmen of the board of directors.
Gibbs commented, “By combining DH Technology and Axiohm, we have emerged as a worldwide leader in innovative transaction printing solutions and will continue to expand in this marketplace. Additionally, we will leverage our core technologies to grow in new markets, such as those including magnetic stripe and computer chip card readers.”
Axiohm Transaction Solutions is one of the two largest non-captive designers, manufacturers and marketers of transaction printers in the world and is the only transaction printer manufacturer currently manufacturing its own thermal and impact printheads.
Axiohm’s transaction printer products are used in retail, financial and commercial transactions to provide transaction records such as receipts, tickets, register journals, checks and other documents. Axiohm also has an increasing sales presence in the markets for magnetic stripe and computer chip card readers and bar code printers and related consumable supplies.Details
Richardson M. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PMT Services, Inc. (Nasdaq/NM: PMTS), today announced the completion of a merger with Bancard, Inc., a Boulder, Colorado based independent service organization. As consideration for the merger, PMT is issuing 3,870,968 shares of common stock. Bancard’s merchant account portfolio currently generates annualized charge volume of approximately $2.2 billion and annual revenues of approximately $50 million. Its 70-person sales force also currently produces on average approximately 250 accounts per month.
Mr. Roberts said, “We are very pleased to announce this agreement, which represents PMT’s largest acquisition to date. Bancard has a top quality management team complemented by a merchant account portfolio which expands PMT’s current annualized charge volume to more than $14 billion. In addition, PMT gains a national marketing organization of 70 seasoned sales people, further increasing the Company’s ability to generate internal growth. Combined with the acquisition of Retail Systems Consulting, Inc. announced two days ago, which brings approximately $300 million in annualized charge volume to PMT, this merger with Bancard represents a great start to achieving our goals for fiscal 1998 and further builds momentum to pursue our growth targets for the year.
“It also provides additional evidence of both the mounting pressure to consolidate within the electronic transaction processing industry and PMT’s ability to leverage its flexibility within this environment. PMT’s position as the leading acquiror in the small merchant market is clear. We are one of the largest providers of processing services and one of the lowest cost providers. Our service organization is among the most extensive in the industry. We have strategically built management depth to handle our anticipated growth, and we continue to have one of the strongest balance sheets among our industry peers. As a result, we are confident of our ability to produce continued predictable and profitable growth, both internally and through additional acquisitions.”
Investors are cautioned that this release contains forward- looking statements, such as those relating to PMT’s ability to produce continued profitable growth and the continued consolidation of the electronic transaction processing industry, 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 and expand its field sales force; the ongoing performance of the field sales and telemarketing personnel; the actual production of new accounts by alliance partners; the Company’s ability to integrate acquisitions successfully with its processing systems and products and to account for acquisitions as poolings of interests; the availability of attractive acquisition targets; the availability of capital, attrition of merchants from acquired portfolios; 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.Details