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 SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- In the ongoing fight against payment card fraud, Visa International announced today that it has started field-trials of new anti-counterfeit technologies that prevent alteration or duplication of a card's magnetic stripe. The "live" testing, which ultimately will involve 70,000 cardholders in the United States and the United Kingdom, comes after several years of laboratory research and evaluation.
 The trials will test the reliability of new technologies under normal, day-to-day conditions. The marketplace performance of the cards will be measured against stringent criteria to ensure that a viable global solution is achieved. Complete protection of the magnetic stripe is a key component of Visa CardShield, a worldwide program to provide the ultimate in bank card security.
 Following the outcome of the trials in early 1994, the payment card industry will be in a position to select a technology capable of protecting cards against the most sophisticated electronic counterfeiting method called "skimming." The new technology could be implemented on all Visa cards by 1998.
 "Incorporation of advanced card authentication technologies into Visa cards represents the most significant card security feature since Visa first introduced its Card Verification Value (CVV) program in 1989," said Roger Peirce, Visa International's executive vice president for Delivery Systems. "The Visa CardShield program is committed to implementing high-tech weapons that will drive criminals out of the Visa card counterfeiting business -- ensuring that our brand stands for the most secure and convenient way for people to pay," he concluded.
 In markets, such as France, where Visa cards are already protected by integrated circuits (or "chips"), the counterfeit-proof magnetic stripe will provide cardholders and financial institutions with the same level of security when they use their cards abroad.
 A technology currently being tested is WaterMark Magnetics(R), developed by Thorn Secure Science International in England. The technology is based on a proprietary process which embeds a digitized number into a conventional magnetic stripe during its manufacture. This number cannot be erased, copied, or altered. This technology was proven very reliable and highly secure during Visa's laboratory tests.
 Alternative anti-counterfeit technologies will be tested by Visa later this year and early next year. Visa is also analyzing the feasibility of integrating low-cost computer chips in cards as a means of anti-counterfeit card authentication.
 Visa is the world's leading consumer payment system with more than 10.5 million acceptance locations, 316 million cards issued, and the largest global ATM network.
 -0- 11/2/93
 /CONTACT: Albert A. Coscia of Visa International, 415-570-2039/

CO: Visa International ST: California IN: FIN SU:

TM -- SF001 -- 9506 11/02/93 09:00 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 2, 1993

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