CNA 20th Anniversary: CNA Memories

  • By Vappereau Philippe
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As you may have seen, CNA is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. To celebrate this occasion, we will be sharing anecdotes from those involved with the organisation alongside an exclusive showcase of original artworks. Calypso, a technology so practical and easy to use that it can be suitable for anyone, at any age. If you need proof that our technology is durable, practical and accessible to all users, recent discoveries indicate that it may have been in use much longer than previously thought, as proven by this bone sculpture dating from 5000 BCE.

RFID Chip Bone

The origin of RFID

An anecdote from Philippe Vappereau, CNA General Manager.

In the early 1990s, a European electronic Purse Standardisation Group was formed. Its aim was to standardise smart cards containing electronic money via a kind of phone card, but which could be used with all merchants and not only for phone booths. This standardisation group was made up of various industry stakeholders. Among the major banks and large distributors was a single representative from the transportation industry; you may have guessed that this was me. For the transport sector, a contact smart card obviously made no sense in terms of user experience. The long transaction time made such solutions incompatible with the flow of passengers entering the networks. The barcode technology was excluded for the same reason. My mission was therefore to convince this working group to focus on standardisation for contactless solutions based on radio frequency technology, the ancestor of the RFID chip. When I started this mission, I didn’t fully understand the environment I found myself in. I didn’t anticipate or understand the extent of the fear that contactless technology inspired. Despite this, I felt the urge to go for it, to take the leap. So, I remember that session in Copenhagen, where for the first time I took all ounce of courage I had and said very timidly, with an hesitant English: “But maybe the standardisation should also cover a contactless electronic purse?” This was met with a scathing response from one of my fellow task force members, an esteemed representative from the banking world. ” Come on, sir! Money that passes through walls! You cannot be serious!” he responded, with audible panic in his voice. I suppose I had never asked myself this question, and I was a little speechless, but the task force chair found the subject interesting. This led to further discussions and contactless purse standardisation was considered. Time has proven the importance of this technology, as contactless cards are now commonplace across the entire payments ecosystem. There is no doubt that contactless smart cards were born out of the transport industry. Let’s not forget it!