2010.22 | Chip and Pin in the US

Retailers in Canada have been working for some time to get through the hardware and software hurdles required to get online for EMV prior to the dates liability passes from the card issuers to retailers in October 2010.  Given that EMV has been implemented in places like the UK, Mexico and many other countries, it has always seemed logical that at some point the US would embrace the same technology.  Now Wal-Mart is pushing for it in the US based on its international experience.  While there are certainly difficulties involved in getting it done, the US can’t let itself get behind the rest of the world on technologies like this.  The fact that a now international organization like Wal-Mart is trying to move this forward shows they see benefits from it. 

From my own experience it seems ridiculous that we still scribble a name on a slip of paper and expect it to be ‘security’ in today’s information age.  My own signature is completely worn off my card from use.  I am periodically asked for identification to validate my signature, but once again, how secure is this really?  A 15 year old squints at what I wrote on a slip of paper and compares it to my drivers license?  Even crazier is retailers having to keep many of these slips of paper for many weeks to maintain a paper trail in the event that someone contests a charge.  This is the digital age? 

It seems to me that some of this effort needs to fall to the card issuers, and they’ve made the effort in Canada.  It’s their system that is at risk here, and what an opportunity for the credit card companies to show some value to the retailers.  Given the sort of confrontational feeling in recent years between credit card issuers and retailers here in Canada, it is a strong move to add value to the relationship with retailers.  Working with the retailers to reduce fraud that ultimately comes out of the retailers pocket is a strong play.  While it means a short term cost, it results in a long term gain in the relationship.

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