Canada's official full-scale trial of chip and PIN debit transactions begins this month in Ontario. According to Canadian debit card payments association Interac, the new cards will provide consumers with a safer alternative to the old magnetic stripe card, which is the norm in the U.S.Of course, the announcement was not unexpected as Canada committed to phasing out mag stripe cards in favor of chip. Things are going to get lonely for the U.S. as we'll be one of the only markets in the developed world where mag stripe alone is still in use. But this can also spell bad news for us on the security front. Although the PIN/chip combination is not 100 percent affective at thwarting debit card-based crime, it's one more layer of security that criminals would need to penetrate. As is the M.O. of crooks the world over, when security in one place tightens, they will look elsewhere for a weaker target, possibly the U.S. Granted, we already have our fair share of card fraud, but some chip card proponents believe Canada's move toward this technology will mean more criminals will target the supposedly weaker U.S. mag stripe card networks for committing fraud and other card crimes.
The program is only getting underway now. But it will be interesting to see if these dire predictions come true. Will debit card fraud increase in the U.S. once Canada goes to chip completely? That question will make for some interesting research for the security and consulting firms. The bigger question is, if there is a correlation between higher card crime in the U.S. and the penetration of chip cards in Canada, will this evidence be enough of an impetus for U.S. merchants and banks to finally cave in and start issuing/accepting chip cards?Will Canada's rollout of PIN/chip debit transactions mean more card security woes for the U.S. market?