Chase Blink card: New card for speedy checkout
By Ben Woolsey
A new credit card innovation has arrived which will make going through the check out line a little faster for Chase cardholders, and definitely more profitable for JP Morgan Chase. The new credit card technology involves a remote scanning system that allows cardholders to breeze through lines at participating fast food drive-through locations, convenience stores and drugstores. The list of participating locations is relatively small at present, but is expected to grow exponentially over the coming years, as consumer demand is anticipated to eventually force the conversion of existing retail payment platforms to the new credit card scanners.
There is the potential for the new technology to tempt customers to spend more and could also present identity theft problems.
The scanning technology, radio frequency identification (more commonly known as RFID), is new for credit cards, but has been in existence for many years at toll booths and more recently seen use in helping with inventory logistics with large retailers such as Wal-Mart. The Chase Blink Card provides the same information that is stored on a credit card's magnetic strip, located on the reverse side of the credit card. But, since there is no card swipe involved or signature required consumers can have faster transactions. And, merchants can process even more customer transactions in a given amount of time, which should improve the bottom line.
While the Blink Card technology will make paying for purchases much faster and convenient, another interesting finding has emerged. People seem to be spending more. Maybe it's the same process evidenced with comparing credit card spending to cash, where it's less painful to spend with plastic and therefore easier to justify bigger purchases. This same phenomenon is present with betting poker chips rather than cold hard cash. The casinos realize that people are less inhibited when not dealing with actual currency. Any convenience added to the process seems to increase the detachment level consumers feel with their hard earned cash. While this is great for card issuers and merchants, it may not be so good for the public. As with normal credit cards, continued financial discipline should also be exercised.
Identity theft concerns
Consumer advocates have questioned whether this new line of high-tech convenience cards will actually work in a way that compromises conBsumer security, increasing the growing problem of identity theft. But issuers like Chase insist that no new security breaches are introduced with this service -- if anything it should lower the potential of someone accessing personal card information since only the last four digits of the credit card number are made available to retail employees at checkout. All other relevant data is transmitted from the scanner to the credit card issuer.
So, at the end of the day, is the new blink technology worth getting? For consumers that like to be on the cutting edge, probably. With check out times sped up by an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent, it's not hard to see the payoff.
Published: August 2, 2005
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