UK unveils safer way to pay with plastic

LONDON (10/02/2003) - A group of U.K. banks, high street stores and local shops Thursday rolled out safer credit and debit cards, dubbed Chip and PIN, to fight the growing tide of credit card fraud.

The Chip and PIN cards, first announced in May, replaces the magnetic strip with an allegedly crack-proof chip. The card's owner will have to enter a four-digit personal identification number (PIN) into a handheld device, provided by the retail outlet, to complete the transaction, replacing current signature authorization method.

"The rollout is a huge task with more than 850,000 shop terminals, 122 million cards and 40,000 cash machines being upgraded and 2.7 million retails staff being trained, so it won't happen overnight. There are household name retailers in every sector who are committed to making this happen by the end of 2004," said Amanda Miller of the British Retail Consortium.

The card is expected to be rolled out across the U.K. by 2005, with one in five credit card owners expected to be using the new Chip and PIN technology by the end of this December.

A similar domestic PIN-card in France has reduced credit card fraud by 80 percent since its introduction 10 years ago.

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