Mastercard's European partner Europay was expected overnight to announce its support for the Visa-backed Common Electronic Purse Specifications (CEPS) for smartcards - bringing the industry markedly closer to a common standard but striking a harsh blow to Mastercard's hopes for its Mondex e-cash system.
The Europay board was expected to announce at its annual member conference in Cannes that it was to join the CEPS working group headed by Visa
The working group was formed last month when Visa, American Express, Banksys of Belgium and public transport systems developer ERG became shareholders in Proton World International, formerly the technology arm of Banksys and developer of the Proton electronic purse.
Mastercard subsequently announced that it would not adopt the CEPS on would continue to develop the Mondex purse for use on its own smartcards. Visa and Mondex have been sometimes bitter rivals as they have vied for the initiative in the emerging world of stored value cards.
Europay, which helped drive the EMV (Europay-Mastercard-Visa) standard for credit cards, operates a range of payment products and services on behalf of its member banks, and has nearly 194.4 million cards in circulation. Its international business is done via Mastercard.
Mastercard bought a 51% stake on the British-based Mondex International in 1996, not long after the six leading New Zealand banks, the ANZ, BNZ, Countrywide, National, ASB and Westpac, purchased equity in the company.
The CEPS standard is scheduled for release in December, and will set down the purse standard to be used in Visa's planned City Card joint venture with Wellington City.