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Advantage Concludes Asia-Wide Payment Agreement

Advantage’s New Settlement Standard Provides Integration To Eleven Banks In South East Asia

Auckland – 12 June 2000 – Advantage Retail Solutions, a division of Advantage Group Limited (NZSE: ADV), announced today that it has concluded a development project that will allow retail businesses throughout Asia-Pacific to settle credit and debit card payments, by providing financial messaging integration into eleven leading banks and credit card acquirers throughout the region.

The technology, known as Advantage EPS (Electronic Payment Server), provides a standard plug-and-play interface that sits between retail merchants and banks. It allows retail merchants, or any business or organisation that acquires value through credit and debit card payment, to pass certified credit card transactions to a large number of banks and credit card acquirers in the Asia Pacific Region. EPS has today been developed for the Retail Oil industry, but will in the future integrate into a wider range of retail environments.

This is the first time that merchants have been able to communicate with a number of banks via a single multi-certified interface. Previously each connection had to be separately coded and certified and any modifications made at the point of sale required bank-by-bank re-certification. By writing a standard interface to all leading banks, Advantage enables merchants and large retailers to standardise their operations throughout the region, lowering the total cost of their electronic payment systems and allowing them to enhance their point of sale systems without incurring the substantial costs and delays of re-certification.

Banks and acquirers that have accepted Advantage’s EPS interface include Hong Kong Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Overseas Trust Bank, Overseas Union Bank, United Overseas Bank, Citibank, WMData, Diners (Singapore), Amex, Decision Systems and Equitable.

“This is a huge change for the way parties that take credit and debit cards have online relationships with their banks,” says Advantage’s General Manager Retail Solutions, Paul Henaghan. “For the first time, acquirers can standardise their systems. Previously, each business would have to have a relationship with each bank. If a bank changed its backend interface, the business that accepted credit and debit card payments for processing through that bank was forced to also change its front end to accommodate the bank. Now a business can implement a system that best suits its strategy and plan to enhance it on its own terms, rather than be locked into a system based on whom they have banking relationships with.”

“Advantage EPS is a totally open, non-proprietary system,” says Henaghan. “ EPS’ standardisation provides tremendous functionality to retail businesses. For instance, through EPS and the e-commerce functionality provided by Retail Solutions, businesses can standardise reporting so that management reports throughout the region are electronically generated by region or by product.”

“And because they can now have a single system throughout the region, they can negotiate regional 24x7 support agreements, rather than contracting support for several systems that each need support from different vendors with different availabilities. This reduces maintenance costs and cost of change, ultimately lowering total cost of ownership.”

EPS can process loyalty cards, debit, and credit transactions.

“Increasingly regional requirements are influencing large scale retail in Asia Pacific,” says Advantage CEO Greg Cross. “With Advantage EPS we have a solution that addresses that regional need, allowing retailers to make strategic decisions about their IT infrastructure, lowering costs and improving operating performance without the burden of legacy payment processing implementations. We believe that the product will gain good market acceptance, initially from regional oil companies and then from other retailers.

EPS runs on a 32bit custom designed ruggedised platform and Advantage plans to rollout an NT version within 18 months.

About Advantage
Advantage Group Limited, an NZSE listed company, is a leading supplier of e-commerce and transaction processing solutions in New Zealand, Australia and throughout the Southern Hemisphere. The company has three business units: business-to-business e-commerce, retail solutions and point-of-sale equipment. It provides web development capabilities, software development, transaction processing and funds transfer capabilities to enable end-to-end e-commerce solutions.

ENDS

Contacts:

Paul Henaghan, Advantage Group Ltd, 021 443 005, paulh@advantagegroup.co.nz

Sally Raudon, Botica Conroy & Associates, 021 402 502, sallyr@bca.co.nz


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