Visa, MasterCard To End Swipe-And-Sign By 2015

Goodbye credit card signatures and hello PIN numbers. In a move that could better protect consumers from massive security breaches, major credit card companies are looking to implement a chip-and-PIN system instead of the tired and true swipe-and-sign method used across the country.

Both MasterCard and Visa have outlined a planned shift to the new EMV system and set a October 2015 deadline to begin using the system, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the EMV system consumers will use a smartcard embedded with microchip and provide their PIN to complete a transaction. The chips make reproducing a card difficult for criminals. Even if the credit card information is gathered, without the chip the card is useless.

Another significant piece of the new system is creating a shift of liability, say Carolyn Balfany, MaterCard’s expert on the new EMV system.

Whenever card fraud happens, credit card companies must determine who is liable for the costs. When the new system is in place, if an incident of fraud occurs the party with lesser technology will bear the liability, Balfany says.

That means if a merchant is using the old swipe-and-sign system they are liable for the fraudulent charges if the customer has a chip card. If the merchant has the proper chip-and-PIN system but the bank hasn’t issued a new chip-and-PIN card to the customer, then the bank is liable.

Implementation of the new system will likely bring a sense of relief to consumers and business owners following a number of high-profile credit card system hacks at Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels.

Earlier this week, Target and Neiman Marcus executives told a Senate Judiciary Committee that once the new system is in place less hacks are likely to occur.

That seemed to be the case for other major markets that transitioned to the new system several years ago.

So, why did it take so long for the changes to come to the United States? Balfany says a number of factors prevent the U.S. from making the change, including requirements in the Durbin amendment and need to determine costs for businesses.