SecureNet wins place on MasterCard team

Australian IT security specialist SecureNet has won a place among the big hitters on a global digital ID development team assembled by MasterCard International. The group of 11 companies - including ACI Worldwide, CMG, Gemplus, ICL and Unisys -- will focus on the development of smart card applications for e-commerce applications.

Geoffrey Ross, managing director of SecureNet, said the program aims to help MasterCard's member financial institutions around the world to implement integrated smart card e-commerce solutions into their banking and customer transaction and payments products.

"Delivery of a properly-structured multi-application smart card product allows banks to offer customers a portable and convenient way of identifying themselves, securing online transactions using their credit cards, and participating in loyalty and other programs," he added.

SecureNet recently joined forces with Mondex International (a subsidiary of MasterCard) in Hong Kong to produce a multi-application smart card based on the Multos platform.

ERG sells a slice of British venture

Australian smart card specialist ERG has sold a 10 per cent stake in British smart card outfit Prepayment Cards Limited (PCL) to international public transport company National Express Group. The deal reduces ERG's holding in PCL to 30 per cent, worth about $A35 million.

PCL was set up by ERG in partnership with National Express Group, Stagecoach Holdings and FirstGroup to provide smart card issuing, management, settlement and reporting services to organisations wanting to operate smart card systems. The partners in the company are working to introduce a smart card ticketing system that will be compatible across the UK and ultimately across Europe.

Progress backs Australia's Optum

Progress Software has entered an alliance with listed Australian software developer Optum Group for the development and implementation of a suite of transaction-based e-commerce products, known as Web-Doctor. The deal is valued at $1.3 million.

A spokesman for Optum explained that the alliance is based on a risk-reward model where Progress Software will share a percentage of the income generated through Web-Doctor's e-commerce transactions in return for services, consultancy and management of the e-commerce model. In addition, Optum will access all of Progress' products through an unlimited licence agreement.

Web-Doctor is an online medical directory that links GPs with specialist medical practitioners around Australia. It will also host a range of doctor-to-doctor and doctor-to-consumer applications.

"The key to this venture is being able to handle rapid development cycles and a wide range of transactions and interfaces," explained Stephen Brady, Progress' Asia/Pacific vice president. "It is also essential that the imperatives of scalability, security, transaction integrity, interoperability and flexibility are met cost-effectively."

IT capital teams with Singapore partner

Australasian venture capitalist IT Capital has formed an alliance with Singaporean high-tech incubation company Plan-B Technologies, and cemented the deal with a share swap agreement involving slightly more than five per cent of each. In addition, Plan-B will subscribe in cash for five million newly-issued shares in IT Capital.

The new partners hope their alliance will extend their respective investment reaches. "The synergies between both parties are compelling," explained Jeff Dittus, CEO of IT Capital. "To establish a truly global network we recognise the need for a strong Asian partner and we are proud to have identified such a partner in Plan-B in Singapore."

Senetas looks to Malaysia

Technology investor Senetas has entered a joint venture with Malaysian counterpart to form a wireless applications and software development company in Singapore. The new operation - NET:WxS -- plans to complete the development of an interactive wireless application by early next year and to begin marketing the product shortly afterwards. The product has already been in development for six months.

A spokesman said that Senetas and will each invest $S2million for a 50 per cent stake in NETWxS. The transaction includes the transfer of two Senetas investee companies - WebCryp and ePIL - plus the Malaysian operations of The ePIL and WebCryp products are now ready for commercial release and will be marketed through NETWxS, the spokesman added.

Business briefs

Smartcard applications developer Coms21 has agreed to buy B2B Internet application service provider eGlobal, which operates its ASP computer centre from Brisbane. A spokesman claimed eGlobal has developed proprietary software for e-commerce (B2C) and e-business (B2B) applications and includes on its customer list names like Evans Deakin Industries, BHP Coal, and Suncorp Metway.

Ringtail Solutions, a Victorian developer of legal application technologies, has formed a US alliance with CACI International, which will market Ringtail as its core litigation support and knowledge management solution for government and commercial clients. CACI claims to be the leading provider of litigation support to the US Federal Government.

Telstra has toned down an agreement with Intellisys to enable the US company to operate in Australia solely under its own branding. As part of the new deal Intellisys will buy the Telstra Transaction Engine (which is based in St Louis) and associated intellectual property. The transaction engine provides Web-based exchange of purchase orders, acknowledgement and invoices, and allows buyers and sellers to communicate with each other.

Corporate quarters

Telstra led the way this week with a huge $A3.7 billion profit for the year to June 30. The 5.5 per cent rise in profit was driven by a similar rise in sales revenue, which grew to $A18.6 billion for the year on the back of strong growth in newer businesses such as mobiles, data and Internet services, intercarrier/wholesale and managed services, which now contribute 53 per cent of sales revenue.

Outsourcing services supplier KAZ Computer Services turned in a hot year with a 200 per cent jump in net operating profit to $A4.4 million. The strong performance was delivered on the strength of a 49 per cent rise in sales to $A61.13 million. The company listed on the ASX in March and undertook a six-for-one share split in April.

Queensland IT integrator Data#3 saw its sales slip 1.5 per cent to $A130.4 million in the year to June 30. After accounting for tax and abnormals the company lost $A84,000. The loss was attributed to a number of factors, including Y2K, GST and higher staff costs, as well as additional costs associated with the integration of acquired companies CICtechnology and Beethoven Computer Services, and the implementation of new systems to support them.

Smart card company ERG lifted operating profit 73 per cent from $A20.3 million a year ago to $A35.2 million in the year to June 30 2000. Revenue increased 54 per cent to $A415.7 million. The company will pay a dividend of two cents per share, and will ask shareholders to vote on a three-for-one share split in October.

Bolstered by the introduction of the GST, software developer MYOB lifted operating revenue 11 per cent above forecasts to $A83.0 million on which it made an operating profit after tax of $A20.6 million. The company will pay an interim dividend of 4.0 cents, fully franked.

VeCommerce, the renamed and slimmed-down Scitec, generated revenue of $A28.3 million in the year to June 30 and chalked up a consolidated profit of $A42.5 million. The result included a net profit if $A68.7 million from the sale of Scitec's Australian communications products and communications solutions divisions.

In the half year to June 30 software developer Prophecy International raised revenue of $A10.3 million on which it made an operating profit after tax of $A2.5 million. In the first half the company had generated revenue of just $A2.5 million and lost $A2.9 million after tax.

In the year to June 30 listed software developer Technology One lifted net profit before tax by 58 per cent to $A8.8 million, managing to beat its prospectus forecast of $A8.26 million. Revenue for the year rose 46 per cent, while spending on R&D jumped 78 per cent to $A4.7 million.

In the six months to June 30 listed smart card specialist Keycorp lost $A19.1 million after tax on revenue of $A38.7 million. The result included R&D costs of $A14.5 million for the continued development of electronic commerce solutions, including smart cards and payment terminals. A spokesman noted that continuing business revenue fell well short of expected sales as a result of product and customer delays. An abnormal expense of $A3.7 million related to a provision for receivables and a restructuring of the business, the spokesman added.

Technology investor Senetas generated revenue of $A3.82 million in the year to June 30, but lost $A5.53 million. A statement released by the company claimed that active management of the group's investments is "adding significant value" which has not been reflected in the reported results.

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