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EMV card

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

An EMV card is a credit or debit card with an embedded microchip and associated technology designed to enable secure payment at compatible point of sale (POS) terminals.

Compatible terminals enable card dipping for chip and PIN or chip and signature authentication. EMV cards can also support contactless payment through near-field communication (NFC) wireless connectivity. When a customer inserts or taps the payment card, the terminal communicates with the card issuer's system for authentication and a single-use transaction code is issued. The customer inputs their PIN or signs to provide two-step verification. PIN entry is considered more secure because it also provides two-factor authentication: something the user has (the card) and something the user knows (the PIN).

EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa, the three organizations responsible for the standard. In October 2015, the United States joined 80 countries around the world that had already implemented EMV. The October 1st Payment Card Industry (PCI) deadline signaled a liability shift: Prior to that date, the card provider and the merchant split the cost of fraudulent transactions.

After the deadline, if one partner in the transaction is not compliant with the EMV standard, it must bear the loss: If the merchant has an EMV terminal in place but the financial institution has failed to provide the customer with an EMV card, the burden is on the financial institution. However if the customer has been issued an EMV chip card but the merchant has not installed EMV-compliant terminals, the merchant is held solely responsible. If both parties are compliant with the standard, the card issuer is held responsible.

This was last updated in October 2015

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