The nation's six leading banks have acquired national Franchise rights for the Mondex electronic cash system, Mondex International Ltd. announced Thursday.

The banks-Banco de A. Edwards, Banco de Chile, Banco de Credito e Inversiones, Banco Santiago, Banco Sud Americano, and Banco Santander-made what London-based Mondex characterized as a "national decision" for low- value payments.

The Chilean banks also plan to offer multiple services using the Multos smart card operating system that grew out of the Mondex venture, which is 51% owned by MasterCard International.

"Over two million potential cardholders stand to benefit from the development of Mondex and Multos in Chile," said Mondex chief executive officer Michael Keegan.

Mondex spokesman Gerry Hopkinson said the company can already claim to be "dominant in e-cash in the Americas." Mondex organizations have also been formed in Uruguay, Central America, Canada, and the United States.

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