National City Corp.'s Stored Value Systems lost a top executive and smart card expert.

The bank said on Wednesday that Joseph F. Schuler, senior vice president of business development, became dissatisfied with the direction of the subsidiary, which was formed last August.

Though hailed as an incubator of smart cards, the unit has found greater opportunities with magnetic stripe systems, such as the Gocard for the Mobil Oil Corp.

Mr. Schuler, who leaves at the end of the month, is replaced by T. Jack Williams, who joined Stored Value Systems in February from Blockbuster Entertainment.

One of the first executives hired to staff the unit, Mr. Schuler has a long history with the plastic payment cards with embedded computer chips.

He became fascinated with the technology during the 1980s, when he worked on automated teller machine and point of sale systems at Citicorp.

He spent a year at Visa International developing smart card strategies in 1987, then moved to DataCard in Minneapolis, where he established the smart card and systems division in 1988. Subsequently, he headed the U.S. unit of the French card manufacturer Gemplus in 1991 before opening a consulting business.

Although he noted "a lot of activity" at Stored Value Systems, "I'm looking for an organization aggressively pursuing smart card" projects. Mr. Schuler said he doesn't want his experience "to be diluted with magnetic stripe" at a time when smart cards are taking off.

He stressed that Stored Value Systems is "rolling along nicely," and his departure should not sound any alarms about the organization.

Mr. Williams, senior vice president, will assume Mr. Schuler's responsibilities in the retail industry. Mr. Williams oversaw development and implementation of the Blockbuster Gift Card program, a magnetic stripe stored-value card, while he was employed at the video retailer.

He will pursue extensions of the Gocard with other retailers among other projects in his new position.

Stored Value Systems is in the midst of implementing smart card food stamp programs for Wyoming and Ohio.

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