RealTime IT News

Smart Cards Pave the Way for New JV

ANZ Bank, telecommunications carrier Telstra and smart card systems and services provider ERG have invested AUS$30 million (US$18 million) to fund a AUS$100 million (US$60 million) plus joint venture (JV) in a move to stimulate the Australian smart card market.

The Sydney-based JV, to be known as ECard, hopes to remove some of the barriers that have slowed the deployment and uptake of smart cards in the Australian market.

The finalization of the joint venture follows the signing of a memorandum between the three companies in September last year and a number of subsequent trials.

Each shareholder has appointed two staff members to the board of directors. ECard general manager Chris Fendley, said he expected ECard to be the industry leader and provide a common operating system for the Australian market, which has been characterized by a number of emerging smart card technologies but no common standard.

"ECard will assess the best technology for the market place and pave the way for an open standard," said Fendley. "The shareholders are committed to expanding that base through their strengths in the financial sector, transport and telecommunications.''

ECard will initially adopt the Proton Technology to meet its immediate objectives, but will look into emerging smart card operating systems such as MULTOS, Java and Windows for Smart Cards to enhance the range of applications the company intends to offer in the future.

"One of the problems in smart cards all over the world is that the infrastructure can be different," said ERG's strategic investment director Colin Simpson. "What we are trying to do is make sure we have common infrastructure across Australia."