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  1. Technology
November 16, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

The recent introduction of systems that enable cheap international calls to be made through large telecommunications companies with worldwide networks spells stiff competition for Telefonica de Espana SA. This service has been running for a month in Spain and has been set up by banking group Argentaria and Visa Internacional. Telefonica has reacted by cutting its international rates by 8.9% and launching a card similar to that used by its competitors reports El Pais. The Visa-Phone system enables users of the Banco Exterior de Espana Visa card to gain access to Sprint Corp’s telephone lines via a four-digit code. The link-up is possible from any telephone, including public telephones from which overseas calls can be made. Once the code has been tapped out, the credit card holder makes contact with a Spanish-speaking operator or can dial the number directly by following the instructions of an automatic welcoming system. Argentaria’s commercial co-ordination assistant manager, Javier Lopez, claims the service can mean savings of up to 40%, since it avoids the surcharges slapped on by hotels and local telephone companies. He says relations with Telefonica have not become strained, since Argenaria has a share in the Spanish national carrier. In his opinion Telefonica has taken a professional attitude towards Argentaria’s foray into then telecommunications sector, since it is clear that a service of this nature can only be managed on a worldwide basis by a company with international networks. For now, Banco Exterior de Espana has sent the access code to all its Gold Visa cardholders.

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