Schlumberger said it has begun taking orders for expanded-memory smart cards that comply with the Java Card 2.0 standard.
The name of the new member of the Cyberflex product family, Cyberflex Open 16K, signifies that the memory capacity has doubled, which could be appealing to issuers and developers that have bought in to Visa International's Java-based chip strategy.
The added memory is critical to getting the most out of the Java 2.0 application programming interface, which is designed to accommodate multiple applications or services on a single chip.
The 8-kilobyte version of Cyberflex, which was not Java 2.0-compliant, could hold no more than about three applications that did not require much memory. "Open 16K can hold several applications, even three or four of moderate size, with plenty of room to spare," said Tom Lebsack, director of marketing, multiple applications for Schlumberger Smart Cards and Terminals, Austin, Tex.
He said previous Cyberflex kits sold well, but he expects considerable new demand from the Visa Open Platform program. "We are hearing loud and clear from developers that (Java 2.0) is becoming an industry standard."
More Java Card 2.0 products are on the way, Mr. Lebsack said. The major smart card vendors have been intent on leading the Java race. For example, Bull of France demonstrated a Java Card 2.0 system in March at Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java One conference. Also there, Gemplus of France showed GemXpresso RAD (Rapid Applet Development) using cards with 32-bit microprocessors. Gemplus supplied cards to Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore for Visa's first Java pilot.
"Our Cyberflex Open 16K smart card is built on industry standards that we helped develop," said Olivier Piou, vice president of smart card products, Schlumberger Test and Transactions. Java Card 2.0 combined with PC/SC, a standard for smart card readers on personal computers that has been incorporated in the development kit, "brings standardization at the smart card, card reader, and host levels, assuring our customers that their investments in Java technology will be long-lasting."
Schlumberger said it has been tapped by the People's Bank of China to help establish a certification center for the country's ambitious smart card program. The French-owned vendor would provide training and equipment for testing cards and terminals and ensuring system interoperability.
Schlumberger said its experience in card production and terminal systems, its early release of a smart card product meeting Chinese specifications, and its role in a Visa certification center in the United States helped it win the China project.
"China is embarking on the largest smart bank card project in the world and faces an enormous challenge in orchestrating a smooth transition to the electronic chip-card environment," said Irwin Pfister, executive vice president, Schlumberger Test and Transactions. "The certification center will play a critical role, and Schlumberger is proud to have been selected."