Mondex, the automated cash system based on smart cards, is dipping into the old-fashioned publishing business.

The unit of National Westminster Bank of London wants to use Mondex Magazine to spread the word about its "global electronic cash." The lead article in the launch issue, "Facing the Future," describes a worldwide trend toward electronic cash.

Tim Jones, chief executive officer of Mondex, said the glossy, free magazine is a soft sell, which can impart more information than a straight advertisement, and in an especially palatable format.

Full-page ads throughout the first issue are from companies such as Hitachi, Coopers & Lybrand, and Panasonic, which have been involved in the development of Mondex or have supplied the electronic purse system's wallets, readers, and cards.

The publishing company is TPD Publishing Ltd., a British firm that also does work for Apple Computer Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Grant Johnston, the publisher, said several independent journalists were commissioned to write articles for the magazine, with Mondex having final approval of the copy.

He said the magazine is not written for a mass audience but to help manufacturers and retailers "visualize and grasp the project." A letter to readers from Mr. Jones invites bankers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to learn more about Mondex.

"We hope the magazine helps communicate the potential of Mondex in all its forms," Mr. Johnston said.

He said after research is done to gauge the impact of the publication, it will likely come out quarterly, possibly in different languages, with editions for Asia and the United States.

Mondex began its first major pilot in July in the British town of Swindon. Wells Fargo Bank began an employee test in San Francisco this month, and other trials are planned in the U.S. and other markets.

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