Elaine Watson
Cashiers and customers are taking to the new Chip and PIN technology like ducks to water' according to retailers involved in the Northampton trial.
Speaking six weeks into the trial, which now includes 600 stores and more than 180,000 cards, Safeway business systems manager Jeremy Wyman said: "Customers can cope with it and staff can cope with it. I'm pleased to say it's been a bit of a non-event."
Typically, said Wyman, it takes just three transactions for staff and shoppers to feel confident using the new cards, which require customers to punch in a PIN at the checkout instead of signing a till receipt.
Tesco director, treasury, Nick Mourant, said all Tesco's tills would be chip-enabled by the end of October 2003, with keypads to follow in the first quarter of 2004. He said the new system would help to cut down on fraudulent transactions, which totalled roughly £6m last year, £1m of which was charged to Tesco. He added progress had come about through a carrot and stick' approach from the banks, which had negotiated a reduction in merchant services charges for retailers on card transactions as they phased in Chip and PIN.
By reducing time at the checkout ­ chip and PIN transactions take about seven seconds compared to 10 seconds to sign a receipt ­ retailers could also cut queuing time, said Mourant.
None of the multiples were prepared to say how much the new kit would cost, but Safeway said reports suggesting it was spending £15m on it were "way off the mark".
Marks and Spencer chip and PIN project manager Patrick Bishop said progress was also being made on tackling fraudulent transactions by mail, phone and internet ­ areas which could see more fraud as Chip and PIN was introduced into stores.
This included obliterating card numbers on till receipts and asking those paying to provide the card verification number ­ the last three digits of a number on the back of credit cards ­ to prevent thieves getting card details from receipts.
Food and drink was a particular hotspot for card crime, representing £25m of fraudulent transactions in 2002 compared to £15m on petrol and £13m on clothes, said the Association of Payment Clearing Services.

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