Reaching across competitive lines, American Express Co. is joining a technical consortium that has been closely associated with MasterCard International and its Mondex smart card.

American Express, which had previously licensed the Proton chip card technology from a Belgian banking association, said Wednesday it is also licensing the Multos operating system. Until now, only Mondex and MasterCard products had been built for Multos, which is designed to accommodate multiple services on a single card.

Amex will also be a member of Maosco Ltd., the arm's-length group MasterCard set up to oversee Multos. MasterCard, American Express, and up to 14 other owners will each have a single Maosco vote.

In Washington this week for the Cardtech/Securtech conference, American Express officials said they are no less committed to Proton, which has been used in some electronic purse trials. They said they are bolstering their commitment to open standards.

Independently and through Proton, Amex also participates in development of Java card systems, with underlying technology that has been strongly endorsed by the competing Visa organization.

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