Smartcard standards lobby nears "critical mass" with new arrivals

The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA) has doubled its roster to 16 members, adding Elcotel, GemPlus, IBM, Landis & Gyr Communications, Microsoft, Northern Telecom, SPT Telecom, and Telstra. Zona Research says the membership boost may have tipped the balance on standards and the GCA may be near a 'critical mass' which will force the few remaining major players, including Schlumberger, Visa and MasterCard, to drop their resistance.

The Global Chipcard Alliance (GCA) has doubled its roster to 16 members, adding Elcotel, GemPlus, IBM, Landis & Gyr Communications, Microsoft, Northern Telecom, SPT Telecom, and Telstra.

"From where we sit it appears that smart-card technology is quickly moving toward the point where a standard can be simultaneously presented and approved by a standards body while being deployed by a large consortium of market-leading vendors," according to a newsletter by market-research company Zona Research, in Redwood City, California. "This announcement, we believe, rounds out the GCA membership and gives the organisation greater clout toward that end."

"We believe the GCA may be nearing critical mass, making it impossible for the few remaining major players, including Schlumberger, Visa, and MasterCard, to continue their resistance," the newsletter stated.

"Our growing membership is evidence of the support for the GCA's efforts to achieve worldwide smart-card interoperability," said David Anastasi, vice president and general manager at US West Public Services, as well as GCA president and board member.

The first interoperability agreement was signed by GCA members PTT Telecom Netherlands/Unisource and Deutsche Telekom. This was followed by a similar agreement between US West Communications and GTE Public Communications. Most recently, the US West/GTE agreement was expanded to include Bell Canada.

Other GCA members include American Express, Oracle, and Telekom Malaysia.

The Global Chipcard Alliance, in Seattle, can be reached at http://www.chipcard.org/.

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