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  • Electronic Purse to Debut at Commonwealth Games in Malaysia
  • September 1, 1998 (KUALA LUMPUR) -- Malaysia will introduce its first electronic purse in the form of a smart card at the 16th Commonwealth Games to be held in the capital city in September.
    The stored value, chip-based card is the forerunner to the national multi-purpose card the government plans to roll out as part of its Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project.

    The electronic purse system is based on the Proton smart card technology developed by Banksys SA of Belgium, and currently used in 15 countries.

    "The advantage of the e-purse card is that it replaces conventional cash, especially for small value transactions, which a credit card cannot do," said Ahmad Naser Baharom, head of product development at Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd. (BBMB).

    He said the bank will issue the cards in two versions: disposable and reloadable. The disposable cards will have a value of 50 ringgit (US$1.20), while the reloadable versions will have a ceiling value of 500 ringgit.

    Ahmad Naser said about 100,000 disposable cards and another 2,000 reloadable cards will be issued from August and can be used for the purchase of food and souvenir items from participating merchant outlets at the Games village and in and around the capital city.

    "We are also issuing 180 hand-held terminals to merchants, initially as a complimentary service. The terminals will allow transactions to be authenticated offline, and later credited by the merchants to their bank accounts via telephone," he said.

    Ahmad Naser said the disposable cards are valid for six months, and can be used even after the Games, while the reloadable cards can be used for five years.

    He added that the reloadable cards, although chip-based, will still have a magnetic stripe and Personal Identification Number (PIN) for users to access their bank accounts and top up their cards.

    Ahmad Naser said a commercial pilot, involving five other local banks as the e-purse card's issuers, is planned from January till June 1999, followed by a national roll-out set in July.

    The debut of the e-purse card at the Commonwealth Games will serve as a technical test for the national multi-purpose card, a key application of the MSC project, that the government eventually plans to issue to every citizen.

    The government has initially decided on a two-card approach: a government-issued card to be used for identification as a driver's license, health card and immigration card; and a payment card for debit, credit and automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

    Both cards will incorporate the Proton e-purse capability. The objective is to eventually migrate all individual applications onto a single card. A commercial pilot of the payment card is scheduled for July next year. with the national roll-out set for January 2000.

    (Julian Matthews, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Mon Aug 31 19:02:31 1998 PDT