EMV and RHB FAQs
EMV — which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa — is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. In the wake of numerous large-scale data breaches and increasing rates of counterfeit card fraud, U.S. card issuers are migrating to this new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud.
These new and improved cards are being deployed to improve payment security, making it more difficult for fraudsters to successfully counterfeit cards.
For merchants and financial institutions, the switch to EMV means adding new in-store technology and internal processing systems, and complying with new liability rules. For consumers, it means activating new cards and learning new payment processes.
Most of all, it means greater protection against fraud.
Want to know more about the transition and your new EMV chip-equipped card? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand the changes.
1. Why are EMV cards more secure than traditional cards?
It’s that small, metallic square you’ll see on new cards. That’s a computer chip, and it’s what sets apart the new generation of cards.
The magnetic stripes on traditional debit cards contain unchanging data. Whoever accesses that data gains the sensitive card and cardholder information necessary to make purchases. That makes traditional cards prime targets for counterfeiters.
If someone copies a magnetic stripe, they can easily replicate that data over and over again because it doesn’t change.
Unlike magnetic stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique code that cannot be used again.
EMV technology will not prevent data breaches from occurring, but it will make it much harder for criminals to successfully profit from what they steal.
2. How do I use my EMV card to make a purchase?
Just like magnetic stripe cards, EMV cards are processed for payment in two steps: card reading and transaction verification.
However, with EMV cards you no longer have to master a quick, fluid card swipe in the right direction. Chip cards are read in a different way.
Instead of going to a register and swiping your card, you are going to do what is called ‘card dipping’ instead, which means inserting your card into a terminal slot and waiting for it to process.
When an EMV card is dipped, data flows between the card chip and the issuing financial institution to verify the card’s legitimacy and create the unique transaction data. This process isn’t as quick as a magnetic stripe swipe.
It will take a tiny bit longer for that transmission of data to happen. If you just stick the card in and pull it out, the transaction will likely be denied. A little bit of patience will be involved.
3. Will I still have to sign or enter a PIN for my card transaction?
Yes and no.
You will have to do one of those verification methods.
As with a magnetic stripe debit card, you sign on the point-of-sale terminal to take responsibility for the payment when making a chip-and-signature card transaction.
However, some merchants may require that you use your PIN to complete the transaction. So it is a good idea to know your PIN even if you don’t use it that often.
4. If I want to use my chip-card at a retailer that doesn’t support EMV technology yet, will it work?
Yes. The first round of EMV cards — many of which are in consumers’ hands — will be equipped with both chip and magnetic stripe functions so consumer spending is not disrupted and merchants can adjust.
If you find yourself at a point-of-sale terminal and are not sure whether to dip or swipe your card, have no fear. The terminal will walk you through the process.
For example, if you enter a card into the chip reader slot but the reader isn’t activated yet, it will come up with an error and you’ll be prompted to swipe the card in order to use it and vice-versa.
If chip-card readers are not in place at a merchant at all, your EMV card can be read with a swipe, just like a traditional magnetic stripe card.
You can still conduct transactions; you just lose that extra level of chip security.
5. Will I be able to use my EMV card when I travel outside the country?
Yes and no.
The U.S. is the last major market still using the magnetic stripe card system. Many European countries moved to EMV technology years ago to combat high fraud rates. That shift has left many U.S. consumers who have magnetic stripe cards looking for other forms of payment when they travel.
Since many foreign merchants are wary of magnetic stripe cards, consumers who hold some type of chip card may run into fewer issues than those without one.
However, some consumers with chip-and-signature cards may find some merchants who are unwilling or unable to process their card, even though it does have an embedded chip.