And… We’re Back! In Time for “FMI vs. EMV,” Plus: Travel News!

Hello faithful blog readers and connoisseurs of financial news and credit card insights. As you may have noticed, we had an “outage” on our web page’s blog for a few days — late last week and earlier this week.

Since we report so much on hacks, data filching, and intrusions into digital systems (and how to protect yourself, of course) you might have assumed that the reasons for that brief “outage” were possibly…untoward.

But just the opposite! We were undergoing some digital overhaul here, part of an ongoing effort to, as it were, “put our money where our mouths are,” as we upgrade servers, security, and “front facing” web pages, like the main one here — and the blog you’re reading!

So upgrades having been, well, upped, we’re back to reporting the news!

Among the items we’ve been following, of course, is another coming “upgrade” — this to an EMV (chip-and-signature or chip-and-pin) standard for American credit cards, allowing them to match their counterparts in Europe and Asia for a higher bar of security.

October is supposed to the time when the big switchover happens — and fraud liability moves from banks, to any merchants who haven’t become EMV-ready. But Pymnts. come is now reporting that “The Food Marketing Insitute (FMI) — a group which represents thousands of retail food stores and pharmacies — has asked Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., American Express Co. and Discover Financial Services to delay” that deadline.

According to them, “the reality is that the system will not be ready to meet the card networks’ arbitrarily-set mandate for the liability shift in October 2015.”  So far “representatives for MasterCard and American Express told The Wall Street Journal that they do not intend to change the existing October deadline.”

Other merchants are weighing in, too – -notably Wal-Mart, in the form of executive Mike Cook. According to the Daily Finance website,  “the new implementations (are) a ‘joke, said Cook, assistant treasurer and senior vice president at the company. The problem is banks that enable the chip technology will only require signatures, not the input of a PIN code.”

“‘Signature is worthless as a form of authentication,’ Cook said during his presentation, as quoted by CNNMoney. ‘If you look at the Target and Home Depot breaches … not a single PIN debit card needed to be reissued in those breaches. The card number was worthless to the individual thief and fraudsters, because they didn’t know the PIN.’”

That’s not entirely accurate as your very same AVPS correspondent writing this post had to get his own debit card reissued as a result of the Target breach — precisely because it can also be used “as a credit card,” without a PIN.

Nonetheless, questions remain about the signature aspect, since “using signatures instead of PINs, criminals could still commit fraud because verifying someone’s signature from a central source is next to impossible.” PIN use has “significantly decreased both counterfeit and stolen card fraud” in Europe.

The bumpy ride and change-over still looks set to commence in October and your correspondent will also get a first hand look at the different “charging” environments between America and Europe, with a brief trip to the continent early next month.

One of the American cards your correspondent will be traveling with is already EMV chipped; the other is not.

We will report back on some of our first hand experiences later this spring. Meanwhile, Greensheet, the payments industry newsletter, says that Visa will now start separating out the “ancillary charges” in air travel — of which there are many — from the main ticket charge.

Thus, if you buy a pillow, or pay for on-board wi-fi, etc., the charges will show up separately.  “The shift isn’t as simple as one would think,” the article states, “as [Visa] had to work with each airline to create a global standard that would allow the payment processing technology to deliver the correct meta data with the purchase.”

Benefits from such “granular data” will eventually accrue to both the business and leisure traveler, it’s said.

Whether that means one can rack up bonus points faster, remains to be seen. And no word yet on what “on-board” migration to an EMV standard might look like for those currently moving between American and International charging environments.

Meanwhile, we here at AVPS will keep you adapted, flexible, and up-to-date with both your security, and your customers’ payment, needs.

Contact your rep today if you’re feeling “upgradey.” In that regard, we’re much easier to work with than the airlines!

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