Perth based smartcard specialists ERG procured a $3 million research and development grant from the Commonwealth Government's Industry Research and Development Board.
The money came from within the R&D Start Program and will be used to work on ERG's multi-application smartcard system, the winner of last year's Sesames Award for Best Smart Card Application at Cartes 98 in Paris.
While the original ERG smartcard underwent its baptism of fire by Hong Kong's transit network, the new smartcard is expected to be customisable to different transit and application needs of any world city.
Expecting the new system to be 'a leap forward for commercialisation of smartcards', Peter Fogarty, ERG's CEO, said that " the new system will provide transit operators with the opportunity to use any number and commination of modules to build a smartcard based transit system which exactly meets their needs." Fogarty also added that "the industry now realises that any smartcard program, regardless of application, required both volume and frequency to succeed."
"With millions of commuters in any given city using public transport each day, transit is the killer application providing the necessary card base on which other application can be supported, " concluded Fogarty.
The ERG smartcard's R&D project is expected to take approximately 12 months and $17 million.
In the meantime ERG's revenue for 1997/98 totalled A$242 million and its shares are listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and are available in the US as American Depositary Receipts.