Chip & PIN goes live as Northampton trial starts

Chip and PIN transactions began to trickle through in Northampton as the long-awaited town trial got under way on Monday.

Three Safeway supermarkets, Asda, Vodafone, Tie Rack, Phones4U, Dollond & Aitchison and fashion store Sisley, along with many independents, were among the first wave of retailers to operate Chip cards with PIN verification.

Merchants have been going live gradually over the past three weeks.

Graham Pye, store manager at Safeway's Kettering Road branch, said: 'I'm amazed how easily customers are adapting. They are telling me they'd rather use this system if it's more secure.'

Sisley sales assistant Estella Thomas said: 'The system is working fine, but we're only getting about two people with Chip and PIN cards a day.'

Leading names Tesco, Marks & Spencer, WHSmith, JJB Sports, JD Sports, Wilkinson and Woolworths will join the trial during the second wave, scheduled for the end of June.

Many have been going through the last laborious stages of systems testing.

Chip and PIN programme management organisation (PMO) communications director Steve Sinclair said: 'There are inevitably going to be a few hold-ups as all the components of the new equipment are tested from the point of sale, right back to the authorising bank. So far no company has had a show-stopper problem.'

By today approximately 500 outlets are scheduled to be Chip and PIN operational, with 125,000 Chip and PIN cards in circulation. A total of 1,000 outlets will take part in the 12-week trial.

- Chip & PIN: page 14.