Some 55% of all U.S. storefronts were accepting EMV chip cards as of September, according to the latest quarterly data from Visa Inc., released Monday. That comes to more than 2.5 million merchant locations, up 9% from June and 538% from September 2015, when 392,000 locations were accepting chip cards on the eve of a liability shift that made merchants responsible for certain fraud losses if they hadn’t converted to EMV.
As for the cards themselves, 64% of Visa credit and debit cards were chip-enabled by September, the network said. That’s up a couple of ticks from 62% in June and represents 462.6 million cards, a nearly three-fold increase since September 2015. The number includes 200.4 million credit cards and 262.2 million debit cards, compared to 93 million credit cards and 67 million debit cards two years earlier.
More chip cards in circulation has resulted in steadily increasing EMV volume. Total Visa chip transactions came to 1.26 billion in September, up by a multiple of 16 from September 2015’s 79 million. In dollar-volume terms, merchants processed $59.4 billion in EMV-based Visa transactions, 12 times the $4.8 billion cleared two years earlier.
The latest statistical release does not update Visa’s numbers on EMV’s impact on counterfeit card fraud. Reducing these losses, which account for the bulk of fraud on cards, was the chief rationale for the card networks’ drive to convert the U.S. market to chip-based transactions. Over the two years from June 2015 to June 2017, counterfeit card losses at merchants that adopted EMV slid 66%, according to Visa’s earlier quarterly report. The company did not release the actual dollar amounts.
U.S. merchants’ conversion to the EMV chip card standard began in earnest in October 2015, when Visa and Mastercard Inc. switched liability for counterfeit card losses from issuing banks to merchants if the accepting location wasn’t capable of processing a chip card.