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

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.”

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