Payment cards in the U.S. are due for a large upgrade, according to recent ComputerWorld article. A group called the Europay, Mastercard, Visa Migration Forum plans to guide the U.S. payment card industry to accommodate EMV cards, a system already deployed throughout Europe.
According to the article, EMV cards utilize microchips with advanced cryptographic capabilities used to authenticate transactions. Experts say the microchip technology is much less vulnerable to credit card fraud than the magnetic-stripe cards currently used in the U.S. However, the transition from traditional payment cards to the new EMV cards may not be an easy one. In addition to consumers needing new cards, retailers would need to upgrade the hardware and software they use to scan cards and ATMs would also need to be redesigned to be able to read the microchip.
"Credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard spearheaded the move to EMV in Europe, spurring retailers to upgrade their point-of-sale terminals with the threat of new fraud liabilities if they processed magnetic-stripe only transactions," the article stated.
The article used Australia as an example of the time it takes to transition. The country began its shift to EMV payment cards in 2007, but doesn't expect the technology to be the dominant form of payment until 2015.
Roadmap for EMV
Although fully deploying EMV cards may take some time, many retailers may need plan to support the technology to remain PCI compliant. A recent Bank Systems & Technology article reported American Express announced a roadmap for transitioning to EMV and plans to require merchants to support the technology by April 2013. Two other major payment card companies have also announced shifts to EMV.
"Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard announced in May the formation of a cross-industry group designed to foster collaboration and alignment among networks, issuers, merchants, acquirers, processors, terminal manufacturers, card manufacturers and other groups in the implementation of EMV technology in the U.S," the article stated. "San Francisco-based Visa, which said it already had shipped one million EMV cards in the U.S. as of Dec. 31, 2011, announced its EMV road map for the U.S. last August."
Retailers that conduct online business should also ensure their ecommerce hosting and other service providers are up to date with new PCI compliance standards. Although there is some variation in PCI requirements between payment card companies, all service providers that handle consumer card information must also be compliant to avoid PCI violations.