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ERG ann A Smart Card JV first for Australia - ECard

Document date:  Thu 01 Jun 2000
Published:  Thu 01 Jun 2000 16:20:30
Document No:  179843
Document part:  A
Market Flag:  Y
Classification:  Other

ERG LIMITED                                   2000-06-01  ASX-SIGNAL-G

HOMEX - Perth                                                         

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In a drive to stimulate the smart card market, banking,
communications and technology experts have teamed in the first joint
venture of its kind in Australia.

ERG Limited (ERG), Telstra Corporation Ltd (Telstra) and ANZ Banking
Group Ltd (ANZ) today announced that they will invest $30 million to
create a $100 million plus joint venture to be known as ECard Pty Ltd
(ECard). The new business will be based in Sydney and will initially
employ over 30 staff. Each of the shareholders has appointed two
directors to the Board of ECard. Mr Chris Fendley, a former senior
manager in Telstra's Smart Card Group, has been appointed General
Manager. 

The finalisation of the joint venture follows the signing of a 
memorandum of understanding between the three companies in September 
1999 and a number of trials since that time. 

The three partners bring to ECard considerable assets - people,
intellectual property and cash - that position the joint venture as
an influential player in the Australian smart card industry. Everyday
applications underpinning smart cards include loyalty or reward point
schemes, secure access to the Internet and banking transactions.

Initially ECard will adopt the Proton technology to meet its
immediate objectives. Investigation of the emerging operating systems
for smart cards, such as MULTOS, Java and Windows for Smart Card,
will be carried out concurrently to enhance the range of applications
ECard will be able to offer to intending smart card issuers in the
future.

Mr Fendley said ECard will be an industry leader and provide a common
operating system for Australia in a market characterised by a number
of emerging technologies but no common standard.

"ECard will assess and decide the best technology for the market
place and pave the way for an open standard," he said.

"ECard will commence business supporting the largest smart card base
in Australia of over one million cards. The shareholders are
committed to expanding that base through their strengths in the
financial sector, transport and telecommunications. 

"The shareholders have reaffirmed their commitment to providing an
open Australia-wide smart card solution by inviting other major
financial and business organisations to join ECard, with discussions
and negotiations now under way."

Commenting on the announcement, ANZ Managing Director, Global Cards,
Brian Hartzer, said "ECard's establishment will remove some of the
key barriers that have slowed the deployment of smart cards in
Australia.

"It will provide issuers and acquirers with 'turnkey' solutions for
delivering multi-application chip-based value propositions to their
customers. It will also reduce cost barriers by pooling development
costs, sharing processing infrastructure and operational functions
and enhancing buying power for required infrastructure.

"ECard will also drive standardisation and acceptance by customers,
and over time, support a number of industry standard platforms such
as Multos, Java (Open Platform) and SCfW as they become viable in the
future."

ERG's Chief Executive, Peter Fogarty, complimented his
co-shareholders on their vision for a unified smart card solution in
Australia. "The establishment of ECard is a watershed for the smart
card industry in Australia. A common platform has been agreed and
intending card issuers can now proceed with a smart card initiative
with ECard knowing the infrastructure will be in place to support
their card base.

"Telstra and ANZ should be strongly commended for supporting the
concept of shared infrastructure. Card and terminal manufacturers now
have a clear way forward with smart card technology."

Gerry Sutton, the Managing Director of Telstra CB Next, said that now
the important direction for smart cards was to address security and
identification issues in the on line environment. He welcomed the
establishment of the company, which will enable solutions to be
developed on a common infrastructure platform, and indicated that he
was keen for new investors to join ECard and to share a common vision
for the technology supporting smart card initiatives.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ERG Group

ERG Group is a world leader in the development and supply of
technologically advanced smart card systems and services, automated
fare collection products and systems, and telecommunications products
and services. ERG provides turnkey solutions to customers, from
design and manufacture to supply, installation, commissioning and
ongoing service and maintenance.

ERG is a shareholder in Proton World and holds exclusive licences for
the Proton technology in Australia and New Zealand, and through its
joint venture company, Triumphant Launch licences for Proton across
Asia. ERG has a global alliance with Motorola in the smart card
sector. The ERG Motorola Alliance has already won contracts to
deliver major smart card systems in Berlin, Rome, San Francisco and
Singapore.

ERG operates globally and has 22 offices in 14 countries.

ERG is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and ranks in the top
100 listed companies by market capitalisation.

For more information about ERG visit: www.erggroup.com

For further information please contact Melissa Frost, General Manager
Investor Relations, ERG Group, +61 8 9273 1879 or 0412 153 145,
email: mfrost@erggroup.com.

TELSTRA CORPORATION LTD

Telstra Corporation Limited is Australia's principal
telecommunications company. Telstra offers a broad range of
telecommunications and information services throughout Australia and
overseas.

Telstra has been at the forefront of developing and deploying smart
card technology into the Australian marketplace. Since Telstra
introduced smart cards in 1997, it has issued more than 10 million
new cards.

For more information about Telstra visit: www.telstra.com

For further information contact Kerrina Lawrence, Public Affairs
Manager, Telstra Retail Services, +61 3 9634 7134 or 0419 352313,
email: kerrina.lawrence@team.telstra.com.au.

ANZ BANKING GROUP LTD

ANZ is a leading financial services company with AUD$167 billion
(US$100 billion) in assets. Headquarted in Melbourne, Australian and
has more than four million retail and business customers in
Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific and is considered by the
industry as a leader in credit cards in the Australian and New
Zealand market.

For more information about ANZ visit: www.anz.com

For further information contacts Angela Diamond, Senior
Communications Manager, +61 2 9227 1362, email: diamonda@anz.com.