Eight of the world?s heavyweight smartcard companies are collaborating to develop a standard for multiservice cards, with first products scheduled for next year.
The companies have formed a consortium called Maosco to introduce the Multos standard to the market. The firms involved are Mondex International, Mastercard International, Motorola, Siemens, Dai Nippon Printing, Hitachi, Keycorp, and French smartcard developer Gemplus.
Maosco promises the Multos specification will support other international standards and will allow products from industries to coexist on the same card. The industry has been accused of developing too many standards, hindering the speedy and smooth take up of smartcards for general use. Multos will enable a number of different products or services to be held independently on a single smartcard. For example, the same card could act as a GSM mobile phone card, or a credit/debit card, or as a retail loyalty scheme.
Customers can also download new products or services onto the smartcard via the telephone, an automatic teller machine, or the Internet. Also applications and security upgrades can be introduced without having to re-issue cards.
A set of application programming interfaces (APIs) called Mel (Multos Executable Language) will be developed to allow a range of applications to support the standard. Applications can also be developed using C. The standard will also work with Sun?s Java Card 2.0 API.
Michael Keegan, chief executive of Mondex International, said: ?This gives us a tremendous lead in the race to deliver a global smartcard standard and gives all Mondex issuers the opportunity to exploit a secure, multi-application operating system within the next 12 months.?
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