The EMV era gets underway


The EMV era, long in the planning process, is finally here. People's United Bank, in conjunction with ATM vendor NCR, has launched the first EMV-enabled ATMs in Manhattan at the bank's 250 Park Avenue branch. Other banks will likely follow soon. Not far behind, retailers will be rolling out POS devices with EMV technology baked in.

A deadline of sorts looms large. At the end of October 2015, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover will shift liability for fraud away from them to banks, merchants and ATM acquirers if cards and terminals aren't EMV ready.

Banks really have no choice but to act.

Wells Fargo, for example, has begun issuing WellsOne commercial cards that are compliant with the EMV standard. For now, the cards have a chip as well as a traditional magnetic stripe. American Express has also announced it will begin issuing EMV cards to its domestic corporate card customers, beginning with the premium card portfolios in the next few months.

Meanwhile, a debate has broken out about whether EMV would have prevented the massive $45 million ATM heist that was the in the news recently. One could argue that criminals made ample use of fake magnetic strip cards to actually retrieve the cash. But before that, they had broken into the databases at card processors to alter PINs and withdrawal limits.

If ATMs were no longer able to read magnetic stripes, then the EMV technology might have prevented the fraud. But it's fair to say that the bad guys are hard at work figuring ways to hack through EMV. As of now, EMV skimming remains an oxymoron. But that will change. Count on it. 

For more:
- here's the release

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