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Survey: Most consumers have chip-enabled cards; retailer acceptance lags way behind

BY CSA STAFF

Most U.S. consumers now carry a smart credit card, but they haven’t had all that much opportunity to stop swiping and start dipping their cards into upgraded terminals.

That’s according to a survey of 932 U.S. credit card-holders by CreditCards.com, which found that 70% of respondents carry at least one chip-based card. This is up from only 14% in a survey conducted by the same company in September 2015, before the October 1 deadline that shifted liability for some fraud shifted from card issuers to merchants that can't accept the new cards.

Estimates of merchant EMV-readiness estimates vary but a recent a study conducted by The Strawhecker Group found only about 37% of retailers are actually ready to process smart chip card payments. Boston Retail Partners estimates the merchant EMV-readiness rate is actually closer to 22%.

Even though the EMV fraud liability shift deadline is six months past, in-store consumer payment experiences still vary because merchants need more time, according to industry experts.

“Retailers tend to get the blame because consumers see the retailers and don’t see what happens behind the scenes,” said J. Craig Shearman, VP for government affairs and public relations for the National Retail Federation.

or some retailers, accepting chip cards is not as simple as replacing a payment terminal.

“If you walk through any mall in the country, you’ll see chip readers at most cash registers,” Shearman said. “Some are being used as chip readers, but most are still using swipes,” because the new readers are still waiting to be “certified” for use.

Retailers will catch up, eventually. The Strawhecker Group estimates consumers will be able to use their EMV chip cards at about 50% of retailers by June 2016. EMV-readiness may not reach a 90% adoption threshold until 2017, but now that the holiday shopping season has passed, retailers are starting to progress with EMV migration, according to Mathison.

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