NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. consumer credit card debt stands at $793 billion, according to the Federal Reserve, with the average consumer credit card at $15,799. With that amount of cash on the table, credit card carriers are constantly one-upping each other to grab more market share. But the latest innovation, a "keypad" credit card from MasterCard ( MA), may be a game-changer for the industry and consumers. The credit card was released in Singapore this week, with MasterCard touting it as the words "first interactive payment card" that "heralds the next generation" of credit cards. The card is a technology buff's dream.
Formerly known as the MasterCard Display Card, the card offers the look and feel of a traditional credit or debt card, but has a twist: an embedded LCD display and touch-display buttons that allow consumers to enter a password. The card replaces the ubiquitous magnetic stripe with a microchip that contains the card owner's account information. The LCD display and keypad enable users, for now, to enter a one-time password that MasterCard says makes the card much more secure against theft or fraud. But MasterCard says the keypad feature can grow to includes such things as the ability to check account balances, card reward point totals and data on recent transactions. The company says the card represents the next generation of credit cards, especially in an era credit card thieves are getting more brazen and creative. "With the continued growth in online and now mobile initiated remote payments, consumers are naturally demanding increased security," says Matthew Driver, president of MasterCard Worldwide in Southeast Asia. "The innovative features of the Display Card serve to address this need, whilst empowering consumers to do so much more with their payment cards." According to data from J.D. Power & Associates, card fraud is the No. 1 problem cited by credit card consumers.
Card carriers and banks have made significant strides in fighting fraud, but the MasterCard display card offers the ability to shut down scam artist altogether. For now, the card is only available in Southeast Asia. But don't be surprised if the "keypad" credit card makes its way west to Europe and the U.S., and to a bank near you.