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As some of you might have heard the year 2010 started with a “Y2K + a decade” problem for German debit and credit card users. About 30m cards aren’t functioning properly causing trouble for individuals and shops forcing people to pay with cash again. As Germans are still fond users of cash it’s not too big of a deal, is it? Even I haven’t used any of my cards this year so far. This problem doesn’t increase the limited trust into credit and debit cards Germans have. Considering the recent New York Times video story about the market power of Visa some might not perceive this as a too big issue either. However, it might not only affect credit card usage but the adoption and trust of the new German electronic ID-card to be introduced later this year as well.

new German electronic ID-card

Personally I am looking forward to the introduction of the new ID-card mainly because of convenience as it finally will be 1) credit card sized and 2) will enable you to have a qualified electronic signature at hand to do business and interactions with governmental agencies online. However, German Angst now isn’t just fed by privacy concerns, reluctant usage of electronic transaction systems in general but also a lack of trust that it will be reliable. Luckily citizens can’t opt out but the incidence with malfunctioning credit cards supports voices advising to get a new passport before the electronic one is issued as an ID-card only expires after 10 years. Such a long transition period together with the German Angst  can undermine the benefits of the new ID-card severely. Let’s hope this glitch doesn’t affect the trust in electronic card based transactions to much.

But being German and knowing my fellow citizens the “Y2K + a decade” problem does not only affect trust in electronic payments (and may result in costs of up to € 250m as some estimated) but also might affect the acceptance of the electronic ID-card. Will German Angst win one more time?


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