By John Stewart
The U.S. transition to the EMV chip card standard has been a long and troubled road, but statistics released by the international standards body behind EMV indicate encouraging progress. As of the end of 2016, 52.2% of major-brand payment cards in the United States—some 675 million cards—were chip-enabled, double the rate a year earlier, when the EMV card count was 394 million, according to EMVCo.
Card-present chip transactions on these major brands came to 18.61% of the total, up from just 1.98% at the end of 2015, the EMVCo numbers indicate. The U.S. move to EMV began in earnest in October 2015 when card-network rules shifted responsibility for counterfeit fraud from issuers to merchants if the merchants weren’t prepared to accept EMV chip cards.
EMVCo is controlled by half a dozen card brands, including the U.S.-based American Express Co., Discover Network, Mastercard Inc., and Visa Inc., as well as Japan’s JCB and China’s UnionPay.
The EMV rollout in the United States has not been a smooth one, with merchants complaining about streams of new fraud chargebacks and snarled queues for device certification. Merchants and their customers alike have also been put off by slow transaction times.
Indeed, EMV now accounts for the vast majority of card-present transactions in other regions of the world that adopted the chip standard long before the U.S. Looking at markets surrounding the U.S., the standard accounted for nearly 91% of transactions at the end of 2016 in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean, up from 87.9% at the end of 2105, according to the EMVCo figures.