Chip-enabled smart card debuts in Australia

American Express launched Australia's first smart credit card using chip technology Tuesday, while ANZ and Visa also unveiled their plans in this space.

Dubbed 'Blue', the American Express smart card will be accompanied by a Web site that connects card members to their accounts. As new technology is developed, users will be able to download it onto the chip.

The clear plastic card has a hologram and chip as well as a magnetic stripe so it can be used regardless of whether the point of sale has a chip reader.

Also today, ANZ and Visa announced a strategic program to convert ANZ's credit card technology to chip.

The program includes making merchant terminals chip-enabled and working with Visa to introduce multi-application chip-based credit cards.

Visa Australia and New Zealand executive vice president Gordon Wheaton said the move will lay the foundation for the full rollout of chip-based cards in Australia.

"Once this infrastructure is in place it will remove one of the most significant barriers to the introduction of chip-based cards. It will also provide customers with the same confidence with shopping on the Internet as they have in the real world," he said.

MasterCard is also focusing on smart cards, with mobile commerce central to its strategy. The company's Australian vice president, John Verco, said authentication is a critical issue, which is why financial institutions focus on what they do best, facilitating and enabling payments.

"We want 100 per cent of our customers Internet-enabled, mobile and equipped with smart cards," he said.

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