The top Catalan savings bank La Caixa SA has invested a total of $8.9m in developing the technology behind its electronic purse Smart Card, and plans to distribute 500,000 of the cards across Catalonia and the Balearic Islands by the end of the year . La Caixa anticipates they will be used to perform transactions […]
The top Catalan savings bank La Caixa SA has invested a total of $8.9m in developing the technology behind its electronic purse Smart Card, and plans to distribute 500,000 of the cards across Catalonia and the Balearic Islands by the end of the year . La Caixa anticipates they will be used to perform transactions worth some $400m. Since May 1995, La Caixa has issued 50,000 of the Smart Cards, for which it has some 10,000 terminals in operation, mainly in bars, restaurants, businesses and kiosks . From last month, the bank’s Caixa Abierta cash-point card, and its Monedero Joven card aimed at 14- to 17-year-olds has incorporated the necessary chip to enable them to be used as electronic purses; the service will be extended to the rest of the country from the year-end. Pilot tests have been successfully completed in the town of Granollers and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and the scheme has now been extended to Barcelona, including one of the underground railway lines, Gir ona, Lleida, Tarragona and Palma de Mallorca. There are now some 13,000 public phone booths which besides the Visa and Telefonica card also accept La Caixa’s electronic purse. In the first year of operation, the cards have been used to perform some 253,000 operations, with an average of $5.12 spent on each transaction. Most of the operations were made in bars, 823.5%, restaurants 20.2%, or supermarkets 19.3%. Head of services and electronic banking at La Caixa, Maria Matia, said consumers had only just begun to come alive to the possibilities offered by the electronic purse, and she predicted that 3m cards of this kind, including those of other banks, would be in the marketplace in the year 1997. La Caixa’s cards, which have a Motorola Inc chip, are manufactured by Solaic SA, while Barcelona-based Telesincro SA, 72% owned by Bull Espana SA, supplies the terminals. La Caixa is now engaged in talks with other manufacturers, so it will be in a position to increase the number of terminals available to 25,000 by the end of the year.