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French Transit Smart Cards Link to the Internet

France's SNCF is planning a fall pilot for its Weneo ID Smart Card that will link to the Internet via a USB port, enabling holders to add funds from home.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 27, 2008This fall, French public transportation company SNCF intends to begin employing RFID-enabled smart cards with USB connectivity, in order to allow users to plug the cards into a PC or laptop, automatically connect to the SNCF Web site and add funds to the cards from home. Approximately 1,000 SNCF customers will pilot the Weneo smart cards as part of the company's home-payment effort.

The system, known as Weneo ID Smart, is being provided by contactless technology startup firm Neowave. The pilot is part of SNCF's push into contactless payment options for all of the company's customers, either through NFC cards, such as some customers are already utilizing, or via payment devices, such as the Weneo ID Smart.


Patrons can upload payments onto the cards using contactless payment readers in a particular station, then use the payments for train rides.
The Weneo ID pilot will take place in four as-yet-unnamed regions of France. If the system is well received by transit customers, says Joël Eppe, chief of SNCF's Innovation and Technologies Department, SNFC could expand the solution nationwide in 2010.

SNCF customers currently use contactless payment cards in 10 regions throughout France. Patrons can upload payments onto the cards using contactless payment readers in a particular station, then use the payments for train rides. The cost of each ride is deducted from the cards either by RFID readers deployed in the stations, or by SNCF train staffers carrying handheld interrogators.

The Weneo ID Smart device comes with USB connectivity, says Michel Leduc, Neowave's VP of marketing and sales. This allows users to transfer data from the smart card to a PC, and from the PC to the payment device, either directly through a USB connection, or using a Flash drive.

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