Visa International has hired two key executives for its stored value and smart card programs and has lined up a chip supplier.

The moves were announced Monday at the national bank card conference in New York.

In a restructuring of its product group to emphasize the new technology, Visa hired two executives: Gaylon L. Howe Jr., a senior retail banker from Wachovia Corp., and Bernard Morvant, formerly of Gemplus.

Mr. Howe, 48, Visa's new senior vice president of stored value products, has been with the association since mid-July. He brings 20 years of retail banking experience, and has been a member of several Visa committees, including the stored value working group and the chip working group. Mr. Howe has also been on the boards of Plus and Internlink.

"He brings a good perspective on Visa and retail banking," said Peter B. Gustafson, executive vice president for deposit products for Visa International. "He is well-known in retail banking circles as well as internationally."

Mr. Howe will focus on stored value and electronic purse applications in the United States and around the world.

Mr. Morvant, 39, ex-head of marketing operations for Gemplus, the France-based leading producer of chip cards, will help manage the 10 to 15 chip card pilots Visa will be conducting around the world in the next two years, said Mr. Gustafson.

Mr. Morvant, now Visa's vice president of global chip implementation, started his new job Sept. 1. He will be involved in Visa's Olympic stored value card pilot, "heading up a chip swat team," Mr. Gustafson said.

He noted that Mr. Morvant, who worked with banks and other major smart card distributors during his tenure at Gemplus, "knows how to take chip cards and make them work in the real world."

Mr. Morvant will ensure pilots are done effectively both technically and from a business standpoint, Mr. Gustafson said, especially focusing on holding chip costs down and keeping technology suppliers honest about what they can actually do versus what they say when they're trying to close the deal.

In other announcements, Visa said Motorola has been selected as the qualified semiconductor supplier for its stored value cards, manufactured by Schlumberger. The Motorola chips will be used for the Atlanta-based Olympic games stored value launch, scheduled to begin in the summer of 1996.

The agreement will cover other Visa pilots taking place around the world as well.

The mutually nonexclusive deal displays the commitment of "major international manufacturers that are lining up to support the Visa stored value card," said a Visa spokeswoman.

Wachovia, one of Visa's bank partners for the Olympic pilot, has selected Gemplus as its card supplier for the chip card test in Atlanta as well as for its internal pilot program. Gemplus will supply both disposable and reloadable cards for the tests.

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