Statistics cited by card companies paint an optimistic picture of chip adoption since the Oct. 1 “liability shift” that held merchants liable for counterfeit-card transactions if they hadn’t updated their terminals for EMV.
A recent Visa (V) infographic, for instance, boasts that with 265 million Visa chip cards in circulation, the U.S. leads every other country, and that the volume of chip payments soared to $18.4 billion in March.
Problem is, Visa’s total U.S. payment volume in the three months ending March 31 was $823 billion. Visa doesn’t break down that total on a shorter timeframe, but the math is bad for EMV (named after the “Europay, MasterCard and Visa” parents of this system) in any plausible division of it.
In the same way, boasts about how many U.S. stores take “EMV” cards, like last month’s report by MasterCard (MA) of chip-compatible locations increasing by 121% to 1.2 million, understate the work remaining. A mid-February survey by the Strawhecker Group, a payments-focused consulting firm, found that only 37% of U.S. merchant locations were ready for EMV.