Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T Smart Card Aimed at Replacing Cash

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T Smart Card Aimed at Replacing Cash

Article excerpt

The beginnings of the cashless society have shown up at Jaguars

games in cash cards. Now Jacksonville-based AT&T Universal Card

is preparing to be part of a nationwide rollout of a competing

smart card that could eventually replace every penny and dollar

in your wallet.

And, the owners hope, it will be the key to opening up the

Internet more widely to commercial transactions.

Universal Card is working with the Mondex money card, a

European import that is competing against the Visa International

smart card that First Union is testing at Jacksonville Municipal


"Mondex's can do more," said Larry Hooper, editor of Smart Card

Alert, an industry newsletter. "Visa's card has no Internet

capability whatsoever."

Smart cards are embedded with computer chips that allow them to

be used and then reloaded with new cash value -- turning them

into "electronic purses."

Cards will be used to make purchases from businesses equipped

with special terminals similar to the ones that read debit


Mondex and Visa International offer competing technology and

are jockeying to get acceptance by the most financial

institutions, and, soon, by the most retailers.

"We need lots of mass, lots of coverage," said Charles Raphael,

senior vice president of First Chicago NBD, a big banking

company that owns part of Mondex USA.

Working in Mondex's favor is the heavy corporate horsepower

pushing its introduction.

The U.S. franchise for Mondex -- Mondex USA -- is owned by AT&T

and a consortium of big banks and credit card companies. Owners

include Chase Manhattan Corp. in New York, Wells Fargo Bank in

California, and Mastercard International, which has some 13,000

bank members who could push the card.

Also working in its favor is that Mondex's owners want it to be

an "open system," where competitors share a common technology in

the same way that banks share ATM technology.

Universal Card's initial test is in its cafeteria, vending

machines and gift shop at its Baymeadows Way headquarters. About

200 employees have been issued with the special cards, which

look like a regular AT&T credit card, said Keith Kendrick,

senior vice presidentsmart payments at Universal Card. …

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