After Target Heist, Credit Cards Set for an Overhaul

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 12:00 am  

The heavily publicized theft of credit card data from Target servers in November has highlighted a glaring issue that Arkansas banks and retailers must soon address: Our plastic technology is obsolete.

Curtis Arnold, a Little Rock resident and founder of CardRatings.com and BestPrepaidDebitCards.com, said credit cards using magnetic strips are “dinosaurs.”

Security on these cards can be laughably easy to skirt: Credit cards require only a signature from the customer, and few retail establishments check the card’s signature against the customer’s.

Debit cards typically require a PIN, but many merchants allow them to be used as credit cards.

EMV — which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa — is now the leading technology for credit cards in most of the world.

“It replaces the magnetic stripe on the back of the card with a chip,” said Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association of Washington, D.C., which advocates for EMV.

“More specifically, it replaces what are called ‘static’ security credentials, that don’t change, with dynamic security credentials that change with each transaction.”

The magnetic strip on the back of regular credit cards is embedded with the “static” code, but the chip on EMV-enabled cards generates a unique code each time it’s used, making it “nearly impossible” to create a counterfeit card.

So why hasn’t the United States adopted an ostensibly superior technology like EMV?

Oxman said there are a few reasons.

For one, it’s tough to overhaul an infrastructure of card readers.

Merchants “haven’t seen EMV cards in the marketplace,” Oxman said.

 

 

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