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MasterCard and Visa Just Took Some of the Headache Out of Chip Cards

June 17, 2016, 3:38 PM UTC
Assorted credit cards
Photograph by Nick Wright — Getty Images

The transition to chip-enabled credit cards has been promised as a safer way to pay, but it’s been a major headache for vendors.

Now payment companies Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) say they will implement better terms for merchants that will likely speed up the adoption process and take some pressure off vendors who aren’t yet chip-ready. Visa made the announcement Thursday, while MasterCard is expected to release more details Monday.

Those terms include limiting how much vendors can be charged for fraudulent transactions, certifying a chip-reading machine as consumer-ready faster, and making it cheaper to install the machines.

Merchants that don’t verify payments using the chip are currently paying for the cost of counterfeit transactions. Visa is now saying that vendors will now be responsible, at most, for 10 fraudulent transactions a month. Counterfeit payments below $25 will also not be charged to vendors. MasterCard said it would take steps to ensure such charges to vendors are valid, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Before merchants can turn on new chip terminals, they must also test the machines. Visa announced that it has “streamlined its testing requirements to significantly reduce the complexity, time, and cost of implementation,” while MasterCard said it would also simplify the process.


Vendors are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Despite pressure from major credit card issuers to adopt the new machine, many have dragged their feet due to the high cost of the machines and the long testing period.

The rollout of the new chip system has also been frustrating in other ways for both vendors and consumers. Chip cards take longer at checkouts thanks to the swipe. Though in recent months, merchants and issuers have striven to speed up the process, with Visa announcing in April that it had upgraded its software, shaving off about 18 seconds from a typical transaction.