Telstra left out in the cold . . . again

ISP giant Telstra has been beaten to the post by a medium-sized Adelaide business in an international ecommerce deal with the Australian Football League (AFL), said to be worth millions.

Camtech was commissioned to supply online payment technology for an AFL website which allows paying visitors access to audio broadcasts of AFL matches and visual broadcasts of match highlights.

Camtech CEO Bruce Linn said his company would use cryptography to automatically submit credit card transaction data via its "E-Commerce Payment Gateway" to banks. A transaction using his company's technology can be finalised in "a few seconds", he said.

The site, called The Premiers Club, went live this week and is a joint venture of the AFL, News Ltd and the Seven Network.

Information on whether or not Telstra was considered for the deal is not publicly available. Business manager for the AFL's internet division, Karen Phelan, said her organisation "looked at a number of products" before selecting Camtech's E-Commerce Payment Gateway. However, she would not confirm whether or not Telstra's flagship e-procurement service (formerly called Shopsafe and now called Settlements Solution) had been among those considered.

Linn listed Shopsafe as a key competitor to his own company's product. And, in fact, a Telstra spokesperson agreed the ISP's payment system was "similar in many ways" to Camtech's product. "I would be very surprised if they (the AFL) didn't consider Telstra," Linn speculated.

If Telstra had been considered, it would mean the giant telco-cum-ISP lost a significant internet business deal to a company less than one thousandth its size.

Linn expects the deal, along with Camtech's other e-procurement arrangements, to account for 25 per cent of his company's revenues this financial year, which are forecast to be around $16 million.

Telstra posted revenues for the year ended June 30, 1999 of $18.2 billion.

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