Visa International's Asia-Pacific region announced the launch last Saturday of its Japanese smart card trial, part of the Smart Commerce Japan project. Described as one of the more ambitious in the world, the program is jointly managed by Visa and Toshiba Corp. and will involve an eventual 30,000 cardholders in Kobe.

The initial cards are the first in the world in which a Visa credit line coexists with the stored value service, Visa Cash, on a single card. Later this month cards are to be issued that can be used at conventional points of sale as well as in public Internet kiosks.

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