Magazine article American Banker

MasterCard-AMEX Alliance Shows off Multibrand Smart Card Terminal

Magazine article American Banker

MasterCard-AMEX Alliance Shows off Multibrand Smart Card Terminal

Article excerpt

MasterCard International and American Express Co. presented a demonstration at the CardTech West conference this week in San Jose, Calif., to prove that smart cards from different issuers and manufacturers can be accepted by a single terminal at the point of sale.

The two rivals may not have collaborated on such a project since magnetic-stripe terminals were widely distributed more than 10 years ago. They have now agreed to show a unified front on the issue of "interoperability," which they and other smart card advocates view as crucial to the success of the advanced payment cards.

The two companies have been working together on the project since last December.

Verifone Inc. and Dassault Electronique, two terminal manufacturers, and Solaic and Orga Card Systems Inc., two smart card producers, collaborated with MasterCard and American Express to bring the new technology to the public.

"It's the logical progression from magnetic-stripe technology," said Robert J. Wesley, vice president of international business development and worldwide smart card development for American Express.

He added that American Express is involved in many smart card programs and associations, including the Smart Card Forum, and is actively developing pilots, which he declined to elaborate upon. Even so, the company announced on Wednesday that it changed the name of its Travelers Check Group to the American Express Stored Value Group, with the intention of issuing prepaid cards - not necessarily chip-based cards that complement its market-leading paper-based product.

Mr. Wesley contended that merchants will not readily adopt smart cards plastic payment cards with embedded computer chips - unless one terminal accepts them all.

"Obviously, since our card is accepted around the world, it's logical that we work with the industry to ensure this can occur," he said. …

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