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USA EMV cards: Availability, Q&A (Chip & PIN or Signature) [2017>]

Old Jan 16, 2017, 11:23 am
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What is EMV?
EMV is a standard for smart (or integrated-circuit, or chip) cards and the devices that can accept them. The standards are maintained by EMVCo and based on ISO 7816 (or ISO 14443 for contactless).

These cards come in two flavours: contact and contactless. Examples below:
----------------------------------------------------------

Notice the contactless indicator on the right-hand side (it looks like a sideways Wi-Fi symbol). It may also be found on the back of the card (for example, on the back of the new Costco credit card).


Where can I get a chip card?

Hawaiian717 operates a website with crowd-sourced information about various cards. You can adjust the search parameters to see cards with contactless, have PIN-primary authentication, etc.

Which businesses accept chip cards?

tmiw operates a website, also primarily crowd-sourced, that tracks chip-enabled merchants on a map. You can see if a merchant supports PIN, contactless, Quick Chip, et al.

Why doesn't my chip card ask for a PIN?

This is likely because you have a signature-preferring card. At this time, PIN-preferring cards issued in the US are rare. Not many financial institutions offer them; most of them instead provide Chip-and-Signature cards, which are programmed to prefer signature over PIN, if the card supports PIN at all.

What is the difference between Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN?

To the cardholder, the only major difference is how they authenticate themselves at the point of sale. The cardholder inserts their card as normal; instead of signing a screen or receipt, they will be asked to enter their PIN on the keypad.

[spoiler]

A few financial institutions issue some form of Chip-and-PIN credit cards or prepaid cards. Prepaid EMV cards however are not recommended due to junk fees.

Why no PIN? (cont.)
American debit cards are unique because they are psuedo-PIN-preferring cards. which may work at many automated kiosks. However, bear in mind the word may is used above is a context where there is no absolute certainty of success for certain environments such as automated kiosks due to different natures of offline and online transactions.

What is the difference between Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN? (cont.)

Most cards issued in the US are programmed to prefer signature, so save very few instances, they will prompt for a signature (unless the merchant sets a signature waiver). A PIN may be necessary in countries with mostly PIN-preferring cards when using unattended terminals (such as pay-at-the-pump or mass transit). If the card has a PIN for backup verification or ATMs, then that PIN should work. Otherwise, the card will be rejected. If the card is rejected, then either a.) the transaction must be performed by an attendant or b.) an alternative payment method will be required.

Some credit union issued credit cards will have this CVM (Cardholder Verification Method) as secondary if Chip-and-Signature cannot be done. Chip-and-PIN is the more prevalent method of authentication used outside the US, especially in transaction environments where no human interaction is needed (i.e. automated gas pumps, toll roads, train kiosks, etc.).

One chip can hold a lot more data, therefore it is capable of doing multiple verification methods. That's one of the great things about EMV over the mag-stripe which can hold very little data.

I want to know for sure what my EMV chip does. Is there anyway I can test out my own EMV card to see what the CVM list is?
alexmt has written up a nice step-by-step procedure on Post #3615.

If most of the EMV cards in the US is the Chip-and-Signature type, doesn't that mean it's still useless abroad?
Depends if you see it as glass half empty or glass half full. See Post #3 for further details on how Chip-and-Signature has worked both successfully and unsuccessfully depending on the merchant transaction environment and use your best judgment whether which one is right for you.


I don't want a chip in my card. I heard horror stories all over the media saying hackers can steal my credit card info from a mile away.


There are two types of chips. One is contactless and the other is contact. Cards can be either one or the other, or both.

In the Google Docs spreadsheet, the cards that are capable of contactless payments are listed seperately under the "RFID or NFC contactless chip" column. If it says yes, then that means it has the ability to do contactless payments. If it says no, it doesn't have that feature.

The one that the media has overhyped about hackers "stealing your information wirelessly" was the contactless type like this:

You are worried about this happening, right?

You don't have to worry. EMV is a chip standard that can have both contact and contactless interfaces. With the traditional contact interface, this means you actually have to physically insert the chip into a POS terminal for it to be authorized, like this:

With the contact interface, nothing is wireless. No data is sent out in a stand-alone contact type EMV chip. With the EMV contactless interface, data is sent wirelessly.

Furthermore, contactless chip cards are required to show a symbol (looks like Wi-Fi symbol) somewhere on the card that to denote its capability as a contactless card. For example, here's an example of a Discover Card with contactless capability (in which Discover calls "Discover ZIP") showing the contactless symbol on the back of the card:

Don't believe everything that the media says. Besides, millions of people all over the world from London to Singapore, uses contactless payments daily in extremely crowded subways and mass transit with nary any problems. There are multiple layers of encrypted securities and keys that are needed to break the code.

Frankly, giving your physical card to a waiter/waitress who takes the card out of your view is much more susceptible to fraud than contactless payments.

Why should I care?
If you are an international traveler, you will want this because majority of the world has or in the process of converting to this payment format.

In fact, in 2012, even North Korea moved to the EMV format, leaving the US as one of the countries in the world that hasn't done so.

In addition, VISA, MC, AMEX, and Discover have all agreed to incentivize the USA shifting to EMV payments by 2015 by shifting liability for fraudulent transactions to merchants if they do not have EMV equipment and the cardholder has an EMV card. So if you travel internationally or would like to get one before the others, you might be interested in getting one.


BS! I had no problems using my card in [insert whereever country], [insert whatever point in time]
If you stick to the tourist path where they have lots of visitors from the US, you should have no problems using your mag-stripe only card in hotels and restaurants, at least for now. But as things can change as things go forward.

However, consider that once you start taking the off-beaten path, go to non-touristy places where they are not familiar with mag-stripes, rent a car and use toll roads, fill up gas, or try to buy train tickets you might end up into a trouble of the machine not recognizing your card because it lacks the chip. Furthermore, a lot of toll roads, gas pumps, and automated ticket machines lack any human assistance to help you when you need it the most.

But [insert credit card company] told me all merchants that display their logo must accept them! All I have to do is report them for violating their agreements, right?
There are several factors against this.

1. You can only speak English. The merchant representative, most likely a part-time clerk earning minimum wage, speaks in a different language, let's say French. If you have no French language skills, how are you going to get your point across? Are you going to whip out your cell phone at exorbitant int'l roaming charges and hope the customer service is going to translate it for you on the spot? Or maybe you might actually know French. But how about Swahili, Farsi, Balinese, or the multiple languages in mainland China?

2. Just like US, the rest of the world's businesses uses part-time minimum wage workers as cashiers to cut down on labor costs. Most of their SOP training manuals are written by MBA types to not to do anything they are not familiar with. Do not expect them to understand the intricate details of credit card mumbo jumbo. You don't expect Taco Bell employees to understand the minute details of Discover-JCB-Union Pay agreements, right? Same thing the other way around: be respectful as a guest in their country, prepare in advance in their ways, avoid being an "ugly American" stereotype.

3. You are a guest in their country. You are a minority. If 99.9% of their country's people and other tourists from around the world uses EMV, do you really think they are going to accomodate the 0.1% of American tourists who only have mag-stripes credit cards?

4. Again, you are a guest in their country. How would you, as an American standing in line, react if a Chinese tourist was clogging up the lines at a local Taco Bell because the clerk doesn't understand the Discover-Union Pay agreement and has trouble communicating between Mandarin spoken by the tourist and English spoken by the Taco Bell clerk? Same way the other way around. You do not want to clog up the lines for everyone. The less hassle, the better.

5. VISA and MC make tons of money from merchants in that country. Say SNCF French Rail. It's a billion dollar company in France. Do you think VISA is going to pull the plug of their relationship with SNCF because SNCF refuses to do mag-stripe processing at their unmanned train station kiosk? Of course not. Be realistic.

6. And lastly, if you're up against an unstaffed toll kiosk, gas pump or train ticket machine, are you going to yell curses at the machine?

But I want my credit card to be able to be used in the US too!
No worries. They have not gotten rid of the mag-stripe on the back of the card for backward compatibility reasons, just like we still have embossed numbers on our cards for backwards compatibility to using those old carbon copy imprinters.

[insert own Hyatt card image front and back together with red arrows pointing to all the backward compatibility features]

You use the chip on the front of the card abroad (for now), and the mag-stripe just like any other card for the US. Basically, you're increasing your credit card's acceptance rate by getting a card that both via the chip and the mag-stripe. You're getting a better deal for free.

And when 2015 comes along and US switches to EMV, you'll be way ahead of everyone else too!


So why did the rest of the world and the US moved/moving toward EMV?
Primarily, due to fraud concerns. You see, the mag-stripe has been with us since the 1950s. It may have been the most high tech thing back in the day, but with the technology that is available today, any shmo can pick up a $100 USB magnetic card skimming device off of eBay and get your credit card info.

And unlike skimming off contactless cards which actually need the person to have l33t programming skills, skimming off a magnetic stripe has become so ubiquitous that nary a day goes about skimming fraud going on somewhere in America, from gas pumps, Michael's stores (2011), Target breaches (2013), restaurant waiters/waitresses, to even McDonald's drive thrus.

https://www.google.com/search?q=skimming+fraud

These type of fraud used to be prevalent in Europe. But once they started switching over to EMV starting over 2 decades ago, this type of fraud went elsewhere. It went over to Asia, Canada and Mexico, Latin America, etc. etc. until they too began implementing EMV to combat skimming fraud. The US is practically the only country left that hasn't done so, therefore all the fraud that used to take place elsewhere is now happening here.


But EMV is old and it's not fool proof. Shouldn't we just skip over it and do something new instead?
Yes, EMV is old. It was developed in the 1990s, and its smart card payment predecessor was first introduced in France. But as of today, it has become the de-facto global standard of payments.

But then, what else is there? There is no other de facto global standard of payments alternative. For example, if we decide to skip over it and do something new, hypothetically like DNA matching technology, it still means US int'l travelers will continue to have problems abroad with useless plastic acceptance because no other country is using this DNA matching technology except the US.

Besides, nothing is fool proof. You can say that the bank vault isn't fool proof because you can crack it open if enough C4 is used. But your average low-life scumbag isn't likely to get military grade C4 easily either. But the bank vault does make it harder to get the bank's money over say a petty cash box. That's the point here. EMV is akin to a security tight bank vault, the old mag-stripe is akin to a petty cash box lying around inside the drawer.


I'm a business owner and I don't think EMV is going to take off. I'm not going to spend extra hundreds of dollars to upgrade my credit card machine. Convince me other wise why I should.
I can understand the added extra cost to your business once this switchover takes place. But before even saying that, look at your existing POS terminal. Does it have a slot somewhere to insert a card?

Most likely, if you had replaced your POS terminal within the past five years, you already have an EMV capable terminal. EMV is basically just not turned on yet from the processor and acquirer side.

If you have an EMV capable terminal, then a best bet would be to contact your acquirer to have the EMV feature turned on. You did your end of the deal already by having an EMV capable terminal, it is now the acquirers' responsibility to turn it on in accordance to the EMV switchover mandate.

And if you don't, you are going to replace your POS terminal anyway from common wear and tear. It isn't a hard switch-over. You can continue to use your POS terminal until it dies out because EMV cardholders will still have the mag-stripe on the back. And by the time your non-EMV capable POS terminal is up for replacement the market will be full with these newer POS terminals that can accept the mag-stripe, EMV, as well as contactless payments.

In addition, you may also want to check with your acquirer or processor about EMV capable terminals. Some of them are willing to replace your terminal for free in preparation for the US EMV switchover. Call and ask for details.


But what's in it for me? I'm the one that has to pay for the upgrade.
All the major card networks have given incentives for merchants for the upcoming EMV switchover.

If 75% or more of your credit card transactions are done on an EMV contact and contactless terminal, they are going to waive your annual PCI-DSS fees, which usually costs you around $5.00-$19.95/month per terminal. The overall long term cost savings of those compliance fees will be larger than the cost of an one time upgrade for the terminal.

The downside is that once EMV switchover happens and if you do not have a POS terminal that is able to accept EMV, the fraud liability shifts over to the merchant.
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USA EMV cards: Availability, Q&A (Chip & PIN or Signature) [2017>]

Old May 21, 2017, 3:29 am
  #1561  
 
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Originally Posted by AllieKat
Again, you don't understand what a word means. Global doesn't mean accepted everywhere Visa and MasterCard are. It means widely accepted and issued in many countries.

Also it's a total myth that American Express mainly targets America. It is heavily marketed here in the UK and widely accepted. Now, some markets they do seem to not care about at all... Like Ireland. Still, they're very much a global payment network.

ASDA has contactless but it didn't work for Amex. Didn't try others.
Yes it means widely accepted. 60% isn't widely accepted.
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Old May 21, 2017, 3:31 am
  #1562  
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
If the chipped card is swiped the store is liable regardless if they manually enter it or not. Stores are better off refusing cards when the chip doesn't work, because then their liability doesn't exist. The idea of the chip is to weed out the fake cards from the real ones.
As long as they at least attempt to use the chip before swiping, the store doesn't have liability per card network rules. I can paste in the relevant text if you'd like.

Originally Posted by mikesyr18
You just said Union Pay chip doesn't work. Most stores I frequent today take the chip, so a Union Pay card won't work...
UnionPay does work if you swipe. That's not the same as "not working at all", despite wanting it to be so.
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Old May 21, 2017, 3:35 am
  #1563  
 
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Originally Posted by tmiw
As long as they at least attempt to use the chip before swiping, the store doesn't have liability per card network rules. I can paste in the relevant text if you'd like.



UnionPay does work if you swipe. That's not the same as "not working at all", despite wanting it to be so.
So let me get this straight -

1. The card networks push a liability shift to reduce fraud.
2. They tell merchants to buy and turn on chip reading terminals.
3. John Doe makes a fake card and then it mis-reads in the chip reader.
4. The merchant lets John Doe swipe his fake card and the transaction goes through.

What is the point of the chip cards then? The idea is to reduce fraud by refusing fake cards.

I'm gonna need to see a reliable source for your information.

UnionPay does work if you swipe. That's not the same as "not working at all", despite wanting it to be so.
Swiping a chipped card at an EMV enabled terminal isn't the correct protocol, sorry.
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Old May 21, 2017, 3:37 am
  #1564  
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
Yes it means widely accepted. 60% isn't widely accepted.
60% might very well be enough. Remember, that's across the entire merchant population, not simply the ones that tourists will most often visit.
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Old May 21, 2017, 3:44 am
  #1565  
 
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I see more stupidity in the American payment world.

NOTE: This chart indicates which party is typically liable. There may be exceptions in certain cases. For example, the issuer remains
liable if an EMV-enabled terminal fails to read a chip card due to a technical issue and the merchant follows network rules—having the
customer swipe the card to complete the transaction.
Well gee, what's the point of the chipped card then?
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:01 am
  #1566  
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
So let me get this straight -

1. The card networks push a liability shift to reduce fraud.
2. They tell merchants to buy and turn on chip reading terminals.
3. John Doe makes a fake card and then it mis-reads in the chip reader.
4. The merchant lets John Doe swipe his fake card and the transaction goes through.

What is the point of the chip cards then? The idea is to reduce fraud by refusing fake cards.

I'm gonna need to see a reliable source for your information.
Page 188 of the Visa rules:

4.1.23.60 Liability for Chip Fallback Transactions

A Transaction accepted as a Fallback Transaction is the liability of the Issuer if all of the following apply:

● The Transaction is authorized by the Issuer or the Issuer's agent.
● Appropriate values identifying the Transaction as a Fallback Transaction are included within the related Authorization Message.
● Correct acceptance procedures are followed.
And per pages 138-140 of the MasterCard Chargeback Guide:

Chip Liability Shift
The following sections describe the proper and improper use of message reason code 4870.
...
Improper Use of Message Reason Code 4870

The issuer may not use this message reason code when the following occur.
...
● A magnetic stripe-read or key-entered transaction occurred and was properly identified as the result of technical fallback in the Authorization Request/0100 message and in the First Presentment/1240 message.
Originally Posted by mikesyr18
Swiping a chipped card at an EMV enabled terminal isn't the correct protocol, sorry.
It is if the chip can't be used and the issuer authorizes the transaction. If they have a problem with a particular transaction, they can always decline.

Originally Posted by mikesyr18
Well gee, what's the point of the chipped card then?
Same as it always was: to reduce counterfeit fraud. In fact, excessive fallback transactions do have consequences. Page 129 of the MasterCard Transaction Processing Rules says:

Technical fallback occurs when a Chip Card is presented at a Hybrid Terminal but due to the failure of Chip Transaction processing, the Transaction is completed using the magnetic stripe or manual key entry of the PAN. The ratio of technical fallback Transactions to all Transactions completed at Hybrid Terminals at a particular Merchant location or at an ATM Terminal for a calendar month must not exceed five percent of all Chip Card Transactions at that Merchant location or ATM Terminal. An Acquirer with a Merchant that has exceeded the Standard set forth in the preceding sentence may be subject to noncompliance assessments.
And page 718 of the Visa Rules:

12.3.1.1 Global Fallback Monitoring Program Identification Non-Compliance Assessments

An Acquirer is subject to a non-compliance assessment of USD 1 per Fallback Transaction when the Acquirer-country combination meets or exceeds the minimum Transaction volume and percentage parameters specified in the Visa Rules and the Global Chip Fallback Monitoring Program Guide.
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:09 am
  #1567  
 
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I basically already said you're right, but good info because I might want to read some more of that in the near future.

It's no wonder the American payments system is so screwed up, the issuers don't have any common sense and neither do the merchants.

  • The issuers cover swiped EMV card transactions if fallback happens.
  • The issuers waited too long for the liability shift.
  • The merchants don't care about your security but flaunt great customer care.
  • Card issuers risk a fraud loss for a few cents on a transaction.
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:22 am
  #1568  
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
I basically already said you're right, but good info because I might want to read some more of that in the near future.

It's no wonder the American payments system is so screwed up, the issuers don't have any common sense and neither do the merchants.

  • The issuers cover swiped EMV card transactions if fallback happens.
  • The issuers waited too long for the liability shift.
  • The merchants don't care about your security but flaunt great customer care.
  • Card issuers risk a fraud loss for a few cents on a transaction.
The above rules aren't just for the US market--for the most part, anyway.

Also, I'd say merchants at least somewhat care. Otherwise, why bother with EMV equipment in the first place? (Same goes for the issuers: why bother going through all this if EMV "doesn't do anything"*?)

* What some people on reddit and elsewhere actually claim, BTW.

* * *

On the subject of rules, it's interesting how much Visa and MC actually censor in their publicly available documents. The former I think has a table somewhere in their uncensored rules with CVM lists for different countries/regions, for example. That doesn't seem like it'd harm Visa that much to have that publicly available but who knows?
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:24 am
  #1569  
 
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
Originally Posted by tmiw
UnionPay does work if you swipe. That's not the same as "not working at all", despite wanting it to be so.
Swiping a chipped card at an EMV enabled terminal isn't the correct protocol, sorry.
"EMV enabled terminal" - it is a myth. Because there is no a one whole EMV payment application. Each payment system (Visa, MasterCard etc) has its own EMV payment application with its own specifics. So, if EMV enabled terminal doesn't support an UnionPay EMV payment application then a swiping of the UnionPay card at such terminal is not a fallback.

Last edited by Lyolik; May 21, 2017 at 4:33 am
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:38 am
  #1570  
 
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Originally Posted by tmiw
The above rules aren't just for the US market--for the most part, anyway.

Also, I'd say merchants at least somewhat care. Otherwise, why bother with EMV equipment in the first place? (Same goes for the issuers: why bother going through all this if EMV "doesn't do anything"*?)
I just think they care about their bottom line. If they don't turn the chip reader on in their Verifone or Ingenico terminals, they're liable for everything.

The part that doesn't make sense is how does it make the card payments system itself safer? It doesn't because a fake card can still be used, just the old fashioned way (not the clank readers). Someone can easily clone my card, use it, and then the procedure wouldn't be any different than before, I would still be out of the money if I had a debit card, at least for the time being.

I don't see a point of wasting the effort and money if one can simply use a magstripe after the chip reading effort fails.

While the same merchant rules may apply globally, merchants overseas are known to reject cards for being "fishy" or "weird."
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Old May 21, 2017, 4:41 am
  #1571  
 
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Originally Posted by Lyolik
"EMV enabled terminal" - it is a myth. Because there is no a one whole EMV payment application. Each payment system (Visa, MasterCard etc) has its own EMV payment application with its own specifics. So, if EMV enabled terminal doesn't support an UnionPay EMV payment application then a swiping of the UnionPay card at such terminal is not a fallback.
Yes but if it's EMV enabled, all networks the store accepts have been certified to run a chip transaction on that terminal, so it's not really a myth at all.

With that said, a fair point is made. What's the liability shift rules for Union Pay, if there is one?
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Old May 21, 2017, 7:04 am
  #1572  
 
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Mike...in all due respect, you still don't get it. The financial institutions make a humongous amount of money on their plastic card operations. They simply do not want to do anything that will discourage people from using their cards and merchants from taking their cards. Fraud is relative. It is a part of doing business and yes it eats into those profits but in terms of actual losses, it's a spit in the ocean. Why do you think instead of mandating the issuance of chip cards and the acceptance of chip cards, we had the liability shift, sort of a soft deadline with exceptions of course. And they still have not done much about online fraud which we all know or should know if they could make the use of emv readers absolutely mandatory two things will happen . These hackers will eventually figure out ways to counterfeit the chips (it will happen anyway) and there will be a shift to online fraud. That was the reason they delayed emv for so long, besides the fact that almost 100% of American transactions are done online and they have become much better at snooping out possible fraudulent charges. I love the current system now where I get a text message for certain cards every time it is used. If somebody uses my card fraudulently, I will know immediately.

As far as consumers are concerned, few are credit card geeks like so many of the posters here. They don't give a doggone what terminal is used. They do grumble for a few seconds when they insert and are told to swipe or vice versa. They do complain when an authorization takes a few seconds longer but do the vast majority lay awake nights wondering if their credit cards will be hacked? Well some do and their answer to this is not to use the cards at all; to save them for emergencies. And then they get hacked anyway. And they discover it's no big deal. They make a few phone calls, they don't need a police report or notarizes statement, the charges are reversed, a new card is issued, they figure out their automatic payments and update the information. A bit of a hassle? Yes. In the scheme of thing a big deal? I don't think so. And life goes on as it has in the past.

As far as the "inconvenience" of foreign travel where everybody uses pin preferred cards, we've discussed this. The overwhelming majority of people do not even have passports and now that we need passports to return from Canada and Mexico, probably fewer even go to those places. So what difference to most that there is a small possibility their signature preferred card will not work at an offline kiosk in rural France on a Sunday afternoon? Sure the people here care and to them it's important. God bless them. As for me, I have more important things to worry about.

Now I don't bear any ill thoughts to you. You're obviously entitled to your opinions on this as is everybody else. But at the end of the day, the American payments system is not third world. Decisions have been made in terms of the bottom line and it works almost all the time.
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Old May 21, 2017, 8:04 am
  #1573  
 
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Originally Posted by mikesyr18
I don't see a point of wasting the effort and money if one can simply use a magstripe after the chip reading effort fails.
Just because the liability doesn't shift for a fallback doesn't mean the issuer will automatically approve the swipe transaction. They may approve if the potential loss is small compared to the potential impact on customer satisfaction. If the transaction raises suspicion they will likely decline.
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Old May 21, 2017, 8:05 am
  #1574  
 
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These hackers will eventually figure out ways to counterfeit the chips (it will happen anyway)
If this was going to happen easily, it would have happened. The same technology has been in use for payment cards for decades in Europe, and has been used in SIM cards for even longer, and to my knowledge, nobody has ever been able to clone either.
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Old May 21, 2017, 8:09 am
  #1575  
 
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Originally Posted by cjw2001
Just because the liability doesn't shift for a fallback doesn't mean the issuer will automatically approve the swipe transaction. They may approve if the potential loss is small compared to the potential impact on customer satisfaction. If the transaction raises suspicion they will likely decline.
Exactly. But what we don't know is what IS a UnionPay fallback in the US treated as? Technically the merchant isn't EMV compliant for UnionPay so logically the merchant is liable. But if it goes onto Discover it may be treated as a fallback since they're otherwise compliant for Discover. Does anyone know?

I do wish issuers would decline more fallbacks. It is so frustrating that many shops in the US let people deliberately force fallback and don't give it a second look.
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