Mondex (brand name preceded by “Byte card” shown above) was an e-purse payment product, launched in a public trial in Swindon UK in 1995. It was intended to facilitate electronic cash payment as an easy alternative to physical cash. The idea was the brain-child of two employees from the National Westminster Bank (NatWest). The trial was jointly sponsored by NatWest, HSBC (formerly Midland Bank) and British Telecom (BT).
After initial development of the mondex product, with a unique mondex logo (middle card above) corporate interest followed in the development of a separate international organisation, Mondex International. This was formed to promote a proposed Mondex Card Scheme globally. A number of international financial organisations became stakeholders in Mondex International and went on the launch their own trials of the product. This came to include Mastercard, as a shareholder.
Mastercard influenced a change in Logo reflecting the joined circles enclosing the name Mondex (3rd card above)
Trial locations after Swindon in the UK, followed with universities of Exeter, York, Nottingham, Aston and Edinburgh also in the UK. Others include Guelph Canada, New York, San Jose, Costa Rica; Shah Tin Hong Kong, Mexico, Norway, Taiwan, and Israel. Initiatives were also under consideration in: Australia, South Africa, Japan, Mexico and Venezuela.
The various trials successfully demonstrated that the technology worked and there was excellent public acceptance of the process. However, the commercial proposition was not sufficiently robust to support a widespread deployment of the product at that time - the smart card infrastructure was not as ubiquitous as it has now become and the world was not yet ready to embrace concept of digital cash. Sadly, he various trials were progressively, concluded and Mondex International was absorbed into MasterCard in 2001.