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NYT on Electronic Purses

The New York Times today reports:


"Electronic purses" may mean the end of cash.  Banks, credit 
card companies and even some governments are racing to 
introduce electronic purses, wallet-size cards embedded with 
microchips that store sums of money for people to use instead 
of cash for everything from buying fast food to paying highway 

* * *

Long-range planners in the banking industry see the weaning of 
small businesses and consumers from cash as the last step to 
closing many expensive branches and conducting virtually all 
business by telephone, through cash machines and perhaps home 

* * *

"As more and more people do business on the Internet, we have 
to look for how you pay for things," said Catherine Allen, a 
vice president in Citibank's technology office and the head of 
the Smart Card Forum, an industry group.  "The smart card 
allows me to identify myself securely."

* * *

But Mondex [Britain's system] has still another wrinkle:  

Unlike most other electronic purse systems, Mondex, like cash, 
is anonymous.  The banks that issue Mondex cards will not be 
able to keep track of who gets the payments.  Indeed, it is the 
only system in which two card holders can transfer money to 
each other.

"If you want to have a product that replaces cash, you have to 
do everything that cash does, only better," Mondex's senior 
executive, Michael Keegan said.  "You can give money to your 
brother who gives it to the chap that sells newspapers, who 
gives it to charity, who puts it in the bank, which has no idea 
where it's been.  That's what money is." 

End quotes.

The article describes smart card systems in the US and other 
countries.  Describes how customers "recharge" the card by home 
phone or other means. 

Email copies wanted?  It's about a half-page in size.