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Will smart cards replace ATMs?

You my soon be able to download cash to your smart card via the Internet   

July 30, 1998
Web posted at: 2:40 PM EDT

by Sharon Machlis & Jana Sanchez-Klein

(IDG) -- A "home ATM"? That's what officials at Bank of America and Visa International, Inc. say they're working toward with a pilot project that lets consumers download money into smart cards from their home computers.

The project will be launched next month among several hundred bank and Visa employees. It will use special card readers that can be inserted directly into a regular PC floppy disk drive and will allow people to transfer cash from their checking accounts to the cards via the Internet. The Visa Cash smart card can then be used for purchases by merchants involved in smart-card test programs.

"Electronic purse" alliance planned

American Express Co., Banksys NV, ERG Ltd. and Visa International have become shareholders in the newly formed Proton World International, a company that will continue the development and licensing of Proton smart-card electronic purse applications, the companies announced today in Brussels.

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The financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Proton smart-card technology was developed by Banksys, the Belgian operator of Bancontact/Mister Cash debit and Proton electronic purse transactions. It is jointly owned by the Belgian banks. Banksys, which had been developing and marketing Proton electronic purse technology, is spinning-off the technology arm of its company and bringing in American Express, Visa and ERG to form the new company.

An electronic purse is an application that runs on a chip. It is used for making very low-value purchases at shops, vending machines and pay phones or it can be used for electronic commerce.

There are roughly 70 million smart cards with electronic purse applications being used throughout Europe now, said Jon Prideaux, executive vice president for new products at Visa International in Europe. Of those, 30 million are Proton electronic purse cards, which are accepted at 200,000 terminals in 15 countries, including Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. Each month in Belgium, more than 2.3 million electronic purse transactions are performed using Proton-based cards.

The company also announced that Proton-based cards will support the euro. Cardholders will be able to make purchases denominated in euros without having their cards re-issued.

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