Though perplexed by chicken-and-egg questions, technology strategists find one pattern repeats itself: Creation (as in the horseless carriage, or the digital computer) tends to be a small part of a success story; momentum and multiplication happen later (assembly-line-produced cars, or the Microsoft operating system).

Mondex, which boosters predict will revolutionize cash, has entered that critical second stage. History will record National Westminster Bank of London as the inventor, but it falls to others to fulfill the dream of making Mondex's smart card into "global electronic cash."

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