Total will this month become the first forecourt retailer to take part in the chip and pin trial, launched in May. In preparation for the trial, Total has made

modifications to pos equipment and software at the six participating Total sites in Northampton, where use of the technology is being trialled by the Chip & PIN programme by major retailers.

“We’ve been looking at how we can make the experience for the

customer as painless as possible,” explained Doug Paten, Total’s head of fuel cards and member of the chip and pin steering committee.

Pin verification allows for two methods of transaction. One is that the customer gives their card to the cashier and enters in their own pin number. Alternatively, the shopper can swipe their own card into the pin pad before entering the pin.

“There’s been a lot of bad publicity about skimming, and service stations are seen as a high risk outlet so we’ve changed our method so that the customer enters the card themselves,” said Paten. “We want to give them more confidence in using cards.”

At the peak of the trial, it is expected that 210,000 credit and debit cards will have been issued and more than 1,000 retailers will be taking part. At least 80 per cent of all card transactions will be pin verified by the end of 2004.

Commenting on the trial so far, David Smith of the British Retail Consortium said: “Consumers are

taking to the new system well. However, we are not complacent and we are taking time to understand particular concerns that people have.”