Cherry's Multi-Functional Smart Card Keyboard Enables Implementation Of A Comprehensive Loyalty Program

Cherry Electrical Products recently provided its smart card keyboard for a successful pilot program involving a new EEPROM smart card. The card was developed by U.S. Bancorp for sophisticated, multi-application uses.

The EEPROM cards differ substantially from older technology EPROM cards in that they are embedded with a microprocessor that actually manages and secures multiple levels of information. National Car Rental used the U.S. Bancorp card and the Cherry smart card keyboard for its nationwide pilot program.

The National Car Rental program enabled the leading firm to offer one of its corporate customers a more effective way of tracking travel expenses, thereby providing national compliance for pre-negotiated discounts and contract terms. For the vendor, this high-level of customized compliance made possible the offering of a unique benefit package and loyalty program.

Cherry keyboards were chosen for this sophisticated, multi-layer, data management smart card application due to Cherry's proven experience in smart card technology. Also, Cherry's smart card keyboards are a mature product, they are compatible for open systems platforms, and they contribute to making technology updates to PCs as modular and flexible as possible.

Smart card technology presents a superior technology, which presents new opportunities for companies to leverage instantaneous data processing and transaction management in ways they never have before. Cherry's smart card keyboard products offer flexible solutions as they enable a stand-alone PC to use this technology with an open systems, cross-platform functionality, without having to alter complicated client/server configurations.

Terry Hardy, Vice President of Strategic Planning for National Car Rental, says, "Using the direct interface of Cherry's smart card reader keyboards accomplished one of the program's main objectives: using a single technology applications to manage data as well as payment transactions."

In accomplishing this objective, National Car Rental can provide its customers with the convenience of direct settlement of payments in compliance with pre-negotiated contract terms, eliminating the redundancy of having to process credit card payments, loyalty club awards, and accounts payable invoicing. An added bonus to users is the ability to generate expense reports automatically with a simple swipe of their smart cards.

Mark Coronna, U.S. Bancorp's senior vice president and general manager of the bank's Interactive Commerce Group, says, "Until now, U.S.-based smart card pilots focused on consumer or single-application commercial market tests. Smart cards are like any new digital gadget — widespread adoption and infrastructure investment won't happen until the technology provides multiple, very compelling, business-to-business value propositions. At the end of the day, a company has to see an increase in revenues or cost reduction. Otherwise, why buy it?"

The consensus among vendors in this pilot test program is that in a sophisticated, vendor supported system the smart card technology delivers on the goal of cost reduction in both front- and back-end operations for the client customer. National Car Rental's Hardy is a renewed proponent of smart card technology as the smart card pilot program has emerged a resounding success by exceeding its goals from both a data and customer service standpoint. Cherry Corporation's Mike Harvey, Keyboard Marketing Manager, says, "Smart card technology is in an expansive phase, coinciding with an increase in industry partnerships in which corporations are willing to make technology and training investments to provide customers with added convenience and an increased level of service."