Proton World International said it has signed an agreement with Europay International to develop an electronic purse system.

The program will comply with CEPS-the Common Electronic Purse Specifications-and will run on Proton technology carrying Europay's Clip brand name.

The move is a step in the direction of internationally interoperable electronic cash cards. The tie between Proton and Europay is significant in that Proton is partly owned by Visa, as is Europay by MasterCard.

MasterCard, which controls the Mondex smart card system, has philosophically opposed CEPS, which Visa initiated. But the two camps came together in anticipation of the single currency, the euro.

Proton managing director Armand Linkens called the agreement "a substantial boost toward international e-purse interoperability," with implications extending beyond Europe.

Louis-Noel Joly, chief executive officer of Europay, which is based in the Brussels suburb of Waterloo, said, "Following last year's agreement with the banking community in Germany to internationalize e-purses by adding our Clip brand, this latest announcement further propels our strategy to foster interoperability via CEPS."

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