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"I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Bank Chip  
  A "smart" credit card.  

Although this novel takes place a little way into the future, microprocessor technology implanted in plastic cards is already available.

She'd check herself out a week into the treatment. The medics protested. The detoxification had gone beautifully, they said, but the therapy hadn't began. They pointed out the rate of relapse among clients who failed to complete the program. They explained that her insurance was invalid as she terminated her treatment. Sense/Net would pay, she told them, unless they preferred she'd pay them herself. She produced her platinum MitsuBank chip.

Her Lear arrived an hour later; she told it to take her to LAX, ordered a car to meet her there, and canceled all incoming calls.

From Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.
Published by Bantam in 1988
Additional resources -

The integrated circuit chip in a smart card is not like the standard magnetic strip present on most credit cards and ID cards. The magnetic strip is mostly a read-only device; neither the consumer nor the retailer can write to the magnetic strip. It also has severe data storage limitations.

The chips now available can be used in a variety of ways:

  • The Air Transport Association, the trade group for major airlines, and the Air Line Pilots Association are calling for the use of smart cards at airports. In one application, frequent fliers who agree to background checks would be issued smart cards, which could carry biometric identifiers such as fingerprints and retinal scans. This could help move such travelers more quickly through security.
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., have called for the development of new biometric credit cards for foreign nationals. They would be required to present the cards when entering or exiting the United States.
  • The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators is looking at smart chips as a way to strengthen the security of the driver licenses.
These cards would provide the user with greater security, since they could generate their own unique identifiers. When used with a card reader attached to a home computer, they would provide a more secure way to shop over the internet.

The cards could also download applications that would run on the card itself; coupons and "frequent flyer mile" style programs to reward consumers can also be loaded.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Mona Lisa Overdrive
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to Mona Lisa Overdrive
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

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