Spanish smartcard works with or without contact

Visa Espana will later this year issue the first commuter smartcard that can be read either by insertion into a reader or in 'swipe-free,' contact-less mode via sensors, according to executives at Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), developer of the smartcard's controller. Speaking at the firm's Horizons conference here this week, Carlos Genardini, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola's Consumer Systems group, characterised the Visa Espana smartcard as a step toward ubiquitous use of the cards. He sees widespread, worldwide use of smart cards to be a fact within a few years.

Visa Espana will later this year issue the first commuter smart card that can be read either by insertion into a reader or in "swipe-free," contact-less mode via sensors, according to executives at Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS), developer of the smart card's controller.

Speaking at the firm's Horizons conference here this week, Carlos Genardini, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola's Consumer Systems group, characterised the Visa Espana smartcard as a step toward ubiquitous use of the cards. He sees widespread, worldwide use of smartcards to be a fact within a few years.

"It won't be long," Genardini said.

Visa Espana, which is developing the system's software, will issue the smart card through its member banks. The values in the cards will be decremented automatically by swipe-free ticket terminals or retail card readers.

"We are the first manufacturer to have introduced a single microcontroller chip which offers the levels of security necessary for financial and transport transactions on a single card used in both contact and contact-less environments," said Enrique Ruiz, general manager of Motorola SPS Spain. "Contact-less smart cards need no longer be restricted to transport applications with limited security requirements," he added.

"Currently, Spain is the country with the highest degree of development of plastic banking cards in the world," noted Enrique Rodriguez-Bonachera, deputy general manager of Visa Espana-Sermepa.

Smartcards like these could be used for everything from setting the thermostat in a room to keeping a telephone book for an individual, Genardini said. One application would be to set all the electronics in a traveler's hotel room to meet the traveler's preferences, he said.

The smartcard would allow a traveler to board an airplane without checking in at the airport because flight information is stored on the card, Genardini said. The user could also insert the card into a slot on a rental car's dashboard, logging in without stopping at the counter.

Travelers could also log on to a terminal in a hotel room, and the terminal would set up to the user's smart card-stored preferences, Genardini said.

Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector, in Phoenix, Arizona, is at http://www.mot.com/.

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