Wells Fargo and Chase to Issue EMV Cards to Travelers: Yes!

by Ken Paterson 0

I will admit I have been a personalpartisan in favor of issuing EMV cards to U.S. travelers. I am notthe most frequent world traveler, but I will say my experienceswith mag stripe cards in Europe in the past few years have beenless than optimal. The promise of global inter-operability, whichpayment cards first fulfilled many years ago, seemed increasinglyhollow. And as I have noted in past Viewpoint commentaries to oursubscribers, the growing difficulty was not due to technicalincompatibility (terminals could still read mag stripes), butrather the lack of knowledge or training among a new generation ofsales associates with little familiarity with mag stripe acceptanceprocedures (a.k.a. “We don’t take cards like that one!”).

Wells Fargo’s announcement that they will issue up to 15,000 EMVcredit cards to customers it identifies as travelers is a big steptoward addressing both the need and a business opportunity. Chasehas said it will begin issuing EMV versions of its upscalePalladium Card by June, with other cards to follow. Thisannouncement follows on the heels of the first such U.S. issuer,the United Nations Federal Credit Union, which began issuing EMVcards in 2010 and is planning to expand the program. Theopportunity part of EMV issuing is that so long as the U.S. remainsan EMV-less island, U.S. international travelers may be motivatedto seek out issuers who support these cards, and possibly even payfor the privilege. Wells Fargo and Chase may be the first largeissuers to pursue this early-mover marketing advantage. It will beinteresting to see who follows next.

My travel card wish list? EMV card, no foreign transaction fees,cash back rewards. Yes, I want it all. But for a traveler, EMV is agood place to start.

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