Target retail stores will soon be offering customers smart card versions of their Visa credit cards. This is a variation on the customer loyalty card that’s becoming increasingly common for retailers. The smart cards will provide users with special discounts on purchases. Each card will contain an embedded smart chip that, when swiped through a card reader, will automatically download coupon information from the internet, providing customers with instant savings. Target will also be able to use the smart cards to track customer buying habits.

In order to support the new loyalty cards, Target stores will have to install new point-of-sale terminals that will accept smart cards for payment. Similar technology is being used for gas card programs, and by other retailers. Now that Target’s on board, it’s quite possible that loyalty and membership cards with smart card technology will quickly become part of mainstream retailing.