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Are credit cards starting to act like smartphones?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Mobile phones have been trying to turn themselves into credit cards, but are credit cards now trying to become mobile phones?

Well, perhaps that's overstating it a bit, but MasterCard just announced that next year, starting in January, they'll be putting on the market in Singapore, a credit card that looks a little like a phone.

In other words, MasterCard's new credit card, called the Display Card, has touch-sensitive buttons and an LCD screen on it. Basically, this is for affluent Singapore cardholders, allowing them to type in a one-time password to authenticate that the credit card really is theirs, before they conduct expensive or complicated transactions. It helps prevent identity theft, since if you're a crook with the card, you'd presumably have to know the password to be able to use it before buying, say, a 55-inch widescreen TV.

Still, given that we now have a credit card that has buttons and using wireless technology to transmit information from consumer to credit card issuer and retailer, you could imagine credit cards one day featuring add-on technology that would allow a consumer to make a call, if not to a friend or family, perhaps to the credit card issuer itself, or maybe to a customer service line for a product.

That said, as noted, the technology has less to do with competing with smartphones than trying to prevent identity theft, and clearly, MasterCard is thinking ahead and imagining what they might do with their card technology in the coming years. According to MasterCard's press release about the Display Card, "in the future, this card would incorporate additional functionalities and be able to indicate other real time information such as available credit balance, loyalty or reward points, recent transactions, and other interactive information."

So instead of looking up your information on your PC, tablet or smartphone, you could look it up on your credit card.

So this may just be the beginning. If these credit cards are a hit in Singapore, they could evolve to the point where they have a lot of useful bells and whistles. And especially if smartphones don't ultimately replace the credit card as the optimum method of paying for things, we may someday start seeing these "display cards" in the United States and throughout the world.

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