There are now more than 1 million credit cards with a new payment storage technology bearing the logo of the world’s largest payment processing company in circulation across the country, less than two years after it announced a plan to step up issuing efforts.
As of December 31, 2011, Visa, the world’s largest processor of both debit and credit card payments, had issued more than 1 million credit cards that use “chip” technology to store consumer payment information. The change has been anything but gradual, as the company only announced plans to start issuing more of these EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) cards in August.
“Migrating the U.S. market to chip will help build an infrastructure for accepting NFC mobile payments, enhance international acceptance and reduce fraud,” said Stephanie Ericksen, head of authentication product integration, Visa Inc. “Since announcing our roadmap last year, we have seen strong interest among U.S. issuers large and small to invest in chip technology, as today’s milestone shows.”
Ericksen also noted that Visa has taken to issuing these newer, next-generation credit cards quickly. Just 18 months ago, there were no Visa-issued EMV cards in circulation anywhere in the U.S. Visa is also working to include EMV chips in not just cards, but also mobile devices.
These new cards work in much the same way old ones do, in that users present them when making a purchase, but they differ from traditional cards with magnetic strips by how they’re processed. For instance, when making a purchase with EMV cards, consumers do not swipe the cards, but rather wave them over a sensor. Under its new plans, the company will also allow cardholders to use these cards as traditional chip and PIN devices—wave the card, then enter a PIN code to confirm the purchase—as well as allow them to sign for the purchase as they do with their current cards.
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Visa is now issuing these cards through a number of financial institutions, including Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, State Employees’ Credit Union and United Nations Federal Credit Union. Wells Fargo in particular was instrumental in testing the viability of increased issuing, with a 15,000-card pilot test last year. Visa also hopes to further expand its EMV card issuing efforts in the coming months.
Feb. 7, 2012: This article was updated to correct the original story, which incorrectly referred to Visa’s “chip” technology as “chip and PIN.” Visa’s plan for the U.S. transition to chip does not necessarily include or exclude the use of PINs when making a purchase.