Who is in charge of chip and PIN in the US?

Life must be very confusing for our American cousins at the moment. Well, confusing for those who do not pay attention to their mail.

 My colleague Howard Hall just showed me the three most recent credit cards that US banks have sent to him in the quarter. They are all completely, and inexplicably, different.

There are three cards:

  • A chip and pin card that arrived as a replacement for the existing stripe card, but as yet no PIN seems to have arrived, so my colleague continues to use it as a signature card.
  • A contactless card that doesn’t have a contact interface but does have a stripe and signature panel on the back.
  • A signature card with no chip or contactless interface.

I don’t know, and I’d be curious to hear your opinions, but I would think that the average American consumer would be utterly confused by all of this and rather than read any of the paper that the bank sends in the mailers (which I’m sure they just toss straight in the bin) they will simply carry on using the cards as stripe and signature cards. Now, on the one hand this is a good thing because it means that they will carry on spending money and merchants will carry on selling things to them and life will continue much the same. But on the other hand, it doesn’t suggest that the use of chip and PIN in the American market will be on a hockey stick curve any time soon.

According to our survey:

  • As of April 2015, only 18 percent of retailers in the U.S. have already implemented EMV payment technology
  • 45 percent are poised to miss the October 2015 deadline

[From Independent Retailers Bet Big on Big Data In 2015

The survey reports in more detail on the retailers who are not doing anything about the deadline. There seems to be something of a lack of understanding about the liability shift and the technology.

  • 25 percent do not understand the new rules
  • 17 percent have never even heard (my italics) of EMV or chip-and-PIN
  • 18 percent do not want to deal with the hassle or cost of switching payments hardware

[From Independent Retailers Bet Big on Big Data In 2015

Actually, I bet that plenty of the retailers who have already implemented EMV don’t understand the new rules either. Interestingly, the report on this survey goes on to say that:

As regulations shift toward a new kind of credit card, payment technology that gets rid of cards all together (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay) is also taking hold of the industry.

[From Independent Retailers Bet Big on Big Data In 2015,]

This rather reinforces my train of thought and idle speculation which, as I mentioned last week, forces me to at least question the long-term role of EMV in the US. It also leads me, in turn, to wonder if this confusion might actually stimulate the transition to mobile since consumers will find the proposition from Apple, Google, Samsung and others far simpler: use your phone and your data will be secure, use your card in one of a number of mysterious and baffling ways and your data may or may not be at risk.

Maybe I’m not seeing things accurately as an occasional visitor, but there does seem to be a lack of co-ordination around migration in the USA. Perhaps someone could come into the comment section and let me know who is in charge of the chip and PIN migration there so that I can drop them an email with a few questions.