Mondex International, the division of National Westminster Bank Plc that is pioneering the Mondex electronic purse, has released updated specifications for manufacturers developing Smart Cards, readers and terminals for the cashless system. The updated set of specifications should iron out initial bugs and misunderstandings arising from the original details issued in April 1994. And the […]
Mondex International, the division of National Westminster Bank Plc that is pioneering the Mondex electronic purse, has released updated specifications for manufacturers developing Smart Cards, readers and terminals for the cashless system. The updated set of specifications should iron out initial bugs and misunderstandings arising from the original details issued in April 1994. And the system went live at the beginning of the month: Swindon in Wiltshire is the scene of an extensive trial into the technology (CI No 2,698). The specifications, which come too late for the start of the Swindon trial, include corrections to parts that manufacturers found unworkable or in need of updating. For example the document referred to using 1 screens for devices such as electronic wallets, but manufacturers wanted help in incorporating 5 screens that are now available. They also include guidelines for the physical, electrical and interface characteristics of all Mondex cards, and particularly focuses on the messages consumers will see when they carry out transactions using the cards. The messages will use symbols instead of the written word to eliminate language problems, although Mondex has yet to win major European support, and the company is developing a set of internationally recognisable symbols, such as a keyhole to symbolise the card’s locking device. Other areas now covered include the interface between the Mondex ‘purse’ and a Mondex device, that is anything that takes payment from a Mondex Smart Card, and an outline of the standards required for using the Mondex branding on their products.
Those taking part in the Swindon trial will need their Smart Card, an electronic wallet that enables cash to be transferred from one Mondex card to another, and a balance reader to tell you how much is left on the card. Retailers will have either a stand-alone reader unit or a reader incorporated into electronic tills. You will ‘charge’ your Smart Card either from a bank teller machine of National Westminster or Midland Bank Plc, a partner in the trial, or from a specially adapted British Telecommunications Plc pay phone. Then simply go shopping, and use your card as cash. The card sends cash ‘chip to chip’ without going through a central clearing facility, and is, therefore, seen as a cheaper and quicker alternative to credit cards, especially for buying services on the Internet (CI No 2,606). For the trial, developers include AT&T Global Information Solutions which has developed cash machines, British Telecom with residential and pay phones, De La Rue Fortronic Ltd, retailer terminals, General Information Systems Ltd electronic wallets, Hitachi Ltd integrated circuits, and the Panasonic Personal Computer Co unit of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, with electronic wallets and personal balance readers. Several mobile telephone manufacturers are also working on incorporating Mondex in their telephones, using their existing product to become an electronic wallet. David Morton, Mondex International’s public relations manager, believes that in the future, taxi drivers and window cleaners will carry Mondex electronic wallets, you will be able to exchange sterling for foreign currency on your card, and that you will shop wherever you see the Mondex symbol. He even thinks you will give your child pocket money by transferring cash from your card to theirs.