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November 22, 1995

DIGICASH PERSUADES MARK TWAIN TO SIGN UP FOR INTERNET DIGITAL CASH

By CBR Staff Writer

Digicash NV, the Dutch company that pioneered Internet-based digital cash has persuaded its first bank to adopt the technology. Mark Twain Bankshares Inc of St Louis, Missouri is small fry in the US banking system with a reported $2,800m of assets. However, the service will be closely watched by the other, bigger banks that Digicash hopes to court. David Chaum, founder and managing director of Digicash, claims he has already signed up some other undisclosed banks. The company also announced that it has licensed electronic cash to Sweden Post, which runs the the nationwide Postgirot post office banking and payment system. The Swedes, unlike the US bank, are still playing their cards close to their chests, but Digicash said the postal banks are responsible for more than 50% of value transfers in Sweden and have direct access to accounts of more than 75% of Swedish households. Mark Twain BankShares keeps Digicash users’ money in a separate bank account it dubs the WorldCurrency Access account, where it can be held in any of 25 currencies. Funds are moved from here to a Digicash Mint as the customer directs, from where it can be downloaded directly to the personal computer. This dual system betrays a little nervousness about leaving large sums of money in the mint – in an interview with American Banker, bank vice-president Frank Trotter likened electronic cash on a disk to cash in your pocket and funds in the electronic cash Mint as more like money at a teller window. Although Digicash is going after the big names, signing Mark Twain raises the intriguing possibility that fast-moving, smaller institutions will try to use the new technology to steal a march on their rivals. The bank has recently been the subject of takeover speculation and a thriving electronic cash business would add to its attractions.

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