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Why PIN-and-Chip Credit Cards Are So Frustrating

You know the drill. You’re at the store. You swipe your debit or credit card to pay for some goods.

The clerk rolls his eyes: “Does your card have a chip?”

Then you roll your eyes, because of course it does—80% in the U.S. do—but every time you go straight to the chip-card slot, the cashier tells you that it doesn’t work.

So you swipe. But then the machine (and the clerk) barks at you to use the chip. So then you insert your card and wait.

The machine thinks, then beeps angrily at you, and you take the card out, and why on earth did we embrace this technology again?!

(Three cheers for technology.)

In August I asked Michael Miebach, chief product officer for Mastercard, the well-known financial services company, to share a status update on the rollout of so-called EMV—as in Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the companies backing it—chip card technology.

“Consumer experience wasn’t really in the forefront of the dialogue between merchants and banks and networks like Mastercard,” Miebach acknowledged. “The predominant conversation was more around, how do we get over the hump? The benefits of EMV are totally clear: This is reducing fraud by a magnitude. So EMV is the right way to go.”

For more, watch a video of our interview, embedded at the top of this post.