The master plan for the national adoption of Chip and PIN is expected to be revealed by the end of the month so that roll-out can begin this autumn, according to the Programme Management Organisation (PMO).
Roll-out will not be geographical, but could be by sector, possibly starting with grocery, according to PMO stakeholder management and communications director Stephen Sinclair.
'Once we have a consensus between the banks and retailers, we will be ready to say what needs to be done going forward. That should happen in the next three weeks,' Sinclair told delegates at the Retail Week Chip and PIN conference last week.
However, there are industry concerns that the banks are not issuing Chip and PIN cards quickly enough, which could confuse customers and hold-up a national roll-out.
Banks are saying that they will not achieve full penetration of Chip and PIN cards by the January 2005 deadline, when liability for card fraud will shift to retailers.
A Royal Bank of Scotland spokeswoman said at the conference: 'We will begin issuing Chip and PIN cards from November this year, with one million a month going out.
'By the end of 2004, 85 per cent of all our credit and debit cards will be Chip and PIN. However, we are continuing to work to try and bring that figure up to 100 per cent.'