Proton World International announced the licensing of its chip card technology to Bankenes BetalingsSentral, or BBS, a payment services company owned by all the banks in Norway.

The agreement will lead initially to an electronic purse pilot, seen as the first step in the Norwegian banks' implementation of a national smart card system, Proton said.

In the pilot, cards are to be loaded with value from customers' bank accounts and then used to pay for television programming via insertion into set-top boxes. BBS will be responsible for running the program on its Tandem host computers, managing the operating system and the clearing and settlement between banks.

The Norwegian program will be Proton's second in Scandinavia, following Sweden's Cash, established in 1996. Proton, which is owned in part by Visa International and American Express Co., is in three other European countries: the original Proton program in Belgium, Chipknip in the Netherlands, and Cash in Switzerland.

"We are very proud that, once again, a major national payment systems operator has chosen the Proton technology to initiate the move to smart card payment schemes," said Proton managing director and chief executive officer Armand Linkens.

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