A Chip Off the New Block: A Primer on EMV Chip Technology

Have you shopped at any large retailers lately? If you have, chances are you’ve been asked about a new piece of credit card technology called an EMV chip.

Article by Peggy Palmen
Have you shopped at any large retailers lately? If you have, chances are you’ve been asked about a new piece of credit card technology called an EMV chip.
Depending on your credit card company, you’ve likely had a new card equipped with a tiny metallic square. These EMVs chips are part of a new push for improved credit card security for retailers everywhere.
EMV Connection estimates that 120 million EMV chip cards have been issued to date, and it expects this number to rise to nearly 600 million before the end of the year. Additionally, major U.S. credit card companies, including MasterCard and Visa, began holding retailers who don’t yet accept EMV-equipped cards liable for fraudulent charges on Oct. 1. Long story short: you’ll likely see more retailers jumping on the EMV chip bandwagon in the coming months.
What does this mean to consumers? Read on to learn the basics of EMV chip technology:

What is EMV chip technology?

EMV (short for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) refers to payment cards that contain embedded microprocessor chips for secure payment transactions. EMV chip technology is replacing the outdated and less secure magnetic stripes.

What are the benefits of EMV chip technology?

Payment cards with EMV chip technology offer much stronger security because they are highly resistant to tampering and counterfeit activities. In addition, EMV chip cards securely store cardholder data, making it less vulnerable to hackers.

Why is EMV chip technology more secure than magnetic stripes?

Payment cards containing magnetic stripes store unchanging data, making it easy to replicate and use over and over again on counterfeit payment cards. EMV chip cards, on the other hand, generate unique, dynamic data for every transaction, meaning stolen data cannot be reused in an authorized EMV chip transaction.

Are EMV chip cards at risk of being counterfeited?

Retailers are introducing new EMV terminal devices at their check-out stands. These devices are designed to recognize an EMV chip card if it has been copied into a counterfeit card. Therefore, if a criminal attempts to use a counterfeit EMV chip card, it will be detected and rejected at the register.

Do I still “swipe” when paying for my goods and services with an EMV chip card?

Cards with EMV chips are read differently than cards with magnetic stripes. Rather than swipe your card through a card reader as you did in the past, you will now insert your EMV chip card into a terminal slot and wait for it to process your transaction.

How do I know if a retailer has this EMV chip technology at the register?

If you try to swipe an EMV chip card at a terminal device equipped with EMV chip technology, the device will prompt you to insert your card into the card reader. If the retailer has not upgraded to EMV chip technology, you can swipe your EMV chip card for payment.

Do EMV chip cards require a pin number?

It depends on the verification method assigned to your payment card. Most payment card providers are issuing “chip and signature” cards, which means that you will verify your transactions with your signature. If you receive an EMV chip card with a pin requirement, you will enter your pin number instead of signing to confirm your purchases.
To find out even more about EMV chip technology, visit the Smart Card Alliance website.
Both employees and employers have a responsibility to stay up to date on the latest in payment card technology and how to keep customer payment information safe. Adaptive and customizable e-Learning programs focusing on Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards are vital for developing awareness and best-practice behaviors that help protect payment card data.

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