Chase Extends Blink Rollout

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  Chase Bank U.S.A. in January announced that it is rolling out its contactless "blink" cards in Orlando, Fla., and in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Chase Bank, a division of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., also has struck an agreement to issue the Texas Rangers Ultimate Fan Rewards MasterCard for the Major League Baseball team in time for the Rangers' April 3 home opener against the Boston Red Sox.
  Chase says it is issuing more than 800,000 new blink cards to the bank's cardholders in Dallas-Fort Worth. Locally, cardholders initially will be able to use the cards at approximately 500 merchant locations in 32 Texas counties.
  Chase also is issuing approximately 500,000 blink cards to cardholders in the Orlando area, where local acceptance initially will include more than 320 locations in nine counties. Chase will replace its existing customers' cards in those regions with cards that support both blink contactless and traditional magnetic-stripe payment functions, says a Chase spokesperson. The blink cards will carry either the Visa or MasterCard logos.
  The announcements bring to 6.5 million the total number of blink cards Chase has issued nationwide, including in Atlanta; Denver; the New York metropolitan area, which extends into Connecticut; and the Philadelphia metropolitan area, which includes the southern half of New Jersey.
  The Orlando rollout marks a return to the area for Chase. The bank initially tested radio frequency identification, or RFID, contactless card technology there in 2003.

  RFID-enabled cards allow cardholders to hold their cards or wallets near a reader, which accommodates faster lane throughput. It is for that reason that retailers accepting blink and other contactless cards generally are those whose customers find speed and convenience to be important. These include 7-Eleven Inc., AMC Theatres, Cinemark USA, CVS Pharmacy, RaceTrac and Regal Entertainment Group.
  7-Eleven in January said it planned to accept contactless cards at all 5,800 of its U.S. stores by the end of that month. 7-Eleven believes blink will increase credit card transaction volume and reduce transaction times by five to 15 seconds, a spokesperson says. "We believe customers will see that it's much easier to use blink and will begin using it," the spokesperson adds.
  Being the new kid on the block, contactless cards are now being used for traditional purchases. After the cards achieve critical mass, says Rahul Gadkari, field marketing manager for smart card vendor Axalto, issuers could start adding other applications, such as transit.
  In Arlington, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers, Chase and the baseball team are installing equipment to accept blink, says a Chase spokesperson. Baseball stadiums are notorious for their long lines to buy food, drinks and souvenirs.
  Ultimate Fan Rewards MasterCard cardholders will earn points for using their cards. They can exchange the points for autographed baseballs, Rangers jerseys and special seats at Rangers home games.
  Chase also issues non-blink cards for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres.
  (c) 2006 Cards&Payments and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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