Wireless payment idea for tickets wins Smartcard award

by Guy Kewney | posted on 26 April 2002

A scheme which enabled Chilean metro train users to pay for tickets using a cellphone won an award for Orga Card Systems at the Advanced Card Awards 2002 ceremony and dinner, held at the Hotel Intercontinental London yesterday evening.

Guy Kewney

The Orga prize was the "MIPS Best Mobile Commerce & Communications Implementation" award for the WIQ service. WIQ "works as a central gateway between mobile operators, service providers and their subscribers, and supports content-based billing for services accessed via SMS, USSD and WAP."

Mobile operators "can easily set up prepaid or postpaid shared-revenue models with external service providers - for example, the Chilean wireless network operator Entel PCS uses WIQ to enable customers to pay for metro tickets with a cell phone." The judges added: "This is an exciting implementation which provides the urgently needed gateway to enable mobile operators to provide income-generating added-value services."

Wireless also helped Dr Marc Lassus to his prize - the "Orga Advanced Card Hall of Fame Award". He can possibly be credited with some of the original work which led to the adoption of the subscriber identity module (SIM) for GSM phones.

Marc Lassus began his career as a researcher in the Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon. In 1967, he joined Motorola's semiconductor research laboratories in Phoenix, Arizona, moving on to establish manufacturing units in Toulouse and East Kilbride, where he oversaw the world's first smart card, developed for Bull. In 1981, he established Matra-Harris Semiconductors in Nantes, and in 1984 joined the company which became SGS/Thomson.

In 1988, Marc Lassus created Gemplus, which quickly became a major supplier of prepaid phonecards. This led to strong ties with the telecommunications industry and the development of chip card technology for wireless communications.

Gemplus has been a pioneer in the development of smart card technology and its implementation in a wide and growing range of applications.

Marc Lassus was actually doing pretty well in our eyes at the ceremony, until the organisers revealed that "he has compared his company to a sunflower, with applications radiating like petals around products clustered like seeds at the heart of the flower." Gwynneth Paltrow, eat your heart out!