American financial institutions lag behind in adoption of EMV technology

There has been a massive movement of late towards the comprehensive adoption of EMV technology, which will eventually replace magnetic swipe credit cards with chip-based smart cards. Users of these cards will enter a PIN instead of signing a receipt, the reason behind the change being that swipe cards are hyper-vulnerable to cyber attacks and POS malware. 

The New York Times reports that millions of Americans' credit card details, acquired by hacking into business POS systems, are currently being sold on the black market. Malware can easily obtain private card information because the magnetic strips on the cards are not secure. Avivah Litan says, "The weakness is the magnetic stripe. I can buy a mag stripe reader on eBay and easily read all the data from your credit card. It's an antiquated technology from the 60s."

CNBC reports that 99.9 percent of European POS terminals are chip-enabled, while the U.S. hasn't been quick to adopt the new technology because of the costs associated with such a change. Chip-enabled cards are more expensive to produce, and the cost of upgrading a POS terminal can be anywhere between $500 and $1,000. However, the adoption of this technology may more than make up for the initial output by reducing incidents of fraud that can foster lawsuits, damages and public relations nightmares. 

Because EMV technology has been so effective in reducing security breaches, companies in the U.S. are expected to convert fully to chip-based systems by October 2015. Those businesses that don't comply will face increased liability for any fraud losses. And although many businesses have been slow to change, ABA Banking Journal reports that 70 percent of financial institutions expect to implement chip-based technology within 18 months. 

It looks like companies will have to get used to investing some significant thought into their POS credit card processing software in order to insure customer protection. 

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