High Tech Credit Cards Are On the Way

Finally, credit card issuers are coming out with technology that isn’t from the 1960s and hasn’t changed since the invention of the cards.

They’re changing from the current swipe card with a magnetic stripe to a pin number and chip-type card. For the transition it’ll still have that old magnetic stripe, but also an embedded microchip.

These new cards are already being issued. The Royal is putting them out and remember I told you about a super cool Capital One 6.9 fixed card? I got it with the microchip today. As merchants get new point-of-sale terminals you’ll insert it and use a PIN number just like your debit card. So no more slip to sign because your PIN number is your identification.

What it’ll do is to drastically reduce the $300 million in credit card fraud. Now most of the time when merchants haven’t taken the basic steps, they’re liable for the fraud charges. The rest of the time, the card issuers eat the loss. Until now, that loss hasn’t been as expensive as converting the cards.

No, they’re not doing the conversion because they have much interest in identity theft or helping you. On fraud, you’re also not liable for any of the phony charges. Never have been. They’re doing the conversion because it’s going to be cheaper for them to convert to the new cards instead of seeing the fraud amounts increasing each year.

It’s been in use in Europe for a very long time but the conversion and rollout in Canada will be slow. If you get the new cool card it’ll work exactly like your old one did until all merchants have the new point-of-sale machines where you insert the card, not swipe it. It’s just that this new card has a little chip in it.

This year, about 4.5 million of these will be in your hands. By October 2010 it’ll be fully implemented, because about 90% of all cards will have expired and replaced.

What this’ll also start is a huge wave of contact-less cards that are NFC enabled. For tech people, that’s Near Field Communication. Nokia will have it in their cell phones next year and by next summer, Rodgers will be doing their trial a trial. It’ll let you just wave it past a merchants’ scanner and pay for something. It’ll be exactly like the Esso and Shell payfast keyfobs but it’ll be your Visa or MasterCard.

In all this, you still have to remember why they’re doing it. It’s never to help you but to get you to use your card a whole lot more. And especially in the small-ticket purchases that add up to tens of billions of dollars that card issuers really want a huge piece of!

After all, we spend almost 20% more when we use a credit card instead of cash. Mark my words: Two or three years from now the percentage of small-ticket purchases on credit card will be way up. Card issuers will get richer and you’ll go further in debt so this is not a win-win arrangement, trust me.

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