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Multipurpose card to be issued by Aug 2000
From Bernama news. The first users of the card will be those staying in the 750 sq km Multimedia Super Corridor area.

Your smart IC
From The Star. A card with personal data of holder is expected out next August.

Malaysia Attempts to Merge Infrared, Microwave and Smart Card Toll Collection
From ETTM on the Web. Implementing Malaysia's Touch 'n' Go smartcards.

Paving the way to the one-card utopia
By Julian Matthews
June 4, 1999

On the surface, the premise for Malaysia's national multipurpose card (MPC) project seems logical--a single smartcard to combine all functions and then some, instead of the various cards cluttering one's wallet.

Embedded on a chip on the card would be one's identity, medical details, driving license, and passport. It would also double as credit, debit, e-cash and automated teller machine (ATM) card.

With a thumb print or identity number, the card could also function as an access key for individualized applications such as club memberships, ticket-less air travel, shopping discounts or allowing access to buildings and restricted areas.

What's in it for consumers? The ultimate convenience. Using the card will be quicker than fishing out cash. You'll always have exact change. Your credit worthiness could always be easily verifiable. No need to remember complicated numbers. No more form filling.

But when the task force for the MPC met up in 1997 to discuss the card's specifications, the one "supercard" seemed way ahead of its time. There was a variety of obstacles to resolve--non-compatibility, propriety technology, security, cost and ethics.

How do you get competing credit card issuers to place their individual brands on the one card, for example? How do you get both local and foreign banks to make their ATM technologies compatible? How do you make a chip-based passport "readable" in various countries?

How, for instance, do you renew driving licenses and passports easily in a country notorious for its glacial bureaucracy, especially when you lose such documents?


Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.

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