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April 18, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:46pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Attempting to find itself a revenue stream in addition to data traffic transmission, European PTT consortium Unisource NV has developed a prototype trial system to enable the use of electronic cash for shopping and banking transactions over the Internet. With its Smart Access system, the company intends to generate income by charging commission to Internet-based buyers and sellers to use its cash register, an intermediary repository to and from which electronic cash would be sent during transactions. Julian Wilson, director of service development explained that the cash register, containing several cash cards, will hold electronic cash in between transactions and dispatch it to the required destination, be that to the bank as a deposit, or to another card held by a retailer or individual. It will also provide the transaction protocols, compatibility between trading systems and multiple currencies and authentication. Unisource employed UK consultancy firm Hyperion Ltd, to design the system; implement the Mondex card using its own applications programming interface; define protocols for shopping and banking, integrate the various hardware and software components and develop a pricing strategy for digital goods. Hyperion was the original Internet consultant for the Mondex project (CI No 2,955). Initially, Smart Access will deploy the Mondex electronic cash card over mobile networks but Unisource hopes that other cards and fixed networks will be incorporated soon after. The system is being piloted on Apple Computer Inc’s Newton MessagePad 2000 handheld device via the GSM Groupe Speciale Mobile network. Users can currently access and pay for information services offered by UK publisher Time Out Ltd. Unisource is also working with Nokia Oy to develop a similar implementation for the Nokia 9000 handheld computer-phone-fax device, which should be available by August. It has also begun work with Dutch card firm Chipper NV on a Windows 95- based system which is due in September.

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