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Credit card news for the water cooler

by Peter Andrew

Three updates in mobile credit card technology make us excited to see what credit card technology has in store for the future.

MasterCard "tap and go" a boon to mass transit commuters

MasterCard published on March 19 the results of a survey of mass transit commuters. Respondents reported a range of woes associated with paying to ride, including:

  • 65 percent worry they won't have enough cash to pay for a journey.
  • 36 percent have in the past been unable to travel because of a lack of cash.
  • 44 percent have missed a bus, train or subway because they were waiting in line to buy a ticket.
  • 20 percent say they've been frustrated because they don't know how to pay when using an unfamiliar mass transit system.

Of course, MasterCardhas a solution: contactless payments. This is when you wave or tap a suitably enabled credit card or smartphone on or near a payment terminal, and this automatically deducts the fare from your account. This technology has already been adopted by some mass transit systems. Expect to see it in many more.

PayPal to offer credit card reader for smartphones

Small merchants who lack full payment-acceptance facilities can already buy credit card readers -- such as the one from Square -- that allow them to process card transactions. Now PayPal is getting in on the act with its own uniquely shaped version (it's a triangle) called PayPalHere.

Like Square's, PayPal's reader plugs into the headphone jack of a smartphone. Right now, PayPal's version only works with iPhones, but expect new models for iPads and Android-based devices soon.

Discover gears up for EMV credit cards in North America

MasterCard and Visa have already announced "road maps" for the adoption in the United States of EMV cards, those with tiny microprocessors (chips) embedded in them. You can read more about them on this site at Credit cards, road maps and chips. On March 15, Discover released its own plans.

Actually, Discover says that it's been deploying its EMV-compliant systems for three years, and already has a million EMV credit cards in circulation in the U.S., mostly for international travelers. So in some ways it may well be ahead of its two bigger rivals. In a press release, Troy Bernard, Discover's global head of chip payment technology, commented:

Enabling EMV in North America is a significant step in Discover's approach toward emerging payments, and clearly a necessary one. We believe each payment solution should enable choice and security within its transaction environment, which is why when it comes to EMV, we're giving stakeholders choice and flexibility on how they implement it.

Credit card companies are desperate to be your "top-of-the-wallet" choice and competing mightily to get there. What advances would you like to see in credit card technology?

Published 03/23/12 (Modified 03/27/13)


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