The Future Of Plastic


People are starting to notice that the credit card in their wallet hasn’t changed in a generation or two. It is still just a piece of plastic with a magnetic strip on the back. While the economic model of the credit card is not really under attack, its physical manifestation is.

Two Visions For The Future Of Your Credit Card

In one corner is the cell phone. A lot of people feel that this will be your form of electronic payment shortly. This post at the Extreme Tech website takes a very dim view of the idea of carrying around a piece of plastic in the future.� In their view, your cell phone can accomplish those functions. They cite some continuing innovations that are being rolled out in European credit cards as a last ditch effort to stay relevant.

I am not so sure that I agree.� I have a real problem with some of the payment systems being rolled out, like this one with the iPhone. It seems that if we get to a point where your payments are routed through a phone company, only bad things can result.� For example, you will have few of the protections that credit cards offer.� Worse, any problems with your payment will have consequences to your telephone service!

Another problem that I can foresee is the sheer practicality of it. Right now, I just whip out my card and swipe. If I were to somehow use my cell, I would probably have to enter some code or something, which sounds like a pain.

Maybe The Stripe Is Going To Go Away

This other article looks at credit cards from a different perspective. Ironically, they claim that the Europeans are not improving the magnetic strip, but eliminating it altogether.� They see the stripe as an invitation to fraud, and they look at Chip and Pin systems as a safeguard.

Again, I would really hate to have to enter a pin for every transaction.� I must also keep in mind that only banks are the victims of fraud, not cardholders.� At the same time, I am sure that people will be able to steal your pin and whatever information is being emitted by that chip in order to continue to defraud banks.

My View

Every few years, cities try to get rid of their parking meters and replace them with some new fangled technology.� The result is almost always a nightmare as a simple system devolves into a complex and inconvenient ordeal.� I fear the same will happen with credit cards.� The current system works, but can probably be slightly tweaked to more effectively deter fraud.� As the world becomes more globally integrated, what we don’t need is a situation where each continent has its own credit card standard.

Personally, I am ok with whatever system the world wants to go with, so long as they still let me use the cards I have in my wallet.

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