The UK's banks appear to be falling behind in their own timetable for issuing new chip and PIN payment cards, under a national programme to cut back on counterfeit card fraud at the retailer point of sale.
A quarterly barometer published by the payments body running the programme shows that eight million cards have been issued since the the national roll-out began in October, which means that an estimated one in six cardholders have received a new, chip and PIN card.
In early December, the Chip and PIN programme management organisation insisted that it was "on target to get one in five cardholders with a chip-and-PIN by Christmas".
Despite the apparent shortfall, the company says that it is satsified with current progress and that the project remains on track.
The "vast majority" of transactions are expected to be Chip and PIN-enabled by 2005, says the company.
Despite a successful town trial in Northampton last year, the migration programme has been beset by retailer grumbles at the cost of the switch-over, and a rising incidence of other types of fraud, such as card not present fraud over ther Internet or on the telephone.
The industry has set a target for 36 million cardholders with Chip and PIN and 440,000 businesses by end-2004.
One hundred thousand businesses accepting plastic card payments have so far switched on.