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US banks face backlash over foreign card compatibility issues

26 October 2009  |  5714 views  |  0 credit card

Aite Group estimates that nearly 10 million US cardholders experienced problems using their credit cards abroad in 2008 alone, a majority of which changed their card usage behavior as a result.

The report is based on a September 2009 Aite Group online survey of 1,019 US resident cardholders that traveled to countries outside of Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico between 2006 and 2009.

For cardholders traveling to Western Europe over the past three years, there is an almost 50% chance that they have experienced some form of problem using a US payment card, says the analyst house.

Aite Group estimates that 9.7 million US cardholders experienced issues with card payments abroad in 2008, and that the US card industry missed out on $3.9 billion in transactions and $447 million in revenues as a result of the failures.

With European markets moving to smart card-based payments, US travellers are finding their mag-stripe cards being rejected at retailer Chip and PIN terminals and foreign cash machines. European issuers meanwhile are growing concerned at the higher incidence of counterfeit card fraud occurring on US shores, leading to calls for the US banking industry to switch to the chip-based EMV payment card standard.

"Nearly two-thirds of cardholders adjust payment behavior after a bad experience, directly resulting in lower usage of the problem card," says Nick Holland, senior analyst with Aite Group. "An issue caused by incompatible card technology is treated far more seriously by cardholders than issues stemming from card acceptance, fees or merchant policies. A quarter of cardholders experiencing these types of problems will agree either somewhat or totally that the problem ruined or almost ruined their trip."

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