Here’s further proof that the wallet packed with plastic you’ve been toting around for years is about to become obsolete.
MasterCard just revealed its plan to ditch the old magnetic strip credit card model in exchange for new smart card technology.
The U.S. has been slow to adopt smart card technology even as Canada and Europe have both embraced the practice for years.
A few banks offer the service, like Wells Fargo, but MasterCard is undoubtedly one of the biggest players in the EMV game to date.
The specially encrypted chips are far better at protecting consumers’ account information because they link it all to a pin number, rather than an easily copied signature.
And unlike run-of-the-mill magnetic strips, EMV chips can’t be scanned or altered by a card-reader, a popular tool used in identity theft. (See 6 ways to protect your bank information.)
The move is proof MasterCard is fully embracing the new age of digital transactions, when everyone will dump plastic credit cards altogether in exchange for smartphones, computers and tablets.
“We’re moving toward a world beyond plastic, where consumers will shop and pay in a way that best fits their needs and lifestyles with a simple tap, click or touch in-store, online or on a mobile device,” said Chris McWilton, president, U.S. markets. “Our roadmap represents a transformational shift in the approach to payments and is not simply about EMV, chip and PIN. We’re focused on readying the ecosystem to drive future innovation and provide new consumer experiences to enhance the value of electronic payments. “
As for the EMV technology, MasterCard says it’ll all be implemented by April 2013.
Apart from making financial information more secure, smart cards would make life for frequent travellers a lot easier. Some European businesses can’t even accept American debit and credit cards because of the old magnetic strip model.
Until the rest of the U.S. banking industry catches up, the best you can do for now is check with your bank or credit card company to see if they offer a smart card option.