A new smart card system is helping to alleviate cash flow problems in one Russian city by allowing factories to exchange their products for retail credits which can be used to pay staff.
The "settlement card" system was installed by the SAN Trading Company, a local consumer goods retailer in Neftekamsk, Russia, as part of a strategy to boost its business by enabling local workers to buy its products without money.
A shortage of bank notes has left many Russian companies unable to pay their staff and suppliers in cash. Before the settlement system was introduced, some factories in the Neftekamsk region bartered goods among themselves but were unable to find a means of paying their staff.
In exchange for goods produced, SAN now provides factories with credit, which can be used to pay employees their salaries, via smart cards.
Employees can exchange the stored value on their cards for products in SAN supermarkets and stores, or other outlets which are participating in the system.
The project is based on the ICL SmartCity smart card development platform and has 4000 users. SAN plans to issue an additional 6,000 cards immediately and anticipates there will be demand for up to 70,000 cards in the long term.
Bill Simpson, global programme manager for smart cards at ICL, said the project could also be expanded by adding more applications to the cards in the future.
Smart cards are proving popular in industrial towns in the former Soviet Union, which have been hit hard by currency shortages. The Neftekamsk installation is ICL's second in the region.
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