Number of chip-coded Visa cards to double

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 February, 2007, 12:00am

Visa International expects the number of its microchip-embedded credit cards in circulation in Hong Kong to double by the end of this year, a step it says will counter rising fraud.

James Dixon, Visa's country manager for Hong Kong and Macau, said 1 million of the 8 million Visa cards issued in Hong Kong were chip cards.

'There will be up to 2 million Visa chip cards circulating in Hong Kong by end of 2007 and 80 per cent of Visa cards are expected to be chip cards by 2014,' he said.

Seventy-six per cent of retailers' terminals in Hong Kong can accept chip cards, and that number will rise to 85 per cent this year, he said.

Customers who use chip cards will not notice much difference when they use them; they will still have to sign their names when making transactions. Visa is not introducing the chip-and-PIN cards common in Europe.

Mr Dixon said one of the biggest benefits of the chip card was security. They are harder to duplicate than magnetic-strip cards, he said.

All Visa cards issued in Malaysia are now chip cards, he said, and the switch has reduced card fraud by more than 80 per cent.

In Hong Kong, he said, the fraud rate was about 0.03 per cent of card spending, which meant lenders had managed to fight fraud quite well. There was no urgency for card issuers to switch to chip cards, he said, though they did want to keep the rate of card fraud low.

The number of counterfeit credit cards seized by police was 575 in 2004, 1,706 in 2005 and 2,991 last year.

Five banks - HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, DBS (Hong Kong) and Bank of East Asia - are already issuing chip cards.

Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong, head of consumer banking at DBS (HK), expects all the bank's Visa cards will be chip cards by next year.

Hang Seng Bank, which began issuing chip cards in October, expects all its Visa card holders to have chip cards within three years.