US retailers push banks to use PINs on credit cards as confusion reigns
By Jim Finkle
BOSTON Oct 30 (Reuters) - Some big U.S. retailers are stepping up efforts to use personal identification numbers, or PINs, with new credit cards embedded with computer chips in a bid to prevent counterfeit card fraud.
But they are being resisted by the banking industry, which sees no need to invest further in PIN technology, already used with debit cards, resulting in halting adoption and widespread confusion.
A small band of retailers with the clout to call the shots on their branded credit cards is leading the charge. Target Corp is moving ahead with a chip-and-PIN rollout, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc plans to do the same.
But Wal-Mart faces obstacles because its credit card partner, Synchrony Financial, is not yet able to handle PINs on credit cards. Broadly, U.S. banks are unprepared or resisting the change.
The impasse comes after many consumers got their hands on new credit cards embedded with so-called EMV chips in advance of an Oct. 1 deadline that required retailers to accept chip cards or be liable for fraud losses. EMV stands for EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa.
But only about a third of merchants are actually using the chip technology, according to analyst estimates. The number may not pick up until early next year, if at all, because the retail industry typically halts upgrades during the crucial holiday shopping season.
"PIN issuance will remain a niche," said Julie Conroy, credit-card analyst with Aite Group.
Banks favor using chip cards verified by old-school signatures, even though chip-and-PIN usage has led to lower fraud over the decade they have been used in Europe and elsewhere. Continued...