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Industry Leaders Announce New Technology Specification To Advance Widespread Use of Smart Card Applications

OpenCard Makes It Easier for Developers to Support Smart Cards Across Different Business and Consumer Devices

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WASHINGTON, D.C - 27 Apr 1998: . . . Twelve industry leaders today released a new technology specification that helps software developers create smart card applications that can be used across a variety of business and consumer devices such as PCs, network computers, automatic teller machines, point-of-sale terminals, set-top boxes and emerging handheld devices.

The new technology, called the OpenCard Framework 1.0 reference implementation, resulted from work done by an ad hoc industry group committed to simplifying the use of smart card technology across different manufacturers' systems. This working group has now formalized its relationship as the OpenCard Consortium, whose initial members include: Bull Personal Transaction Systems; Dallas Semiconductor Corporation; First Access; Gemplus; IBM; NCI; Netscape Communications Corp.; Schlumberger; SCM Microsystems; Sun Microsystems, Inc.; UbiQ Inc.; and Visa International.

"The diverse approaches used in cards and readers have plagued the smart card world and constrained market growth," said Duncan Brown, senior analyst at Ovum and author of a forthcoming report on smart cards. "The OpenCard Framework hides that diversity, providing portability and interoperability between equipment from a variety of suppliers. Suppliers win because it makes it easier to develop and deliver smart card applications. Adopters of smart cards win because they suddenly have a wider choice of suppliers for their smart card systems."

The announcement was made in conjunction with the CardTech/SecurTech East '98 conference being held this week in Washington, D.C. At the show, several of the consortium members are demonstrating applications using the OpenCard Framework 1.0 reference implementation.

OpenCard Framework Contributes to Smart Card Adoption

Smart cards store a card holder's personal information in a small, highly secure silicon chip. Their use is expected to grow due to the extensive connectivity offered by the Internet, and the rise in the types of existing and new devices that can access networks such as the Internet. Smart cards can also be used for access into buildings. Smart cards are already gaining popularity in the banking, government, telecommunications, health and business travel fields.

The OpenCard Framework provides a common interface for both the smart card reader and the application on the card. Basing the architecture on Java* technology has resulted in enhanced portability and interoperability, which are key to widespread adoption. The Version 1.0 reference implementation also enables interaction with existing Personal Computer/Smart Card (PC/SC) 1.0 supported reader devices. The consortium expects to see more advances in growth of smart card applications due to this more flexible infrastructure. It also plans to initiate efforts this year to introduce the OpenCard Framework technology into the international standards arena.

The OpenCard Framework 1.0 reference implementation is the latest milestone since the OpenCard industry work group was formed in March 1997 to address interoperability among smart cards and computing devices. The team first developed an architecture for seamless smart card application development, with an initial reference implementation released in September 1997.

Information on the consortium, which is accepting additional members interested in furthering smart card interoperability, and copies of the OpenCard Framework 1.0 reference implementation and source code, are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.opencard.org.

Industry Comment on the OpenCard Framework

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* Java is a trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc.

All other trademarks are the property of the respective company.

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