Australian smart card and electronic payment specialist Intellect has formed a joint venture with giant Swiss conglomerate Ascom to develop low cost devices for home banking, shopping, messages and other online activities. Intellect will own 51 per cent of the venture and will report all revenue it generates.
The products to be developed by the venture will be based on Intellect's MicroBank home terminal, which was released in Europe two years ago, said Jan de Smet, CEO of Intellect and chairman of the joint venture. The current version of MicroBank will be offered to the existing markets of both Intellect and Ascom while new versions are under development, he explained. "Ascom will assist us to open up new markets by adding telephony and other communications functions to the MicroBank so that it has much broader public appeal," de Smet said. "The reason we selected Ascom is because they have years of experience in telecommunications and commodity products."
De Smet added that there is enormous interest in Europe in secure home devices capable of performing applications within the home. MicroBank has been installed in more than 180,000 homes in the Netherlands and new pilot orders have been received from France, Germany and Italy.
The MicroBank family of products is capable of performing a number of online market functions, including making secure payments for Internet transactions, loading smart cards, paying for goods and services ordered from home, home banking, secure communications with banks, interactive loyalty schemes, and personalised advertising, de Smet added.