Recent data breaches have made U.S. consumers wary of old-fashioned credit and debit cards with magnetic stripes, according to a survey of 1011 American adults conducted by Vision Critical 2014.
The survey found that 64 percent of the respondents are more likely to pay in cash than they were previously. However, nearly the same percentage said they felt that a card with an EMV chip would make their transactions more secure.
Significantly, 37 percent of the respondents said they would prefer a chip and PIN card versus the chip and signature card that most card issuers in the United States are planning to give them. Only about one-quarter of respondents said they'd prefer the signature card. The single highest area of concern for the respondents is theft of the card, which the signature-based cards don't protect against.
While both types of cards protect against fraud by making it impossible to create a counterfeit card, chip and signature cards do not protect against lost or stolen cards. With a chip and PIN card, you enter a PIN in much the same way as you do now when using your debit card. A chip and signature card requires that you sign for your purchases just as you do now with a magnetic stripe card.
"One of the surprises for us was that they would move more to using cash rather than cards if there's a breach," said Brintha Koether, segment director for payments at NXP, the company that makes many of the microprocessors that are installed in cards with EMV chips. NXP sponsored the survey. She noted that this trend was especially strong among younger adults.
The move to cash may have a significant effect on businesses because it turns out that accepting cash is more expensive than accepting credit or debit cards, at least according to research conducted by the Aite Group, which showed that the cost to businesses to accept cash is more than 40 percent higher than it is to accept cards. The reason for the higher costs for cash include a variety of factors including loss from theft, damage and paperwork errors.
Currently in the United States, merchants and banks are in a lose-lose situation. If merchants accept cash, the total cost of sales goes up. If they accept cards, the cost to the bank from fraud losses goes up. That will change in October 2015 when the cost of accepting a fraudulent card moves to the merchant, unless they're accepting cards with EMV chips. Making matters worse, fraud in the United States is increasing.
"Magnetic stripe fraud is increasing in U.S. as other countries move to chips," Koether said.