Consumer Payment Card News

Smart Cards

Smart credit cards in the USA are approaching 20 million as the migration to new payment card technology is underway. Although smart credit cards make up only 3.5% of the 578 million bank credit cards now in circulation, the momentum is picking up. VISA reported last week that its four smart card issuers in the USA have issued more than 10 million smart VISA cards to-date. This means that one out of every 25 VISA credit cardholders in the USA are now carrying a smart credit card. Target/Retailers National Bank reported last month it has issued more than 3 million smart VISA cards as of early February. Target launched its smart credit card program in September and plans to deploy chip acceptance devices at all stores nationwide by the end of this year. Providian, FleetBoston, and First USA launched smart VISA programs in the fourth quarter of 2000. American Express, the first U.S. issuer to launch a smart payment card to the mass market, now has nearly 8 million smart Blue cardholders in the USA. Citibank launched a smart MasterCard in December. VISA noted that 90% of all payment transactions are conducted by acquirers and processors who can also facilitate chip transactions and that the three largest manufacturers of chip-enabled POS devices have introduced EMV-compliant terminals for the U.S. market. VISA says part of its success was attributed to its efforts to lower the cost of some smart cards to under $3. This year will be pivotal to the U.S. smart card migration as more applications are added to the chip, and as more computers come equipped with smart card readers pre-installed in the keyboard.

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