Target to Convert to More Secure Chip-and-PIN Cards

Photo (cc) by j.reed

Target, the victim of a massive data breach last year, is taking the lead when it comes to retailers adopting the more secure chip-and-PIN technology for credit and debit cards.

The company said it plans to reissue its store-branded cards with MasterCard’s chip-and-PIN technology by early 2015.

Chip-and-PIN relies on a microchip embedded in the card, rather than the magnetic strip seen on most cards in the U.S. Widely used in Europe, the cards are more secure because the microchip generates a different, single-use code each time you make a purchase. Customers also have to use a personal identification number or PIN.

“While it does not address all fraud, the chip makes a card hard to duplicate, and the PIN, or personal identification number, more difficult for a thief to use,” The New York Times said.

Target has already begun replacing its store registers to accept the chip-and-PIN cards – a move that many hope will be a nudge for other retailers to follow. Target expects to be equipped to handle the chip-and-PIN cards by September.

Says the Times:

“The move toward chip and PIN had been a very slow process in the United States because so many players have to restructure everything,” said Suzanne Martindale, a staff lawyer at Consumers Union.

“We’re hoping that Target moving in this direction will encourage other retailers and financial institutions to create more secure payment cards, because it’s long overdue.”

Retailers have plenty of incentive to switch to the chip-and-PIN system and get their customers on board. Wired said:

Because credit card companies ultimately are on the hook when stolen cards are used fraudulently, the industry itself has set a deadline of October 2015 for U.S. merchants to install chip-and-PIN-ready terminals. After that date, merchants who don’t comply will have to eat the costs of transactions made with stolen cards themselves.

Are you ready to make the transition to chip and PIN?

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