Obama Announces EMV Program to Move Faster to Chip Based Credit Cards

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President Obama today signed an Executive Order launching the new BuySecure initiative, to help businesses and consumers keep financial data secure.

The initiative is designed to reduce identity theft. And there’s important news of interest to small business merchants. The initiative is intended to accelerate the move to EMV chip-based credit cards and charge cards.

Speaking at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this morning, President Obama noted that more than 100 million Americans have had information compromised. He added, “Identity theft is now America’s fastest growing crime.”

The President described EMV credit card technology as being harder to crack because of two layers of protection consisting of:

“A microchip in the card that is harder for thieves to clone than a magnetic strip. And a PIN number that you enter into the reader just as you do at an ATM.”

The President noted that when Great Britain switched to chip-and-PIN cards (as EMV technology is also called) fraud at stores was cut by 70%. He added, “You should be able to buy the things that you need without risking your identity, your credit score or your savings.“

He went on to emphasize that “the private sector is already deeply engaged” in the move toward EMV technology.

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American Express to Give Small Businesses $100 Reimbursement

Coinciding with the President’s announcement, American Express unveiled its own Small Merchant EMV Assistance Program today. This American Express EMV program aims to encourage small businesses to switch to the more-secure card terminals to accept EMV chip-and-PIN cards, through a financial incentive.

Small businesses will get a $100 dollar reimbursement if they purchase EMV terminals that accept secure chip-based cards.

To qualify, small business merchants must accept American Express cards, but have less than $3 million in annual American Express charge volume. You can use the processor or terminal provider of your choice to obtain an EMV-ready terminal. Between February 2015 and April 30, 2015 you go to the American Express site to submit your reimbursement request.

The reimbursement pool is $10 million. Franchisees, however, are not eligible. Reimbursements will be made on a first come, first served basis until the pool of money they’ve set aside is exhausted.

Why Should Small Businesses Care About EMV Technology?

EMV technology has actually been around for years and is used widely in Europe and other parts of the world. But the United States has lagged behind.

That’s about to change big time in 2015.

Small businesses are not being required by law to move to EMV technology for card readers. But everyone from the President to the credit card processors is trying to persuade you to move. The President is doing it by educating the public on the benefits of chip and PIN cards.

American Express is giving financial incentives. And Visa and MasterCard earlier announced that merchants who switch to EMV readers would have more protection in the event of fraud.

Here are resources for small businesses about the EMV program and what you need to know about accepting EMV cards in your business:

Image: Video Still, AMEX OpenForum

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