To understand just how dramatic a reversal of fortune smart card technology is confronting in the United States, listen to what some of its big-bank adopters are saying - and consider the real-world applications they intend to bring to market.

"The last time I was this excited was when I introduced the GM card," said Joseph Saunders, chairman and chief executive officer of Fleet Credit Card Services, who was at the helm of Household International's card division when it began issuing the groundbreaking and cobranded General Motors MasterCard in 1992.

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