CitiBank Credit Card with Chip - circa 2001

December 2007

It was a very exiting month in the Visa Cash card world with 6 newly discovered Visa Cash error cards turning up on eBay. As with anything dealing with money, the governments that produces the money, coins, stamps or anything of value, there is always a worry about counterfeits or errors in production that will give the consumer cause for concern. The same was true in the production of Visa Cash or Mondex cards.

First of course, the chip was used to store value and of course Visa went to great lengths were taken to make sure it was secure for this reason. Secondly, the printing of and the manufacture of the cards are reviewed in great detail, by Visa, the issuing bank involved and the card manufacturer. Hence Visa Cash cards (and today Visa credit or debit cards) with errors in the printing or manufacturing are destroyed and never make it into the hands of the public and are very rare.

Many visitors to this website are probably familiar with the famous “inverted plane stamp” from 1918 or the “three legged buffalo” nickel (see images). These are just two examples of how collectors look for errors in these types of things, knowing that errors are extremely rare and many times one of a kind. 1918 "Inverted Plane" US Postage Stamp

In the case of the inverted plane, the 24-cent Jenny airplane stamps were printed in 1918. Sheets were run through presses twice to process all the colors and on one pass, four went 1937-D 3 Legged Buffalo Nickel Cointhrough backward. Inspectors caught the errors on three sheets and destroyed them, but somehow, a sheet of 100 stamps got through. Stamp collectors have spent the last 89 years trying to find them all.

The 1937-D three-legged Buffalo Nickel Coin buffalo nickel is right up there in popularity with the inverted airplane stamp. As with all errors that create enormous value, such as these examples, people try and create fakes of the errors….this nickel is often forged but if you look for the the determining factors on the coin it will help you identify the real coins from fakes.

The reason for sharing these stories is that earlier this month I noticed a lot of Visa Cash cards for sale on eBay. I was really not interested in all the Visa Cards in the lot, just a couple and the photo showing them was not of high quality. I decided to bid and quite frankly was surprised to win.  Sometimes you get lucky. When the cards arrived I was stunned to find six (maybe seven) had major errors in the printing.

The Bank of America Visa Cash cards (look on the BofA pages) lot are "one of a kind" used for a pilot program at the Visa offices that were issued with different coloration when released to the general pubic. Some are misprints. I confirmed this with the seller and (who worked at Visa, where he acquired the VC cards) and then I contacted two other people at Visa I know to verify his story, before I published these facts on the website.

Thus these are indeed one of a kind Visa Cash cards.  They are cards were pulled from production by the bank and sent to Visa who worked with the card manufacturers with them as quality control examples (printing errors).  Visa did not want these to be released to the public (as we discussed above) and they were used as working demos by Visa/BofA staff only as a result.

I have already had two inquires suggesting these six error Visa Cash cards are fakes. On the Bank of America Visa Cash cards one visitor commented that “I'm afraid that the "new" types you've registered, aren't new, just discolored versions of the previous registered cards either by sun bleaching or by being in a brown leather wallet”.

A couple of thoughts….First, I have no intention of ever selling these cards and make a profit on them, (the collection will go to a museum that will take them one day). I am documenting the history not trying to create fakes or falsely make something up. The errors in the color printing may be hard to see on the website. Click on the card to enlarge. If you look at the backs of the cards the tinting and or color carries over to the back on the five BofA Visa Cash cards. It would be impossible to carry over the "sun bleaching" or wallet browning to just part of the back of the card. Also, the gold in the in Visa Cash logo goes to yellow on these cards another indication of misprinting.

Lastly, I would suggest one try and put a card in a wallet for years get the front to consistently tint brown (very consistent tinting across the card, I may add) and then tint just certain parts of the back of the card. I would also challenge one to "sun bleach" the fronts and then partially sun bleach the back of the card to match. I do not believe it is possible for one and with very few collectors in the world why bother.

The NationsBank FTS (28x) card is clearly a misprint that survived. How does one eliminate the "bleeding" print problem on the generally released FTS (28) for example? Suggestions as to fake this are welcome.

These are again, printing errors, like coins or stamps have printing errors. These cards should have been destroyed so they did not get into the public before the program ended.

In any event they add to the fascinating history of this program. It will be interesting to see if any more errors in Visa Cash cards appear in the future in mint condition like these. I know of one other Visa Cash printing error and it is shown on the Australian ANZ Bank page and is ANZ (6x).

If you have what you think is a Visa Cash or Mondex card with errors please send an image of the front and the back and a short story (if you have one) and I will add it to the website.

This month we have also added the Bank of Nova Scotia (ScotiaBank) Visa Cash page, one of the larger issuers of Visa Cash cards over the years, not just in Canada but worldwide. We have done some consolidation by combining two of the NationsBank pages and sadly, we have removed "Card Talk" page for lack of interest. We will cover things which would have been discussed on that page on this “What’s New” page. We are still very slowly working to complete the short history of the Visa SuperSmart card and hope to complete soon.


November 2007

Much has gone with the website this last month. We have started the short history of the SuperSmart cards (SSC) page with Part One. We have discovered a number of very early smart card images that we have added to the page and lead to a logical place to start. We will go on to Part Two in the next couple of months. The history will then add more to the early days of the smart card, and begin to expand detail on each SSC in addition with other information we have discovered or has been shared with us.

This will proceed along with the ongoing adding of Visa Cash and Mondex card images and new card issuer pages.

The past month we have finished adding to detail for the images for the Singapore page, completed the VanCity (Canada) Credit Union and a Visa Cash Canada page with images of Visa Cash cards issued by four different Canadian banks. We will move to Scotia Bank Visa Cash page, one of the larger issuers of Visa Cash cards over the years, not just in Canada but worldwide.

We have also added the start of the Mondex Canada page(s). This will be an ongoing project as we have found much information on the pilot in Guelph and a bit less on the pilot in Sherbrooke, Canada.   At present, the approach will to add all images of cards, electronic wallets, advertisements etc. that we are aware of and then start writing. Eventually we hope to have two Canadian Mondex pages, one for Guelph and one for Sherbrooke.

It was shared with me the other day (and not really knowing all these years) how the Mondex name came about. I had an inquiry the other day (still some hangover from the religious right, see below) and couldn't answer that simple question. So, I asked several folks and then finally found the answer....it is simply as follows....Mondex was named by Tim Jones, from National Westminster Bank in the UK and the inventor of Mondex.   His dream was to create an electronic money system to replace notes and coins and create a new form of monetary exchange. He came up with Mondex using Mond=Money and Ex=exchange. It is simply that and nothing more.

This month again saw nothing new contributed to the "Card Talk" and as a result no new cards to discuss. We are considering dropping the page as there would appear after 2 years no interest in an information exchange and the page has become obsolete.


October 2007

The past month we have finished the adding all card images of all the known Bank of America (BofA) issued Visa Cash cards. You can now see images of all Visa Cash cards with the old and new BofA logos, pre and post merger with NationsBank. We are also close to finishing the images for the Singapore page and have started on the VanCity (Canada) page and have added some new pre-Mondex card images.

We are a bit behind on writing our a short history of the SuperSmart cards but will get to it (hopefully) this next month and complete the writing for those pages. We have had some inquires about First Union Bank issued Visa Cash cards. First Union was the largest issuer of Visa Cash cards and poses a problem on how to present all their cards on fewer pages. (First Union issued about 65 Visa Cash cards). We are working on figuring that out.

Nothing new has been contributed to the "Card Talk" as we had no contributions or new cards to discuss. I also need to mention a special thanks to Art Becker who provided images for several rare Visa Cash cards especially those on the Norway pages.

We had started writing a short the history of the BofA Visa Cash card program and you will note the later pages, they do not have their histories....yet. In order to provide images faster we continue to add pages and then will write, while all the time researching and collecting further information.

Over the years there has been general disagreement as to how to catalog the BofA and Visa Headquarters (VHQ) issued Visa Cash cards. As a result a bit of confusion has arisen over the years and there have been various ways the cards have been listed and/or cataloged. This has been mainly a problem with the BofA issued cards versus Visa Headquarters “issued” cards and has caused a lack of consensus about the classifying of these cards.

The list of BofA and VHQ we are using on the VisaCash.org website and cataloging, has been determined by which card issuer "settled" the funds for the consumer or cardholder.

What settlement is in the bankcard business (very, very simplified) is that when the consumer uses their Visa Cash card for a purchase, the merchant needs to get their money for that purchase for the product of service provided.

There is the card issuing bank (servicing the consumer) and merchant servicing bank. One of Visa’s major roles is to provide the settlement of money between the card and merchant banks which in turn settle funds with the consumer and merchant. Visa is a sort of private Federal Reserve for its member banks.

Thus, in all the cards we have listed for BofA, they (BofA) is responsible for settling the funds of cards used by their cardholders, with the merchant bank (that is getting the merchant their money from their consumer) regardless of how you define merchant (vending machine, store front etc).

In the case of BofA cards being used on VHQ campus in California this also holds true. BofA at the end of the day had to settle with the merchant, even if it was Visa itself (as the merchant). So that is how we have defined (for better or worse) Visa Cash for the website and catalog.

Note then, on all the VHQ cards, there is no BofA logo on any of these Visa Cash cards. Also note that on all Visa Cash cards issued by the BofA there is a BofA logo. While Visa regulations may change from time to time, the financial institution that issues the card needs to always be identified somewhere on the card per the Visa regulations.


All of the above on settlement is true for Mondex as well, just replace Visa with MasterCard.


September 2007

Greetings!  We have had a busy month updating the Visa Cash/Mondex website with images and researching the Visa SuperSmart card page. You will note we added a page for Visa Cash and Mondex issues in New Zealand (my thanks to native New Zealander Bruce Phillips for his images and insights to complete that page with some really rare cards and consequently rare images). He also added images to help us complete the five NationsBank pages and the Singapore pages. We also gave Chase bank its own Mondex page for its short lived Mondex program this month.

We continue to add images every week now, and will do so until we do not have any known cards or images left. That will be a while. To break up the grind of adding images we have about completed our research on a short history of the SuperSmart cards and will be adding images first than complete the writing for those pages.

Additionally we have added to the Bank of America pages and look to complete the pages with images of all the cards issued by the bank. It will also close a loop, as during the Visa Cash card program, Bank of America and NationsBank merged, so we have all the pre and post merger cards and logos to share with you.

We have revamped the welcome page with short cut links and trying to generate interest in the new pages from readers. Nothing has been contributed to the "Card Talk" as we had no contributions or new cards to discuss. The idea is to discuss a card, a program or anything concerning general information on Visa Cash or Mondex cards. The market for the Visa Cash or Mondex cards is worse than the current housing market, speculators are long gone and as a result there are not very many serious collectors left in the world. This probably will not change in my lifetime.

Most of the Mondex interest of late has been inquires the old issue of Mondex and “Big Brother”. If you have come to this website to read all about that, I am afraid you have come to the wrong website as there was never repeat never any truth to this matter.

By way of background for other visitors, there was a major publicity campaign mounted against Mondex because a small and vocal group of folks contended Mondex violated their privacy rights. As it happened Mondex did not handle this attack very well and as a result received much bad publicity.

Various religious groups also got involved in the row and claimed it was all the work of the devil and "Big Brother" was going to take over everyone's lives. As with anything concerning privacy concerns it received a lot of media attention then died off when nothing became of it. These religious zealots were all over the Internet and you can still find their Big Brother theory websites when doing research. Again this site is not one of those websites. We have the utmost respect for the amount of work that went into trying to make Mondex (and Visa Cash) programs a success.

Having this kind of bad publicity may have contributed to Mondex’s lack of success. We have found more data however, as to why Mondex did not catch on. More on Mondex history to come, especially the small successes on university closed campus environments.


August 2007

Over the last month we have completed a number of revisions, added new pages for Visa Cash in Italy, Norway and the UK & Ireland. We have also added a Wachovia Bank (USA) page with just the Visa Cash care images. Additionally we also have added a UK & Ireland individual Mondex page, the first of several Mondex pages to come.

We have also revamped the current Top 5 cards page to "Card Talk". The idea is to discuss a card, a program or anything concerning general information on Visa Cash or Mondex cards. Add information much like Wikipedia. The website continues to evolve in an attempt to educate and save the history of these leading edge technological programs and no longer directed to collectors (there are not very many serious collectors left in the world).

We have found very little in the way primary background or research on Mondex, which may have to do with the program's lack of success. We do not know. There is much to be written on Mondex from secondary sources which we will be sharing as we write. It is too bad we can not get more primary information, because we know of the incredible effort it took to get the Mondex card to market (not to mention Visa Cash).

As an old product manager, I have said often, from a business perspective, it is just as bad to be too early into the market with your product, as too is it to be late to market. Mondex and Visa Cash may be that examples of being to early. John Fisher of Bank One often called the smart card the "Concorde Card" in the 1980's, a technology in search of a product. The business case is still hard if not impossible to make for chip based cash cards. 30 years later it appears they have found that market and evolved to "Gift Cards" however, no chip in the card, using the old mag stripe for account information and all transactions verified on-line, much like an ATM card with no PIN (every purchase transaction verifies the value left on the card or really how much is in the account).

Mondex history however, continues to be lost from the original participants and we wish they would contact us and tell us their stories. For example, as you will see on the Mondex pages, at some point in time Mondex moved to a "closed" university campus environment for issuing and card acceptance. A "combo" card used as the student ID, library card and had cash value for use to make small value purchases. We are finding Mondex university cards in the UK, Mexico, Israel, Venezuela and others countries where no other "open" programs (community wide efforts with all merchants participating in a town like Swindon in the UK or Guelph in Canada) ever appeared.

We still have not started the new page  "everything you want to know about the chips" from a layman's point of view, still will be added in the near future. We now have learned chips on Visa Cash cards may initially have only originated from one or two manufacturers. Card companies like De La Rue and Schlumberger then took the "OEM" chip and just manufactured the card. Many of these chips came from Siemans and/or Gemplus.

I hope oversights do not effect the quality of the information we are trying to provide. We strive to provide the exact and correct information and anytime someone shares with us an error, we will correct as soon as possible.

Lastly, I have decided to make a push to get images up and write later as trying to both has slowed down the process of expanding the this website. The page on Italy is a good example.  Look for additional pages soon with just card images, then check back as we research and publish information on both Visa Cash and Mondex programs.


We were recently sent a Visa Cash card which VisaCash.org had never seen and as result we got motivated to start the United Kingdom & Ireland page. Not many Visa Cash programs were run in the UK or Ireland. We only know about the program in Leeds and do not know how many financial institutions or merchants participate.  Very little is known about the Barclays Visa Cash program either (check out the card image now on the Visa Cash UK page) other than one program was run by Barclays in the city of Leeds in the UK circa 1999 and 2000. We do know from the card expiry date that the program may have ended in August, 2000, but we do not know when it started, if there were other cards issued for the program, etc. If you know more about this program please send us an email.


Greetings from VisaCash.org!  As I revise this page, we will maintain the previous commentary....I guess it will become the "blog" for the website, while providing updated information on what has recently happened with the website. It will also be the place where we recognize contributors who would like to be noted.

The last several weeks saw a number of revisions completed on the website mainly involving "webmaster" issues as we learn more and more about the software. A new more professional template was added as well as each card or chip image now offers a "pop-up" which required reworking each image that did not have this feature. We have caught up and you can now click on any of these images and it will "pop-up" for closer examination. Also you can scroll between the front and back of the card image you have chosen or between chips that are contained on the page you are reading.

The new page  "everything you want to know about the chips" from a layman's point of view, still will be added in the near future. We have discovered recently that the chips on the disposable cards may initially have only originated from one manufacturer. Card companies like Gemplus and Schlumberger then took the "OEM" chip and manufactured the card.

Each Visa Cash card consequently has: card specifications from Visa,  chip manufacturer, specific software program(s), card manufacturer, project and business plan, financial institution marketing plan, card specific graphics, brochures, financial controls and security (it is cash, so each card needed to be managed like cash at the financial institution), a point of sale (POS) terminal network to accept the card at merchants, settlement (getting the merchants their money in the bank) and much, much more.

So once the chip information is verified we will revise the each page table to reflect the corrected information. I hope this oversight does not effect the quality of the information we are trying to provide. We strive to provide the exact and correct information and anytime someone shares with us an error, we will correct as soon as possible.

Today we will complete the current Top 5 cards page. We have not started on the "Top 10' page as of yet. Essentially the Top 5 page will be dynamic and will change, and the "Top 10" page, once completed will change only if a contributor makes a good case to have a card dropped out of the Top 10 and a new one added. What is fun and intriguing is a new Visa Cash or Mondex Card appears which the vast majority of readers have never seen or never were aware existed before.

It is also sad.... most of the card developers and issuer participants have been forgotten as well as the work to get the card issued and what it took to get the Visa Cash or Mondex card to market. The history is being lost.

The hard work of issuing and providing the card for the financial institution for testing or public use might have been lost forever. Consequently, it continues to be the purpose of this website, to recognize and save this information.


Hello from VisaCash.org!  We are trying to update the website as often as possible. After today you will see many changes and page modifications as we  receive information and input. A new page  "everything you want to know about the chips" from a layman's point of view, will be added in the near future. We are not  electrical engineers, however there is much to be learned in the history of these cards just focusing on the chips.

We have done extensive modifications to the Bank One page, so check it out. There has been a number of discussions as to "watermarking" the images on display here at VisaCash.org. Basically, making it very difficult for or not allowing folks to copy images for their own use.

My intent is to share this information as widely as possible. So if you use an image, I hope you like it, maybe you could tell someone where you obtained the image, then send us one we don't have. However, if you use the written copy please note that it is copyrighted. Please let me know where you are going to use it before you  re-publish the written copy.

I hope  you like the "Top 5" recently trade cards and soon the "Top 10" collectors choice pages. I have modified  one of the several suggestions made by Diogo Teixeira to make this a regular feature. As rare cards are traded via eBay or other public websites I will update the Top 5. The Top 10 will be updated as new favorites are shared by collectors. Lastly, I want to also send thanks to Paul Visnaw for his suggestions on contents and formats.

Thanks, Paul.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Greetings and Welcome to VisaCash.org!

As some of you know, I have just started to build this site, today is the first day that the website pages has been displayed. It will be updated as often as we can. My goal is to have a standardized image and description of each Visa Cash and Mondex card issued prior to 2002, including a short history of the program or card launch.

If I can find enough data I will also write an overview history of the whole program.  The website will change and get better with time. Additionally, I plan to add educational background for those visitors unfamiliar with Visa Cash or Mondex cards.

This adventure is a very big challenge. It will take a long time, probably several years but the goal is a professional and useful site. If you have images and scans you would be willing to share please contact me at my email address: pstegs@hotmail.com.

Lastly there is only a small collector market, so hopefully VisaCash.org will become a place for those collectors to come,  foster further collecting interest as well as offer suggestions, ideas, or become an informational clearinghouse about other collectors or the cards themselves.

Thanks for Visiting!  - Paul Steger