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October 2015: The End of the Swipe-and-Sign Credit Card

Posted by admin on 2/19/14 10:00 PM
Topics: mbs direct, college retail, MBS Systems, retail technology, eCommerce

The following excerpt is from an article written by Tom Gara and published on The Wall Street Journal. Read some of the key points about this important retail development below then check out Gara's full article for additional information.

It’s a payment ritual as familiar as handing over a $20 bill, and it’s soon to go extinct: prepare to say farewell to the swipe-and-sign of a credit card transaction.

Beginning later next year, you will stop signing those credit card receipts. Instead, you will insert your card into a slot and enter a PIN number, just like people do in much of the rest of the world. The U.S. is the last major market to still use the old-fashioned signature system, and it’s a big reason why almost half the world’s credit card fraud happens in America, despite the country being home to about a quarter of all credit card transactions.

The recent large-scale theft of credit card data from retailers including Target and Neiman Marcus brought the issue more mainstream attention, leading to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Executives told the senators that once the country transitions to the new system — which includes credit cards embedded with a microchip containing security data — these kind of hacking attacks will be much more difficult to pull off.

The shift is coming though: both MasterCard and Visa have roadmaps for the changeover, and both have set October, 2015 as an important deadline in the switch. But why has it taken this long, and how will the changeover work for card users and businesses?

We spoke with MasterCard’s Carolyn Balfany, the company’s expert on all things related to the new payment system, known as EMV, that will lead to the end of the swipe-and-sign and the beginning of the chip-and-PIN. Here’s what she had to say.

How will the change over to the new system actually happen?

One important thing to know is that it’s not as if everybody just got to the starting line just now, there has been a lot of work on this that has already happened. For merchants, the terminals in many cases are readily available or already there, they already have the equipment ready to handle the new cards. Banks who issue cards in many cases already can issue cards with the chip, and they have been issuing them to customers who travel overseas.

U.S. consumers are already pretty aware of the chip and PIN system, because most of the rest of the world has already migrated. And we would expect in the wake of these latest breaches and the media coverage that awareness is now even higher. And as banks issue consumers their new cards, they will get information explaining the system and all the benefits, and obviously how to use it.

Aside from the security of the system, are there any other benefits for consumers?

One thing to remember is this migration really isn’t about a single device or technology, it’s about establishing a technological platform for the next generation of payments. So the EMV standard that we are moving toward isn’t limited to chip and PIN cards, it also includes things like contactless payments, where you can tap the card against the reader, all with the same level of security.

Card issuers will probably always issue a card, but in this system an account can be resident in multiple places – so you can have the card, but also maybe a tag affixed to your phone for mobile payments, or a fob on your key ring.

There are lots of different use cases and it depends on the venue, and the devices and what interaction method makes the most sense. In a transit location, contactless interfaces make a lot of sense. We’ll continue to see interactions broaden and evolve as this migration happens.

MBS has just made available for purchase the newest in Verifone pin pad technology which includes EMV and NFC hardware readiness. Contact us at for additional details.

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