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Credit cards and debit cards are such a way of life–due to their convenience and the perception that they’re safer than carrying cash or... EMV Woes Plague Consumers, Retailers

Credit cards and debit cards are such a way of life–due to their convenience and the perception that they’re safer than carrying cash or writing a check–that “swiping it” is second nature to most Americas. But with the shift to the EMV cards that Europe has had in place for a decade or better, US consumers and retailers alike are feeling the pinch of a frustrating new payment mechanism.


On the surface, it might seem like a fairly petty problem, but the rollout of the new chip credit cards–which require a motion referred to as “dipping” instead of swiping–has been slow to happen and irritating on both the sellers’ and the buyers’ ends. It’s not just that the October 2015 deadline has come and gone and many retailers still don’t have EMV-capable point of sale credit card systems. Instead, it’s the lengthy delay–okay, it’s actually just a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity when you’re the one holding up the line–involved in reading and processing the chip that has new card holders up in arms.

It’s tempting to think that this is nothing more than old-fashioned “me first” mentality, but the issue is the consumers who believe the chip isn’t reading and therefore take the card out, reinsert it, cancel the transaction, or otherwise hold up the process. Even many cashiers aren’t accustomed to the slightly longer process involved in reading the card, and the end result has been even longer delays.

Fortunately, one company is already at work on software that will make the chip reading process go faster, hopefully reducing the misunderstanding of the new cards.

However, one retail giant is already taking the EMV process to court. Walmart has filed suit against Visa over the EMV cards, but it’s not the delay that’s got them upset. Debit card providers have long offered the option to let consumers sign for the purchase instead of entering their PIN numbers, a choice that ends up costing the retailer money. The transaction fee for a PIN-based debit card purchase is less than the fee if the consumer signs the receipt, treating it like a credit card. Some card companies even offered their customers incentives in extra points or cash back bonuses if they signed for their purchases instead of entered their PIN numbers.

But with the rollout of the EMV cards, Walmart is pushing back against the signature option. While the retailer does stand to save a lot of money if they no longer let chip debit card holders sign for purchases (five cents on every single Visa EMV card transaction, to be exact), they claim it’s also about security. A stolen chip card that can be authorized via the thief’s signature is no more secure than a magnetic stripe card. The purpose of the EMV launch for to rollout some of the higher security of the European “chip and PIN” system.