News Corp plays white knight to QSI

A company associated with News Corp is riding to the rescue of secure e-payments specialist QSI Payments by agreeingto invest up to $35 million in it.

It is understood the deal will make $16 million immediately available to QSI which has an existing businessrelationship with News Ltd subsidiary News Connect.

The deal represents an 11th-hour reprieve for QSI, which has been pursuing fresh financing since last January.

The 10-year-old company, employing about 120 people, was running out of options in a venture capital environmentwhich executive chairman John Richards labelled "the most negative I have ever seen".

Investment bank Goldman Sachs, which contributed about $20 million to QSI in an earlier funding round, "found itdifficult to take a position in this round with us", Richards said.

It is believed the funding for the Brisbane company will be handled through an investment arm of the Murdochfamily-owned Queensland Press Ltd.

QSI's technology handles secure electronic transactions across a wide spectrum of payment types, from stored valuecards to online debit and credit, batch debit and high-value transactions.

That fits well with the global ambitions of News Corp in the field of satellite-delivered interactive TV. Murdoch'scurrent multibillion-dollar play for US satellite TV provider DirecTV is a stepping stone toward an interactivesatellite TV network covering hundreds of millions of households.

QSI's technology would facilitate using those interactive links to support consumer transactions.

Last March QSI became a business partner of wholly-owned News Ltd subsidiary News Connect which provides interactivevoice response and transaction processing solutions to a range of Australian banks and businesses.

Their joint service, Newsconnect SafePay, gives billers, merchants and call centres a secure method of dealing withInternet and phone based payments.

News Connect MD Gareth Gumbley did not respond to requests for comment.

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