Visa Update Aims To Speed Up Slow Chip-Card Checkouts

While banks have issued hundreds of millions of more secure chip-enabled payment cards in the U.S., only around 20% of Visa merchants currently have chip-card readers up and running. If you’ve used one of these cards at a store, you’ve likely experienced the odd, silent wait as your card sits in the reader, seemingly taking forever for approval. An upgrade from Visa aims to shave a significant amount of time off this process.

If Visa’s new “Quick Chip” upgrade — announced this morning — works properly, customers will no longer have to stand there awkwardly for 10-20 seconds with their card sticking out of the reader, waiting for approval. Instead, it would be more akin to the typical ATM experience, where the customer dips the card into the reader for only a second or two.

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Once implemented, Visa customers should also be able to dip their chip cards into the reader before the total amount of the transaction has been finalized. Magnetic stripe card readers have long allowed shoppers to do this, but chip-card readers have generally required the customer wait until a total price has been tallied. For a customer who is otherwise standing idly by as a cashier scans and bags items, this could take precious seconds off the entire process.

For shoppers — especially those with children underfoot — it means fewer seconds wasted, wondering if you put the card into the machine correctly while the people behind you think you somehow screwed things up. For retailers, it means happier customers and speedier checkout lines.

The upgrade to Quick Chip is free to merchants and payment processors, and no new technology is required; just a software update.