December 24, 2011

Municipal kiosks to take the queues out of routine business

ABU DHABI // Residents visiting the municipality for routine transactions can now say a quick goodbye to slow-moving queues. This week, the municipality introduced 20 self-service kiosks for land and property transactions, and paying bills.

More kiosks will be available in malls, petrol stations and other community areas early next year.

"In the future, you can go to a petrol station, get a hot coffee, do your service and go," said Mohammed Al Marr, the manager of the municipality's customer service division. "You won't have to wait."

In the first phase, the kiosks will offer five services - including requests for property certificates, land assessment or title deeds- which account for about 60 per cent of daily transactions.

The kiosks will be available in the capital at "external centres and government offices". Later, they will be placed in Al Ain and Al Gharbia, with 115 services eventually available.

To use the kiosks, residents must receive a username and password from the municipality website or at the kiosk. Authorisation of personal information takes at least 24 hours.

"We launched this service to add more choices for the customer: in person, on the website, the phone, at the kiosk," Mr Al Marr said.

He said the kiosks were well received but convincing people to trust computers was a challenge.

"People prefer the face-to-face still but we must change this culture," Mr Al Marr said. "This is … a strategy to help transfer 60 per cent of the work to kiosks."

Officials expect the machines to become more popular as residents learn how quickly and easily they can perform their transactions.


Using their Emirates ID, residents upload their basic data into the machine. They can pay bills with a credit card or cash. A printout of official documents will also be available.

A study is under way on user reaction and the best sites for future kiosks, which will eventually be available for use 24 hours a day.

Posted by CraigKeefner at 09:52 AM

MetroChange, A Kiosk for Donating Leftover MetroCard Funds to Charity

Link.
MetroChange is a proposal for a kiosk that would allow New York MTA riders to donate leftover funds on their MetroCards to charity (video). MetroChange was created by NYU students Stepan Boltalin, Genevieve Hoffman, and Paul May. Currently the kiosk is only a prototype but the students are searching for partners to help make it a reality.
[photo]

Link.
MetroChange is a proposal for a kiosk that would allow New York MTA riders to donate leftover funds on their MetroCards to charity (video). MetroChange was created by NYU students Stepan Boltalin, Genevieve Hoffman, and Paul May. Currently the kiosk is only a prototype but the students are searching for partners to help make it a reality.
[photo]

Posted by CraigKeefner at 09:50 AM

June 14, 2011

New Wal-Mart Kiosks Present Threat to Banks

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nonbank that banks love to hate -- and fear -- is at it again. The retailer next week will begin rolling out automated versions of its MoneyCenter offices, which provide a range of financial services to shoppers.

wal-mart and moneycenter, financial services, banks, wal-mart competing with banks - Bank Investment Consultant

The "MoneyCenter in a box" concept will feature ATM-like machines positioned in Wal-Mart stores that do not have full MoneyCenters, said Jane Thompson, the outgoing president of Wal-Mart's financial services unit.

Though the move might seem less ambitious than Wal-Mart's other forays in banking, competitors should take it seriously.

"Retailers should shake in their boots, banks should shake in their boots," said Brian Riley, a research director in the bank cards practice at TowerGroup. "Because if Wal-Mart starts linking their kiosks to doing reloadable gift cards, they have the power to move a lot of transaction money."

Thompson would not say exactly how many express MoneyCenters will be part of the pilot program, and was reluctant to reveal locations to rivals.

"It's going to be kind of like 'Where's Waldo' — you'll have to find them," she said during the 6th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in New Orleans held by American Banker and the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

A Wal-Mart spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for further details.

Wal-Mart has more than 1,000 MoneyCenters throughout the country that provide check cashing, bill payment, wire transfers and other services. Manned by customer service agents, they are one of the most profitable areas in Wal-Mart stores, Thompson said.

Companies with a hand in financial services have been trying to encourage self-service as a way to control labor costs, while potentially keeping longer store hours. Kiosks are also a way to blend Internet banking and financial services functions with shopping in the physical world.

"If you take a Wal-Mart shopper, if maybe they want to buy a washing machine and they want to transfer funds online without having to get to their home computer, or maybe they don't have easy Internet access, they can do that now within a Wal-Mart," said James Van Dyke, the president of Javelin Strategy and Research. "It makes a lot of sense for a limited segment of the population."

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has campaigned for years for cheaper banking services. It has battled with card networks and banks over interchange fees and stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pending regulatory caps on debit interchange from the Dodd-Frank Act.

It scrapped an application to charter an industrial bank in 2007 amid industry opposition. Today Wal-Mart is one of the top sellers of prepaid cards, through a partnership with General Electric Co.'s GE Money and Green Dot Corp.

More traditional financial services companies see value in kiosks, too. NCR Corp., the country's largest maker of automated teller machines, plans to announce a line of kiosks next week. The Duluth, Ga., company said the kiosks — called SerlfServ4 and SelfServ 8 — will allow users to open up accounts, check balances and buy financial products.

Though the device are being marketed to retail banking companies, it's not far-fetched to imagine them in stores.

"We are talking to a couple of banks in Western Europe who are looking to do mini-branch concepts with retailers," said Carol Hamilton, a global marketing manager at NCR. Shoppers could use the kiosks to do their Internet banking, pay credit card bills and print statements.

Abroad, some companies have already leveraged NCR's ATMs to allow their customers to deposit cash for bill pay. In Singapore, an NCR spokesman said, one bank is using its ATMs to load cash on chip-enabled mobile phones that can be used to buy transit tickets.

Nexxo Financial Corp. of San Bruno, Calif. makes kiosks that can be used to load prepaid cards with cash, checks or money orders. The devices also allow bill pay and cash withdrawal.

Most of those kiosks are in "local, Hispanic-oriented retailers," said David Alvarez, Nexxo's chief executive. "From a retailer, or a banker, perspective, the No.1 attraction is the traffic," he said. "If you put this array of services in your retail establishment … having the cash ready to spend is a tremendous advantage."


wal-mart and moneycenter, financial services, banks, wal-mart competing with banks - Bank Investment Consultant

Posted by staff at 12:59 PM

November 25, 2010

Royal Bank of Canada's Futuristic New "Stores"

New banking "store" concept by RBC uses latest in technology to enhance the consumer experience and provide value. MS Surface along with Cisco featured in video.

Can Koklu: Royal Bank of Canada's Futuristic New "Stores" Blend Self-Service With Assisted Service by Bank Systems & Technology

Royal Bank of Canada's Futuristic New "Stores" Blend Self-Service With Assisted Service by Bank Systems & Technology

The new stores, the first of which opened in October in Burlington, Ontario (to be followed by branch openings in Halifax in December and Toronto in early 2011) feature Microsoft Surface technology to educate and assist customers at kitchen-counter like islands, self-service kiosks featuring Cisco telepresence, and a media wall that helps branch staff facilitate seminars. The video below shows some of the basic branch features.

Can Koklu: Royal Bank of Canada's Futuristic New "Stores" Blend Self-Service With Assisted Service by Bank Systems & Technology

Posted by keefner at 12:35 PM

August 11, 2010

Credit Unions & Branching

Cardtronics & Vons Credit Union place some Vcom kiosks in grocery store and also c-store.

FSCC Celebrating Kiosk Compromise in California

By David Morrison

The Financial Service Centers Cooperative has replaced four previously shared branching outlets with shared branching kiosks housed in other spaces.
The kiosks enabled 200 credit unions with nearly 30,000 members in the high desert cities of Hesperia and Apple Valley, Calif., to continue shared branching access, the network said.

The members temporarily lost access when Arrowhead Credit Union sold four shared branching outlet branches to Alaska USA Federal Credit Union that closed down their shared branching operations.

In response FSCC, Vons Credit Union and Cardtronics got together to place Vcom shared branching kiosks in a Vons grocery store and an area convenience store.

“We believe shared branching is one of the best examples of how credit unions are different from banks,” said Vons Credit Union chief operating officer Donna Young. “We’re a cooperative and we’re part of another cooperative through FSCC. We believe in working together to serve the members of all participating credit unions and we’re happy to work with FSCC and other affected credit unions to continue serving members in this region,” she added.

“This could have been a devastating situation for thousands of members and a black eye for the concept of credit union cooperation,” said FSCC CEO Sarah Canepa Bang. “The power of the FSCC network and its ability to bring together credit unions and partner organizations to provide credit union access was once again displayed here. We’re extremely blessed to have collaborative partners like Vons Credit Union and Cardtronics who were willing to join us in jumping to the aid of members in the California high desert."

FSCC Celebrating Kiosk Compromise in California


Posted by staff at 12:06 PM

February 25, 2010

Fidelity Shutting Down ADM kiosks?

According to SFBacktalk appears Fidelity is pulling its ADM kiosks. These are the automated deposit kiosks that first came out back in 2001 and depending on who you believe were developed in house or they were developed by NCR on Aptra. We tend to think the Aptra. Fidelity instituted several self-service projects back in that timeframe (one with Netkey now owned by NCR).

Fidelity cashes in, wins awards | KioskMarketplace

StorefrontBacktalk link

Fidelity cashes in, wins awards

Jackie Hollenkamp

• 18 Jul 2002

(Editor's note: In March, the inaugural Interactive Kiosk Excellence Awards were handed out at the Rosen Center in Orlando, Fla. The awards, sponsored by KioskCom, honored kiosk excellence in six different categories, including software, enclosure designs, and applications. This is the fifth in six profiles covering the winners in each category.)

Rachelle Robin and Emily Freeman both work for Boston-based Fidelity Investments as directors in the investor center technology group. Both had entries in this year's inaugural Interactive Kiosk Excellence Awards in the same category.

But sitting at the awards ceremony in March at the Rosen Center in Orlando, Fla., Freeman graciously told Robin that she hoped her colleague and rival for the evening would take home first place.

"She (Freeman) was so great cause she knew that I wanted to win so badly," Robin said.

Robin's Automated Deposit Machine project did win first place for Best Financial Services Kiosk. Freeman came in second with Fidelity's Trade and Discover web kiosks, sweeping the top two spots in the category.

For Robin, the win was gratifying.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm around this program," she said. "We are the only ones in the financial industry to have this. So I think that that's probably another reason that we won."

Fidelity's ADM allows customers to enter any company branch and deposit checks directly into accounts already established with the investment company. Customers that establish new brokerage accounts can also use the machine immediately.

Brian Pilla, Northeast region sales director for NCR Corp., Fidelity's partner in the ADM project, was not surprised by the recognition.

"With me being a Fidelity client, they've always been a very innovative technology company and always have kept on the leading edge of technology," Pilla said. "This is just another example of Fidelity utilizing best in class technology to differentiate itself from its competitors."

Think innovation

The idea for ADM was developed in the late 1990's. Fidelity wanted to utilize the latest technological advancements to release its branch representatives from performing lower-level transactions, such as processing check deposits, and focus on more important issues.

"The representatives are freed up to do other things such as assist with or facilitate sales opportunities and, secondly, work with customers on more in-depth service issues," Robin said. "It's just much more efficient and much more professional and much more accurate."


Fidelity Investments' Automated Deposit Machine clearly displays the steps customers must take in order to deposit their checks.

Robin said it generally takes a branch representative two minutes to process each check for a customer. Representatives can now use that time to work with customers with more complex needs.

When customers step up to the machine, they activate a weight-sensitive security device that launches the kiosk program. A touchscreen takes customers through the deposit process. The check is then allocated into the customer's various investment accounts. At the end of the transaction, a receipt with a scanned image of the check is printed for the customer.

A speedy ramp-up

Pilla said the project was the culmination of front-end consulting, understanding the company's needs and the environment of the kiosk, and then utilizing best-in-breed technologies from NCR to create a unique solution catered to Fidelity's specific needs.

NCR's APTRA software platform, based on Windows NT, is used to power transactions. Such an application is why Fidelity chose NCR to help launch the project.

"NCR was the first to have something that was going to be web enabled," Robin said. "We had numerous meetings where they'd fly into Boston and we'd all just get in a room and have all day meetings just to hammer out a lot of the business rules, how everything was going to work. It really was a huge, huge process."

The first unit was deployed to the Paramus, N.J., Fidelity branch in September of 1999. Now, there are 103 kiosks in Fidelity's branches nationwide. In 2001, those units processed 542,000 check deposits.

"The whole model was based on 20 percent usage," Robin said. "Last year we hit 30 percent as our average. This year we're striving towards 40 percent."

Expansion plans

Making any part of the customer service process more streamlined is important to Fidelity, which had total customer assets of $1.475 trillion as of March 31. In order to get Fidelity's customers comfortable with the ADM instead of a branch representative, Robin said the company uses a positive marketing approach in addition to an aggressive training process for branch personnel.

If you're willing to put the time up front, you can invest it with the customer and do a one-on-one interaction with them, Robin said. "That's where we really found that we were going to be successful," she added.

Pilla said Fidelity's ability to attract customers to the ADM was unique.

"It has exceeded all of their objectives from a financial perspective and a customer utilization perspective which, from an NCR side, we deem this project -- current, past, and ongoing -- a great success for both parties," he said.

Robin said the next step is to take the ADM outside the branch into independent locations to give customers an even greater opportunity to make deposits.

"I look at this as everybody wins," she said. In a way, that is the approach Fidelity is taking to kiosks, even if Emily Freeman took home runner-up honors from Orlando.


03 Nov 2004

"It's great to be recognized on behalf of our technology," said Rachelle Robin, project director of Fidelity Investments' Automated Deposit Machine. The ADM won the KioskCom 2004 Interactive Kiosk Excellence Award in the category of Best Financial Services Kiosk Application. The kiosk is a previous KioskCom award winner in the same category.

Robin explained that the idea for the ADM grew out of Fidelity's focus on its customers. The mutual fund company is headquartered in Boston, with eight regional operations centers and 98 investor centers across the country. Most branches operate during traditional business hours, with two operating 24 hours a day.

In the past, customers would come to a Fidelity office, fill out a deposit slip and give the funds and the slip to a teller. Fidelity wanted to offer its customers a choice when it came to depositing funds into their investment accounts. The ADM was developed by Fidelity to offer 24-hour deposit convenience.

The ADMs do not dispense cash; they only accept deposits. Customers deposit checks using their Social Security number or a customer ID number for additional security. No envelopes or paperwork are required since the ADM receipt is an image of the deposited check. Checks are now processed more frequently at a centralized location, further improving customer service.

Robin pointed out that the free-standing kiosk is custom colored for each branch environment. Newer branches build the ADMs into alcoves for more customer privacy. Fidelity designed its first ADM in 1999. Representatives from the company have attended KioskCom for the past three years to keep up with kiosk technology. Today, Fidelity has a total of 117 ADMs in use throughout its branches.

Fidelity's ADM was developed completely in-house. While this may be unusual for some banks or brokerage firms, it's more the norm for Fidelity. "We spend about $2 billion a year on technology," noted company spokesperson Adam Banker. "That is a serious commitment to staying ahead of the curve."


Posted by staff at 07:55 AM

October 30, 2009

It’s official: NCR will not exhibit at BAI’s Retail Delivery Expo

From Tracy Kitten & ATMmarketpalce -- Despite being listed as an exhibitor at this year’s Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, NCR Corp. insists it will not have a presence on the exhibit hall floor next week in Boston.

“NCR has decided not to take a booth presence at the Retail Delivery Conference and Expo in November 2009,” said Jeff Dudash, an NCR spokesman. “We will have a number of NCR executives in attendance at the conference and will meet with customers.”

Diebold Inc. and Wincor Nixdorf AG announced early on that theywould not be participating in the show. NCR, however, has remained relatively silent about what its presence might or might not be.

“In recognition of feedback we have had from our customers around the world over the last 12 months, NCR’s strategy around customer events for the remainder of 2009 and going into 2010 will focus on those events which our customers tell us deliver the highest value for them,” Dudash said. “These are typically events which maximize the opportunity for a deep and meaningful dialogue around market challenges and solutions to those challenges. This level of dialogue usually comes from tailored programs in the form of road shows or solution-center programs, which facilitate face-to-face discussion. This means that we will be focusing less on tradeshow presence, where opportunities for meaningful dialogue are much more restricted.”

Posted by staff at 12:11 PM

October 27, 2009

Financial Service Kiosks In the News

Pantel Systems releases PR with new data from multi-function kiosk in supermarkets. Advertising and coupon dispensing are focus areas for them. Picture included.


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 26, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PSI Corp. (Pink Sheets:PSCP), operating as Pantel Systems Inc., (the "Company" or "PSI") operates a full service multi-functioning kiosk in various supermarket locationsin New York City. For the past six months, the Company has focused on the development of its advertising and coupon dispensing technology function from its kiosks. David Foni, the Company's Chief Executive Officer, stated, "PSI's multi-functioning kiosk is unique for its multiplicity of capabilities and now has succeeded in raising coupon redemption rates in excess of 20% for its supermarket coupons versus the supermarket industry average of 1.4% redemption rate for free standing inserts. The key reasons for the success of the program is the products being offered are all from major consumer product good companies, there are meaningful discounts on the offerings, there are visual ads being shown on the kiosk's LCD screen in the supermarkets and equally important the supermarkets are receiving a 100% realization from the coupons being redeemed within 30 days."

pantel-small.jpg

Mr. Foni continued, "We have demonstrated strong results at Key Foods, National Supermarkets Association and now this week entering Met Foods. PSI has shown that in the complex, ethnically diverse community of New York City, coupons are very important to everyday supermarket business. The Company is in advance discussions with several other large New York City based supermarket chains which it hopes will prove fruitful. We anticipate additional expansion both in New York and surrounding states in the first quarter of 2010. Additionally, we intend to file patents, and add new couponing features including mobile texting and loyalty card programs to the kiosks."

About PSI Corp.:

PSI Corp., operating as Pantel Systems, Inc., provides interactive customer communications systems and applications that support the targeted marketing programs at point of purchase (POP) service and information. The Company has two vertical markets for its E-Banking Kiosks Supermarkets and Deep Discount Retailers.

Posted by staff at 11:08 AM

April 27, 2009

Trends - Retailers Take Another Look at Banking

The banking crisis has done huge damage to many major bank brands and left consumers unsure who to trust. But could that create opportunities for new entrants to break into the retail banking market?

Source link

U.K. retailer Tesco has already announced plans to ramp up its banking operations. Now Alliance Boots chief executive Stefano Pessina has said the U.K. pharmacy group might consider following suit. It could be a smart move.

True, the retail banking market has never been an easy one to break into. Historically, deposit-taking franchises have been seen as virtual licences to print money. Bank customers tend to be very reluctant to move their current accounts, so the deposits themselves are very "sticky," providing banks with a steady source of cheap, stable funding that gave them an in-built advantage over new entrants.
[Retailers Look to Banking] Bloomberg News/Landov

Alliance Boots may consider ramping up banking operations.

Indeed, the track record of new entrants to the U.K. deposit-taking and savings account markets during the boom is hardly encouraging: internet-based franchises such as ING Direct and the Icelandic banks tended to attract so-called "rate tarts", which meant they had to always offer competitive rates or risk losing their funding.

But with bank customers currently more skittish, it's clear why retailers such as Tesco and possibly Boots might fancy their chances. They have trusted brands, conveniently-located retail networks and no legacy bad debts or government shareholders dictating lending policies. Plus retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda have long-standing consumer finance operations, giving them experience in lending and credit-checking.

For privately-owned Alliance Boots, an expansion into banking looks ambitious, given its high leverage and junk credit rating -- not an easy base from which to launch a banking operation. But Tesco Personal Finance now has savings deposits of 4.5 billion pounds ($6.6 billion), plans to open up to 30 in-store branches this year and is considering offering current accounts and even mortgages. Meanwhile, Sainsbury's Bank, a 50/50 joint venture with Lloyds Banking Group, recently reported strong growth for its savings products.

Of course, these operations are tiny compared to the overall U.K. banking market. But in an industry forced to compete hard for deposits, new entrants could add to the pressures on banks. Traditional retail deposit franchises may not be so lucrative in future.

Write to Molly Neal at molly.neal@dowjones.com

Posted by staff at 01:41 PM

December 23, 2008

Wincor Nixdorf Deploying ATMs & Teller Kiosks

BCA expands self-service network with Wincor Nixdorf kiosk and ATM technologies. Worth noting that 1) WIncor still doesn't seem to have any expansion into the U.S. markets, and #2 one of the benefits of the teller kiosks is that transactions costs are 30% lower compared to ATM.


Source line at Finextra

BCA will deploy 283 ProCash1500xe ATMs (automated teller machines) and 200 ProInfo 1000 kiosk systems (an additional order on top of the existing 1,090 Wincor Nixdorf kiosks installed since 2003). In addition to installing the systems, Wincor Nixdorf will also assume responsibility for maintenance of both the kiosks and ATMs through its extensive service coverage in the archipelago.

Financial institutions, such as BCA, are now beginning to migrate their deposit and withdrawal transactions to self service zones in the branch and at offsite locations to improve service to individual and business customers.

BCA took on a pioneering role to move teller transactions to ATMs migrating 70% of teller transactions to self service outlets in 2007. And to enhance customer service further BCA has now migrated up to 30% of non-cash transactions from the bank’s ATMs to more than 1,000 existing ProInfo 1000 kiosk terminals reducing customer wait times at ATMs.

Examples of more complex transactions handled by this terminal include registration for e-banking, payment functions for 70 different types of bills, purchases of vouchers and airline tickets and funds transfers. “We are very satisfied with the advanced technology from Wincor Nixdorf and our customers are satisfied with us because of the ease of use and the feeling as a part of the modern society.” says Stephen Liestyo, Sr. General Manager of the Consumer Banking Division at BCA.

“Furthermore, we are not only gaining a competitive advantage by using the kiosks, we are also saving money, since the transaction costs at the terminals are 30% lower compared with transaction costs at the ATM,” adds Mr Liestyo.


Posted by staff at 09:10 AM

July 27, 2008

Banks to tap Web 2.0 for wholesale services - Celent

Banks will increasingly use Web 2.0 technology to deliver online wholesale banking services over the next three years, according to a report from Boston-based analyst house Celent.


The use of rich Internet applications (RIAs) and online communities and blogs will "redefine the small business online banking and cash management space" over the next three years, says Celent.

"Although small business banking and corporate cash management applications provide a slew of features and functionality, they look and feel out of date, aren't easy enough to use, and can't stand up to what the customer would really like," says Jacob Jegher, senior analyst, banking group, Celent. "Some banks will unfortunately keep things status quo, while others have already begun to recognize the need for significant change and innovation with the ultimate goal of enhancing the user experience and the customer relationship."

Celent says many banks recognise the need to embrace Web 2.0 but only a handful of early movers are currently showing signs of next-generation offerings and it will take 18 months before real progress is made.

The sluggish uptake is partly due to banks facing tightened IT budgets as the credit crunch bites, says the analyst.

In addition many are having a difficult time deciding which Ajax framework to choose - such as Backbase, Mootools, Prototype, jMaki - as they consider various factors such as performance, compatibility and security.

But despite this Celent says Web 2.0 will "revolutionise the current landscape" with new systems emphasising customer experience, usability and navigation while allowing users to take care of their core banking requirements.

A study last year from the Economist Intelligence Unit found that a clear majority of senior executives at the world's largest corporations believe Web 2.0 technologies have the potential to transform customer relationship management and increase revenues.

Finextra: Banks to tap Web 2.0 for wholesale services - Celent

Posted by staff at 08:37 PM

July 01, 2008

Security - Citbank ATM breach reveals PIN problems

atm_breach_small.jpgSAN JOSE, Calif. - Hackers broke into Citibank's network of ATMs inside 7-Eleven stores and stole customers' PIN codes, according to recent court filings that revealed a disturbing security hole in the most sensitive part of a banking record. The other part of interest is what about the 2000 supposed Vcom units installed at 7-Eleven? [picture of unit]

Citibank ATM breach reveals PIN security problems - Yahoo! News

he scam netted the alleged identity thieves millions of dollars. But more importantly for consumers, it indicates criminals were able to access PINs — the numeric passwords that theoretically are among the most closely guarded elements of banking transactions — by attacking the back-end computers responsible for approving the cash withdrawals.

The case against three people in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York highlights a significant problem.

Hackers are targeting the ATM system's infrastructure, which is increasingly built on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and allows machines to be remotely diagnosed and repaired over the Internet. And despite industry standards that call for protecting PINs with strong encryption — which means encoding them to cloak them to outsiders — some ATM operators apparently aren't properly doing that. The PINs seem to be leaking while in transit between the automated teller machines and the computers that process the transactions.
atm_breach_caps113.jpg
"PINs were supposed be sacrosanct — what this shows is that PINs aren't always encrypted like they're supposed to be," said Avivah Litan, a security analyst with the Gartner research firm. "The banks need much better fraud detection systems and much better authentication."

It's unclear how many Citibank customers were affected by the breach, which extended at least from October 2007 to March of this year and was first reported by technology news Web site Wired.com. The bank has nearly 5,700 Citibank-branded ATMs inside 7-Eleven Inc. stores throughout the U.S., but it doesn't own or operate any of them.

That responsibility falls on two companies: Houston-based Cardtronics Inc., which owns all the machines but only operates some, and Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc., which operates the others.

A critical issue in the investigation is how the hackers infiltrated the system, a question that still hasn't been answered publicly.

All that's known is they broke into the ATM network through a server at a third-party processor, which means they probably didn't have to touch the ATMs at all to pull off the heist.

They could have gained administrative access to the machines — which means they had carte blanche to grab information — through a flaw in the network or by figuring out those computers' passwords. Or it's possible they installed a piece of malicious software on a banking server to capture unencrypted PINs as they passed through.

What that means for consumers is that their PINs were stolen from machines that showed no signs of tampering they could detect. In previous PIN thefts, thieves generally took steps that might draw notice — sending "phishing" e-mails, for example, or installing false-front keypads or even tiny cameras on ATMs.

Getting the PINs is a key step for identity thieves. It lets criminals encode stolen account information onto blank ATM cards and withdraw piles of cash from compromised accounts.

Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence for SecureWorks Inc., said he has seen an "alarming" spike in the number of attacks on back-end computers for ATM networks over the past year.

"This was fairly large, but I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary — these kinds of scams go on every day," Jackson said. "What makes this case unique is the sheer luck of happening upon these guys and catching them red-handed. But there are a whole lot of other ATM and PIN compromises going on that aren't reported."

The alleged plot is outlined in court papers supporting the prosecution of three people — Yuriy Rakushchynets, Ivan Biltse and Angelina Kitaeva. They were indicted in March on two counts each of conspiracy and fraud. Prosecutors say their activities generated at least $2 million in illegal profits.

Defense lawyers for all three people did not return calls for comment, and it was not clear where they had been living. The main defendant, Rakushchynets, was described as having Michigan and Florida's driver licenses in a February FBI affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Citibank, part of Citigroup Inc., has declined to comment on the technique or how many customers' accounts were compromised. It said it notified affected customers and issued them new debit cards.

"We want our customers to know that, consistent with legal requirements, we do not hold them responsible for fraudulent activity in their accounts," the bank said in a statement.

Cardtronics said it is cooperating with authorities but otherwise declined to comment. Fiserv spokeswoman Melanie Tolley said the intrusion didn't happen on Fiserv's servers.

"Fiserv," she said, "is confident in the integrity and security of our system."

related article on Cardtronics takeover of Vcoms

Posted by staff at 02:53 PM

June 24, 2008

PSI Cash Express(TM) Kiosks/ATM Being Deployed

News release today from PSI -- "Equally important is the roll-out of a limited number of PSI's E-Banking Kiosks. Such Kiosks enable users as follows: to purchase gifts cards, phone cards and debit cards; to obtain standard ATM services; and to permit bill paying and payroll check cashing among its many innovative features."


source link

NEW YORK, June 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- PSI Corp. (OTC Pink Sheets:
PSCP) is pleased to review its recent progress.

PSI, for the first time since discontinuing its friendlyway, Inc. business on May 1, 2006, is proceeding with the implementation of its business plan. PSI announced this past week the placement of an additional twenty-four digital screens to increase to eighty-four the number previously deployed. PSI plans to accelerate the placement of digital screens both in New York City and nationally in cooperation with Hospital Media Network. PSI has seen an increase in both local and regional advertising attributable to appreciation of PSI's technology and blend of proprietary programming.

Equally important is the roll-out of a limited number of PSI's E-Banking Kiosks. Such Kiosks enable users as follows: to purchase gifts cards, phone cards and debit cards; to obtain standard ATM services; and to permit bill paying and payroll check cashing among its many innovative features. Each Kiosk will have a 32 inch state-of-the-art digital screen with advancedprogram capability. The Kiosks will be undergoing ninety-day field tests in selected areas. Thereafter, PSI believes that the substantial indications of interest already received from supermarket and convenience stores and from credit unions will result in eventual purchases of the PSI Cash Express(TM) Kiosks/ATM.

As previously reported in a Form 8-K filing dated April 11, 2008, PSI has retained new auditors to conduct the two-year audit for the period ended October 31, 2007. Such audit is expected to be completed shortly. Once this audit is completed and PSI is then current in its 10-KSB and 10-QSB filings with the SEC, application will be made to NASDAQ to have PSI relisted on the Bulletin Board.

Lastly, PSI intends to issue a proxy statement incident to the calling of an annual meeting of shareholders as soon as the audit is completed and the proxy rules may be complied with.

David Foni, Chairman and CEO of PSI, stated that "Management has devoted the past eighteen months to the resolution of problems inherited from prior management, including the successful termination of litigation, the elimination of payables, the cancellation of shares of Common Stock, and the rescission of improvident transactions consummated by prior management. Nonetheless, development of PSI's two proprietary products has proceeded apace. Management believes that PSI will shortly be able to demonstrate positive cash flow."

About PSI Corp.: provides interactive customer communications systems and applications that support the targeted marketing programs at point-of-purchase (POP) service and information. The company has two vertical products; full motion video digital signage and full service Cash Express(TM) Kiosks/ATM.

For more information please visit the company website: www.pantelsystems.com

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a safe harbor for forward-looking statements made on behalf of the Company and its subsidiaries. All such forward-looking statements are, by necessity, only estimates of future results and actual results achieved by the Company may differ materially from those statements due to a number of factors. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. Statements made in this release that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements, beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Risk factors that may cause results to differ from projections include, without limitation, loss of suppliers, loss of customers, inadequate capital, competition, loss of key executives, declining prices, and other economic factors. The Company assumes no obligations to update these forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting such statements. Investors should independently investigate and fully understand all risks before making investment decisions.

For further information:
David Foni (719) 359-5533
SOURCE PSI Corp.

Posted by staff at 12:31 PM

June 12, 2008

Opinion - Is Cash an Endangered Species?

Opinion paper by Mike Lee of ATMIA on the future of cash. Often we hear about cashless society and how credit cards are becoming the majority payment method. Fact is that cash transactions have always been the majority transaction in many public use terminals and are actually rising (thanks to privacy and personal information intrusions).

My paternal grandmother used to open a novel at the back page in order to read the ending of the story first. So I will give you the ending of this article upfront and then work my way back, unveiling in the process the secret of cash’s enduring popularity.

Here is the conclusion: There is virtually zero chance that cash will be withdrawn from society within the next generation. That is, in the next 25 years. And in all likelihood, there could easily be another hundred years of cash.

This conclusion is only remarkable because there is a widespread perception in financial services that cash’s days are numbered. People talk vaguely about the cashless society. Some folk seem to believe that plastic and digital forms of money are set to replace cash.

Upon analysis of the true nature of cash and on what is driving global demand for cash, however, this conventional wisdom turns out to be based on a myth. It is a fantasy which has been promoted largely by the card-issuing sector because it has a vested interest in the demise of cash.

But the cashless society is about as real a possibility as the paperless office. At this stage, it belongs in the realms of science fiction.

As head of the ATM Industry Association, which represents a broad spectrum of the ATM marketplace in about 50 countries, last year I sought out a futures analysis of cash. After all, cash remains the lifeblood of the approximately 1.7 million ATMs worldwide, since about 70 percent of all ATM transactions are cash withdrawals.

But I half expected to read evidence that the cash industry had about 10 to 20 years of life left in it. I soon found that the story of cash, like all good stories, has a twist to it, an amazing element of surprise.

During my months of research, I was astounded to discover that all the indicators showed that cash appears to have a bright and unlimited future. The conditions keeping it in production are much stronger than all the growth inhibitors and threats to its existence.

A cash tour

It is true that overall global market share for cash as a form of payment declined in the latter part of the 20th century — because of the advent of the credit card, POS terminals, Internet banking and new options such as prepaid cards and mobile banking. Yet the value and volume of cash continues to climb throughout the developed and developing worlds.

One source told me that the estimated annual demand for new banknotes is 1 billion. The Bank of England, European Central Bank and U.S. Federal Reserve System all report that U.K. sterling, the euro and U.S. dollar currency in circulation continue to increase.

The United Kingdom’s payments association, APACS, reports that 91 percent of payments in Britain worth less than £10 are made in cash, that’s compared to 5 percent made by debit and 2 percent by credit. In fact, Visa estimates that $1.3 trillion per year is spent on small ticket items.

According to De La Rue Currency, annually conducts a payments survey, says cash remains the preferred means of payment for 58 percent of the U.K., particularly where small-value payments are concerned. And cash accounts for two-thirds of all personal payments by volume in the U.K. In 2006 alone, £36.3 billion in cash was spent in supermarkets. Even for payments exceeding £50, Britons are more likely to use cash than credit. And nearly 2 million Britons are still paid in cash on a weekly basis, according to APACS.

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By the end of 2004, the value of notes in circulation in the U.K. exceeded £36 billion, a 45 percent increase from 1999.

One of the most pervasive myths about cash is that its usage is declining in advanced economies.

But that false view assumes that cash is for less-advanced, developing countries. Let us take Europe as an example. This continent has done more than any other region of the world to encourage the decline of cash.

The European Commission and European Payments Council are promoting non-cash payments through the creation of a cashless payment system called the Single Euro Payment Area. And in France, authorities have limited use of cash by law, e.g., saying that transactions exceeding €3,000 may not be conducted in cash and wages may not be paid in cash.

Yet Europeans continue to draw more and more cash every year.

The European Union has set a benchmark of between 200-230 non-cash transactions per inhabitant per year, while Spain, Italy and Poland see fewer than 100 non-cash transactions annually. Across 17 European countries, the average person makes a modest 49 card transactions per year. And he European Payments Council estimates there were about 360 billion cash transactions in 2003, compared to 60 billion non-cash transaction that same year.

Euros in circulation also are growing at a rapid pace. Europe’s volume of cash has grown about 20 percent per year since the euro’s introduction in 2002; by 2006, 1.3 billion euros were in the market. In the euro zone, volumes of low-denomination notes have been increasing at a 5 percent per annum — a rate higher than inflation.

Advanced countries like the United States, Japan and the U.K. maintain resilient cash usage. The Bank for International Settlements reported in September 1999 said notes and coins as a share of gross domestic product rose from 1990 to 1997 in Japan, Germany, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia.

And according to the U.S. Treasury, paper currency continues to climb in America, from $380 for every American in 1975, to $2,578 in banknotes per American by 2005. In addition, an extra $35 billion in coins is rolling around, clearly supporting a deluge of circulating cash in the world’s greatest economy. The value of U.S. dollars in circulation increased 400 percent between 1980 and 2005, from $160 billion to $700 billion.

Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, is cash-dominated. Only 36 non-cash transactions are made per person per year, compared to 288 per capita in the United States — and 119 those are conducted in the form of checks.

In so-called “transitional” countries, such as the former Soviet Union, cash dominates in volume and value.

And in Australia, cash remains the payment method of choice for small retail transactions and money transfers between individuals. In fact, the ratio of currency to GDP is increasing in Australia, up to 4 percent in 2004 from 3.5 percent in previous decades. Cash payments make up 40 percent of value for all retail payments in Australia; and in food and convenience stores, cash accounts for about 56 percent of all sales.

In South Africa, the Reserve Bank reports annual increases of 10 percent in the demand for cash. Two-thirds of all transactions are still conducted in cash, with R55 billion worth of banknotes in circulation and up to R3 billion in cash exchanging hands every day. About 91 percent of South Africans use cash to pay for groceries, while 4 percent use debit, 3 percent use credit and 1 percent use store-value cards.

The increased global demand for cash is good news for the ATM industry, because the cash machine remains cash’s primary distribution channel. In the U.K., 87 cash withdrawals at ATMs are made every second. In 2006, U.K. consumers withdrew £180 billion in cash from ATMs, with average withdrawal value being £65.

According to World Payments Report 2006, the aggregate number and value of ATM cash withdrawals grew at an annual rate of 5.9 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, from 2000 to 2004.

Scan Coin, a global leader in cash processing, reports that cash handling is increasing by between 2 percent and 10 percent in most industrialized nations, and the percentages are much higher I less-advanced countries.

And cash-recycling technology is expected to improve future cash efficiencies.

England’s Retail Banking Research says cash-recycling at self-service terminals in Europe is expected to grow 30 percent in 2008. According to current estimates, that rate of growth will increase by 170 percent by 2010 and 215 percent by 2017.

Manufacturing the myth

So what’s driving the cashless society myth?

Futures thinking tends to overestimate technological change and to underestimate the role people, culture and society. The simple truth is that most visionaries of the cashless society don’t understand the history of cash.

The use of coin stretches back to Lydia in the 7th century B.C. And paper-currency’s origin can be traced to China’s Tang Dynasty circa 618 A.D.

How many other technologies can claim to have survived that kind of span?
It’s the simplicity of cash that has resulted in its longevity. Cash produces instant results virtually anywhere on earth. That is an immense strength.

Cash is not a technology that easily reaches exhaustion because of resource depletion. And cash has a strong resistance to substitution.

In 1979, Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School developed a theory of five forces that shape the competitive environment for businesses and products. One force that threatened businesses was product substitution, which would make it more likely for customers to switch to product alternatives, especially when prices increase.

Porter outlined components of product substitution, including a buyer’s propensity to substitute, the price of substitutes, switching costs, and the perceived level of product differentiation. Given that cash has proved to be an inter-epochal technology, how has it fared against the threat of substitution?

The check was first product designed to substitute cash, and it was extensively used for the first time in Holland in the early 1500s. But in five centuries, the paper check has failed to replace cash.

And then there is the credit card, which came out of a New York restaurant in the 1950s. The credit card has been a remarkable piece of technology, but it may be comparatively short-lived, because of its inherent risk. And the economic downswing isn’t expected to help credit’s cause. In fact, in China, the world’s future superpower, credit is not regarded as real money — real money in Chinese culture is cash in the bank.

The credit card, too, then, like the cheque, has failed to topple cash.

Whether we talk about mobile payments, Internet payments or gift cards, the more each one is likely to absorb some market share of some payment technology. The payments landscape is multichannel, and somewhat cannibalistic. But no one payment device, whether an electronic funds transfer, a mobile phone or a prepaid card, that can substitute for cash.

Cash is:

* Valuable
* Fee-free for consumers
* Tangible
* Carries certainty of acceptance as legal tender
* Settlement-immediate
* Free of credit risk
* A public asset regulated by the central bank
* Anonymous and cannot be tracked
* Easy to access and use
* Universal
* Interchangeable with other cash

Cash also is fast.

Source: 2006 Study by Central Banks of Belgium and the Netherlands

Such speed is important in retailing. McDonald’s has reported that shaving six seconds off transaction times brings about a 1 percent increase in sales. Global remittances also are driving the use of cash.

The World Bank estimates that the total amount of remittances sent home in 2005 to developing countries by workers abroad reached $173 billion. That estimate is now estimated to be closer to $310 billion.

The good thing about remittances is that they help bridge the divide between the wealthy and poor. Levels of poverty have declined in countries that receive remittances on a large scale. Recipients use the money they’re sent to improve their children’s education and to provide living accommodation.

Remittances are often received in cash, sometimes via ATMs.

Tourism also is driving the use of cash. In 2003, tourism represented 6 percent of the world’s export of goods and services. And tourists prefer to use local currency when they travel abroad.
An estimated 70 percent of Chinese tourists prefer cash on their travels.

And if remittance and tourism aren’t convincing enough, the future existence of cash is virtually guaranteed by the growing role of the informal sector — defined as economic trade not registered for taxation.

The informal sector, which excludes organized crime, is growing in developed, developing and transitional countries. In the EU, 48 million workers are part of the informal sector. In India, informal-sector trade provides more than 90 percent of employment with some 360 million workers. In South Africa, 25 percent of the labour force works in the informal economy, responsible for 10 percent of all retail sales.

And in Russia, the informal sector makes up 14 percent of the country’s total employment. This table shows the significant role of informal trade in the global economy.

Figure: Average size of Informal Economy around the world measured as a percentage of GDP

The global average size of informal trade is about 30 percent of GDP.

Which government is seriously going to try to eradicate that level of trade from within its boundaries and thus risk pushing up its unemployment rate and poverty levels?

Mike Lee is the chief executive officer of ATMIA.

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Posted by staff at 06:50 AM

April 21, 2008

Press release - Infonox and Kiosk*PASS(TM)

Press release - Kiosk*PASS(TM) from Infonox Reduces Operational Cost and Increases Fee-Based Revenue from Self-Service Kiosks


source link


SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 15, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Kiosk*PASS(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) is the industry's most comprehensive plug-and-play platform solution that offers the flexibility, scale and manageability required to operate enterprise class self-service networks. Unlike ATM's, which are primarily cash dispensers, kiosks can provide an entire portfolio of products and services that can be tied together and branded by operators, enabling them to attract new customers and give them a reason to come back month after month.

In a market where ATM transaction volumes are declining rapidly, Kiosk*PASS(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) adds instant value. First, any compatible ATM can be upgraded via software to deliver additional services. Secondly, a wide array of payment applications have been made available for deriving new fee-based revenue. The payment applications include POS Debit, ATM, payroll check cashing, money transfer, money orders, bill payment, the issuance of prepaid cards and remote deposit capture. To enable these services, Infonox has built a robust eco-system of partnerships that include channel partners, payment processors, field service vendors, Kiosk integrators and others.

"Kiosk*PASS(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) is a paradigm shift and an inflection point in the evolution of self service delivery systems. It is the culmination of the learning and experience you get after serving over 50 million customers with 500 million financial transactions, while processing over $20 Billion and handling over 10 Billion monitoring events," said Safwan Shah the President & CEO of Infonox.

Ashim Banerjee, EVP Product Strategy said, "Infonox is uniquely positioned in the market because we took a platform approach and invested in establishing direct connections with many of the largest service providers in the industry, allowing our Clients to choose the mix of services and products that best fit their self-service strategy. Our Clients are able to deploy a solution much more quickly than with traditional technologies, providing a faster return on investment. And, most importantly, our Client's quickly realize that multi-function kiosks provide very high gross revenue per square foot while significantly increasing foot traffic."

Infonox has kept the Kiosk*PASS(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) Delivery Model a simple 4 step
process,

-- Connect -- Any compatible self service device
-- Access -- A wide range of Infonox services
-- Serve -- Any type of financial transaction
-- Operate, Manage, Monitor, Support -- On-Demand

Infonox has successfully deployed the Kiosk*PASS(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) platform with a number of large Clients in the convenience, mobile and banking industries thus far, demonstrating the broad interest in a turn-key platform solution. In addition, Infonox was recently highlighted in a study done by Aberdeen Group on critical components of a successful kiosk deployment.

About Infonox

Infonox is the market and technology leader in delivering financial products and services to new and innovative distribution channels, including self-service kiosks, ATM's, PC's and POS terminals, the web and mobile phones. The Infonox TransIT(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) network provides on-demand access to a wide array of payment applications, including check cashing, money transfer, bill pay, ATM/POS, credit/debit and check processing, prepaid, gift cards and more. The Infonox TranSending(TM: 103.61, +2.06, +2.02%) platform provides businesses with complete sales force automation, underwriting, automated boarding, risk management, compliance management and customer service capabilities. Infonox offers its services in a SaaS model, allowing clients to maximize their return on investment and realize the fastest time to market. Infonox serves major banks, processors, acquirers, retailers and service aggregators. Please visit http://www.infonox.com for more information.

For additional information on Infonox:

Safwan Shah
Infonox, Inc.
980 Hamlin Court
Sunnyvale CA 94089
Tel: (408) 744 1700 Ext. 224
Fax: (408) 744 0607

transit@infonox.com

SOURCE Infonox, Inc.

http://www.infonox.com

Posted by staff at 10:08 AM

January 02, 2008

Bank Using Projection gui operated by customer feet

bankcomputer.jpg The First National Bank branch at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion now features new high-tech innovations that've become quite the attraction.

Clint Sporhays acts like the mouse on a human-generated banking access terminal. "You can step on the dock of the digital coy pond.” A digital projection system displays banking options on the floor.


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The First National Bank branch at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion now features new high-tech innovations that've become quite the attraction.

Clint Sporhays acts like the mouse on a human-generated banking access terminal. "You can step on the dock of the digital coy pond.” A digital projection system displays banking options on the floor.

"I can step on one called learning, the fish forms an arrow that points me toward the appropriate kiosk which is all ready to go with the subject that I picked."

That includes account opening, print your own brochures, view your retirement plan, possibly open a small business.

The technology is a partnership with IBM and should create quite a buzz. The surprising thing here, they want people to stay at the bank.

"This here has been in Shadow Lake, a destination point in bringing people in and a small town-type community and that's really where we wanted to plant our next branch,” says Vickie Miller of First National Bank.

Add in a play area for kids, coffee bar, business computer area, wi-fi connections, a kid-friendly coin counter. It's being well received by customers. "They're coming to stay and hang out awhile, not just come in and out," says branch manager Brad Urban.

There's eye scanning security for safe deposit box access. "Thank you, you have been identified. If you're not authorized, it also tells you that. "Sorry, we cannot confirm your identity."

It's technology that's only here in the heartland, providing still another glimpse into the future.

Bank managers assure us that the personal touch will not be replaced at First National. No employees are losing their jobs due to the new technology.

If the technological changes at the Shadow Lake location are well received, expect other branches in the area to also make those changes as well.

Posted by staff at 10:47 AM

November 07, 2007

What Lies Behind Killer Kiosk

Press Release -- SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A study by Aberdeen Group reveals how Best-In-Class Companies are leveraging self-service to improve their costs to sales, enhance customer conversion and provide differentiated services. Infonox, the leading provider of on-demand financial solutions and custom self-service solutions, announced today the reasons why Companies avail these benefits utilizing the Active Payment Platform(TM).

What Lies Behind Killer Kiosks: The Infonox Advantage - Press Release

Infonox provides the complete suite of services that ranges from Transactional Services, Business Services and System Management Services on their Active Payment Platform(TM). The Platform has been refined after years of experience in the financial, gaming and retail industries and tens of thousands of deployments in the US and Internationally. Infonox enables both small and large companies to deploy their services on to innovative new delivery channels, such as self service kiosks, counter-top units, and mobile phones.

Sahir Anand, Retail Analyst, Aberdeen Group says, "'Best In Class' is a term used to describe the industries' top performers -- those companies that have leveraged the power of technology to successfully deliver on the promises of self service. All companies can improve the effectiveness and return of their Kiosk deployments in a number of areas ranging from automated processes, analytics, touch screens, biometrics, and remote diagnostics to further increase the benefits from a self-service strategy. Also, scalability is a key success driver for any self-service strategy."

Aberdeen Group's research further shows some revealing facts about a successful self-service strategy. In order to manage their multi-channel process and kiosk efficiencies more effectively, Companies must measure and report their kiosk usage data on a real-time basis. The Infonox Active Payment Platform supports sophisticated real-time reporting and analytics as an integral part of the solution, providing deployers, retailers, vendors and service providers with instant access to critical performance information.

The quality of customer interaction at the point of service, as well as brand differentiation, are the foremost reasons behind usage and adoption of self service kiosks, according to the Aberdeen Group study. The Active Payment Platform provides the richest, most intuitive customer experience available in self-service today. Infonox has developed an entire suite of ready-to-implement solutions that can be quickly customized and branded to the needs of the deployer, whether the environments are restaurant/QSR, gaming, retail, banking or convenience / grocery.

Companies are facing considerable pressure to differentiate their service offerings. 54% of companies believe that differentiating their service offering through improved customer and employee processes or workflow is the most significant operational pressure. More than half (50% or more) of companies surveyed believe that kiosks enable better workflow, thus positively impacting a differentiated service environment for customers. To serve different market needs, the Infonox Active Payment Platform(TM) facilitates the configuration of any workflow or business process. It is flexible, scalable and extensible, allowing the system to be modified and adapted quickly and easily. Companies are free to define their own unique work flow requirements and can refine their customer experience over time without the concern of spiraling development and maintenance expenses.

Safwan Shah, CEO, Infonox said, "The Active Payment Platform from Infonox has been designed with the total needs of our customers in mind. More and more Companies want turn-key, reliable and scalable solutions that provide access to a variety of payment services and features that are critical to a successful kiosk deployment. Infonox's experience in the gaming, retail and banking industries has allowed us to develop the most robust self-service solution in the market. We enable Companies from virtually any industry to realize the benefits of self-service through integrated, end-to-end solutions that include real-time analytics, flexibility and the ability to add differentiated services on-demand."

You can request the release titled "Killer Kiosks: Reinventing the Customer Experience through Self-Service" in PDF format at the following URL: http://www.infonox.com/press/press_releases/infonox/2007/KillerKiosks.shtml

You can also request the article titled "Catch the New Wave in Self-Service" in PDF format from the following URL http://www.infonox.com/press/press_releases/infonox/2007/SIFinancial.shtml

For the report, "Killer Kiosks: Reinventing the Customer Experience through Self-Service" please see Aberdeen Group http://www.aberdeen.com/summary/report/benchmark/4128-RA-kiosk-reinvent.asp

About Infonox

Infonox is a leading technology company serving the financial services industry that enables the delivery of financial products and services to new markets and innovative distribution platforms, including self service kiosks, ATM's, web-based applications and mobile phones. The Infonox TransIT network provides on-demand access to a wide array of services, including check cashing, money transfers, bill payments, ATM transactions, credit/debit card payment processing, check processing, prepaid, gift cards and more. The Infonox Active Payment Platform provides end-to-end transaction lifecycle and system support management from the point of sale to final settlement. These innovative solutions enable Infonox clients to realize turn-key delivery of fully functional, robust and scalable transactional platforms that can be easily configured for new services, products and distribution platforms. Infonox offers its services in a SaaS model, allowing clients to maximize their return on investment and realize the fastest time to market.

For additional information on Infonox: Infonox, Inc. 980 Hamlin Court Sunnyvale CA 94089 Tel: (408) 744 1700 Ext. 224 Fax: (408) 744 0607 transit@infonox.com http://www.infonox.com/

Posted by staff at 02:24 PM

November 05, 2007

Self-Service Financial Service Drawbacks

storefront-100.jpg Nice article on WSJ. Explains how across the U.S., utilities have shut down scores of customer-service centers in recent years and turned to retail outlets to take payments, in order to save money. Many of these locations are check-cashing centers, which cater to mainly low-income customers who don't use traditional banks, providing services such as loans and wire transfers on a fee basis.

The trend has sparked criticism from utility customers, regulators and consumer advocates. Customers say they miss the local centers where they were able to get personal service, such as arranging special payment plans. And some are simply uncomfortable going to check-cashing facilities.

But perhaps of greatest concern is that check-cashing facilities may be using utilities to build foot traffic, so they can steer consumers into expensive and addictive loan products that can carry annual interest rates in excess of 400%. At least one operator of check-cashing centers says that a number of customers who come in to pay utility bills also wind up taking out a payday loan, which is a short-term loan tied to the borrower's next paycheck.

Some regulators and utilities are starting to hear consumers' concerns. Arizona's utility commissioner, Kristen Mayes, says that "at a time when utilities are raising rates, it seems inappropriate to encourage people to use payday loan centers" to pay their bills.

Arizona Public Service, a unit of Pinnacle West Capital Corp., has severed its arrangement with check-cashing facilities and no longer tells customers to make payments at them. Tucson Electric Power says it can't go that far yet, because it would leave customers no in-person payment points. Instead, it's looking to broaden its network of payment locations. "We have a pretty close relationship with low-income advocates, and we've heard their concerns loud and clear," says Joe Salkowski, spokesman for Tucson Electric Power, a unit of Unisource Energy Corp.

That leaves many other utilities still relying on check-cashing centers.

Widespread use of check-cashing facilities didn't attract much attention until lately, mostly because only recently have these businesses branched into high-interest payday loans, which are legal in 38 states. In California, about 2,500 retail locations are licensed to make payday loans. Last year, 952,000 payday loans were made in the state, with a value believed to be about $2.5 billion, according to the California Department of Corporations, which licenses payday lenders. Most people who took out a loan wound up taking out multiple loans.

In a report issued in June, the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit research organization, said it identified 650 payday-loan companies that take payments for 21 large utilities. It accused them of using the utility customers to push other products. It said the characteristics of those who pay bills in person -- "low-income, minority, female, elderly" -- make them "prime targets for payday lenders," and it urged utilities to sever those arrangements.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the big San Francisco utility unit of PG&E Corp., uses 430 "authorized neighborhood payment centers" that take payments for PG&E, including several dozen that also make payday loans.

PG&E didn't recruit the retailers. It contracted with CheckFree Corp., Norcross, Ga., to put together the retail network. CheckFree has 11,000 agent locations in the U.S. that accept walk-in payments for utilities, auto lenders, credit-card companies and insurance firms. It also operates an electronic billing and payment-processing network that serves banks and other big institutions. Earlier this month, CheckFree agreed to be acquired by Fiserv Inc., Brookfield, Wis.

Like many utilities, PG&E makes the transactions free to its consumers. It pays CheckFree about 60 cents for each transaction and prohibits CheckFree or its affiliates from charging utility customers directly. CheckFree's network of retailers in Northern California handled 4.47 million payments for PG&E last year valued at about $648 million, according to the utility, or 7.4% of all PG&E bills paid.

But increasingly, the cost for transactions is being shifted onto consumers. CheckFree says it collects fees from consumers on 47% of the bill payments it forwards to various clients -- and it thinks the trend is for consumers to pay fees, more and more.

ACE Check Cashing, which operates check-cashing centers in all 38 states in which payday loans are legal, is a payment point for CheckFree. At a kiosk located in a Pak 'n Save store in Oakland, Calif., one of ACE's 1,700 retail locations, it offers payday loans costing $15.50 for each $100 borrowed for a 14-day term -- equating to annual interest of 404%, according to a sign that is posted there.

Rest of Article

Posted by staff at 12:33 PM

July 27, 2007

Acquisitions - Ingenico and Sagem merging?

French eftpos vendor Ingenico and Paris-based technology firm Sagem Securite are in exclusive talks to merge their respective electronic payments businesses.


The proposed transaction concerns the payment terminals businesses of Sagem Securité - namely Sagem Monetel and Sagem Denmark - and would involve the issuance of new Ingenico shares to Sagem Securité, which is a unit of French aerospace and telecoms business Safran.

Ingenico says these shares would represent 25% of its business.

The two companies have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding and will now enter a period of negotiations and due diligence.

Ingenico says completion of the transaction is expected by year end, subject to approvals from its shareholders and relevant competition authorities.

Full story from Finextra: Ingenico and Sagem in talks to merge e-payments units

Posted by staff at 07:59 AM

July 11, 2007

KIOSKS and Financial Services in India

From Mumbai -- ICICI Bank CFO Vishakha Mulye explained: “We plan to introduce multi-product and multi-channel offerings, not only using bank branches, since operating costs will be very high. We’ll have franchises for the banks, kiosks for withdrawals." Expanding into underserved rural areas with a smart card-based business that will obviate the need to establish new branches or ATMs.

MUMBAI -

In the wake of its record share offering, ICICI Bank intends to use the proceeds to bolster its rapidly growing consumer credit business and expand into underserved rural areas with a smart card-based business that will obviate the need to establish new branches or ATMs.

India’s largest private bank has raised over $4.3 billion from the sale of its shares in India and overseas markets, making it the largest public issue for an Indian company.

The bank is planning to expand aggressively into rural India, where about 60% of the population lives, using an innovative system based on smart cards through which customers will be able to do their banking with local shopkeepers and offices of nonprofit organizations.

ICICI Bank (nyse: IBN - news - people ) CFO Vishakha Mulye explained: “We plan to introduce multi-product and multi-channel offerings, not only using bank branches, since operating costs will be very high. We’ll have franchises for the banks, kiosks for withdrawals."

Under the initiative, ICICI will issue smart cards to customers that can be used at point-of-sales machines installed in the shops and offices of ICICI partners, such as agricultural merchants or NGOs. Customers will be able to deposit or borrow money from the shop where the machine is installed, with transaction details stored online and updated on the card.

ICICI's rural operations now accounts for 10% of ICICI’s assets, and a bank official said it is expected to reach 15% at least in three to four years. "We’ve created products like loans against jewelry and commodities to meet the needs of rural customers and ensure our credit remains strong,” she said.

It is also looking at a “robust growth pipeline” on the corporate side, Mulye said.

Read Rest of Story -- India's ICICI Bank Gets Smart To Tap Rural Market - Forbes.com

Posted by staff at 08:21 AM

June 08, 2007

Kiosks Case Study -- Financial Service Payday loan kiosk

Mister Money's AFS self-service kiosk for automated payday loan processing. Has also been granted a patent on this process, incorporating the lot into in an unmanned kiosk application.


June 8, 2007 The engenuity of man knows no bounds – with secure processes and some multimedia, new machines can reduce a costly and inefficient manual process to zeroes and ones and a few minutes. A shining example of this is Mister Money's AFS self-service kiosk for automated payday loan processing. Mister Money operates in the pawn and subprime lending industries, so it is no stranger to assessing and mitigating risk via a verification, scoring and approval methodology. It has now automated that approval methodology and has been granted a patent on this process, incorporating the lot into in an unmanned kiosk application. The kiosks and loan processing software are available for purchase and licensing.
mister-money-kiosk.jpg
“Like the time-saving kiosks favored by today’s air travelers, our user-friendly, self-service loan kiosks are popular with cash advance customers,” said Doug Will, president and CFO for Mister Money. “Our automated kiosks give customers quick, convenient and accurate transactions.”

In addition to improved customer service, Will maintains that AFS kiosks save lending companies money by reducing the need for additional employees.

“A loan originated through a traditional cash advance operation can cost between $15 and $25,” Will explained. “Depending on volume, a loan originated through an AFS kiosk would cost between $5 and $15, including all processing costs, fees, licenses and kiosk costs.”

Mister Money stands ready to help other payday lenders implement a kiosk and automated cash advance loan transaction program. Will said AFS kiosks and loan processing software are available for purchase and licensing.

Posted by staff at 10:29 AM

May 31, 2007

Standards - PCI Compliance & Non-Compliance

Despite June 2007 deadline, it is predicted that over $200B in consumer and business credit card transactions in 2007 will not comply with the Visa PCI standards. This is the US version of Chip & Pin overseas and began its life as 3DES.

source link

Merchants slipping on PCI compliance
Over $200 billion in consumer and business credit card transactions made during 2007 will not comply with the data security standards managed by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council, according to California-based security technology vendor ExaProtect.

Half of the world's largest merchants are still not yet compliant with data security standards managed by the PCI, says ExaProtect, despite the anticipated June 2007 deadline. Furthermore many retailers still do not have a timetable for achieving compliance.

This puts transactions with a value exceeding $200 billion potentially at risk, says the vendor.

But Jean-François Dechant, CEO of ExaProtect says the positive aspect is that $160bn of transactions per year now are secured to PCI standards as the industry moves toward compliance.

"These measures cannot totally eliminate hacking and other types of fraud," says Dechant. "However they do embody the best available security practice and technology, and will help to ensure a consistent level of security across the payments industry."

Last December Visa launched a $20 million incentive programme designed to increase merchant compliance with the PCI security standards.

As well as offering incentives Visa USA said that it would fine firms that don't comply with the regulations. Specifically for PCI compliance, acquirers will be fined between $5,000 and $25,000 a month for merchants that have not validated by 30 September 2007 and 31 December 2007 respectively.

The PCI standards council was established by US card issuers American Express, Discover Financial Services, MasterCard and Visa, along with Japan's JCB to manage the on-going development of PCI data security standards which focus on improving payment account security throughout the transaction process.

Reference doc:
A good reference is the Version 1.1 PCI Security Standard released in September 2006. Download PDF file

Posted by staff at 06:50 AM

May 22, 2007

Financial Service Kiosks -- ExxonMobil

exxon_kiosk_mar28.jpegExxonMobil Expands Availability of ''ewiz'' Financial Services Kiosks at on the Run Convenience Stores; ewiz Kiosks Provide Convenient Way to Pay Bills and Conduct Other Financial Services.

TIO Networks and ExxonMobil extend strategic alliance

“New Agreement extends contract through 2012"

Burnaby, BC - May 22, 2007 – TIO Networks Corp. (TIO), North America’s leading automated bill payment and financial services network (TSX-V: TNC), today announced a five-year extension to its strategic alliance with ExxonMobil. The relationship, which began in 2004, has been extended through 2012.

Under the terms of this agreement, TIO Networks will roll out the TIO services through the E-WIZ branded kiosks and hybrid ATMs in all corporate owned On the Run and Tigermarket stores. The deployment is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2007.

TIO’s self-service program will also be available to ExxonMobil’s franchise dealers and distributors who will now have the ability to purchase E-WIZ systems and derive recurring revenues from consumer driven transaction fees.

E-WIZ is an ExxonMobil branded self-service automated bill payment and financial service kiosk program that empowers their customers to securely and conveniently pay their wireless, cable, utility and other bills in cash, purchase prepaid products, gift cards, Prepaid MasterCard®, purchases and reloads, and benefit from additional value added financial services.

The E-WIZ program serves consumers who prefer to use alternative financial service providers for convenience or the lack of direct banking relationships.

ExxonMobil, Exxon, On the Run and Tigermarket are trademarks of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries.

About TIO Networks Corp.

TIO Networks Corp. is North America’s largest multi-retailer network of non bank financial services for the ‘cash preferred’ consumer marketplace. The Company operates in more than 2000 locations and provides safe secure access to bill payment and other key financial services. For more information, please visit www.TIOnetworks.com
Behshad Hastibakhsh, Media Relations – TIO Networks

Tel: 604.298.4636, Ext. 250

Toll Free: 888.679.3322

Email: pr@TIOnetworks.com


John Lewis, Business Development - TIO Networks

Tel: 416-364-2266

Email: jrlewis@TIOnetworks.com

Posted by staff at 10:52 AM

November 27, 2006

Financial Service - TIO Posts 4th Quarter and its up

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $2,969,553, an increase of $801,126 or 37% over $2,168,427 as recorded in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005. Transactional revenue increased by $496,648 to $2,343,660, an increase of 27% as compared with the same period last year.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, the Company deployed the TIO bill payment services to 189 locations (129 new TIO owned kiosks and 60 non-kiosk clerk assisted locations) bringing the total number of locations deployed to 1,087 (1,027 kiosks and 60 non-kiosk clerk assisted locations).

CNW Group

TIO Networks Announces Fourth Quarter and Year end Financial Results for Fiscal 2006

Q4 EBITDA Positive - Annual Revenues increase 25% from prior year

BURNABY,BC, Nov. 27 /CNW/ - TIO Networks Corp. (TIO), owner of North
America's leading automated bill payment and financial services network
(TSX-V: TNC), today announced financial results for the fourth Quarter and the
year ended July 31, 2006.
Revenue for the fourth quarter was $2,969,553, an increase of $801,126 or
37% over $2,168,427 as recorded in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005.
Transactional revenue increased by $496,648 to $2,343,660, an increase of 27%
as compared with the same period last year. Gross profit for the fourth
quarter was $1,302,624, an increase of $578,488 over $724,136 as recorded in
the same quarter a year ago. Fourth quarter EBITDA(*) (earnings before interest,
tax, depreciation and amortization) was $115,000 compared to ($196,000)(xx) in
Q4 2005.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006, the Company deployed the TIO bill
payment services to 189 locations (129 new TIO owned kiosks and 60 non-kiosk
clerk assisted locations) bringing the total number of locations deployed to
1,087 (1,027 kiosks and 60 non-kiosk clerk assisted locations). As of July 31,
2006, 902 (869 in the US and 33 in Canada) of these kiosks and all 60
non-kiosk clerk assisted locations were activated and capable of generating
revenues.
Revenue for the year ended July 31, 2006 increased 25% to $10,200,307
from $8,189,933 one year ago, with a net loss of $2,793,971 compared to a loss
of $1,656,543(xx) one year ago. EBITDA(*) (earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortization) for the year was ($936,904) compared to
($759,085)(xx) one year ago.
The financial results are in line with expectations relative to the
Company's transactional revenue growth strategy to grow the number of
locations where the TIO services are offered through the deployment of TIO
owned kiosks and TIO Express, the Company's new non-kiosk clerk assisted
payments program. The Company completed its 2006 fiscal year in the strongest
financial and in its history. The strong working capital position includes
$8.2 million of cash and cash equivalents.
During fiscal 2006, the Company deployed the TIO services to 526 new
locations (466 TIO owned kiosks and 60 clerk assisted locations) compared to
236 kiosks last year. The year over year increase of 123% demonstrates a
continued ramp up in the rate of deployments. New deployments of TIO services
typically require up to a year to attain a majority of their expected regular
transactional volumes. As a consequence, the benefits of the Company's
improved share of recurring revenues will be reflected in subsequent quarters.
The financial results for 2006 included: 1- Amortization of property and
equipment in the amount of $1,280,621 compared to $593,025(xx) in 2005,
2- Interest expenses of $542,010 compared to $247,196 in 2005 and 3- Research
and Development expenses of $509,246 compared to $384,509 in 2005.
Annual revenue was primarily derived from transaction services (87% of
total revenue for fiscal year 2006 vs. 76% for fiscal year 2005), with the
balance being made up of maintenance services, professional services, software
and the sale of kiosk systems. Total recurring revenue for the year ended
July 31, 2006, including transaction services and maintenance services
revenue, increased 37% and accounted for $9,233,661 or 90% of total revenue,
compared to $6,741,029 or 82% for the year ended July 31, 2005.
The chart illustrates some key measures on the Company's performance in
terms of the deployment of its services:

<<
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q4 06 Q3 06 Q2 06 Q1 06 Q4 05
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
No. of Locations
deployed 1,087 898 743 659 561
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
No. of Locations
with TIO Express and
Devices installed,
operational and
capable of generating
revenues 962 762 702 582 516
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
No. of TIO Express
locations Signed up/
No. activated 60/60 - - - -
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
No. Transactions
for the quarter 795,191 776,585 707,923 642,460 580,731
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Transactional
revenue generated
from applications
($'000) 2,254 2,250 2,080 1,900 1,736
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Transactional revenue
gross margin ($'000) 857 729 701 580 481
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quarter to quarter
growth: No.
transactions and
gross margin from
transactional
revenue 2%/18% 10%/4% 10%/21% 11%/21% 12%/16%
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>

The Company's R&D program has substantially strengthened its product
offerings to include the bundling of TIO services onto new kiosk and ATM
hardware platforms and non-self-service environments (TIO Express). This
enables the Company to deploy its services and generate transactional income
without significant capital expenditures reducing the Company's reliance on
raising capital from treasury to grow the business.
"As a growth company in an industry ripe with opportunity, TIO has been
primarily focused on driving transactional revenue growth through the
deployment of its TIO services," stated Hamed Shahbazi, Chairman and CEO of
TIO Networks. "We feel that the results of our research and development
efforts will enable us to quantum leap our ability to deploy the TIO services
by leveraging existing infrastructure enabling TIO to better monetize its new
and existing biller relationships. We eagerly look to the new year as we feel
the introduction of the Hybrid ATM (ATM that accepts and dispenses cash) and
continued growth with TIO Express will greatly expand our installed customer
base as location and biller/service partners look to TIO for innovative ways
to reach their customers."
Conference Call: You are invited to attend a conference call on Tuesday
November 28th at 11am Eastern Standard Time to review the 2006 fiscal year end
financial results. The dial-in numbers are 416-644-3414 in Toronto, or, Toll
Free 1-800-733-7571. Callers should request the TIO Networks Conference.

About the TIO Networks Corp.

TIO Networks Corp. is building the largest and most convenient national
Automated Non-bank bill payment and financial services network. The network is
comprised of self-service and clerk assisted locations serving bill payment
services to the 'cash preferred' consumer marketplace in North America. With
more than 1000 locations operating in collaboration with top tier convenience
store chains, wireless products retailers and other locations, the TIO brand
symbolizes safe secure access to key financial services. For more information,
please visit www.TIOnetworks.com

The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed this news release and does not
accept responsibility for its adequacy and accuracy.

<<
(*)) EBITDA: Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and
amortization

EBITDA is not a defined term under Canadian generally accepted
accounting principles, nor does it have a standard, agreed upon
meaning. Accordingly, the Company's EBITDA may not be directly
comparable to EBITDA reported by other issuers. Management had
determined EBITDA is a useful supplemental measure in evaluating the
Company's performance as it provides investors with an indication of
cash available for debt service, working capital needs and capital
expenditures. This non-GAAP measure is intended to provide
additional information on the Company's performance and should not
be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures
of performance prepared in accordance with GAAP.

(xx))Restated as per 2006 audited consolidated financial statements. Net
loss for fiscal 2005 as previously reported was $1,673,112. EBITDA
for Q4 2005 and full year 2005 as previously reported were
($233,000) and ($796,000) respectively.
>>

%SEDAR: 00010068E

For further information: Derek Lai, Acting CFO, TIO Networks, Tel: (604)
298-4636, Ext. 269, Email: Derek.Lai@tionetworks.com; John Lewis, Business
Development, TIO Networks, Tel: (416) 364-2266, Toll Free: 1-877-600-6001,
Email: jrlewis@tionetworks.com

Posted by staff at 11:06 AM

November 26, 2006

Financial Service -- Hybrid ATM Kiosk machines

TIO with over 1,000 machines in Circle K and Exxon Mobil and running 850,000 transactions a month on its network is going to "branch out" into new hybrid ATM Kiosks. To date, diluting the ATM transaction with other services has proven problematic at best. Once heralded as the next mousetrap, it has gone by the wayside reduced to a yearly press release maybe on the now-old VCom and others. TIO has proven itself very resourceful and smart. It'll be interesting to see how they couple the two.

News

TIO Plans To Start Hybrid ATM-Kiosk Deployments by Start of ‘07

(November 22, 2006) The concept of an ATM that also serves as a kiosk for bill payment and other financial services may be getting closer to reality. TIO Networks Inc., a Burnaby, B.C.-based operator of bill-payment kiosks that serve primarily the underbanked, will begin deploying hybrid ATM-kiosk machines by the start of 2007, says John Lewis, business development executive for the company.

Lewis refuses to say where the new machines will be installed, citing “sensitivity” about their locations. Nor will he be specific about how many of the devices, which are being developed by ATM maker Tranax Technologies Inc., are in the plans. “We expect to see some pretty strong deployments early next year,” he says. TIO had expected to begin operating some 40 hybrid devices this spring in conjunction with ATM deployer Cardtronics Inc. (Digital Transactions News, March 2). The company has had to delay the project as it works through negotiations and waits for current ATM installation contracts at target locations to expire, Lewis says. “Everybody’s making money with their ATMs, so there’s some jockeying going on,” he notes. The company has also switched manufacturers since March, when it was working with Tidel Technologies Inc.

TIO currently drives about 1,000 kiosks hooked up in convenience stores that allow consumers to pay bills by inserting cash into a bill acceptor. TIO’s links to the accounting systems at utilities, telecommunications companies, and other billers—including Cingular Wireless and Qwest Communications—allow users to receive real-time electronic account updates. Merchants housing the machines include Circle K Stores Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp., which deployed 100 kiosks this fall in as many of its On the Run and Tigermarket stores in Texas. TIO also drives around 200 clerk-assisted bill-payment terminals.

Banks historically have shied away from dual-function ATM kiosks, fearing that customers wanting to withdraw from or deposit to accounts would grow frustrated while waiting for other people to complete bill payments or phone-card top-ups. At the same time, the two functions serve two often separate demographic groups. TIO’s kiosks are aimed largely at Hispanics, and draw mostly customers without bank accounts who do business in cash. By contrast, ATM users are generally accountholders at banks. But TIO, which earlier this year changed its name from Info Touch Technologies Corp., hopes the dual functionality could help it introduce its kiosks to users who might not have encountered them otherwise, allowing it to drive up usage faster. TIO charges a flat fee for bill payments, which it shares out to retailer and biller partners.

Currently, TIO is processing 850,000 transactions a month on its network. That volume is growing at a 10% rate quarter-to-quarter, Lewis says. How much of a difference the new hybrid machines might make, he says, is impossible to forecast. “It would be just some wild, crazy guess,” he says.

Posted by staff at 08:05 PM

November 23, 2006

Financial Service Europe - HSBC self-service kiosk going to rollout

HSBC test in 20 banks in the U.K. has positive results for customers and for the bank.


HSBC system prunes branch waiting times

Electronic queueing system cuts waiting times
Lara Williams, Computing 16 Nov 2006

Banking giant HSBC expects to cut customer waiting times in its busiest branches by 20 per cent following the successful pilot of an electronic queuing system.

The system, tested in 20 branches over three months, reduced waiting times by a fifth by directing customers to the staff member best qualified to deal with their inquiry.

The Matchmaker electronic queueing system developed by Qm Group, allows customers to request specific services such as mortgages, pensions or savings advice on a touch screen.

The screen displays the allocated waiting time and an adviser prints an acknowledgement slip while the relevant staff member is alerted by pager.

Richard Newland, head of

retail design at HSBC, says the system gives managers more control because it can be programmed at the beginning of the day to assign various duties to specific staff members.

‘If a member of a staff goes on a course, the manager can re-program the system details in real-time,’ said Newland.

The technology will initially be implemented in 100 of HSBC’s 1,600 UK branches, and is likely to be extended to 400.

Matchmaker runs on a standard Windows operating system. The customer service point kiosk contains a ticket printer and a PC that links to the bank network. A database of staff details sits in the core program on the server and links to the kiosk.

Newland says the system is very cost-effective, although savings were not the primary driver of the project.

‘You only need to see a small percentage uplift in sales conversions to make the system pay for itself over a 12-month period,’ said Newland.

Forrester Research analyst Benjamin Ensor believes self-service technology is a strong theme in most UK banks.

‘It is very hard to sell complex life insurance or pensions online because people want to talk to someone in a branch before they buy them,’ he said.

Source Link


Posted by staff at 09:05 AM

October 28, 2006

TIOnetworks hits 1,000 automated billpayment kiosk mark

TIOnetworks press release notes that with new deployment of 27 stations, they have surpassed the 1,000 mark. The TIO machine has core billpayment services such as Cricket and blends additional services into the machines depending on the client and location. These machines tend to serve what is referred to as the underbanked and/or unbanked market. One of the predecessors is the original Cricket iteration.

“Breaking the 1000 kiosk mark gives TIO the critical mass to be truly recognized as a National Network ,” said Hamed Shahbazi, Chairman and CEO of TIO Networks Corp. “This achievement along with the rapid growth in TIO Express is garnering great enthusiasm among consumers and our deployment partners. TIO will continue to pursue a disciplined but aggressive network expansion of its TIO services by leveraging its growing distribution options.”

Company press release

“Both TIO kiosks and TIO Express Experiencing
Strong Growth in new locations”

TIO Networks Corp.,(TSX-V: TNC), owner of North America’s leading automated bill payment and financial services network, today announced the deployment of 27 self-serve automated kiosks in Cincinnati (Ohio), Lexington and Louisville (Kentucky).

With these new deployments, TIO Networks has surpassed the key milestone of over 1000 deployed kiosks serving hundreds of thousands of customers in partnership with tier one convenience store chains and wireless retail outlets in 29 states. These touch screen cash accepting and authenticating kiosks enable cash paying customers to pay their wireless, utility, cable and other bills in real-time by inserting the cash directly to the terminal’s cash acceptor. Transactions are securely completed, and all payments are posted with time-sensitive urgency to the customer’s account. Customers have the option to print and/or e-mail their receipt.

In addition, the Company has signed up more than 200 locations in the past 60 days to participate in “TIO Express” its clerk assisted payment program. These locations offer their patrons real-time bill payment services by leveraging TIO’s web processing client. The “TIO Express” program combines the convenience of in-person customer service with real-time posting to personal accounts.

“Breaking the 1000 kiosk mark gives TIO the critical mass to be truly recognized as a National Network ,” said Hamed Shahbazi, Chairman and CEO of TIO Networks Corp. “This achievement along with the rapid growth in TIO Express is garnering great enthusiasm among consumers and our deployment partners. TIO will continue to pursue a disciplined but aggressive network expansion of its TIO services by leveraging its growing distribution options.”

About TIO Networks Corp.

TIO Networks Corp. is building the largest and most convenient national multi-retailer network of financial services kiosks for the ’cash preferred’ consumer marketplace in North America. With more than 1000 locations operating in partnership with top tier corporate-owned convenience store chains, the TIO brand symbolizes safe secure access to key financial services. For more information, please visit
www.TIOnetworks.com

# # #

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Behshad Hastibakhsh, Media Relations – TIO Networks
Tel: 604.298.4636, Ext. 250
Toll Free: 888.679.3322
Email: pr@TIOnetworks.com

John Lewis, Business Development - TIO Networks
Tel: 416-364-2266
Toll Free: 877-600-6001
Email: jrlewis@TIOnetworks.com


The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed this news release and does not accept responsibility for its adequacy and accuracy.
###

Posted by staff at 02:48 PM

Coinstar Moving Into Banks

Coinstar introduces new Madison model to deploy within retail financial institutions (ie your bank on the corner). Those institutions have seen a lot of changes in their traffic/customers and this is reasonable attempt to provide additional services though hard to say how much it impact their bottom line or retain/create customers. It is a definite step forward though in many other ways.

Payments News: Coinstar Announces Financial Institutions Solutions, FDC/Star Agreement - October 26, 2006

Coinstar Announces Financial Institutions Solutions, FDC/Star Agreement
Tags: Coinstar, First Data Corp.

Coinstar has announced a new Coinstar Direct Coin Deposit service that will allow bank and credit union customers to electronically transfer coin into their personal accounts. In addition, Coinstar’s making available a new "Madison" coin-counting kiosk specifically designed for retail financial institution branches.

Coinstar’s new product line has been developed to enhance customer acquisition and retention strategies for financial institutions while reducing the costs inherent with self-service coin counting.

“Banks are learning that one of the keys to more effective selling at the branch is the intelligent use of automation with self-service devices. The use of appropriate technologies to let customers help themselves at the branch allows staff to focus more on the relationship aspects of banking,” said Jerry Silva, Research Director, Retail Banking and Delivery Channels at the TowerGroup.

Coinstar Direct Coin Deposit Service

Enabled through First Data’s STAR® Network, Coinstar’s Direct Coin Deposit service is expected to be available to banks and credit unions in the first half of 2007. It is estimated that implementing a new technology can take banks between 12 to 18 months to get up and running; the Coinstar solution can be up in weeks, which can significantly reduce implementation costs.

For customers, Direct Coin Deposit is easy to use. Customers simply pour their loose change into the Coinstar kiosk, swipe their bank-issued debit card, and enter their PIN number to have the value of the change deposited into their account. A voucher will be dispensed verifying the amount of the transaction. The process is completely self-service and no teller interaction is required. Banks and credit unions offering the service will determine if a fee will be charged to the customer for the transaction.

Smaller, quieter coin-counting kiosks

Designed specifically for the bank environment, the new Madison kiosk is Coinstar’s smallest and quietest kiosk and can be customized to complement the financial institution’s company branding and look and feel. The Madison kiosk comes in two sizes, with the smallest having a footprint of just over five square feet.

“The turnkey – no hassle – model that Coinstar is known for allows banks and credit unions to bring in valuable services for their customers, while keeping the labor and cost at a minimum,” said Alex Camara, senior vice president and general manager of worldwide coin at Coinstar, Inc. “In addition, we estimate that there is over $10 billion in idle change in the U.S. that can be turned into valuable deposits for retail financial institutions.”

Coinstar’s turnkey, owner-operator model significantly decreases costs and hassles for financial institutions. Benefits include:

* No capital outlay
* Trained Coinstar field technicians install and maintain all equipment
* Networked machines and preventative maintenance minimize downtime
* Efficient accounting and reporting
* Built-in fraud protection
* Minimal labor requirements

The Madison kiosk is expected to be available in December of this year and the Direct Coin Deposit service is expected be available the first half of 2007.

Posted by staff at 08:28 AM

September 06, 2006

Case Study: Students can make payments, print receipts and visit the UTA Web site at computer kiosks around campus.

After experiencing long lines at the university, students are encouraged to take advantage of the computer kiosks located in various buildings on campus. Software system specialist Clarence Alexander said that six kiosks were equipped with the MyMav system, and students can print a receipt after making payments and access the university e-mail and home page.

MyMav now accessible from kiosks

Story by: Lisa Lopez
Contributor to The Shorthorn
The Shorthorn: Evan Sheets
Krystal Sams, communications and political science junior, uses a MyMav Kiosk in Davis Hall. The kiosks provide quick access to registration information at several locations on campus.
After experiencing long lines at the university, students are encouraged to take advantage of the computer kiosks located in various buildings on campus.
uta.jpg
The computers, set up by Accounting and Business Services, are located in Davis Hall, the Activities Building, University Center, Nedderman Hall, the Business Building and Pickard Hall.

Software system specialist Clarence Alexander said that six kiosks were equipped with the MyMav system, and students can print a receipt after making payments and access the university e-mail and home page.

“The biggest thing is pushing the students to utilize the computers,” Alexander said.

The kiosks, which have been on campus more than a year, were updated in July to include the MyMav system.

During the past two weeks, Accounting and Business Services employees have set up computers in Texas Hall and in front of Bursar Services to help students with MyMav and computing questions.

Alexander said having employees help students would hopefully make students feel more comfortable using the system on the kiosks or at home.

“Our goal is to make it easier for students and give them access to the system while they’re walking by on campus,” he said.

Employees will also be available during registration and at the beginning of each semester to help students with computing issues.

English sophomore Janalyn Roe said she is getting used to the benefits of the kiosks.

“I didn’t know they were on campus. I’d never seen one before,” Roe said after making a payment on the kiosk. “It was easier than standing in line.”

Alexander said that with each new semester, the Accounting and Business Services hopes to make students more aware of what they can do on the computer system and give them more options.

The kiosks provide an alternative to waiting in long lines; however, economics sophomore Nancy Jimenes prefers to talk face to face with a university employee.

“I’d rather make payments in person. It’s more secure in person and knowing that you talked to someone,” she said.

Posted by keefner at 08:51 AM

September 01, 2006

Electronic Debit Kiosk Terminal

EDITH (Electronic Debit Interactive Terminal Housing) developed in partnership with IGT, takes advantage of ticket-in ticket-out kiosk technologies that have become increasingly popular on slot floors.

Download file

EDITH (Electronic Debit Interactive Terminal Housing) developed in partnership with IGT, takes advantage of ticket-in ticket-out technologies that have become increasingly popular on slot floors.

EDITH is a compact kiosk designed to sit at the end of the slot machine aisle where it occupies less than one-square-foot of space and dispenses millions of dollars in ticket-in ticket-out vouchers, around the clock. This cashless ticket dispenser allows patrons to purchase slot tickets with their ATM debit card. Guests simply insert and remove their ATM or debit card, enter their PIN and request and amount. A bar-coded debit ticket is then dispensed from EDITH’s voucher printer. An optional receipt is also provided. The voucher may then be inserted into a slot machine or redeemed for cash.

EDITH is reliable and simple to use and patrons don’t have to leave a “hot” slot to find an ATM. It is also more efficient, safer and convenient for patrons, who are becoming more accustomed to using debit cards for most of their transactions.

EDITH supports GCA’s Self Transaction Exclusion Program (STEP), which allows patrons to exclude themselves from access to their own funds from cash access devices in the GCA network or set a daily limit for themselves.

Posted by keefner at 08:13 AM

August 17, 2006

Infonox Upgrades Active Payment Platform for self-service kiosks

Infonox, a provider of turn-key solutions that deliver complex financial services through kiosks, ATMs and other delivery channels, has enhanced its core engine, the Active Payment Platform(TM) (APP).

The platform's new features enable enterprise customers to launch customized financial services in a matter of days, with an increased level of flexibility and features to simplify deployment of financial transactions for users.

The new release responds to six critical needs valued most by enterprise customers - Flexible, Reliable, Available, Monitored, Extensible and Scalable (FRAMES). The upgraded platform with FRAMES eliminates the costly and often unreliable integration of best-of-breed systems on different technologies like a transaction switch, a CRM system, monitoring system, device middleware and backend interface because these capabilities are offered in a single-platform, ready to deploy in a co-branded or customized fashion.

"The upgraded Active Payment Platform provides faster integration, a wider variety of ready-to-go customization options and cutting-edge features to enhance relationships with end-customers," said Safwan Shah, president and CEO of Infonox. "The platform also offers new features for customer experience management, whereby deployers can offer dynamic pricing, marketing and cross-selling, plus let end-customers have more control over their financial transactions."

Infonox has continually developed the APP during the past six years and has been awarded three patents on the underlying technology. The APP is the equivalent of a "multi-protocol transaction router," which enables its customers to connect any transaction device with any financial application over any payment network.

Infonox drives and supports major ATM's, kiosks, POS terminals, and hybrid multifunction devices. The company also offers an extensive library of customizable financial applications including ATM, POS, credit, check cashing (personal, payroll), cash advance, money transfer and more. Infonox has certified interfaces into all major backend processors, EFT networks and credit bureaus and is PCI compliant.

About Infonox

Infonox provides turnkey solutions for delivering financial and non-financial services to kiosks, ATMs and other delivery channels. The company enables leading financial service providers to create their own "hub and spoke" networks for the delivery of revenue generating services. Infonox technology dramatically reduces service delivery costs while increasing and enhancing customer relationships.

Through a "Software as a Service" approach, Infonox partners can rapidly launch new services with minimal investment in IT integration. Infonox's product suite unifies devices, transaction services, business process and rules, backend payment providers, back-office operations and enterprise remote monitoring in an on-demand fashion.

For more information please visit www.infonox.com.

Posted by keefner at 07:08 AM

April 03, 2006

Profile: Infonox president and financial service kiosks

Safwan Shah does financial service kiosks and gaming kiosk right. Nice interview.

Source Link

From academia and NASA to the founding of a self-service financial software and solutions company, Dr. Safwan Shah’s story is hard to top.

With his San Jose, Calif., company, Infonox Inc., Shah is taking the financial self-service space to new heights.

Safwan Shah is the founder and president of California's Infonox Inc.

Companies like Global Cash Access Inc., Vero Inc., Bank of America, Fleet Bank, IBM, Western Union and Verizon Wireless all have Infonox solutions standing behind them.

"We are kind of hidden in the background," Shah said.

With Global Cash Access, a company focused on the gaming industry, Infonox developed EDITH (Electronic Debit Interactive Terminal Housing), a cashless-gaming kiosk that prints vouchers patrons purchase with their ATM/debit cards. EDITH is designed to stand next to a slot machine, where it occupies less than 1-square-foot of space.

"We are launching a whole library of services in self-service," Shah said with excitement, and EDITH is just one of them. In fact, before EDITH, Shah broke new ground in financial self-service tech, with the development of the first biometric ATM.

Shah's wife, Ginni, says her husband's diligence is the reason for his success. Simply put, he never rests.

"Safwan does enormous homework on almost anything he decides to do," she said. "He spends long hours studying the market, analyzing ideas and critiquing his own findings. … His discipline, persistence, originality and complete commitment to whatever he does (have made him). He is a true innovator. Even if left on a desert, he would find a way to innovate, somehow."

To fully understand Shah’s drive to innovate, one need only take a glimpse at his background.

A man of solutions

After leaving his home of Karachi, Pakistan, Shah hit the Far East before landing in the United States 17 years ago to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. He went on to earn a Master of Science in electrical and computer engineering and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

Safwan does enormous homework on almost anything he decides to do. He spends long hours studying the market, analyzing ideas and critiquing his own findings.<

The only boy in an immediate family of overachievers, Shah’s destiny was, at least to some extent, predetermined.

"I wanted to be an engineer always," Shah said. "The world I grew up in, you didn’t have many choices. In order to become something, you had to be an engineer or a doctor. I come from a long line of them. My grandfather was an engineer, my father was an engineer, all of my uncles were in engineering — I come from a three-generation engineering family."

Though the women in his family didn’t go into engineering, they’re definitely not sitting on the sidelines. One sister is a medical doctor; the other — "the MBA business type," Shah said. And he refers to his mother as a "perpetual artist," a woman who is always working with oils on the canvas.

Like most in his family, Shah left his home to pursue his education.

"I just came here to study more — almost everyone in my family expected me to study more," he said. "It’s all about sibling rivalry and PhDs, etc. Many of the academic choices I made were based on that, like aerospace engineering. That just sounded interesting, so I said, "That looks good, let’s do it. "

But unlike others in his family, Shah stayed in the States. After meeting wife Ginni, another computer scientist, in Boulder, Colo., Shah went on to pursue a career with NASA’s BioServe Space Technologies.

At BioServe, Shah developed autonomous control systems for space. The systems were self-governing, self-healing and degraded over time. Ensuring that they continued to operate over the course of their life spans was Shah’s job.

Not surprisingly, Shah says his work with NASA helped him lay the groundwork for what he would later do at Infonox.

From NASA to Infonox

Safwan Shah
Founder, Infonox

Education: M.S. in electrical and computer engineering; Ph.D. in aerospace engineering — University of Colorado at Boulder

Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

Family: Wife, Ginni; daughters, Sanah, 7, and Zoyah, 5

Hobbies: Reading, following cricket

"Looking back, now in retrospect, there are a lot of similarities between what I did for NASA and the work I do now with financial systems," he said. "This was machinery that had to remain and operate at a high level over time, and that translates very well when you think about an ATM. You have to operate the (ATM) vault remotely, and you want it to remain at peak performance. My work at NASA has been the most useful experience for me."

At Infonox, Shah develops software that "learns from itself."

"You see transactions that adapt and adjust in the face of ground reality," he said. "It’s called self-learning adaptive systems. … You can predict the failure. If the ATM is not limited to a cash dispenser and PIN pad and card reader, and what if it had a fingerprint reader and a check casher, too? How do you know what is or will be broken? The canvas is much bigger, and all those things are leading to key changes or improvements in the thinking of self-service terminals."

Infonox’ first innovations were realized in the gaming sector. The company’s biometric ATM — one capable of facial recognition — was designed for the gaming market more than three years ago.

It was Shah’s vision that reeled in Global Cash Access, one of Infonox’ first customers. Kirk Sanford, the company’s chief executive, wanted a casino ATM that emulated a bank teller.

"I can recall providing Safwan with a basic concept of what I termed ‘Virtual Cashier,’" Sanford said. "And he responded by saying that we will need to innovate in multiple ways."

That innovation included writing new software, creating a new way to drive the ATM and developing a monitoring system.

"He made it sound easy … and I walked away assuming that it was," Sanford said.

Twelve months after the meeting with Shah, Global Cash Access deployed the machines. They were modified Diebold ATMs, upgraded to what are now called Automated Cashier Machines (ACMs), offering a litany of financial services, including biometric facial recognition.

"In retrospect, I find it amazing that in 12 months Safwan and his team were able to write from scratch some very complex ATM software, integrate biometrics using facial recognition, and write a new payment switch to drive the ATMs," Sanford said. "No processor has the capability to drive such ATMs, even today. And then (Infonox provided) the system monitoring, reporting, cash management and other functionalities that go into the product."

What’s more, Sanford said, the ACM’s software and hardware are flexible, allowing Global Cash Access to adapt to specific customer needs. Shah carefully skirted many of the issues that complicated internetwork financial communication.

Today, Global Cash Access keeps more than 300 Infonox ACMs in casinos and has contracts with the nine largest casino companies in the country.

Since 1999, the year Shah founded Infonox, Global Cash Access has commissioned Infonox to build, among other things, EDITH and QCP, a system that handles millions of cashier transactions daily.

And Global Cash Access isn’t alone in its pursuit of Infonox innovations. Shah’s company has grown to 100 employees in two countries and generates almost $10 million in annual revenue with over $40 million generated in the last five years of operations. It seems like a complicated series of successes, but as usual, Shah gives a pretty basic explanation.

"I take my work very seriously, anything I do," he said. "A lot of that goes back to the way I was raised. You learn, learn, etc., and that’s the biggest power you have in life — knowledge."

Posted by keefner at 09:32 PM

March 04, 2006

Circle K Financial Bill Payment Kiosks

EL PASO, Texas – Twenty-five ZapLink kiosks from Info Touch Technologies Corp., owners of the TIO Network, are being installed in select Circle K convenience stores in El Paso, Texas..

El Paso Circle K Stores Get 'Zapped'

Through this expansion, Info Touch and Circle K will now offer cash-preferred customers secure and convenient access to bill payment and financial transactions at self-service automated kiosks, 24 hours a day.

"Zaplink and the TIO Network is an important part of Circle K's strategy to empower our customers with convenient and hassle-free ways to pay bills and manage personal finances,” said Dan Stiel, manager of financial services for Circle K. "Our customers in El Paso will discover our self-service Zaplink kiosks to be fast, friendly and reliable."

The kiosks enable cash-preferred customers to securely access personal accounts and view balances on select billers without the need to have an account number present. They can also pay a host of bills including wireless, utility and cable and update their accounts in real time. Payments are made by inserting the cash directly into ZapLink kiosk's bill acceptor. Once the cash is accepted, the payment is immediately posted through Info Touch's TIO network. Circle K customers can navigate through bill pay and other TIO applications in either English or Spanish and complete financial transactions by either printing or e-mailing their receipt to an e-mail address of their choice.

"Market research indicates that nearly half of the Hispanics are unbanked and more than 78 percent of the population [in this market] is Hispanic,” said Hamed Shahbazi, chairman and CEO of Info Touch Technologies. “This data confirms there is market demand for non-traditional financial solutions. By delivering convenient access to affordable financial services, we improve the quality of life for residents of El Paso and execute on our recurring revenue transaction business."

Since September 2001, Info Touch and Circle K have launched approximately 300 Zaplink kiosks in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Posted by keefner at 09:27 AM

November 26, 2005

Check Cashing Kiosks and Bill Pay

Cashing checks at kiosks in Convenience Stores is significant source of revenue.

original story on selfserviceworld

Self Service World News

The check stops here

Most c-stores cash checks, but providing that service at the counter can be a double-edged sword. While check-cashing offers an additional revenue stream, it also pulls clerks away from assisting other customers and increases the amount of time customers have to wait in line.

Offering check-cashing services is still worth the headache, though, according to Joe Harris, general manager of Hamburg, N.Y.-based ANS Marketing LLC, which provides ATM systems, service and transaction-processing to c-stores and other retailers.

Harris said that during tax-return season, c-stores could cash several million dollars in checks over the course of one month. Cashing those checks is a great source of revenue, he added, since the average return is $300 and the c-store charges a percentage or flat fee to cash each check.

The day-to-day business of cashing checks is profitable also. According to The Center for Financial Services Innovation, a Chicago-based organization that researches financial service offerings for underbanked consumers, 28 percent of those who receive Social Security and disability benefits in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Baton Rouge, La., and Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., cash their benefit checks at grocery stores.

CFSI notes in its report Retailers as Financial Services Providers: The Potential and Pitfalls of This Burgeoning Channel, which was released in May: Check cashing is an important service for many un- and underbanked consumers, and retailers have long played a role in providing this service. Retailers see a market that is willing to pay fees to cash checks, is drawn to convenience and may not feel comfortable with banks or chooses not to form a banking relationship.

Handle with care

C-store operators have tried to automate check-cashing services, with mixed results. Early in the automation revolution, many experimented with check-cashing at the ATM a solution that had some faults.

If you put check-cashing services onto the ATM, then you havent solved the problem of people waiting in line, Harris said. If people have to wait in line to use the ATM, they arent likely to come back to your store. Theyll go somewhere else because using your ATM isnt convenient. And the last thing you want to do is have somebody become upset because they went into your store for convenience and couldnt get it.

Tammie Kuhn, formerly of Western Reserve Group Inc., an ATM manufacturer in Willoughby, Ohio, said additional services at the ATM arent usually profitable for retail operators. Bill-payment and check cashing at the ATM, in my opinion, are bad, she said. The lines are too long. Its better to have a kiosk and an ATM side-by-side.

Harris agreed. In fact, his company and Louisville, Colo.-based Kiosk Information Systems Inc. expect to release several customer-customized, check-cashing kiosks in September. They are designed to stand alone or beside an ATM.

There are a number of motivations for c-store owners to have check-cashing kiosks that offer self-service, Harris said. First and foremost, using the kiosk takes the responsibility away from the clerk and keeps the clerk from being tied up.

Posted by keefner at 02:54 AM

September 02, 2005

Financial Services article

Nice article preview on unbanked and the opportunity for financial service by analyst at Frost and Sullivan posted over on the KIS news page as a whitepaper.
See article on Kis-kiosk

Posted by keefner at 06:59 PM

August 30, 2005

Zaplink Kiosk program expanding

The agreement, announced Monday, would expand the number of Zaplink self-service kiosk locations and the scope of its kiosk financial services by adding new billers and pre-paid products. Currently, customers can pay wireless, cable, utility and other bills in cash.

Circle K, Info Touch Technologies sign deal to expand Zaplink kiosk program
2005-08-29 11:57:00


BURNABY, B.C. (CP) - Circle K Stores Inc. has signed a multiyear deal with Info Touch Technologies Corp. to expand its Zaplink financial-services kiosk program.

Zaplink is Circle K's automated kiosk, currently deployed in its convenience stores in five U.S. states, allowing shoppers to pay bills, transfer money, purchase prepaid products and surf the Net.

The agreement, announced Monday, would expand the number of Zaplink locations and the scope of its financial services by adding new billers and pre-paid products. Currently, customers can pay wireless, cable, utility and other bills in cash.

Financial terms of the agreement were not revealed.

In July 2005, Circle K customers made more than 75,000 Zaplink transactions, the company said.

"Zaplink is a key element in our strategy to deliver self-serve financial services to the more than two million customers who visit us each day in a fast, convenient, and hassle-free manner," said Dan Stiel, Circle K's manager of financial services, in a release.

"Info Touch has been a partner in this development for more than four years and is well-qualified to help us deliver our vision into the future."

Circle K is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (TSX:ATD.SV.B), the fourth largest convenience store operator in North America. In Canada, the company owns and operates the Mac's, Couche-Tard and Beckers outlets.

Couche-Tard shares gained 16 cents to $21.25 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, while shares of Info Touch Technologies (TSXV:IFT), a strategic investment of Hewlett Packard, were unchanged at 71 cents on the junior TSX Venture Exchange.

Posted by keefner at 04:53 AM

July 21, 2005

ExxonMobil Expands Availability of ewiz Financial Services Kiosks

ExxonMobil today announced the expansion of ewiz(SM) financial services kiosks to On the Run(R) convenience stores in Chicago, South and West Florida and Southern California. The expansion is expected to continue in additional markets in 2006.

The expansion follows successful market tests of the electronic payment system at On the Run and Tigermarket(R) convenience stores in Memphis, Nashville and Charlotte.

"ewiz offers customers a convenient way to pay wireless, utility and cable bills, transact financial services such as money orders, money transfers and check cashing, and purchase prepaid telecommunications products such as wireless top up, phone cards, ring tones and gift cards," said Michael Gore, manager, U.S. Convenience Retailing, ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing. "On the Run convenience stores are all about safely providing our customers with fast, fresh and friendly service. ewiz reinforces On the Run's delivery of fast and convenient service."

"With ewiz, customers need not experience long waits in line to pay bills or get telecommunications services," said David Taylor, category manager, Financial Services, ExxonMobil Fuels Marketing. "All they have to do is navigate the user-friendly touch-screen and be on their way. And the kiosks are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

ewiz kiosks accept cash, credit and debit as payment for the service provided. In the near future, it will also be able to accept checks as payment.

ewiz, developed for ExxonMobil by Info Touch Technologies Corp. of Burnaby, BC, Canada.

ExxonMobil, On the Run and Tigermarket are trademarks of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) or one of its subsidiaries. ewiz is a Service Mark of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries.


Source - HispanicPRWire -

Posted by keefner at 08:15 PM

June 30, 2005

Retailers are reaching the unbanked with self-service kiosks, FIs are lagging behind

Bringing financial services to the unbanked with self-service kiosks is quickly becoming big business in the United States.

According to Chicago-based The Center for Financial Services Innovation (in its May 2005 research report, "Retailers as Financial Services Providers: The Potential and Pitfalls of This Burgeoning Distribution Channel"), 22 million households in the United States are unbanked. And financial institutions and independents are trying to figure out how they can get a piece of the action.

Source: ATMMarketplace.com - by Tracy Kitten, editor 29 June 2005

Bringing financial services to the unbanked is quickly becoming big business in the United States.

According to Chicago-based The Center for Financial Services Innovation (in its May 2005 research report, "Retailers as Financial Services Providers: The Potential and Pitfalls of This Burgeoning Distribution Channel"), 22 million households in the United States are unbanked. And financial institutions and independents are trying to figure out how they can get a piece of the action.

Its a good market to reach, says Will Sowell, general manager of CashWorks. "The underserved population spends an estimated $10 billion annually on transactions such as check cashing, money orders, money transfers, prepaid cards and bill payments."

And Dave Grano, founder, president and chief executive officer of Oregon-based VERO a financial technology company that is developing check-cashing methods to help FIs and retailers reach unbanked customers through ATMs said the unbanked U.S. market is untapped. He added that the U.S.'s unbanked are "primarily" immigrants who "dont trust banks" and "find other ways to handle their funds."

Potential for new growth

Because FIs are fighting for ways to build their customer bases, the unbanked market offers potential for new growth. "Getting new incremental customers is very difficult for a bank because, typically, theyre fighting for customers with another bank. Theres not a gain (when an FI gets a new customer) because the customer is just moving from a different bank to your bank."

Thats where VERO comes in. Granos company has spent the last two years working on technology and solutions necessary to help FIs provide services that meet the needs of the unbanked.

His company also works with retailers, and for good reason. According to CFSIs report, the majority of the unbanked and underbanked are more likely to go to retailers for financial services. As a result, FIs have their work cut out for them in reaching the unbanked.

"Just by matching some of the services up with a demo, we were able to see what services were going to take off."

-- Hamed Shahbazi,
Chairman and CEO, Info Touch Technologies

Salisbury, Md.-based ESP Consulting Group found that only 52 percent of the U.S.s ATMs are owned by FIs. The rest are owned and operated by independent sales organizations or retailers. "A fifth of ATM transaction volume growth, which represents 1.19 billion transactions and $2.4 billion in revenues, has been picked up by non-bank firms," the CFSI report noted. "This substantial growth in non-branch ATMs signaled a major turn in retailers involvement in the provision of financial services."

Thats a marked difference from the unbanked overseas. (Read also, Reaching the unbanked: Learning from South Africas FIs.) In other parts of the world, FIs have spearheaded the effort to reach unbanked and underbanked populations. But in the States, alternative service providers such as check-cashing companies and retailers stepped up to the plate before FIs.

And there is a great deal of excitement about automated financial services at the retail level in the States, Grano said, which is why many companies are joining the force. San Francisco-based Swipe USA LLC, Burnaby, B.C.-based Info Touch Technologies Corp. and Louisville, Colo.-based Kiosk Information Systems Inc. are three such companies. But other companies also have jumped on the band wagon, including Tranax Technologies Inc., Pay-Ease Inc. and CashWorks.

A non-branch approach

What's Important
The majority of the unbanked are black and Hispanic.
The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing in the unbanked segment.
Retail locations that offer services like bill payment and check cashing are preferred by the unbanked over banks.

"Were in the process of launching several projects in urban areas, but we cant talk about any of them yet," said Vijay Chattha, public relations spokesperson for Swipe USA. "I can say that overall we are coming at it from a retail standpoint. Basically, our goal is to bring dignity to some of those customers who are underserved or unserved right now. They told us they werent getting service in the best places (from a security and fee-charging standpoint)."

Info Touch and KIS have partnered to develop solutions, such as bill payment and check cashing services, that reach the unbanked. Its a niche the two companies fell into, more or less, said Info Touch chairman and CEO Hamed Shahbazi.

"Phoenix was our original market, and its a heavily Hispanic market," Shahbazi said. "Just by matching some of the services up with a demo, we were able to see what services were going to take off. We were the first in the market to work with this segment of the population and thats where were focused."

Prepaid products and bill-pay services were two offerings that took off.

Who are the unbanked?

Shahbazi said Info Touch and KISs products specifically meet the needs of the Hispanic unbanked. But Jorge Fernandez, president and CEO of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Capture Systems LLC, disagrees. Fernandez, who spent last year working on a project to reach the unbanked in and around Miami, found that additional ATM options and check-cashing kiosks are not reaching the unbanked.

"The problem is that, as one unbanked customer put it, most of these services are designed by 'white folks' sitting in their air-conditioned offices," Fernandez said. "(They) focus more on the technology than on the actual service being provided. Most companies are focusing on automating the process, when in reality, that is not what the potential customer is looking for. They are looking for good, reliable and inexpensive service."

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the majority is black and Hispanic. In fact, census figures show that 46 percent are black and 34 percent are Hispanic, and industry leaders like Shahbazi believe even those estimations are far too low.

In general the unbanked are people who have been ignored by FIs, so theyve sought services like check cashing from other outlets. According to the United Financial Services Group, which operates 133 check-cashing outlets in 17 states, there are 13,000 CCOs providing services in the U.S. And according to the UFSG, theyre cashing about $80 billion in checks every year.

Check-cashing outlets make sense for the unbanked, Fernandez said. Check-cashing kiosks do not. Companies that add functionality to a kiosk or ATM are wasting their money, he said.

"People in these communities have a network of retailers they know and trust. Even if they have to pay a little more, they know that Western Union is trustworthy, (and) it's a company they know. ... Also, these folks do not trust banks or technology back in their native countries, so why would they do it in a foreign land?"

Posted by keefner at 07:34 PM

June 18, 2005

Financial E-Banking Thin Client Kiosks

ICICI Bank and Wyse team up to deliver financial banking services via thin client kiosks.

Source: Finextra

ICICI Bank is teaming with Californian computer services firm Wyse Technology and Bangalore IT consultancy Comat Technologies to deliver electronic banking services to remote and isolated communities in India.

The three firms will manage a project which is being introduced by an international consortium of banks - including the World Bank - technology firms, and local government departments.

The consortium initially plan to establish Internet centres in around 5000 villages in Karnataka that will provide the local population with electronic access to financial services along with education, health care and legal services.

Each centre will house five to ten maintenance-free thin client terminals and will be connected to the Internet by either land lines or satellite links. The consortium plans to introduce Web centres to other rural areas across the country following the pilot project in Karnataka.

Sriram Raghavan, president, Comat Technologies, says: "This is the first time these communities will be able to access and interact with leading private enterprises, such as ICICI Bank, and other service providers in the insurance and education sector."

Nachiket Mor, executive director, ICICI Bank, adds: "Internet based channels are key to the delivery of financial services in rural India. ICICI Bank has over 2000 rural Internet kiosks across India and we plan to increase this number significantly to cater to people at all levels of economic development."

John Kish, president and CEO, Wyse Technology, comments: "We see this as the 'rural services' blueprint for populations in developing nations everywhere."

Posted by keefner at 01:40 AM

May 25, 2005

Financial Services to Grocers and C-Stores

Convenience and grocery stores are in trouble. Long-standing revenue streams like cigarettes are disappearing in a puff of smoke. Intense pricing pressure from Wal-Mart has flattened margins for the foreseeable future.

An aging store asset portfolio drains available working capital. And the channels have blurred with Starbucks coffee at Safeway and gasoline at Wal-Mart.


story link

Convenience and grocery executives are desperately looking for new growth drivers. And smartly, theyre looking beyond physical products you can only stock the shelves with so much stuff and theyre finding success with services.

The success convenience and grocery chains are having with prepaid wireless has led them to look for other services beyond prepaid and to evaluate the consumers who are purchasing prepaid phones and refill. These chains are finding a plethora of deliverable services which, like prepaid wireless, are targeted toward the unbanked market people who through choice or necessity manage their finances outside of the traditional banking system. Some call this activity fringe banking.

The unbanked population, estimated at over 40 million strong, or over 30 percent of the U.S. population, is made up primarily of teens and young adults, minorities and the working poor. Theyre already shopping in convenience and grocery locations, yet these locations have not offered the services they need in order to manage and access their money, forcing them to make special trips to outlets outside of their daily routine.

Services expand
Convenience and grocery stores will now become banks for the unbanked. Theyll seek to offer point-of-sale or kiosk-driven services, which will allow unbanked customers to manage their money, pay their bills, purchase and consume products and services, and make their lives a bit simpler.

Prepaid wireless is one service already offered at many of these stores. This market has exploded from $4.5 billion in 2000 to over $23 billion in 2004 driven by youth, minorities and unbanked customers. Another service, prepaid debit cards, is currently a $600 million market. The Pelorus Group expects it to grow to over $5 billion by 2007. Next Estate Communications reports that 65 percent of prepaid debit users are under the age of 35 years.

Payroll check cashing can also be offered. The Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) reports that this $60 billion industry processes over 180 million checks a year, growing 10 percent annually. Walk-up bill payment would be another convenience for the unbanked. Checkfree, the online bill-payment service, reports that 20 percent of American households regularly pay their bills in person.

Offering money transfer service can be lucrative for convenience and grocery stores. Celent expects the global money transfer market to surpass $170 billion in 2006. InterAmerican Bank reports that over 60 percent of foreign-born U.S. Latino adults send money back home regularly.

Retailers look for partners
Overburdened convenience and grocery merchants will look to one-stop full-service distributors to carry the load bringing in the offers, enabling the transactions and developing the signage and display. For these distributors, banking services would allow them to establish deep relationships with the merchant from a product portfolio and technology perspective and would enable them to cash in for years to come.

Distributors of prepaid telecom have been playing a key role in the U.S. prepaid supply chain securing the locations, deploying the delivery technology, communicating the offer and enabling the transaction. But margins are getting squeezed; many of the best locations have been secured, competition is fierce and consolidation is rife. The addition of new revenue-driving products and services to the portfolio is crucial.

Offerings that appeal to the same consumer base as prepaid telecom, utilizing the same point-of-sale or kiosk-based delivery technology, make fringe banking, or banks for the unbanked, a natural for distributors to take on and for retailers to migrate toward.

To be successful in this space, distributors will need to:
develop the relationships with the necessary product and service providers to form the comprehensive bank for the unbanked offering
educate their retail partners as to the opportunity and the requirements
create the point-of-sale and/or kiosk delivery network necessary to successfully deliver the offering
design clear, concise and relevant marketing communications inside and outside the store to drive adoption and demand
develop a deep and continual understanding of the unbanked consumer, including who they are, what they need, how they want it delivered and how to reach them

Achieving critical mass
This year promises to be the year fringe banking breaks out. Circle K and 7-Eleven are rolling out check-cashing services to all stores. Stored value gift and debit cards are all the rage. Prepaid wireless continues to explode. Kiosks and multiapplication point-of-sale devices make product delivery possible. All of this is happening while the nation sees a continued explosion in Hispanic population, an increase in population living below the poverty level and a reduction in the number of traditional banking outlets.

Retailers, distributors, processors and product and service providers are all taking note, and many will develop a sense of urgency in 2005 to win in this space, to prosper and to survive. Will you?

The author is president of Tefisto Partners, a consultancy focused on the stored value and fringe banking space. He can be contacted at (602) 750-8055 or visit the company website at www.tefistopartners.com.

Posted by keefner at 02:40 PM

May 10, 2005

ExxonMobil Financial Service Kiosks

Charlotte-area ExxonMobils are getting new financial service kiosks installed.


The E-Wiz terminals by Info Touch (and Kiosk Information Systems) provide customers with convenient access to a wide variety of services, including but not limited to, bill payment, money transfer, pre-paid products and services, including long-distance, wireless top-up and mobile content.


Press Release

Posted by keefner at 03:49 PM

April 06, 2005

Electronic Deposit Via Kiosk

Wells Fargo also offers a service to customers with existing scanning equipment that lets them make deposits by sending a standardized file to the bank. Retailer 7-Eleven Inc. began testing the bank's Electronic Deposit in October through its network of Vcom kiosks that shoppers use to make ATM transactions. The retailer plans to roll out Electronic Deposit to all 1,050 stores that have Vcom kiosks this year so it can perform daily deposits of checks, says Rick Updyke, 7-Eleven's VP of corporate business development.
Information Week

Posted by keefner at 07:53 PM

March 17, 2005

Hybrid Card Flaws

Finextra: An investigation by the UK's London Programme uncovered a security flaw in chip payment cards which allows fraudsters to disable and override chip security measures using information embedded in the magnetic strip.emv_1.jpg


Noted on ATM Marketplace

The television programme, which aired last night, showed an anoymous "industry insider" cloning a chip-based payment card using software and a skimming device bought on the Internet.

The skimming device records data embedded in the magnetic strip on a smartcard, but information stating that the card contains a chip can be changed using the illegal software. The data is then copied onto a basic plastic card, such as those used for mobile top-ups. Programme makers were able to use the cloned card to withdraw cash from an ATM.

The findings of the investigation were presented to the UK's Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs). In a statement issued to the programme makers, Apacs says: "When fully in place, chip and PIN technology will identify chip and PIN cards that have been fraudulently tampered with in this way, and also fraudulent copies of those cards."

But in the programme, Sandra Quinn, director of corporate communications, Apacs, did admit that data embedded in the magnetic strip on a card can be accessed and copied by fraudsters but insisted that it cannot be changed: "That data will always say 'there is a chip on this card' therefore if there's no chip on the card the fraudster can't use it."

But research conducted by Ross Anderson, head of security engineering at Cambridge University, found that if a card with a damaged chip is presented at an ATM or POS terminal, then the device falls back to magnetic strip operation.

David Cooper, risk management, Lloyds TSB, told the programme that although banks in Europe were committed to using chip-based technology, financial firms in the US have not made much effort to move into chip and PIN yet, so the industry isn't able to drop magentic strips from payment cards.

Despite the security risks uncovered, Quinn says cards containing both chips and magnetic strips will be around "for a very long time".

Finextra

Posted by Craig at 07:15 PM

February 04, 2005

Prepaid and CHina

How Did VendTek Hit it Big in China?

story


Intele-CardNews | printable pages

ISSUE: 2/1/2005

Golden opportunity
By: Bridget Mintz Testa

How did VendTek Systems Inc., a small prepaid distribution software company from Port Coquitlam, near Vancouver in British Columbia, hit the big time in China's huge market? And how did they do it without running into problems that much larger companies, such as Cisco, did? Paul Brock, president of the company, shares his story with Intele-CardNews.

Prepaid without plastic

VendTek's parent company was founded in 1988 as an electronic vending machine firm. After going public in 1999, the company changed business models in 2002. It left the vending machine trade to become a provider of an all-new type of software for the prepaid market.

Named e-Fresh, the software operates in a variety of POS and self-serve terminals, enabling consumers to purchase telecommunications and financial services electronically. Purchasers who use VendTek to buy services receive a printed receipt with their PIN and usage instructions. What's missing? The plastic!

By removing the card from the equation, VendTek lets convenience stores eliminate their $10,000 inventories of plastic cards. This, in turn, removes the cost and "shrinkage" risk of maintaining that inventory. "In an industry based on high volume and low margins, saving 3 percent on inventory or theft is a lot," Brock says. Because any type of prepaid product or service can be downloaded, including ring tones or games, Brock adds, "Stores get more inventory for their customers to choose from."

Last October, VendTek announced that e-Fresh had reached a milestone. Now Prepay, the company's domestic subsidiary, had installed the software in 5,000 Canadian POS terminals. But an even bigger milestone was reached earlier in August, when VendTek signed a licensing agreement with Beijing-based ChinaPay e-Payment Services.

Doing business in China

Why China? According to the agreement, ChinaPay can use e-Fresh in its POS terminals in exchange for paying VendTek transaction fees based on POS system revenues. As a financial institution backed by some 80 shareholding Chinese banks, ChinaPay and its cross-country POS network provide VendTek access to China's 1.2 billion consumers the largest market on Earth.

As if those 1.2 billion consumers weren't enough, China is especially promising for prepaid. "The Chinese population is so large that it is impractical for companies to provide credit, especially considering the developing financial infrastructure," Brock says. "Virtually everything is prepaid." Besides the usual telecom services, that also includes apartment rent, cable service, hot water and even cold water.

If it sounds like an enormous opportunity, it is. But Brock cautions that doing business in China isn't easy. "Business in China is entirely relationship-managed," he says. "It's not about the best product or the lowest price. The No. 1 challenge for me has been building relationships and trust with people." Without such relationships and trust, you can't even get started. With them, you can find opportunities and flourish.

VendTek first started doing business in China in 2001 with a small Beijing company. Through that company, Brock was later introduced to ChinaPay. Though the ChinaPay agreement happened within a couple of months of the first meeting last May, the meeting would never have happened if Brock hadn't first spent three years in China getting to know the people, establishing business relationships, learning the language and eating some very unusual foods such as a snake and its freshly drained blood to show he accepted the culture. "The Chinese view their foods as important, and I believe we need to embrace that as much as we embrace all aspects of their culture," he says.

VendTek started earning licensing fee revenue in China within six months of entering the market through system deployment in Beijing. Conditions changed, however, and Brock said that revenue has since declined. Now that the company has an agreement with ChinaPay, which will involve a much larger-scale rollout of VendTek's software, Brock expects to see revenue within the first half of 2005 and profits by the end of the year assuming things go well.

Is it necessary for foreigners to have a Chinese partner to do business in the country? Not absolutely, according to Kevin G. Rivette, executive advisor for the Boston Consulting Group. "It's probable, though, mostly due to government requirements. [Foreigners] can own a majority of a joint venture, but most companies still have some sort of Chinese involvement," he says.

Intellectual property

Though Chinese regulations can be as frustrating as anywhere else, the greatest challenge for a technology firm that wants to do business in China is the country's approach to intellectual property (IP). With no heritage of competitive research and development in the technology arena, "[the Chinese] have much more of a technology is free' approach," Rivette says. "The more high-tech the company, the greater the chances that they'll end up competing against their own technology."

China has no trade-secret law. So if a Chinese employee learns how a foreign company's technology works, there's no law preventing him or her from opening up shop down the street, selling or using the same technology at a cut-rate price. For this reason, Cisco sued Chinese manufacturer Huawei, claiming the Chinese company copied its products and manuals. Some of Rivette's customers consulted him after similar setbacks.

To manage the theft risk, Rivette says, "You must develop a strategic IP plan. Don't just let the lawyers do it. This is something that must be dealt with at the highest strategic level." One suggestion Rivette offers to technology companies is to be prepared to patent processes or products at a much more "granular" level. For example, in the United States, a company might patent a product once it's completed. However, in China, it might be necessary to patent bits and pieces of the product along the way.

Regarding IP in China, Brock says that software is one of the worst industries to be in. But VendTek had a strategy. "We initially protected ourselves by making our customer one of our largest shareholders," he says. "[Thus, he] would only damage his own investment if he stole our property." Brock says VendTek also works hard to deliver real value to customers for the licensing fees, including software customization and some special proprietary incentives.
Six tips on doing business in China
1. Do lots of research and preparation.
2. Spend time there. It's almost impossible to do business in China remotely.
3. Paticipate in the culture, including the food, drink and language. If you can't do that you'll be seen as a foreigner intent on exploitation.
4. Before you go, contact the business community, such as expatriate groups or businesses similar to yours, to help you network. Start with your embassy.
5. Try to find a potential Chinese partner before you go. They can show you around and provide introductions.
6. If you have valuable intellectual property, develop a comprehensive protection strategy before you go.

Rapid change

With staggering speed, China is emerging as a global economic force. Brock says, "By far the most interesting thing [about China] from my perspective is the rate of change. In a country with thousands of years of traditions and history, it is amazing to see how fast things are changing and how well the people are accepting the change."

As an example, Brock explains how he and his companions had to walk on timbers across a "gaping void" when entering a Beijing restaurant one night for dinner. The restaurant was an island in a sea of dirt extending as far as Brock could see. "A few hours later," he says, "when we exited the restaurant, the wooden beams ... were gone. A new road was in place for as far as the eye could see. The road was finished, and people and cars were on it. There was no sign of the work crew who were probably gone to build another road somewhere nearby."

www.intelecard.com

Posted by Craig at 03:17 AM

November 15, 2004

Electric Cooperative Services

Rural Electric Cooperative Provides Bill Payment, Prepaid and ATM Financial Kiosk Services to Cooperative Members and Community

DURANGO, Colo., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- La Plata Electric Association, Inc. (LPEA) positions itself to provide electronic prepay, bill pay and concierge services to cooperative members and community businesses this month with the launch of its first kiosk.

The solution, provided by Widefield LLC, Cities in Touch and KIS, offers Durango and surrounding area residents, businesses, tourists and LPEA cooperative members these benefits:

* Serves bill pay counter traffic more efficiently with kiosk payment locations, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Kiosk payments can be made by cash, debit card or through a checking account. Bill pay for additional businesses is also available. Demos may be viewed at http://www.payallbills.com.

* Makes recharging prepaid electric smart cards more accessible and less dependent on open service hours. Available 24 hours, 7 days a week, this application allows customers to recharge their EZ Pay cards when they want.

* Allows customers to access cash withdrawals with ATM functionality.

* Gives kiosk owner potential revenue stream and community involvement with Partners in Success(SM) program capability of providing advertising and ecommerce options to businesses.

* Other applications not in use at LPEA include debit card and payroll card dispensing.

La Plata Electric Association plans to implement its first kiosk in a vestibule at its central office in Durango followed by conveniently located sites throughout the community.

About Widefield, LLC.
Widefeld is an innovator in advanced billing and metering solutions and works with customers to produce focused innovative solutions applied intelligently to meet customer satisfaction objectives.
Editors can reach Widefield at 480-575-2726 or via email at jcollins@widefieldnet.com

About Cities In Touch
Cities In Touch creates, designs and develops interactive awareness solutions that reach into the community providing equipment, advertising, information, ATM, HR applications and other customized capabilities. Its Partners in Success(SM) program takes into consideration the importance of locating solutions in optimum locations.
Editors can reach Cities in Touch at 501-767-3426 or via email at info@citiesintouch.com

About KIS
Founded in 1993, KIS is the established leader in the design and manufacturing of unattended self-service kiosks for Financial Services, HR, Retail and other electronic self-service information terminals. Editors can reach KIS at pr@gokis.net

Contacts:
Joan Collins, Widefield, LLC, 480-575-2726; jcollins@widefieldnet.com
Ray Pierotti, La Plata Electric Association, Inc. 970-247-5786; website at http://www.lpea.coop


Financial Services Kiosk

Posted by Craig at 10:27 PM

November 09, 2004

S1 Buys Mosaic

S1 Acquires Mosaic Software for $37M today.

November 08, 2004 02:00 AM US Eastern Timezone

S1 To Acquire Financial Transaction Solution, Add ATM Channel to Complete Integrated Front-Office Suite

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 8, 2004--

Mosaic Software, a Global Provider of Financial Transaction Processing Solutions, to Join the S1 Family


S1 Corporation (NASDAQ:SONE), a leading provider of integrated front-office applications for financial institutions, announced today that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire U.K.-based Mosaic Software Holdings Limited, a global provider of solutions that drive ATMs and electronic payments. The acquisition will add a leading financial transaction solution to S1's suite of products and will enable S1 to offer financial services providers an ATM channel solution along with the S1 Enterprise integrated front-office suite, which already includes the branch, call center, Internet and voice customer interaction channels.

The solutions developed by Mosaic provide flexible, open and extensible technology for processing electronic financial transactions. The solutions directly control ATMs, intercept cardholders' bankcard transactions, and process these transactions online to core system accounts. The software is utilized by banks operating standard ATMs as well as by non-traditional financial service providers, including retailers that offer advanced, multi-function ATMs to customers for initiating transactions for money orders, transfers, pay check deposits, and bill pay. Mosaic's software also manages payment authorization transactions initiated through point-of-sale (POS) devices, online retail sites, and Web-based call centers.

"S1's Enterprise strategy has always been focused on delivering a single view of the customer across multiple channels," said Jaime Ellertson, CEO of S1. "With the acquisition of Mosaic, S1 is the only vendor in the financial services space that can enable institutions to extend multi-channel integration across all of their primary customer interaction channels. The addition of Mosaic to the S1 family not only helps us more rapidly execute our Enterprise strategy, but also brings new expertise to our management and development teams, extends our international operations, and adds a significant customer base into which we can offer integrated S1 front-office solutions."

Over the past 10 years, Mosaic has built a strong reputation and a customer base of approximately 210 financial institutions and retailers in more than 40 countries. Mosaic's customers include Woodforest National Bank, Honda Federal Credit Union, Standard Bank South Africa, Mercantile Bank Limited, 7-Eleven, Marks and Spencer, and FedEx Kinko's. The company has a staff of 190, including more than 100 software developers, in offices in the U.S, the U.K, Australia, and South Africa.

According to Mosaic CEO Johann Dreyer: "The strategic fit between S1 and Mosaic creates an exceptional opportunity for both organizations, their customers, and their employees. By extending the Enterprise vision, S1 offers a unique value proposition to the financial services market. Mosaic's customers will benefit from S1's large-company stability, industry-leading commitment to R&D, and strategic focus on Mosaic's solutions. Mosaic's financial institution customers will also have the ability to implement sophisticated, easy-to-use solutions for ATM and electronic payments together with S1's multi-channel front-office solution, S1 Enterprise."

Under the terms of the transaction, S1 will pay $37 million in cash upon the closing of the transaction and up to an additional $15 million in cash may be paid in earn-out payments upon Mosaic achieving certain financial metrics during its fiscal year ending May 31, 2005. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.

S1's ATM solution will be available independently or as a component of a complete solution that gives banks one view of customers across channels. S1 also offers the following major applications of S1 Enterprise 3.0: S1 Enterprise Teller, S1 Enterprise Sales and Service Platform, S1 Personal Banking, S1 Business Banking, S1 Corporate Banking, S1 Insurance, S1 Enterprise Call Center, S1 Enterprise Voice Banking (powered by Edify), and S1 Enterprise Analytics. More than 100 financial service providers have committed to S1 Enterprise solutions to realize measurable benefits through implementing multi-channel ready applications.

Conference Call Information

Company management will host a webex to discuss the details and take questions regarding this agreement today, Monday, November 8th at 8:00 a.m. EST. A replay of this webcast will be available until November 15th. This same material will be available without Q&A via a live webcast from the AeA Classic Financial Conference later in the day at 6:30 p.m. EST. A replay of this webcast will be available for 90 days. Interested parties may access both webcasts through the company's corporate website, www.s1.com. These webcasts will contain forward-looking statements and other material information.

About S1 Corporation

S1 Corporation is a leading global provider of integrated front-office applications for more than 4,000 banks and insurance providers around the world. Comprised of applications that address virtually every market segment and delivery channel, S1 solutions help integrate and optimize an institution's entire front office, resulting in increased operational efficiencies, revenue opportunities and overall customer satisfaction. S1 is the only provider with the proven experience, breadth of products and financial strength to empower financial services companies' enterprise strategies. Additional information about S1 is available at www.s1.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements include statements with respect to our financial condition, results of operations and business. The words "believes," "expects," "may," "will," "should," "projects," "contemplates," "anticipates," "forecasts," "intends" or similar terminology identify forward-looking statements. These statements are based on our beliefs as well as assumptions made using information currently available to us. Because these statements reflect our current views concerning future events, they involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Therefore, actual results may differ significantly from the results discussed in the forward-looking statements. The risk factors included in our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (and available on our web site at www.s1.com or the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov) provide examples of risks, uncertainties and events that may cause our actual results to differ materially from the expectations we describe in our forward-looking statements. Except as provided by law, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement.

Contacts


S1 Corporation
Matthew Hale, 404-923-3500
matt.hale@s1.com
or
Peter K. Herbert, 404-923-6647
peter.herbert@s1.com

link

Posted by Craig at 02:54 PM

May 27, 2004

Cards

Electronics Benefits Card

May 26, 2004 E-mail story Print

FARMERS MARKETS / SHOPPING
Electronic benefits card takes the stress out of buying fresh
The debit-type card, which is replacing food stamps, eases recipients' access to local produce.


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FARMERS MARKETS

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DEBIT CARDS

FARMERS MARKETS SHOPPING








By Valli Herman, Times Staff Writer


Vendors and managers at 22 Los Angeles County farmers markets began posting fliers and wearing buttons last week to promote the use of the electronic benefits transfer card, or EBT, a new debit-type card that is being phased in to replace paper food stamps.

The awareness campaign is part of a statewide effort to promote EBT use and nutrition education in populations with high rates of nutrition-related diseases.

"We know that families in poor neighborhoods throughout L.A. County often have trouble buying fresh fruits and vegetables because of a lack of grocery stores," said Pompea Smith, director of the Hollywood Farmers Market and chief executive of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles, a nonprofit corporation that promotes fresh food access and healthy eating.

The EBT card, also known as the Golden State Advantage Card, can be used at L.A. markets that two months ago were equipped with hand-held wireless card readers. To use the new system, cardholders must locate the market manager or central administration booth, swipe their cards in the device and enter an amount of money that they wish to redeem. In return, they will receive tokens, scrip or coupons good only at that market for edible products.

"An EBT card is just like a debit card," said Smith, who wore an EBT button at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday. "It removes somewhat the stigma of what are recognized as food stamps."

In March, L.A. County became one of the largest, and last, counties in California to abandon food stamps in favor of the electronic system. The move away from paper food stamps began in the 1990s, encountering many hurdles as administrators phased in the new system. Before implementation of the EBT program, farmers markets accepted only cash and paper food stamps, in part because most markets are without electricity or telephone wires needed for processing electronic transactions. The state's Department of Social Services provided the wireless point-of-sale devices and waived transaction fees for the EBT cards.

Despite the fact that the program offers vendors and market managers some incentives to adopt the new technology (vendors can apply EBT receipts against their stall fees), a majority of markets remain unequipped to process the cards because managers consider implementation unfeasible. Food stamp use at their markets is nominal, they say, often well under $100 a day too insignificant to outweigh administration expenses.

However, markets that adopt the technology now help pave the way to accepting all types of electronic banking, including debit and credit cards.

"We could look into [debit and credit cards] in the future," said Smith. "That would make this system more efficient to run."

The EBT cards represent another step in the evolution of L.A. farmers markets, said Dale Whitney, manager of the five Harbor Area farmers markets that accept the EBT cards. He noted that farmers markets were established in the inner city after the 1965 Watts riots destroyed many food stores.

"People didn't have access to fruits and vegetables, so the first markets were located in the neighborhoods where the people could easily get to them," Whitney said.

"Now the markets have become more upscale."

Farmers markets have the potential to resume serving thousands of low-income patrons.

The California Department of Health Services estimates that 55% of eligible L.A. county households don't receive food assistance.

Electronic benefits card takes the stress out of buying fresh

Posted by Craig at 07:43 PM

May 06, 2004

Money Transfer

Wal-Mart Woos Money-Transfer Customers

May 6, 2004

BENTONVILLE, AR -- Almost one-third of Hispanics living in the United States send money to their families residing in their country of origin, according to Wal-Mart. And the big-box retailer is heating up the competition for that money-transfer business just in time for Mother's Day.

Wal-Mart is dropping the price of MoneyGram money transfers, which is available at all of its stores. The offer allows customers in the United States to send funds to Mexico for a flat fee of $9.46 for all amounts up to $500 with a competitive exchange rate. Wal-Mart said this new everyday price will save customers more than 40 percent in transfer fees compared with the previous Wal-Mart price, adding that the price change coincides with Mother's Day--typically a popular time to send money transfers.


"We have a commitment to offer convenient and affordable services that fulfill the basic financial needs of our customers," said Peggy Knight, senior director, product marketing for Wal-Mart Financial Services.

Wal-Mart said that family members in Mexico can pick up money transfers at their local Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama, Suburbia or at other MoneyGram locations. Additionally, senders will receive a complimentary 3-minute phone call to notify family members that the money is on the way. Family members who pick up their money at Wal-Mart, Bodega Aurrera, Superama and Suburbia locations in Mexico from now through June 3 also will receive a 40-peso in-store certificate.

Wal-Mart Woos Money-Transfer Customers | NACS Daily

Posted by Craig at 02:42 PM

April 14, 2004

Financial Services

Nice article on state of Branch Banks, The Web, and increased services for customers.

Where The Money Is

The Web was supposed to kill bank branches. Instead, banks are spending billions on them as a cornerstone of customer service.


By Steven Marlin, InformationWeek
April 12, 2004
URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18900908

Adorned with balloons, a FleetBoston branch across from New York's Grand Central Terminal celebrated its grand opening one recent evening as commuters dashed to catch trains to Westchester and Fairfield counties.

Here in the country's media capital, Fleet intends this branch to be the latest in multimedia, ergonomics, and environmental design. Prominent signs bearing the Fleet logo will be replaced soon by ones bearing the logo of Bank of America, which merged with Fleet this year. The interior includes wall-mounted TV monitors displaying business and news headlines, an LCD stock ticker above the teller cages, and online banking and investment stations where customers check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and even trade stocks via Fleet's Quick & Reilly brokerage unit. Weight sensors in the floor tell the machine to automatically log off customers when they step away.


Fleet will open a number of branches in Manhattan, Fleet executive VP Barker says.

Photo of Jeff Barker by Erika Larsen/Redux Pictures

Fleet has opened five such branches in Manhattan in the past 16 months and 45 to 50 in other cities. Several hundred other branches have been given a similar design, though without the tricked-out multimedia treatment. Fleet/Bank of America plans 250 new branches this year, targeting urban areas in particular. "The amount of buildout will be substantial" in midtown Manhattan, says Jeff Barker, Fleet's executive VP and New York regional manager.

Reports of the death of bank branches, common in the late 1990s, were greatly exaggerated. At the peak of the dot-com boom, banks were setting up separate Internet-only subsidiaries and taking steps such as charging $3 fees to see a teller, trying to reap fatter profits by discouraging expensive branch operations.

Things haven't quite worked out that way. The Internet-only subsidiaries withered away, while branches blossomed as a vital part of the growth strategy of banks such as Bank of America, KeyBank, and Washington Mutual. Rather than cutting off branches, banks are nurturing them with business technology to change them from an expensive, manual way to do routine transactions into more-profitable places to close customer sales.

U.S. banks will upgrade and renovate 30,000, or 26%, of their branches by 2006 and spend $1.4 billion on branch technology in 2006, up from $800 million last year, predicts Datamonitor, a market-research firm. Most of this spending will go toward enabling branch personnel to view all of a customer's relationships with a bank, connecting the bank's multiple service channels, and boosting customer self-service capabilities.

KeyBank is adding 20 branches this year, the most it has ever built in a single year. But building branches doesn't conflict with a full embrace of the Web: It successfully encourages customers to use self-service channels such as the Web for routine transactions. Branches account for 29% of daily transactions, behind ATMs (37%) and barely ahead of the Internet (24%). The Internet in 2001 surpassed call centers--now just 9% of transactions--and it appears headed to overtake branches as the No. 2 channel within a few years.


Getting a single view of a customer can be an expensive proposition, says KeyBank's Swanick (left), with CIO Rickert.

Photo of Patrick Swanick and Bob Rickert by Russell Lee

Banks have learned that branches are a vital distribution channel, and they can't expand into new territories without them. More than 90% of Key's retail sales take place in branches, says Patrick Swanick, president of Key Electronic Services. But making branches into highly profitable growth engines--and not just order-takers--requires giving employees information they can use to pursue sales. That's a big change from the traditional bunker mentality at banks. "The days of waiting for people to walk into branches are over," Swanick says.

Banks around the world spent $5 billion on customer-relationship-management software last year and will spend $7 billion in 2008, predicts TowerGroup, a research firm that tracks IT spending by banks.

Key uses legacy in-house software to provide relationship managers in each of its more than 900 branches with detailed views of top-tier customers whom employees call on personally. Now it's working on delivering the same views of the other 98% of its customers who are engaged through branches, over the Web, on the phone, or at ATMs. Key is implementing data-mining software from Siebel Systems Inc. to produce higher-quality sales leads by analyzing information found in customer files and gathered via marketing surveys. To be sure, some tech-driven productivity attempts have flopped. Following the lead of brokerage firms, which let clients conduct trades via mobile phones, many banks launched similar services. It turns out that customers don't need to check their savings-account balances all that often--unless they're already at an ATM trying to get cash. Key expected to sign up at least 1,500 customers when it launched its service a few years back; it got 700. The idea simply failed to catch on, Swanick says. Similarly, Bank of America experimented with outfitting branch personnel with PC tablets, letting them roam the lobbies and interact with customers; customers liked it, but it proved too expensive.

Internet-only subsidiaries such as Bank One Corp.'s WingspanBank failed because executives mistook online banking for a product instead of a delivery channel. Today, the Internet is just one indispensable component of a retail strategy (see story, "Online Ties: Web Banking Makes Customers Less Fickle").

Yet all this--the goal of making branches a go-get-'em sales vehicle, the success of online banking, a diverse channel strategy--highlights a problem that banks, despite years of trying, still struggle with: getting a single view of all customers' business.

Customers increasingly expect access to all their banking relationships (checking, credit card, mortgage, etc.) via any means (ATMs, branches, telephone, or the Internet). Systems for engaging a customer at the branch and on the phone "are no better than the degree to which you understand all of that customer's relationships," says analyst Richard Bell at research firm Financial Insights.

So as banks revitalize their branch strategies, they're taking an approach that focuses less IT spending on channel-specific systems--teller systems for branches, voice response for call centers, self-service for the Web and ATMs--and more on systems that organize customer data for all those channels to use. "When you compare channel-specific and multichannel spending, multichannel is becoming more and more important," Bell says.

ATB Financial, a 145-branch Canadian institution, integrated Siebel Systems CRM software into its 200-person call-center system at a cost of about $6 million four years ago. Now it's bringing that same integration to bank tellers in an 18-month project. This is no small effort: about $8 million for branch-teller software from Eontec and integration with the Siebel system, plus another $8 million for infrastructure, including all new PCs for tellers. ATB also plans to create a customer-information file from which customers would be assigned a unique identifier, letting the bank track customer relationships across individual systems for credit cards, mortgages, and checking accounts, says Ken Casey, ATB's senior VP of retail banking. That effort, which would cost at most $5 million, would provide that single-customer view in a sort-of intranet. "When customers identify themselves to a teller, the teller's screen will bring up the entire relationship," Casey says.

Royal Bank in Toronto uses Information Builders Inc.'s Focus data-integration software to pull together customer information from any business unit of the bank into a consolidated view, for a customer or a bank employee servicing that customer. The rows of customer data sitting in silos scattered throughout the bank offer a potential bonanza, if banks can only figure out a way to get it into one place. "In the banking industry, there's tons of information, but to bring that down to the desktop is a challenge," says Andy Hanna, head of report management and distribution at Royal Bank.

Wells Fargo & Co. tackled that issue by creating a data warehouse for customer information so that when a person goes online to apply for a mortgage, for example, the form will be prefilled with name, address, account numbers, and similar information.

Creating a single view of customer information out of systems spanning multiple product lines, geographic regions, and distribution channels can be an expensive proposition. "The issue is, how do you get information out of those systems and share it in an actionable way?" Key's Swanick says.

ATB is training branch personnel in cross-selling, such as inquiring whether a mortgage customer is aware of a low refinancing rate and, if the customer appears interested, referring him or her to a mortgage specialist in the branch. The customer-information file would make it easier to identify customers likely to be interested in such sales opportunities and communicate them to the teller's terminal while the customer is standing there. Beyond revenue opportunities, banks have another reason for branch renewal. Following an interruption of several years, the mergers and acquisitions wave that characterized the industry for two decades has returned. It's burst back to life in recent months with the megamergers of Bank of America and FleetBoston, as well as J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank One.

It's easy for such banks to merge in name only, missing out on some of the business advantages for which they merged. During the late '90s, Key was expanding geographically and became the first bank to operate as a single, nationwide bank. But calling itself a national bank was one thing; becoming one was another. "When you grow through acquisition, you're stuck with all these different systems, even within a single channel," CIO Bob Rickert says. Thus, a deposit made at a branch in Albany, N.Y., might not show up on the system of a branch in Cleveland until the next day. This was clearly unacceptable from a customer-service viewpoint.

The technology strategy Key pursued was to build proprietary middleware, called Key Server, that pulls together information from systems across geographic regions and makes it available through any channel. Integration challenges are tough, but critical to a bank's competitive advantage, Rickert says.

Not everyone follows Key's approach of developing middleware in-house. ATB is developing middleware using IBM's WebSphere application server, Casey says. Other banking middleware providers include Eontec, Harland Financial Solutions, and Sanchez Computer Associates (recently acquired by Fidelity National Financial), which have incorporated standards-based software such as Java 2 Enterprise Edition in their products. "The guiding principle is to provide one version of the truth," says Anuj Dhanda, CIO of retail and wholesale banking at PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

A major impetus for the merger of Bank of America and FleetBoston was to reap $1.1 billion in projected cost savings by integrating their retail operations. Fleet's retail systems will be converted to Bank of America's sometime next year. Whether it achieves that goal will depend on organizational as well as technological skills. For example, Fleet was on the verge of completing a business-transformation project when the merger was disclosed; that and other projects have been killed or placed on hold, says Joe Paolantonio, director of banking operations at Fleet. Still, a sledgehammer approach to integration is preferable to one in which the parties waste time haggling over details while competitors figure out ways to grab their customers. "If you're a competitor, you're asking, 'What can we do while they're distracted?'" Key's Rickert says.

For the banking industry, the distractions of technology fads such as online-only subsidiaries have passed. Now that banks have once again accepted branches as an indispensable channel, bankers can focus on the right technology and information to make sure brick and mortar equals sales and profit.

SIDEBAR:

Online Ties: Web Banking Makes Customers Less Fickle April 12, 2004

By Steven Marlin

Just because the Internet didn't kill bank branches or launch a score of Internet-only banks doesn't mean it hasn't irreversibly changed the banking industry.
Customers who bank online are 50% less likely to switch banks, says Sona Chawla, executive VP of Web channel management at Wells Fargo & Co., which has 5 million online customers that make up 43% of its total checking-account base. Customers who bank online and use online bill payment are 80% less likely to leave, Chawla says.

Efforts such as Bank One Corp.'s online-only subsidiary, WingspanBank, failed in part because bankers thought they could peddle checking accounts online the same way they do credit cards, says Richard Bell, an analyst at research firm Financial Insights. "People are willing to buy a credit card online, but when it comes to giving money to someone for safekeeping, that's a different proposition," Bell says.

That's why asset-management companies such as Merrill Lynch, E-Trade, TD Waterhouse, and State Farm have succeeded with setting up online-banking subsidiaries: Instead of pitching banking services as products, they've offered them as an added convenience. Since customers are apt to go online frequently to conduct trades or view portfolios, it makes sense to let them pay bills or write checks at the same time.

A few Internet-only banks, as opposed to offshoots of existing banks, have found life in the niches. Internet-only NetBank Inc. has attracted 164,000 customers--mostly affluent and well-educated--who don't need or want to interact with humans when conducting banking transactions. Its deposits have grown from $654 million in 1999 to $2.5 billion in 2003.

Online banking is a must-have in today's business, but KeyBank CIO Bob Rickert remembers it as a leap of faith when the bank started. Key began adding transactional capabilities to its site in the mid-1990s, when most bank Web sites consisted of brochureware, if they existed at all. Online now is likely to overtake branches in just a few years and become Key's second-most-used banking channel, trailing only ATMs.

Bell predicts that as baby boomers age and spend more time with their retirement accounts online, the Internet will evolve into the primary delivery channel for financial services. In the future, conventional banks will need to broaden their range of online services if they hope to keep pace with the Merrills and E-Trades of the financial world.

Where The Money Is

Posted by Craig at 03:00 PM

April 12, 2004

Bill Pay Kiosks

ATM/kiosk helps customers pay bills with 'Ease'

Zipping payments across cyberspace is gaining wider consumer acceptance.

In fact, the Federal Reserve estimates that households banking by computer grew fivefold between 1995-2001 and three-fold between 1999-2003, and the proportions using debit cards and smart cards more than doubled.

But what about the millions of Americans who have no Internet access and no banking affiliation? The Federal Reserve estimates that at least 28 percent of the U.S. population is underserved by financial institutions.

Who serves them?

Self-service connection

One company trying to fill that void is Pay-Ease Inc. Its "PayStation" ATM/kiosks, placed in ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, allow customers to pay their bills to a variety of creditors using cash or check.

Plastic is accepted, but not required; only a bar-coded bill payment stub is required to make a payment through PayStation. Check payments are transformed into electronic checks, and the paper returned to customers.

Pay-Ease, based in Mount Prospect, Ill., has been deploying bill-payment self-service machines for the past two years. So far it has about a dozen of them located in Jewell's and Dominick's supermarkets in Chicago. Users pay up to $1.75 for each transaction.

"We target our machines exclusively for high-traffic destination necessity places such as supermarkets," said Wally Hanna, the company's vice president of participant services. "We pick places where our customers live and do business."

Jessica Ip of Boston-based Dove Consulting said studies have shown that stamp and coupon dispensing have not really caught on at ATMs, and the same holds true for bill payment.

"Those don't have a mass appeal," Ip said. "ATMs are still primarily cash dispensers."

However, she acknowledged that self-service machines such as those developed by Pay-Ease could become a "transitional" step for people trying to gain greater access to traditional financial services.

Plans for growth

Pay Ease hopes to roll out about 40 more PayStations in Chicago by the end of the second quarter. Within a year, it hopes to have deployed 300 to 500 nationwide.

Pay-Ease has contracted with several companies offering their customers the option of paying a bill via a self-service machine as opposed to paying at a manned payment station or by mail or online.

These subscribers include Commonwealth Edison electric company (ComEd), Peoples Energy gas company, MCI, Sprint, Dish Network, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T Residential.

< _IMAGE _ >
The PayStation bill payment kiosk also functions as an ATM.

ComEd is satisfied with Pay-Ease's service, said Rose May, the utility's program manager.

"The machines brought in 11,000 payments in 2003," May said. "That's comparatively small in our overall payment picture, but we do believe in providing that option to our customers."

Dean Scaros, Pay-Ease president and CEO, said his company stresses convenience, but is also strongly focused on cost-savings to subscribers such as ComEd.

"Mail and walk in payments cost utilities and providers from $3 to $5.50 to process," Scaros said. "Pay-Ease cuts these costs to almost zero."

Pay-Ease owns, operates and maintains their machines. But the company is looking to expand their network nationwide by selling or leasing PayStations to ISOs.

New opportunities

The window of opportunity has widened because of the pending Triple DES mandate that will require many ISOs to replace or upgrade their aging ATM fleets, Hanna said.

Pay-Ease's pitch to the ISOs is that they will be able to keep revenues from the ATM side, and share revenues with Pay-Ease on the bill payment side.

In addition to providing bill-payment services, the machines serve as full-service ATMs for customers with access to traditional banking services. PayStations also can be programmed to dispense coupons, tickets, parking permits, vehicle and license plate renewal stickers and other products.

Hanna said Pay-Ease is ready to roll out parking ticket kiosks for the city of Milwaukee, Wis. The versatility of the PayStation platform bodes well for the company's future growth, he said.

"We have a great deal of flexibility in the way we work with providers, sponsors or ISOs," Hanna said.

Tidel Technologies Inc. is one of Pay-Ease's ATM hardware suppliers.

"Pay-Ease has found a wonderful area of opportunity," said Mike Hudson, Tidel's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "They provide a value-added service by creating a bill-payment platform onto an ATM platform."

Pay-Ease is not the only player in the bill-payment sector.

InfoTouch Technologies Corp. has marshaled substantial resources into this arena, focusing largely on the convenience-food/gasoline station niche. 7-Eleven Corp. offers some bill-payment services through its Vcom system. In addition, Coinstar has trumpeted its bill-payment capabilities for utilities.

Hanna said he considers neither InfoTouch nor 7-Eleven to be head-to-head competitors. Pay-Ease is in talks with Coinstar to provide software and processing services for its bill-payment programs.

Pay-Ease is also in discussions with debit-card processors to expand bill-payment services in cities around the United States. Another strong growth opportunity is money transfers to Mexican and Central American partner locations.

The company's future is bright, Scaros said.

"The opportunities for self-service delivery of customer services by kiosk is limited only by the imagination," he said. "Pay-Ease intends to be a major participant in this revolution."

ATM/kiosk helps customers pay bills with 'Ease' | ATM Marketplace News (Mobile Version)

Posted by Craig at 02:40 PM

Bill Payment Kiosks

A large number of customers of Cingular and other companies prefer to make payments in stores

By SARA CLEMENCE, Business writer
First published: Saturday, April 10, 2004

A machine that acts like a reverse ATM, taking your money instead of paying it out, might seem an incredibly unpopular device.

Not at Cingular Wireless stores in the upstate region, managers say.

The company has installed bill-payment kiosks in most of its stores around upstate, including three of its four Capital Region locations, to deal with a large number of people coming in to settle their accounts.

In an age of online bill payment and automatic debits, there is a segment of the population -- even people who use high-tech mobile phones -- that doesn't want to say the check is in the mail.

"Thousands of customers a month walk into our stores to pay their bills," said Robert Holliday, Cingular's vice president and general manager for upstate New York.

In the few days after a bill cycle is "dropped," or sent out to customers, he said, the stores see increased traffic.

"We would have an inordinate amount of customers coming in on certain days, and, unfortunately, we had them waiting in line" before the payment stations were installed, he said.

Cingular's situation is not unique, though the volume may be. Whether to save the price of a stamp, pay bills at the last second or use cash or credit cards instead of checks, in-person payment is still alive.

"I think they're incredibly popular," said Kathleen Dunleavy, spokeswoman for Sprint PCS, which also has payment stations in stores. "A lot of the times, if a customer is down to the wire, they like to be able to come in and pay it. It's credited that day."

Verizon Wireless customers can pay in stores, said spokesman Dan Diaz. Land-line customers are able to pay their bills at Price Chopper supermarkets, where they also can settle at no charge utility bills for Niagara Mohawk, NYSEG and Time Warner Cable.

"It's convenience that we afford our customers that they look kindly upon," said Mona Golub, spokeswoman for the Rotterdam-based Price Chopper chain.

Verizon also has installed so-called Vcom payment kiosks at 7-Eleven stores in several states, including Maryland, California and Arizona.

"You go pump a tank of gas, you buy a cup of coffee, and you pay your bill," Diaz said.

Whether in-person payment is a growing trend or has a regional component is hard to discern. Companies guard their payment-method numbers as if they were trade secrets, though Chris Finkle, spokesman for Niagara Mohawk, did say "the vast, vast majority (of customers) pay their bills through the mail."

And Holliday, the Cingular executive, said the people paying in person are not stereotypical lower-income or less-savvy customers. "These are higher-end calling-plan customers that are actually paying their bill in the stores," he said.

The once-common practice of paying bills at the grocery store lost favor over the years, but could come back, said Arun Jain, chairman of the department of marketing at the University at Buffalo's School of Management.

"I think we are becoming such an impersonal society that people are looking for a human touch," he said.

For companies, getting people into stores makes good business sense, Jain said. It's easier to makes sales in person, for one thing.

"By talking with the person, they may be able to sell them other services," he said. "Or maybe make them upgrade their product. They may even offer a special deal."

A grouchy customer may be more easily soothed face to face, he said. Putting kiosks in places like convenience stores might not increase the sales opportunities, but might be good for 7-Eleven's bottom line.

For Cingular, at very least, it has shortened the lines.

"In retail in general, any traffic is good traffic as long as you can manage it well," Holliday said.


Albany, N.Y. -- timesunion.com

Posted by Craig at 02:37 PM

April 07, 2004

Financial Services C-Stores

Change May Signal New ATM Plans At 7-Eleven
Retailer has stopped installing Vcoms; a vendor opts out

American Banker Tuesday, April 6, 2004
By David Breitkopf

Could 7-Eleven Inc.'s abrupt announcement that it had switched one of its vendors signal more-serious problems in its in-store banking program?

7-Eleven has articulated a bold financial services strategy - going back to early 2000 - that centers on installing Vcom-branded e-commerce kiosks in convenience stores around the country. But on Friday it said that it had engaged a new vendor to supply the kiosk's highest-profile feature, payroll check-cashing.

Meanwhile, two analysts who cover the previous vendor, Certegy Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga., said that it had pulled out of the project because Certegy had been losing money on it. The analysts also noted that 7-Eleven had halted its rollout of Vcoms.

7-Eleven confirmed that it stopped installing Vcoms in July. The company attributed Certegy's exit from the project to the fact that the vendor is more accustomed to servicing higher-volume markets.

And in a press release, the retailer sang the praises of its new vendor, CashWorks Inc. The company said CashWorks has good risk management, and expertise in convenience stores. Like 7-Eleven, CashWorks is based in Dallas.

Certegy and 7-Eleven - who plan to continue to do business with one another in a different service area - said the decision to dissolve the Vcom contract was mutual.

Neither Certegy nor 7-Eleven would say whether the Vcom program was meeting expectations, but the two analysts said it has been a flop.

Carla N. Cooper, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said that in the third quarter Certegy had talked about investing about $1 million in marketing for its partnership with 7-Eleven.

"It was clear from the tone of" subsequent the "comments" of a subsequent conference call " that it was not exceeding expectations and perhaps dragging a little bit," Ms. Cooper said. "The conclusion I'd come to is they didn't feel those dollars achieved the returns that they were looking for."

Robert J. Dodd, an analyst for Regions Financial Corp.'s Morgan Keegan & Co., said Certegy and 7-Eleven had to spend more money on marketing than they had budgeted.

Check-cashing generates only $15 million of Certegy's $1 billion of annual revenue, Mr. Dodd said. "Basically, to continue growing that business, they would have to have spent more money."

Certegy signed an eight-year contract with 7-Eleven in 2001 but by July it will hand over the job to CashWorks, which General Electric Co.'s GE Consumer Finance division acquired this year. Certegy said that the decision reflected its desire to focus on supermarket and casino clients rather than convenience stores.

It will continue to provide 7-Eleven's 2,000 company-owned stores with check warranty services at the point of sale, but only for personal checks, not the payroll checks it has been cashing at Vcoms, said Mary Waggoner, a Certegy spokeswomanshe said.

"The fact that we signed this new agreement with 7-Eleven demonstrates that we have a good relationship with them," she said.

Certegy, which provides the same warranty service for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Safeway Inc., has been migrating toward traditional supermarkets and the gambling industry, Ms. Waggoner said. It bought Game Financial Corp. from Viad Corp to enter the check-cashing market for the gambling industry, she said.

"We're really shifting our payroll check cashing into other industries where we have a stronger foothold," she said.

Carole Davidson, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, said it would not discuss Vcom's financial performance, but she did say 500,000 consumers have signed up for Vcom cards, which let them cash payroll checks at the terminals.

The retailer had said it planned to install 3,500 Vcoms, but Ms. Davidson said Friday that there are currently no plans to add to the 1,000 Vcoms that have been installed in 13 states. The rollout began in late 2002 and ended in mid-2003, she said.

Ms. Davidson did talk about Certegy's possible motives for getting out of the contract.

"It sounds like they're pursuing some other high-usage industries," she said. "While we think we've got some great traffic and we're building this business, when you think about a grocery store and how large it is and how many customers it serves, it may be a little bit different than a 7-Eleven store."

Vcom terminals can conduct many types of transactions not available at the automated teller machines typically found in retail stores. For instance, the Vcoms accept deposits, cash checks, and can conduct money transfers.

"We chose CashWorks because they specialize in cashing payroll and government checks, expertly applying their risk-decision methodology in the convenience store channel," Brady Giddens, 7-Eleven's managing director of Vcom, said in a press release.

NCR Corp., the Dayton, Ohio, company that manufactures the Vcom, is planning to offer a generic version of the terminal, Convenience Connexion, to other merchants and possibly banks. Mark Leinenkugel, the director of business development at NCR, said Certegy will provide payroll check-cashing for those terminals.

Posted by Craig at 12:52 AM

April 06, 2004

Supermarkets Getting More Banks

U.S. Bancorp. The Minneapolis bank plans to open 160 branches this year in Safeway and Vons stores in the Southwest.

Lettuce and loans: Supermarket branch banks bounce back

Last update: April 6, 2004 at 6:42 AM
Lettuce and loans: Supermarket branch banks bounce back
Chris Serres, Star Tribune
April 6, 2004SUPERMKTS0406

His business card says "Personal Banker," but Vong Soudaly arrives at a Byerly's supermarket in Maple Grove each morning prepared to perform the duties of a supermarket clerk.

By 9:30 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, the U.S. Bancorp employee already had helped an elderly woman untangle a row of shopping carts, guided a man in a business suit to the salad bar and given driving directions to a shopper searching for a nearby department store.

Soudaly's goal is to get his face -- and the U.S. Bancorp logo on his shirt -- in front of as many shoppers as possible. "If you can engage people, there is a chance they will bank with you," he said.

The supermarket bank branch, which fell out of favor with many banking executives a decade ago, is making a comeback. And banks such as U.S. Bancorp are betting big that hard-charging young employees like Soudaly will make them as profitable as traditional branches with brick facades and drive-up teller windows.
U.S. Bank employee Vong Soudaly gives away "free samples."

This year, banks nationwide will open an estimated 750 supermarket branches, more than any year on record, according to Financial Supermarkets Inc., a firm based in Cornelia, Ga. that provides consulting services to banks opening store branches.

And no single financial institution in the country is expanding as aggressively into supermarkets as U.S. Bancorp. The Minneapolis bank plans to open 160 branches this year in Safeway and Vons stores in the Southwest. The expansion will increase U.S. Bancorp's total number of supermarket branches nationwide by 28 percent to 450 branches by January 2005.

"For a decade now, the focus has been Internet banking and ATMs," said Alton Wingate, chief executive of Financial Supermarkets. "Now it's supermarket branching, full steam ahead."

Bank analysts say low interest rates have been the key factor driving the renewed push into stores. As interest rates have fallen, so too has income from consumer and business loans. To maintain profit margins, banks have intensified their search for so-called "cheap deposits" -- checking accounts that cost banks virtually nothing because they pay no interest.

By opening a branch in a supermarket, banks have convenient access to thousands of potential customers. A large supermarket can attract 20,000 shoppers a week. In addition, a supermarket branch is easier to open and less expensive to operate than a traditional branch.

TCF Financial Corp., a regional bank based in Wayzata that has 237 of its 400 branches in supermarkets, found it could open a supermarket branch for roughly one-sixth the cost of building a traditional one. As a result, TCF said it can generate a profit on a supermarket branch within 22 months, vs. 36 months at a normal branch.

Chuck Stroup, senior vice president in charge of in-store branching at U.S. Bancorp, said, "It's a great way to reach your customers, and it's the easiest way to earn a quick return."

But a quick return does not always translate into stable, long-term profits, bank analysts warn. Supermarkets are great locations to raise deposits and to cash checks, but they can be a poor venue for selling the sort of sophisticated bank products, such as mortgages, investment services and insurance, that generate the largest profits for banks. Disappointed by low returns, several major banks slowed or halted their expansion into supermarkets in the late 1990s.

"The conventional view has been, for at least five years now, that supermarket branching doesn't work," said Tony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "Generally speaking, people don't want to talk about life insurance or mutual funds when they're holding a bag of lettuce and tomatoes."

In addition, supermarket chains can be unpredictable partners. Each year, the big chains shed their worst-performing stores, and their bank partners have little say in the matter. Most banks rent their space, and have no more rights when a store closes than a hot-dog stand located in a supermarket parking lot.

"Any bank that partners with a supermarket loses some autonomy," Plath said. "You can have a branch full of great people and the next day they will be on the street without a job, for reasons that are beyond [a bank's] control."

But executives at U.S. Bancorp and other local banks are convinced they can make in-store branches work, primarily by staffing them with aggressive salespeople who are willing to step out from behind a teller line and talk to customers.

TCF, which opened its first supermarket branch in 1988, trains employees at its Cub Foods branches to walk the aisles and pitch banking products. The TCF employees choose their departments carefully. For instance, they will pitch home mortgages in the pet food section because people who own pets often own homes. Yet they usually avoid the cosmetics and meat sections, where customers are usually so focused on reading labels on the items that they aren't in the mood to talk finance, said Lynn Nagorske, president of TCF.

"The concept won't work if you run [supermarket branches] like traditional branches," Nagorske said. "You've really got to get out in front of people."

Zelda Patrick of Maple Grove said she never considered opening an account at TCF until a banker approached her in the supermarket aisle and offered her a $50 gift certificate. After hearing the banker's pitch, Patrick decided it would be easier to bank at Cub Foods, where she already shops once or twice a week, than the traditional branch near her home.

"It's all about convenience," said Patrick, a mother of two children who runs a bridal design company in Maple Grove. "My husband works. I work. It's boom, boom, boom. If I can do two things at the same place, then it makes sense."

The Bank of Elk River operates branches in Wal-Mart stores in Elk River and Maple Grove. Each of the employees who works at these branches must memorize the Wal-Mart floor plan, so they will know how to direct customers who need help. On rainy days, Bank of Elk River employees will carry umbrellas over their patrons in the parking lot.

"We look for salespeople here," said Tammy Andrews, marketing director at the Bank of Elk River. "You can teach people banking, but you can't change a personality."

Chris Serres is at cserres@startribune.com.

Posted by Craig at 07:15 PM

December 16, 2003

Pre-paid applications are forecast to double in value to $500 billion over the next four years

Despite the increasing number of payment methods available to consumers, however, 21% of Americans do not see a future without cash, and 45% believe society going cashless is at least 10 to 20 or more years away. Even pre-paid card users (51%) report they carry as much cash in their wallet today, as they did one year ago.

Pre-paid payments tipped for growth

17 November 2003 - Pre-paid applications are forecast to double in value to $500 billion over the next four years, making significant inroads in consumer markets and threatening the banking industry's payments franchise, according to research from TowerGroup.

The TowerGroup study suggests that this rapidly evolving payment category is in the early stages of a long-term expansion that will impact consumer, business and government use of cash and cheque payments.

TowerGroup believes the early success of pre-paid applications in closed environments like telecom and retail gift cards will lead to a new variety of opportunities over the coming decade - particularly where enhanced user convenience and control are key, cash and cheques can be displaced, or existing credit and debit card products are a poor fit.

Edward Kountz, senior analyst in the emerging technology solutions practice at TowerGroup, says the early emergence of pre-payment in closed user groups has made it easy for traditional banks to overlook its potential.

Pre-pay offers financial services institutions new opportunities to expand their customer base, says Kountz, through deepening their relationship with present customers and by providing a gateway into the youth and unbanked markets.

Pre-paid payment applications accounted for over US$240 billion in payments globally in 2003, according to TowerGroup estimates, and are tipped to exceed $500 billion worldwide by 2007.

With pre-paid products leading innovation in card technologies, Kountz states: "It's time for financial institutions to re-examine the impact of these applications on their businesses, in light of both the potential opportunities and the real risk of disintermediation."

TowerGroup's findings are backed up by the 2003 Coinstar National Currency Poll of 1000 US citizens, which finds that pre-paid cards are among the budgeting tools many are using to better manage their household finances. In fact, the survey revealed that 32% of Americans surveyed report having used a pre-paid card to make a purchase or transaction, which compared to other payment methods, including cash, is not far off from those who report using debit cards (45%).

Almost one-in-three say pre-paid cards are also good to give as gifts; and 29% say they are especially good to give to kids. When asked what methods they would consider using to refill or replenish their pr-paid cards' spending value, self-service kiosks, by cheque and by phone were each cited by about 20%of the respondents, followed by online (14%) and credit card (12%).

Despite the increasing number of payment methods available to consumers, however, 21% of Americans do not see a future without cash, and 45% believe society going cashless is at least 10 to 20 or more years away. Even pre-paid card users (51%) report they carry as much cash in their wallet today, as they did one year ago.

Story Link
finextra news: Pre-paid payments tipped for growth

Posted by Craig at 03:09 PM

December 11, 2003

Multi-Service ATMs

7-Eleven(R) Launches E-Commerce Shopping Services

1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R) Among E-Commerce Merchants

DALLAS, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- What's on your holiday shopping
list? Whether it's CDs for the kids, jewelry or flowers for mom, or a round
of golf for dad, you don't have to fight the crowds at the mall to buy the
perfect gift. In fact, you don't need to go farther than a 7-Eleven(R) store,
where the Vcom(R) kiosk has become a virtual "shopping mall in a box" with
hundreds of gift-giving options for smart Santas.
Just in time to ease the hassles of holiday shopping, customers at close
to 1,000 selected 7-Eleven stores* across the country can now use Vcom to shop
for selected products 24 hours a day from e-retailers including
1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R), FreeJewelry.biz, eBags.com, TopWebBuys.com, and U.S.
Health Services and pay for their purchases with cash or by credit card.
Shopping is the latest service added to Vcom, which stands for "virtual
commerce" and is unique in the world of kiosks because of the variety of
offerings and payment options on a single device. The kiosk's bunch-note
acceptor can handle up to 30 bills inserted at one time and dispense exact
change.
As 7-Eleven's e-commerce, advertising and technology partner, Cyphermint,
Inc. recruits e-retailers for Vcom. Its patented Pay Cash(TM) system allows
people to pay cash for their Vcom purchases, making the kiosk a convenient
shopping alternative for customers who do not have access to the Internet, a
credit card or don't want to use their credit card for e-commerce purchases.
The virtual shopping mall experience begins with the customer choosing a
product category such as flowers, books, gifts, music or electronics, from the
touch-screen menu featuring a Shopping Mall button. The participating
merchant's screen then displays a selection of products, descriptions and a
sales price, including special offers available only through Vcom. Customers
will now have access to the merchant's most popular online offerings.
The customer can see additional detail on any item offered, add to a
shopping cart and proceed to check out. There is a $1 service fee for each
transaction. Some merchants are offering next-day shipping or free shipping,
while regular shipping will take three to five business days via UPS ground or
U.S. Postal Service.
In addition to e-shopping, Vcom customers can conduct ATM transactions
(American Express provides the ATM service on most Vcom machines), cash checks
through Certegy Check Services(SM), and purchase Western Union money orders
and conduct money transfers. Verizon customers can view and pay their
residential phone bills, order calling features and request repair service
through the kiosk. Bill payment services provided by e-Money Systems and car
and motorcycle insurance coverage through Public Access Insurance are expected
to be added to Vcom in the future.
"We now have the variety of offerings we always envisioned for Vcom," says
Brady Giddens, 7-Eleven, Inc.'s managing director for Vcom. "It is our intent
that customers can shop for products and services they want, but which are not
available in our stores. Thanks to Vcom, we have a mini shopping mall inside
our stores."
"We have had enormous success in attracting established e-retailers with
broad selection of products for Vcom," says Joe Barboza, CEO of Cyphermint,
Inc. "We are pleased with the partnership we've established with 7-Eleven
and, in particular, the successful integration of our patented Pay Cash
System(TM) to Vcom. Customers can expect more well-known brands to offer
products and services through Vcom in the near future."
Some of the top e-retailers that have partnered with Cyphermint to sell
products and services on Vcom are:
-- 1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R) -- With one of the most recognized brands in
gift retailing, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R) provides a broad range of floral
arrangements -- including flowers, plants, and bouquets. Currently
there are 12 arrangements to choose from, ranging from a dozen red
roses to a holiday bouquet. In the future, there are plans to sell
gourmet foods, candies, gift baskets and other unique gifts on Vcom.
-- eBags.com -- The world's largest online retailer of bags and
accessories for all lifestyles will offer some two dozen popular
products on Vcom and feature premium and popular brands such as
Samsonite, JansSport, The North Face and Liz Claiborne. With
competitive prices, consumers will choose from backpacks, messenger
and carry-on bags to computer cases and handbags.
-- FreeJewelry.biz -- This American-owned jewelry company is offering
free fine Italian jewelry, 14K-gold jewelry as well as genuine pearl
jewelry on Vcom. Customers pay a shipping and handling charge for
each item ordered among the wide selection of products ranging from
rings to pendants.
-- TopWebBuys.com -- Run by parent company Infopia inc., this category
will offer the top-selling books and video games.
-- U.S. Health Services (USHS) -- This national, "to-your-home" consumer
pharmacy for prescriptions, vitamins, supplements and nutraceuticals
offers numerous health-related products, such as the popular Atkins
diet program foods, on the Vcom kiosk. Product categories will
include bone and joint; lifestyle; vitamins, minerals and herbs; diet
and body building; Atkins, and EAS.
-- Universal Tickets, Inc. -- For tickets to more than 1,800 golf
courses and 200 ski mountains, customers can press the Gift Card
Category on the Vcom Internet Shopping screen. Select a tee time and
choose the Universal Golf Ticket Gift Card at $49.95, the SwingPack
(includes six Nike golf balls) for $59.95 or a half-hour golf lesson
good at one of 500 participating facilities for $49.95.

About 7-Eleven, Inc. (NYSE: SE)
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience
retailing industry. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven, Inc. operates
or franchises close to 5,800 7-Eleven(R) stores in the United States and
Canada and licenses approximately 19,700 7-Eleven(R) stores in 16 other
countries and U.S. territories throughout the world. During 2002, 7-Eleven(R)
stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $33 billion. Find out
more online at http://www.7-Eleven.com .

About Cyphermint, Inc.
Cyphermint, a privately owned corporation headquartered in Marlborough,
Massachusetts, develops electronic payment software and scalable kiosk-based
systems. Cyphermint's Pay Cash System(TM) is the most secure payment system
on the Internet today. Through a unique combination of public kiosks, stored
value cards and the Pay Cash payment system, Cyphermint brings a range of
financial services and electronic commerce to consumers, regardless of whether
they have a bank account or a credit card. Find out more at
http://www.cyphermint.com .

* E-commerce is not available on Vcom kiosks in the Austin, Texas;
Ft. Myers, Fla., and Richmond, Va., areas.

Posted by Craig at 03:01 PM

Debit Payroll Cards

Debit Card With Hispanic Appeal

December 11, 2003

NEWTON, NJ -- Fully 35 percent of all U.S. residents do not have banking relationships, and a large majority of the so-called "unbanked" are Spanish-speaking, according to CR Wolters Financial Access Systems.

CR Wolters (www.crwolters.com), through a strategic business alliance with First Card Resources, is offering its Payroll Debit Card program to Spanish-American businesses. The debit cards allow users access to their incomes at any time at ATM machines and to purchase goods at any store that honors debit cards.

In addition to making check cashing safer and easier, CR Wolters said that the card also simplifies transferring funds to relatives, such as teenage or college-age students at home or abroad. Additional cards can be issued for this purpose and are preloaded for designated dollar amounts by the cardholder. Funds can then be transferred from one card to another via a password-protected Web site or a toll-free Interactive Voice Response Unit (IVRU). The company noted that cost for transferring funds with the debit card is less than with traditional means, such as wire transfer.

CR Wolters said the Payroll Debit Card programs also can save employers money by reducing payroll distribution costs and risks. The cards are especially useful for part-time or seasonal workers, according to the company.

The company is now implementing debit-card programs for a number of major retailers. Cards can be imprinted with a company's name and logo, and they can be issued with Visa or MasterCard branding.

"Our Payroll and Retail Debit Card programs can be of tremendous benefit to Spanish-speaking people in the U.S.," said company President Craig Wolters. "They not only help employers and their employees distribute and gain access to income, but also provide a service advantage to those active in retailing within this economically significant community."

Posted by Craig at 02:52 PM

November 10, 2003

Triple DES and Refurbished

ATM Refurbisher Includes Triple DES Upgrades When Refurbishing Equipment

November 10, 2003 08:32

ACG Delivers Triple DES Compliant ATMs; ATM Refurbisher Includes Triple DES Upgrades When Refurbishing Equipment

ATLANTA, Nov 10, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ACG ATM-Remarketers now offers construction and delivery of refurbished-to-order ATM units that feature the latest Triple DES upgrades. ACG provides refurbished ATMs, kiosks and parts to community financial institutions and independent store operators.

Triple DES encryption, a higher standard of data encryption, is the newest communications security upgrade for ATMs required by VISA(R) and MasterCard(R) and is designed to better protect electronically transmitted data. The essential upgrades are a new encryption PIN pad (EPP) and updated software. To be compliant with VISA and MasterCard, ATMs tied to their networks must have the EPP and software installed and running before April 1, 2005.

"As computer processing speeds have multiplied, encryption code breaking is a potential problem," said Woody Alderman, president of ACG. "Installing Triple DES upgrades into our machines before they are sold allows our customers to be completely compliant with the latest requirements without the expense that new ATMs bring to the company."

Working through the ATM manufacturer's channels and solutions, ACG installs Triple DES compliant hardware and software as the ATM is being rebuilt. Because ACG upgrades its machines while they are refurbished, financial institutions can purchase ATMs that are completely compliant at a reasonable price.

"We were in need of a new ATM and knew that Triple DES would be an issue to consider when making the purchase," said Leo Schiltz, executive vice president of Caldwell State Bank in Caldwell, Kan. "By purchasing a refurbished ATM from ACG, we were able to save more than 30 percent compared to what we would have spent on a new one. Additionally, our machine came with Triple DES compliance, leaving us with no worries about upgrading our new system."

After ACG obtains used ATMs from banks and credit unions, the machines are completely disassembled and each part is analyzed separately. The parts are extensively tested individually and repaired where needed.

Non-repairable parts are replaced. Screen burned CRTs are replaced with new ones. Belts, rollers, vacuum tubes and other wear items are replaced. The EPP is installed, upgraded licensed software is loaded, and the entire ATM is tested thoroughly. After passing all quality control tests, the ATM is shipped to its final destination where it is connected to the corresponding network.

About ACG ATM-Remarketers

Atlanta-based ACG ATM-Remarketers is a provider of custom refurbished ATMs and kiosks, parts, maintenance and training at a cost 30 to 60 percent lower than that of comparable new equipment for community financial institutions and independent store operators. Since its founding in 1986, ACG has served more than 500 financial institutions in the continental United States, mainly credit unions and independent community banks.

For more information, visit www.atm-remarketers.com.

SOURCE: ACG ATM-Remarketers

For ACG ATM-Remarketers
Kevin Denver Banks, 678-781-7217

Posted by Craig at 02:25 PM

November 06, 2003

Check 21 Enacted

Bankers are celebrating the enactment of the new law, known as the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, or Check 21 for short. October 28, 2003 signed into law.

November 04, 2003 23:08

Banks Rush to Embrace Digital Check Processing
By Frank Norton, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.

Nov. 3--Banks hate them, fewer and fewer people are using them, and the cost of moving them from place to place is getting astronomical.

They're paper checks, and their days are numbered.

Sick and tired of moving billions of pieces of paper around the country, the banking industry has successfully lobbied Congress to pass a law, signed last week by President Bush, that will allow banks to stop sending customers' original checks back to them.

Signed checks will now be transformed into a digital image, the original will be destroyed, and the customer will receive only a printout of check numbers and amounts.

Bankers are celebrating the enactment of the new law, known as the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, or Check 21 for short. They say it will cut their costs, streamline transaction processing and protect the industry and consumers from delays caused by transportation interruptions.

"This isn't going to turn overnight, but there are efficiencies to be gained in the long term," said Nessa Feddis, senior federal counsel for the American Bankers Association, a leading industry group. "Ultimately, though, you won't have to fly planes, trains and automobiles to move checks across the country."

However, the changeover will not take place without costs, both financial and human.

Check-writing has been on the decline for some time. Businesses have been moving for years toward electronic fund transfers, and consumers increasingly are switching to the convenience of bank cards that allow credit or debit payments and cash withdrawals in a matter of seconds.

According to the Federal Reserve, the nation's largest check processor, the number of checks written last year was the lowest in more than a decade -- about 40 billion, down from 50 billion in 1995 and about 75 billion a year in the early '90s.

The downward trend is expected to continue at about 5 percent a year through 2006, and roughly 9 percent thereafter.

At the same time, however, the cost of sorting, routing and shipping checks keeps rising. It's a highly labor-intensive process that has become the second most expensive part of retail banking, behind running a branch network.

According to Celent Communications, a Boston-based research firm that tracks the financial services industry, banks in the United States spend between $6 billion and $8 billion annually on check processing and transportation, employing 50,000 people and running more than 300 check-clearing centers nationwide.

Check 21 changes all that by allowing all U.S. banks to process checks electronically, by making and sharing digital images of them rather than having to physically transport them between banks across the country. The new law eliminates checks as a proof of purchase for millions of Americans who still find security in retrieving their processed checks from the mailbox.

Banks and customers who still want a paper copy can request a "substitute check," or the legal equivalent of the original, which in most cases will be destroyed upon deposit.

Bob Davis, executive vice president of America's Community Bankers, a Washington-based group that represents smaller banks, said bankers large and small pushed hard for the bill because it will help them simplify operations and cut costs.

"From the very beginning, it was clear that this piece of legislation had strong support from all of the major banking trade associations," he said.

He said clearing checks electronically will help circumvent catastrophes such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks that can hold up the physical shipment of checks for weeks. For example, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks caused costly delays in check-processing and payments by bringing the country's air-transport system to a halt. Natural disasters have done the same on a regional basis.

As for the cost of getting electronic image-sharing systems up and running, Davis said it should not be too bad. "Most banks I'm familiar with already use imaging for checks to varying degrees," he said. "There may be some front-end hardware and software costs, but once systems are fully up and running, banks should be able to make ongoing cost savings and pass those on to consumers."

Celent, on the other hand, predicts banks will spend nearly $2 billion on check imaging in 2005 alone. However, the firm also estimates that the industry will eventually save up to a third of its current operating expenditure of about $7 billion annually, or about $2.3 billion, and that about 83 percent of medium to large banks will have fully enabled image-sharing systems by 2006.

The ABA's Feddis said speedier processing times will reduce the risk of fraud and improve ATM service, as transactions will be recognized immediately rather having to wait for a physical confirmation.

According to check-processing experts, a typical check gets handled between 10 and 28 times before finishing its journey and landing back in the mailbox of the writer. With image sharing, that process should eventually disappear.

"I'm very excited about this happening, because I think it's something we've needed to do as an industry for a long time now," said Hugh Lane, president of Charleston-based Bank of South Carolina. "We've been doing imaging since the late '90s, and it has shown us that people can be productive doing things other than touching checks."

Alenka Grealish, manager of Celent's banking group, said many banks will initially set up partial image-sharing systems, expanding them gradually.

"Unlike other technologies where you can sit on the fence and let others experiment, there is not that room for discretion here," Grealish said. "It will be cost-prohibitive to remain one of the few banks that still want to ship paper around."

Grealish noted that there will also be a price paid in the elimination of jobs in processing and transporting checks.

"There are a lot of people working these jobs that are going to see their place of employment disappear," she said. "That's going to affect communities all over the country that have a lot of lower-skilled workers."

Steve Whitney, senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, agreed, saying productivity gains from automation will reduce the need for manual handling and labor.

"Initially, we'll probably see a gradual implementation of this system without the displacement of too many jobs," he predicted. "But as financial players become more comfortable with the technology, we're certain to see a shaving of jobs -- and that's true with the automation of any labor-intensive function."

In many places, downsizing is happening already.

The Federal Reserve, for example, in February announced plans to reduce its check-processing costs by cutting about 400 jobs nationwide and the number of its check-processing locations from 45 to 32.

One of the locations to be closed is in Columbia, which next August will be rolled into the Fed's Charlotte district headquarters. The Columbia branch, which employs about 60 people, had about 100 workers five years ago.

Cost-cutting measures are expected to reduce the Fed's operating expenses for check services by about $60 million in 2005 and about $300 million over the next five years.

But while federal and private check-clearers face downsizing, other businesses expect a boom.

David Brasfield of Brasfield Technology, a Birmingham, Ala.-based software company that specializes in serving community banks, said he expects revenue to double next year as more and more banks sign on to imaging systems.

Posted by Craig at 02:45 PM

November 05, 2003

Tidbits from Financial Service

Great wrap by Ann All on recent goings-on at Financial tradeshows.

story link

Shows full of industry intelligence
by Ann All, editor 04 Nov, 2003
Back News Archives

Do companies time their announcements just to give folks at industry trade shows something to talk about?

I have to wonder, after last week's announcement of the proposed merger of Bank of America and FleetBoston Financial, which came during the Thomson Financial-sponsored ATM & Debit Forum in New Orleans.

One observer, noting that the banking monoliths are both Visa board members, said they would wield quite a bit of collective network influence. "Maybe they'll make Triple DES go away," he sighed.

Rumors notwithstanding, there was plenty of interesting fodder on the agenda at the well-attended Thomson event, and at the ATM Industry Association's Future Summit and Awards in sunny Indian Wells, Calif., which also took place last week.

Here are some interesting tidbits from a busy week:

New opps: Ruth Ann Marshall, president of MasterCard's North America Region, identified monthly recurring payments, person-to-person funds transfer, loyalty programs and products targeted to growing markets such as the Hispanic community as among the biggest opportunities for debit card issuers.

Room for more: Scott Betts, First Data Corporation's president of Merchant Services, predicted that the payments landscape -- impacted by slowing growth and consolidation, regulatory pressures, changing technologies and consumer demands -- will become too complex to be centrally managed by a few entities (such as Visa and MasterCard, perhaps?)

Full price admission: Industry gadfly Don Jarecki said the ATM & Debit Forum was the first event in years he's attended as a paid registrant. Guess that means Jarecki, who recently became vice president of business development for Palm Desert National Bank, which provides vault cash for some 11,000 ATMs, will retire such tricks as "recycling" past event badges.
< _IMAGE _ >

Indian Wells, Calif., site of the ATM Industry Association's Future Summit and Awards.

Ah, irony: Bob Whyte, in announcing his move from managing debit card products to ATM/merchant services for Bank of America, said, "I guess it's poetic justice that a former manager from the issuer side is now responsible for the acquirer side." BofA believes there is a "unique, powerful interplay" between debit and ATM products," Whyte said.

Pick me, pick me: Whyte's five criteria for selecting a payments network: 1) Heed the clich about putting all of your eggs in one basket. "The ability to talk to vendors in a competitive environment is Risk Management 101," he said. 2) Look for an alignment of strategies between issuer and network. Ensure the network has 3) broad card acceptance/geographic footprint and 4) attractive pricing. 5) Seek a governmental structure that offers ability to control your own destiny.

It's all good: While BofA once devoted marketing dollars to trying to convince cardholders to use signature rather than PIN-based debit, the bank now takes "a more holistic view," Whyte said. "We just want to encourage card usage." The elimination of costly checks presents an attractive business case no matter how much interchange income is earned, he said.

Cards a keeper: "Demographics are in our favor," said Whyte, when asked if he thought retailers would drop any card products in the wake of the Wal-Mart settlement. "At the end of the day, they want to sell products; they don't want to turn away any sales."

Serving up service: What can the electronic payments industry learn from the Brennans, New Orleans' great restaurant family? After meals at three different Brennan-owned eateries, it's clear that the Brennans are masters at anticipating their customers' needs and going out of their way to meet them. In a town full of great food, outstanding customer service is what really sets them apart from other restaurateurs.

Two reasons to like Six Sigma: JP Morgan Chase gave an ATM & Debit Forum presentation on how it used the quality control methodology to make improvements in its ATM program. It was also mentioned in the BofA/Fleet announcement. "Both Bank of America and FleetBoston Financial have used Six Sigma successfully in recent years to streamline processes, improve quality, efficiency and accuracy, and to free up capital for strategic investment. The leadership team of the newly combined company is committed to continuing the Six Sigma program in all areas of the business," the announcement read.
< _IMAGE _ >

The crowd listens to a speaker at the Future Summit and Awards.

Research refresh: Time for another Dove Consulting study on ATM deployment. The firm is recruiting banks, credit unions and ISOs to participate in a new study, which will include data on cost benchmarks, ATM performance metrics, transaction levels and mix, drivers of new deployments and projections for future placements, among other information. As in 1999 and 2002, several leading EFT networks are sponsoring the study.

The road to knowledge: New research firm PurchaseStreet plans to focus less on generating what SVP Karen Cone calls "FUD" -- or fear, uncertainty and doubt -- and more on "drilling down to actionable advice" for its clients. A MasterCard company, PurchaseStreet employs five analysts who focus exclusively on the payments industry.

Lack of vision: Curtis Chong of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) said technology isn't the issue in bringing audio to ATMs. "It's the will and the money and the mindset," he said. "(The blind) don't figure as a line item on anybody's balance sheet."

Daniel Goldstein, a partner in the Brown, Goldstein & Levy law firm which is assisting the NFB in its effort to advance "talking" ATMs, said the industry would have spent less to equip ATMs with audio if it had been more proactive. "No thought was given to design issues before the technology was deployed. It's like installing an elevator. It's going to cost a lot more if it's installed after a building is constructed rather than before."

Expanding options: Goldstein said he is considering broadening the definition of who operates ATMs so that companies such as transaction processors could be included in future legal actions over ATM accessibility.

Middle of the action: Thomas Laabs, VP of deposit services for Charter Bank, said Charter positions an ATM in the middle of its teller stations. It's a subtle yet effective way of showing customers there is a readily available alternative to waiting in line, he said.

Strength in numbers: Jim Hanisch, Co-Op Network's EVP of corporate development, said that transactions conducted by Co-Op Network members at Co-Op branded ATMs managed by eFunds have grown by 400 percent since 2002. Noting that a combined BofA/Fleet would have some 16,500 ATMs to Co-Op Network's 17,500 (with more than 8,000 of them managed by Access Cash/eFunds), he said, "I think we've got them beat by just a few."

Giving them what they want: John Brinnon, vice president of ATM products for Visa USA, said that Visa's research shows that 42 percent of consumers are "very or somewhat interested" in accessing multiple accounts at ATMs -- including machines not owned by their banks.

Tried and true: Despite the industry's attempt to promote new transactions such as prepaid phone top-ups and bill payment, Brinnon said they earned only lukewarm interest from consumers in a recent Visa survey. What really interests consumers, he said, is convenient locations, surcharge-free transactions and highly reliable ATMs. "They really haven't paid much attention to innovation. They're not at ATMs to watch pretty screens."
< _IMAGE _ >

Jason Kuhn shows off one of his company's ATMs in the WRG Services booth at the Future Summit and Awards.

Mixed motives: Brinnon noted a "push/pull scenario" with both prepaid phone top-ups and money transfer at the ATM. Phone carriers would prefer to entice consumers into monthly contracts, and companies like Western Union reduce their revenue opportunities by moving money transfer from behind counters to ATMs, he said.

Lifetime achievement: Cardtronics founder Ralph Clinard was the second recipient of the Lyle Elias Lifetime Achievement Award at the ATM Industry Association's Future Summit and Awards. Doug Deitel, Cardtronics' EVP of corporate services, poked fun at Clinard's aversion to computers among other idiosyncrasies before saying seriously: "If you want to know the kingdom, look at the king. Cardtronics is a success because of you."

Not just the flavor of the month: You can call Cardtronics employees "the Blackberry boys" because of their nearly constant use of the handheld devices. Rumor has it that Cardtronics, which manages a number of non-branch ATMs for both Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, is about to announce a similar deal with another high-profile financial institution.

Miffed and mobilized: Dave Schneider, general counsel for the Pulse EFT Association, said that in the wake of the Wal-Mart settlement, networks are facing "an energized class of merchants, highly educated about payments issues at our expense." In other countries, including the UK and Australia, the concept of interchange is under fire, with the government stepping in to regulate fees rather than leaving it up to networks.

A solid platform: Tidel EVP Mike Hudson told Future Summit attendees that a 2400 baud modem "just isn't going to cut it anymore" in the world of ATM communications. It lacks the ability to transfer large, complex files from the ATM to the host; can't communicate with peripherals such as check scanners; and can't be used to create advanced user interfaces.

Acquiring insurance: Lyle Elias, ATMIA chairman and executive director of Value Payment Network, said that ATMIA is working with insurer American Special Risk to try to create a program that would cover acquirers' losses in cases of employee infidelity. While such coverage has long been available for issuers, "insurers and re-insurers don't understand the risks" of the acquiring side of the business, he said.

Driving new transactions: Mark Grossi, NCR's chief technology officer, noting that the latest BMW models run on a Windows XP operating system, said this creates the possibility of building enterprise-wide applications that would allow consumers to initiate transactions while in their vehicles, then communicate with ATMs using Bluetooth or a similar wireless technology.

ATMs and amore: Perhaps the most unusual concepts floated by NCR in its Room 504 research lab was the idea of connecting ATMs to the database of an online dating service so that cardholders could get information on potential matches via their ATM receipts.

Paying for it -- one way or another: Several panelists from the "Valuing Your ATM Portfolio" discussion mentioned Triple DES compliance as one way for sellers to boost the value of their contracts -- in much the same way that a seller can fetch a better price for his home by updating a kitchen or bathroom.

After an audience member said he expected his merchants to foot the bill for upgrades, panelist Doug Falcone, CEO of Access to Money, said that would open the door for attrition if other ISOs came in and offered to cover the cost. "And they will," he said.

Truth or dare: Sandra Hartfield, president and CEO of electronic banking for Palm Desert National Bank, presented Future Summit attendees with four myths and corresponding truths about the ATM business.

Myth number one: the market is saturated. The truth, she said, is "the market is more vibrant than ever" because of the introduction of advanced-function ATMs.

Myth number two: we are becoming a cashless society. The truth, she said, is that some 20 percent of the American population is unbanked and a prime market for new ATM-based services such as money order sales and prepaid cards.

Myth number three: check cashing is a bank market. The truth: President Bush's signing of Check 21 into law on Oct. 28 created an opportunity for ISOs to deliver deposit services to financial institution customers at their ATMs. Such partnerships would allow FIs to reduce their overhead and expenses while making customers happy with expanded services, Hartfield said.

Myth number four: no one is watching us. "If you believe no one is watching, you are hurting our industry," said Hartfield, whose comments certainly rang true. "When sponsors and networks let you know of changes, take them seriously. Know your responsibilities and be a good partner."

Posted by Craig at 04:57 PM

October 29, 2003

Speech Enabling Technology

Credit Union Approves over $43 Million in Member Loans Using Speech-Enabled Instant Loan Application

October 29, 2003 08:02

America First Credit Union Approves over $43 Million in Member Loans Using Speech-Enabled Instant Loan Application Powered by ScanSoft
ScanSoft Recognizes Credit Union with Milestone Achievement Award for Improved Member Self-Service

PEABODY, Mass., Oct 29, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT), the leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions, today announced it has recognized America First Credit Union (AFCU), the largest credit union in Utah, with a Milestone Achievement Award for its SpeechAccess(TM) Instant Loan application, which allows members to apply and be instantly approved for a variety of loans over the phone. In addition to improving member self-service options, the speech system has processed more than 11,500 applications and approved $43 million in loans since it was deployed one year ago. The Milestone Achievement Award recognizes companies who have reached a customer service milestone with their speech service.

"Our experience with speech technology has greatly exceeded our initial expectations," stated Rich Syme, vice president of automated services at AFCU. "To date, we have used ScanSoft's speech technology to approve nearly 6,000 loan applications. Members continue to embrace the speech system and are using it rather than waiting to talk to a loan officer. As a result, we've realized significant savings and are evaluating other areas in our business where speech can be applied." AFCU has over $2.7 billion in assets and serves 342,760 members.

The SpeechAccess Instant Loan application allows members to apply for loans and use a calculator to adjust the amount, term, and payment structure to achieve the desired result. The speech system then collects the remaining information, including employment status, income, and residence information. SpeechAccess has eliminated on-hold times for 26% of members who prefer to use the system rather than wait on hold for a loan officer. AFCU members can use the speech system to apply for the following loans:

-- New or used auto

-- Checking card

-- Home equity loans

-- Personal loans

-- Recreational vehicle

-- Visa(R) credit cards

"With more than 11,500 applications processed and $43 million in loans approved using speech, AFCU has clearly reached a milestone with speech," said Steve Chambers, senior vice president and general manager of Network Speech Solutions at ScanSoft. "AFCU's commitment to improving member services and adoption of speech technology distinguishes them as a technology leader in the credit union industry."

About America First Credit Union

America First Credit Union (AFCU) is a non-profit organization that serves its 342,760 members as a financial cooperative. As expressed in the mission statement, America First's primary goal is "...to provide personal financial services of a superior quality to the members/owners, our chief concern being their financial well-being." Headquartered in Ogden, Utah, with 47 locations across the Wasatch Front and one in Mesquite, Nevada, America First is the largest credit union in the state. Founded in 1939 at Fort Douglas, Utah, with original assets of $100, AFCU now has assets of over $2.7 billion. AFCU employs 1,115 people. America First Credit Union has established itself as a leader among financial institutions in Utah, and across the nation, in finding ways to use cutting-edge technology to increase service to its members.

About ScanSoft(R) Network Speech Solutions

ScanSoft Network Speech Solutions is the global leader in advanced network speech technologies and professional services. Enterprise and telecommunications organizations around the world such as Aetna, Bank of America and Qantas Airways leverage the power and innovation of the SpeechWorks(R) Suite of Network Speech Solutions to redefine the way they exchange vital information with customers and employees over the telephone. With a global sales and engineering presence, ScanSoft is uniquely positioned to help companies create and implement sophisticated speech solutions that deliver proven economic benefits and the highest levels of caller satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.scansoft.com/network/.

About ScanSoft, Inc.

ScanSoft, Inc. (Nasdaq: SSFT) is the leading supplier of speech and imaging solutions that are used to automate a wide range of manual processes - saving time, increasing worker productivity and improving customer service. For more information regarding ScanSoft products and technologies, please visit www.ScanSoft.com.

ScanSoft and the ScanSoft logo, are registered trademarks or trademarks of ScanSoft, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other company or product names may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

SOURCE: ScanSoft, Inc.

ScanSoft, Inc.
Marie Ruzzo, 617-428-4444
marie.ruzzo@scansoft.com
or
America First Credit Union
Keicha Chapman, 801-778-8606
kchapman@americafirst.com

Posted by Craig at 04:24 PM

Coin Counting Machines in Banks

Bank Introduces Free Coin Counting Machines In All Branches

October 29, 2003 10:27

Monmouth Community Bank, N. A. Introduces Free Coin Counting Machines In All Branches

LONG BRANCH, N.J., Oct 29, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- (NASDAQ: MCBK) - Monmouth Community Bank, N.A., a full-service community banking organization and wholly-owned subsidiary of Monmouth Community Bancorp, announced today the addition of coin counting machines to expand upon the bank's strategic plans to offer convenient products and services to its customers. The new self-service coin counting machines are free for all customers to use and are conveniently located at every Monmouth Community Bank branch. Customers simply drop their loose change into the counter where the coins are promptly counted and a receipt is generated which can be exchanged at a teller station for cash or customers may have the amount directly deposited into a Monmouth Community Bank account.

James S. Vaccaro, Chairman and CEO, noted that "The coin counters are just another way Monmouth Community Bank is enhancing its customers' retail banking experience. Monmouth Community Bank's goal is to exceed the expectations of our customers and to look for ways to better serve customers."

The bank also offers seven-day-a-week branch banking with extended hours, free checking accounts and free savings accounts along with a full range of banking products and services. In addition to traditional branch banking, Monmouth Community Bank, N.A. offers telephone banking, on-line banking, and ATM banking under the moniker "MCB Anytime Access". Monmouth Community Bank has six full-service branch facilities located in Monmouth County, New Jersey, in Long Branch, Spring Lake Heights, Neptune City, Little Silver, Ocean Grove and Neptune.

For additional information regarding Monmouth Community Bank, please visit us at www.mcbna.com or call the Main Office at (732) 571-1300.

Monmouth Community Bancorp is the holding company and sole shareholder of Monmouth Community Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered commercial bank, which commenced operations in the second half of 1998. Monmouth Community Bank provides a full range of banking services to both individual and business customers through six, full-service branch facilities located in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Statements about the future expectations of Monmouth Community Bancorp and Monmouth Community Bank, including future revenues and earnings, and all other statements in this press release other than historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Since these statements involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, the companies' actual results could differ materially from expected results. Among these risks, trends and uncertainties are the effect of governmental regulation on Monmouth Community Bank, the availability of working capital, the cost of personnel, and the competitive market in which Monmouth Community Bank competes.

SOURCE: Monmouth Community Bank, N.A.

Monmouth Community Bank, N.A.
James S. Vaccaro, Chairman and CEO, 732-571-1300
Anthony Giordano, III, SVP and CFO, 732-923-1115

Posted by Craig at 04:21 PM

October 21, 2003

Little Interest in Internet ATMs

ATMs did not fare well in the third annual Community Bank Technology Survey recently conducted by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and by InFinet Resources.

Story Link

Survey: Few community bankers express interest in ATM technology
21 Oct, 2003

WASHINGTON ATMs did not fare well in the third annual Community Bank Technology Survey recently conducted by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and by InFinet Resources.

In response to a question on which software applications banks were currently using or planning to evaluate in the next 12 to 18 months, 63 percent of the more than 1,000 community bank executives surveyed said that Internet-enabled ATMs were "of no interest."

Just 1 percent were currently using Internet-enabled ATMs and another 17 percent were "planning to evaluate."

"Talking" or audio-enabled ATMs earned a similar ranking. They were "of no interest" to 72 percent of respondents, with 2 percent already using them and 8 percent "planning to evaluate."

More than 1,000 community bankers nationwide completed the survey, which gauges the technology challenges facing community banks, according to a news release. The survey had
an 11.5 percent response rate.

In previous years, community bankers indicated in the survey greater interest in finding new technologies to stay competitive. Now, however, they are looking to maximize the effectiveness of existing technologies. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed cited affordability and security as their top technology concerns.

"Now banks need to digest technology purchases and are examining their influence on the bottom line," said Dewite North, ICBA's chief information officer, in the release..

Other highlights from the ICBA-InFinet Resources survey:

* Imaging technology gained ground in 2003 as bankers sought the efficiencies of electronic images versus paper. Community banks already using check-imaging applications climbed to 53 percent, from 47 percent in 2002. Another 39 percent of community banks indicated plans to evaluate the technology in the next 12 to 18 months.
* In 2002, 54 percent of community banks had Web sites with Internet banking. Although Internet banking is still a concern, 81 percent of banks with more than $100 million in assets offer customers the technology, as opposed to 38 percent of banks with assets of less than
$100 million.
* Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software lost some of its steam from a year ago. Thirty-six percent of banks said they were planning to evaluate using CRM in the next 12 to 18 months, down from 43 percent last year.

"While it's difficult to pick out a single technology that all community banks are interested in, the survey indicates that banks are doing more in terms of technology rather than less," North said. "We're keeping our eyes out for the next big blip on the radar."

For complete survey results, http://www.icba.org/tech/2003techsurvey.pdf

ICBA has nearly 5,000 members with 17,000 locations nationwide. Members hold more
than $526 billion in insured deposits, $643 billion in assets and more than $405 billion in loans to consumers, small businesses and farms.

Posted by Craig at 02:23 PM

October 01, 2003

Where is the ATM headed?

Where is the ATM headed?

Where is the ATM headed?
by Mark Grossi, NCR's chief technology officer 30 Sep, 2003
Back News Archives

For more than 300 years, banking was a simple branch-based operation. However the introduction of the ATM in 1967 and the introduction of on-line teller terminal systems has completely changed customer expectations -- the ATM displacing the cashier/teller, the telephone and Internet replacing the branch and surface mail, and electronic cash replacing cash.

The branch has been attacked, beaten and is evolving. It can survive -- but not as a bank administration office. The branch has to become a retail store operation with full branding, retailing, sales and marketing capabilities to survive.
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With each wave of technology, we have seen massive opportunities for banks, non-banks and IT vendors to reinvent the industry. We have also seen massive challenges. For example, just moving from a branch-based banking operation into a call center-based operation was dramatic. Obviously, most banks run both types of operations, branch and telephone.

This works to their advantage, as they can provide consumers with channel choice. Yet they are often late to enter such market opportunities, and cannot be as lean, mean and fit as the newcomers who will specialize without being encumbered by other legacy channels.

First Direct, the first and most successful UK telephone bank -- at one point growing by 100,000 customers per month -- is a good example, with their slogan: "the bank without branches." By the time the traditional large banks moved into telephone banking, they were five years behind First Direct and did not offer the same functionality or professional service.

All of these factors combine to allow us to state categorically that there is more change taking place in the banking industry now and over the next five years than seen in the last 50. We must identify the next critical revolution in consumer banking delivery and ensure that we are leading the pack with appropriate solutions.

Consumers in motion

It is consumer acceptance of technology, rather than technology itself, that brings about widespread change. Consumers embrace technology that is convenient or that makes their daily lives more convenient. Technology enables change, but consumer behavior and acceptance drive it.

So how are we changing as consumers? After all, as well as being bankers, technologists or whatever, the one thing we have in common is that we are all consumers.

Our lifestyles are becoming more mobile. This shift is being supported and, to some extent, created by technology. The average U.S. citizen spends around 540 hours per year in his car, so perhaps it is not surprising that is where between 50 percent and 70 percent of all U.S. mobile phone calls are made.

Following the ability to make voice calls on the move has come the technology enabling data on the move. Initially this was accomplished with slow, often unreliable wireless modems. However, more recent mobile Web solutions allow access to all the resources available on a desktop PC using new, faster communication infrastructures such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

Next generation consumer

Technology has become a symbol of status. This is not necessarily a cultural attribute; it is also a function of generation.

Consider teenagers and mobile phones. Manufacturers of handsets have clearly recognized the trend of "technology status" and now release and actively market new models seemingly on a monthly basis. This drives a replacement cycle of 6-12 months, for no other reason than status and fashion, on devices that could easily function for five years.

Entire industries have developed to exploit this change in behavior. As a father of three teenagers, I certainly wish I had developed the business around mobile phone ringtones: $3 each for the ultimate intangible, disposable, fashion accessory!

Instant gratification

These two factors, together with a number of others, combine to produce consumers with ever-increasing expectations, who are ever-more demanding. Consumers have gone beyond the search for convenience. They now demand instant gratification.

On a business level, take e-mail. As recently as six years ago, it was seen as a revolution in fast written communication. Yet in some circumstances, it is not fast enough. We want instant response from our colleagues, hence the rise in real-time Instant Messaging via the Internet and SMS Messaging on mobile phones.

Whatever we want, we want it now, or we will go somewhere else.

Keys to success

To succeed, a technology must be both useful and useable. Most consumers don't understand, or even want to understand technology.

Consider this question: How big is the user manual on a Sony Playstation 2 games console? The answer: there is no user manual. The device is so simple to install and intuitive to use, it is unnecessary.

The definition of a successful technology rollout might include the following:

* In the hands of most
* Consumers must be "an expert after using once"
* Based on user-centred design
* Awareness of the ability of the consumer

What does this mean to us in NCR and the self-service industry as a whole? In NCR we ship ATMs to 120 countries. We have young and old end users; we need to accommodate many languages, varying degrees of literacy and a range of disabilities. Wouldn't it be nice to have an ATM that adapts to your capabilities? This is an idea I will come back to later.

More mobility

As we have already seen, our lifestyles are becoming more mobile. Unsurprisingly, mobile technology is proliferating to support this change. There are numerous statistics that demonstrate this, but perhaps the most telling are the predictions for mobile phone ownership.

In Western Europe 70 percent of people have mobile phones. In Spain the number of mobile phones is greater than that of landlines. But most staggering, by the end of 2002 it is estimated that there will be 111 million mobile phones in China, growing to 360 million by the end of 2005. Translating this in western terms, this is more than one phone for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Now consider what might happen if the mobile phone evolves into the Personal Trusted Device (PTD), a convergence of pocket PC and mobile phone. This can already be seen with some of the newer handsets such as Nokia 9210 Communicator.

Consumer in control

If consumers already possess an interface device, why not let them run the transaction? Consumers could select their ATM transactions when standing in the queue, or even sitting in their cars. As they reach the ATM, they transmit the pre-staged transaction either via the cellular infrastructure or using a Bluetooth-type technology with the ATM acting as the fulfillment device.
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NCR's prototype for an ATM that interacts with wireless devices has no screen or keypad.

Approximately two years ago, NCR's Advanced Concepts Lab demonstrated the Freedom concept that executed ATM transactions in exactly this way. The concept was developed and has been deployed in a live pilot by a consortium of banks in Denmark.

They want more

Within the Lab, we recently undertook a research study of 12-15 year olds. Young people today have grown up with technology, whereas at least 30 percent of people in my generation are still unsure -- at least some of the time! What might these consumers of tomorrow expect of a self-service device?

The major theme that ran through the research results was that cash is not the only item of value that could be dispensed through the ATM. Ideas included dispensing digital collectibles (e.g. Pokemon characters) or MP3 music files to printing digital photographs.

The responses raise questions about what it means to dispense electronic value as well as physical value -- and what this means for ATMs and self-service.

At first glance, these may not seem like core business to the banks of today, especially in the current economic climate. However, there has been clear evidence of convergence between retail stores and banks.

The retail effect

Richard Branson's UK company, Virgin, has both a finance division and a music retail division. If it deployed ATMs in stores that dispensed not just cash, but MP3 music, might this not threaten traditional banks' ability to attract and retain the next generation customers?

The ATM is already a trusted device for dispensing cash. Could it not be extended to form a trusted point of payment and trusted point of delivery?

As with the Freedom concept, the underlying principle of dispensing electronic value is already appearing. In a number of countries around the world, including Scandinavia and the U.S., it is becoming commonplace to top-up "pay-as-you-go" mobile phones at the ATM.

Going where no ATM has gone before

As consumer adoption of some of these technologies makes them ubiquitous, bankers and technologists are in a position to extend the infrastructure that supports the self-service channel. Again if we take mobile phones, or more specifically the communications infrastructure that enables mobile phones, new opportunities to extend the reach of ATMs become available.

As the industry becomes freed from the constraints and cost associated with leased line, or even fixed line dial-up communications, ATMs become viable in new locations and new geographies.

Some of the fastest-growing areas for ATM deployment are in emerging markets such as China and India. Countries such as these may not benefit from a robust fixed-line infrastructure, especially in rural areas. The wireless network in India, for instance, is more reliable than land lines.

ATMs enabled with wireless communications technology could take advantage of this and be used to penetrate areas previously inaccessible to deployers. Banks that seize this opportunity would have access to an entirely new customer base.

Playing the HARP

In the Advanced Concept Lab we have recently announced a concept ATM called HARP (Handy Amounts in Remote Places). This small, lightweight unit incorporates not only wireless communications, but a range of self-contained power supplies from the latest battery technology to solar panels.
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NCR's HARP concept ATM, which can run on battery and solar power.

By rethinking the traditional approach to powering the unit, not only is placement unconstrained by fixed communications, it no longer requires a fixed electricity supply -- again, this may be an issue in some rural areas of developing countries.

Another business proposition considered in the development of HARP was the provision of ATM facilities in locations that have a short, but high, demand for cash dispense. Needing no fixed infrastructure, the secure portable units could be deployed for short periods of time at major sporting or cultural events. Increased brand presence and revenue generated through convenience fees could be two significant benefits to such deployments.

While HARP is a concept, rather than an ATM available for purchase, the technologies described will be integrated into mainstream products within the next 18-24 months.

OS/2 on the way out

I touched earlier on the possibility of the idea of an ATM that recognizes the user. The ability to personalize the ATM is the visible face of a much more significant development, namely channel integration. This is the glue that holds all the new developments in ATMs together.

The new Web Services technologies such as Microsoft .Net and IBM's WebSphere offer banks the chance to unify their technology infrastructure across all channels, enabling the institution to present a single cohesive view of all their interactions with an individual consumer.

If ATMs are to be part of this brave new world, however, we must work to replace the legacy base of OS/2 driven machines with terminals running Windows NT or XP. Such a migration would allow banks to offer not only existing services in a manner customized to the preferences of the consumer, but also extend the range of functionality offered.

A significant part of consumer acceptance is consistency. The ideal banking scenario, from the consumers' perspective, is that all touchpoints -- the Internet, the call center, the branch or the ATM -- interact with them in the same way.

Banks, like any other industry, have a relatively small number of critical business drivers, including cost reduction and driving additional revenue. It is already clear that migration of teller-based deposit transactions offers significant cost reduction opportunities. A recent TowerGroup report, "Advanced ATM Functionality: Beyond Movie Tickets & Postage Stamps," estimates a possible additional $1 billion revenue stream from offering new fee-based services such as wire transfers and check cashing through the ATM.

However, OS/2 must go if we are to take advantage of these new opportunities.

To conclude...

Through the years of the Internet explosion, many commentators suggested that traditional self-service technology was, at best, no longer strategic and at worst, obsolete, but you only need to look at the broader history of banking channels to see how unlikely that is.

From the advent of branch banking in the 1700s, through the earliest ATMs in the late 1960s, then phone banking in the '80s and more recently the Internet and mobile commerce, the introduction of each new channel has been accompanied by predictions of doom for the existing customer interfaces. However, that this has not been the case. Each channel innovation has complemented rather than replaced the existing infrastructure.

In the case of ATMs, I would go even further. I firmly believe the future of the ATM is bright and that it will play a significant strategic part in the overall channel strategy of retail banks. To borrow from Winston Churchill, I would say that this "is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning."

Channel integration and the extension of ATM functionality to include physical fulfillment of "non-cash" transactions of value will ensure the ATM remains at the center of any successful retail bank's channel strategy.

The author, Mark Grossi is chief technology officer for NCR's Financial Solutions Division. He heads up a team whose job it is to identify and explore consumer trends and technologies that will impact the self-service business over the next 3-5 years. He is also a member of ATMmarketplace's Future Trends Executive Roundtable.

NCR has been the world leader in the manufacture of ATMs for the past 14 years.

Posted by Craig at 07:02 PM

September 23, 2003

Bill Pay

Utilities give customers more ways to pay

Industry projections: Billing services on deck
The graph Future growth in bill presentment/payment shows that Internet-based billing services such as EBPP are still the hot commodity. Chartwell estimates that in two to three years, Internet bill presentment and payment will be as common as automatic bank draft and budget billing, which are universal billing-related offerings in the utility space. In addition, pay-by-phone, or allowing customers to call the utility with either a credit card number or checking account information, is still on the rise....

More at Utilities give customers more ways to pay

Posted by Craig at 09:28 PM

September 17, 2003

Human Resource Case Study - Citigroup

Citigroup decided in 2003 to enhance their employee human resources services and turned to KIS to provide the complete solution.

Background Information


  • Product Delivered

    • KT-125 with Laser Printer
    • Quantity: over 200 units

  • Application Function

    • Human Resources
    • Employees in their card centers can access their 401k, vacation and etc.
    • Primary focus was being able to reprint pay stubs from the kiosk.

  • Needs Addressed by Solution

    • Human Resources
    • It gave their employees without access to their benefit information a way to do so.
    • Increase employee communication while allowing HR to focus on other tasks and reduces their cost of sending out statements as they are required to do every quarter.

  • Customer Feedback and Comments

    • Citigroup said that all is working great and they thanked us for our patience, guidance and support during the project.
    • Cost/Benefits/ROI: Still early in deployment stage. Within 6 months Citigroup will do formal calculation of cost savings and benefits. Estimates at this stage are that benefits are significant

    Posted by Craig at 04:04 PM

September 12, 2003

Western Money Systems

Pictures of the Western Money Xchange units


Posted by Craig at 03:20 PM