Providian Financial Corporation and VISA U.S.A. announced the successful completion of the first-ever “smart Visa” credit card transaction, using the computer chip on a Providian smart Visa card to purchase London Underground tickets Tuesday, September 26. Additional test transactions were successfully completed at four other locations on September 26th and 27th.
Providian’s smart Visa transactions were conducted without using magnetic stripe technology, instead relying only on the chip on the card. This is the first time an embedded chip on a smart Visa credit card was used to power a transaction in a real-world merchant location.
“At 1 p.m. last Tuesday, the U.S. payment card industry was officially introduced to the smart Visa card,” said David Alvarez, the head of Integrated Card Business at Providian Financial. “This successful test validates our confidence in the growing potential for smart cards in the U.S. market and the capabilities of the smart Visa platform.”
A team of two — one Providian and one Visa employee — conducted the historic test purchases at a series of locations in the trendy High Street district in London. The overseas merchant locations were chosen because of the presence of both Providian and Visa offices and the number of EMV-compliant merchant locations available. EMV is a worldwide specification for chip-based smart debit and credit transactions.
The credit transactions were all conducted through the EMV-compliant merchants, then routed back to the United States for immediate authorization and clearance. Five purchases were made at five different locations, and one item was returned for a refund to test the system for returns. All transactions were conducted in the same or less time than traditional, magnetic stripe transactions.
“The success of this pilot marks an important step in launching the smart Visa platform,” said Al Banisch, Senior Vice President for Consumer Credit Products at Visa U.S.A. “We’re extremely pleased to see this first test with Providian in real world conditions succeed without a hitch. International travelers holding any smart Visa card can be confident that it will be accepted wherever EMV-compliant terminals are in place worldwide.”
The stores in London participating in the real-world test (and amounts tested) were:
— London Underground (US$16.17) – ticket office for subway system.
— H & M Hennes (US$5.87) – family clothing store.
— Trotters Children’s (US$11.75) – children and infants clothing store.
— Crabtree & Evelyn (US$11.72) – bath products
— Hobbs Limited (US$18.40, with a return of US$8.65) – clothing store.
The transactions were verified through the Visa system and processed by Total Systems Services, Inc. the company that personalizes and processes Providian’s smart Visa cards. Barclay’s Bank PLC served as the merchant bank for all test transactions.
San Francisco-based Providian Financial () is a leading provider of lending and deposit products to customers throughout the United States and offers credit cards in the United Kingdom and Argentina. Providian Financial was recently named one of America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, the nation’s top financial institution by U.S. Banker magazine and one of the most technologically innovative companies in the U.S. by Information Week magazine. With a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction, Providian helps customers build, protect and responsibly use credit. Providian has more than $27 billion in assets under management and over 14 million customers.
About Visa U.S.A.
Visa U.S.A. is the leading payment brand and the largest payment system in the United States, with more volume than all other major payment cards combined. Visa plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its more than 14,000 U.S. member financial institutions and their cardholders. There are more than 330 million Visa credit, commercial and check cards, which generate more than $720 billion in annual transaction volume. Visa-branded cards are accepted at over 17 million locations worldwide, including some 643,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is .