Metris Gets B+

Standard & Poor’s gave one of the nation’s fastest growing issuers a B+ rating for its $100 million senior note offering Friday. S&P says the rating reflects concerns over Metris’ aggressive internal growth rate, which has been running at an annual rate of 60%+ this year. S&P also noted the company has experienced a rapid, above average, increase in chargeoffs, and when factoring in the company’s growth rate, the 12-month lagged chargeoff ratio exceeds 16% for the third quarter.


Japanese Fraud Detection

Japan’s CSK and RI-based Nestor, Inc. released a real-time credit card fraud detection system for the Japanese credit card market this weekend. ‘Real-Time PRISM’ is designed to detect and report/prevent fraud at the authorization transaction process. In Japan typical card fraud involves one high amount purchase transaction. The system will process about 75 transactions per second.


Chevy Chase Makes Acquisition

Cape Cod Bank and Trust Co said Friday it expects to post a one-time gain of about $2 million in the fourth quarter from the sale of its personal credit card portfolio.

It sold the portfolio to Chevy Chase Bank FSB, a credit card issuer.

The decision to sell the portfolio was based in part on increasing credit card competition, President and Chief Executive Stephen Lawson said in a statement.

Lawson said the bank would continue to offer its credit card through a partnership arrangement with Chevy Chase and that its customers “will benefit by increased service and additional enhancements to the card.”


Datastrip Update

Datastrip Inc. and Datastrip Limited announced today a series of key business developments, commencing with the appointment of two new additions to its corporate management team.

Stephen Hunt has been named President and CEO of Datastrip Inc. In this position, Stephen is responsible for Datastrip operations throughout the U.S. Stephen joins Datastrip after a long career with Unisys Corporation, where he was responsible for product development and marketing of Unisys personal identification systems and credit card management systems.

Steve Blackmore has been appointed General Manager of Datastrip Limited, responsible for company operations throughout the United Kingdom. Steve joins Datastrip Limited after a distinguished career with Peak Technologies.

Datastrip also announced two new technology developments. Fox Technology Pty Ltd, of North Ryde, NSW, Australia, has named Datastrip its U.S. and U.K. master Distributor for the FoxID32Lite(TM), FoxID32(TM), and FoxID32Ultra(TM) Identification Card production software. Datastrip further announced its release of The Datastrip Windows 95/NT(TM) developer kit.

FoxID32 applications feature Datastrip’s advanced two-dimensional bar code technology for storing photo, text, signature, and biometric information. In the FoxID32 applications, Datastrip 2-dimensional bar code software stores over 1,200 bytes of information in a space measuring 2/3 of an inch wide, by 3 inches in length. The higher density Datastrip 2D bar code minimizes the ID card space required to store 2-Dimensional information, allowing for the printing of additional text and image information. In some cases, for instance, Datastrip 2D code requires 1/4th the space of PDF-417 two-dimensional code. Some Datastrip readers are supplied with LCD displays and decode processors that support Point of Activity (POA) Interrogation of the 2-Dimensional code. In many applications, this stand-alone capability eliminates the need for installation of additional processors and may significantly reduce system implementation costs. When remote processing power is preferred and available, Datastrip readers can be linked directly to the host via a serial RS-232 interface. Datastrip bar code is also well suited for asset management and documentation management, and access control applications.

The Datastrip Windows 95/NT developer toolkit is a set of software components (functions) enabling software developers to integrate a variety of functions related to the printing and reading of two-dimensional Datastrips into their Microsoft 95/NT-based applications. The software components are supplied in the form of a Windows Dynamic Link Library (DLL) supporting standard 32-bit calling conventions. Support is provided for Microsoft and Borland C++ compilers, as well as Visual Basic and other programming environments that support the 32-bit Window API. As a result, applications can be developed using any of a wide variety of programming environments. Whether information is text based, photographic or biometric, the Windows 95/NT toolkit provides developers will full control over Datastrip production, data compression, data redundancy and specialized features, such as inkspread compensation. The toolkit includes the Datastrip Wizard, a demonstration application which generates sample Datastrips, and “C” source code, providing programmers with numerous toolkit usage examples and insight to Datastrip generation.

Datastrip said it continues to form VAR, OEM and distributor relationships, and will host booth #1955 at SCAN TECH, November 4-6, 1997, at McCormick Place South, Chicago.

Datastrip (IOM) Limited also reported that its patent infringement suit against Symbol Technologies is now in the discovery process. On February 21, 1997, Datastrip brought an action for patent infringement under the Patent Laws of the United States in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (No. 97-70) against Symbol for misappropriating Datastrip’s breakthrough invention on two-dimensional bar codes. That invention was granted U.S. Patent No. 4,782,221 in 1988.

Finally, Datastrip Inc. announced that it has moved its U.S. corporate headquarters from Reston, Virginia to Exton, Pennsylvania. The new office is located at 559 West Uwchlan Avenue, Suite 130, Exton, PA 19341-3013. Management, Sales and Technical support staff can be reached by calling 800-548-2517.

Datastrip (IOM) Limited is a Isle of Man-based company engaged in the business of designing, manufacturing and selling optical scanners that read printed bar codes and transmit for use or for further processing the encoded information. Datastrip’s patented products would allow, for example, the addition of bar code labels to drivers licenses, ID cards, medical cards and the like, to provide compact information, high security and prevent forgery or alteration.


Low Cost Fingerprint System

Biometric Access Corporation (BAC) a privately held Texas corporation, on Oct. 30, 1997, set a new level of price performance for biometric access control by announcing the shipment of SecureTouch(tm), the first truly affordable and modular MS-Windows(tm) based fingerprint authentication system for PCs and Laptops.

SecureTouch(tm) is the world’s first available fingerprint imaging system that can be purchased for under $200.00. The SecureTouch(tm) system includes a small digital capture device that connects to existing PC and Laptop ports, all required fingerprint authentication software, Fingerprint Lab(tm), and a desktop firewall application program. No additional hardware is required. The base Application Program Interface (API) is also available free of charge as part of the SecureTouch(tm) package. The advanced API that includes JAVA and ActiveX wrappers and C & C++ bindings with continued development for ODBC and JDBC wrappers is available with SecureTouchtm as a developers tool kit for $249.00 and can be ordered from BAC’s Web Site .

BAC’s president and CEO, Ron Smith said, “Our customers have told us they want an easy to use authentication tool that is cost effective and accurate in determining a person `is who they say they are’. SecureTouchtm is the solution. We designed SecureTouchtm as an enterprise level single-sign-on security solution where every desktop within the enterprise is protected through biometric authentication. We soon realized our design could also be used to solve additional needs for home office and work at home activities. Every household can now help protect their children by maintaining an accurate and updated fingerprint file of each child on their PCs. SecureTouchtm technology can also be used as an embedded device in payment terminals and physical access locks providing a price point that makes this proven technology usable.” In addition, Smith said, “Our design point enables us to provide our customers with a family of affordable biometric products.”

BAC’s Executive VP of Sales & Marketing, John Shepard, added, “We encourage anyone who develops or integrates applications to use our well-defined API to incorporate SecureTouch(tm) in their applications and use it to meet their customer requirements for convenience, audit and security for any electronic transaction processing or physical access needs.”

BAC sells its products through Systems Integrators, Value Added Resellers, Original Equipment Manufacturers and Distributors. Volume discount information is available upon request.

SecureTouch(tm) is a trademark of Biometric Access Corporation Fingerprint Lab(tm) is a trademark of Biometric Access Corporation Windows(tm) is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation JAVA(tm) is a trademark of SUN Microsystems, Inc.


NYC Smart Card Promotion

Mass-based Cyrk is executing the promotion of the ‘NYC Smart Card Pilot’ with posters, co-op ads, a merchant location guide and a sweepstakes. Cyrk’s ‘Guide to the Upper West’ side includes a color-coded list of merchants accepting Mondex and VISA Cash and highlights two-for-one offers. Cyrk has also created a sweepstakes to run from Nov 7 through Jan 15, offering cardholders, as well as merchants, the chance to win various consumer electronic items by redeeming coupons from the ‘Guide’.


3GI Grows 6400%

VA-based smart card integrator and smart card software development company, 3GI, was named the fifth fastest growing technology company in Virginia yesterday with an astounding 6400% growth rate over the past five years. The company has 80 employees and expects to double during the next twelve months. Earlier this week 3GI and Lockheed Martin IMS partnered to roll-out the ‘Multi Application Integrated Circuit Card’ system. The new hybrid card contains a mag stripe for an EBT food stamp program and a chip to track and manage data on the WIC Program and Head Start pre-school program. The firm has also partnered with U.S. Bancorp to develop multi-application smart card systems for U.S. Bank’s IMPAC program.


Pac Bell Mexico Card

Pacific Bell expanded its Mexican prepaid phone card program yesterday to offer a “calling from Mexico” feature. The new feature may help combat various scams involving phone calls from Mexico. Reportedly some unscrupulous firms charge as much as $32 per minute for making a collect or credit card call from Mexico. The ‘Pacific Bell Prepaid Phone Card’ will charge $1.50 per minute for calls originating in Mexico and rates ranging from 29 cents to 75 cents per minute for calls originating in the U.S.. Pac Bell initially rolled out its prepaid phone card Aug 15.


MasterPhone Expands in Brazil

Executive TeleCard (Nasdaq: EXTL) announced today that Credicard S.A. of Brazil has introduced over one million of its bank cards into Executive TeleCard’s World Direct(TM) global telephony network through MasterCard’s MasterPhone Telephone Service.

Under the program, Credicard’s MasterPhone cards will now be enhanced with global calling card capabilities. Executive TeleCard will provide telephony value-added services for international calling card applications.

Tony Balinger, CEO of Executive TeleCard said, “Executive TeleCard is pleased to team up with Credicard S.A. of Brazil and MasterCard to launch this program. We are committed to working together to ensure its marketing success. This launch is further evidence of the tremendous potential of the MasterPhone program coming into fruition. These program launches are significant and will continue as our regional strategy kicks into high gear.”

Credicard S.A. is the number one credit card issuer in Latin America with 9.9 billion dollars in transaction volume and with over six million MasterCard cardholders, according to the Nilson Report of September 1997 for 1996 card volume.

Executive TeleCard, founded in 1987, is an international telecommunications service company providing direct voice and data communications services via its World Direct global network. The key to Executive TeleCard’s ongoing success is its unique partnerships with Postal Telegraph and Telephone Authorities around the world. Executive TeleCard’s products and services include: revenue sharing partnerships, global calling cards, the only true global prepaid card platform, global Internet access (eGlobe(TM)), international and domestic toll-free service (Service 80O(TM)) Colorado-based long distance service (TeleCall(TM)) and multi-currency, detailed billing.


FIC Signs Debit Proc Deal

First Independent Computers Inc., a subsidiary of Columbia Capital Corp. (OTCBB: CLCK) announced today that it has reached an agreement with BestBank, Boulder, Colo., to process VISA debit cards for the bank.

The new program is estimated to provide in excess of $25 million annually in processing revenues for First Independent Computers.

The first program will be marketed by Financial Marketing Systems Inc., through check cashing stores throughout the country. A spokesman for Financial Marketing Systems stated that the company expected to be marketing the cards in more than 3,400 stores within a year. The program was introduced today at an industry convention in Dallas.

The parties to the agreement believe that the program should generate more than one million new VISA debit cardholders within the next year, because most customers who use check cashing stores cannot obtain a VISA credit card.

First Independent Computers, headquartered in Abilene, Texas, is involved in credit card service support and transaction processing; banking/financial services and data processing; and document management and distribution services.


European Phone Card Patent

IDT Corporation today announced that it has negotiated an agreement to receive income derived from a master patent covering pre-paid calling cards throughout Europe. Under the agreement, the Company is entitled to receive royalties from all companies selling pre-paid calling cards in Europe who take a license under the patent or against which the patent is successfully enforced. Phone companies using or intending to use the patented process can negotiate to receive credit towards their royalty obligations by purchasing telecommunications services from IDT. This is anticipated to be attractive to European carriers in that it will enable them to fulfill demand for their services without raising total costs, and in most cases, will actually cut them. It is expected this will greatly accelerate the growth of IDT’s carrier business from Europe.

“IDT has already established itself as a leader in pre-paid calling cards in the U.S., and we look forward to emerging as a dominant player in the European market,” said IDT’s CEO Howard Jonas. “Not only does our carrier network give us the best available international rates, but now it looks like all our competitors will have to sit up and take notice. This is a real home run – a bit like winning the Grand National.”

Under the patent agreement, IDT is entitled to grant sub-licenses with respect to applicable pre-paid calling cards in Europe. Consequently, current pre-paid calling card companies and prospective pre-paid calling card vendors who are using or intend to use the patented process can apply for a sub-license from IDT. IDT is able to bring the pre-paid calling card technology to Europe due to its extensive telecommunications infrastructure as well as its own facilities-based switch in London with C7 signaling.

“This is an innovative step by IDT to establish itself in the European marketplace,” said Christopher Hoyle of Rakisons, a well-established international practice specializing in gaining licenses for new telecommunications operators. “Technological change is leading to ever more inventive ways to provide telecom services. IDT is to be congratulated for seeking to highlight that protection of intellectual property rights is crucial to ensuring the benefit of these enhancements flows to consumers in the form of better services and cheaper phone bills.”

The Company will also be selling its own discounted pre-paid calling card throughout Europe. IDT Global Limited Calling Cards will be available for purchase throughout Europe at newsstands and kiosks.

IDT Corporation is a diversified telecommunications company with seven years of innovation within the international telecommunications arena. The Company provides international long distance services to individuals and businesses in over 225 countries and directly to telecommunications carriers in the US and overseas. The Company currently has over 400,000 retail customers using an array of services including international long distance and Internet services, and prepaid calling cards. The Company is also a leader in Internet Telephony, with its Net2Phone product – the first commercial telephone service to bridge live calls between the Internet and telephones.

Except for historical information, all of the expectations and assumptions contained in the foregoing are forward-looking statements involving risks and uncertainties. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements, include, but are not limited to, the competitive environment for Internet telephony, changes of rates of all related telco rates and services, legislation that may affect the Internet Telephony industry, IDT’s ability to operate the services described on a large scale commercial level. For additional information regarding these and other risks associated with the Company’s business refer to the Company’s reports filed with the SEC.


Cubic GO Card for DC Transit

Ramtron International Corporation announced today that it has received an initial order to begin shipments of advanced FRAM(R) contactless smart card chips to Cubic Corporation (AMEX:CUB) in December 1997. The chips will be used to build the SmarTrip smart card for the Washington DC public transportation system. Ramtron’s new generation nonvolatile memory technology allows commuters to pay transit fare “hassle free.”

“We believe that FRAM memory will shape the future of advanced smart card development,” said L. David Sikes, Ramtron’s chairman and CEO. “Ramtron, using its leadership in ferroelectric memory technology, is the first to deliver an ideal FRAM-based smart card memory. With a two-year lead on the competition, we are looking toward a bright future in this important application area.”

In a report recently released by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the SmarTrip received accolades from commuters that participated in a one year test program. “The card is very effective, and it saves time,” mentioned one passenger. “I loved it. (the card) was very easy and had no problems whatsoever. I feel the card will save time and make using Metro easier for me,” said another.

Cubic fare collection systems are in operation in major cities on five continents. These systems process over 20 million passengers a day and provide secure revenue accounting in excess of $3 billion a year. Cubic embarked on the development of a “next generation” fare card in 1987 and determined that a contactless smart card would best meet the transit demands of the 21st Century. To prove the effectiveness of their concept, Cubic participated in two pilot programs, in London and Washington DC, that successfully demonstrated the technology’s efficiency, convenience and public acceptance.

For more information about Ramtron and its products, contact Communications Department, Ramtron International Corporation, 1850 Ramtron Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, 80921. Telephone is 800/545-FRAM (3726); FAX is 719/481-9294; E-mail address is [email protected] . Homepage is .