What is EMV Chip Card Technology?

Posted: June 22, 2013 | Updated: June 22, 2013

EMV® is a worldwide standard for credit and debit card payments based around the use of chip card technology. The acronym stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, who collaborated to create the technology. The goal of this project was to create a card that worked based off of a microprocessor chip that is read by the payment terminal.

How it works

The transaction has a built in verification system that requires both the chip in the card and a PIN number the customer enters. This extra step verifies that the person with the card is in fact authorized to use it. This is just the first facet that makes these transactions more secure. Each chip contained in the card generates an original and unique code for each transaction. This unique identifier makes it easier to track transactions and identify fraud.

Comparison to Existing Magnetic Stripe

Everyone knows the magnetic stripes exist on almost every single card in the U.S. currently. These pass very simple data through the system at the time of the swipe, mainly just card number and expiry data. The data passed back and forth between the terminal and chip card is much more sophisticated and encrypted for added security. Another downside to the magnetic stripes is their shelf life. Many frustrated clerks can tell you that a card that is used often does not usually make it to its expiration date. Merchants should know that they need to swipe the card to get the lowest interchange rates for most cards. Often times, front line workers do not know that the business is paying a higher rate if the card is keyed as opposed to swiped.

Future Growth

EMV is already widely used worldwide. As of Q4 2012, there are roughly 1.62 billion EMV cards in consumers’ hands. Combine this with the 23.8 million terminals that have been deployed throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa and it’s easy to see that this technology is here to stay. HMS fully supports EMV processing and works with merchants to offer this to their customers. With Visa and MasterCard poised to really step on the gas concerning U.S. migration, merchants need to be up to speed on the new processes and technologies.


This upgrade in technology will have an impact on a wide range of hardware including:

  • ATMs
  • Existing POS machines
  • Vending machines
  • Automated fuel pumps
  • Ticketing kiosks
  • Etc.

While replacing the vast amounts of existing hardware might seem daunting on a macro level , the time and capital committed to this migration is absolutely worth it when you consider the upside. The combination of both new terminals and chip cards will reduce risk for both consumer and business. Also, by making chip cards more universal, American tourists who travel abroad will have a consistent experience and won’t need a “special card” for overseas trips. This point is even more powerful when you consider that there are roughly 56 million trips outside the country by U.S. citizens just in 2012. So send us an email or better yet just give us a call at 877-517-4678 to discuss how Host Merchant Services can help your business stay ahead of the EMV curve.

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