How Blink Technology Works

Why Blink?

Photo courtesy Chase

If you're asking yourself, "Why is this such a big deal? How is holding your card in front of a terminal any different from swiping it through a card reader?" you're not alone. According to Chase, blink speeds up transactions, particularly at drive-throughs, by as much as 20 percent. This may have more to do with the fact that blink cards don't require a signature than with the swiping issue.

So why institute blink technology at all? Why not just stop requiring signatures on regular credit cards? The answer may be Chase's national press release, which states, "Research has shown that customers who use blink cards often spend more per transaction." In addition, the novelty of blink could lead consumers to apply for Chase credit cards so they can use the new technology. The end result is more money for the company supplying the cards. Critics point out that credit-card companies encouraging people to spend more money and to do it more quickly is not a good thing for consumers [ref].

While Chase is the first credit-card issuer to adopt RFID cards on a large scale, other companies are getting in on the action. MasterCard's PayPass and American Express' Express Pay have been implemented in select markets. What else does the future hold for contactless credit cards? The biggest impact could be seen in the form factor of credit cards. Much of the credit-card market is driven by personalized cards with images of the user's favorite sports team, national parks and other graphics that create additional appeal. Without the restriction of the magnetic strip, credit "cards" could come in any shape, from keychain fobs to miniature toys or sculptures to coins that fit easily into a pocket. An RFID chip could even be sewn into a jacket sleeve or implanted into your hand. Ultimately, consumer acceptance will determine how the technology is adopted.

For more information on blink, RFID and related topics, check out the links below.

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More Great Links

  • "Chase Offers Contactless Cards in a Blink." RFid Journal.
  • "Ga. first to use 'blink' credit cards." MSNBC.
  • "Credit Cards That Don't Swipe."
  • "MIFARE sets contactless interface standard." Philips.
  • "Credit card purchases in a blink."
  • ISO 14443. ITO.
  • "Chase To Roll Out Next Generation Payment Product This Summer." Chase press release.
  • Chase Credit Cards with blink - Fact Sheet.
  • Chase "Just in the blink of Time" Index - National Results.
  • Electricity & Magnetism. Molecular Expressions.
  • Operating principles of RFID systems. RFID Handbook.
  • Tutorial overview of inductively coupled RFID Systems. UPM.