Agreeing to Agree
Interoperability Moves Forward in the Smart Card Marketplace
By Jennifer Knapp
The Global Chip Card Alliance (GCA) recently signed on 10 new member companies,
including Citicorp, the parent company of Citibank; Siemens AG; Schlumberger Smart Cards
and Terminals, a business unit of Schlumberger Ltd.; VeriFone Inc.; Mondex USA; and Protel
At 26 members only two years after inception, the GCA is charging headlong with a
mission to create a completely interoperable smart card community. According to David
Anastasi, president of GCA and vice president/general manager of US WEST public access
solutions and smart card division, the GCA’s timeline for worldwide accessibility of smart
cards featuring consumers’ personalized applications and solutions is only five years
long. With such aggressive projections, the GCA says it will continue securing business
alliances that enhance its commitment to interoperability, public advocacy, endorsing
standards and specifications and advancement of cross-industry communications-enabled
applications and solutions.
One effort the GCA has undertaken for its cause was to join forces with the Smart Card
Forum (SCF) to create a program of joint panels, which will examine issues of
interoperability. The SCF brings to the table about 200 members and five years of industry
experience in open fora for smart card users and technologists from both the public and
private sectors. Although the two bodies have overlapping membership bases, Anastasi notes
that, "the GCA is a cross-industry integrator creating business alliances and actual
interoperability agreements, while the SCF is a consortium led by users who focus on
applications and business issues with the support of manufacturers and technology
As a result of their combined expertise, the first panel discussion will take place at
the SCF Annual Meeting in September. Slated for discussion at this session will be what
the GCA considers "sensitive issues" surrounding actual agreement negotiations
that will advance industry standards. The second panel discussion will be at the GCA
Annual Meeting in November. Anastasi says this second session will help educate
participants in identifying subjects for further development through negotiation processes
while interoperability agreements are being facilitated.
GCA member companies Schlumberger Smart Cards and Terminals and Gemplus Corp. have been
moving toward global accessibility with enterprising plans to make smart cards more
visible to the public.
The City of Curitiba, Brazil, has chosen a smart card platform from Schlumberger to
forward the city’s plans for an advanced technology-based lifestyle for its citizens.
According to a Schlumberger representative, the City of Curitiba will use
Schlumberger’s Easyflex smart card, which combines conventional contact-based transactions
with contactless operation on a single chip. This interaction is made possible by
Schlumberger’s FastOS (operating system), which allows the wireless and contact-based
transactions to run side-by-side.
In the first phase of the project, 30,000 municipal employees in the City of Curitiba
will receive a smart card, which will function as a local government ID, a payment card
for retailers and an access card for banking. These initial offerings will be followed by
electronic ticketing for local bus service operating on a contactless "walk by"
mode, and prepayment and network access applications. The city plans to expand the program
by 1999 to government employees’ families and then to the entire city population.
Schlumberger’s FastOS open platform allows issuers to identify and install the best
hardware solutions for their particular needs, as FastOS is compatible with standards such
as contactless operation (ISO14443A), data structures (prENV1545) and electronic purse
Gemplus Corp. also is pulling its weight in spreading smart card availability by means
of the company’s Web Store (www.gemplus.com ), where
consumers can purchase smart cards, readers and development kits.
The first new product available at the Gemplus Web Store is the company’s GemXpresso
rapid applet development (RAD) kit, a smart card development platform based on 32-bit RISC
processing and Sun Microsystem Inc.’s Java Card 2.0 application programming interface
Slated to shorten development time for applications, this object-oriented interface
offers a built-in simulator allowing developers to test applets on their workstations
without having to load the applets onto the smart card prior to testing.
With a solid history in Java development as a co-founder of the Java Card Forum,
Gemplus’ GemXpresso is slated to enhance Java use in the smart card industry. "With
this kit, we believe Gemplus has contributed significantly to the viability of the Java
platform as a fast and flexible delivery mechanism for future value-added services on
smart cards," says Jon Collinson, head of strategy and business development at
Established in 1996, the Java Card Forum states its objective as a desire to "give
visibility to the market on solutions for smart card operating systems, stressing
standards, flexibility and multiple applications solutions; promote interoperability of
smart card applications and products; and ease creation of products for smart card
terminals and their applications." Members of the Java Card Forum include Gemplus,
Schlumberger, IBM Corp., Motorola Inc. and Toshiba America Inc.
Also supporting Java progress, Schlumberger announced in May its Cyberflex Multi 8K
simulator, a tool for software developers that checks application code after it has been
compiled and linked using any commercial Java development environment. The Cyberflex
simulator detects possible functional errors before loading the application onto a smart
card. Using MakeSolo, a Java card development tool located in the Cyberflex kit,
application code is checked for unsupported features, then condensed into a single file to
be loaded on the card. In an effort to make the Cyberflex kit available to the public,
Schlumberger offers the kit in a downloadable format from its Cyberflex website
(www.cyberflex.slb.com) free of charge.
In addition to the need for interoperable scripts and platforms, the smart card
marketplace is moving toward interoperable end-user products as well. Addressing this need
is Quebec-based Absolu Technologies Inc., a multimedia telephony tools provider. According
to Luc Giguere, vice president of business development for Absolu, the company has
manufactured a pay telephone called telWEB, which acts as a telephone and a
"one-stop-shop of multimedia telecommunication services." Capable of fitting
inside most existing payphone enclosures, telWEB has a color touchscreen, a handset, a
thermal paper roll for printing and faxing as well as a combined smart card and magnetic
card reader. Giguere says integration of the smart card capabilities with the payphone’s
multimedia platform was a natural progression in the face of smart card development.
Further information on the Global Chip Card Alliance, the Smart Card Forum and the
Java Card Forum can be found on the groups’ websites at: www.chipcard.org
, www.smartcardforum.org and www.javacardforum.org.
In the Face of Progress
On the show floor of the American Public Communications Council’s Western Conference
In a live trial it was easy to see the steps these kiosks have made toward
In this type of multiapplication environment there is need for full cooperation between
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