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An Overview of EMV in the United States

Old credit cards use magnetic strips for data. Now, some of the top credit card processing firms are advocating a shift to micro chips for better security. Here is an overview of the implementation of EMV chip-based credit cards in the United States.

Europay, Mastercard & Visa = EMV

Do you remember how cassette tapes used that “strip of carbon” to play music? Well, the modern credit card merchant accounts use a similar technology encoding monetary identification data onto a magnetic strip. Unfortunately, some credit card processing companies believe this technology is too easy to counterfeit.

Europay, Mastercard & Visa created the basic guidelines for EMV back in 1995. Gradually, the EMVCo was created with the addition of American Express, Japan Credit Bureau, Discover and China UnionPay – each with equal shares in the standards body. EMV has created the ISO/IEC 7816 standard for contact cards and ISO/IEC 14443 standard for contactless cards.

Why are microchips superior to magnetic strips?

Hackers are very enterprising and can steal personal identification numbers (PINs) quite easily. When a hacker steals a password for a magnetic strip, he can pretend to be the owner without any cross-checking. Data on magnetic strip cards does not change.

The EMV microchip acts as its own authentication technology even if a password has been stolen. For each transaction, the EMV microchip card creates a unique authentication number. Thus, hackers have a more difficult time replicating these changing verification sequences.

How far has EMV implementation progressed in the United States?

The US credit card industry is taking a gradual approach to transitioning over to the new EMV technology. Oftentimes, a credit card company will offer one new special EMV card for its patrons. Then, the credit card company gauges the customer response.

American credit card companies are also upgrading the credit card processing technology to read the microchips. As of March 2015, nearly 120 million EMV credit cards had been mailed to American consumers. The goal is 600 million EMV credit cards for Americans by the end of 2015.

Consumer and merchant accounts are still testing out the new EMV system and offering feedback. The campaign to switch over to EMV seems much lower key compared to the analog to digital television technology switch. Credit card processing companies, merchants and consumers must see how the new EMV technology functions in real-time.


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