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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Barclaycard chief predicts death of plastic cards

Plastic cards could be set to go the way of cheques and become virtually obsolete as customers take up mobile and biometric systems to pay for purchases, according to Barclaycard which is ramping up i...

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Chip and Skin the way ahead !!!


What the CIO of Barclaycard predicts will happen, I believe, will happen; but as with all technological developments, it will take time to become adopted. Cards themselves have still not totally replaced cheques for example, and the mobile sector has long mooted the idea of the ubiquitous mobile phone replacing the credit card, prompting the question of whether phone companies should apply for banking licences. In some countries it’s been possible to buy a can of coke from a vending machine since the late 1990s, so where’s the progress in the UK?


It’s like the death of coins. Plastic was ‘supposed’ to replace both cheques and coins (remember the Mondex trial in Swindon?) but still both survive. It’s because people trust what they see. There is a natural mistrust of technology and whilst adoption rates vary from country to country, they are dependent upon creating trust around performance and security around an offer. The convenience of the customer must also be taken into consideration - make it too secure and customers will just find it too inconvenient to use.


Biometrics were  being used in the late 1990s to counter fraud in insurance. The technology has been around for at least a decade, but the adoption has been somewhat haphazard. Why not have my thumbprint scanned onto a chip that can be read and identified, then to validate a transaction, check my real thumbprint against the chip held impression? Simple to use and more difficult to replicate than a signature or copy as a PIN. The reason for the lack of adoption? – it’s too personal and will take time to become acceptable to the average citizen.


The contactless payment card, as used by Oyster, is great. Convenient and instant and they have a limited liability, since they are prepaid. You lose it and your loss is limited. Now, if this was available with a credit card then one can just imagine the fraudsters enjoying themselves with high-powered readers, taking card details, as innocent commuters await the 6.58pm to Basingstoke. They can already do this with Bluetooth readers sucking smaller amounts out of mobile phones as well as mobile identities!


I guess my question is, have we really moved on in payment technologies over the past 30 years, or even the past decade? Maybe in terms of speed we have, maybe in terms of accuracy of authentication we have, but what is new? The most radical thing I have ever heard was the placement of a chip beneath the skin that could be read and then payment for a transaction could be made. Now which will be the first bank to offer that as a new payment method? Maybe they are already ready and it’s just a question of biding their time, awaiting for when it’s seen as acceptable!


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