The truth about EMV in the US: Is it coming or not?

Last updated: 23 December 2015

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you know that EMV is coming to the US.  But for many of the individuals and organizations impacted by the change to the US payments infrastructure – like consumers, card issuers, processors and merchants – EMV is a new technology. As with any technology shift, there are many rumors and misconceptions, so we have singled out the most common myths associated with the migration to EMV chip cards. In this new series, we will dispel them and let you know the truth about this way to pay that will soon be available in the US.

Myth #1: The United States will not be upgrading to EMV chip cards, the standard payment technology in much of the rest of the world.

The Truth: Secure, chip-based EMV credit and debit cards are being rolled out in the United States and magnetic stripe cards will soon become a thing of the past.

In fact, millions of Americans – 15% of the country’s population – already have an EMV equipped card in their wallets according to a recent study. Interestingly, the same study found that only 1 in 5 actually knew whether or not they had an EMV card. ­­­It is important to bring awareness and address concerns relating to the EMV migration for all parties involved.

This might seem like fundamental knowledge, but many people, especially consumers, do not yet know that EMV has arrived here in the United States, and we are in full swing moving from magnetic stripe debit and credit cards to chip-based payment cards. In fact, much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure needed to process EMV payments has already been put in place. This means that the US payment infrastructure is ready to handle the new data generated for every EMV chip transaction, so a critical first step is complete.

Of course the fraud liability shift is a primary and well-known driver in the migration to EMV. However, even before the liability shift announcements, there was already a great deal of support from banks for EMV in the US. JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, State Employees Credit Union, United Nations Credit Union, Silicon Valley Bank and others support EMV technology for its ability to reduce the inconveniences their cardholders have experienced abroad. Travelex, a major currency exchange company, has been selling preloaded EMV-enabled cards at airports since 2010.

On the merchant side, Walmart is in the process of upgrading all of its POS devices to be EMV compliant in order to streamline check-out and make its systems more secure.

As merchants and banks upgrade cards and POS systems, we can be sure that EMV cards are indeed here to stay.

In this series we will examine more EMV-related myths including skipping EMV and moving straight to mobile, EMV challenges for merchants, EMV security fears, and EMV for card-not-present transactions.

Do you have an EMV myth you would like us to address?  Let us know in the comments!