Keycorp maintains momentum with Swedish sale

Keycorp has maintained its high profile hit rate by chalking up the sale of 700 of its mobile payment terminals to Sweden Post. The terminals will be used to take customer payments for postal deliveries and as part of a parcel-tracking system used to monitor the number of parcels delivered each day.

"Sweden Post will be using the devices not only to transact with customers anywhere a GSM network operates, but for non-financial applications such as inventory management and stock control," explained Michael Thomes, CEO of Keycorp.

He added that the K78 terminal uses smart card technology and incorporates magnetic stripe card readers and a secure PIN pad. "The K78 can be used for the full range of electronic payments, including credit, debit, and smart card-based stored value."

"We continue to experience growing demand for integrated solutions in the emerging mobile commerce market place," Thomes concluded.

And if you have any concerns about the potential of smart card technology, you may be out on a limb. Microsoft has placed smart cards at the core of its newly announced Microsoft.Net Internet strategy. "Smart cards are an enabling technology in the Microsoft.Net vision, providing an affordable and effective way to increase the security of computing," explained Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer early this week. "We believe the demand for smart cards is just emerging and will grow exponentially."

ComOps drives Metal Manufactures online

Recently listed developer ComOps has won a contract to implement an array of e-commerce systems for the electrical wholesaler Metal Manufactures Electrical Merchandising (MMEM). A spokesman explained that MMEM will use ComOps' business-to-business software to link its software, hardware and supply chain partners, both customers and suppliers.

The software will allow MMEM's customers to access the company's catalogue over the Internet and browse product information, check product availability, place orders and view order status. "ComOps' e-commerce system will substantially reduce our communications costs," claimed MMEM's IT manager Trevor Batten. "A major benefit is its Web-based electronic catalogue, which can be adopted for very large product inventory and clients spread across wide geographic areas."

The ComOps software is based on applications acquired when the company took over Melbourne e-commerce group Unibis early this year. "We are also seeing tangible and strong benefits from our heavy expenditure in research and development programs over the last few years," noted Richard Bradley, managing director of ComOps. The company also recently won a contract to supply systems to laboratory instrument supplier Crown Scientific.iSoft wins Queensland contractHealthcare information system developer iSoft has won a contract to provide an integrated system for the Mater Private Hospital in South Brisbane. The system will cover management, financial systems and patient records at the hospital's several campuses.

The implementation of the system coincides with an expansion of the hospital's facilities and construction of a seven-storey building. "The growth stage has provided us with an ideal opportunity to assess our IT needs now and in the future, and introduce what is recognised as a leading software system in inpatient and healthcare business management," explained Mark Avery, CEO of Mater Hospitals. iSoft will install the software in three stages over 18 months, starting with the implementation of the PIMS patient management and billing system. The second stage will cover core clinical and business financial systems, while the final stage will involve an electronic patient records system. The software will be implemented on Compaq/Intel hardware using thin clients in the Windows 2000 operating environment.

Open Telecommunications increases Brazilian businessOpen Telecommunications has won a third multi-million dollar contract for its CapacityIntegrator software from Brazilian company Embratel, which is a member of the MCI WorldCom group. Embratel uses the software for planning and provisioning of its telecommunications network.

"This contract is the third Embratel has entered into for the CapacityIntegrator product", noted Wayne Passlow, managing director of Open Telecommunications. "The first was the initial purchase of the product and the second was the contract to provide support and development services. This third contract illustrates OT's strategy of being able to leverage off both its existing customer relationships and depth of its intellectual property to secure material ongoing business from its customers."

The latest contract involves the enhancement of the functionality Embratel derives from the software, Passlow added.

Open Telecommunications has now opened an office in Rio de Janeiro, which will initially serve as the company's Latin American headquarters to service customers in Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

Telemedia snaps up US deal

Less than a month after buying US billing system developer Phoenix Global Networks, ASX listed Telemedia Networks International has won a contract to provide equipment to OnePoint Communications in Chicago. The $A1 million deal covers the provision of an intelligent network switching system to be implemented with OnePoint's IP-ready facilities network in Arizona. A spokesman said OnePoint also intends to use the Telemedia platform to launch prepaid mobile and enhanced residential services.

"One of the main reasons we wanted to buy Phoenix was the increased access it would give Telemedia to the multi-billion dollar US and European telecommunications markets," explained Chris Jones, chief executive of Telemedia. "Our agreement with OnePoint is a direct result of that acquisition and shows that our global expansion strategy is on track and illustrates our entry into the North American market."

CCK backs SA home agency

Australian developer CCK Financial Solutions has won a contract to supply its Epsilon front and middle office applications to Homestart, a South Australian Government agency that manages the state's home ownership programs. The software will be used to manage Homestart's debt portfolio, capital and hedging activities, and will be interfaced with a treasury system that was developed inhouse.

"CCK made some enhancements to the software to meet our particular requirements so we were able to carry out the pilot with the final solution we will be utilising," explained Gary Storkey, general manager of Homestart.

The software implementation is scheduled for completion in August.

Government pushes on with grey market lawThe Federal Government plans to push ahead with controversial amendments to the Copyright Act that will allow the parallel import of books, periodicals, music and software. Senator Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, claimed the amended law will benefit consumers by abolishing import restrictions on packaged business and educational software.

He noted that the government intends to ensure that anti-piracy measures covering sound recordings will be extended to apply to all parallel imported products.

The decision has angered the Australian Information Industry Association, which believes the government is moving without having had proper consultation with either industry or the public.

"There is no concrete evidence to support the government's assertion that allowing parallel importation of software will benefit consumers or that it will have any impact on software prices," said Rob Durie, executive director of the AIIA. "There is also no evidence to support the government's claims that there is an import monopoly on software, or that companies deliberately delay the release of software on to the Australian market."

Durie said the AIIA will consult its members and will "vigorously represent their views" when the draft legislation is presented to Parliament.

Oracle, Ellison and strange times indeedOne has to wonder what really is going on at Oracle. Just this week CEO Larry Ellison admitted that the company had hired detectives to investigate three advocacy groups that had acted favourably towards Microsoft, and that those detectives had bribed staff at those groups to hand over office rubbish. Microsoft and the three groups - the Independent Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Association for Competitive Technology - were not amused by the affair, which has been dubbed Larrygate.

The bizarre behaviour continued on Wednesday when Ellison arrived at a press conference in the company of a burly bodyguard who, according to the IDG News Service "sported all the usual accoutrements: the boxy suit, the fixed expression, as well as the impressive stature and bulk".

When asked about his companion Ellison was evasive, but noted that he has "personal security in my house too".

News briefs

Mark Vaile, the Federal Minister for Trade, is leading a delegation of representatives Australia's information and communications technology industries to Israel. The delegation will meet venture capitalists and Israeli companies interested in investing in Australia. "Australian ICT firms have much to offer Israeli companies, particularly with our knowledge of and access to the Asia/Pacific and our recognised position as the IT hub of the region," Vaile said.

Nortel and Telstra have joined forces to demonstrate wireless Internet applications at more than 50K-bits/sec on a general packet radio service (GPRS) system. The demonstrations involved Web browsing via a notebook computer connected to a GPRS-enabled phone, and WAP applications being received on a Palm handheld computer.

Information security will come under the spotlight at the fifth Australian Conference on Information Security and Privacy to be held at Queensland University of Technology starting on July 10. Details by phoning 07 3864 2846.

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