Aust chips for Asian city

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Sydney-based Keycorp has scored a lucrative deal to supply the Hong Kong government with 4.7 million smartcard chips for the Chinese territory's ID card program.

Sydney-based Keycorp has scored a lucrative deal to supply the Hong Kong government with 4.7 million smartcard chips for the Chinese territory's ID card program.

Keycorp, which develops and provides methods for secure electronic transactions, announced today that it had signed a contract to supply chips based on its MULTOS platform to the Hong Kong government.

While Keycorp did not disclose financial details of the deal, Raymond Makewell, R&D manager, smartcard technologies at Keycorp said the cost per chip was "US$2 to U$3 -- ballpark".

The Hong Kong government introduced identity cards in 1949, according to a statement from Keycorp. Graeme Bradford, Keycorp product marketing manager, smartcard Technologies said the government could now "enhance the security of the system with the smartcard".

Tim Fletcher, Keycorp's general manager, smartcard technologies, said in a statement, "Data privacy and security are two of the core priorities of this program."

Keycorp's MULTOS platform chips, which are based on EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) standards "met the government's stringent security requirements to help wipe out ID card fraud," according to Keycorp's press release.

Bradford said smartcard technology was helping to solve some issues of identity theft, privacy and security. He said "we're trying to rebuild trust in [these] systems" by putting the user in control of their information.

The Hong Kong Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS) cards contain basic identity details, a biometric fingerprint and a photograph of the cardholder. They can also be used as a public library card and may in future contain a driver's licence, according to Keycorp.

Fletcher said, "by selecting Keycorp's MULTOS-based smartcard chips, the Hong Kong government has adopted a platform that is not only highly secure but flexible enough to allow a range of applications to be added as necessity dictates."

Keycorp also supplies smartcard chips to Norway for its state lottery and to Malaysia, Korea and Taiwan for banking purposes.

The Hong Kong government began issuing its citizens with new ID cards, based on Keycorp technology in August 2003. Keycorp claims that so far it has supplied more than two million chips for the SMARTICS cards via a consortium led by Unihub Limited of which Keycorp is a member.

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