AS more people in Hong Kong become aware of the various potential applications of smart cards, local companies and industrialists are taking a keen interest in the latest development of these products. Using the capacity and processing power of an embedded integrated circuit, smart cards offer great convenience and flexibility. A smart phonecard can be used in various countries across Europe, for example, eliminating wasteful exchange transactions. Various transport modes can be linked by a single card, offering simple solutions to the travelling public. Data storage is another smart card strong point. The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) is organising the Smart Card Expo '95 which will provide a major window for smart card technology and products. The expo, which will cover every aspect of the subject, but will have a special emphasis on practical applications and product technology, will be held alongside the Software Exhibition '95 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from tomorrow to Saturday. Stephen Cheung, divisional manager, electronics services division design and automation branch for the HKPC, said: 'This is the first time the Smart Card Expo is held in Hong Kong. 'The idea of holding an exhibition came up at the end of May this year when the first International Smart Card Conference was held.' The organisers hope to attract between 30,000 and 40,000 people to the expo. The HKPC wants to push the concept of smart card in the territory and encourage more foreign and local companies to become involved. China is seen as a huge potential smart card mar-ket. HKPC will have a booth in the exhibition, where hardware and software will be assembled to demonstrate the advantages of smart card technology. The Software Exhibition '95 is a unique show for the information technology industry in Hong Kong. It has been held every year since 1986. Mr Cheung said the IC chip in a smart card could store more information than a number of magnetic strip cards and, in some cases, carry out data processing. The result is that a number of service providers are switching from the magnetic to the smart card concept. The information stored in the smart card is more secure from infiltrators, because technically it is much more difficult to crack into the information. The magnetic card has been found easier to get into. Mr Cheung said: 'Since there are few local manufactures in the territory, we hope this show will help interested parties get involved in the development of applications as smart cards are a growing trend.' 'From a users' point of view, they will see more of these cards introduced to the market from early next year.' By the end of next year the smart card will be used by the Hong Kong public for transportation and other services. There will be many more users and services providers that will use smart cards in the future, and there will be a bigger acceptance by local companies as they set up home-grown products and joint ventures with companies from other countries.