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Kiwis To Get The E-phone Advantage

New Zealand’s Pre-Pay Distribution Model Set To Dramatically Change With E-phone and Advantage

Auckland – 19 September 2000 – Advantage Group Limited (NZSE: ADV) and
E-phone Pty Limited (ASX and NZSE: EPH) have signed an agreement to jointly develop, market and operate services for the fast growing pre-pay phone industry. The new services will allow customers to recharge their pre-pay cards at the point of sale from ICE terminals.

Greg Cross, CEO of Advantage, says the new partnership with E-phone will radically transform the New Zealand pre-pay and recharge market.

“Currently pre-paid cards are like stamps: they’re physical products that have to be ordered, stored and paid for by merchants in advance. Because of their small size and high value they risk being stolen from the counter top. They cannot be recharged, and producing the unique chip found in each card is a significant cost to telecommunications companies. Now using the Internet-enabled ICE 5000 terminals, customers can recharge their phone account directly at shop counters. It’s easier, cheaper, faster and safer.”

Customers can key in the amount of value they wish to buy a new phone card or add credit to their existing card or account. They pay either in cash or by debiting their bank account through EFTPOS. That value will be recorded onto their pre-pay account and be available for immediate use.

To give customers a record, pre-pay information can be printed onto an ICE receipt, which will hold detailed information such as the value of the pre-paid account, merchant, details, date and help line contacts.

E-phone CEO, Bob Barraket, says Kiwis will adapt quickly to this new concept, because it combines two technologies that have been hugely successful in New Zealand – EFTPOS and pre-pay.

“The pre-pay industry has experienced phenomenal growth in the last ten years, rising from US$10 million in 1990 to a massive US$10 billion in 2000,” says Barraket. “Its popularity indicates consumers’ desires to increase control of their individual finances through technology and personalisation.”

“There will be no need for a pre-pay phone card as such, because the value isn’t held on the card – it’s just a form of currency. You will have your own pre-pay account, which you can transfer money to via the ICE 5000 terminals,” says Barraket.

Retailers who have the ICE terminal can choose to have this E-phone application, which delivers considerable benefits to them.

Retailers’ terminals, which occupy a central and visible place on the retail counter, now can do more than ever. Pre-pay through ICE 5000 brings new services, new revenues and new opportunities to merchants, payments processors and banks.

“Retailers who stock prepaid cards will win from this innovation,” says Cross. “With pre-pay through ICE 5000, retailers have a low risk, low cost mechanism for gaining considerable margin.”

Since launching in July this year, ICE 5000 has attracted attention from a considerable number of merchants who are keen to leverage the benefits of this web-enabled technology.

E-Phone’s pre-pay through ICE 5000 will be live by the end of the year.

About Advantage
Advantage Group Limited, an NZSE 40 company, is a leading supplier of eServices throughout the Asia Pacific region. Advantage employs over 400 full time people supporting customers in 15 international locations. For more information, visit http://www.advantagegroup.co.nz.

About E-phone
E-phone was incorporated in August 1998 by its major shareholder Bob Barraket. The objective of the business is to successfully develop a networked and electronically managed system of public access computer terminals and to maximise the utilisation of these terminals by value added services.

E-phone believes that significant synergies and competitive advantages could be achieved with the establishment of a branded national network of Internet terminals. The network would provide the potential for high margin revenue generation, as well as incremental value added services such as transaction revenues. The alliance with Advantage adds another transaction revenue service to the E-phone product set.

ENDS

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