Telstra buys control of Keycorp for $550m

Keycorp and Telstra are to work to build a business providing global, end-to-end Internet payment services to financial institutions and their partners. As part of the deal Telstra will buy a 51 per cent stake in Keycorp - represented by 38.7 million shares -- for $A515 million.

In the wake of the deal Telstra's EFTPOS Payments Carriage, Installation and Maintenance Business will be combined with Keycorp's business and Keycorp will continue to operate as an independent company.

A spokesman said that the two companies now separately provide a significant number of complementary elements in the payments value chain. "Keycorp currently provides transaction solutions including point of sale devices, smart card capabilities and e-commerce payment gateways, while Telstra provides network carriage of EFTPOS transactions and POS installation and maintenance services.

"The product and service offerings of Telstra and Keycorp will be based on a wide array of Internet Protocol-based e-commerce modules that can be assembled and mixed and matched to meet customer environments and to fulfil all their payment needs," the spokesman added.

Computershare cracks big time in US

Computershare, the listed Australian developer of financial markets software, has entered the US market in a big way through a development agreement with Pacific Exchange, which claims to be the fourth most active stock exchange in the US. The two companies will work together to develop an electronic, screen-based trading system for equity options and other derivatives.

Following the implementation of the system, which is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2001, the two companies will share the business benefits of the trading system, including equity and transaction fees.

"We are very excited about working with PCX to provide automated trading of equity options in the United States," noted Chris Morris, managing director of Computershare. "Working with a major US exchange like PCX gives us a first-class platform from which to display the power and quality of our ASTS screen-based trading system to the world's largest market."

What is with the Big Four banks anyway?

Some unusual and apparently unreported phenomenon must have occurred this week and stirred all of Australia's normally-torpid Big Four banks into a flurry of activity involving IT.

The National Australia Bank created the biggest headline when it tried to reassure investors that it would win a $A32 billion court case taken against it by two companies - Idoport and Market Holdings -- involved with software developer John Maconachie. The hearing, due to begin in the Supreme Court on July 24, involves the NAB's purchase in 1996 of a partly automated investment system known as AUSMAQ for $A7 million. Idoport was engaged as a consultant, but NAB claims that after spending $A28 million on system development, work on AUSMAQ was stopped. The suit against the bank alleges the system was not developed to its full potential and claims a share of the unrealised profits. NAB has filed a cross-claim against Maconachie and some associated companies. The case, which the bank believes could last two years, will be watched with intense interest by the entire IT community.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia stunned observers -- and Cable & Wireless Optus -- when it decided to outsource its telecommunications needs to Telecom New Zealand and its subsidiary AAPT along with EDS and Com Tech. The deal includes provision of an IP-anywhere network capability; managed network services; and remote access and international network services. Some observers believe the key to Telecom's success was EDS, which has close ties to CBA in Australia and to Telecom in NZ. One observer noted that Optus, which had expected to win the business "was in mourning".

And it all prompted further speculation that EDS's involvement with the Telecom NZ deal had prompted its unexplained withdrawal from the Westpac IT&T outsourcing race. Insiders, however, believe that decision was made because EDS no longer had a partner to carry the telecommunications load. While CSC had teamed with C&W Optus, and IBM Global Services Australia with Telstra, the withdrawal of Equant and others had left EDS on its own. In theory, any outsourcer could team with any telco, but in practice the close relationships of the remaining two outsourcing bidders with their co-bidders had discouraged EDS, the insiders claimed. Westpac plans to decide whether it will actually proceed with the outsourcing shortly before the Olympics and, if the decision is positive, to announce the successful bidder shortly after the Olympics.

And then ANZ went and did its own thing with the announcement that it didn't want to be like the rest of the Big Four but would adopt an entrepreneurial approach of its own making. The bank has been undertaking a series of investments in dot-coms lately and its interest has not waned. Two weeks ago it invested $A3 million in fledgling health care portal MedWeb, which will use the ANZ eGate online payment service. Last week it invested in listed company MultiMedia.com and agreed to develop Web sites and services for SMEs. This week it joined Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation in a $US100 million plan to create an Asian Internet bank with a regional network, and on a different scale began offering its customers a personalised Internet site. Next week is anyone's guess, but on current form it should surely be interesting.

ERG lands Normandy contract

High-Flying Australian smart card specialist ERG has won four automated fare collection contracts worth more than $A14.7 million in Normandy. The systems will be installed in Rouen, Elbeuf and Caenas well as the surrounding Calvados region, a spokesman said.

The spokesman noted that Rouen's new fare collection system will be compatible with an existing magnetic ticketing system that was implemented by ERG in 1994.

ERG has been represented in France for more than 10 years and has more than 100 customers there, noted Norbert Schuwer, managing director of ERG Transit Systems France. "These contracts represent another step towards seamless travelling", he added.

Intellect muscles in on Kiwi EFTPOS

Australian electronic payment specialist Intellect has entered a deal to supply its Multi-Pay Terminal to EFTPOS New Zealand (ENZ) and to allow ENZ to distribute the products in New Zealand.

"This relationship works for us on both sides of the Tasman," noted Juliet Robinson, Intellect's sales manager for Australian and NZ. "We can help ENZ in the Australian market and they can give us greater access to New Zealand, which is leading the world in its acceptance of EFTPOS.

"ENZ now provides EFTPOS services to almost one in two retailers in New Zealand and is pioneering a range of associated areas, from smart card and loyalty program development through to application service provision," she added.

MTIC writes its own ticket in UK deal

MTIC Corporate, which was recently acquired by listed company Nexus Minerals, has won a deal to supply an international payment system to Box Office Computer Systems (BOCS), which is a subsidiary of Space Time Systems UK. MTIC will provide its I-NETPOS payment gateway and EDI technology, which will be integrated with BOCS' ticket vending and management software.

"Our payments technology offers Space Time Systems UK substantial advantages, including removing the risk of merchant fraud, reducing transaction fees by 50 per cent and streamlining the payments process to make manual handling of information obsolete," explained Adrian Floate, recently appointed managing director of Nexus.

Floate added that BOCS technology is used by 170 ticketing agencies around the world. "This is our biggest deal to date and it places MTIC in a position to compete on a global level with other major e-commerce solution providers," he concluded.

Ariba joins Tasmanian online initiative

Giant US online procurement specialist has joined a Tasmanian venture aiming to set up an electronic commerce service for regional Australia. Other backers of the ECEnable project are listed e-commerce solutions provider m2m, KPMG and the Tasmanian Electronic Commerce Centre. A spokesman said the ECEnable aims to offer SMEs entry-level online services at affordable prices.

Ariba will provide access to a global platform for B2B e-commerce, and m2m will provide a catalogue and content management solution that will be integrated with Ariba's network.

"The Ariba integration creates an opportunity for m2m to provide supplier enablement to the Ariba procurement globally," noted an m2m spokeswoman. "This means that Ariba's corporate buyers will be able to access the m2m catalogue and m2m will become an attractive solution for large company suppliers wanting to trade electronically".

News in brief

Suncorp Metway plans to use software from US company Pegasystems to build a customer information management system that can be used to streamline loans origination processes. The system will involve a number of Pegasystems modules running on a Hewlett-Packard server with an Oracle database. It will include an interface that will provide self-service to borrowers via the Web, a spokesman claimed.

BHP, the Big Australian, has extended its activities in the online arena by agreeing to work with US company e-STEEL to build and operate a B2B network for the trading of steel. Access to the network will initially be offered to Australian customers before being expanded to international markets.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been named sourcing and procurement partner for the giant corProcure online business marketplace set up recently by 14 of Australia's largest companies. The deal with PwC covers the development of sourcing and procurement plans and ongoing transition to the full implementation of the marketplace.

Listed software developer Infosentials has won a $A2.2 million deal to supply its electronic relationship management software and customised online content products to the Go easyfind.com distribution portal. The deal includes royalties on content subscription revenues as well as 40 per cent of all advertising revenues through the portal.

Sausage Software has opened a wireless solutions centre to provide advice and solutions to organisations planning to implement mobile commerce or wireless applications. Newly appointed CEO Lloyd Roberts said the centre would provide a way to "sort through the WAP fantasies and determine a realistic way to apply emerging mobile technologies to an organisation's operations".

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