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Mon 22 Jan 2001 04:00 AM

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First multi-function chip card launched in the region

Smart card technology took another step forward in the Middle East yesterday with the launch of the netsmart card, a multifunction card that combines chip and magnetic strip functionality.

Smart card technology took another step forward in the Middle East yesterday with the launch of the netsmart card. The card is the first multi-function chip card in the Middle East and was launched by Emirates Bank Group subsidiary, Network International, in conjunction with Visa International.The smart card will enable customers to access all banking and other services, as well as performing its usual operations. It carries a chip, which is almost impossible to counterfeit, and the traditional magnetic strip, which ensures the card can be used in non-chip environments. The chip has an 8kB memory, which is upgradeable to 64kB. “The additional memory available on the chip will make it possible for banks, airlines, shops, hotels, restaurants and others to offer financial products, special privileges, upgrades, air miles, discounts and loyalty programmes on just this single card,” explained Alan Goslar, executive VP for products, Visa Cemea.Around 5,000 cards are to be launched immediately, with distribution to be increased in the latter half of the year. “The Network/Visa smart debit card has been developed for customers and staff of Emirates Bank International. But as merchants and Visa members make the transition to chip technology, the multi-functional card will be available to other issuers in the region,” said Anis Al Jallaf, CEO and managing director of the group. He also explained that he bank was in the process of upgrading its ATM terminals and POS units to accept the new cards, with expected completion in six weeks.

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