Byline: Si'n Barry
A SWANSEA hi-tech venture has launched a smart card aimed at the credit union and local authority market.
The Credit Union "Branch in a Box" community smart card system has been developed by smart card software specialists Augusta from its new European headquarters in Swansea.
The interoperable card is also set to provide a boost to neighbourhood retailers, credit unions and local authority services by encouraging residents to spend more time and money in their own localities.
Augusta has developed the system in partnership with Ingenico, the world's leading supplier of payment solutions. It represents a major evolution of a system applied by Augusta, with one of Africa's largest banks, across many remote areas of Africa.
Not only will the smartcard enable people to access credit union services via many local retail outlets, it will also allow them to use community services such as libraries, concessionary travel, discounted leisure facilities, pre-paid car parking and payment of benefits.
The system gives local traders a mechanism to reward loyalty with vouchers or discounts that encourage more shopping within local communities.
In addition the cards are particularly cost-effective for transactions under pounds 10, so reducing the amount of money taken out of the local economy in cash management fees and bank charges. The development of the new product was supported by Finance Wales which has taken a 20% equity stake in Augusta.
The new card was launched yesterday by Augusta chairman Lord Erroll, who also heads the All-Party Internet Group in the House of Lords.
He said: "Augusta has a vision for a single interoperable card that can be used to access a wide range of public and private services within a community. We want to help people feel a greater bond with the local community, with special privileges for local residents, while at the same time supporting activities such as learning, travelling, work, leisure, banking and benefits. …