Mondex UK, the original franchise operation of MasterCard International's Mondex subsidiary, said it is supplying an electronic cash component to what it called a "groundbreaking trial" of broadband communications services being conducted by British Telecom.

In the trial, 800 households have been equipped with Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, or ADSL, connections for high-speed multimedia transmissions over conventional copper phone wires. At speeds up to 40 times faster than those of dial-up computer modems, voice and data can flow over the same line simultaneously.

Mondex cash, in conjunction with systems from the U.K. software company SmartAxis, can be used to pay for videos, music, and Internet games delivered via ADSL to personal computers. Smart card values can be reloaded through hookups to bank account data.

"This is a true micropayment system," said SmartAxis chief executive officer Julian Wilson. "Credit cards are not economical for low-value payments. SmartAxis plus Mondex provide the opportunity to sell low-value digital goods profitably."

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