New Tech – Strip to a Chip
As the holiday shopping season comes full swing, U.S. consumers will have to retrain their brains from swiping their magnetic strips to dipping their new credit card chips. To combat credit card fraud, banks have been rolling out Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) cards embedded with gold or silver metallic square chips since 2011’s original announcement. The new EMV technology replaces the magnetic strip, which is easier to recreate and forge, with a chip that generates a unique code that cannot be reused.
At the end of September, Walgreens reported that the company is accepting EMV chip card transactions at all of its 8,232 stores across the U.S. Nearly three years ago, the Deerfield, IL-based retailer began transitioning its stores to the EMV technology when it installed new point-of-sale (POS) terminals. According to Innovative Retail Technologies, Walgreen’s “upgrade involved approximately 60,000 point-of-sale terminals.”
Unfortunately, many retailers across the U.S. did not make the October 1st deadline. Mobile Payments Today stated that “only 31% [of retailers] say they can accept a chip card, while a whopping 51% of those surveyed reported being unaware of the impending liability shift.” The liability shift refers to those retailers who do not support the new chip-embedded cards are now liable for any and all in-store fraud. Pressuring retailers more, Mobile Payments Today reported that the Payments Security Task Force “estimates that close to two thirds of general purpose credit cards will be chip-enabled by the end of 2015.”
As with all things, there are a couple catches to the new EMV technology. Right now, most banks are sending their customers chip cards that require only a signature for verification rather than using a PIN. Either way, the chip itself adds a significant layer of security while using it, but many suggest that PINs are more secure since signatures can be forged easily. Chain Store Age recently reported that the National Retail Federation told Congress that “chip-and-signature credit cards without a PIN won’t stop data breaches.”
The second issue is that EMV technology does not apply to online transactions. This being said, Chain Store Age reported that online fraud will rise exponentially as hackers shift their efforts to primarily online orders resulting in an alarming “106% [increase] in the U.S. in the first three years after the Oct. 1 EMV compliance deadline.”
We can only hope that financial institutions will get ahead of these issues and provide its consumers enough security to get through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry about credit card fraud.