MasterCard, Visa speed chip transactions after complaints as fraud concerns drive adoption

Store owners had to meet a deadline of Oct. 1 of last year to start accepting the cards or be on the hook for some fraudulent charges

RETAILERS Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. have introduced software that they say will speed up slow check-out times for shoppers with new chip-based cards.

With the new software, the checkout experience for owners of the security-enhanced chip cards should come closer to those with the old magnetic stripes, the companies say. 

Consumers will be able to dip and remove their cards, instead of leaving them in payment terminals to complete purchases.

Retailers have grumbled that chip cards have increased checkout time by about 10 seconds per customer—an eternity for a fast-food restaurant struggling to keep up with rush-hour demand.

Store owners had to meet a deadline of Oct. 1 of last year to start accepting the cards or be on the hook for some fraudulent charges.

Chip cards reduce fraud and consumers like them, MasterCard spokesman James Issokson said. The company works with retailers to address their concerns, he said.

Many retailers, particularly in fast food, had chosen to delay accepting chip cards for fear of increasing lines and angering customers. Since last October, these stores have had to shoulder any losses stemming from use of counterfeited cards.

But with fraud levels doubling at some stores, many restaurants that held off will have to start accepting chip cards—a transition that MasterCard, Visa and other card networks have pushed for. The new software could reduce the pain of this switch.

Regardless of whether the new technology helps reduce checkout times as card companies promise, the software will improve shoppers’ perceptions of longer waits, said Thad Peterson, an analyst at payment consultant Aite Group.

“It will help in terms of simplifying the transaction process,” Peterson said in an interview.

More than 1 million U.S. merchant locations already have chip-enabled terminals, according to Visa, which expects many to embrace the new software.

-Bloomberg

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