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May 6, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:06pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Electronic payments and smart card software company DigiCash Inc has appointed Michael Nash as chief executive and won a major new investor. Nash comes from Amdahl Corp, where he looked after the smart card work. Previously Nash had conceived and developed VisaCash stored payments system. The company is setting up in Menlo Park, California to hook up with Silicon Valley types. DigiCash has two product lines: ecash and smart card software. The former is a electronic payment software system that Nash claims is the only one tailor-made for the internet. He said it wins over systems such as Mondex because purchases made using it can be tracked to an audit trail. But like Mondex, it also supports peer-to-peer transactions so money can be passed between users. Its two other principal benefits, according to Nash, are anonymity of consumers and that it provides a receipt. It works by a bank, or some other trusted party, establishing a ‘mint’ by installing the DigiCash server and distributing the client to the consumers – most of the early trials are mostly limited to bank’s account holders. There’s also a merchant client for banks to recruit merchants. Electronic ‘coins’ are then purchased by the users and used to buy things – ecash supports payments as low as a cent. The smart card software adds a stored value elements to smart cards. DigiCash sells it to chip makers such as Motorola Inc, who then put them at the heart of the cards. Nash said the smart card software is designed so that the electronic coins in ecash can be stored in the smart card software. DigiCash’s founder is Dr David Chaum, and its interim chairman is Nicholas Negroponte. Chaum holds numerous patents including the so-called blinding process that maintains user anonymity. The extra funding has come from David Marquardt, a general partner at August Capital. He had previously invested in the early lives of Intuit, Sun and VeriFone. The total is thought to be almost $10m, of which just over half came from Marquardt. DigiCash has about 45 employees, mostly in the Netherlands.

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