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On Trial at the Summer Olympic Games: Smart Cards
July 1996 (vol. 29 no. 7)
pp. 88-91

Smart cards have their genesis in the development of microprocessor and semiconductor memory in the 1970s. Motorola produced a card with a chip--the first smart card--in 1977 for Cartes Bancaires, the French banking association. Since then, Motorola has shipped more than 150 million smart-card microcontrollers, but the market has developed more slowly than some had predicted. The smart-card market has had to wait for advancements in semiconductor hardware, standards, procedures, software, capital, and training. Although 350 million smart cards are in use around the world, few Americans have every used one. The future of the smart card in the US is riding on a high-profile trial at the Olympics. Visa International has teamed up with the three largest banks in the southeastern United States to offer stored-value cards to the four million visitors and residents expected to attend the Olympics in Atlanta this month. Stored-value cards (or cash cards) transfer stored, digital money from the card to merchants' special terminals. Periodically, the merchants transfer the accumulated store to their bank accounts. Smart card technology must be financed; the participants have to raise the necessary capital. Motorola plans to increase its production capacity tenfold, at a cost of billions of dollars, to meet the end-of-century demand for smart cards. This investment must be regained with interest and profit. Almost everyone on earth will eventually have a smart card, but it may take a few decades yet. The governing point is that the rate of growth of smart-card applications depends fundamentally on the rate at which human beings can grow comfortable with the applications, and less on the rate of technical change.

Citation:
Ware Myers, "On Trial at the Summer Olympic Games: Smart Cards," Computer, vol. 29, no. 7, pp. 88-91, July 1996, doi:10.1109/2.511972
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