Magazine article American Banker

AT&T's Smart Card Chief Plans Two-Front Push

Magazine article American Banker

AT&T's Smart Card Chief Plans Two-Front Push

Article excerpt

The president of a new At&Tbusiness unit sees 1994 as a crucial year in the development of a U.S. market for smart card services.

John Bermingham, the 49-year-old consumer electronics veteran who was tapped last month to head AT&T's smart card division, said his company plans to help drive the market for the plastic cards with potentially powerful computer chips embedded inside.

He cited two specific initiatives this year: increasing the number of financial institutions with which AT&T maintains partnerships, and finding ways to increase the cards' utility by adding to storage capacity.

The Somerset, N.J., AT&T unit already is running a smart card pilot at Chemical Banking-Corp. in New York.

Smarter Smart Cards

But the unit hopes now to push the smart card to new levels of acceptance with programs that go beyond the employee-cafeteria trials at Chemical. AT&T declined to comment on prospective partners, but observers say the company is close to signing a deal with Fleet Financial Group.

The chips in AT&T smart cards currently have about 3 kilobytes of memory. By the end of the year, Mr. Bermingham said, the standard AT&T card will boast 8K, and plans call for a 100K card in the next few years.

With the larger memory, cards could carry personal information, such as medical records, in addition to the financial and identification data that banks would likely put on the cards.

Experts say that expanding the smart card's utility beyond financial transactions will hasten consumer acceptance. …

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