Visa’s Latest EMV Numbers Say the Card’s Catching On

March 6, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Remember back in 2015, when the first transitions to the Europay / Mastercard / Visa (EMV) standard started? Remember what an absolute firestorm of confusion and resentment it was from small shops who didn’t want to buy huge new quantities of hardware just to keep from potentially landing huge new bills for liability instead? Well, we’re a little over two years out, and the latest word says that it’s finally catching on.

The recent numbers Visa offered up showed the gains for December 2017, and when compared to just ahead of the shift in September 2015, clear advances are visible. For instance, EMV cards were accepted at nearly six times more locations, going from 392,000 in September 2015 to 2.7 million in December 2017. Almost 60 percent of all stores in the United States now accept EMV cards.

Visa chip cards were likewise growing, going from 159 million to 481 million, and two thirds—67 percent—of all Visa cards were chip cards. That represents 209.1 million debit cards and 272.7 million credit cards in the mix. Perhaps best of all, 96 percent of all payment volume for December was carried out on chip cards, representing 1.5 billion total transactions at $78 billion.

Just to prove that the card issuers might well have been right about this whole EMV thing, the total dollar amount of card fraud involved dropped fully 70 percent in the space between September 2015 and December 2017.

This is good news for the card issuers, who were under a lot of fire back in 2015 over the switch. Retailers—particularly small retailers—just didn’t see a point in making a big switch to prevent something that wasn’t really happening anyway. Throw in the various dip-and-swipe problems that EMV represented in the early days, and it was easy to think the whole thing was kind of a bust. Fast forward two years and fraud is way down, use is way up, and even smaller retailers are better able to get in with EMV card systems that work in much the same way Stripe did way back when and for about the same investment.

EMV appears to have been a success, and as the last holdouts come on board, EMV use should reach near-totality in the end.