To the Editor:

When the Smart Card Industry Association's president, Dan Cunningham, stepped down ("Leader Who Helped Revive Smart Card Group Departs," March 24, page 14), the scorecard for his tenure was expressed in terms of an increase in dues-paying members.

Unfortunately, the subject of the lack of U.S. smart card progress got very slight attention.

This is one of about 40 associations and consortia listed on the Internet for financial-industry-related projects.

Such joint efforts have positive and negative aspects.

They allow for shared development expenses and exchanges of views and can build a multiple-party consensus to support a new endeavor.

But joint efforts are also an easy way for large organizations to bypass the important, due-process characteristics of standards organizations.

Large players don't like being dictated to by a disinterested, third- party standards body.

There could be signs of progress toward a U.S. smart credit card. An executive from a key issuing bank might state that the subject has been studied and a business case proves that a real market opportunity exists.

An issuer or association might conclude from a study that a pilot effort is necessary and justified to prove the business case. An issuer or association might describe study results that justify setting a timetable to produce the business case, pilot, and implementation effort.

None of this has happened. When I approached SCIA and suggested they take a proactive role to create signs of progress, the response was that its role was to be neutral.

In other words, "we don't wish to antagonize future smart card issuers and their associations by suggesting a more active plan of action." In my day, action plans were expected. It was called marketing to the leaders.

This suggests that the frequently cited scorecards of association progress are misguided.

Members of these groups must think about what they are trying to achieve and the process by which it will occur.

Jerome Svigals

Jerome Svigals Inc., Redwood City, Calif.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.