The credit card spreads across Europe
Already widely accepted in America, the credit card didn't catch on in Europe until well into the ‘60s. This was when a Swedish bank brought out the Eurocard, which was taken over by Mastercard in 1968. Still, the credit card won acceptance more slowly in Europe than in the US. The EC card remained a widely popular way to pay without cash well into the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Today, the credit card is becoming increasingly popular in Switzerland. Nationally, around 6.8 million cards are in circulation. According to the current Swiss Payment Monitor, 83% of respondents use a credit card.
Technological development of the credit card
The technology used in credit cards has continued to evolve. The first giant step was the uniform magnetic strip, introduced in 1980. Thanks to it, the credit card can be used nationally and internationally wherever it is accepted.
The next step was equipping the card with a chip to EMV specifications (Europay International, Mastercard and Visa). One advantage: in contrast to the magnetic strip, is that the chip can be effectively protected against duplication or alteration by means of a technical process. “Wireless” cards are another innovation. Using Near Field Communication (NFC), they allow you to pay by simply holding your card out. And for sums up to 40 francs, you don't even have to enter your PIN. Technology is far enough advanced today to let you link your credit card with your smartphone. Thanks to payment apps, wearables like Fitbit watches or SwatchPay can be turned into wallets.
But is paying with them still secure? Experts offer reassurance. According to credit card provider Visa, the technology prevents accidental payments – while passing by a card reader, for example. For payments to be approved, a payment system registered by the credit card companies is required.
What's more, contactless payment only works if the card is held very close to the reader. Other cards or coins in your wallet also make access more difficult, even from the shortest distances. And a stolen card cannot be used to make an unlimited number of NFC payments.