December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Green giant talks a Blue streak

American Express Co., pur-veyor of the familiar green charge card, hit the Web running this fall, with a $45 million campaign to promote its new Blue credit card for secure transactions. The hybrid smart card has a computer chip storing an e-wallet.

Fraud currently accounts for less than a tenth of 1% of Web transactions. Yet a recent survey by VISA and payment services firm CyberSource showed that 75% of Web merchants are concerned about fraud and expect it to increase.

AmEx aims to sign up 2 million Blue cardholders by the end of 2000, wooing them with a 0% introductory interest rate.

So far, Web retailers have more questions than answers about Blue, including whether people jittery about shopping online will hook up card readers to their computers. “The card adds a level of complexity to get added security,” says Elaine Rubin, chairman of Shop.org. “People may say, ‘Why bother?’ ”

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