REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- VeriFone Inc. has announced that it will introduce a smart card reader to the nation.

The California-based company's SC 450, a hand-held smart card reader/ Writer, will enable merchants to accept the new computer chip cards, touted as the future for payment systems.

The SC 450 was developed by VeriFone's European Product Development Center in Paris and was introduced in mid-1993 as the CM 450. It has been in use in Europe and Asia since then.

The system, which interfaces with most credit card terminals, will sell for about $225 per reader/writer.

In addition to reading from and writing to smart cards, the SC 450 can function as a secure PIN pad for debit and supports a variety of functions.

A specially designed security chip detects and resists unauthorized attempts to gain access to information stored on the cards.

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