MasterCard International and the Smart Card Forum, in separate initiatives, are reaching out to the merchant community.
The MasterCard Merchant Council on Smart Card Technology met April 24 for the first time, bringing together 15 major companies to discuss potential deployments of the advanced product on retail premises.
The Smart Card Forum, a multi-industry group with almost 200 members that are just beginning to attract retailers' attention, has scheduled a marketing symposium May 18-19 with a strong merchant focus.
"Any card operating system depends on three components: the issuer, the cardholder, and the accepter," said Robin Townend, senior vice president, chip technology, for New York-based MasterCard, which has held similar forums for smart card vendors.
Noting that merchants may have felt excluded from some of the card industry's technological deliberations, Mr. Townend said, "Merchants are the only ones on the spot face-to-face with cardholders. We don't want to impose upon these people."
Companies represented at the initial meeting included Hilton International Co., Mobil Oil Credit Corp., Toys R Us Inc., British Airways, and Jalcard Inc., which represents Japanese airlines.
Mr. Townend said further meetings, with larger crowds, are anticipated.
The Smart Card Forum, which is based in Tampa, will hold its meeting in Monterey, Calif. Topics include the merchant-acquirer's perspective, on- line retailing, and the forum's consumer and merchant market research.