Magazine article American Banker

U.S. Smart Card Campaign Moves Ahead

Magazine article American Banker

U.S. Smart Card Campaign Moves Ahead

Article excerpt

The General Services Administration, which has taken on the tough task of getting government agencies to adopt chip technology, is making progress but has far to go. In May the GSA awarded contracts to five vendors that will start issuing chip-based common access identification cards to government agencies. The five vendors include KPMG Peat Marwick, which is working with U.S. Bancorp, and Logicon Inc., which is working with Citigroup Inc.. The contracts further the GSA's two-year-old SmartPay program in which each agency was required to select fleet, purchasing, and travel card products from among designated banks. In another good sign for the GSA, the Department of Defense has said it intends to give smart cards to all its service personnel in the next two years. In November 1998 the GSA awarded SmartPay contracts to five banking companies -- Citigroup, NationsBank, Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp, Bank One, and Mellon. All but Mellon agreed to offer provisions to add chips to the cards. SmartPay's magnetic stripe card component has had strong growth, but chip cards have been a tougher sell. Many agencies have said they do not want to combine payment and identification functions on one card, and even more have said they are not ready for chip technology at all. In answer to these complaints, the GSA developed a separate card -- the common-access ID -- that gives people access to buildings and computers and has digital certificates for secure online shopping Government agencies can choose to have a separate card for secure access or to develop a multiple-function card. The GSA itself is conducting a 450-card pilot with Citibank and Visa involving multiple applications, and it is looking into a transit feature for use with the Washington Metro. David Temoshok, director of the GSA's Access America for Students program, said he is confident that the government agencies are beginning to see the value of smart cards. "Two years ago, when we were building SmartPay, a lot of agencies said 'We're not ready for smart cards,'" Mr. …

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