Magazine article American Banker

Mondex Shows 1 Terminal Can Read All Sorts of Smart Cards

Magazine article American Banker

Mondex Shows 1 Terminal Can Read All Sorts of Smart Cards

Article excerpt

Mondex has taken a significant step toward joining the nearing payment card industry's elite inner circle.

In cooperation with American Express and MasterCard, the British electronic cash venture helped demonstrate this week that all types of smart cards could be accepted at the same terminals.

Mondex - which is owned by National Westminster Bank of London and is being tested in several countries - was designed with technology that didn't conform to standards adopted by the credit card establishment.

The technical demonstration during the annual Cardtech/Securtech conference this week was the strongest indication to date that all the major chip-card brands can be "interoperable."

Interoperability is necessary to serve merchants who will require that a single terminal be able to process any card, said John Tunstall, vice president for card accepting device development at MasterCard International.

He said all major competitors - MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Mondex - are committed to "one footprint" - that is, a single transaction device - "at the point of sale."

"The industry is ready to remove what is perceived as a major barrier to deploying smart cards," said Timothy Stewart, Mondex's regional executive for the Americas.

MasterCard and American Express have been collaborating on smart card interoperability for more than a year. They unveiled the technology at the Cardtech/Securtech West conference in California last November. The vendors Verifone, Dassault, Solaic, and Orga participated in that demonstration.

The addition of Mondex "provides an even more potent demonstration of multiple chip applications in one terminal," the card companies said in a joint announcement this week.

Visa has not been part of what is now a three-member group publicly proclaiming interoperability. But Mr. Tunstall downplayed the significance of that fact, pointing to Visa's involvement in efforts explicitly linked to interoperability - such as the global specifications known as EMV, agreed to by the Eurocard, MasterCard, and Visa associations. …

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