The shift to EMV technology could result in a massive increase of online fraud. EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) technology or chip cards shifted fraud liability in October from the credit card companies to the merchants taking the cards.
EMV chip cards are characterized by a square embedded chip that is harder to replicate than a magnetic strip that you usually see on the back of a card. A dipping motion into the card reader instead of a swiping motion also differentiates them.
“If we look at the example of Europe, when they went to the chip it was as high as a 70 percent increase in online fraud,” said Don Brooks, senior enterprise engineer at Trustwave. Since online merchants only take the card numbers without swiping or dipping, the criminals move their activity to that territory. The only solution would be for people to have card readers in their home and that is unlikely.
Brooks also said that part of the problem is that there isn’t a full implementation of the chip and PIN technology. “The reason there isn’t full implementation is that the banks aren’t totally on board and then there is a technological challenge,” said Brooks.
There has been a lot of controversy about the switch to a chip and signature version of compliance as opposed to using a chip card and a PIN number. Globally, most countries use a chip and PIN system to prevent fraud. Here, the credit card companies are using the new chip card and then just accepting a signature as proof of the card owner.
The transition has been less than smooth. Large retail chains that can afford to overhaul terminals are in a better position than small businesses. Brooks said that there were several manufacturers that didn’t have EMV solutions until late in the game. Some merchants that got the equipment found that it didn’t work properly.
“Cashiers are struggling with the dip versus the swipe,” said Brooks. The dip is too slow and that extra 9 to 10 seconds can hurt. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of time, for a busy cashier with impatient customers stacking up, it can cause lines to get longer and customers to get cranky.
Monica Eaton-Cardone, cofounder and chief operating officer of risk management firm Chargebacks911 said, “We saw a massive increase of online fraud in Europe. It will take at least 6 months to cope with the new fraud.” She agreed that the criminals might be stopped from card-skimming fraud, but online purchases have no chip card protection, so the criminals just switch methods. She noted that while the switch is supposed to prevent fraud, most credit card fraud happens at gas stations, which are not implementing the new technology at this time.
Many merchants feel they are being forced to change to a system that doesn’t really do much to protect from fraud. They feel that it is just the credit card companies attempt to shift the liability onto them.
Eaton-Cardone has also heard of customers having to wait longer to finish their transactions. “Even though it’s only for an additional 5 seconds, it feels like an eternity at checkout,” said Eaton-Cardone. The terminals need so much with regards to technical interfaces, that getting the terminal set or activated isn’t easy.”
Payment processor Square said it will cover EMV liability shift-related charges for sellers who pre-order the new Square Reader. The payment upstart tells new customers “that once sellers receive their new Square reader in the mail they’ll have access to the same smart technology that the big guys have.” Square based its technology on allowing small business owners the ability to swipe a card with a small square item plugged into a phone or tablet. The company has a new reader that accepts both chip and magnetic stripe cards.
Square’s chip reader is only $29, but some companies are charging much more. Keith Lipert, the owner of Keith Lipert Gallery told Congress that some chip terminals cost as much as $2,000. He testified on behalf of the National Retail Federation before the House Small Business Committee. He was also told that the equipment he inquired about was on backorder.
Another customer of Eaton-Cardone’s told her that they had to cut their advertising budget by 30 percent in order to pay for the chip card technology.
So, as the customers and the merchants struggle through this transition, it looks as if it’s only the credit card companies that benefit as they get the fraud off of their books and onto the merchants books. Merchants are facing challenges to change over the technology and customers are confused as to why they have new cards and how the new technology is actually helping them.