An Australian terminal manufacturer, Intellect, is coming to the United States to grab a piece of the growing debit market.

The company opened an office in San Jose, Calif., last week as its initial sales and distribution arm in North America.

Intellect designs and manufactures advanced and secure electronic equipment for the point of sale, including stand-alone personal identification number pads, and more sophisticated equipment, such as smart card wallets.

Intellect, which has offices in 17 countries, said it has studied the U.S. market for the past year and a half.

"We've had a lot of experience in smart cards and stored value,' said Ross Leighton, president and chief executive of Intellect. "That wave of technology moving towards the U.S. will be very relevant in our daily lives in the next few years."

Perth-based Intellect supplies Kmart and Toys "R" Us down under with debit POS terminal equipment, which includes smart card and magnetic stripe readers.

In the United States, Verifone Inc. and Hypercom Inc. are its two main competitors. Verifone corners the market, with a 59% share, according to POS News. Hypercom runs a distant second, with 17%.

Mr. Leighton said his company provides a range of products that emphasize security. He pointed to the MicroBank personal terminal, an electronic wallet that can be used by consumers to transfer money over the telephone.

"To get attention in the U.S. market takes a lot of energy, diligence, and a substantial difference in service, operation, or cost," said John Marshall, vice president of marketing at Phoenix, Ariz.-based Hypercom.

Because of heavy consolidation in the marketplace, the customer base is shrinking as well, he said.

"We're not looking to underestimate the complexity of the U.S. market," said Mr. Leighton. "We're just going about our business, producing products that are timely and meaningful."

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