The date is set for a major change to the way we do commerce here in the United States. Starting in October of 2015, Visa and MasterCard will shift to EMV credit card technology to replace the swipe-and-sign system that we’re accustomed to today.
The EMV system, which is used widely in Europe and other parts of the world, is the most recent advancement to combat fraud and protect sensitive payment information in a card-present transaction. Each EMV enabled “smart card” contains an embedded microchip that passes dynamic credit card transaction information, rather than the magnetic strip which passes static data, making the transaction less vulnerable for “skimming” and other forms of fraud. EMV still supports cardholder verification methods supported by legacy magnetic strip processing, including PIN and signature.
So what does it mean for business owners? The progression towards the more secure technology will not be effortless. Merchants will need new equipment to communicate with the microchip-enabled smart cards, and consumers will be required to obtain and use the new cards. There is time, however, because during the transition, smart cards will have both the microchip and magnetic strip to ensure compatibility between merchant and consumer.
Another potential effect of the transition will be a shift in liability under the EMV system, which could serve as an incentive for merchants and consumers to adopt the new technology. Visa/Mastercard has stated that it may shift liability for fraudulent transactions that could have been prevented with an EMV terminal to the merchant.
As we move closer to the transition date set forth by Visa and MasterCard, merchants will start to see more and more customers with these smart cards. While there will undoubtedly be some growing pains during the shift, especially for merchants, the gains made in consumer protection and decrease in fraudulent activity will prove to be beneficial for both sides of the transaction. Business owners are encouraged to check with their merchant account providers well in advance of October 2015 to make sure they’re equipped for the change.
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