In a measure to improve security following fears about fraud, France is to speed up its smartcard payment system's switch to euro compatibility.
Cartes Bancaires, the interbank group that manages the system, said it will also release new cards with longer code numbers and tighten user privacy procedures.
Fraud scares over French smartcards sprang up after someone posted secret codes on the internet enabling pirates to duplicate existing cards.
France already has plans underway to replace all payment terminals from bank machines to hand-held registers in restaurants with enhanced systems by the end of 2001, as part of the switch to the euro in 2002. Cartes Bancaires now plans to accelerate this project in order to have it completed by the end of this year.
The interbank group also plans to introduce software which will hide card numbers and expiry dates on print-outs from terminals.
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