That decision was overturned in March, but until it was, many banks put their debit card transitions on hold.
Conroy said that when debit cards with EMV chips arrive, she expects almost all of them to be chip and PIN cards. The reason is that consumers are already used to providing a PIN for their debit cards. The reason for not using PINs for most credit cards is that card issuers are trying to keep things simple. She said that the explanation she gets from banks is, "We don't want to have to teach Americans how to do two things at once."
But there's also the concern about teaching merchants how to do new things, observed Dick Mitchell, solutions director for Randstad Technology Deployment Services. Mitchell handles deployment of new card reader machines for merchants. "They have to have the right POS terminal," Mitchell said, noting that the merchant's processor also has to support use of EMV chips. But he also noted that a major effort is training the staff in how to use the new technology.
Some small U.S. merchants have already made the switch to accepting cards with chips, as have a few larger companies. Some Walmart stores already accept chip and PIN cards. The company has also announced that Sam's Club stores will begin issuing cards with EMV chips and will accept those cards starting by the end of 2014.
Target, the big-box retailer that was hit with a point-of-sale data breach that affected more than 70 million customers and stimulated the discussion about the urgent need for chip and PIN cards, has announced that it will begin issuing and accepting EMV cards by the end of 2014.
Unfortunately, there are still needs that have to be addressed before merchants can start accepting EMV chips. The most significant one is training of card issuer employees. One Bank of America executive told eWEEK recently that there were no issuers of chip-based cards in the U.S., and that in fact it was technically illegal for those cards to be used in the United States. It's worth noting that Bank of America is one of the card issuers already providing EMV chips for portions of its credit card user base.
It's also worth noting that right now, only merchants with POS terminals are being required to support EMV chips. There's a two-year delay in the liability shift for ATMs and for fuel dispensers at gas stations.
Despite the seemingly slow pace of movement, the U.S. is moving forward, with much of the transition taking place well in advance of the liability shift in 2015. So now it's important that we all watch out for other types of credit card fraud and related crime. The criminals aren't giving up, which means neither can you.
Editor's Note: This article was corrected to clarify who who will be liable for fraud resulting from lost or stolen credit cards after the implementation of EMV Cards.