Magazine article American Banker

Smart Cards: B of A, Visa Testing PC Cash Transfer System

Magazine article American Banker

Smart Cards: B of A, Visa Testing PC Cash Transfer System

Article excerpt

BankAmerica Corp. and Visa International are beginning an experiment in loading Visa Cash smart cards with funds via the Internet.

Several hundred BankAmerica and Visa employees are to begin participating this month in an upgrade to Bank of America's home banking service.

They would be able to transfer cash from checking accounts to the smart cards using a Smarty, a device that enables the card to be inserted and updated in a personal computer's floppy disk drive.

Once stored in the card's chip, funds could be spent at vending machines in company offices or at certain points of sale.

Five Internet merchants are in on the pilot and can get paid in virtual cash from home PCs. (Some of these have physical stores but they are not yet equipped for Visa Cash.)

The pilot is an extension of other BankAmerica-Visa efforts showcasing chip capabilities. The San Francisco bank has been issuing stored value cards for use at Visa headquarters in suburban Foster City.

The companies also implemented a multiple-application card system at a downtown San Francisco BankAmerica building, and have done limited testing of Internet commerce with smart cards since May 1997.

BankAmerica has had a smart card group in its interactive banking division researching and testing chip technologies for about four years.

It rolled out its first client application this past spring-a data encryption and authentication program for users of the Wanda corporate cash management service.

As in the Internet cash pilot, the Wanda smart cards are delivered with a BankAmerica-branded, diskette-size Smarty reader produced by SmartDisk Corp. of Naples, Fla. The chip card is inserted in the Smarty, which in turn goes into the PC drive for processing.

The cash pilot aims to "establish the platform for what will one day become the ultimate convenience-a personal, home automated teller machine," said Michael DeVico, executive vice president of BankAmerica's interactive banking division. …

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