Following several high-profile security breaches in recent years, consumers have more reason than ever to be concerned about their privacy when using debit and credit cards. Fortunately, an effort is underway to implement new technology across the United States that will better protect shoppers and their private information.
The Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) card is widely used overseas and can be found in the United States. You may have an EMV card in your wallet without knowing it. In fact, according to EMVCo, 45 percent of the total payment cards in circulation globally include EMV chip technology. New guidelines being rolled out in the United States will hold banks or retailers that have not implemented this new security liable for fraud, so by late 2015, consumers can expect to see these changes closer to home.
What is EMV?
The Smart Card Alliance describes EMV as a set of specifications for smart card payments and acceptance devices that provide strong transaction security features and capabilities not possible with traditional magnetic stripe cards. The EMV chip in the payment card is an embedded microprocessor that keeps your money and financial information from falling into the wrong hands.
What makes EMV more secure?
EMV offers greater security than the traditional magnetic stripe debit or credit cards. An important distinction is that data is stored on a chip rather than the familiar magnetic stripe, making it nearly impossible to counterfeit an EMV card.
“As opposed to magnetic strip technology commonly used in credit and debit cards throughout the country, the EMV chip is extremely difficult to crack by hackers,” said Philippe Benitez, vice president of business development for secure transactions for Gemalto, a digital security company that provides the EMV technology. “The card also contains a unique ‘stamp’ that prevents your personal and financial information from being used fraudulently in the event that your card is stolen or lost.”
From a technology perspective, EMV boosts security through:
The chip: A smart card chip is a small computer (or microprocessor) that has its own data storage, processing power and application software.
A unique code: EMV cards generate a unique code that is validated by your bank for each transaction and cannot be re-used. A transaction using a fake card with stolen data couldn’t happen at an EMV terminal because it wouldn’t be able to generate the proper code.
Advanced cryptography: EMV security is based on strong cryptography, which is used to generate the unique transaction code that allows the terminal to authenticate the card.
How will EMV change my shopping experience?
Instead of swiping your card, now you’ll “dip” your card into the payment terminal, holding it in place to allow the transfer of data. Shoppers should expect that this process will take slightly longer than the traditional quick swipe of a magnetic card. EMV technology also enables contactless payments, so shoppers may instead “tap” their contactless EMV cards, which are just as secure and speed up the check-out experience.
Card issuers (your bank or credit company) will determine whether you are required to enter a pin or sign to verify your purchase.
Initially, cards will include both EMV and magnetic stripe technology, so you can be assured your card will work whether the retailer has adopted the new system or not.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (cashier and consumer)