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USA is NOT going Chip and Pin

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Lots of misinformation out there on this. It has now become evident that while the USA will be migrating to emv chipped credit cards probably no later than October 2015, the die has almost certainly been cast that the card verification method in the USA will not be chip and pin (despite what some banks may falsly claim) but chip and signature.

Recently, USAA which had been offering on its emv chipped mastercard a true chip and pin card has joined the rest of the USA banks and its newly issued cards no longer have chip and pin as the primary verification method but rather chip and signature. That means there is only one US bank, the UNFCU that is issuing a true chip and pin credit card and the prospects are there will not be any in the foreseeable future.

Visa and mastercard claim chip and signature is nearly as effective as chip and pin in eliminating card is present fraud. Of course, they admit, chip and pin is more secure but the added security is simply not worth both the costs of converting to chip and pin or what customers want i.e. they don't want to have to memorize 3 or 4 different pins for their different cards. And besides, they argue, since merchants are required to honor all valid cards, this will not be a problem.

Of course we do know there are some merchants who whether mistakenly or not will not honor a credit card without a pin believing it increases their liability. And even some cards which advertise themselves as chip and pin (say Andrews FCU) are really chip and signature priority and the consumer cannot control which verification method is used nor can the merchant. If the pos terminal accepts chip and signature cards, and almost all do, and the merchant says he or she can't honor the card, you're out of luck.

Visa and mastercard also admit there might be a problem at unpersonneled kiosks but hey, the cards will worl 99.7% of the time. Of course that's little comfort if you're almost out of gas on a Sunday in France and all gasoline pumps in your neck of the woods only take offline pin equippped cards. Do tell the mpum that visa and masterfard say you have to honor my card. I would be very interested in what the answer will be.

This is the latest in the never ending war to have the USA join the rest of the world in credit card security. It is not exactly what many people were hoping for.

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