News Burst: Co-op set to roll out smart cards

At the end of the year you can kiss your old plastic goodbye

The Co-operative Bank is set to replace all its customers' conventional debit and credit cards with "smart cards" based on computer chips. The new cards, using technology from Gemplus, will begin replacing conventional magnetic-strip cards as they expire, starting at the end of the year.

Smart cards, such as those used in telephones, are thought to be more secure than magnetic-strip cards and industry group APACS (Association of Payment and Clearing Services) has called for all payment cards to be chip-enabled by 2005. "In line with the bank's forward-thinking attitude to mobile banking and the Internet, we are now one of the pioneers in the march towards chip based card payments," said Graham Brandwood, the bank's head of card services, in a statement.

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