Neighbourhood retailers are set to benefit from a newstyle interoperable smartcard designed to encourage residents to spend more within their own local communities.
The Credit Union 'Branch in a Box' Community Smart Card System launched today (March 23rd) by international smartcard software specialists Augusta will enable people to organise their finances and large parts of their community lives through a single card.
Augusta has developed the versatile system in partnership with Ingenico, the world's leading supplier of payment solutions. It represents major evolution of a highly-successful system applied by Augusta with one of Africa's largest banks across many remote areas of Africa.
Not only will the smartcard enable people to access credit union services via many local retail outlets but it will allow them to use community services such as libraries, concessionary travel, discounted leisure facilities, pre-paid car parking and payment of benefits.
The cards give local traders a mechanism to reward loyalty with vouchers or discounts that encourage more shopping within local communities. In addition the cards are particularly cost-effective for transactions under £10, thereby reducing the amount of money taken out of the local economy in cash management fees and bank charges.
The new system is based on NXP DESfire MIFARE technology and meets both EMV banking and LASSeO local authority specifications and frameworks. It will use the Ingenico EFT930 GContactless card wireless terminal.
The new card was launched by Augusta chairman Lord Erroll, who also heads the All Party Internet Group in the House of Lords.
He said: "Augusta has a vision for a single interoperable card that can be used to access a wide range of public and private services within a community. We want to help people feel a greater bond with the local community, with special privileges for local residents, while at the same time supporting activities such as learning, travelling, work, leisure, banking and benefits.
"This is an opportunity to strengthen local businesses, increase community prosperity and promote better lives," he added.
The Credit Union 'Branch in a Box' Community Smart Card System was launched by Augusta at their new European headquarters in Swansea.
The product has been developed by Augusta's research and development team based at Technium Two on Swansea's regenerated waterfront, where the firm's operations support centre is also based.
Greg Rankin, Head of Marketing, Northern Europe at Ingenico, Augusta's technology partners commented: "This is an excellent initiative to bring a comprehensive range of financial services to local communities across the UK. The work done by Augusta in Africa has demonstrated how technology can address the needs of the historically unbanked. Ingenico is at the forefront of global payment solutions and we are delighted to be involved in the Credit Union Branch in a Box project."
Augusta also announced today that the new system is to be adopted by the Mid Suffolk Key Card scheme where it will be used by local residents for a range of services in local libraries, leisure centres and for trader discount and loyalty offerings.
The development of the new product was supported by Finance Wales which has taken a 20 per cent equity stake in Augusta.
Ann Casey, Investment Executive at Finance Wales said: "The launch of Augusta's innovative 'Branch in a Box' demonstrates and supports the company's growth plans. Our investment underpins the company's aspirations for the future."