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Show puts spotlight on smart card boom                     
                  (Birmingham Post England; 03/25/99)                  

   Cards UK '99 is the only exhibition in the country to address all uses of 
card and smart card manufacturing, technology and applications, according to 
its organiser AIC Worldwide.

   The company believes that more focused and specialised events are more 
useful for making contacts and learning about new technology and market 

   That is why AIC is organising the second annual Cards UK - Applications and 
Technologies Exhibition and Conference at the NEC between October 12 and 14.

   Cards UK is firmly established on the exhibitions calendar and the first 
event, last November, proved most successful.

   Indeed, by the time the doors had closed for the last time, the overall 
consensus of opinion was that the original objectives had been achieved and 
that the exhibition would become a regular event.

   The principal aim of Cards UK '99 is to make end users aware of the effects 
of smart cards on their lives and businesses.

   The target audience for the inaugural exhibition came from the established 
markets, such as financial institutions, retail and telecommunications.

   However, it also attracted representatives from transport, hospitals, local 
government, leisure centres, utilities and manufacturing.

   All were eager to find out how they and their organisations can benefit from 

   Writing in the exhibition catalogue Mr Richard Poynder, chairman of The 
Smart Card Club, explained that today there are almost one billion smart cards 
in circulation. Industry predicts that by the year 2001 that figure will have 
rocketed to more thanfour billion.

   "It is quite hard to find any industry or market sector which is not 
planning, piloting or rolling out a scheme using plastic cards with chips in.

   "Smart cards are seen by many commercial and Government organisations as 
being a key to gaining a competitive and strategic advantage in the new 
information age."

   The UK was late in its high-volume adaptation of smart technology, but there 
are some very innovative and interesting schemes. Indeed, the several hundred 
projects currently around the market represent a greater diversity of 
application than, perhaps,in any other country.

   While smart cards are being used for a very wide variety of commercial 
applications, there are four main sectors where they are likely to provide high-
volume and strategically significant consumer tokens.

   These sector players probably have long-term ambitions to own and control 
the multi-application card in our pockets and purses and the money float 
contained within it.

   BT has converted its payphone technology to smart cards, with a slowly 
reducing population of about 6.5 million phonecards currently in circulation.

   There is clearly some potential for the valuable real estate of payphones to 
be upgraded to kiosks for the provision of information and value loading.

   Payphone cards have, perhaps, a more exciting future and are expected to 
become multi-application, reloadable tokens incorporating electronic purse and 
other facilities.

   BT's strategy may well also include the provision of smart home terminals 
and the cards may become useful vehicles for Internet payments, for use in 
prepaid GSM systems and to reduce domestic telephone bad debt.

   The GSM handset clearly has a great future as a mobile ATM. Two- slot 
handsets are already under development and combi-card technology may even allow 
the existing SIM to combine both telephony and purse functions.

   Transport applications represent an enormous and diverse opportunity for 
smart card technology to flourish. Like telcos, transport operators are in a 
powerful position to compete in the multi-application and purse markets.

   One or two British airlines are already using smart cards to replace paper 
tickets and IATA is understood to be developing global standards for such 

   The largest schemes - and those offering the greatest opportunity in the 
smart card market - are the city-based bus ticketing systems. With an absolute 
consumer imperative to use them and with the added advantage of providing real 
speed and conveniencein contactless form, smart cards in this application are 
set to be very widespread, both here and overseas.

   London Transport has contracted with a private sector consortium for the 
provision of a system for bus and underground operations which will put cards 
into the hands of about six million commuters in about four years time.

   It would be very hard for the consortium to resist the opportunity in the 
longer term to provide a multi-application platform and general-purpose purse 
facility in direct competition to the banks.

   Mr Poynder explained: "Major UK retailing chains, particularly supermarkets, 
have decided that knowledge of their customers and their buying habits is the 
key to future riches. They have, therefore, launched expensive loyalty schemes, 
where the loyaltycost is the price to be paid to obtain the information."

   For further information about attending the conference or visiting the free 
exhibition, please contact AIC Worldwide on +44 (0) 171 827 4178 or email 
[email protected] - alternatively try the website at

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