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Visa Launches RFID Contactless Payment Card

After two years of development, Visa has finally launched its contactless payment credit card.
Feb 24, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

February 24, 2005—After two years of development, Visa has finally launched its contactless payment credit card. Using embedded RFID, the new card allows customers to make small-ticket purchases like fast food and convenience store items by simply swiping the card within a few inches of the merchant's card reader. The company's VisaNet network, over which payment authorization and settlement occurs, has been upgraded to accommodate transactions generated from the new cards so that issuing banks recognize contactless purchases as such. Unlike rival MasterCard, who calls its very similar contactless card PayPass, Visa will not be branding its new product.

This news perfectly bolsters ABI Research's report released just last week that predicts 2005 will be a transition year in the area of contactless payments. Whereas before contactless payment schemes were proprietary systems (the classic example being Exxon's SpeedPass), this year, according to ABI, will see an opening up and expansion of the technology, with banks, financial institutions, and credit card companies participating as major players. Such companies have historically been eager to tap into the "cash economy" of low-ticket items, so RFID-enabled contactless purchasing represents a welcome solution.

For those who might be wondering, Visa's contactless card employs a stronger encryption -- 128 bit -- than that used in the vehicle immobilizer technology that was cracked to much fanfare last month by a group of Johns Hopkins University Researchers.

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