Magazine article American Banker

Amex, Marine Corps Begin N.C. Smart Card Test

Magazine article American Banker

Amex, Marine Corps Begin N.C. Smart Card Test

Article excerpt

American Express Co. and the U.S. Marine Corps have launched a test of smart cards designed to simplify record keeping while serving as a cash substitute.

An initial 1,000 cards have been issued at New River Marine Corps Air Station, Jacksonville, N.C., and 1,000 more are to go to Marines at nearby Camp Lejeune. Long-term plans call for card readers at bases worldwide.

In North Carolina, the cards are being used to keep track of weapons disbursements and personnel movements. Marines can also use the cards to pay for purchases at places like the Officers' Club, bowling alley, barber shop, and vending machines.

Because the chip cards also have magnetic stripes, they can be used in conventional point of sale terminals. The transactions are fully auditable, and stored value can be replaced if a card is lost or stolen.

"Instead of taking cash, you can take this card into the battlefield with you," said Master Sgt. Hector W. Ayuso of Marine Corps headquarters.

American Express has a history of supplying cards for government purposes. Since 1993 it has issued 1.4 million travel and entertainment cards to employees of more than 150 federal agencies.

The military, meanwhile, has been in the forefront of smart card testing since the 1980s. American Express ran a six-month pilot through May this year of a stored-value card on the Navy's U.S.S. Yorktown.

The Marine program, using Belgian banks' Proton technology that American Express has licensed, expands on stored value to include multiple applications, which are widely seen as a key to ultimate smart card success. …

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