Americans traveling in Europe and elsewhere overseas have encountered a growing problem of merchants who do not accept major credit cards with the magnetic stripe technology common on U.S.-based bank cards. Banks in other countries have for several years been using the EMV-type cards with imbedded microchips as standard technology because the cards provide stronger protection of the identity profile of the card's owner. The U.S. is considered behind the times with the magnetic striped cards that are swiped through machine readers and found more vulnerable to content theft than chip-encrypted cards. But U.S. banks have finally heard the complaints from merchants and travelers about the involuntary decline of overseas credit transactions due to rejected mag-stripe cards and launched their pilot chip card programs.
Wells Fargo Bank, based in San Francisco, and JPMorgan Chase Bank, doing business as Chase, based in Chicago, have both set plans to begin customer tests of microchip credit cards. Wells Fargo will begin a more widespread test of chips in its Visa cards by midyear, while Chase plans to start a test with its "palladium" cards used by its high-end customers. The new chip cards normally require a pin number to be entered by the card holder during the transaction. The Wells Fargo card will reportedly continue to have the magnetic stripe on the microchip-embedded test cards, at least for the near term, so that the cards can still be used in places where merchants do not yet have technology for processing a chip card transaction.
Banking industry reports say that other banks are expected to start testing their own microchip-embedded card programs within the next year.