`Excuse Me, But Your Wallet Is Beeping'

There have been pagers that look like wristwatches or fountain pens. Now, SkyTel is offering the first one in the U.S. that looks like a credit card. SkyTel, a satellite-paging company owned by Mobile Telecommunication Technologies Corp. in Jackson, Miss., has an exclusive, one-year agreement with NEC Corp. to distribute the Message Card in the U.S. NEC modified it from a model that is already popular in Japan, using a new antenna for SkyTel's higher frequencies. Motorola Inc., which also sells a card pager in Asia, says it's assessing U.S. market demand.

SkyTel hopes its Message Card--about the size of a stack of four credit cards--will be popular with people who have balked at clunkier pagers. It's working with leather-goods makers to design Message Card pouches into billfolds, purses, and handbags. The card rents for $74 a month, including the first 200 messages. That's $5 more than standard pagers.