December 11, 2015

Report: More than Half of U.S. Consumers Lack Awareness of EMV ‘Chip’ Credit Cards as October 2015 Transition Deadline Looms

Press Release

Harbortouch, a leading national point of sale (POS) system and merchant services provider, today published the results of large-scale national survey investigating consumer awareness and usage trends of EMV or ‘chip’ enabled credit cards. The survey, fielded to nearly 18,000 U.S. adults in late August, found that 56 percent of consumers are unaware of what an EMV or ‘chip’ credit card is.

Lower income respondents were more likely to lack knowledge of EMV cards than those in higher income brackets. Nearly 60 percent of consumers with an income of $25,000-$49,999 were unaware of EMV cards. However, only 26 percent of the highest income cohort ($150,000+) lacked knowledge of EMV credit cards. The results point to the need for more consumer education on the transition from traditional ‘swipe’ credit cards to EMV or ‘chip’ cards, which will take place nationwide in just two weeks.

As of October 1, 2015, payment networks including VISA and Mastercard, will shift responsibility for credit card fraud onto U.S. merchants who do not adopt EMV cards as their primary method of credit card payment. These smart chips embedded within EMV cards are intended to make credit card fraud less likely. While common in Europe and other regions around the world, the technology standard is just now being adopted in the U.S.

The recent Harbortouch survey also investigated a variety of EMV usage trends among U.S. consumers who did report awareness of the ‘chip’ cards. Highlights include:

Card replacements slow to arrive – The majority (53.6 percent) of consumers said they had not yet received replacement EMV or chip cards from all of their credit card providers.

Rural residents lead urban dwellers in EMV card usage – 76 percent of respondents living in rural areas reported using ‘chip’ credit cards when paying for goods, compared to only 64 percent of respondents residing in urban areas.

Gen Z reports lowest EMV usage, but ranks highest in mobile payment adoption – Respondents between the ages of 18-24, also known as Gen Z, were the least likely to use EMV credit cards (20.5 percent). However, Gen Z reported the highest usage of mobile payments (42.1 percent).

Only half of consumers believe ‘chip’ cards will make them more secure> – While payment networks believe in the security benefits of EMV, only 50.8 percent of consumers feel the technology will make them more secure. More men (58.8 percent) than women (41.4 percent) feel chip-enabled cards will make them more secure.

“The findings of this study indicate that EMV could pose serious challenges for credit card companies and retailers as the busy holiday season approaches,” said Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Harbortouch “Varying rates of adoption and opinions on the benefits of ‘chip’ cards means more can be done by all parties to ensure a smooth transition on October 1st and beyond.”

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