Despite increased security, most shoppers have no patience for chip-enabled cards

Posted April 27

In the check out line, seconds do matter. When credit card makers began switching from magnetic stripes to computer chips, the new technology added about 15 seconds to the average transaction time.

It didn't take long for customer complaints to pile up.

"Processing time, load time on websites, whether it be the amount of time it takes for that transaction in the store, we simply have no patience at all," George Belch, a marketing professor at San Diego State University, says of American shoppers.

Chip-enabled credit cards require users to insert a card into a reader, and the card stays put until the transaction is processed – a process that has slowed down checkout times for some.

Some call the wait "annoying," especially at stores where long lines are already an issue.

Slowly, chip-based transactions are speeding up.

Wal-Mart says it's managed to cut about 11 seconds off its chip-card transactions by eliminating a step that asks shoppers to confirm a total purchase amount.

"It doesn't sound like a lot of time, but in some ways it is very significant," Belch said.

Ironically, the new process people have panned was created to fight fraud.

"Yet we have no patience to wait the 15 or 20 seconds that it takes to really make sure that this is going to work effectively," Belch said.

Visa recently announced that it could cut terminal time to just 2 seconds. Shoppers can also save time by inserting their chip-enabled card as items are being scanned during checkout.

"Any time we can improve the shopping experience, and this is part of the shopping experience, the marketers are going to do so," Belch said.


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  • Johnny Malaria Apr 27, 12:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    What a lot of people don't know is that since October 2015, if a fraudulent purchase is made (e.g., stolen card) then if the vendor didn't use the chip then it is liable for the loss - it used to be the bank. But how many stores are still struggling to get the chip option to work? And of those who do, how many do the second half and ask for a PIN. I have yet to be asked to enter a PIN and usually don't have to sign either (I want a card that demands I have to sign.)

    How many fraudulent transactions have gone ahead via swiping because the chip technology is so dreadful in this country? In other words, I wonder how much liability the card issuers have pushed onto the vendor? How convenient.

  • Frank Curcio Apr 27, 11:46 a.m.
    user avatar

    If this is not a first-world problem I don't know what is.

  • Catherine Edwards Apr 27, 11:22 a.m.
    user avatar

    I have a chip card that recently had fraudulent charges from FL put on it. Because all places don't use a chip card machine. I'll wait the 15 seconds to keep that from happening again.

  • Carol Smith Apr 27, 11:10 a.m.
    user avatar

    people are complaining about an extra fifteen seconds. Whew.

  • Fanny Chmelar Apr 27, 10:26 a.m.
    user avatar

    In 1995, a fellow IT student wrote a paper on the credit card industry in the US compared to Europe, from a technological standpoint. Then called 'smart cards', he postulated that within 2 years they would be ubiquitous in the US, citing every benefit that everyone would want, from the banks to the consumers. With a low per-unit implementation cost, nearly eliminated fraud, and convenience (makes people spend more), the initial expense was a no-brainer.

    The US is pretty huge, much more monopolistic than most people think, and changes at a glacial pace when the bottom line is always money.

    It took trillions in losses due to our 70s-style payment systems before they'd wake up and do something.

    And then they got it wrong out the door. Swipe, tap or insert? PIN or no PIN? "Wait, wait... wait, ok, take your card". I had a friend who's chip kept not working, but swipe was disallowed because he had a chip. He had to keep a 2nd card on him for backup.

    They'll figure out... eventually.

  • John Smith Apr 27, 8:56 a.m.
    user avatar

    Of all the stores shop I've only had to insert my card at two stores. Sports Clip and Lowe's Home Improvement. My only problem is that I forget and the cashier watches me attempt to swipe multiple times before saying "oh, you need to insert it. Annoying, but still less that a minute.

  • Johnny Malaria Apr 27, 8:51 a.m.
    user avatar

    This is nonsense. I don't know why the US banking system is so far behind the rest of the world. 3 years ago on a trip to Europe - after getting Citi to issue me a chip card - I had nothing but trouble using my US card. Here's a typical scenario in a restaurant:

    Someone with a UK card: at the end of the meal, the server comes to use with a machine, takes your card, asks you to enter your PIN. Done. 10 seconds at most still sitting at your table.

    Me: say hello to server and thank him/her for a nice meal. Hand over the card. "Oh, you'll have to swipe it. It's an American chip and doesn't work here. And expect it to print a receipt so you'll have to go away and get a pen." Server looks at me like I'm from Mars.

    Similar scenario: "Sorry sir, this machine only accepts chip cards. Let me ask my manager." Time passes and the server returns with the old-fashioned paper swipe machine thingy. Then they go and get a pen.

    And Visa operate in Europe so I cry baloney.