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Grading on a Curve: 28 Percent Could Be an “A” Rating

I’m excited to have guest author Docia Myer, Vice President of US Financial Sales at CPI Card Group, giving her assessment of EMV Market Trends. I’ll leave it up to you to determine if she is grading on a curve. — Greg


Docia Myer

We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the country over the past year about merchant conversion to point-of-sale (POS) terminals that process cards with EMV® chips. Retailers are quickly trying to convert to be compliant with the new global EMV standards. If you’ve made purchases in any of the larger supermarket or big box stores recently and already have an EMV chip card, you may have been prompted by the credit card processing terminal to insert your chip card after you’ve tried to swipe.

With the transition proceeding at different rates between retailers and card issuers, you may be wondering how the U.S. is adapting to the migration overall since the mandate went out in October 2015.

While it may come as a surprise to some, the technology seems to be settling in.

“A” rating for early adoption
Considering the level of complexity involved in the conversion process—15+ different debit networks and the 20+ processors—the timeframe for migration has been right on target. As of June 2016, 28% of merchants in the U.S. were able to accept chip enabled cards.

To some, “right on target” at 28 percent may seem like quite a grading curve. But adoption was always expected to take time, and given how quickly retailers and consumers are catching on, we could call this an “A” rating when considering the number of committed early-adopters.

Influx of cards – credit and debit
In terms of circulation, the number of EMV capable cards in the U.S. has also grown. CPI Card Group estimates that 33% of debit cards and 65% of credit cards in the U.S. were converted to EMV by the end of June 2016. Visa reported a total 326.8 million of its chip cards in circulation in the U.S—almost equal to the total number of U.S. residents.

Consumer awareness is also high, largely thanks to the media. There is a lot of publicity surrounding EMV, and CPI Card Group is actively educating consumers about the overall change.

Learning curve for consumers
Despite the success of the transition so far from an industry perspective, there is still skepticism from some cardholders. Transaction times when using a chip terminal at the POS are a bit slower for customers than what they are used to, leading to some complaints. The good news is that the card associations responded and provided processors with enhancements that shorten transaction times. In some cases, consumers can now remove their chip card before the sale is complete, and technology is expected to continue to bring down wait times moving forward.

While there have been hurdles to overcome for both financial institutions and retailers, the end result of the EMV transition is a better, more secure payment infrastructure. EMV is definitely here to stay. In a later post, we’ll chat more about how EMV will affect the future of transactional methods.


Watch Card Chat: EMV® Market Trends to learn more about the EMV transition experience.


EMV is a registered trademark or trademark of EMVCo LLC in the United States and other countries. ©2016 CPI Card Group Inc. All Rights Reserved

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