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A revolution in the making

CNET Asia was informed that bids for the Payment MPC were divided into at least two phases--the first phase will be for the writing of specifications for the integration of the three remaining applications on the card: debit, credit and ATM. The second phase may include developing the applications and making the cards.

It is learned from a government source that a five-company consortium led by Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional Sdn Bhd, and backed by the technical expertise of German smartcard player Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) GmbH, won the bid for the first phase.

Various consortia have also been asked to bid for the second phase of the card, based on G&D's specs.

The Government MPC contract, worth RM272 million (US$71.6 million), was awarded this week to GMPC Corporation Sdn Bhd, beating 11 other applicants.

GMPC Corp comprises systems integrator Dibena Enterprise Sdn Bhd; solutions provider Unisys MSC Sdn Bhd; smartcard player Iris Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd; networking and hardware supplier CSA MSC Sdn Bhd; and card reader supplier EPNCR (M) Sdn Bhd.

Both the Payment MPC and Government MPC are slated to make their earliest debut by the year 2000.

MEPS executive chairman Mohammad Abdullah said a six-month commercial pilot for the Payment MPC is set for the first quarter 2000.

Although he did not disclose its specifications, he said the cards will eventually have the capacity to incorporate Visa, MasterCard and other credit card capabilities while retaining their brand names.

Mohammad suggested that payment transactions for both cards are also likely to use the MEPS Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) Payment Gateway in the near future.

MEPS launched the SET gateway running on the IBM platform in March as an alternative to the more popular Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol used for online transactions.

Six banks have signed up and are issuing credit card holders with e-wallets and either VeriSign or GTE-based digital certificates to buy goods and services from about 30 local merchants.

Malaysia paved the way for branded certificate authority (CA) providers to sell their systems in the country when it put into force the Digital Signature Act last October.

In future, cardholders are expected to use digital certificates issued by at least two local CAs: DigiCert Sdn Bhd and MSC Cybersign International Sdn Bhd.

Mohammad said Malaysia's e-commerce volume is estimated to jump from about RM46 million (US$12.1m) in 1999, to RM796.8 million (US$209.7m) in 2000, and RM1.5 billion (US$394.7m) in 2001.


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