October deadline looms for credit cards with chips

Nova Safo Sep 30, 2015
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October deadline looms for credit cards with chips

Nova Safo Sep 30, 2015
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If you’ve received a new credit card recently, you’ve probably seen a little chip embedded in the card.

Credit card processors have set a date of October 1 for merchants and banks to facilitate the use of EMV, a new type of credit card system that is more secure, because it uses a chip instead of a magnetic strip when someone goes to pay at a retail terminal.

But most credit cards in the U.S. haven’t yet been reissued with chips in them, and a lot of retailers aren’t ready. Avivah Litan of Gartner Research says perhaps by the end of the year about half of U.S. credit cards will have chips.

“I would be very surprised if we have more than 15 percent EMV transactions” after October first, Litan said.

Litan said banks are taking longer to issue new cards, which are more expensive, and her merchant clients are taking a wait-and-see approach that goes something like this: “When we see a lot of EMV cards come into our store, then we’ll turn it on.”

Analyst James Wester of research firm IDC said most large retailers, where consumers are most likely to use credit cards, will be fully compliant with the new EMV standard on October 1st. But Wester pointed out that the date is really the beginning of the transition, not the end, because it’s the point when the rules change for who might be on the hook for future credit card fraud.

“If a merchant accepts a magnetic-striped card … and a chipped card is available, any fraud on that card … the merchant’s now on the hook for it,” Wester said. Conversely, if a merchant accepted chipped cards, but a customer only had magnetic-stripped cards because her bank had not yet reissued an EMV card, than the bank would be responsible for potential fraud, he said.

So October 1st is really the beginning of a new rule, an economic incentive to get everyone to the more secure, chipped system.

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