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Room 68: Money 

Object details

Diameter: 41 mm
Museum number: 2010,4009.3

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Mondex cash card

Britain (issued in) China (made in), 1997

Mondex 'Electronic Cash' chipped transfer card.

When first trialled in Swindon in July 1996 Mondex described their new payment system as,‘…the new way to pay: it offers you all the control and flexibility you get with cash but in the convenient form of a card.’

The Mondex system, invented by Tim Jones and Graham Higgins at National Westminster Bank (Natwest) in 1990, was an attempt at creating an electronic cash card that acted as alternative to coins and banknotes. Electronic payments were immediate without the need for authorisation checks or signatures.

Customers were issued a card, containing an embedded microchip, onto which money could be loaded. They were also provided with a ‘wallet’, an electronic device which enabled the customer to manage and transfer their money. Money was loaded onto the card via an ATM machine on the high street or a Mondex enabled telephone.

A trial of the system began in the British town of Swindon with five hundred participants in a joint development partnership between Natwest, Midland Bank and British Telecom. Swindon was specifically chosen because it had a population profile representative of the UK as a whole. Don Stanley, a 72 year old newspaper vendor, was the first trader in Britain to accept a Mondex payment. During the life of the trial Mondex was introduced into car parks, compatible payphones and buses as well as 700 of the 1000 retailers in the town.

Whilst originally successful with retailers the general public were slow to adopt the system, preferring instead the reliability and familiarity of physical currency. Following further trials in Canada, Hong Kong and the United States Mastercard bought a majority share in Mondex, although the system was discontinued and never given a nationwide UK launch.

Explore more



Start of a New Era, Mondex Magazine, Spring 1996

M. Whittaker, Welcome to Mondex City, The Independent Newspaper, 11 May 1996

C. Arthur, Cashless society stops at Swindon, The Independent Newspaper, 8 July 1996

A. Shaw, Mondex trials end in uncertainty, The Telegraph Newspaper, 11 July 2001