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Demystifying Smart Cards

If you’re like many consumers, you’ve probably got a couple of credit or debit cards in your wallet or pocket book. If so, you’ve probably also been receiving new cards with a slightly new look: a metal square embedded in the front of your card. That square is called an EMV Chip, and it allows your card to function as a “Smart Card”.

Smarts Cards, or EMV-enabled cards, are changing the way we shop with newer technology designed to protect us from certain types of fraud.

EMV stands for Europay Mastercard Visa. Just like it sounds, it is a technology that unifies these three major companies, allowing consumers to feel safe using their cards.

EMV-enabled cards are designed to be “dipped” into a card reader, rather than swiped. At the bottom of the reader, you’ve probably started seeing a new slot; sometimes, it lights up blue. When making a purchase, your card is inserted here. The card remains there for the entire transaction. This may take a bit longer, but it is because the chip works through contact.

The chip transmits information from your card to the store, but here’s the fun part: the chip does not contain your account information. Instead, it creates a unique code for each transaction. The information that the store received as payment is only good once. When you go to the next store, an entirely new code is used! So if a fraudster tried using that code again, like an expired password, it would not work.

Presently, it is important to note EMV-enabled cards do not add any additional security for online purchases, so be sure to monitor your statements as you normally would.

If you use a debit card on your checking account, it is likely you’ll be seeing it with the EMV Chip very soon, if you haven’t already. Some financial institutions have sent out EMV-enabled debit cards already, while others may be issuing new cards within the coming year, as conversion deadlines draw nearer.

New technologies are being developed every day in order to enhance our lives and keep our information safe. Financial institutions are continually working to integrate these new technologies to help protect our customers and our communities.

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