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Update: The Big (Slow) Switch to Chip Card Readers

By | 05.12.16

Update: The Big (Slow) Switch to Chip Card Readers

You started using those dip-the-chip credit/debit card readers last year in time for the October 1, 2015, deadline set by the card companies, right?

Oh, you didn’t? Well, you’re not alone. The CEO of Visa, Charles. W. Scharf, said in February that 17% of the total consumer-facing locations in the US run the new “EMV” card readers, heading for 50% by the end of 2016 – more than a year past the “deadline”.

To recap, the card companies said that, after the October deadline, merchants and service providers who continued to operate the old magnetic stripe readers would be responsible for all fraudulent charges. EMV cards with chips embedded create a one-time, encrypted authorization code so criminals have no incentive to steal your data, as they can from the magnetic stripe.

Some recent reports from the (slow-moving) EMV front:

After buying the EMV equipment, merchants must wait to get it certified before they can accept payments. And wait and wait, some complain.

Milam’s Market and Grove Liquors in Florida sued major card companies and banks in March, claiming that they bought the equipment well before the deadline but the companies failed to certify—and stuck them with 88 chargebacks. “Tellingly, nothing Milam’s Market could have done–short of making the business-crippling decision to stop accepting Visa cards–could have prevented this outcome,” the lawsuit says. They’re asking the court to grant them class-action suit status.

Merchants also complain that processing fees soared after the EMV switch.

Walmart sued Visa over high fees on debit card transactions. Some background: In Europe, a cardholder dips the card into the chip reader and enters a PIN number for extra security. In the US, the cardholder dips, then signs.

Walmart says that not only is dip/sign less secure than dip/PIN, but more costly. As Bloomberg Technology reports, transactions are “routed over Visa’s or MasterCard’s signature debit networks where merchant fees are often more than double what they are on comparable pin debit networks, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.”

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