Killen & Associates has concluded that retailers are speeding past banks in the imaginative deployment of smart cards.

"Forward-thinking retailers are forging ahead, and the public is responding eagerly," said Michael Killen, president of the research firm, which recently published "Retailers' Smart Card Strategies: New Business Opportunities and the Disintermediation of Banks."

The study describes implementations of smart cards and related technologies by the likes of Mobil Oil, Peete's Coffee, Rite-Aid, and Safeway Stores, mainly in "stand-alone, controlled applications."

Such companies "have found the value proposition and are committed," Mr. Killen said, but "most banks are still waiting on the sidelines, missing fee- and transaction-based revenue streams."

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