Next week may be a pivotal week for smart credit cards in the USA, as VISA and some issuers gear up to make smart card announcements. With slightly more than one million smart VISA cards already in circulation, VISA said this week it is plowing ahead with an initiative to drive more acceptance of smart cards. VISA noted that bankcard processors, supporting 80% of VISA’s card volume, can now process VISA smart card based payment transactions. While the first phase of VISA’s initiative centered around Internet usage of smart VISA cards, by the end of this year many merchants will begin accepting smart card-based payments at physical locations. Top terminal vendors, Hypercom, Ingenico and VeriFone, are leading the drive to encourage merchants to upgrade their hardware and software to accept smart cards. Meanwhile several key merchant payment processors, including Vital, NPC, and First Data Merchant Services, will be able to offer smart card acceptance applications on Hypercom and VeriFone terminal models. The smart VISA card was launched in the U.S. during September 2000 by Fleet and Providian, followed by First USA in late October. Worldwide, VISA has more than 23 million smart cards in use. American Express has issued more than six million smart cards since September 1999.