Monday, April 25, 2011

Are the Floodgates Opening for Chip-and-PIN Credit Cards?

Photo by Thomas Kohler
About a week and a half ago, I alerted you to the fact that several credit unions would be offering chip-and-pin style credit and debit cards to their customers. These cards are widely used throughout Europe (and in many parts of Asia and Latin America), because of their enhanced security features (users must input a PIN number for the card to work). Americans traveling abroad in recent years have had their credit cards rejected by ticket kiosks at rail stations, automatic filling machines at gas stations and other outlets where no human handles the card. (American credit cards, with their identifying strips are still widely accepted in restaurants, stores and hotels.)

At the end of last week, columnist Ed Perkins of USA TODAY that Wells Fargo and Chase Bank would be issuing premium chip-and-pin cards in a few test markets. Why they need to "test market" a technology that's widely used across the globe is a mystery to me, but I agree with Ed that these two banks are likely just the first of many who will adopt the new technology in the coming months.

If you're a frequent traveler, nudge your bank to join Wells Fargo and Chase. Not only will the card allow you wider access to your money when traveling abroad, but the banks themselves will have fewer claims of fraud to contend with once the new cards are adopted.

Hey, its a win-win for all of us. And how often is something that's good for the banks also good for consumers?!?

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