High Priced Innovation

The Friday file: Ever wonder why US credit card technology is substandard compared to Europe and Asia? The answer, cheap phone calls. Because calls here are cheap, credit card transactions are called in for authorization. In Europe, where state-owned monopolies charge a fortune for each call, the work-around was embedding microchips in credit cards. The rub, while we catch-up, mobile phone payment technology will eventually make credit cards largely obsolete.

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