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Wednesday 01 August 2001


Visa Announces Under One Dollar Smart Card

Visa International and STMicroelectronics are launching a new Smart Card that will cost less than one US dollar. The new card is expected to accelerate the migration to chip and encourage others in the payment services marketplace to follow suit.

The card will be compliant with the international EMV specification and support the Visa Smart Debit/Credit application. It will provide a significant boost to banks looking for a cost effective way to introduce single application Smart Cards and to reduce fraud.

Gaylon Howe, executive vice president, Consumer Product Platforms at Visa International, said: "The number of Visa Smart Cards being issued by banks worldwide has been increasing significantly. However, there are still many banks that would like to issue Smart Cards but are concerned about the cost compared to traditional magnetic stripe cards. While the cost of multi-application Smart Cards has been reduced significantly in recent months we have also wanted to reduce the cost of simple, single application cards. This new card product does just that. It will allow Visa member banks to enter the market at a low cost and to benefit from the increased security and functionality provided by chip technology."

Being developed in partnership with IBM, the sub-one dollar Smart Card is part of a major Visa program to reduce the cost of issuing Smart Cards and will be the first in a family of low cost products from STMicroelectronics. The new card will be manufactured by ORGA, although other manufacturers are currently negotiating with Visa to join the program.

Last year, Visa introduced a multi-application Open Platform card costing less than three US dollars and, in May, announced two new Open Platform card products, one with enhanced data authentication capability for less than four US dollars and one with a contact/contactless dual interface capability for less than five US dollars.

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QUALCOMM and Gemplus Team

QUALCOMM, a pioneer of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) digital wireless technology, has announced an agreement with Gemplus to roll-out hardware and software system solutions to ensure that cdmaOne and CDMA2000 1x handset manufacturers can support complete removable user identity module (R-UIM) capabilities designed around the Gemplus GemXplore WORLD product.

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NanoPierce Announces First Test Wafers

NanoPierce Card Technologies GmbH, a subsidiary of NanoPierce Technologies, Inc has announced that initial samples of the new WaferPierce process have been successfully produced.

Development of a test wafer in compliance with NanoPierce specifications commenced in April when the company began working with the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT), a pre-eminent research and development facility for silicon and wafer technology located in Itzehoe, Germany. These wafers are now available in pre-production quantities.

The chips on the wafer have contact pads that are compatible to the I-code chip produced by Philips Semiconductor, a widely used chip in radio frequency identification (RFID) applications. For the first time, NanoPierce has at its disposal wafer-based test material made to its own specifications.

"This development represents a significant advantage for us and an important step forward for NanoPierce," stated Dr. Herbert J. Neuhaus, Executive Vice President of Technology of NanoPierce Technologies, Inc. "Previously we only had access to commercially available test material. The test wafers which are now available to us have chips whose size and properties closely approximate the components used in our highest priority applications, such as Smart Card chip modules and Smart labels."

During the past two weeks, the first contacts were applied to these wafers by means of the patent-pending WaferPierce technology developed by NanoPierce in the company's laboratory in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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One Voice Appoints Head of Business Development

One Voice Technologies, developer of Intelligent Voice solutions for wireless, telematics, TV/Internet appliances and PCS, has announced the appointment of Jim Edson to lead the company's worldwide business development efforts and an advisor to the One Voice board of directors. Recently he was senior vice president of worldwide sales and global operations for Littlefeet Inc., a developer of wireless infrastructure products for GSM operators.

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JCB Co to issue Smart Cards

Sony Corp. and Toppan Printing Co. are jointly planning to develop an integrated circuit contact/contactless card to be issued by JCB Co during April 2002, according to a report in the Nikkei Weekly.

Sony will provide the non-contact technology whilst Toppan Printing will provide the contact technology. The card is a dual interface card with a single semiconductor on which the contact and non-contact operating systems are mounted, so reducing the cost by as much as 50% compared to embedding two chips.

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Iridian Technologies in Airport Trial

Jersey based Iridian Technologies iris scanning technology is to be used at London's Heathrow airport in a trial on 2,000 North American citizens who have been pre-cleared by the UK immigration service. The passengers will look into a video camera as they pass through passport control and their identity will be verified in seconds.


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