Plans by banks to phase out Laser cards delayed
PLANS BY Bank of Ireland and AIB to phase out Laser cards and replace them with Visa debit cards have suffered delays.
More than two million customers were due to begin receiving their replacement cards this year.
However, both banks have experienced delays in the roll-out of the cards due to technical difficulties.
Approximately one million Bank of Ireland customers had been due to receive Visa debit cards by June this year.
However, only 400,000 new Visa debit cards have been issued to date.
A spokeswoman for the bank said all Laser cards would be replaced by the end of September, with Bank of Ireland commencing the issuance of Visa debit cards for all other cards that are being replaced, such as ATM cards, shortly afterwards.
The bank intends to have issued more than one million cards by the end of the year.
AIB, which announced last July its plans to switch about 1.4 million customers to Visa debit cards during the second half of 2012, has confirmed that it will begin issuing cards in the fourth quarter of this year.
The switch-over is likely to take 12 months, a spokeswoman for the bank confirmed, with the result that some customers may not receive their Visa debit cards until next autumn.
The new cards being issued by Bank of Ireland and AIB contain “contactless” technology, which allows customers to pay for purchases of €15 or less by holding their card over a reader at certain retail outlets.
A number of Irish retailers, such as BWG, have introduced the technology at their terminals.
According to Bank of Ireland, more than 50 per cent of current contactless transactions undertaken by its customers are conducted outside Ireland.
In the UK, about 100,000 terminals have been upgraded to accept contactless payments, with a number of major retailers and service providers such as McDonald’s, WH Smith and the London bus network offering the service.
Laser cards have been in operation in Ireland since 1996. They are managed by Laser Card Services, a not-for-profit body owned by the banks.
Approximately 16 million Laser card transactions take place each month.
Ulster Bank began switching from Laser to Visa debit cards in 2008, with most of the other main financial institutions following suit.