The national rollout of the Chip and PIN programme kicks off this month as banks start issuing the new cards to consumers outside Northampton for the first time.

Rather than opting for a region by region rollout, the banks are going for a big bang approach whereby 50% of the UK’s 42 million cardholders should have Chip and PIN enabled cards by spring 2004.

By the end of 2004, that number is expected to rise to 90%, when 440,000 out of 550,000 bank-owned tills should also be able to accept the new cards.

British Retail Consortium director of retail services Amanda Miller said: “The rollout is a huge task with more than 850,000 shop terminals, 122 million cards and 40,000 cash machines being upgraded and 2.7 million retail
staff being trained, so it won’t happen overnight.” However, the results of the Northampton trial had been overwhelmingly positive, said Sandra Quinn from the Association of Payment Clearing Services. “There is a real appetite for the new system among consumers.

“Our latest survey shows that 84% of people are quite keen or can’t wait to use it and 95% think it will be child’s play or easy to use.”