Inventor's `smart' credit card comes of age

It took Roland Moreno 11 years to convince France's leading financial institutions that electronic banking was coming into its own. They are finally listening to him. The French inventor and electronics whiz was the first to come up with the idea of the ``smart'' credit card, a plastic card with a tiny microchip in it. The ``smart'' card can be used in ordinary transactions like a normal credit card, but the microchip can also store information and be plugged into a computer for more complex operations.

After more than a decade of failure, Moreno is finally beginning to reap the benefits of his idea.

The Poste, T'el'ephone et T'el'egraphe (PTT) group is already planning to introduce a new attachment to the minitel computer terminal which will accept ``smart'' cards through a slot and read the information contained in the card's chip. Suddenly there is a vast potential market for such cards to be used in home electronic banking.

Mr. Moreno has convinced Bull of France and Philips of the Netherlands to begin manufacturing the cards. Most major French banks now plan to replace their current Visa cards with ``smart'' Visa cards. This adds up to 3 million cards over the next year and 12 million by 1988.

The formerly frustrated inventor now holds a 34 percent share in the venture to produce the French ``smart'' cards.

In February he achieved another success. MasterCard Corporation purchased 5,000 of his special cards to distribute in select areas of the United States on a trial basis.

Moreno's cards have an 8K memory capacity. They could be used in any banking transaction, thereby ending the traditional need for mountains of paper records. A duplicate memory of each transaction would also be stored in the bank's computer, in the event that the card was lost.

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