This month Chase, Citibank, MasterCard and Visa kick off their long-awaited smart card pilot, taking Mondex technology out of IT labs and campus cafeterias and onto the streets of New York City's Upper West Side.

Until now, neither merchants nor consumers were willing to be the first to invest in the relatively expensive Mondex technology-including wallets, cards, and terminals. But Chase will now put brand new Mondex ATM cards into the hands of 25,000 of their retail customers, who can then transfer money from their checking or savings accounts onto the card as Mondex money (Citibank, for its part, will distribute Visa Cash stored value cards to 25,000 of its customers.). At press time, the two banks had signed on more than 500 merchants from a wide spectrum of venues including pharmacies, newsstands and dry cleaners, says Chase's Ron Braco, svp for electronic commerce.

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