When it comes to consumer technologies, we in the US often let the rest of the developed world “leap frog” us, frequently with our own innovations. The main culprits are typically our size and social adoption curves. When you have an installed base of familiar and comfortable (but old) technologies numbering in the hundreds of millions, transition takes awhile. So we’re stuck with broad use of anachronistic things like CDMA cell phone networks, Windows XP, checks, and skimmable mag stripe credit cards. In payments, where adoption is key, it often takes significant financial and regulatory incentives to bring in the new.
As card fraud escalates, US payment networks are stepping up incentives to migrate to chip-embedded credit and debit cards using the Europay-Mastercard-Visa (EMV) standard. For example, Visa’s new October, 2015 fraud liability shift (from issuer to merchant) for non-EMV transactions provides the looming punitive “stick,” while their recently-announced common debit solution and Technology Innovation Program (TIP) provide some “carrots.” But that’s all “network push” with little “consumer pull.” Hopefully, as more EMV cards roll out in the US, consumers will value the extra security, and competitive pressure will motivate issuers to send out those new cards quickly. EMV doesn’t solve all card fraud problems, but it’s a step worth taking. The costs of fraud affect us all, and it’s time we caught up with the rest of the world.