October 5, 2007 Designed to allow customers to make small purchases without swiping, signing or PINs, the keychain-sized Micro Tag is Visa's smallest payment device to-date. To be issued as a companion device to existing credit, debit and prepaid cards, the Micro Tag enables payment by waving the device in front of a contactless payment terminal.
The key-ring device is designed to be small, durable, fast and convenient. No account number is required to be embossed or printed on the device which provides additional security for consumers when carrying the Tag in visible ways, such as on a keychain.
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Visa has been offering payWave cards that work at merchants with the contactless facility since 2005 and the Micro Tag is just the next evolution in the process. The cards are able to be used, without signing, for purchases under US$25. “Consumers today are interested in using electronic forms of payment for small ticket purchases,” said Pam Zuercher, vice president, product innovation and coordination, Visa USA. “As one of the smallest payment devices, the Visa Micro Tag allows cardholders to carry a payment device that delivers fast and convenient transactions, while also providing an added layer of security.”
The product shares similarities with the well established Hong Kong based Octopus Smart cards. They’re not as small as the Micro Tag, rather the size of a credit card, but they work on the same principal. At any participating merchant (mostly public transport and convenience stores) the user waves the card over a scanner and it automatically deducts credit from the card. The main point of difference is that Octopus Cards use cash credited onto the card via recharge terminals rather than being linked to an account.