Visa International said a major launch of the Chip Off-line Preauthorized Card, or Copac, will take place in Ghana over the next few months.

The Ghanaian subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank plans to issue 60,000 cards, carrying the name Visa Horizon. The bank said it is considering similar introductions in other African countries.

It marks the first rollout of a system that had been tested in Russia.

Designed for emerging markets with less-developed communications infrastructures, Copac performs preauthorized debit and credit transactions within the card's chip.

"Bank customers are currently able to use a local ATM card to access cash, but not for purchases at the point of sale," said Simon Morris, Standard Chartered's regional consumer banking head for Africa. "Visa Horizon enables us to offer our customers a card that can be used to access cash and make purchases at merchant locations."

Standard Chartered was involved in another Visa smart card first last year. In Singapore, it issued the first Visa Open Platform cards programmed in the Java language.

Until last fall, Visa chief executive officer Malcolm Williamson was group chief executive of London-based Standard Chartered.

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