Western Australian smart card developer ERG has added another notch to its so far impressive belt with the recent announcement of an alliance with banking giant Westpac Group. And the timing could not have been better for the transit specialist with tenders for the Integrated Ticketing system in Sydney closing last Friday.
"Westpac will support ERG in all its Australian operations," said Richard Fleming, managing director of ERG Card Systems.
To this end, the banking group will become the principal EFTPOS transaction processor for ERG's e-purse and reloading ticketing products. "There have been demands from operators and consumers to take the smart transit card into a wider arena," explained Fleming of ERG's diversification. Westpac will facilitate this ultimatum by upgrading its EFTPOS machines to accept ERG smart cards.
From Westpac's point of view, the alliance allows it access to a market it has hitherto not been privy to and expands the potential of the retail arena. "Banks can now offer a lot more merchants EFTPOS abilities and it also adds value to the point-of-sale infrastructure already in retail land," Fleming said.
In selecting ERG to launch it into this relatively unknown venture, Fleming claimed Westpac was both impressed and reassured by the company's experience and its technology. "We are a leading transportation systems provider and our success both in Australia and overseas was recognised by Westpac," said Fleming.
"They were particularly impressed with our dual smart card. Banks have for some time been interested in the idea of smart cards but they need a contact card - transit cards have traditionally been contactless. ERG and Motorola have designed this card to be both. Westpac can piggyback on this success to infiltrate the retail sector."
Fleming predicts that Australia will be the perfect place to showcase this technology because of its extensive EFTPOS infrastructure and usage. "In San Francisco we were looking at providing this type of utility and to an extent we did. But the difference is that EFTPOS is so widespread here that the technology will be able to infiltrate more areas."
And when it rains it pours in ERG land with the alliance announcement followed immediately by the declaration that the local company was successful in its bid for Rome's transit system.
This is the latest in ERG's global sweep that includes the smart card automated fare collection contracts in Singapore, San Francisco and Berlin, with Melbourne and Brisbane as local examples of ERG's smart card work.
Products: Automated fare collection equipment and systems, telecommunications equipment, card systems and servicesEmployees: Approximately 1200ASX code: ERGShare price: $2.66Shareholders: 8463Offices: 11 countries1998 revenue: $242 millionSrategic direction: To be a global leader in providing smart card solutions utilising both contact and contactless technology