With 18 months to go before the Switch debit card disappears, 380,000 retailers have already signed up to accept the replacement debit brand Maestro.

The target is for the remaining 370,000 Switch-accepting outlets to upgrade during 2004, according to S2 Card Services, the independent company that administers the debit card scheme.

Thirteen million cards have been co-branded, with the Maestro logo appearing alongside Switch on the front of the card. The remaining cards will be co-branded over the coming months.

For retailers, UK Maestro cards will operate in the same way as Switch but the change will now give them access to 500 million Maestro cardholders from around the world when they visit the UK. One in two in-bound visitors from the top nine tourist markets – excluding the US – have a Maestro card.

UK retail outlets with pos terminals will need to carry out a software upgrade. This should be undertaken at the same time as chip and pin. Those retailers using bank-owned terminals will be contacted by their acquiring bank, and the upgrade carried out remotely by the bank.

Roger Alexander, chief executive of S2 Card Services, said: “It is important for retailers to display the new Maestro decals. Our research shows that consumers look for visual confirmation that the card they want to use is accepted in their favoured retail outlet.”

All cards will be issued with just the Maestro logo from July 2004, and the Switch logo will disappear from all cards by mid-2007.