American Express is to give its UK customers free smartcard readers in a scheme aimed to give e-commerce a boost.
The credit card company said the smartcard reader will add security to transactions, as it combines the use of an electronic certificate with a unique personal identification number (Pin).
The move has been welcomed by companies that trade online. "Smartcards build consumer confidence as an added security measure," said James Rothnie, Easy Group's director of corporate affairs. He pointed out that customers still see using their credit cards over the Internet as dangerous, yet are happy to give their card details to a waiter in a restaurant.
The reader, worth $20 (£13.20), is plugged into a PC. To make a purchase, the credit card is inserted into the reader, followed by a Pin that combines with the digital certificate to unlock the electronic wallet.