Bankers tend to blame merchants, whom they see as unwilling to pony up the cost of terminals that are compliant with Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) – the international standard for chip and PIN technologies. Merchants complain about the dearth of card issuers committed to EMV. “Retailers aren’t going to spend money on new equipment unless and until issuers start issuing the cards,” said OB Rawls IV, Senior Vice President of Sales at TASQ Technology Inc.
Mercator Advisory Group calculated it would cost U.S. card issuers between $2.4 billion and $2.8 billion to replace all mag stripe cards in circulation with chip cards (also called smart cards) and that merchants would pay about $10 per terminal for EMV functionality. (Other experts interviewed for this story put the cost per terminal at between $30 and $50.)
Steve Mott, Chief Executive Officer of the consultancy BetterBuyDesign.com, believes banks that aren’t planning to roll out chip cards are shortsighted. “Why not pony up 2 to 3 billion [dollars] now and help bring the U.S. [card payment system] into the 21st century?” he said.
Oliver Manahan, a Vice President at MasterCard Canada Inc., expects the tide to turn toward EMV in the United States this year. “In 2011, I think there will be U.S. financial institutions issuing chip cards, especially to customers who travel to Europe frequently,” he said.
George Peabody predicts at least one major U.S. bankcard issuer will begin offering EMV cards as a fee-based service for high-net-worth clients who travel overseas.
“EMV technology has the lead position in securing the payments perimeter today,” Peabody said. “It’s a standard that can be deployed in contact, contactless and mobile form factors.” He believes cost constraints and reluctance on the part of the card companies to demand adoption are impeding EMV acceptance in the United States.
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