Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Federal government promises chip-enabled payment acceptance

Most credit cards in the U.S. have been replaced this year or will be replaced next year with cards that contain a special chip. Retailers are in the process of upgrading payment terminals to accept payments on these newer cards with entry of a PIN by the customer.  The private sector is generally ahead of government entities in adoption of the new chip-and-PIN (also known as EMV) technology, but the Obama administration has announced that federal agencies will begin accepting EMV payments soon.

Specifically, the White House says any new "retail payment card terminals at federal agency facilities" must be chip enabled beginning January 1, 2015.  I'm not sure what exactly this would include, and whether any federal facilities in the Atlanta area accept retail-style credit card payments. To the best of my knowledge, the Internal Revenue Service does not accept credit card payments for income taxes.  The IRS accepts checks, electronic checks, and (according to their website) they accept cash payments with exact change at their two Atlanta-area offices. Perhaps gift shops at national parks would be included.

No EMV directives have come from the governor's office for state agency payment acceptance, and there is no requirement yet for cities or counties in Georgia to accept payments using EMV-enabled terminals.  In October 2015, merchants including government entities that accept credit card payments will face greater liability in the event of credit card fraud committed as a result of credit card transactions made at terminals that aren't chip-and-PIN enabled.

Locally, Kroger has already installed the hardware necessary to accept EMV cards, but won't have the software ready to make it work until next year. Reportedly, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Walgreens will be able to accept chip and PIN payments in or before January 2015.

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