EMV gains steam as President Obama signs Chip & PIN law in the U.S.

Last updated: 19 November 2019

President Obama sent a strong message to American consumers and the payments industry by endorsing the highest level of security for government payment cards and terminals.  He set the government the task of “leading by example”  by calling for “chip & PIN” EMV cards to combat fraud on 3 million credit cards issued to government employees along with 5 to 6 million prepaid debit cards used for social security benefits, veterans benefits, and more.  Additionally, all federal payment terminals will need to accept EMV payments by January 15, 2015, ahead of the Liability Shift.

President Obama’s executive order mandates that all payment cards issued by the federal government include an EMV chip that is secured with a PIN by January 15, 2015.  This is quite a bit ahead of the Fraud Liability Shift date of October 2015 set by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.  For those not familiar with the Fraud Liability Shift, it’s a set of rules and incentives announced by the major card brands mentioned here to accelerate adoption of EMV chip cards in the U.S. by shifting counterfeit card liability to merchants and/or banks who haven’t Implemented EMV technology by October 2015.

icon-arrow-banksLearn more about the Fraud Liability Shift, and to see a complete timeline of required milestones.

Visa and MasterCard don’t require banks to issue cards secured by a PIN.  Rather, banks are free to chose “chip & signature” or” chip & PIN” under the Fraud Liability Shift rules as long as the cards contain an embedded chip.  However, PIN adds an extra layer of security on top of EMV that some banks chose to adopt.

New to EMV? This video will break down the basics of EMV and why we need it:

Click for video: What is EMV?


Part of President Obama’s announcement outlined the creation of BuySecure, a program aimed at reducing fraud for American consumers in partnership with the retail industry.  Some of America’s largest retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and HomeDepot joined Obama in pledging to support EMV in their point-of-sale terminals by January 2015, solidifying their commitment to EMV and paving the way for consumer adoption.

This executive order should boost rapid adoption of EMV in the U.S. and shows a much-needed commitment to security for payments.

Citizens who are issued a federal EMV card who prefer the convenience of contactless payments can load their new EMV cards onto their mobile phones using SoftCard or a similar mobile wallet.

To learn more about the convenience of contactless and mobile EMV, read one of my previous blog posts: 4 Must-Haves for Banks to Build a Mobile Wallet That’s Secure

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