Malaysia on a roll with multi-purpose national smart card

Malaysia on a roll with multi-purpose national smart card

The Malaysian government is to roll-out the world's first government-sponsored multi-purpose smart card (GMPC) using technology from Proton World.

Proton World develops, licenses and delivers smart card solutions based on Proton technology. Its headquarters are in Brussels with offices in Redwood City, California and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The GMPC card has a digitised colour photo of the cardholder's face as well as two digitised thumbprints and will give Malaysian citizens access to several services. It will replace the Malaysian national identity card and driving licence, for example, and includes passport information. Malaysian citizens will be able to use automatic gates at Kuala Lumpur airport for arrivals and departures.

The card also includes a national health service application, which identifies Malaysian citizens entitled to free or subsidised health care provided by the government. Other services available through the card include a Proton e-purse, branded locally as MEPS Cash; an ATM cash withdrawal application plus a digital signature application based on the public key infrastructure (PKI).

The GMPC project is part of the Malaysian government's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative, which is designed to attract the development of leading-edge technology to Malaysia.

The project was awarded in May 1999 to a consortium comprising Dibena (card surface personalisation system), CSA (network and hardware), EPNCR (card acceptance devices), Iris Technologies (smart card system and readers) and Unisys (system integration services and system applications).

The consortium chose Proton as the common payment mechanism for two MSC flagship smart card systems – the GMPC and Payment Multi-Purpose Card (PMPC) - primarily because of its security features. Proton's back-end operating systems, which can detect unauthorised purse usage, was also a significant factor. The PMPC will be launched separately by Malaysian Electronic Payment Systems (MEPS).

After 31 July 2001, the Malaysian government will not be issuing any more paper-based identity cards. The entire system will be migrated to the GMPC. It is anticipated that 600,000 GMPCs will be in circulation by the end of 2001, rising to 19 million GMPCs by the end of 2008.

A government amendment to the National Registration Act formally recognised the GMPC as the national identity card of Malaysia in June 2001.

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