Treasury helps DOD launch smart-card apps for payment needs

The Treasury Department has issued more than 1 million smart cards to support three financial applications within the Defense Department.

In all, "we've loaded about $350 million onto them," said Graham McKenzie, Treasury's smart-card program manager.

He described the DOD programs today at a government smart-card program managers' meeting in Arlington, Va.

McKenzie said smart cards work well in closed environments such as the military setting, and all three of the Defense applications have grown steadily since Treasury implemented them.

The first app is for new military recruits who receive reloadable smart cards for making payments on base before they establish bank accounts. "They have financial needs that start within the first 10 minutes in the military," McKenzie said.

About two years ago, DOD and Treasury established a similar program to expand smart-card payment capabilities for troops deployed overseas. The EagleCash cards replace cash for purchases made on base. Combat troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are using the cards, he said.

"Over time this is going to get us out of the business of shipping U.S. currency into theaters," McKenzie said.

The most recent program is an app being used by sailors and Marines at sea. "This program is in its infancy on a handful of ships," he said. A combination magnetic-stripe and smart card supports personal retail needs aboard ships at sea.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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