EMV-chip enabled card.

It’s been six months since the Oct. 1 deadline requiring U.S. retailers to upgrade terminals to accept smart chip credit and debit cards, but many retailers have yet to make the change.

The lack of adoption comes amid an analysis of consumer credit card debt that showed a spike in the fourth quarter of 2015. Roughly 85 percent of purchases made in-stores are with a credit or debit card.

According to a report from credit card comparison Web site CardHub, 42 percent of retailers have not updated terminals at the point of sale. In its EMV Adoption Survey, the analysts noted that the retailers’ lack of adoption “is problematic considering merchants that do not implement EMV-compliant payment terminals are now liable for fraudulent purchases made in their stores. And the roughly $8 billion in fraudulent card purchases made in the U.S. each year certainly represents a mountain of risk for resistant retailers.”

The survey also found that 41 percent of consumers “don’t have or don’t know they have” an EMV (named for the banks that created the system: Europay, MasterCard and Visa) card.

The reasons for the slow adoption are varied and complex, as WWD reported last fall. For smaller retailers the implementation costs is a barrier. And last year, the National Retail Federation called the implementation requirement a “half-baked solution.” But the requirement’s intention, as CardHub noted, is to address fraud.

Other findings of the survey revealed that 43 percent of “retailers that have experienced data breaches in the past 5 years have not updated their point of sale terminals.” For consumers, 62 percent “don’t understand the difference between major card security standards” while 41 percent “falsely believe debit cards protect them from fraud better than credit cards.”

CardHub said in its report that the companies who were 100 percent in compliance included: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Walgreens, Macy’s Inc., Best Buy and Dollar General, among others. Those not in compliance included: Neiman Marcus, TJX Cos., BJ’s Wholesale Club, J.C. Penney & Co. and Kmart, among others.

Meanwhile, in a separate report from CardHub analyzing household debt, the firm said 2015 started off well with “consumers [using] tax refunds and annual salary bonuses to repay nearly $35 billion in credit card debt over the year’s first three months.”

However, gains were “quickly erased” in the second, third and fourth quarters. “In fact, we ended 2015 with a $71 billion net increase in credit card debt, largely because we incurred nearly as much new debt during the fourth quarter of the year as we did during all of 2014.

“As a result, the average household with credit card debt now owes $7,879, and we are now perilously close to a tipping point at which balances become unsustainable and delinquency rates skyrocket, which could lead to a considerable constriction in credit availability,” the analysts said. “All of this has us wondering: Is 2016 the next 2008 for credit markets?”

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