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In the US, more and more credit cards are moving from swipe and sign to chip and sign – I know most of my cards have sent me replacements with an EMV chip already installed, and I think just about all of my new cards that I’ve applied for have come with chips.  You’re laso seeing more and more retailers moving to chip readers when you check out.chip-credit-card

This is because back in October, the rules changed for who is responsible for fraud.  Now, if the retailer does NOT use the chip in authorizing the transaction, it’s the RETAILER who is responsible for any fraudulent activity.

Slowness of chip transactions

Even despite the change in fraud liability, there are still a decent number of retailers who still have not converted to the new chip readers at point of sale terminals.  One reason is just the added cost – some smaller retailers are not willing to pay the $500 to $1000 for a new card reader that accepts chip cards.

Another reason I have heard is the slowness of chip card transactions.  I am sure that I am not the only one who has noticed that transactions with chip cards seem to take a LOOOOOOOOOONG time. Kroger is a huge grocery store here where I live, and they have still not rolled out chip readers to every store here in town.  I can imagine that one reason is the long transaction times.  Every second longer that a transaction takes means either angry customers waiting in line longer and/or having to hire more staff to run the checkout lines (and thus, increased labor costs)

A study from JDA Software Group for a large retailer with more than 4,000 stores showed that if each checkout was 8 to 12 seconds longer, that would lead to an additional $3.2 million in labor costs. (!)

Solving the slow chip card transaction problem?

According to the Chicago Tribune, Walmart and Visa have both introduced technology that promises to speed up chip card transaction times.  Visa has a software update called “Quick Chip, which they say will shave up to 18 seconds off the average transaction.  Visa says that they will offer the software update free to payment processors and then let the processors decide whether or not they will charge the merchants.  Quick Chip will also let users put their card in while the transaction is ongoing, rather than having to wait until the end of the transaction, which would also promise to cut down on the time that they would have to wait in line.

In any case, I’m definitely looking forward to faster checkout times!


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