Visa International Inc announced its Visa Open Platform Specifications 1.0 for multiple function chip cards, based on the Sun Java Card 2.0 specification, which was frozen by Sun Microsystems Inc last week as momentum appears to be building in the smart card industry behind efforts to promote Java as a standard language for card applications. And Sclumberger SA also chose Friday to launch a second-generation version of its Cyberflex Java smart card at the Cartes 97 exhibition in Paris. Schlumberger claims to have the only Java smart card currently on the market, although it expects the entire smart card industry to follow in the coming months. However, Gemplus SA announced the shipping of its first Java Card 2.0-compliant smart card with a 32-bit RISC processor called GemXpresso two days earlier. Visa claims Java Card is a key component in its migration strategy away from the magnetic strip over to microchip-based cards, announced earlier in the year. Physical cards will be available early next year from suppliers including Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, De La Rue Plc, Gemplus, IBM Corp, Motorola Inc’s Smart Card division, Schlumberger and Toshiba Corp. Visa currently has 600 million cards out in the market, offered by 21,000 member financial institutions. Sun issued the latest 2.0 version of its Java Card application programming interface last week, enabling any card manufacturer to build smart cards that are capable of interacting with any existing card or card reading terminal. The specification, which makes it possible to develop smart card applications using Java tools, can be downloaded from the company’s web site. Sun says cards integrating Java technology will be used to store and update account information, money and personal details. Features include support for code reusability, inter applet communication and ISO standards compliancy. Apart from Gemplus, Sclumberger and Visa, the spec has attracted support from the likes of companies Motorola Inc, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd (CI No 3,134). The spec is downloadable from http://java.sun.com/products/javacard.
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