The nation’s largest bank credit card issuer and the world’s second largest payment card network have jumped into the U.S. smart card arena. Citibank and MasterCard launched the Citi Smart Card this week offering a free smart card reader and a free electronic wallet. The new card is now available with instant online approval and a 9-month 0% APR for balance transfers. Initial functionality is limited to storing Web sites, user names and passwords plus automatic completion of online shopping forms via the electronic wallet feature. The Citi smart card package also enables cardholders to use digital signatures. Citibank says it plans to expand the functionality of the chip to enable cardholders to consolidate information from other accounts onto the Citi Smart Card to give customers easy access to several credit cards at one time. Citi also plans to enable cardholders to download loyalty programs, special discount offers, and coupons from their favorite merchants and to store e-tickets for express check-in at select airports, or VIP entry to concerts, sporting events, and theatre performances. The standard MasterCard carries no annual fee and a prime +12.99% APR. The smart card readers are free through May 31, and will be $25 afterwards. During November, Citi launched a pilot of customized smart card called the “citi.you card” with a rewards program and annual fees as high as $85. For more information visit: http://www.citibank.com/us/cards/cardserv/smartcrd/.