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Chip Card Technology Helps Protect Consumers During Holiday Spending

Consumers spend billions every holiday season, and this year will be no different: spending is expected to grow almost four percent, and the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is retailers’ busiest.

But data theft and fraud also peak during the holiday season. Eighty-four percent of shoppers said they’re less likely to do their holiday shopping at a store that has experienced a data breach. Shoppers are suspicious that both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are vulnerable to data breaches. Despite these concerns, credit cards remain the most popular form of payment.

Security concerns also loom large for government card programs that disburse child support, temporary assistance, Social Security and other programs. While not all aspects of card security are under an agency’s control, some government programs are now starting to migrate to technology that enhances fraud protection: EMV, commonly known as “chip” cards.

EMV cards have chips with a microprocessor that offers stronger transaction security than a traditional magnetic stripe on a card. Cardholders insert their cards directly into a reader inside the payment device at an EMV-enabled terminal. Some EMV cards also have RFID chips that allow for contactless payment. By using “dynamic data” during transactions, each transaction carries a unique stamp which prevents transaction data from fraudulent reuse — even if cardholder data is compromised.

We pioneered electronic payment card programs for government and continue to lead the market, disbursing $75 billion every year for more than 115 state and federal government programs. Much-needed funds we deliver quickly and accurately to individuals and families including adoption subsidies, child support, supplemental disability payments, tax refunds, and unemployment insurance. We don’t just keep pace with innovations in the industry – we set the pace, and we do it to help our government clients deliver.

Our white paper on public sector migration to EMV technology shares the perks and pitfalls of converting to this particular technology. We’ve been helping our government clients deliver funds via chip cards since 2015. Since then, we’ve handled $20 billion securely and accurately on more than 7 million EMV-capable cards. We were the first provider to transition child support funds onto EMV-capable cards, going live in Tennessee in July 2016 and Virginia in October 2016.

As we state in the white paper, we expect the pace of migration to this new technology to accelerate, and 2018 is likely to be a big year for migrations to chip cards. Conversion can be complicated and fraught with risk, so we work very closely with our clients to ensure no disruption whatsoever to their constituents. Protecting funds with proven best practices, applied innovation, and tested technologies means better security and accuracy – through the holiday spending season and all year long.