New credit cards by Christmas

02 October 2003
A new system that aims to tackle the growing problem of credit card fraud is set to be rolled out across the UK.

One in five cardholders will reportedly receive their new hi-tech credit or debit cards by Christmas and at least half are expected to have the new card by spring next year.

The new so-called chip and pin cards contain a smart chip that stores information more securely than the current magnetic strips, which can be copied.

Customers can verify transactions using a four-digit pin, rather than signing a receipt.

A three-month trial in Northampton, involving around 150,000 people, was deemed a success and card issuers will begin sending the new cards to customers across the UK this month.

The rollout will involve more than 850,000 shop terminals being installed, 122 million cards being issued, 40,000 cash machines being upgraded and 2.7 million shop staff being trained.

Credit and debit card fraud in the UK reached £424.6 million last year. The new chip and Pin system is expected to reduce fraud levels by up to 70 per cent and reduce the practice of 'skimming', where the information from a card is copied and used to create a duplicate.

Sandra Quinn, from the Association for Payment Clearing Services, said: "We tested chip and Pin earlier this year and there is a real appetite for the new system among consumers. More than 80 per cent of people in the trial said they were in favour."

"Across the country people seem to agree. Our latest survey shows that 84 per cent of people are quite keen or can't wait to use it and 95 per cent think it will be child's play or fairly easy to use.

"It's full steam ahead from today," she added. "New cards will be issued and shops will switch on over time so that a majority of transactions become chip and Pin by 2005."

Chip and pin cards are already common in some other European countries.