The world’s first trial of a revolutionary alternative to cash begins in Australia today with the commencement of the MasterCard Cash program in Australia’s capital, Canberra.
The MasterCard Cash program is a nine-month trial of a multiple application smart card featuring a stored value application that offers consumers and retailers a convenient alternative to cash for low value purchases, typically under $20.
MasterCard Cash is the only smart card available that provides consumers with stored value, credit and/or debit functions all on one card.
MasterCard International President and Chief Executive Officer, H. Eugene Lockhart called the commencement of the trial a giant step forward in the evolution of payment technologies.
“The world is poised for explosive growth in smart cards, and the MasterCard Cash pilot is a core catalyst for changing the way people think about money,” Lockhart said. “MasterCard Cash is the first product of its kind to compete directly with cash and provides us with the platform we need to bring added value to consumers, merchants and our member financial institutions.
MasterCard’s Senior Vice President, Diane Wetherington, said up to 10,000 consumers and 250 retailers are expected to take part in the pilot program, which involves three of Australia’s major banks the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Westpac Banking Corporation.
MasterCard Cash was developed significantly faster than other smart card-based applications according to Wetherington. In fact, work with member banks started in March of 1995 after MasterCard global annual meeting in Sydney and the first on-line transactions were carried out in Australia in December 1995. As part of the systematic roll out of the pilot program, MasterCard and the participating banks have been working for the past three months signing up cardholders and merchants, testing the technology and meeting with regulators and local consumer groups.
“The rich data and learning we will cull during the pilot will help us determine the way we will bring MasterCard Cash forward into the marketplace throughout Australia and around the world,” Wetherington said. The pilot also allows for real-life comparisons to the comprehensive research MasterCard has conducted on stored value.
She said quantitative research conducted in the United States (similar to the findings in Australia) showed strong, broad-based consumer interest in MasterCard Cash. The research showed:
– 55% of respondents said they would definitely or probably get MasterCard Cash,
– 84% said they preferred the stored value facility on existing cards, rather than disposable cards or stand alone; and
– 60% said they would change banks to have access to the service.
“It is our view that there is no long-term future in disposable cards that are not linked to existing accounts-people want a full relationship card that adds convenience and functionality to cards they already have,” Wetherington said, “With MasterCard Cash, we can provide such a product to cardholders today. The future of money is clearly a multi-function smart card application that is oriented to building customers’ relationships with their banks and that is complimentary to existing credit/debit cards,” she added.
MasterCard International Incorporated is a global payments company that provides consumer credit, debit and other payment products in partnership with 22,000 member financial institutions worldwide. MasterCard’s family of brands, MasterCard , Maestro and Cirrus , represent approximately 452 million cards in circulation, and over 13 million acceptance locations, including 252,000 MasterCard/Cirrus ATMs worldwide. MasterCard’s pioneering work in the areas of transaction processing and delivery systems continues to revolutionize the way consumers pay for goods and services. MasterCard can be reached through “Pointers,” its Worldwide Web site.