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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Gemalto unveils EMV card for US travellers

Gemalto has unveiled a dual interface EMV chip payments card aimed at US citizens travelling abroad.

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US cardholders can take different paths with chip

I'm excited by the advent of chip cards aimed at travellers.  One of the red herrings that hold up the chip card rollout states-side is that merchant enablement will cost billions.  That's true, but you don't need to swap out any merchant equipment to create some immediate value propositions for US-issued chip cards. 

  • The Gemalto announcement is one clear example: provide Americans with hybrid cards (mag stripe and chip) so they can better use them overseas.  No adverse impact on US merchants.
  • Another parallel possibility is to use chip cards at select web sites to secure CNP transactions. CAP is one reasonable option.  Yet I advocate connected readers because they create more powerful, more flexible digital signatures.  And since they function like an ATM or POS terminal, they're a far more familiar user experience than CAP calculators. [Dynamic chip-based authentication techniques can overcome the anxiety that connected readers are vulnerable to PC-hosted malware].
  • New chip card applications don't even need to be payments related. What about using chip cards to carry extra identifiers, for Personal Health Records, confidential online social networking, or secure online gaming?
  • And we could see a second wave of tie-ups between games and financial institutions, improving upon the brilliant but doomed Entropia Universe ATM card.  It's notable that Entropia issue their own smartcards and unconnected readers today for premium members to log on with.

There's a myth that America lags the rest of the world when it comes to smartcards.  Yet the US federal government Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card and FIPS 201 standard has fostered smartcard readers being built into more American notebooks, like the Dell 'e' Series.  Smartcards have for years been supported (and preferred) by Microsoft for Windows logon; it follows that building smartcard readers into standard PCs makes more and more sense.

So there are all sorts of exciting paths open to American card issuers and e-merchants to leverage chip technology, without needing to change any of the mainstream payments infrastructure (backend nor merchants) just yet. 

It's like the early days of the Apple II (which coincidentally was about as powerful as today's chip cards): truly, we aint seen nothin yet!



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