Two developments stimulated by Europe's friendliness toward the smart card may help lay the groundwork for the ubiquitous card-reading infrastructure whose absence has been holding the technology back, particularly in the United States.

Cyber-COMM, a venture of the top French banks and their payment associations, has set a rapid testing and deployment schedule for inexpensive card-reading devices in hopes of equipping every household in France for secure banking and electronic commerce by 2001.

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