Smart card JV formalises with name

More than six months after the initiative was launched, Telstra, ERG and ANZ have decided on a name for their smart card joint venture as well as a standard technology.

Last September, the three companies signed a memorandum of understanding to form a company to develop open standards for Australia's smart card industry.

Following a number of trials throughout the country as well as a combined $30 million funding injection, the companies last week formally launched the $100 million plus company under the banner ECard.

ECard will be based in Sydney and will have 30 employees. Chris Fendley, former senior manager for Telstra's smart card division, will head up the company as general manager.

According to a spokesperson from ERG, smart card adoption in Australia has been hindered, in some degree, by a lack of common standards.

ECard, with its chosen technology platform - Proton - is expected to drive growth of smart cards across all industries, not only transport and health, the spokesperson said.

"There hasn't been a standard infrastructure . . .Telstra, ERG and ANZ have invested in ECard to kickstart a standard infrastructure," she said.

The joint venture chose Proton over Chipper, the technology used by Telstra to develop its smart card applications.

According to ECard, research into other emerging standards, such as Multos, Java and Windows for Smart Cards will continue.

"ECard will assess and decide the best technology for the market place and pave the way for an open standard," Fendley said.

ECard will also work on increasing smart card penetration in Australia. Discussions and negotiations are underway with financial and business organisations, the spokesperson said.

According to ERG, there are already 1 million smart card users in Australia, including 450,000 HBF card holders in Perth.

Whilst growth figures are yet to be tabled, the spokesperson said there is the potential for all retail organisations to adopt smart card applications.

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