Florida State University students will soon begin testing smart cards that
fit into a wireless phone and will let them load e-cash or purchase
items over the phone.
The four-month trial, to be conducted at Florida State University in
Tallahassee, represents one of the first e-commerce applications to use a
wireless Personal Communications Service (PCS) system.
Fifty participating students will receive prototype smart cards from Gemplus. Those cards are similar to
multiapplication FSUCard smart cards already used on campus for the past
years for student identification, banking, building access, and prepaid
The new smart card can be removed from the wireless phone and used in
vending machines or other devices that have smart card readers. Smart cards
are plastic cards the size of a credit card, embedded with a computer chip and
generally used for online commerce or security.
The new cards and Motorola
(MOT) StarTAC 7000 PCS digital phones will let students in the pilot
do banking via their wireless phones as well as place and receive calls,
pages, and short-text messages.
Powertel, a wireless service in the
Southeastern U.S., will provide the all-digital Global System for Mobile
(GSM) communications network for the trial.
CyberMark, the systems integrator
for the pilot, likens the smart card-equipped phone to having an automated
teller machine, fax machine, PC, and digital communications center in a
single pocket-size device.
FSU's 37,000 faculty and student cardholders already use their FSUCards at
campus bookstores, laundromats, restaurants, and vending machines. They can
load electronic cash to their cards in increments of $1 to $20 at
cash-to-card machines on campus. Powertel will deduct the cost of calls
from a payment made upfront by the student.
In the pilot phase, the ID card will double as the subscriber identity card
in Motorola's StarTAC 7000 handset. In the next phase, the FSUCard's
"electronic purse" will be used to pay for PCS communications.
The vendors believe that future offerings may allow students to receive
electronic fund transfers from home and retrieve grades on the phone's
two-line, lighted display screen.