Mondex International Ltd. of London announced new inroads in two of its distant reaches, South America and Israel.
Two of the three largest banks in Uruguay purchased franchise rights to the electronic cash technology. With the completion of an inaugural transaction April 30, Mondex said it had become active on all five major continents.
Last week Mondex Israel announced the launch of a pilot in Rehovot, 30 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. It is the first phase of what is expected to be an ambitious national rollout, and the 23d Mondex implementation overall.
Rehovot has a population of 85,000 and 1,000 retailers. The Weizmann Institute of Science lends the city a high-technology cast.
"Israel is an important and innovative market, leading the way in the adoption of new technology," said Michael Keegan, chief executive officer of Mondex International, a subsidiary of MasterCard International. "This is reflected in Mondex Israel's rapid time to market and commitment to the technology."
Mondex announced the formation of the Israeli franchise last summer. The owners are Paz Oil Co., the country's largest refiner and petroleum retailer, and Discount Investment Corp., an arm of IDB Holding Group.
In Uruguay, Banco de la Republica Oriental, the largest in the country, and Banco de Montevideo, the third-largest, acquired exclusive national rights to Mondex.
To mark the system's South American entry, Julio Sanguinetti, the president of Uruguay, transferred Mondex value via telephone between Montevideo and the Banco de la Republica branch in New York.
"This is a historic event for Uruguay, which has always been in the forefront of the South American banking industry," he said.
Lisa Kops-Wendel, senior vice president of Mondex's Atlantic Technology Center, said Uruguay will be influential because it is the seat of the Mercosur trading bloc and can demonstrate the smart card's multicurrency capability with nearby Argentina and Brazil.