ICBA Bancard has allocated nearly $600,000 to support community banks as they navigate the transition to EMV chip-and-PIN cards this year, the wholly owned payment services subsidiary of the Independent Community Bankers of America announced this week.

The fund will support ICBA Bancard's Visa credit card issuers making the switch to the new credit card design in advance of the October 2015 liability shift, the provider said in a press release. ICBA Bancard plans to assist eligible banks by proving them with $1 per active Visa credit card as of the end of 2014, Linda Echard, president and CEO of ICBA Bancard, told American Banker.

Only Visa cards are eligible because the bulk of the fund's backing came primarily from that company, although ICBA Bancard is in talks with MasterCard to promote a similar program for that company's card issuers.

Asked if $600,000 will be enough, Liang Han, executive vice president, operations and card risk at ICBA Bancard, said, "We will have enough funds even if there's 100% participation."

Currently, the fund is only allocated for credit cards; however, Echard said that support for debit cards was "right around the corner."

ICBA Bancard plans to have its biggest launch in July, well ahead of the October liability shift, and hopes to have as many banks ready for that as possible. Beyond the fund, the payment-services provider is working to support card issuers throughout the transition in other ways, including through webinars and other educational efforts.

"We view [October] as a starting line and we want to get as many across the starting line as we can," Echard said. "We recognize that on paper the community bank's liability will not change, but they don't want to be the last ones not to switch."

To get their $1 per card, banks need to sign an agreement with ICBA Bancard saying they're going to issue EMV cards to their customers. The company will then send the funds within two weeks, Han said.

Since 2012, all four major card brands in the U.S. have set October 2015 as the date by which they will require most U.S. merchants to use terminals that can handle EMV cards, or face greater liability for fraud. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that pushed for security chips to be embedded within payments cards to protect against fraud.

ICBA, the Independent Community Bankers of America, represents the largest constituency of community banks in the country. ICBA's own TCM Bank recently launched its chip card program.