With the EMV liability shift having just passed, banks and merchants alike are scrambling to comply with the card network-imposed deadline.
According to one recent poll, only 13% of American consumers have received chip-enabled cards. Despite the numerous benefits of using this more secure payment technology, banks are struggling to push out millions of the new cards in time.
To make matters worse, of the small percentage of consumers who’ve received new cards, only one-third have used them as intended. This lack of proper chip card usage can likely be attributed to the fact that only 31% of merchants have made the necessary POS upgrades to be able to accept the new technology.
But, another major factor that’s at play is the general lack of knowledge about EMV chip cards among the public. An Associated Press poll found that only a quarter of Americans understand “very or extremely well” why these new cards are being sent in the first place. There seems to be a significant communication gap between the banks and the consumers, preventing them from understanding the importance of this shiny new chip on their credit and debit cards.
Here’s where banks are falling short when communicating to consumers about EMV chip cards:
How consumers will have to change the way they pay. Even though chip cards will feature a traditional magnetic stripe, the cards shouldn’t be swiped if the merchant is equipped with an EMV-capable terminal. How can consumers tell if the terminal is compatible with EMV? The portals will have a data portal in which consumers can fully immerse cards. The cards have to be inserted, chip up, and left inside the terminal while the transaction is completed. It could take up to 10 seconds for the terminal to read the data on the chip.
Chips are really more secure.When you use a chip card at an updated POS system the correct way, the chip will generate a code that is unique to that individual transaction—it can’t ever be used again. To put this in perspective, mag stripe cards have one transaction code that is used for every purchase. So in the case of a data breach, consumer payment information is at risk of being stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases. EMV technology doesn’t reduce the risk of a data breach, but it does protect the consumers and merchants from loss if the data ends up getting into the wrong hands.
EMV does not solve online fraud.EMV chip cards do not improve payment security for online purchases. Consumers need to be told to be cautious when making payments online. For example, they should always check for a secure connection (hint: the URL starts with https:// instead of http://) and be sure to trust your gut when entering your payment data—if it doesn’t feel right, move on to the next site.
As EMV chip cards become more immersed in the American payment industry, more and more consumers and merchants will need to be educated on how to properly use the new technology, and that is where the industry is falling short.
Tami Cohorst is the chief operating officer of Abtek, a credit card processing firm.