MasterCard Chips Away at Ice Hockey Fan Base

Article excerpt

MasterCard International, a sponsor of the National Hockey League, gave fans a new toy - smart cards - at an exposition tied to last weekend's All- Star game.

The promotion took place during the four-day Pinnacle/NHL FANtasy -considered hockey fans' Star Trek convention. The event was held in San Jose, Calif., and ended Sunday.

MasterCard gave away 25,000 "cool card" chip cards, enabling fans to win prizes from participating sponsors.

Peter Cerra, director of chip card products at MasterCard, called the promotion a "nice way to introduce the technology to future cardholders."

Issuers have been seeking out sports fans to promote chip card acceptance. Recently, the stadium of the National Football League's Carolina Panthers was wired by NationsBank Corp. to accept smart cards. And First Union Corp. installed a chip card system in the stadium of the Panthers' expansion partners, Florida's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Both systems, which let consumers load cash value on the cards to buy food and souvenirs, are said to be popular.

Unlike those more permanent projects, MasterCard's promotion was a temporary attraction that involved no electronic cash.

Mr. Cerra said the program let the thousands of fans who attended the event "see chip technology at work. …