Advantage Group and E-phone link up on phonecard services

It will soon be possible to recharge phonecards at eftpos terminals after a deal between Advantage Group and IP telephony firm E-phone.

It will soon be possible to recharge phonecards at eftpos terminals after a deal between Auckland-based Advantage Group and IP telephony firm E-phone. The pair have signed an agreement to develop and operate services in the fast-growing prepay phone industry. Their service is set to go live by the end of the year. Advantage will supply the Internet-enabled ICE 5000 eftpos terminals, and E-phone the cards and phone link. Using Advantage's terminals, customers can recharge their phone account direct at shop counters, paying by cash or eftpos. A receipt is issued via the Internet. Advantage chief executive Greg Cross says the move will revolutionise the prepay phone market. "Currently prepaid 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 been stolen from the counter top. "They cannot be recharged, and producing the unique chip found in earch card is a significant cost to the telecommunications companies," he says. E-phone chief executive Bob Barraket is confident of success, saying the US prepay industry has grown from $US10 million to $US10 billion over the past ten years. "There will be no need for a prepay phone card as such, because the value isn't held in the card - it's just a form of currency. You will have your own prepay account, which you can transfer money to via the ICE 5000 terminals," he says.

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