Canadian banks push back start-up date for Mondex

The 10 Canadian banks signed up to the Mondex electronic cash system have confirmed that they will be delaying implementation of the system for as long as three years. As with the Mondex banks here and in Australia, the Canadian consortium had its sights on a national rollout of the smartcard-based system next year. But Al McGale, vice-president of stored-value cards at the Royal Bank of Canada, recently told the Toronto Star newspaper that the national rollout was not now expected to begin until 1999, and that most Toronto citizens would probably not see a card until the year 2000 or 2001.

The 10 Canadian banks signed up to the Mondex electronic cash system have confirmed that they will be delaying implementation of the system for as long as three years.

As with the Mondex banks here and in Australia, the Canadian consortium had its sights on a national rollout of the smartcard-based system next year. Unlike the local banks, the Canadians have run a full-scale trial in the town of Guelph, Ontario, since September 1996.

More than 10,000 people in Guelph now use Mondex cards carrying a total of $1.5 million in electronic value. But Al McGale, vice-president of stored-value cards at the Royal Bank of Canada, recently told the Toronto Star newspaper that the national rollout was not now expected to begin until 1999, and that most Toronto citizens would probably not see a card until the year 2000 or 2001.

“The problem is getting it out into all of the retailers, it’s a big chore,” says McGale. “I think 2000 or 2001 is probably a reasonable expectation.’’

The Royal Bank was one of the original backers of Mondex in Canada and, along with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, wooed eight other large deposit-taking institutions into supporting Mon-dex. The banks are maintaining their support for the technology, although the last to join, Scotiabank, is also conducting a trial with Visa Canada.

McGale told the newspaper that the relatively recent recruitment of six of the banks this year would also mean delays in getting the system up and running. Mondex was unlikely to work if introduced piecemeal in any one area, he said.

Mondex New Zealand chairman Jeremy Dean told Computerworld he was “not aware of the rumour” that Mondex Canada was delaying implementation. “I’m surprised to hear it, particularly in view of the fact that they have just appointed a new president of Mondex Canada.”

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