EMV vs. Magnetic Stripe Cards. Why Care?

Security, chips, EMV. These are the words you hear tossed around when it comes to payment. Sometimes, instead of helping to solve the question of how merchants can keep customers safe from fraud, these words can prompt more questions and homework. What is the most economical system? Do I really need to be EMV compliant? What is the best way to keep my c-store skimming-proof? Will chip cards really make a difference in preventing fraud?

If you think about it, all these swirl around one central question: What can EMV chip cards provide over magnetic-stripe cards? To begin answering this question, it is important to note the difference between the two to understand why magnetic-stripe cards are not as safe as they used to be.

The difference between the magnetic-stripe card and the EMV chip card go beyond how the customer uses the card. Through an easy and quick swipe, magnetic-stripe transactions take less time to complete a transaction. The reader simply uses the magnetic fields to match the card to your bank account information.

Sounds legit enough right? Not exactly. The data being transmitted is actually static which makes it easier for suspects to copy the information onto another card. That means, the information kept safe in a wallet is now useable to the criminal who stole it.

The accessibility of your information with your card is the reason why there is a push for merchants to migrate to EMV chip card readers. Yes, there is a huge financial liability and pressure placed on c-stores to update their payment systems to accept this new reading system; however, the push is for a larger cause - to protect the customer and the c-store.

For EMV chip cards, protection is the main reason for its existence. Why else force millions of new cards on customers? With the new EMV chip card, a customer must insert their card and wait as the chip securely communicates with the payment processor to authenticate the transaction. This allows for extra verification that the card isn’t counterfeit.

Some people feel inconvenienced by the extra time it takes for the chip cards to process, but think of it this way – would you skip a second seatbelt test/check before riding a rolling coaster? I wouldn’t either. The same concept can be applied with EMV chip cards – though it takes an extra couple of seconds, you are much safer than if you skipped that extra belt test or in other words – used magnetic stripe cards.

Please refer to Gilbarco’s EMV for C-store Retailer guide which can help answer your questions about EMV and what equipment you should use to be EMV compliant.

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