European Issuers AddingDisplay Screens to Cards

By Wolfe, Daniel | American Banker, June 7, 2010 | Go to article overview

European Issuers AddingDisplay Screens to Cards


Wolfe, Daniel, American Banker


Byline: Daniel Wolfe

Issuers in Europe are rolling out payment cards with built-in display screens that offer improved security and balance information - but there are major hurdles that make it unlikely any banks would offer the technology in the U.S. anytime soon.

MasterCardInc. announced Friday that a Turkish banking company is planning to offer debit cards with displays that can show a customer's account balance, as of the last time the card was used at a reader connected to the card network.

The cards can also show one-time-use passcodes that authenticate cardholders when they make online purchases. MasterCard said the screens do not add to the bulk of the payment cards.

MasterCard said the cards are being issued by European banks because some of these advanced functions can be used only by cards that adhere to the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specifications. No U.S. banks issue EMV cards to U.S. residents, and only one has announced plans to do so.

"This technology is based on the EMV chip, so obviously the concentration is on EMV regions such as Europe," said Louise Herbert, a business leader for communications for MasterCard Europe.

BNP Paribas SA's Turk Ekonomi Bankasi unit plans to begin issuing the MasterCard cards with built-in displays in July. Initially they will include the one-time-use passcode feature, and the balance-inquiry capability will be available later this year.

Visa Europe also said last week that it would offer cards with display screens and a 12-button keypad, though it did not name any issuers, and its announcement mentioned only security features, not the balance-inquiry capability. Visa Europe did not make executives available for interviews.

The function that relies on the EMV format is the balance-inquiryfeature, Herbert said. This information is stored on the EMV chip within the cards, and is updated every time the card is used at a merchant connected to MasterCard's network. …

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