After decades of using an antiquated credit card system, the US is finally catching up to the rest of the first world. Due to mounting security risks, financial institutions have finally decided our current “swipe and sign” card system is no longer safe. Here’s the new way you will be paying retailers.


What are EMV Chip Cards?

EMV stands for “Europay, Mastercard, and Visa”. These three companies developed the technology, but they aren’t the only companies who will utilize it. There’s a good chance your banking institution will be mailing you an EMV card soon if you haven’t received one already. Your new card will look the same, except for a small microprocessor embedded in the card. There will still be a magnetic stripe on the back. This way, you can use the card as you always have in the event a retailer doesn’t have the new EMV card readers, just swipe as usual. However, if the retailer has switched over, you may be asked to insert the card into the machine, which is commonly referred to as “dip the chip” Do you think this slang will catch on?

Why are we Switching?

You’ve heard of the major data breaches over the past several years. Home Depot, Target, and K-Mart to name a few. These breaches cost the companies, and the financial institutions, billions of dollars. The new EMV card is more secure. Currently, when you swipe your card at a retailer, the information, such as your credit card number, expiration date, banking institution, etc. is stored by the retailer leaving your information vulnerable to hackers. The EMV chip creates a one time “transaction key” that’s anonymous, preventing the retailer from accessing sensitive data stored on your credit card. Eventually, the magnetic stripe will disappear from your card entirely. Until then, it will remain on the new cards to ease consumers through the transitional period.

What About Fraud?

Retailers are legally responsible for EMV compliancy by October 1, 2015, but many will not be. Beginning October 1st, compliant retailers will have some protection from liability and financial losses due to data breaches. If the retailer isn’t EMV compliant during a data breach, the institution will take the financial burden of loss. You’ll probably not be affected by changes in how fraud is handled. It’s been changed to incentivize retailers to switch to the new system. Here’s the official word from Visa

“The party that has made investment in EMV deployment is protected from financial liability for card-present counterfeit fraud losses on this date. If neither or both parties are EMV compliant, the fraud liability remains the same as it is today.” – EMV Connection

When will all Retailers be EMV Compliant?

That’s difficult to answer. The EMV migration is going to take a while. Some retailers may wait until the last minute, for example, gas stations have two more years, until October 2017, to be EMV compliant. Visa released this statement

“From experience in other countries, Visa expects it will take an additional 2-3 years for 60 to 70 percent of transactions to be completed by a chip card and chip terminal, and 4-5 years to reach closer to 90 percent.” – Visa


As someone who was issued a new debit card after each of three recent breaches, I’m glad providers are taking steps to secure their customers personal information. EMV might be a pain for retailers, but the money saved on fraud should benefit everyone. Have you received your new EMV chip card?

TKO Tech Talk is a column written by Eric Benge, who has over 10 years experience in the design and print industries. Technology changes rapidly, the advice or information included in these articles is considered accurate and helpful as of the date they are posted online. If you have any questions, technology related or otherwise, please contact us.