EMV the Key?
Both Urban and Knieff agree that point-of-sale fraud and cases where criminals make counterfeit cards from stolen information could be nearly eliminated when or if the U.S. adopts EMV-based cards and terminals. EMV, the global standard for credit and debit card payments named after its original developers -- Europay, MasterCard and Visa -- features cards with embedded microprocessor chips that store and protect encrypted account user data.
Knieff says that after the U.K. adopted EMV cards there was an "incredibly dramatic reduction" in POS fraud there. "EMV is inherently more secure," he adds.
Both Visa and MasterCard had announced separate roadmaps to institute EMV fully in the U.S. by 2015. Knieff admits the cost to not only card issuers but merchants who have to replace their old terminals may be a hindrance to adoption, but in the long run he believes business will be better off.
"It depends on who you talk to, but some people say the ROI from a common good perspective could be 12 to 18 months or as high as 5 to 8 years," he says. "But even on the high side, 5-8 years is really not all that bad considering we'd be making a massive change to our payments infrastructure."