Visa changes mean Americans will carry fewer physical credit and debit cards in their wallets

NEW YORK (AP) — Your wallet may soon be getting thinner.

Visa announced on Wednesday that there will be major changes to the way credit and debit cards operate in the United States in the coming months and years.

These new features could mean Americans will carry fewer physical cards in their wallets, and the 16-digit credit or debit card number printed on each card will become increasingly irrelevant.

It would be one of the biggest changes to U.S. payments since the introduction of chip-embedded cards a few years ago. At the same time, Americans have more options to pay for purchases beyond “credit or debit cards,” including buy now, pay later to a company, peer-to-peer payment options, pay directly through banks, or digital payment systems like Apple Pay.

“I think (with these features) we're past the point where consumers may never need to manually enter their account number again,” Mark Nelsen, Visa's global head of consumer payments, said in an interview.

The biggest change for Americans will be the ability for banks to issue a physical payment card linked to multiple bank accounts. This means no more carrying around a Bank of America or Chase debit card and their respective credit cards in a physical wallet. Americans will be able to set standards with their banks, such that all purchases under $100 can be made with a debit card, while other purchases can be made with a credit card.

The feature is already available in Asia and will be launched this summer.Buy now, pay later company Affirm is the first Visa customer to launch the feature in the U.S.

Some of Visa's new features are designed to combat online payment fraud, which is increasing as more countries adopt digital payments. The San Francisco-based company estimates that online payment fraud occurs about seven times more often than in-person payment fraud, with billions of stolen credit and debit card numbers currently available to criminals.

Other new elements are also in response to features introduced by non-payment companies in recent years. Apple Card uses MasterCard as its payment network and does not print a 16-digit account number. Apple Card users can request a new credit card number at any time without discarding the physical card.

Visa executives expect that in the future banks will issue cards in which the 16-digit account number (if it comes with the new card) will be largely symbolic.

Other updates announced by Visa include changes to tap-to-pay functionality. Americans will be able to swipe a credit or debit card to a smartphone and add the card to a mobile wallet without having to use the smartphone's camera to scan the card's information or swipe the card to the smartphone to approve a line. On transaction. Visa will also begin implementing biometrics to approve transactions, similar to how Apple devices use fingerprint or face scans to approve transactions.

These features will take time to trickle down to banks, which will decide when or what to implement for customers. But since banks and credit card companies are Visa customers and issue Visa-labeled cards, these features are what financial institutions have been requesting.

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