EMV adoption continues to pick up the pace

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

While there were some initial issues with the implementation of EMV credit card readers for tier-one retailers after last year's liability shift, things are going a lot more smoothly now. Part of that is because a lot of effort has been put into creating a smoother transition since then, and also because as use of these point-of-sale devices becomes more common, people and merchants alike are simply having a better time with using them on a regular basis. Certainly, that trend has continued in recent months and should continue to do so for some time to come.

A big part of the reason why is that credit card processing companies - which instituted last year's liability shift in the first place - are now putting more effort into really pushing EMV cards and point-of-sale machines, according to the latest adoption data from MasterCard, the world's second-largest payment processor. Now, 68 percent of all cards issued by the company that are currently in circulation come with an embedded EMV chip. That number is up by more than half since October of last year.

Chip cards are becoming more common all the time.Chip cards are becoming more common all the time.

More good news
Meanwhile, some 1.4 million retail locations across the country are now using EMV-enabled card-reading devices, the report said. That number was up nearly 125 percent over the same seven-month period. And what's of further interest about that shift is that while national retailers affected by the liability shift have largely made that switch, so too have about a million smaller businesses with either regional or local footprints. The latter number constitutes about 1 in 4 small companies nationwide.

What does this mean for the payments ecosystem?
This all helps to keep MasterCard, and the payment sphere as a whole, on track to meet projections from the Payments Security Task Force first set forth in 2015, the report said. At that time, it was anticipated that 98 percent of all credit and debit cards in circulation nationwide would be EMV-enabled by the end of next year. That kind of effort would put the U.S. ahead of many of the countries that adopted EMV years in advance.

Indeed, counterfeit credit and debit card fraud at merchants that have implemented EMV was down 39 percent on an annual basis in January, the report said. Meanwhile, the dollar value of those transactions has slipped 27 percent in the same period.

"The whole point of EMV is to reduce counterfeit card fraud," said Chiro Aikat, senior vice president of product delivery - EMV for MasterCard. "We are impressed with the progress that's been made so far. We're taking these steps today to continue the pace of adoption. Making our M/Chip Fast technology available to all parties is our latest investment in this ongoing commitment."

All this is good news for consumers, retailers, and payment processors alike. EMV has been proven to dramatically reduce payment fraud. That means people will be less likely to have their account data compromised, merchants will suffer fewer chargebacks, and payment processors won't have to deal with as many losses.