The Citibank-Chase Manhattan Bank smart card trial on New York's Upper West Side will end Dec. 31, the pilot sponsors said Tuesday.
The banks and the card associations they are working with, Visa and MasterCard, said they "achieved their objectives" and will come away with "important learnings"-and a conclusion that several conditions are lacking for smart card success in the United States.
"These include further advances in interoperability, expansion of venues into more geographies, and the emergence of unattended applications such as telephones, parking meters, and transit systems," they said in a joint statement. "All parties will continue to develop and test a variety of smart card programs in 1999."
The big-city locale and big-bank participation brought the program worldwide attention at its launch in October 1997, and media scrutiny magnified glitches big and small. The banks said they succeeded at enabling two brands of stored value cards-Citibank's Visa Cash and Chase/MasterCard's Mondex-to be accepted in the same point of sale devices, replicating the standardization of credit card payments from the customer point of view.
But consumers reportedly found the cash-loading process unwieldy and merchant acceptance was spotty. About 100,000 chip cards were issued over the last 13 months, and $1 million of transactions were electronically deposited into merchant accounts. The number of merchants, once as high as 600, fell by about a third.
Chase and Citibank said customers will have until six months after card expiration dates to unload any remaining value. That can be done at branches or, while the technology is still deployed, at special ATMs or merchant kiosks or through Citibank Personal ATMs in the home.