Smartcards differ from the current crop of plastic cards through the integration of a computerised chip which stores your bank details. This replaces the magnetic swipe, something that has proved easy to counterfeit. The chip on the other hand is far more secure and it would take many computer hours at a considerable cost to crack just one card. The adoption of the chip card with PIN system by banks and retailers would also remove the need for the customer s signature and put an end to the dishonest use of lost or stolen cards. A thief would have to know the PIN number before being able to use the card and, because the PIN can be encoded onto the chip, it would be very difficult for any swindler to get that information. The new cards will need to be dipped into a slot, rather than swiped and the PIN then entered. The standard system that has been adopted by the banks is the EMV, or Europay Mastercard Visa, chip cards with PIN, and this is something that is set to be taken up around the world, creating a globally secure credit card system. At the moment a number of European countries are using a similar system including France, which has operated a chip card with PIN network for about 10 years. However it may soon have to adapt its equipment to fit in with the EMV standard. {{COVER FEATURE }}