Chip-card rollout a year later -- slow and, mostly, sure

Progress being made, but not without angst

Citibank credit card with an EMV chip
Blair Hanley Frank

The rollout of smart-chip cards and chip reader in-store payment terminals in the U.S. hasn't been easy -- to put it mildly.

Saturday, Oct. 1, marks a full year since banks and card companies mandated that retailers install new, more secure chip-based credit and debit card readers and adopt related new payment processes. The goal was to avoid liability for fraudulent card payments.

After a year of software and equipment certification backlogs, consumer angst and some mid-course corrections made by card companies in June, slow progress is being made toward a full rollout to replace insecure magnetic stripe cards and readers, all sides agreed in a series of interviews. Their collective best guess is that it will take another 18 months to three years for massive adoption of chip cards and readers to succeed in the U.S.

"I would describe the chip technology rollout as making progress, but it's been a pretty bumpy ride for the past year as we worked through...issues that have come up," said Randy Vanderhoof, director of the U.S. Payments Forum, in an interview. The Forum, formerly called the EMV Migration Forum, includes members from a broad swath of card companies, banks, merchants and others.

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