Friday , May 24, 2019

Network Executives Tout EMV Chip Card Progress in Wake of Merchant Liability Shift

Two weeks after what has come to be regarded as the official start date for EMV chip cards in the United States, senior executives with the major card networks gave a largely upbeat progress report to an audience of acquiring-industry owners and managers last Thursday, while acknowledging that much work remains to be done.

Merchant groups have expressed concern that while merchants are under pressure to install and activate EMV equipment, issuers haven’t been pumping out enough EMV cards. The network executives, who spoke during a panel discussion, appeared to be at pains to dispel those concerns.

“Roughly 60% of consumers have at least one chip card in their wallet,” said Stephanie Ericksen, vice president for global risk products at Visa Inc. Ericksen and the other network officials addressed an audience attending the Electronic Transactions Association’s Strategic Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ericksen characterized the number as a “great increase” and a “big change” in the past six months. All told, some 155 million Visa-branded chip cards were in circulation as of mid-September, she said.

As for MasterCard Inc., 30% of all credit and debit cards have been re-issued with chips, including 44% of credit cards, said Carolyn Balfany, group head for U.S. product delivery. Approximately 60% of all consumer cards will have been reissued by year’s end, she reported.

Fellow panelist Karen Czack, vice president of global chip products at American Express Co., did not disclose numbers but said the transition to EMV “is going very smoothly for us. The majority of cards are chip.”

AmEx set its liability shift—the date by which merchants must accept EMV cards or bear responsibility for counterfeit and, in some cases lost-and-stolen, fraud—for the middle of October, two weeks after the Visa and MasterCard shift date. AmEx also differs in that it issues cards directly to consumers, and does not issue debit cards in the United States.

“By the end of the year, almost all” AmEx charge and credit cards will be chip cards, Czack added. At that point, it will begin reissuing prepaid cards, she said.

On the merchant side, Ericksen reported that “roughly” 60% of merchant volume at locations that are processing chip cards is EMV volume. Balfany added that the count of merchant locations accepting EMV cards has reached 450,000.

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