Saturday 3 October 2015

US Chip & Pin Implementation Fudged Again - but is it Relevant?

Over here in the UK, we have become quite used to chip & pin transactions. In fact, visiting a Chinese restaurant in Leeds last night I saw a sign saying "To combat fraud, we will only accept chip & pin" - must have been there years. I can't remember the last time I saw a card with only a magstripe.

Wait, yes I can - it was a few months ago, in Boston.  In the US, chip and pin is virtually unknown. I'd say I've seen more chip & pin in Kenya than in the states, and they too aren't far on with adoption. It seems, yet again, that a move to introduce chip & pin in the US has failed - a partial move, but not really.

Does it actually matter though? Is carrying a bit of plastic around in our wallets about to become a thing of the past? Last week I saw Barclay's advertise "bPay" in a free paper at the train station. Contactless fob... wristband... sticker. Is that even too physical? I plan to pay for my ironing to be done with Paym - just using an app. My wife pays for her car detailing with Paypal. With uber we pay for taxis with a card that nobody needs to see.

Here in the UK, we seem to be going magstripe >> chip&pin >> contactless >> no-card. Is the US just going to skip a generation, in the same way landline phones never made it into Kenya? Those guys skipped straight to mobile because the cost of putting in a load of wires was higher than the cost of the latest generation of technology. These days, not every revolution has to follow all the stages!

I quite like my wallet - but it probably has too many things in it. I suspect it won't be long before there's neither plastic cards, nor pictures of her majesty.