The changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer physical credit and debit cards in their wallets

The changes from Visa mean Americans will carry fewer physical credit and debit cards in their wallets

NEW YORK (AP) — Your wallet may soon be thinner.

Visa on Wednesday announced big changes to how credit and debit cards will work in the United States in the coming months and years.

The new features may mean Americans will carry fewer physical cards in their wallets, and will make the 16-digit credit or debit card number printed on each card increasingly irrelevant.

These would be some of the biggest changes to how payments work in the US since the US introduced chip-embedded cards several years ago. It also comes at a time when Americans have many options to pay for purchases other than “credit or debit,” including buy now, pay later for businesses, peer-to-peer payment options, paying directly with the bank, or digital payment systems. Like Apple Pay.

“I think (with these features) we’re past the point where consumers may never need to manually enter an account number again,” Mark Nielsen, global head of consumer payments at Visa, said in an interview.

The next biggest change for Americans will be the ability for banks to issue a single physical payment card that will be linked to multiple bank accounts. This means not carrying a Bank of America or Chase debit card, for example, along with their respective credit cards in a physical wallet. Americans will be able to set parameters with their bank — such as making all purchases under $100 or with a specific merchant applied to a debit card, while other purchases are made via credit card.

This feature, already used in Asia, will be available this summer. Buy now, pay later Affirm is the first Visa customer to roll out this feature in the US

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Some of Visa’s new features are in response to online payment fraud, which continues to increase as more countries adopt digital payments. The San Francisco-based company estimates that payment fraud occurs nearly seven times more often online than in person, and there are now billions of stolen credit and debit card numbers available to criminals.

Other new elements are also in response to features that non-payment companies have introduced in recent years. The Apple Card, which uses Mastercard as its payment network, does not come with a 16-digit printed account number and Apple Card users can request a new credit card number at any time without having to dispose of the physical card.

Visa executives see a future in which banks will issue cards where the 16-digit account number, if new cards come with them, is largely symbolic.

Among other updates revealed by Visa are changes to tap-to-pay features. Americans will be able to tap their credit or debit cards on their smartphones to add the card to mobile wallets, instead of using a smartphone camera to scan card information, or tapping the card on their smartphone to approve an online transaction. Visa will also begin implementing biometrics to approve transactions, similar to how Apple devices use a fingerprint or facial scan to approve transactions.

The features will take some time to reach banks, who will decide when or what to implement for their customers. But since banks and credit card companies are Visa customers and issue Visa-branded cards, these are the features that financial institutions have requested.

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