As soon as next year you could be binning your wallet full of plastic in favour of one smartcard.
With an in-built silicon memory chip, a smartcard can perform many functions that would currently require different cards. Apart from storing electronic cash, smartcards can also act as debit and credit cards. They also have the potential to store information on anything from driving licences, to travel season tickets and supermarket loyalty programmes.
NCR, the company that manufacturers the majority of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), has signed a #14 million deal with a group of high street banks and building societies to upgrade 80 per cent of cash machines in the UK - around 22,000 in total - to read and write data on smartchips, providing a future platform for the transfer of electronic money.
NCR will start upgrading the ATMs this autumn and hopes to have the project finished by the end of 1999. The ATMs will accept both smartcards and magentic strip cards, confirmed an NCR representative.
The 104 million debit and credit cards in circulation in the UK will be updated from magnetic strip to smartcard from early next year and is expected to take two to three years to complete, according to APACS, the industry body for card payment services.
?As cards expire they will be replaced by smartcards,? John McVitie, a spokesperson for APACs told Newswire. ?The silicon chips in the smartcards have the added advantage that they make the cards very secure, which advances the fight against card fraud.?
APACs has been successfully trialling the smartcards on consumers in Northampton and Dunfermline for some months, who have been using them to pay for a variety of goods and services.
NCR maintains that consumers are already showing a great interest in smart card technology.
?Our own recent research has shown that nearly three-quarters of UK consumers want to use the type of added-value services smartcards and ?smart? ATM technology will enable, from checking the number of loyalty points earned to storing and using electronic cash,?commented Per-Olof Loof, senior vice president of NCR?s Financial Solutions Group.
What type of smartcard services are offered in the future will be entirely up to the banks and building societies, explained McVitie, ?Our involvement in the initiative is to get the smartcard platform out there.?
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