Hot Keycorp rockets into US market

Keycorp dominated the IT headlines this week when it entered the US government market through a deal with IT security specialist TECSEC, forged an alliance with Bull, bought out the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's share of a joint venture and renegotiated its deal with Telstra.

Keycorp's agreement with TECSEC involves the supply of advanced multi-application smart cards as part of a US Government project. The new cards will combine Keycorp's 32K MULTOS operating system with TECSEC's Constructive Key Management application, which offers cryptographically enforced, policy-driven access control credentials and authorisation processes for secure storage of information, a spokesman explained.

TECSEC expects to market the card to a number of US government agencies that require secure access control, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Healthcare Financing Administration.

"The US market represents a substantial opportunity for Keycorp, specifically as the US Government and its agencies have a requirement for highly secure smart card technology," noted John Wood, Keycorp's vice chairman. "We anticipate the US Government will be a key driver in the adoption and proliferation of multi-application smart card-based solutions."

Keycorp's other headline-making news during the week included:

Finalisation of a licensing agreement with Bull covering a number of smart card software systems. As a result of the deal Keycorp will be able to market Bull's Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV), Proton and Java smart cards, and the two companies will jointly work on the development of new smart card applications. "This agreement will see Keycorp become Bull's distribution arm in the South Pacific region," noted Michael Thomes, CEO of Keycorp.

Keycorp has bought the 50 per cent share of Electronic Financial Technologies that was owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia. EFT was formed in 1995 by Keycorp and the bank to develop payments technology and products. The purchase will be financed by the payment of $A3.6 million in cash and the issue of 220,055 Keycorp shares at $A11 each. A statement released by Keycorp said the company and the bank will continue to work on payment systems through the establishment of an electronic, financial, technology and strategy group.

As a result of the sliding share market Telstra has renegotiated its investment in Keycorp. Although the carrier will still take a 51 per cent stake, the value of the deal has been reduced from $A515 million to approximately $A426 million.

Genie casts spell over Singapore group

Kiwi software developer Genie Systems has sold its OrderWare online procurement system to Singapore company Keppel FELS Energy and Infrastructure, which manufactures jack-up drilling rigs. The software will be used to automate Keppel FELS's purchase requisitions to enable the automatic consolidation of purchase orders as well as the automatic presentation of requests for quotations. The software creates a system that is entirely Web-based and links into existing internal ERP systems.

Peter Garden, chief technology officer for Genie, said the project showed that OrderWare can handle complex processes associated with production or direct procurement. "At Keppel FELS there are many buyers, engineers and approvers involved in the process with a large number of drawings, specifications and plans attached to purchase requisitions. All this has to be routed and managed according to complex business rules," he explained.

Intellect maintains momentum

Intellect has continued its run of European successes through Austria, France and The Netherlands by winning a tender to equip all of Croatia's petrol stations with electronic payment systems. The deal was negotiated by the country's state-owned oil company INA and involves the provision of Intellect Multi-Pay systems and other equipment in 600 service stations throughout Croatia. Similar systems were ordered earlier this year by Coles Myer for use in Target and Kmart stores throughout Australia.

"Europe is an important market for us. Intellect has a dominant position in a number of important markets and is present in all major European countries," noted Francis De Vrieze, the company's chief marketing officer.

ANZ gives Telstra a call

Telstra has been signed up as the preferred supplier of telecommunications technologies and services to ANZ Banking Group. The three year contract also covers possible managed services in the future.

David Boyles, head of technology, e-commerce and payments at the bank, said that Telstra had already contributed to the Web-enablement of ANZ's branch network, and has assisted with the roll-out over the past four months of an Internet Protocol network linking more than 800 sites around Australia. The latest agreement would be expected to deliver cost savings immediately, Boyles added. "Under the agreement, Telstra is providing the core telecommunications infrastructure for ANZ's banking platform of the future, which will use Web-based technology," Boyles added.

QSI wins the interest of Kiwi banks

Australian software developer QSI Payments, which has offices around the world, has been selected to provide a secure Internet-based payment processing service for the four banks that are shareholders of New Zealand company Electronic Transaction Services Ltd (ETSL) - ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand, The National Bank and Westpac Trust.

QSI will supply its Server Class software which will enable ETSL to process payment transactions for call centres and Internet merchants by sending customer data - including credit card details - directly to the bank rather than storing it with the merchant, a spokesman said.

"The payment processing solution installed by QSI Payments enables us to deliver a range of payment capabilities to many different market segments, such as call centres, the Internet and mobile merchants, and this, together with QSI's Web-based administration and self-service capabilities, make it a compelling product offering for our shareholder banks and their customers," explained Ron Brown, general manager of ETSL.

Cisco called in for giant Kiwi IP net

Cisco Systems has installed one of the world's largest end-to-end voice-over-IP telephony networks (outside its own campus) for the New Zealand Ministry of Social Policy. The Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) network connects 8000 outlets in more than 200 offices in NZ and is expected to handle more than 150,000 calls a day.

A spokesman aid the IP phone system is the final stage in a $US3.7 million infrastructure upgrade for the Ministry of Social Policy, the Department of Work and Income and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

"Combining phone and data systems provides significant benefits, including lower phone call costs, simpler network administration and support, and increased flexibility to meet expanding telephone and computer network needs well into the future," noted a spokeswoman for the ministry.

Cisco worked on the installation with network integrator Logical Networks and network provider Clear Communications.

Microsoft jacks up over court tutor

Microsoft has expressed its disquiet at the decision of the US Court of Appeals to call in a tutor to brief the judges on basic computer terminology before they hear the developer's appeal against an adverse antitrust ruling (See Insider Trading section The Rust Report, October 20).

Legal experts have cleared the move as being well intended and sensible, but Microsoft has claimed the expert could easily cross into contentious legal areas by making complex technical issues seem simple. In a written brief the company claimed that the parties have "fundamental disagreements over issues that might appear to an uninitiated observer to be uncontroversial, such as the proper definition of a personal computer operating system, creating a risk that the review session will inadvertently stray into disputed topics".

Microsoft also questioned the neutrality of the suggested tutor, Michael Hites, chief technology officer at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The company noted that in June he had been involved in a project - Unix Training in Community Development - for Sun Microsystems and questioned the nature and extent of financial support provided by Sun. James Gosling, a Sun executive, had testified for the Department of Justice in the original antitrust trial.

News in brief

Powerlan has entered a four year contract to operate the NEIS B2B e-commerce exchange for the CPS Group of Companies. NEIS was developed in 1985 by BHP and Wollongong University and was acquired by CPS in 1996. For the term of the contract CPS and Powerlan will continue to enhance the service and share its profits, and when the contract expires Powerlan will assume full ownership of NEIS applications.

The Commonwealth Government has chipped in with a grant of $A9 million to support the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology, which was recently established at the University of NSW (The Rust Report, October 6). The centre aims to exploit a technological breakthrough achieved at the university earlier this year to create the world's first solid state quantum computer building block. A prototype could be ready for testing within 12 months, according to Professor Robert Clark, director of the centre.

Oakton Computing expects to generate about $A10 million in revenue from a renewed contract with BP Australia. The applications and operations support deal covers support of business applications and the provision of operations support and database administration services.

ACT Financial Systems (Asia/Pacific) has made the first Australian sale of its NOVA international trading and settlement system to Foster Stockbroking. The software runs on a Sun Microsystems server with the Oracle database, and has interfaces to the Thomson OASYS network and CHESS.

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