Visa to trial RSA-encrypted smartcards in UK, Japan

Visa International plans to conduct market trials in the UK and Japan of chip-based smartcards which use RSA Data Security's encryption technology to enable merchants to process electronic cash payments. The trial is expected to involve more than 15,000 cards in the U.K. and several hundred cards in Japan, officials said. The cards - which are not Visa's next-generation Java-based version - seem similar to those lined up for proposed Visa Cash trials in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Visa International plans to conduct market trials in the UK and Japan of chip-based smartcards which use RSA Data Security's encryption technology to enable merchants to process electronic cash payments.

The trial is expected to involve more than 15,000 cards in the UK and several hundred cards in Japan, officials said. Visa did not say when the cards would be rolled out.

The smartcards, which are based on Philips Semiconductors' P83C858 cryptocontroller chip, will be used by merchants to access terminals which accept Visa Cash stored value cards, according to officials. A merchant uses the credit-card sized device with a special Visa Cash terminal in order to securely process Visa Cash electronic payments. Information about the merchant's bank account is stored on the card, as are digital certificates needed for authentication between the merchant, Visa and the financial institution.

Since the authentication takes place off-line on the card itself, the method for storing and transferring financial information is highly secure, RSA officials said. In addition, the card will be used to configure reader terminals so that they can securely accept Visa Cash cards.

The cards - which are not Visa's next-generation Java-based version - seem similar to those lined up for proposed Visa Cash trials in Australia and New Zealand next year.

RSA, based in Redwood City, California, can be reached at http://www.rsa.com/.

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