A number of top smart card and computer companies have banded together to develop an open standard for using smart cards with personal computers for network access, Internet access, and payments.

Industry heavyweights Microsoft Corp., Schlumberger Electronic Transactions, Hewlett-Packard Co., Bull CP8, and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG, will provide the protocol to the industry for free. Observers said the move will help drive smart cards into the market place.

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