In recent months, many consumers have likely noticed that some of the biggest retailers they visit on a regular basis have shifted to a new type of credit and debit card system that requires them to insert their cards chip-first rather than swiping in the traditional method. And while there has been some pushback to that change, it seems consumers are slowly but surely catching on, and in doing so making the transactions they complete more secure than ever before.
One of the biggest hurdles in this regard has been the fact that consumers typically tend not to use PIN codes when they make credit transactions, preferring instead to simply sign for those purchases, according to a report from Mobile Payments Today. However, the implementation of EMV for all chip cards at tier-one merchants that began last year no longer allows those signature transactions to be made, requiring the use of a PIN instead. Initially, that caused some friction and frustration, as did the fact that these transactions typically take several seconds longer than the previous methods.
Of course, many merchants were given plenty of time to implement EMV - Visa and MasterCard announced plans to make the transition that began in late 2015 as much as four years ago - but did not do so, the report said. If they had adopted earlier, companies could have helped to transition consumers' thinking from being signature-focused to being more familiar with both types of transactions, and in doing so not only more fully prepared them for the transition, but also made a small but growing number of transactions each year more secure.
Interestingly, though, while instances of fraud are almost certainly on the decline as a result of this shift (much of the data here is still pending), the payment card industry is still full steam ahead on implementation for more than just point-of-sale terminals, the report said. ATMs and gas pumps will both have to be EMV compliant by October 2017, and similar growing pains could be experienced for these devices, even if consumers have had about two years to acclimate themselves to these "new" types of transactions.
What else could happen?
Another wrinkle here is that this change is coming mainly due to concerns among payment processing companies that there is too much credit card fraud in the U.S., and that it needs to be curbed, the report said. The first wave of widespread EMV adoption in most countries that have already taken these steps comes because of government regulations stating the shift must be made to protect consumers. However, while no such mandate came in the U.S., some experts think rules could be drawn up to hurry the process along.
For all these reasons, the sooner merchants large and small can get onboard with EMV implementation, the better off both they and their customers or clients are likely to be. This includes not only making all transactions safer, but also keeping up with developing trends in the payment industry as a whole.