Proton World International

Created 29 July 1998

Today at the Banksys headquarter in Brussels the four shareholders represented by:

Assembled to announce the formation of their new Company Proton World International "PWI".

Key to the creation of PWI is the transfer of the Proton Technology from its founder Banksys, the Belgium bank owned bankcard processing company, and the adoption by PWI of the emerging Common Electronic Purse Specification "CEPS".

Interoperability on a global scale was the focus of the short messages from each of the shareholders. The creation of the railroad tracks or the autobahn was core to why both Visa and American Express have joined forces today to create this new company. Let alone their belief that Proton represented the best electronic purse technology on the market today.

Armand Linkens, the Managing Director of PWI, laid down the strategy focusing on the success of the Proton electronic purse system and the excellence in technology that these four investors each acknowledged. Core to the future of PWI is its strategy of supporting and innovating solutions that assured global interoperability in an open way. He stated that PWI is fundamentally a technology company that will develop market and sell smart card based products. Products that will be based on EMV, CEPS and ISO standards. Core to PWI’s future is the belief that excellence in security and technology will be key it its success.

PWI also announced that it is a member of the Java Card Forum and that it would be embracing the Visa Open Platform as part of its technology solution.

With the interesting inclusion of ERG, a well-known provider of contactless purse systems for the mass transit sector, Armand statement that PWI is committed to develop a coherent global solution that merges contact and contactless technology make for an interesting value proposition. The goal to create a solution that serves the issuing banks’, the transport organisations and most importantly the consumer.

Behind the scenes it is clear that the development of CEPS is key to the long-term success of PWI. CEPS is an initiative of Visa International, Visa Espana/SERMEPA and the ZKA. Its goal to establish the specifications for the Global Open Electronic Purse Specification. These specifications will include the card application, the card to terminal interface, the terminal and load device applications, data elements and the message formats necessary to facilitate transaction processing and key to defining the functional requirements for all the relevant participants.

Visa stated that over time all Visa Cash implementations would migrate to this specification. Amex confirmed that it would adopt this specification. PWI stated that they would be the first to implement an electronic purse system based on this specification. Armand when asked when interoperability of electronic position would occur he anticipating the process of migration to begin in 1999.

As one contemplates the future of electronic purse solutions and counts the number of cards that are either branded under the Visa Cash logo, managed by the ZKA, part of the Spanish implementation or operating based on the Proton technology one must wonder what Mondex and MasterCard must be thinking.

With so few cards and so many delays one can only wonder what the MasterCard board will have to say when they find Mr. Lockhart in his new home in Connecticut or at their next meet with Mr. Sealander and Mr Keegan

The ZKA who works to co-ordinate the payment system in Germany and is behind the success of the Geld Karte system has always had significant influence in the eurocheque and Eurocard system. Their involvement in CEPS must mean they are putting significant pressure on Europay International to recognise the importance of CEPS. Mr Joly must be wondering how to balance the issues of Euro, Interoperability and Mondex/MasterCard.

Carte Bancaire who is rumoured to be working with the ZKA to develop an interoperable electronic purse system for their two countries, is apparently not involved in these discussions, YET. One can only wonder if that is simply because the French still are debating the value of purse and do not want to be seen to being doing things without the permission of all the French banks.

With or without a business case for electronic purse this announcement is a major event in the move to global interoperability. One can only hope that this announcement and the work being done to develop CEPS will help to drive down the cost thus allowing banks and merchants to build the infrastructure necessary to embrace the multi-application capabilities of the smart card.


Philip Andreae

Genval, Belgium

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