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USA Catching Up

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The USA is finally catching up to the rest of the world.   No, I do not mean that we are becoming soccer fans.   I am not even referring to today’s come from behind stolen victory at World Cup match against Slovenia.    I am talking about our credit card technology.

Last year I wrote that America was the Backwater of Credit Card Technology as we did not have the “chip and pin” feature in any of our credit cards.  As the name implies, the credit card has a computer chip in it, and you also have to enter your PIN number.     Sounds great, but it hasn’t been deployed here yet.   Unfortunately, I am still been reading reports of Americans having difficulty using their cards overseas.   This article in the USA Today points out:

The problem is particularly acute at automated kiosks in Europe, such as the vending machines at regional rail stations and bicycle rental racks in Paris, parking meters in parts of London, toll roads and gas stations, all of which accept only chip-and-PIN cards. And the problem could get worse. More unattended pay stations are appearing in Europe.

Visa says most payment terminals in countries that have adopted chip-payment technology can still process U.S. cards. Visa advises American travelers to present their cards to attendants “in the rare instance that a card holder encounters a problem” at self-service machines.”

See the problem here.    When your card doesn’t work at an unattended toll road or gas station, all you need to do is see the attendant!   No doubt the non-existent attendant is fluent in English as well.

Help May Be On The Way

A reader over at the Upgrade Travel Better blog tells Mark Ashley that the United Nations Credit Union will soon be the first in the states to offer a Visa with “chip and PIN” technology.   It makes obvious sense that the UN would deploy something like this first, as I imagine it’s members travel quite a bit.    It’s not much, but it is a start.

Let’s face it, credit cards are part of a global system, and I have to fault the major companies for rolling out this system on one continent but not another.   How hard would it have been to include the Chip in new credit cards globally, even if the retail side is only deployed regionally?

It is time for the industry to get it’s act together technologically.   Perhaps they could even highlight the latest technological advances to justify what retailers perceive as excessive swipe fees.  In fact, I have the perfect slogan,

“Take the Swipe out of Swipe fees!”

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