INTELLIGENT  CHIPS  TAKE  CENTER  STAGE

MANILA,
October 11, 2004 (STAR) By Alma Buelva - Intelligent chips, those little and unobtrusive pieces of technological wonder commonly used in mobile phones and bank cards, are now becoming ubiquitous, too, expanding their practical applications to other industries that value data integrity and security.

These new applications and real-world adoption of intelligent chips will be among the key highlights of the first Intelligent Chip Conference slated on Oct. 26 at the Dusit Hotel Nikko Makati.

Patterned after the Annual Smart Card Conference in France and Australia, the Philippine conference seeks to enhance public awareness of the various applications and benefits of the intelligent chip and the roadmap to its successful implementation here.

The term "intelligent chip" is uniquely coined by the event organizers to emphasize the dramatic improvements in smart card technology.

The technology behind the smart card is the intelligent chip, a French innovation that has found wide-ranging applications that have brought about great efficiencies and convenience in the lives of many people and in the way businesses are conducted.

"Smart cards are dominantly found in cellular phones today, but they’re becoming embedded in many other objects such as credit cards and RFID (radio frequency identification device) stickers," said conference organizing member Nini Octaviano. "There are even smart cards for home appliances such as microwave ovens that allow them to be operated (virtually) online."

Applications

The world market for smart cards is currently booming. From only one smart card for 100 people in 1991, there is now one for every six.

The most common smart card applications are well-known: credit cards, electronic cash, computer security systems, wireless communications, loyalty systems (like frequent flyer points), and in banking (ATM cards).

But more opportunities for applications are coming, said Yves Cadilhon, economic and commercial counsellor of the French Embassy. "Other state-of-the-art technologies can guarantee the uniqueness of identity documents such as biometrics (including Automatic Finger-print Identification Systems or AFIS), holographic portraits, electronic certificates and signatures... This technology can also be used in the field of secure identity to respond to the growing need for international security and identification of individuals, or in the fight against terrorism."

In the Philippines, the government has a long-standing plan to implement a national ID system, which may be able to benefit from smart card technology. Timmy Diaz de Rivera, National Computer Center managing director and commissioner of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), said smart cards would prove very important as a support tool for the delivery of government e-services.

"Right now, the issue is how to balance privacy concern with security and the legislation needed," he said.

Diaz de Rivera also shared the government’s ongoing pilot projects that include the e-passport system for Japanese nationals entering the country, the harmonization of the e-ticket for Metro Manila’s transit system, and a plan to use digital certificates for presidential appointees.

Appreciating that the government is at the core of the smart card initiative, conference organizers have extended free seats to 100 government executives. Diaz de Rivera said he hopes the government’s participation in the conference will catalyze more smart card initiatives in government.

He said the government delegation can even possibly come up with a resolution after the conference to push for such initiatives.

Meanwhile, French smart card companies pointed out that there are compliance issues, too, that would encourage even speedier adoption of intelligent chip technologies in business.

Credit card companies, for example, are shifting liability for fraud to issuers by 2006, highlighting the need for banks to support the chip in their cards for security.

"The use of a credit card with an intelligent chip has a deadline for global adoption," said Mark Telkes, Oberthur Card Systems solutions and services director for Asia-Pacific.

The French Connection

Smart card adoption in France dates back 20 years ago, according to Cadilhon.

"France’s first mass usage was payment in the French pay-phones starting from 1983 (Télécarte). The second one was the integration of a microchip into all French debit cards (Carte Bleue)," he said.

The conference, which will take place during the celebration of Philippine-France Friendship Week, will bring in French scholars who will share their skills and knowledge of smart card technologies.

Jean-Pierre Camelot, noted French expert in smart card technology, and Chou-Fang Soong, president of Gemplus Southeast Asia who is recognized as the father of smart card technology in Asia, will lead the conference.

The forum will also have CICT Chairman Virgilio Peña to discuss the Philippine government’s national ID plan and other pilot projects involving smart cards. From the user community, Jocelyn Ang of NETS, Singapore’s ATM consortium, will present a case for a successful e-purse scheme. Aurelio Montinola III, COO of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Renato Valencia, co-chairman of the ICT Council, will discuss their organizations’ plans for the intelligent chip.

Geared toward business and government executives in the fields of mobile telecommunications, banking, retail, identification systems, payment systems for mass transportation, and home automation and control systems, the conference will feature tracks on GSM/telecommunications, banking and retail and identification.

The show is organized by the Philippines-France Professionals Association, the French Agency for International Business Development (UBI France) and the French Embassy, in collaboration with the CICT.

Sponsors of the conference include Sagem, Oberthur, Bancnet, Gemplus and Thales. For reservations, call Kristine Rufino at 894-0074, 893-5112 or e-mail pfpa_2004@yahoo.com.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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