The Mondex electronic purse may have just gone on trial in the UK, but Paris, France-based Schlumberger Ltd’s Payflex purse is up and running in the US. Schlumberger Ltd’s Electronic Transactions division is supplying 60,000 of its electronic purse Smart Cards to First of America Bank, which is issuing the cards to students at the […]
The Mondex electronic purse may have just gone on trial in the UK, but Paris, France-based Schlumberger Ltd’s Payflex purse is up and running in the US. Schlumberger Ltd’s Electronic Transactions division is supplying 60,000 of its electronic purse Smart Cards to First of America Bank, which is issuing the cards to students at the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University, for use on campus and at shops in the area. The cards contain a microcontroller designed by Texas Instruments Inc, and an operating system, Payflex, designed by Schlumberger for electronic purse applications. They also have on-chip dynamic random access memory, which enables the storage of data such as the last five transactions carried out with the card. Payflex is a multi-application Smart Card system, meaning that it not only enables the holder to load money into the card for payment in retail outlets, vending machines and the like, but can also hold data such as a security key or a personal identification number code, for entry to places that are security-controlled. Students on the Michigan Campus will load cash on to their card from a special CashChip station taking cash, or by transferring funds from a bank account. They will then be able to use the cards to buy food in the canteen, use the laundrette and the photocopier, and to buy from shops outside the campus that have a card reader terminal. In addition, the cards will provide security entry to dormitories, and use of the library. With Payflex, Schlumberger has addressed one problem experienced with earlier Smart Cards, that of data corruption if a card is withdrawn from a terminal during a transaction. The system keeps a copy of the current data file, so that if a transaction goes wrong, the live file is replaced with the copy. The Payflex system was tested in a European trial which ran in several cities including Dublin, Eire, where it was used for payment in parking meters, pay telephones and public transport fare collection. As well as developing its own Payflex system, Schlumberger also supplies Smart Cards and card-reader terminals to run with other operating systems, and has recently supplied cards to US banking and financial services company First Union Corp for the 1996 Olymic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. These cards will run an operating system specified by Visa International. First Union will issue in excess of 1m cards by the start of the Olympics in 1996, and expects more than 5,000 locations throughout Atlanta to have card-reader terminals by the start of the g ames. Consumers will be able to make purchases at fast food stores, convenience and grocery stores and vending machines, as well as paying for the use of laundrettes, telephones, buses, metros and taxis. Schlumberger is producing disposable cards in denominations of $25, $50 and $100, and rechargeable cards which can be reloaded at a First Union automatic teller machine, or a special screen telephone at home. First Union intends the system to become permanent in Atlanta and will extend it to the Washington DC area and Florida in 1997, and North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia in 1998.